Extension to North Hill




The Light Railway Commissioners, the Hon. A. E. Gathorne-Hardy (chairman), Colonel G. F. O. Doughty, R.E., C.S.I., and Mr. H. A. Stewart, together with Mr. A. D. Erskine (secretary), held an inquiry at the Grand Hotel, Plymouth, on Saturday in respect to the advisability of granting an application by the Plymouth, Devonport, and South-Western Junction Railway Company for the extension of the Bere Alston and Calstock Light Railway. Mr. Allan represented the promoters, and Mr. C. L. Cowland, clerk to the Cornwall County Council, appeared on behalf of that Body to object to one of the proposals in the scheme.

Mr. Allan stated that the promoters of the order, the Plymouth, Devonport, and South Western Junction Railway Co., asked for the extension of a line that was sanctioned by the Commissioners some years ago, called the Calstock Line. The new extension was intended to begin at Kelly Bray, and proceed in a north-westerly direction for about seven miles. The previous line started at Bere Alston, on the main line of the South Western Railway, and proceeded to Calstock, where it joined the old mineral line, which had been in existence since 1872. The mineral line, which had been adapted for a light railway had been converted from a narrow gauge into a standard gauge. The work was completed now, except that it was waiting Board of Trade inspection, and they hoped before long the line would be open. An extension was now desired, because the farmers and the landowners in the district to the north and west were very anxious to have some better accommodation. Everything had to be carried a great many miles, and the expenses were almost prohibitive. With the new line there would be a large increase in trade. At the end of the extension, a place called Congdon's Shop, they came to the Caradon Hills, where there were a large number of tin and copper mines, which were formerly worked, but the expenses of working them had been so great that owing to the expenses of cartage of material to such long distances it was impossible to make it pay. There was a disposition to open several of these mines if the railway was extended to Congdon's Shop. Then there were large timber woods which were practically decaying because it did not pay to carry the timber away. It was evidently a line which would be eminently successful as a light railway. It was strongly desired by the landowners and farmers. None of the local authorities were opposing the scheme.




Two sets of objections were however lodged, one by the Cornwall County Council and the other by Earl Compton, a landowner. The latter was with respect to the deviation at a place called Taylor's Shop, but as a result of an interview with the engineer and the objector, an agreement had been come to. The other objection was on the part of Cornwall County Council. What the council objected to was the raising of the road for the purpose of making a crossing. It was proposed to erect the level crossing on the main road to Callington. It had been found necessary to raise the road four feet and to make an inclination of one in nineteen. The expense would be almost prohibitive if they had to cross the road on the present level crossing.




Mr. L. C. Foster, of Liskeard, director of the Plymouth, Devonport, and South Western Junction Railway, was the first witness called for the promoters. In answer to questions, he said he considered the line as proposed to be made by the promoters would properly serve the district. The land in the district was good agricultural land. They already had a considerable traffic in manure's, etc., at Kelly Bray on the old mineral line. In the Order the sum which the railway was estimated to cost was put at £41,000, but they thought it would be necessary to ask for a sum of £60,000 to meet any unforeseen circumstances and also more money might be wanted for the alteration of the gauge in the existing line. They had power to raise the capital, and it had been earmarked for the present purpose.

Mr F. R. Rodd, of Trebartha Hall, North Hill, who stated that he was a considerable land owner in the district and resided a mile and a half from Congdon's Shop, said the industries in that part of the country had been languishing for the past half century for want of a railway. There was a considerable market at Callington, and the goods from his neighbourhood had to be sent to Callington by cart, which would of course go by the railway if it were made. The objection to sending goods to Launceston in preference to Kelly Bray to be dispatched by rail was that it was very much more hilly, and they could not get to Plymouth so easily. He had three quarries, which were languishing for want of a railway. He also had a valuable deposit of gravel which he could not sell because of the distance and the cartage.

Mr. S. P. Rattenbury, of Stokeclimsland, though whose property the line will pass, said that at first he objected to the railway, but he had since withdrawn his opposition as he was satisfied from a conversation he had had with the engineer that the difficulty which arose might be overcome. He thought in most important that the line should be made, especially for the large parishes of Linkinhorne, Stokeclimsland, Altarnun, and Lewanick. He supported it as a public man.

The Chairman remarked that he thought that made his support the more valuable.

Proceeding; Mr. Rattenbury said he thought as far as Kelly Bray was concerned it was most important the line extension should be carried out. There was a large quantity of meat sent to Plymouth which went by road at present. There would also be a large milk traffic. As to feeding stuffs and manure's there was a enormous amount of these commodities carried by road from Kelly Bray to North Hill.




Replying to Mr. Cowlard, Mr. Rattenbury admitted that the traffic along the main road to Kelly Bray would have to pass over the place where it was proposed to erect the level crossing.

Mr. Cowlard: Do you like level crossings?

Witness: I don't admire them.

Mr. Cowlard complained that the promoters had not shown that there was to be a station placed on the seven miles extension line.

The Chairman did not think that they could assume that a line seven miles long would be without a station in the centre of it.

Mr. Alans stated that he was authorised to say there would be two or three halts.

Mr. Rattenbury pointed out that by the provision of a railway a considerable amount of traffic would be taken off the main road.

Mr. J. Kittow, of Linkinhorne, wrote stating that he could not be present, and saying he thought the railway would be of very great use to the inhabitants.

The engineer, Mr. H. T. Stephens, A.M.I.C.E., gave details of the construction of the railway. He stated that the trains would cross the level proposed to be made at about five miles an hour. £9,000 would probably cover the cost of the land required.

Examined by Mr. Cowlard as to the inclination at the level crossing,, witness said it was practically level.



Asked if it was one in 30 at the point of crossing, the witness replied he could not tell. They did not propose to erect gates there, but a cattle guard. Mr. Wm. Pradham, of Kelly Bray, produced statistics showing the number of vehicles he counted going over the main road in one week.

Mr. W. Sowden, who said he had been manager of the old Cornwall mineral line, twenty-nine years, spoke of the thousands of tons of minerals that went over the road.

Elijah Sleep, carrier and general dealer between North Hill and Plymouth, spoke of the amount of time, trouble, and expense that would be saved by the alternative route, and predicted that a large residential population would spring up in North Cornwall.




Mr. W. Lawry who carries on business as a merchant at Kelly Bray, pointed to the impetus that would be given to trade by the construction of the new railway. He would have preferred no level crossing.

Mr. W. Perry (Perry Spears and Co.), Kelly Bray, and Mr. J. Venning, printer and stationer, of Callington, and agent for Messers. Venning and Lloyd, merchants, confirmed the view taken by the previous witnesses as to the development that would result to trade from the railway.

Mr. P. Burnaford, chairman of the North Hill Parish Council, handed in a copy of the resolution from the Parish Council in favour of the scheme.

The Commissioners did not think it would be necessary to call any more witnesses except on the grounds of the level crossing.




Mr. Cowlard in opening his case said Cornwall County Council were exceeding glad to welcome the new line into the county and see the district through which it would pass opened up to trade. He appeared there only to oppose what he considered to be an unwarrantable proceeding, the construction of a level crossing at Kelly Bray. Evidence would be produced to show the great inconvenience a level crossing would be to the traffic. The road was no less than 50ft wide. The Cornwall C.C. had had a very bitter experience of level crossings. There was one at Wadebridge which was a perpetual source of anger on the part of the inhabitants and passive resistance on the part of the County Council. Referring to the level crossings at Lostwithiel, St. Austell, Marazion, and Cambourne, he said the county was full of recrimination because of the extreme difficulty they had. It came as a surprise to him that there were to be no gates, but only cattle guards. It would be absolutely necessary to have them. He asserted that the level crossing might be avoided. By the raising of the gradient to four feet it would make a hump in the middle of the road which would prove of great inconvenience.

Mr. S. W. Jenkins. A.M.I.C.E., county surveyor of the eastern division of Cornwall, stated that the gradient of the road was one in 32 on one side and one in 33 on the other. By carrying the railway to a certain point twelve chains southward it could be carried over a bridge. The raising of the road four feet would very greatly inconvenience the residence of the houses in the neighbourhood. It would necessitate placing a passenger station on the extension.

Mr. W. Hawk, the next witness, stated that the Cornwall C. C., of which he was the vice-chairman, had invariably opposed every level crossing proposed to be erected in the county since 1888.




A commissioner asked the engineer if the level crossing could not be raised less than four feet, and the latter replied that they would concede a foot.

Mt.Cowlard said that if the Commission decided against him on the level crossing, he would ask that the gradient be flattened.

The Chairman stated that the objection should be considered.

At the conclusion of the enquiry the Chairman stated that there appeared to be no difference at all about the desirability of the line. They were agreed upon the subject, and the Commissioners thought it should be carried out with as little inconvenience as possible. With regard to the difference that has arisen about the level crossing, it was regrettable that the Cornwall County Council were not more directly approached in the first instance.

if it were impossible to construct the line without the level crossing , they thought it would be desirable to meet the County Council as far as they could. The road ought to be raised as little as possible, and as the engineer said that the company could give them another foot in ought to be done. The order would be granted subject to that restriction.



Western Daily Mercury 3 February 1908






The half-yearly meeting of the Plymouth, Devonport, and South-Western Junction Railway Company will be held in London on March 18th. The directors report:- "The traffics have been fairly well maintained considering the inclement weather of the past half year. The work on the Bere Alston and Calstock Light Railway have been completed and passed by the Board of Trade. The receipts for the half-year enable the directors (after providing for the interest on the debenture stock and the dividend on the 4½% preference stock) to recommend a dividend at the rate of 4½% per annum on the ordinary stock, carrying forward a balance of £1,072 16s 11d. The directors have made an application to the Light Railway Commissioners to authorise an extension of the light railway to North Hill, and are glad to be able to state that the Commissioners have expressed their intention of granting the order. A resolution approving the draft order will be submitted at the special meeting. The directors much regret to have to record the death of Mr. Alexander Young, one of their number, in place of whom they have elected Mr. Percy Mortimer. Messrs. Lewis Charles Foster and Edward St. Aubyn are the directors retiring by rotation, and Mr Octavins Newry Knox is the retiring auditor, and they respectively offer themselves for re-election."

The amount available for dividend is £15,922.

A special meeting of the company will follow to consider a draft order for a light railway in the county of Cornwall from the termination of their authorised line to North Hill.


                                                                                                                                              Western Morning News 4th March 1908