Station Name: GUNNISLAKE (1st site)

[Source: Martin James]

Date opened: 2.3.1908
Location: East side of Station Road. Chawleigh Close now occupies the site.
Company on opening: Plymouth, Devonport and South-Western Junction Railway
Date closed to passengers: 30.1.1994
Date closed completely: 30.1.1994
Company on closing: British Rail
Present state:

Station Road still exists, but the old station site has been completely obliterated and is now a road of houses - Chawleigh Close.

County: Cornwall
OS Grid Ref: SX427710
Date of visit:  
This history refers to what is now the 'old' Gunnislake Station, in Station Road to the north-west of Sand Hill (the A390 main road which the line crossed on a low bridge). The low bridge was the reason that the old Gunnislake Station was closed and replaced by a new station to the south-east of the A390, thus allowing the
bridge to be demolished and the road widened to take larger (taller) lorries.

The first railway in the Gunnislake area was the 3-foot 6-inch gauge East Cornwall Mineral Railway (ECMR) which ran between Calstock and Kelly Bray serving a number of depots en-route. This line opened on the 8th of May 1872 and ran until 1908 when it was replaced by a standard gauge railway from Bere Alston to Callington Station (which was actually in the village of Kelly Bray on the site of the old Kelly Bray Depot). Gunnislake Station was built on the site of Drakewalls Depot - some distance uphill to the south-west of Gunnislake village.

The line from Bere Alston to Callington opened on the 2nd of March 1908, replacing the narrow gauge line. From Bere Alston to Calstock. The line dropped on a steep gradient around tight curves until it crossed the main structure on the line at Calstock Viaduct where it went onto a new formation/route from the former ECMR line. The old route of the ECMR was regained
between Calstock and Gunnislake, about half-a-mile from Gunnislake Station. This standard gauge line was a Colonel Stephens railway, for which he was the consultant engineer, built with significant gradients and tight curves. The whole line was built with 'light signalling' without any distant or shunt signals. There were signalling block posts at Bere Alston, Calstock, Gunnislake and Callington.

Gunnislake Station was the only signalled passing place between Bere Alston and Callington and consisted of an island platform with a small station building a ground level signal box and very little else in the way of facilities. The block section token instruments were located in the station building. It was possible for two freight trains to pass at Calstock or an up passenger
train and a down freight to pass, but working timetables don't show whether this facility was ever utilised.

Rationalisation started in 1966, freight traffic was withdrawn from Gunnislake on 28th February and on 27th June the sidings were closed, followed on 7th November by the withdrawal of all traffic between Gunnislake and Callington. The track at Gunnislake was then modified to leave just the loop either side of the island platform. DMUs from Bere Alston or Plymouth still arrived on the down/south-west face of the platform and then shunted forward before reversing to depart from the up/north-east face. Gunnislake continued, however, to be a block-post.

From 5th May 1968, the signal boxes at Bere Alston, Calstock and Gunnislake were closed (when the main line from Bere Alston to Meldon Quarry closed) and train services then operated on a one-engine-in-steam basis from St. Budeaux - Victoria Road (Plymouth) on a long section staff. All remaining track was removed at Gunnislake leaving only a single line on the north east
face of the island platform, being used for terminating DMUs from Plymouth. The platform buildings at Gunnislake were demolished in c.1979 and replaced by a breeze block waiting shelter which was short lived having been replaced by a glass 'bus shelter' by 1990.

Final closure of the old station took place on the 30th January 1994.

When the line opened in the summer of 1908, the LSWR ran up to five trains each way daily, a pattern which continued at least until the summer of 1914. There were no trains on Sundays. In Southern Railway days, the service was improved, including the introduction of trains on Sundays

In BR days, there were 8 services daily, plus 3 more which only ran between Bere Alston and Gunnislake. From 1966 to 1968, following the closure of the line between Gunnislake and Callington, there were ten trains each way between Bere Alston and Gunnislake. This has now settled down to eight trains a day; some of which go to/come from further afield than Plymouth.

As might be imagined, the main traffic over the line was from the numerous mines and quarries in the area and the number of freight trains on the line reflected the traffic demands.

The Callington branch had freight trains from the opening in 1908 until withdrawal of freight facilities in 1966. These trains serviced not only the stations but also the numerous sidings along the way, of which there were up to seven over the life of the line. There were both dedicated freight trains and mixed trains. In 1958, there were three freight trains and three mixed trains,
although not all of these traversed the whole branch, some terminating at Gunnislake.

Tickets from Michael Stewart 28.2.1966

Gunnislake Station in c.1907 before opening. Note the contractors line on the right
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Gunnislake Station in c.1910
Copyright photo from John Alsop collection

Gunnislake Station looking north in February 1973. By this date the platform was accessed by a footpath across the former 'up' track seen in the foreground. Until 1968 when the loop line was lifted the platform was assessed by a subway.
hoto by Alan Young

Gunnislake Station looking north in c.1980. By this time the platform buildings had been demolished and replaced by a breeze block waiting shelter
hoto by Martin James

Gunnislake Station looking south in July 1991 - the breeze block shelter was short lived and was replaced by a 'bus shelter'.
hoto by Alan Young

The site of Gunnislake Station in June 2006
Photo by Andrew Bartlett from his Really Good Trains web site

Click here for more pictures of Gunnislake Station




[Source: Martin James]

Last updated: Sunday, 21-May-2017 09:40:00 CEST
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