Forgotten Bude harbour 2ft gauge tramway exposed by shifting sands

BARNACLE-encrusted track panels from a lost tramway across Summerleaze Beach at Bude have been uncovered by high tides.

The 2ft gauge track appears to be an extension of rails which are set into the harbourside where the Bude Canal forms the town port before it enters the sea.

Recent storms have washed around 3ft of sand from the beach, revealing the lost panels.
Sand used to be regularly taken from the beach to barges or used as ship’s ballast.

One of the narrow gauge track panels exposed on Summerleaze Beach at Bude. NICKY COOTE

The canal at Bude originally ran to a point just north of Launceston, and the sand was taken inland by barge for use as fertiliser.

The tramway allowed sand to be taken in donkey-hauled trucks to waiting barges, and then to the town’s LSWR station, where it would be loaded into wagons.

The rails on the beach are said to date from 1924 when sand was transported to reclaim land near the town’s recreation ground. The taking of sand from the beach ended in 1941.

If the Bude branch could be taken as one of the furthest extension of a finger from the LSWR ‘Withered Arm’ west of Exeter, then the tramway could be considered as a fingernail of it?

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