THE broad gauge (7ft 0¼ins) Cornwall Railway was opened between Plymouth and Truro in 1859. It had a station at Bodmin Road and became part of the Great Western Railway in 1876.
The Bodmin branch line was authorized by Act of Parliament on 10 August 1882. The first sod was cut in March 1884 and the line opened from Bodmin Road (now Bodmin Parkway) to Bodmin, a distance of 3½ miles, on 27 May 1887, built to standard gauge (4ft 8½ins).
A further line, from Bodmin to Boscarne Junction, a distance of 3 miles, was opened in September 1888 to connect with the existing Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway, which had opened back in 1834 (running from Wadebridge to Wenfordbridge, with a branch to Bodmin). The Bodmin & Wadebridge line was one of the first railways in the world to use steam locomotives and certainly the first in Cornwall, and was taken over by the London & South Western Railway in 1847.
The LSWR became part of the Southern Railway in 1923, and this formed the Southern Region of British Railways upon nationalization in 1948. BR Western Region, as successor to the GWR, took control of the SR stations in the area for commercial purposes from 1950-58, and gained complete control in January 1963.
Steam hauled passenger services ended on the line in 1963. Rationalisation started in June 1964 when a shuttle service was introduced between Bodmin North and Boscarne Junction, where new exchange facilities were established. Withdrawal of all passenger services between Padstow and Bodmin Road took place on 30 January 1967.
Freight trains continued to run between Bodmin Road and Wadebridge until September 1978. The line to Wenfordbridge remained open for china clay traffic until 03 October 1983, when complete closure of the route took place.
Efforts to preserve the branch line, with a view to reopening it as a heritage steam railway, began shortly after closure. The Bodmin Railway Preservation Society (BRPS) was thus formed in July 1984. In a bid to raise the £139,600 needed to purchase the line from Bodmin Parkway to Boscarne Junction, via Bodmin General, the Bodmin & Wenford Railway plc was formed by the Society. The Company successfully purchased the track, and North Cornwall District Council (now part of Cornwall Council) secured the land, from British Rail.
The first Open Day was held on Sunday 1 June 1986, when a small steam locomotive – former Devonport Dockyard 0-4-0ST No 19 – performed shunting demonstrations at Bodmin General Station. These were the first authorised train movements in the preservation era, and thus the Bodmin & Wenford Railway is proud to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2011.
The necessary Light Railway Order was obtained on 31 August 1989. Regular services between Bodmin Parkway and Bodmin General were restored on 17 June 1990, and the line was extended back to Boscarne Junction six years later, on 15 August 1996.
Since then the Bodmin & Wenford Railway has operated trains – principally steam, but with some heritage diesel services – over the 6½ miles between Bodmin Parkway and Boscarne Junction via Bodmin General.
The railway has now firmly established itself as one of the country's finest steam railways, Cornwall’s only full size (standard gauge) railway still regularly operated by steam locomotives………and a great family attracktion!