Royal opening for replica Helston halt

BRITAIN’S most southerly station – the new Truthall Halt on the Helston Railway – has received a royal booster.

The Queen’s cousin HRH Prince Richard The Duke of Gloucester KG, GCVO officially opened the rebuilt halt on Thursday, April 5, more than 55 years after the GWR Helston branch was closed by BR.

The duke, who is also a patron of the Severn Valley Railway, and 24th in line of succession to the throne, was accompanied by the Lord Lieutanant Edward Bolitho and Mrs Alexandra Bolitho, and was received at the halt by Philip Martin, chairman of Sithney Parish Council.

The Duke of Gloucester climbs aboard Ruston & Hornsby diesel No. 27974. This is a fake BR number and in its working life the locomotive never carried Rail Blue livery or even worked for BR. It was built in 1954 and was delivered new to the British Sugar Corporation at Bardney in Lincolnshire then in 1982 transferred to the BSC works at King’s Lynn. In 1997, Great Eastern Traction preserved it for use at Hardingham station on the Mid-Norfolk Railway. It later moved to the Northampton Ironstone Railway before being bought by three members of the Helston Diesel Group in 2007. BARBARA BARNES

He was then introduced to Chris Heaps, the chairman of the Helston Railway Preservation Society charity, and to James Packman, the chairman of the Helston Railway Preservation Co. Ltd which operates the trains on the mile-long heritage line.

Chris said: “Fifty years after the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830, the inhabitants of Helston were frustrated that their ancient borough was still not connected with the national railway network.

There had been a number of abortive attempts to build a line, but it was not until 1880 that The Helston Railway Act received Royal Assent. Supported and funded by local residents, the first sod was cut in 1882, and the line eventually opened in May 1887.

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