Cornwall

Threatened Padstow railway building future secured

Padstow station in its heyday Image copyright Tintagelweb
Image caption The line from Padstow to Wadebridge was closed on 30 January 1967

For many years one of the most popular ways to travel to the North Cornwall resort of Padstow was by rail.

As well as bringing in carriages full of holidaymakers and day trippers, the Padstow line took fish from the harbour to various parts of the region.

The busy route even carried cattle at one time.

Charlie Watson Smyth, who farms in the area, said: "We always used to milk Ayrshire cows, and when we wanted replacements they came on the train from Ayrshire.

"They were unloaded at the Padstow station and then walked through the town up to our farm. It would be an interesting thing to see today."

However by the middle of the 1960s the railway line was one of the victims of Dr Beeching's hammer. Today all that remains is the station house and part of the platform.

Image caption The platform remains at the station, but the railway line is now a car park

John Buckingham, the president of Padstow's Old Cornwall Society, said: "It is special in many ways.

"I did travel on the old line. I'm an old Truro School boy and we used to go to school by rail.

"From here we'd go to Bodmin Road and then down to Truro and back again at half term.

"It was a very picturesque route. The section from Wadebridge to Padstow is fantastic just watching the Camel Estuary as it unfolds. It's beautiful. Today we can walk and cycle it."

Padstow's railway station was opened in 1899 by the London and South Western Railway (LSWR).

In its heyday Padstow's station was served by the Atlantic Coast Express, which was a direct service from London Waterloo.

The line finally closed in 1967.

The Railway Heritage Trust described the station building as "one of the last remaining relics of the Southern Railway in Cornwall".

Image caption The town council has been told the high radon issues can be sorted out, and it is now planning the building's future

Padstow Town Council made the station's building its home until September 2012, when staff had to relocate because of high levels of radon gas as well as a broken sewer and unsafe electrical wiring.

The council said at the time the future of the building was "very uncertain".

Mr Watson Smyth, who is also the chairman of the council said: "Three years ago we were having lots of problems with radon. They were four time higher than the recommended levels. We really had to move out.

"We were very worried that we would have to knock it down. We know from surveys that people did not want us to do that."

A newly refurbished car park stands where the railway line once lay.

Now the council is keen to give the railway's station building a facelift as well.

John Bealing, the lead member of the council's steering group, said: "The radon can be easily rectified now and the electrical problems.

"When we looked at it we thought the slate would have deteriorated. But our structural engineer said it was sound and could be redeveloped.

"We have ideas to relocate the town council and hopefully create an area for a museum. That's ultimately our aim. We've had talks with the museum in the town who are interested to be involved.

"With a phased approach we could build on the end to compliment the building for the future."

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