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The Cornwall Minerals Railway operated a network of railway lines in Cornwall. Based at St Blazey, its network stretched from Fowey to Newquay and lasted as an independent company from 1874 to 1896, after which it became a part of the Great Western Railway.
The Cornwall Minerals Railway was authorised by Act of Parliament on 21 July 1873 and opened on 1 June 1874. The act allowed the CMR to take over and replace several earlier railways and tramways:
1829 Joseph Thomas Treffry opened a canal from Par to the foot of Penpillick Hill, later to be extended to Ponts Mill. This connected via an inclined plane and tramroad to the rapidly expanding Fowey Consols copper mine.
c.1839 Work began on another incline and tramroad through Carmears woods and across the viaduct/aqueduct which spanned the Luxulyan Valley. After leaving the viaduct the line terminated at Molinnis near Bugle.
1841 Construction started of the Par and Bugle lines of the Treffry Tramways; these were completed from Pontsmill to Bugle in 1847, extended to Par Harbour alongside the route of the Par Canal in 1855; worked by horse power.
1844 The Newquay lines of the Treffry Tramways, also known as the Newquay Railway, were authorised by Act of Parliament, from Newquay harbour to St. Dennis Junction (Hendra?) with a branch to East Wheal Rose at Newlyn East, worked by horse power. The line was completed in 1849 and was the beginning of what was to become the Cornwall Minerals Railway.
1869 The Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway (NCJR), a 7 ft 0¼ in (2,140 mm) broad gauge railway opened on 1 July 1869.
New connecting lines were opened from Hendra to the terminus of the NCJR at Nanpean. The existing lines of the tramways were relaid to accommodate locomotive haulage, and new bypass sections built to avoid the Carmears Incline and Treffry Viaduct, and the low-profile Toldish tunnel.
In addition new branches were built:
The heavy iron ore traffic expected from the branches beyond Newquay failed to materialise leaving the railway with mainly china clay traffic from around St Dennis and Bugle.
1874 Extract from Engineering 8th May 1874;
'A preliminary trip has been made over this line. Sir Morton Peto, Bart., has been the contractor. At Fowey there are three jetties and three sets of mooring piles. A tunnel between Fowey and Par is 1280 yards long, and lined with masonry throughout. The section from Fowey to Luxulyan presents beautiful scenery, especially on emerging from the tunnel to the view over Par Bay, and among the woods and granite hills about Luxulyan. The bridges and buildings on the whole line are all stone or granite, and a very high one is noticeable over Luxulyan cutting.'
1876 A passenger service was instigated from Fowey railway station to Newquay railway station on 20 July .
1877 1 October: the Great Western Railway took over the operation of the railway
1879 a short line was opened linking the CMR St Blazey railway station with the GWR Par railway station.
1892 Through trains were able to run beyond Par after 23 May when the Great Western main line - and the Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway line - was rebuilt for 4 ft 8½ in (1,435 mm) standard gauge trains.
1893 the Cornwall Minerals Railway was extended with the addition of the new Goonbarrow branch to Carbean. This was outside the operating agreement with the Great Western and so was operated by the CMR on their own account.
1893 the Lostwithiel and Fowey Railway was transferred to the Cornwall Minerals Railway. This broad gauge line had opened on 1 June 1869 but closed on 1 January 1880 after the Minerals Railway had drained most of its traffic. A new connection was put in place between the two lines at Carne Point, new piers constructed and the line rebuilt to standard gauge. It reopened on 16 September 1895.
1896 The Cornwall Minerals Railway was amalgamated with the Great Western Railway on 1 July.
Most of the company's main line route has survived to the current day as the Atlantic Coast Line between Par and Newquay, and as the Lostwithiel to Fowey freight line.
1968 the route between Par and Fowey closed and was converted to be a private road for English China Clays to carry china clay from the driers at Par to the deep sea docks at Fowey.