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The station was opened with the Cornwall Railway extension to Falmouth on 24 August 1863.
It was called Perran until it was renamed Perranwell on 19 February 1864 to avoid confusion with nearby Penryn.
The goods shed still stands in the forecourt despite goods traffic ceasing on 4 January 1965. A dry drinking fountain can be seen on the platform, a reminder of more important days. The signal box here was very distinctive, being sited on girders above the track alongside the goods shed.
A short distance on either side of the station, valleys had to be crossed on lofty timber viaducts. To the north, Carnon Viaduct crossed 96 feet above the Carnon River valley and the Redruth and Chasewater Railway. In the other direction, trains crossed the smaller Perran Viaduct (56 feet high, 339 feet long).