Rail project still on track
AMBITIOUS plans to create a miniature ride on railway in Mawgan Porth are on track to open in the next year.
Cornwall Miniature Railway aims to establish the visitor attraction on a site adjacent to Mawgan Porth Village Hall.
Owner Richard Curtis from Newquay aims to realise his ‘vision’ after spending many years working on steam railways, which has been a lifelong passion.
A pre-planning application was submitted to Cornwall Council in November outlining the scheme ahead of a full planning proposal being put forward. The scheme involves establishing a ride on miniature railway, mainly powered by steam engines, on a track width of 7 ¼ inches with a ride length of half a mile lasting more than five minutes.
The railway will also include a single storey station building containing a station platform with undercover overnight storage of rolling stock, a gift shop, coffee shop, snack kiosk, visitor toilets, outside play area, picnic area and a car park for at least 40 cars.
A locomotive named Royal Scot, which has been obtained from the Little Western Railway at Trenance Park in Newquay, is undergoing restoration and is due to be completed later this year. Another engine has been ordered that will remain with the manufacturer until planning permission has been obtained and the site has been built.
Richard said: “I am a proud Cornishman who has lived in Newquay and its surrounding area all my life, in fact my mother’s family are from St Mawgan. I have founded a company called Cornwall Miniature Railway Limited with the intention of building a miniature ride on railway.
“Looking at various sites in the county I came across a parcel of land south of The Park in Mawgan Porth which the company was lucky enough to purchase. We also plan to landscape the site and plant native vegetation to reduce any visual impact on the area. Having local family connections to the area of St Mawgan and Newquay, I know the potential of such a project in an area where tourism plays a key role.
“My passion for steam railways started from a young age. At the age of 14 I started work at a commercial steam railway, driving steam locomotives since the age of 18 and later, at age 21, securing the position of retail manager, whilst still being a driver. Within the last 18 months of my work I also held the job of railway operations, as well as retail manager, giving me experience of how to run a railway and ensuring key aspects of the business function, as well as training new drivers and project management.
“Two years ago I was lucky enough to purchase my own steam engine with the aim of one day building my own railway. The engine is a 7 ¼ inch gauge steam locomotive which was in a rundown state. Since then I have been restoring the engine. With the engine nearing completion and securing years of experience in the tourism and railway sector, it was time to realise my vision. So I parted company with my employer, which allowed me to focus all my time on the project. We’d like to work with businesses in the area and will endeavour not to compete with other businesses in the village and only enhance each other. The aim of this attraction is not a full day experience but instead will be an activity which can be visited alongside other attractions or the beach.
“We are keen to contribute towards the community of the parish as much as possible. Reading through the 10-year parish plan we believe the project can work towards key areas highlighted in the parish plan, which include an activity for beach users when the weather is poor or the tide is in, promote the family-friendly ethos of the parish and the creation of additional employment opportunities in the parish.”
The Royal Scot has previously spent 50 years working at the Little Western Railway.
Richard said: “The locomotive we are restoring is named Royal Scot, of which the full-size engine still exists and is currently operating throughout the country. Our engine has been in Cornwall 50 years now and used to run at the Little Western Railway next to Newquay Zoo, but sadly has not run for the past 20 having been kept in storage.
“However, a stronger, brand new engine has been placed on order in the event of a successful planning application. It is already built and I have already test driven it.
“Cornwall Miniature Railway will be run as a small business. During the design phase we have been using Exmoor Steam Railway as our consultants who are one of the most reputable builders of railways and rolling stock in the country.
“Having visited many railways and gaining contacts in the railway world, we know what great benefits come from a steam railway. Whether it be full-size or miniature, their popularity increases steadily year on year.
“Our shop will not just stock souvenirs from a visit to us. Some products we intend to stock are pocket money items, branded toys such as Thomas and Friends.”
- 16th February 2017 19:03
- what an inspiring young man. I think that all locals should be encouraging our young enthusiastic people and back them 100%. Mr Curtis has obviously got bucket loads of passion for his dream adventure so why would anyone not wish him the very best for his new project. Wishing you the very best of success!