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Ruthern Bridge Branch
L&SWR Crest London & South Western Railway
Ruthern Bridge Branch
L&SwR Crest

The short branch line to Ruthern Bridge in Cornwall was a line about which very little appears to have been written. These brief notes are an attempt to bring together the few known facts and records.

The Ruthern Bridge line was a branch of the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway (B&WR) and it was opened on 30-Sep-1834, the same date as the main B&WR line was opened through to Wenford Bridge. The branch was constructed for goods traffic only, although it is said that sometimes passengers were carried on an unofficial basis. In 1846 the whole of the B&WR was purchased by the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR), although it was not until 1895 that the L&SWR was eventually connected to its new acquisition. In 1873 there was a proposal to extend the line southwards to join with the Cornwall Minerals Railway (later the Newquay Branch of the Great Western Railway) near Roche, but this idea did not come to fruition.

The Ruthern Bridge branch left the main B&WR line at Grogley, crossed the River Camel and ran in a southerly direction, close to the minor road from Brocton to Ruthern Bridge, for approximately 1 miles before terminating near the cross-roads by the Ruthern bridge. At the terminus there was simply a single point to divide the line into two sidings, but in 1914 a loop siding had been added further up the line. The depot was managed by a female wharfinger, who lived in a cottage on the opposite side of the road from the terminus.

At Grogley the branch originally diverged from the main line by a point facing trains coming from Wadebridge, but in 1888 the main line was re-aligned further to the north-east (away from the river). Part of the old main line was retained as a siding, along with the original junction, but access to the siding was from the Bodmin end by a point which faced trains coming from Bodmin - the new arrangement meant a reversal into/out of the siding for trains going to or from the branch. Later a passenger platform was constructed on the main line to the east of this connection and opened as Grogley Halt on 2-July-1906.

There was no signalling on the branch itself, which was worked as a long siding with the few points hand-operated by ground levers. At Grogley the connection to the main line was controlled by a ground-frame, which was located in a small L&SWR-style wooden hut and unlocked by the Electric Train Tablet for the Wadebridge East - Boscarne Junction single-line section.

The goods traffic appears to have been mainly agricultural, apart from stone from the local Mulberry quarry. In 1926 the final 26 chains of the branch were taken out of use, leaving just the loop siding in use. At this stage it is reported that trains ran down the branch with the engine at the terminus end and were propelled back to the junction, although the original layout at the terminus probably would have required the engine at the Grogley end. With a general decline in traffic the branch was closed completely on 30-Dec-1933 (1-Jan-1934 in one source).

At the present time very few traces of the branch remain. At Ruthern Bridge the site of the original terminus can be located, although heavily overgrown, but the wharfinger's house became derelict and was demolished many years ago. (It is claimed that a rose which grows in the hedge at the site is the same one which grew originally around the front door of the house.) At Grogley the bridge over the River Camel remains in use to provide road access to a small car park adjacent to the former halt. The platform is still standing, being a concrete replacement for the original wooden construction, and the trackbed of the main line now forms part of the Camel Trail cycle/footpath.

Chris Osment 2002

Bibliography

"Branch Lines Around Bodmin" - Middleton Press
"Bodmin and Wadebridge 1834-1978" - Fairclough and Wills, pub D Bradford Barton 1979
"Mineral Railways of the West Country" - Fairclough and Shepherd pub D Bradford Barton 1975
"The Newquay Branch and its Branches" - J Vaughan, pub OPC 1991
"Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain - Volume 1: The West Country" - D StJ Thomas, pub David & Charles 1973
"Track Layout Diagrams of the Southern Railway and BR(SR) - Section 6: North Devon and Cornwall" - GA Pryer, pub RA Cooke
Various London & South Western Railway documents.

Photographs

"Bodmin and Wadebridge 1834-1978":  two views of loop siding area, two views of terminus and trackbed after track lifted, view of revised junction arrangement at Grogley
"Mineral Railways of the West Country":  view of loop siding area in 1926, view of junction at Grogley in 1933  (NB. Both these views are identical to that in "B&W")
"Branch Lines Around Bodmin": view of loop siding area, view of junction at Grogley (NB: same views as in "B&W" and "MRWC")
Bodmin Museum:  photograph of the wharfinger's house at Ruthern Bridge