The East Cornwall Mineral Railway (ECMR)

East Cornwall Mineral Railway

The East Cornwall Mineral Railway (ECMR) was an independant railway, constructed as a narrow gauge (3' 6") single-track line to carry ore and stone from the mines and quarries in the area around Callington ( Gunnislake and Kit Hill, where there were lodes rich in copper, tin and arsenic) down to quays on the River Tamar at Calstock.

1862 The Tamar, Kit Hill and Callington Railway Company (TKH&CR) was formed to connect the Callington mines to the quays at Calstock for onward transport by barge.

1863 work started, halted in 1866 because of financial difficulties. In 1869 a new Callington and Calstock Railway was formed to take over the work and in 1871 the railway was re-named as the East Cornwall Mineral Railway (ECMR). The ECMR was opened officially on 7thMay1872, although some sections had been in use for five years previously.

The ECMR was about 8 miles long and it ran from Kelly Bray (about 1¼ miles north of Callington) to Calstock. A rope-worked incline about 800 feet long dropped the trains down 350 feet to the riverside quays.

1891 the ECMR was purchased by the Plymouth, Devonport & South Western Junction Railway (PD&SWJR) and in 1908 the PD&SWJR extended the ECMR eastwards across the River Tamar to a new junction at their existing station at Bere Alston. The line was re-gauged to the 4' 8½" standard gauge and upgraded to carry passenger trains. The extension was known officially as the "Bere Alston & Calstock Light Railway", but often called simply the "Calstock Light Railway".

1904 The magnificent twelve-arched viaduct at Calstock and its steam-driven, vertical wagon hoist that was built at the Calstock side of the viaduct to lower wagons to the ECMR's terminal quay. The viaduct was constructed of concrete blocks and has twelve arches, each of 60ft span. The rail level is 120ft above river level. The wagon lift was one of the highest in England, the difference in levels being 113ft. The cage could hold one four wheeled open wagon, weighing laden approximately 15 tons. The viaduct was commenced in mid 1904 but was not finished till August 1907.

1923 The PD&SWJR became part of the Southern Railwayi .

After nationalisation in 1948 what was known as the "Callington Branch" . On 5-Nov-1966 the line was closed completely from Callington to Gunnislake.

"Callington Railways" - R Crombleholme et al, pub Forge Books 1985
"An Historical Survey of the Mines and Mineral Railways of East Cornwall and West Devon" - DB Barton, pub Bradford Barton 1964
"Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley" - F Booker, pub David & Charles
"Plymouth, Devonport & South Western Junction Railway" - AJ Cheesman, pub Oakwood Press 1967
"Railway Magazine" - 1898, Feb 1908, June 1914, May 1951
"Tavistock to Plymouth" - V Mitchell and K Smith, pub Middleton Press 1996

Cornwall Mineral Railways