The Tresavean Branch
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The Tresavean branch left the main line at Redruth Junction and headed up a steep rope worked incline before heading over top of Lanner Hill where it crossed the Redruth and Chasewater Railway on the level. However as the R & C was of 4'gauge and the Tresavean of standard gauge there was no rail interconnection. The incline was double tracked throughout its length, haulage was by means of the train loco. The loco, having left its wagons at the foot of the incline proceeded to the top on its own. At the top the loco was attached to the 'rope' and then proceeded back down the incline passing its own train midway. The line closed on 1 Jan 1936
The picture is from the Late Patrick English collection and shows Redruth Junction with the line into the original Redruth terminus of the Hayle Railway off to the left, The line to the right led to the Tresavean incline. Catch points protect the main both from trains from the terminus and from the incline. There was at least one instance of a runaway train down the incline - it was smashed to smithereens when it derailed on the curve by the branch signal. When first opened there was no line straight ahead under Coach Lane Bridge. This was to come with the opening of the West Cornwall Railway.
Just over one hundred yards from its junction with the main line the double track incline passed under this bridge, it was climbing from left to right. This picture dates from the early 70's when the incline cutting was being filled in - a bungalow now stands on the formation of the picture to the right The nearest bridge parapet disappeared with the widening of Trevingey Road. However the furthest parapet is still in place with an arch beneath it. Coach Lanes leads down to the left, the buildings ahead are named Higher Sentry. Copyright K. Jenkin
Presumably it was possible to cross the line at this point, however, if the incline was in use it would have been extremely dangerous as the engine driver would not be able to see anyone or anything if he was at the bottom of the incline.
The top of the Tresavean incline. In this view Jon is looking up the last few yards of the incline. The line was horseworked beyond this point. The route continued on a much easier grade rougly along the hedgeline to be seen to the left and once over the top of the hill it continued in a southerly direction towards the terminus above the mine. 4th May 1957 Copyright the Late Jon Wood collection
The summit of the Tresavean Incline. By this time the old cabin had been further reduced - it looks as if the pile of rubble at the roadside may be recovered stone by persons unknown for use elsewhere. The site of the old cabin is in 2014 barely visible and access to the top of the incline is prevented by barbed wire fencing. Copyright Roger Winnen 8th June 74
A visit to the Cornwall Centre and inspection of an early tythe map showed a hatched line marked as intended route of the West Cornwall Railway. This discovery was of great interest, and commanded speculation as to its purpose. Jof Bullen, Mining expert, came to our aid with suggestion that it was probably a 'walked route' showing a means by which easier gradients could be achieved to the top of Lanner Hill to permit locomotive operation by adhesion. This map kindly drawn for us by Peter Butt Vice President clearly shows the relationship between not only Tresavean branch and the possible repalcement for the incline but also of the nearby metals of the Redruth & Chasewater Railway to Wheal Buller and Redruth.
After the summit there were various sidings exact details of which are not known. With reference to the above map we are at the location of the first level crossing after the railway looking back towards the summit yards. Here two tracks crossed the road, one the running line to Tresavean and the other a long siding which extended very nearly to the next level crossing. Copyright Roger Winnen 5th April 2014
Now looking towards Tresavean the line continued alongside the hedge to the right - a second hedge which bordered the two tracks has been 'grubbed up' the pile of rubble bears testimony to this. The siding stopped short of the next level crossing which can be seen in the distance. Just before the crossing there was stop board forbidding locomotives over the crossing. Copyright Roger Winnen. 5th April 2014
The late Leslie Wallace recalled that when he used to watch the railway in operation that the locomotives used to push a rake of wagons at great speed towards the level crossing sharply applying the brake to shop by the board. Haulage past the crossing towards Copper Hill farm was by horse. This operation must have been risky and today with the heavy and fast traffic on the main road to Helston would have been impossible.
The Redruth & Chasewater was the first railway at this location opening on 30th January 1826, it wasn't until the 23rd June 1838 that the Tresavean branch arrived to cross the R & C. The R & C, first to come was also the first to go closing with effect from 27th September 1915. The Tresavean closed with effect from 1st January 1936, the rails being removed in March 1938.
The location at the top of Lanner Hill otherwise called Wheal Beauchamp courtesy of Google Earth 2001. In this view, with reference to the sketch map the area, now dominated by a large covered resovoir, can be seen. The Tresavean branch enters this view at centre left and exits at bottom right. The Wheal Buller branch of the Redruth & Chasewater can be seen leaving this view towards the bottom of the left hand side. Following this line to the right it crosses the Tresavean branch, and after crossing the main road can be seen to merge with the main line of the R & C. The trackbed to the Redruth terminus can be ascertained. The transhipment yards of both the Tresavean branch and the smaller shed of the Buller branch can clearly be seen. This area has recently been developed.
A picture from the Maurice Dart Collection of the area in the previous view but taken about 15 yards back. The metals are of the Tresavean branch which are seen to be mounted on wooden sleepers at this location rather than on granite setts as elsewhere. One set of rails clearly passes by the outside of the enclosure whereas the other passes through it.
There were four old railway coaches in the area - these most probably came up via the Tresavean incline. One owned by the Bolitho family was located by the current bandroom - this is the one pictured below. Others were located as follows One above Pennance Mine Engine House, owned by the Polkinhorne's, another at the top of Lanner Hill behind the old garage, now new houses, this was owned by the Opie's. And finally the forth one by the old Redruth & Chasewater Coal Yard, very close to where the two lines crossed, owned by the Treloar's. Information kindly supplied by Eric Rabjohns.
The route of the railway has, for the enthusiast, been spoilt by improvements to its surface for the benefit of cyclists and walkers. The majority of the granite setts having been either removed or covered. However, here is a picture on 5th April 2014 which gives a clue to the pathways previous use. Copyright Roger Winnen
Emerging from the deep cutting the line takes a sharp change of direction to the left and heads east, on the bend it curves over this bridge which takes the track over Rough Street a narrow twisting lane though less rough than that under the previous bridge. This picture 11th March 2014 Copyright Roger Winnen
The end of the line, well very nearly, unfortunately removal of mine waste by JCB behind the cameraman at this point has removed all traces of the terminal loop bar a stone sett or two. This is the site where the short section of rail was laid in 1999 by CRS Members. Copyright Roger Winnen 3rd May 1998 For reference that's Pennance Mine enginehouse in the distance
In 1998 at the request of the Mineral Tramways project this short section of the former Tresavean branch was selected to demonstrate to show the public what it may have been like. The gorse was cleared back and the waste around the granite setts cleared away. Fresh Ballast was laid. One or two of the steel rail fixing nails were removed to provide samples for the manufacturer of replacements. Copyright K. Jenkin.
At the time it was unclear as to what type of rail was used and as some flat bottomed rail had been kindly donated to the project by Mr David Shepherd this was used. Our appreciation for the donation.
We were concerned at the loneliness of the spot might attract rather undesirable people and this proved true in November 2006 when thieves attempted to steal the rail. Luckily they were defeated by the weight of the rail and the last couple of fixing nails which were reluctant to let go. However Councillor Mark Kaczmarek kindly arranged for the rail to be completely removed and then restored in position.
With a walk along the branch planned for 5th April 2014 it was decided to visit the site. We found the 'exhibit' well overgrown with gorse and grass. The maintenance of the actual track bed is the responsibility of Cornwall Council and Lanner Parish Council for clearing the undergrowth. In the current times of tight finances with no money available we were advised the 'nobody would mind' if we were to clean up the site ourselves. So on March 11th 2014 Christine Simmonds, Roger Winnen and Keith Jenkin put in several hours clearing up.
Finally the great day dawns, the walk started in driving rain, however conditions improved during our three hour walk to be almost acceptable by the time we reached 'the exhibit'. In this picture you see our expert guide Eric Rabjohns, Peter Jenkin, Jerry Chandler, Keith Jenkin, Mike ?, Christine Simmonds and Mike Hitchens. Roger is manning the camera. 5th April 2014 Copyright