|Location:||At the end of Station Road|
|Company on opening:||North Cornwall Railway Company|
|Date closed to passengers:||30.1.1967|
|Date closed completely:||30.1.1967|
|Company on closing:||
British Rail (Western Region)
|Present state:||Today the route of the line is used as the Camel cycle trail. The station buildings at Padstow are being refurbished and it is hoped it will eventually house a museum. Much of the remainder of the site is given over to car parking. Most of the platform is intact with railing along the edge for safety. A new building alongside the platform for much of its length houses shops and restaurants|
|OS Grid Ref:||SW920752|
|Date of visit:||January 2000|
The new station had a single platform 300ft in length, with a building on the down side which was constructed to a standard design found at many stations on the North Cornwall Railway (NCR). It incorporated the stationmaster's house and station offices. The house was T-plan built in local rubble masonry, dressed on the corners and at openings, with a pitched slate roof. The single-storey office range was on the north side of the house and was of similar construction with a hipped slate roof. The office range included the booking office, parcel office and porters' room (entered from the end of the building) and general waiting room. There was a ladies’ waiting room in the lower floor of the house entered from the general waiting room. A single-storey wing, also in stone with a sloping roof, at the south end of the house, was for the gents’ toilet. A platform canopy decorated with saw-tooth valencing was also provided.
At the north end of the platform, an 18-lever single-storey stone signal box with a Stevens frame controlled access to the goods yard and other sidings. The box was an LSWR Type 4, a very common type especially on the company's lines in Devon and Cornwall. Alongside the box, a corrugated iron lamp room with a timber front was sited at the back of the platform.
Padstow did not have an engine shed, but featured two different turntable sites and an associated loco siding and facilities. All evidence suggests that no enginemen were stationed there even on a daily basis, so these facilities were classed as a simple turning and minor servicing point. A turntable was recommended by the Board of Trade but it wasn't installed until 1900 when a 50ft turntable was built on the up side of the line, opposite the goods shed. A grounded coach body was provided alongside the turntable as a bothy for the engine men. In 1910 a carriage siding was added between the run-round loop and the fish shed.
The Metropole Hotel overlooks the station to the north. Certain details of the hotel in its early days are shrouded in mystery. Apparently originally named the South Western Hotel (see the 1905 OS map), the hotel's own website states, at the time of writing, that it was built between 1900 and 1904 for ship owners John Cory & Sons but makes no mention of the South Western name. One could be forgiven for assuming the name 'South Western Hotel' meant that it was a railway hotel, i.e. owned by the railway, but this was not the case and it should be remembered that initially the LSWR only worked the line; it did not own it until 1922. The hotel would probably have been built because of the coming of the railway but the 'South Western Hotel' name most likely had its origins in the hotel simply being located in the south-west. The name may, however, have been decided upon by agreement with the LSWR. The South Western name also appears on period postcard views. Quite when the ‘Metropole’ name was assumed is unclear. The hotel was sold to Trust House in 1936 and requisitioned by the Admiralty during the Second World War.
The West Quay was further extended in 1928, and a 'bull-nose' was added to the railway jetty in 1935. Amongst other things, the railway jetty incorporated a wagon weighbridge.
In 1922 the majority of railways in Great Britain were amalgamated into four. In connection with the formation of the Southern Railway, the NCR was finally absorbed by the L&SWR which in turn was absorbed into the Southern Railway. The NCR was formally wound up on 6 March 1923.
The station's heyday was around the time of the railway grouping when it saw substantial passenger traffic in the form of holidaymakers and daytrippers to the coast. The station was served by the famous Atlantic Coast Express, a direct service from Waterloo. When the Southern Railway took over responsibility of the North Cornwall Line and stations they decided, given the levels of fish traffic at Padstow, to extend the fish shed by 100ft, this was completed in the early 1930s. On the site of the old turntable local fish merchant Pawlyn Brothers erected a number of timber buildings for a fish curing depot.
There were two types of passenger train service throughout the life of Padstow Station with through trains to Okehampton, Exeter or Waterloo and local trains to Wadebridge and Bodmin North. Apart from the usual general freight, there were perishable goods dispatched daily on the 'Up Perisher' - the 3:13 p.m. passenger service from Padstow - and fish which was dispatched daily on the 4:30 p.m. fish van train.
Southern/Western National buses were outstationed at Padstow station from 1935. Outstations were places were buses and crews were based away from the main depots and were often located on railway, or former railway, land.
In 1947 the turntable pit was enlarged and a new 65ft turntable installed to accommodate Bulleid Pacifics. The jetty wall was partially rebuilt to make room for this. An early 1950s photograph shows a narrow slit in the brick wall facing the turntable. Its purpose is unknown, but the wall resembles what is known as a 'loopholed wall' which would have been used by a Home Guard rifleman during WW2 as part of the defence of the station. By the late 1950s the slit had been enlarged into a window.
At nationalisation in 1948, Padstow station became part of the Southern Region of British Railways. A number of major regional boundary changes took place on 2 April 1950, one of which was the transfer of all of the former Southern Railway lines west of Exeter (including Padstow, of course) to the Western Region. However, on 2 February 1958 these lines reverted to Southern Region administration, only to return to the Western Region on 1 January 1963. Although the neighbouring Wadebridge station was fitted with BR Southern Region totems during the 1958-62 period, Padstow did not receive them.
The Beeching Report proposed the closure of Padstow station and the lines serving it. Closure started in 1964 with the withdrawal of goods traffic from 7 September and the last running of the Atlantic Coast Express on 5 September and most of other through passenger trains to Waterloo. At the beginning of 1965, DMUs replaced steam-hauled services and for the first time in its history, the North Cornwall line had some trains (when single-unit DMUs of classes 121/2, nicknamed 'bubble cars', were diagrammed) which were only second class and contained no toilets.
Padstow signal box was abolished and replaced by a ground frame unlocked by an Annetts key attached to the train staff sometime between August and December 1965. After closure it was quickly demolished. The runround loop left in situ for use of by the Bodmin school train which was loco hauled.
Closure to passengers of the Bodmin Road – Padstow line was formally proposed on 21 October 1965, and on 15 September 1966 Barbara Castle, Minister of Transport, gave consent. All through services ceased in September 1966 and the North Cornwall line closed completely at the beginning of October 1966; by then the only trains which served Padstow were local trains from Bodmin Road which reversed at Bodmin General to continue to Wadebridge and Padstow. The final railtour into Padstow was the 'North Cornwall Farewell Railtour' on 1 Oct 1966. The final trains to Padstow were on the 28 January 1967 and the line officially closed two days later. The track was lifted circa early 1968, and within a few years the trackbed was being used for car parking while the station forecourt remained an outstation for Western National buses.
Through the 1970s the station building was boarded up and out of use and circa 1976 the south end of the platform was demolished. The station building eventually found a new use as a cycle-hire shop. The trackbed leading into Padstow now forms part of the Camel Trail, a recreational route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. In 1977 the station buildings were purchased by Padstow Town Council and the Padstow Echo (No 44) reported 'The Station House has been made secure and the first floor will be made into new Council Offices.' The Council eventually moved from North Quay into Station House c1979.
Externally the building remained largely unaltered but there were internal modifications with the council chamber located where the booking office and waiting room once were. The lower floor of the stationmaster's house was used as council offices with the upper floor being used for storage. The fish shed, part of which had been used as a base for Padstow Cycle Hire, was demolished in 2000.
The Railway Heritage Trust described the station building as ‘one of the last remaining relics of the Southern Railway in Cornwall’. Despite this, the building was assessed for listing in 2012, but failed to meet the required criteria.
The Council were forced to move out of the building in September 2012 because of naturally occurring radioactive radon gas which was four times higher than the recommended levels. There was also a broken sewer and unsafe electrical wiring. Demolition was considered but the town council has been told the high radon and electrical problems can easily be rectified. Refurbishment of the building started in January 2016. The Town Council are planning to move back into the building once refurbishment has been completed. The building has been completely stripped to address dry rot and damp issues. Future plans now include a double extension which will involve demolition of the public toilets (the old gents' toilet). Click here to see council presentation slides.
Plans have been mooted by the current Bodmin & Wenford Railway to reopen the line to Padstow, but this is unlikely as a new route through Wadebridge would have to be found. The return of trains to Wadebridge following the line of the Camel Trail is highly likely, but not to Padstow.
In LSWR days in the summer of 1914, there were six up trains and seven down trains to and from Okehampton, Exeter and Waterloo, but they was supplemented by local services to Wadebridge and Bodmin North giving a total of 12 up and 11 down trains daily. There were no trains on Sundays.
In the summer of 1932, the Southern Railway maintained the service although it was now seven up trains and six down trains. On weekdays the 3.13 p.m. departure was known as the 'Up Perisher' - the passenger coaches going to Exeter, with the vans which formed the rest of the train destined for Templecombe and/or London (see section on freight). There were also five local trains daily to/from Bodmin North. The working timetable for the summer of 1932 does show two Padstow trains on a Sunday - a half-day excursion to Paignton, which ran via Halwill, Okehampton and Exeter St. David's, and a half-day excursion from Exmouth to Padstow. This was not uncommon on lines normally closed on Sundays.
In BR days the winter service had been cut back to only four trains a day over the North Cornwall line in each direction, although two of these were to/from Waterloo the other two were to/from Okehampton or Exeter. In addition, there were eight up local trains and ten down local trains - two of which travelled to/from Bodmin Road (WR).
Unlike most stations which just dealt with general freight, cattle etc., Padstow was associated with two specific types of freight throughout its history for which particular trains ran.
On Monday-to-Saturday during part of Southern Railway and British Railways days the 11.00 am Waterloo to West of England service - which was known as the Atlantic Coast Express (the ACE) - was the most multi-portioned train in the world with coaches for Plymouth, Padstow, Bude, Torrington, Ilfracombe, Exeter Central (two kitchen/restaurant cars), Exmouth, Sidmouth and Exeter - the latter single coach being detached at Salisbury at 12.23 pm and added to a local all-stations train to Exeter Central which left 13 minutes later at 12.36 pm. In winter the ACE consisted of 13 coaches with three coaches for Ilfracombe, two for Plymouth, the two kitchen/restaurant cars for Exeter, and a single brake-composite coach for each of the other six destinations - including Padstow with arrival at 5.00 pm. On busy summer Saturdays the train ran in four portions with many coaches for each of the destinations. In BR days at the height of holiday season, the 11.00 am Saturday departure from Padstow to Waterloo consisted of eight coaches including a kitchen car and a composite restaurant car. It was usually hauled by a West Country Pacific loco although a photo exists showing the train hauled by a pair of N-Class 2-6-0 locos.
The 3.13 pm passenger train went as far as Exeter but the vans continued further afield to Templecombe (for the S&DJR) and London. In the summer of 1956, this included the returning VAN B which arrived on the 1.15 am ex-Waterloo newspaper train and other vans for the perishable goods. At Halwill Junction, it was common practice for a number of Conflat wagons with containers - containing meat from the slaughter house in the yard - to be added to the 'Up Perisher'. The 6.00 pm passenger departure from Padstow also carried vans - in 1956, this was a VAN B for Exeter and a BY for Nine Elms. The large fish shed at Padstow generated much fish traffic and, to accommodate this, a fish van train departed Padstow at 4.30 pm daily destined for Nine Elms.
As early as the year of opening in 1899, the LSWR realised the importance of the freight traffic and put on a fast afternoon goods train leaving Padstow at 3.30 pm calling only at Wadebridge, Camelford, Delabole and Launceston. This train joined with the Plymouth-Nine Elms freight at Meldon Junction for a fast run to London. Regular outgoing traffic also included cattle and rabbits while a major source of inbound traffic was China Clay but this traffic was lost to Fowey and Par in 1936. Pope & Sons were LSWR and SR general cartage agents. Pope also ran buses.
Hobson & Co. (Lowestoft), Lowestoft Fish Selling Co. Ltd. and Lowestoft Coaling Co. Ltd. all had a presence at Padstow. Grimsby Coal, Salt and Tanning Co. also had a presence at Padstow and dealt with ship's chandlery. General merchants Messrs. Bray & Parken received rail-borne goods. They also imported coal by coastal vessel until the 1940s.
Later Motive Power
Special thanks to local author Malcolm McCarthy for giving me access to his collection of photographs. Malcolm has written numerous books about Padstow. Also Darren Kitson for writing and researching many of the captions.
Click here to see a detailed scale model of Padstow station built by John Lambert
Film - Railways in North Cornwall 1960 (includes a journey from Wadebridge to Padstow
See also: Halwill for Beaworthy
Click here for Padstow Gallery 2:
27 March 1899 - Early 20th Century