Treffry Tramways

Treffry Tramways
The present day access line to Par Harbour uses the route of the tramway constructed alongside the Par Canal in 1855. Here it passes under the Cornish Main Line on the Par Viaduct.

The Treffry Tramways were a disjoint network of horse worked mineral tramways in Cornwall in the United Kingdom. They were named after the man principally responsible for their construction, Joseph Treffry (1782-1850), a local land owner and entrepreneur. At their maximum extent, the Treffry Tramways consisted of two separate main lines. One of these, sometimes called the Par Tramway, linked Par with Bugle in the central Cornwall china clay district. The other, sometimes called the Newquay Railway, linked Newquay with the lead mines near Newlyn East, and with Hendra in the china clay district.[1]

It was always Treffry's intent to create a connection between the two lines and thus link Newquay, on Cornwall's northern coast, with Par, on the south coast. However this was not achieved in his lifetime, nor by the Treffry Tramways in their original form. They were eventually taken over by the Cornwall Minerals Railway, which rebuilt them for locomotive haulage and bridged the gap between the two networks, besides building several extensions. Today stretches of the tramway route are still in use by the Atlantic Coast Line between Par and Newquay.



Joseph Treffry's first transport constructions in Cornwall were not tramways, but rather Par Harbour and the Par Canal that connected the harbour to Pontsmill at the foot of the Luxulyan Valley. A narrow gauge cable hauled incline railway connected Pontsmill with his Fowey Consols mine, one of the deepest, richest and most important of the Cornish copper mines, situated to the east of Pontsmill. Other inclines to the mine followed, and it is likely the various mine areas were linked by horse drawn tram lines. The mine was worked out and its associated lines closed by 1865.[1]

Treffry died in 1850, but his tramways continued to run. By the 1870s they were one of the few significant horse hauled lines left in the country. The Cornwall Minerals Railway was authorised by Act of Parliament on 21 July 1873 to acquire the lines, connect them together and make them suitable for operation by steam locomotive.[1]

Par Railway

The original 1847 line of the Pontsmill to Bugle tramway passed across the Treffry Viaduct, seen here in 1979.

In the 1830s Treffry commenced construction of a tramway up the Luxulyan Valley. The exact details of this project are not clear, but it seems construction was abandoned, and no remains still exist. A following attempt resulted in the line from Pontsmill to Bugle, construction of which started c.1841 and which was completed in 1847. Like all Treffry's subsequent lines, this line was built to standard gauge, and was built for horse haulage. It commenced with a steep initial cable hauled incline, and then followed the contour lines on the east rim of the Luxulyan Valley, before crossing the impressive Treffry Viaduct to Luxulyan and Bugle. A branch just before the Treffry Viaduct served several granite quarries in the area.[1]

In 1855 the Pontsmill to Bugle line was extended to Par Harbour alongside the Par Canal, thus removing the need to tranship goods at Pontsmill. In 1870 another branch line was constructed up the Luxulyan Valley from Pontsmill, this time following the valley floor and serving two other granite quarries in the valley.[1]

Newquay Railway

Part of the tramway in Newquay, between the site of the railway station and the top of the incline to the harbour, has been turned into a cycle and foot path.

At the same time as the Pontsmill to Bugle line was being constructed, Treffry also embarked on a plan to connect Newquay Harbour to Hendra, (St Dennis) with a branch to the East Wheel Rose lead mine near Newlyn East. This line was authorised by Act of Parliament in 1844 and completed in 1849. The line followed the same pattern as the Bugle line, with a steep cable hauled incline up from the quayside at Newquay Harbour, followed by lines with gentle gradients suited for horse haulage.[1] There were three tunnels on the line; one at Newquay Harbour, one at Coswarth and the longest one known as Toldish Tunnel.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Vaughan, John (1991). The Newquay Branch and its Branches. Sparkford: Haynes/Oxford Publishing Company. ISBN 0-86093-470-5.  (Reprinted as Rails to Newquay (2008), pub. Oakwood Press, 0853616771

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