The Branch Line Society


Visit to Imerys Installations
Friday 28th November 2014

The party of 28 met at St. Austell station for a 09.00 start with a JC Coaches vehicle. At the last minute, Imerys had imposed a party limit of 15 on all visits to the Par and Fowey Harbours area. Ours would also be the last 'large' party to visit the other locations we did. The day had to be radically changed so the bus went to Wheal Martyn Museum, much enlarged in the last few years. The group were treated to a guided tour and various interesting video information films by Ivor Bowditch of Imerys Minerals then had time to view the exhibits. There is much to see in the museum and a further lengthier visit is recommended. Back on the coach, it was past Gunheath (with a brief stop) and Higher Moor to Littlejohns Quarry where participants alighted to gaze down into a massive hole, a hive of activity with monitors spraying high pressure water jets to dislodge china clay particles from the rock. These are transported to the 'dries' (or dryers) by pipeline with the water, hence reducing use of rail transport in recent years. Lorries and dump trucks were being driven around in all directions. Sand and gravel is reclaimed for use in the building industry.

Next it was past Roche Rocks and Carbis Wharf (which has been tastefully converted to holiday flats) and Wheal Rose kilns, Bugle to the rail served Rocks Dryers, the largest of its type in the World. Here loco P205 was seen under repair and P206 was shunting wagons being loaded with china clay by JCB. Adjacent Goonbarrow Jct. signal box and its semaphores for the Newquay branch loop here were photographed. Next was Stenalees to explore the cutting and north entrance to Goonbarrow (Stenalees) Tunnel which was extremely wet. Then it was lunch at the Sawles Arms, Carthew with some of the party exploring the nearby former Carbean siding trackbed. After a drink and pasty the group were taken to the disused Blackpool Sidings (Burngullow Jct.) and looked at the derelict track work and once state of the art buildings. The 0-4-0 shunter dumped there last year had since moved to Bodmin.

Back on the coach it was past Foxhole Village to Drinnick Mill and Nanpean Wharf (where two members present had travelled to on our Cornish Clayliner railtour of 13 September 1987). Leaving the coach, participants viewed the disused track and buildings. Next was Treviscoe/Kernick where the group were allowed inside the loading area and saw the large linhays containing various grades of china clay. It was not particularly wet or sticky to everyone's surprise. Meledor Mill/Collins was the next port of call where a disused water wheel and rails where noted. At Parkandillack/Trelavour the group alighted to inspect the track and buildings. A heat and power incinerator is being built nearby and could easily be rail served from the branch. Then again back past Littlejohns Pit Tip, Gunheath to Wheel Martin Museum where Ivor left. The final call was a supermarket car park in St Austell to view the remains of the Pentewan Railway terminus clay cellars and the commemorative plaque. We finished at 16.45 at St Austell station after a very interesting and enjoyable day with just slight disappointment about missing two venues. The party were grateful to local member Maurice Dart for his major part in the arrangements.

Postscript: Further to this report, our oldest fixtures organiser, local St. Austell member Maurice Dart, (who recently celebrated his 83rd birthday while also still very busy compiling many books!) adds that before the party visited Wheal Martyn Museum and looked at the railway exhibits, there was a visit to the Bojea branch terminus at Lansalson, where parts of a point remain buried, and they viewed the flooded Lansalson clay pit. At Rocks Dryers the locos were P405D 'ISAAC' and P406D 'ALEX'; also the shunter previously at Blackpool was a 4wD rather than a 0-4-0. At Parkandillack several participants inspected the exterior of the Beam engine. Maurice is hoping to arrange a couple more of his interesting and popular days out in the area before too long.