Plus parts of East Cornwall and West Devon

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: August 19, 2018
Webpage updated: August 19, 2018

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The Great Western Railway Act 1903, which received the Royal Assent on August 11th 1903, gave the Great Western Railway Company legal authority to undertake "Deviation Number 2", 'commencing in the parish of Saint Germans at or near Saint Germans Station, and terminating in the parish of Saint Stephens by Saltash, at a point 36 chains or thereabouts east of the viaduct carrying that railway over Forder Lake, .....'  Furthermore, it allowed the Company 'to abandon and to discontinue maintenance and user of so much of the existing Cornwall Railway as will be rendered unnecessary by the construction of the said intended Deviation Number 2 .....'.

On Sunday March 22nd 1908 the first train, the 11.16am off Saint Germans Station, took the new railway line instead of, as the Western Morning news put it, 'creeping warily over the old timber bridge that has straddled gauntly across the river for the past thirty years ...'  Two gangs of men, numbering about fifty, had been working since daybreak at Wearde Siding and another gang at Saint Germans Station to prepare for the linking up of the new tracks and the disengaging of the old ones.  From 6.30am until 10am the engineers had complete possession of the Up line between Saltash Station and Wearde Signal Box, the Down line being used for all traffic.  The 9.15am train from Plymouth Station (Millbay) was the last Down train and the 9.55am from Saint Germans Station the last Up train before the Down track was cut off at 10.08am.  The engineers now had  absolute occupation and at just after 11am an engine and carriage arrived from Plymouth with Mr George Grant, the divisional superintendent, and Mr F Elms, the chief assistant engineer, who proceeded down the line to Saint Germans and back.  At 11.15am the certificates were issued for working the new Up line as a single line, it having been completed first, and thus the 11.16am train, having arrived at Saint Germans Station from Penzance, became the first to traverse the new line.

During the afternoon the engineers had possession of the Down track and the 7.15pm Plymouth Station (Millbay) to Liskeard train was the first to use the new Down line.  In fact, one short section of the new line was still to be completed, between Nottar and Saint Germans, where the new line crosses over the old route.  Other than that, and across the Royal Albert Bridge, there was now a double line from London Paddington Station to Penwithers Junction, just west of Truro Station.