Heritage Locations

Wadebridge Station


This modest single storey building is now the site of the John Betjeman Centre.

Constructor:
Unclassified

Period of construction:
1850 - 1899

Transport Trust plaque:
No

Transport Mode:
Rail

Address:
John Betjeman Centre, PL27 7BX

Postcode:
PL27 7BX

Nearest Town:
Wadebridge

Heritage Centre:
Yes


Wadebridge railway station was on the Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway. It opened in 1834 to transport goods between the market town of Wadebridge, the limit of navigation on the River Camel, and inland farming and mining areas. The railway was built to take stone from local quarries such as the De Lank Quarries on Bodmin Moor towards the coast, as well as sand dredged from the River Camel and landed at the quays in Wadebridge inland to be used to improve the heavy local soil.

The station is situated just upstream of Wadebridge bridge and almost next to the tidal River Camel; a fact that prompted the former Poet Laureate John Betjeman to write in his autobiography "On Wadebridge station what a breath of sea scented the Camel Valley! Cornish air, soft Cornish rains, and silence after steam".

The original station in Wadebridge was built on a triangle of land bounded by the River Camel, the Polmorla brook, and what is now The Platt. The single platform and engine shed were on the town side of the line, which continued across Molesworth Street to serve the quays immediately downstream of Wadebridge bridge. Towards Bodmin, the railway ran along the valley floor, leaving the town environs past Guineaport quay, and then hugging the south side of the Camel valley. This station remained in use until 3 September 1888 when the railway closed so that the track, still laid on the granite blocks used in its construction in 1834, could be relaid using the more usual transverse wooden sleepers.

On 1 June 1895 the Bodmin & Wadebridge was linked to the London and South Western Railway's North Cornwall Line which stretched away through the sparsely populated countryside of North Cornwall to Launceston and Okehampton, diverging from the Bodmin line at Wadebridge Junction, at a point 48 chains east of Wadebridge station near where the River Allen joins the Camel. At this time a new station was built slightly nearer to Bodmin, separated from the central portion of Wadebridge town by the Polmorla brook. The single long platform contained the buildings that still exist: a one-storey station building incorporating a ticket office and waiting rooms, and a tall goods shed which was near enough to the rather squat station building to dominate it in height. In addition, a signal box was built immediately beyond the end of the platform.

The North Cornwall line closed on 1 October 1966, and Wadebridge station, along with the line from Bodmin, closed to passengers on 30 January 1967, but continued in use for freight until 1978.

The main station building, granite with slate tiles, still stands as the Betjeman Centre. Similarly the original part of the goods shed is in use as a youth club. A road, Southern Way, runs along the old trackbed where the main platform was.


Bibliography:

Austin, Stephen, The Withered Arm, Ian Allan, ISBN 0 7110 2622 X (1998)

Biddle, Gordon, Britain's Historic Railway Buildings, Oxford University Press, ISBN-10: 0198662475 (2003)

Biddle, Gordon & Nock, O.S., The Railway Heritage of Britain : 150 years of railway architecture and engineering, Studio Editions, ISBN-10: 1851705953 (1990)

Klapper, C.F., Sir Herbert Walker's Southern Railway, Ian Allan, ISBN 0 7110 0478 1 (1973)

Roche, T.W.E., The Withered Arm. Forge Books. (1967 reprinted 1984 and 1993)

Thomas, D. St J., A Regional History of the Railways of Britain, West Country, David & Charles, ISBN 0 7153 6363 8 ((1973)



Opening Times:
By arrangement on telephone 01208 812 392

How To Find:
Close to the river bridge in the centre of the town.

Facilities:


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