The Helston Railway have announced that royalty has visited the railway in Cornwall to open its newest halt, Truthall Halt.
As some will know, 55 years ago, the station at Truthall Halt was closed and demolished. One of the aims of the railway has been to reinstate this halt which is at the most southerly end of the line.
When the line was opened, it was hoped to persuade HRH The Prince of Wales to open the station, sadly, this wasn’t to be. Instead, the railway was delighted when HRH Duke of Gloucester KG, GCVO agreed to their request.
The day of the opening was set for Thursday 5th April 2018, the day arrived and the railway was ready for the opening. Being a small halt, the plan is a private ceremony with HRH meeting the key volunteers, funders and supporters and then HRH would go by train to Prospidnick Halt to meet the other volunteers who keep the railway running.
His Royal Highness was accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant and Mrs Bolitho, was met at Truthall Halt by Mr Philip Martin, who is the Chairman of Sithney Parish Council.
He was then introduced to the chairman of the Helston Railway Preservation Society charity, Chris Heaps, and then to James Packman, who is chairman of the Helston Railway Preservation Co. Ltd.
After unveiling the plaque to commemorate his visit, HRH was introduced by Chris Heaps to local dignitaries, including the Mayor of Helston, donors, trustees of the railway and directors of the operating company.
His Royal Highness was then introduced to his train crew, before riding in the cab of the locomotive to Prospidnick Halt, where James Packman introduced him to the many volunteers who helped to the reopening of the halt.
What did the officials say?
Thanking His Royal Highness for agreeing to his visit, Chris Heaps reminded guests of the history and 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 a 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.
Sixty five years later, in November 1962, the last passenger train left Helston for Gwinear Road, and two years later the residual goods service was withdrawn. The track was ripped up, the track-bed reverted to nature and the stations, including Truthall Halt, were demolished.
At the beginning of the 21st Century, a few railway enthusiasts contemplated the possibility of re-opening part of the line as a tourist attraction, and by 2007 volunteers had laid the first section of track at the site of a completely new station later to be built at Trevarno. Since then, over a mile of track has been laid and trains now operate between another new station at Prospidnick and Truthall Halt. None of this could have happened without the extraordinary contribution of the volunteers and the generosity of donors, to whom I can today publicly give thanks.
The achievements of the members of the Helston Railway Preservation Society were acknowledged when it received the National Railway Heritage Ian Allan Heritage Railway of the Year Award in 2010.
The halt is a faithful reproduction of the original Great Western Railway pagoda and platform and has been constructed entirely with voluntary labour, and is now the most southerly passenger station in Great Britain.
It is rumoured that the inhabitants of Helston were so proud of their new railway that they hoped that it would be opened by HRH The Prince of Wales. In that, they were disappointed, but we are so pleased that – over 130 years later – the line has received Royal recognition.”