Stations, Halts and Sidings
This page describes the various stations, halts and sidings of the former Callington Branch railway line. Please click here for an Index of all Callington Branch pages in RailWest.
When the East Cornwall Mineral Railway (ECMR) was opened in 1872 there were no stations as such, but merely a number of goods depots. Apart from the terminus at Kelly Bray (north of Callington) and the sidings at Calstock Quay, there were intermediate depots at Drakewalls, Cox's Park and Monks Corner. Unfortunately there appears to be little record of exactly what facilities or sidings existed at any of these depots, other than for the general arrangements at Kelly Bray and Calstock Quay. There were also a number of intermediate sidings, in particular on the east of the line in the Gunnislake area (Drakewalls) and further west on the south side. The former included sidings to Pearson's granite quarry, Plymouth firebrick works and Gunnislake Clitters arsenic mine, whilst the latter included the extensive Kit Hill granite quarry workings.
When the Plymouth, Devonport and South Western Junction Railway (PD&SWJR) converted the former ECMR line for passenger working and extended it eastwards to Bere Alston in 1908 the old ECMR goods depots were replaced by new passenger stations. A new interchange with the PD&SWJR 'main line' was built at their existing station at Bere Alston. (Note: the 'main line' of the PD&SWJR from Lydford to Devonport was leased and operated by the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR), and it formed part of their main line from Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton.)
At Calstock the new station was constructed adjacent to the Cornwall end of the new viaduct across the River Tamar, at a much higher level than the original sidings on the Quay. Other stations were constructed at the original ECMR depot sites - but with new names - at Gunnislake (Drakewalls), Latchley (Cox's Park), Stoke Climsland (Monks Corner) and Callington Road (Kelly Bray). An additional station was opened at Chilsworthy on 1-June-1909 and a halt at Seven Stones on 15-June-1910, although the latter was closed again during World War I. On 1-November-1909 the station at Stoke Climsland was renamed Luckett, whilst at the same time Callington Road became 'Callington for Stoke Climsland' (although the suffix was dropped eventually circa-1948).
|Details of Stations and Halts
BERE ALSTON. The original PD&SWJR station had seperate Up and Down platforms on the double-track main line. To cater for the Callington branch line a new platform face was built at the back of the Up Main platform, which then became an island, although the branch platform face did not extend as far towards Tavistock as the main line side. At the Tavistock (east) end of the branch platform face was the zero mileage point for the branch. The branch approached the station from the west and at the east end of the platform it connected with the PD&SWJR Up sidings and thence the Up Main.
Although it was possible for branch trains to run through onto the Up Main line this connection was not signalled for passenger traffic, so the branch always maintained a separate passenger service with no normal through running. The main-line signal-box stood on the Up platform near the Tavistock end, but the branch originally had its own signal-box at the Plymouth (west) end of the same platform. However the branch signal-box was closed in 1927 and its work was transferred to the main-line box, which was extended as a result. Click here for more details about Bere Alston station.
CALSTOCK. This station was situated immediately adjacent to the Cornish end of the viaduct and was on a sharp curve (right-hand for Down trains). The small ground-level signal-box was situated just beyond the Gunnislake end of the platform, adjacent to a water tank. Apart from the single platform and main running line there was a loop siding on the Down side, which gave access to further sidings. One of those sidings led to the wagon lift built at the side of the viaduct, by which single wagons could be lowered to further sidings on the Quay 112' below.
|Calstock Viaduct photographed from the Devon side in 2003
With the decline of the mineral traffic the wagon lift fell into disuse and in April 1933 the siding leading to the lift and all the Quay sidings were taken out of use; the lift itself was dismantled in 1934. Most of the remaining sidings were taken out of use on 4-August-1966, except for the loop adjacent to the main running line which remained until further changes on 5-May-1968.
For some years two vans stood in the loop, in which farmers would leave their flowers when the station became unmanned. Over time the track was removed either side of the vans, then one van was taken away, and finally the remaining van and track were abolished as the flower traffic abandoned rail for road. The station buildings were demolished and replaced by a 'bus shelter' which stood for many years before the station was rebuilt. The station is still open today as a simple unstaffed platform, whilst the former goods yard has been redeveloped for housing and car-parking.
|Calstock station photographed in the 1960s and 1970s
|North end of yard
GUNNISLAKE. This station was the only passing place on the line and unusually it had an island platform between the loops, with pedestrian access via a subway under the Down loop at the Calstock end. The station was situated a short distance to the west of the main A390 road, which it crossed by a girder bridge whose low headroom was a source of trouble to road traffic for many years. There was a goods yard on the Down side, which was served by a siding adjacent to the Down Loop accessed by a trailing connection at the Callington end. There were another two sidings at the back of the yard, which had a separate connection from the single line side at the Callington end of the station, just at the spot where a minor road crossed the line by a small girder over-bridge.
On the up side there was a single siding adjacent to the Up Loop, which was accessed by a trailing connection at the Calstock end, and in later years it terminated in a buffer-stop opposite the Callington end of the platform. Originally there was also a second trailing connection from the Up Loop to this siding at the Callington end (instead of the buffer-stop), with the siding dividing into two lines which swung away from the railway - probably to serve the local Pearson's stone quarry. It is not known when these additional sidings and associated pointwork were removed. The signal-box was located at ground level on the Up side of the line adjacent to the (later) buffer-stop of the Up Siding.
On 2-August-1966 all the goods sidings were taken out of use, except for the one immediately adjacent to the Down loop. Three months later on 7-November-1966 the branch was closed completely beyond Gunnislake and then taken up in June the following year, after which the line terminated at a buffer-stop erected just beyond the road over-bridge west of the station. Both platform loops remained in use until further changes on 5-May-1968, when the Down loop and remaining siding were taken out of use. Thereafter there was just a plain line serving the former Up platform face, whilst the buffer-stop was moved east of the over-bridge closer to the station.
The station building was demolished in the late-1970s and replaced by a small concrete shelter, which itself was replaced in due course by a glass 'bus stop' type structure. Part of the former Down Sidings and Down Loop area was converted into a car park for rail passengers. This general arrangement remained in use until the new station was opened at Gunnislake in 1994, after which the old station site was redeveloped for housing in 2003.
|Gunnislake old station photographed in the 1970s
|1973 looking east
|1973 looking east
|1974 looking west
|1977 Down side
of station building
|1979 looking east
CHILSWORTHY. This station was originally just a single platform with a small shelter on the Up side of the single line, situated just west of a minor road overbridge, but in later years there were also a number of sidings in close proximity. The station was closed on 5-November-1966. The platform was still in existence in 2003 (click here for picture looking east with the bridge in the background) and the access path to it from the adjacent road now forms part of a public footpath.
LATCHLEY. This station had a single platform on the Down side of the running line, which was recorded in 1908 as being 220' long. Immediately west of the platform the railway crossed a minor road by an un-gated level-crossing. There was a siding on the Up side opposite the platform, which was accessed by a connection facing to Down trains at the Gunnislake end of the station. A small loading platform was located between the main line and siding in front of the main platform and opposite this again outside the siding was the stationmaster's house and ex-ECMR goods shed. The siding was removed at some unknown date after 1950 and the station itself was closed on 5-November-1966. The station house and trackbed are now in private ownership.
SEVEN STONES HALT was just a simple platform on the Down side, which was opened in 1910 in order to serve the nearby Phoenix Pleasure Grounds. Sometimes it is referred to as Phoenix Mines Halt after the nearby mines, whose owners contributed to its cost. The halt was closed when the Pleasure Grounds shut during World War I, the date being given variously as 1914 or 1917. A later plan records the platform as being 140' long. Immediately west of the platform the railway crossed a minor road by an un-gated level-crossing. Part of the platform still remained in 2003 (click here for picture looking east), over 85 years since it was last used by passengers! For some years it was home to the private 2' gauge 'Phoenix Railway' (click here for more details), but that was dismantled in 2012.
LUCKETT. This station was known originally as Stoke Climsland. It had a 225' platform on the Down side and a loop siding opposite it on the Up side, with connections to the main line at both ends of the station. Immediately to the west of the station the line was crossed by a minor road on a girder over-bridge. There was a further siding on the Down side at the Gunnislake end of the platform, with a connection that faced Up trains, and apparently this siding boasted a carriage shed for some years. There was originally a small ground-level signal-box here on the Up side at the Callington end of the loop, but in 1923 this was reduced to a ground-frame. A separate small ground-frame worked the Gunnislake end of the loop siding. The carriage siding was taken out of use on 31-March-1923. The loop siding was taken out of use on 23-September-1962 and the station itself was closed on 5-November-1966. The station house and trackbed are now in private ownership.
CALLINGTON. This station was a fairly conventional terminus, with a single platform on the up side and several sidings and a run-round loop on the Down side. However the run-round loop was at the approach to the station, rather than alongside the platform, so arriving trains had to be propelled back out from the platform for the engine to run round. The ground-level signal-box was located at the Gunnislake end of the platform. Rather grandly as befitted the main station of the Light Railway Callington also boasted an overall roof over the station platform and main line, with an extension over an adjacent siding that was removed in later years. On the Up side of the line there was a two-road engine shed, which was accessed originally by a connection facing to Up trains close to the end of the platform.
A new connection (facing to Down trains) was installed in 1916 on the Up side beyond the Gunnislake end of the engine shed and this led to some cattle sidings. Further changes took place in 1928, with the modification of various sidings and alteration to the connections to the main line. In particular the existing tracks into the west (station) end of the engine shed were removed and a new access provided from the east (Gunnislake) end. The platform was lengthened by 94' at the eastern end, which meant that the signal-box was moved one chain nearer Gunnislake. Goods facilities at Callington were closed on 28-February-1966 and the station was closed completely on 5-November-1966. The whole station site has been redevoloped for both industrial use and residential housing, although one or two of the old buildings from the goods yard still survive.
In addition to the various sidings which were provided at the main stations there were also a number of intermediate sidings, which served various industries. In each case the connection from the main running line to the siding was worked by a local ground-frame (usually uncovered), which was unlocked by the train staff or tablet for the section. At the time of the Board of Trade Inspection of the new Light Railway in 1908 the Inspection Report listed intermediate sidings at the following locations:-
|Perry Spear's Siding
|Hingston Down Siding
|Green Hill Siding
|Kit Hill Siding
Additional sidings existed subsequently at Hill Westlake (5m 44c) and Whiterock (6m 13c). At Calstock Quay the old sidings remained in use, but these were re-gauged as part of the 1908 extension work and thereafter access to them was by means of the new wagon lift at Calstock station rather than by the old rope-worked incline. There were no intermediate sidings in the section between Bere Alston and Calstock.
The details given below describe only the basic arrangements for the connection of the various sidings to the main running line. In some cases the precise layout of the sidings is not known, nor whether there was more than one individual siding track at any of these locations. Each siding had its own ground-frame to work the connection to the main running line. The sidings are listed in line order from Bere Alston to Callington.
|Details of Intermediate Sidings
Refuge Siding. Unfortunately nothing is known about this siding other than the brief reference to it in the 1908 Inspection Report. It is possible that it may have been built on part of the abandoned route of the ECMR and perhaps it existed only for a short period.
Perry Spear's. This siding served a coal yard about ¼ mile south of Gunnislake station on the other side of the A390 main road. The siding was located on the Down side of the line with a connection facing to Down trains. One source states that it was taken out of use on 15-January-1961, which may have been the cessation of private traffic; a British Rail notice from 1966 states that the ground-frame would be recovered on 2nd August that year and the points spiked, clipped and padlocked pending recovery. The former coal-yard is now the site of the new Gunnislake station and car-park.
Sandhill Park. This siding was on the Down side of the line north-west of Gunnislake station, with a connection facing to Up trains. It was taken out of use on 15-January-1961. It is believed that this was the siding described as Cockings in the 1908 Inspection Report, although some sources suggest that in fact there were two separate sidings a short distance apart.
Hill Westlake. This siding was on the Down side of the line immediately west of Chilsworthy station, with a connection facing to Down trains. Originally it served a brick works, but it was taken over by the Ministry of Food in March 1942 and had been removed by 1959.
Whiterock. This siding was on the Down side of the line with a connection facing to Up trains. It was added on 3-November-1925 and taken out of use on 23-September-1962.
Hingston Down. This siding was on the Down side of the line and originally it had a single connection facing to Up trains. About 1919 the layout was altered to make it a loop siding, with additional sidings which extended to serve Hingston Down Quarry. Thereafter it had a connection at the Gunnislake end facing to Down trains and another connection at the Callington end facing to Up trains, each connection having a separate ground-frame. One source states that the siding and ground-frames were taken out of use on 23-September-1962, which may have been the cessation of private traffic; a British Rail notice from 1966 states that the ground-frames would be recovered on 9th August that year and the points spiked, clipped and padlocked pending recoverey.
Kit Hill. This siding was on the Down side of the line with a connection facing to Up trains. The siding was served originally by a 3'6" narrow-gauge tramway, which rose about 300' by means of a rope-worked incline to a quarry on the top of Kit Hill. In 1940 the quarry owners William Griffiths & Co reached an agreement with the Southern Railway to convert the tramway to 4'8½" standard-gauge and connect it directly into the siding. Because the incline descended at 1-in-5 to 1-in-8 almost at right-angles to the main railway line and the adjacent road below, a catch siding was constructed at the bottom leading to a huge earth bank as a safeguard against any runaway wagons. Click here to see a copy of a plan of the alterations. The siding was taken out of use on 21-December-1954.
Branch truncated. On 5-November-1966 the Callington Branch was closed completely beyond Gunnislake. All the sidings at Gunnislake were removed except for the one adjacent to the Down loop, but the passing-loop was retained - trains still arrived at the Down platform and then shunted to the Up platform ready for the return journey. All the sidings were removed at Calstock also except for the loop siding next to the main line.
After the signal-boxes at Calstock and Gunnislake were closed in 1968 the remaining sidings were removed and thereafter the branch was in effect just a long siding, with all trains using the former Up platform face at Gunnislake. At Bere Alston the branch trains continued to use the rear face of the former Up platform until 7-September-1970, when the main line to Plymouth was singled and the Callington line was re-aligned to make a new junction at the south end of the former Down platform.
Station relocated. In 1994 the old station at Gunnislake was closed and replaced by a new station about 8 chains to the east, built on the site of the former Perry Spear's coal yard. The old station was closed on 21st January and on 31st January work started on the new station, which was opened on 6th June that year. While the work was in progress all passenger trains from Bere Alston ran to and from Calstock only and a temporary stop-block was erected on the Gunnislake side of Calstock station at 1m 58c.
This relocation of the station enabled the removal of the railway bridge over the A390 road, whose low headroom had been a source of trouble to road users for many years. It became possible also then to lower the trackbed a little at the approach to Gunnislake and thereby ease the gradient, as the line no longer had to rise to cross the road-bridge. The new Gunnislake station has a single platform 354' long on the down side of the line, which now terminates at a friction stop-block just to the east of the A390 road at 4m 40ch. The site of the old station was redeveloped for housing in 2003.
|Gunnislake new station photographed on a dull, wet day in late-1990s...
|Remains of bridge
and route to old station
|...and again in early morning on 7th July 2007
|The platform shelter
|Looking west towards Callington
|End of the line!
© CJL Osment 2002-24
Calstock station photographs: 1966 © Plymouth City Libraries/Alec Kendall, 1971 © Robert Himsworth, late 1970s courtesy Tony Harden.
Gunnislake (old) station photographs: 1977 © Nick Jones, 1973 and 1979 © Steve Burdett. Gunnislake (new) station 2007 photographs © Mike Dunse.
Kit Hill siding plan courtesy Alec Kendall. All other images WCRA collection.