A group of Cornwall Councillors has thrown their weight behind calls for Cornwall to capitalise on its steam heritage and want to hear the ideas of interested individuals, groups or organisations who want to see Cornwall once again known as ‘The Land of Steam’.
At a meeting in Truro facilitated by Cornwall Council Chairman John Wood, it was agreed that here in Cornwall there is a passion for anything steam – from trains to traction engines, beam engines to boats.
Cornwall Councillor Ian Thomas, who leads and co-ordinates the interest group, said “Steam trains and traction engines attract huge attention and enthusiasm from people of all ages. We want to bring their ideas together and harness their energy to help take this project forward.”
Council Chairman John Wood said “We are interested in all ideas, big or small! For example, I would love to see a regular steam train service into Cornwall, with branch lines running connecting steam specials too.”
He added: “Steam is a key part of our history – famous names like Richard Trevithick, William Murdoch and the Great Western Railway helped to make Cornwall great, driving us forward in the fields of industry, transportation and agriculture. It is also a vital part of our present, with our famous steam railways, steam fairs and many individuals, societies and groups dedicated to keeping steam alive.”
Councillors agreed that they want to ensure that steam is an important part of our future and pledged their support for the current campaign to restore the turntable at St Blazey in order to facilitate running steam trains into Cornwall.
They also felt that there is an opportunity to work on a broader front to truly reawaken Cornwall as the land of steam which would have considerable benefits for tourism, the economy and Cornwall’s communities. They hope that the Government’s announcement last week about investment in the modern Cornish rail network will provide scope to encourage heritage projects.
Councillor Derek Elliott, whose idea it was to form a group, said: “I feel extremely confident that with the combined drive and passion of enthusiasts, councillors and the general public, we can work together to achieve some outstanding successes for the people of Cornwall.”
Councillor Bert Biscoe, Portfolio Holder for Transport & Waste, said: “Why is the railway such big business in Cornwall? Because Cornwall loves railways. Ever since the early horse-drawn rail-roads and Trevithick the Cornish have conducted this affair with passion and commitment. Only one thing, perhaps, tickles the Cornish engineering romantic more than locomotion and that is steam locomotion. Around the World, in peoples’ minds, Cornwall is closely linked to steam. It’s a relationship founded in history and portrayed vividly through generations of Great Western marketing, Betjeman verse and endless streams of postcards, books and branch-line afternoons. The formation of an informal group of Councillors to promote and campaign for the interests of heritage rail seems more natural than nature. The present is always an interplay between past and future, and Cornwall’s future is as much bound up in its heritage as it is in the opportunities of the future – is there scope for a modern steam engine”
Anyone interested can contact the Members’ group c/o Stephen Foster in the Council’s Localism Team (email: email@example.com or by post to Room 75, Liskeard One Stop Shop, Liskeard, PL14 3DZ). Please mark your correspondence ‘Land of Steam’.
Story posted 10 July 2014