Redruth and Chasewater Railway

Gauge: 4ft (1.2m)


Collection Objects

The central spine of Cornwall is rich in minerals: iron, and especially copper and tin which have been exploited since the earliest times. The Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw the demand for metals rise to unprecedented levels.

The Cornish mines needed access to a port and thus to South Wales where most smelting took place and where coal was mined. A mineral tramway was opened in 1812 from Scorrier to the north coast port of Portreath, five miles away. This was Cornwall’s first railway.

Certain mine owners decided to construct their own tramway rather than use it. Authorised by Act of Parliament in 1824, the Redruth and Chasewater Railway opened on January 30th 1826, running from the Gwennap copper mines to the south coast port of Devoran, with a branch line to service the mines of Redruth. The 4ft gauge line carried minerals and goods only and generally worked profitably. It was worked by horses until 1854 when two tank locomotives, Miner and Smelter, were bought – the first steam locomotives in Cornwall. Eventually during the 1860s the two competing lines were joined to form a coast to coast railway line.

The line closed in 1915.

Miner Neilson & Co. of 1854: 0-4-0 saddle tank (later converted to 0-4-2).
Smelter Neilson & Co. of 1854: 0-4-0 saddle tank (later converted to 0-6-0).
Spitfire Neilson & Co. of 1859: 0-6-0 saddle tank.

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