The original Helston Railway Preservation Society was formed at a meeting held in the Chy-an-Albany Hotel, St Ives, on the 18th May 2002, with an objective to restore to running order and re-open as a heritage railway, as much of the old Helston Branch Line as possible. The long term aim is to re-open a three mile section of the branch line between Nancegollan and Helston Water-ma-Trout.
With the kind permission of the landowner, a volunteer labour force started clearing the track bed at Trevarno Estate on Sunday 24th April 2005.
Our volunteers have worked wonders since that work commenced. Starting with a totally overgrown, and in some places impenetrable track bed, the team has cleared just over a mile down to the formation. A mile of new track has been laid, starting at Prospidnick in the north and travelling south. We now have a temporary platform called Prospidnick Halt, there is a platform at Trevarno, and we have reconstructed the original Truthall Halt at the far south of our current line. We have planning permission for a car park and a new station at Trevarno Farm, which is now our base.
Belonging to our sister organisation, the Helston Diesel Group, there are two Ruston & Hornsby shunters and a two car Park Royal Diesel Multiple Unit. We have two brake vans – Daisy and Bluebell and one of them is used on our passenger services with one of the Ruston shunters. We have a well-stocked shop, manned by volunteers, in our converted mail van at Prospidnick Halt, and a period buffet housed in the Park Royal with a games room and waiting coach.
In 2016 we took delivery of a Peckett Steam locomotive which is currently having its 10 year boiler refurbishment – we hope to have her running in steam in 2018. And to run along with her we are restoring our 117 coach.
Charity Status and Awards
We were extremely proud when all our hard work was recognised and Pete Waterman presented us with the Ian Allan Heritage Railway of the Year Award at a ceremony in London in 2011. When they visited us again the judges were especially impressed, after closer inspection and meeting the crew, with the tremendous progress that we had achieved to date and the obvious enthusiasm and commitment of our volunteers.
In 2012 the Helston Railway Preservation Society was granted Charity status so now all donations can be gift aided which helps us to make all contributions go that little further.
A further accolade was given in 2013 when we won the Heritage Railway Association’s Website Award for excellence in digital media. The judges said ” The Helston Railway is the very worthy winner of the Website Award and is to be commended as they are very new members of the industry.”
For the future we have big plans – to extend the trackbed over the Lowertown Viaduct and further towards Helston, build a water tower, and grow our volunteer capability. We have proved that over the past 15 years that all things are possible – and we have the enthusiasm and dedication to keep growing.
The hard work carried out by our regulars has been fantastic, but there is always room for more help. There is plenty of things to get involved with, whether it is helping run the railway, build new railway or help with the administration there is something for everyone. More information is on our Get Involved page.
With your continued tremendous support, we are sure that the restoration of the railway will continue rapidly, and before long, we will all be able to enjoy travelling by steam train over a growing Helston Railway.