CHILDREN will be able to travel for free on Tamar Valley Line trains as part of celebrations to mark 50 years of regular direct rail services between Gunnislake and Plymouth.

A weekend of special events kicks off today (June 1), with a cake being cut on the 10.54am train from Plymouth to Gunnislake as it crosses Calstock Viaduct to mark the 110th anniversary of the Viaduct and the railway between Bere Alston and Gunnislake opening.

Tomorrow (June 2), Tamar Valley Heritage Guide Les Deering will be leading a railway-themed walk, organised by the Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty service.

And on Sunday (June 3), courtesy of Great Western Railway (GWR), children up to 15 will be able to travel the entire line between Gunnislake and Plymouth for free, all day. No pre-booking is required.  

There will also be an open day at the Tamar Belle Heritage Centre, next to Bere Ferrers station, on the Sunday.

The route between Plymouth and Gunnislake comprises two railway lines, the first between Plymouth and Bere Alston, which will celebrate its 128th anniversary on June 2, and between Bere Alston and Gunnislake, which opened in 1908.

The current regular direct Plymouth to Gunnislake service began on May 6, 1968.

Chris Grove, co-ordinator of the Tamar Belle Heritage Group, said: ‘I don’t believe that, in 1968, anyone would have imagined that following the introduction of the truncated service we would still be able to catch a train 50 years down the line!’

The Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, which works to promote the line, has helped with the coordination and organisation of the weekend’s events.  Manager Richard Burningham said: ‘Having dodged the Beeching “bullet”, the Tamar Valley Line has gone from strength to strength and that is good for everyone.  There is much to celebrate and I hope people will join in the events.’

The cake will be cut by Gunnislake and Calstock’s Cornwall Councillor Dorothy Kirk and Calstock Rubber Band will also be playing on the train.  Pieces of cake will then be handed to passengers. 

The Rubber Band will play on the journey into Plymouth on the 9.29am train from Gunnislake.

The railway-themed walk on Saturday will start at 11.40am from Calstock station, to coincide with arrival of the train from Plymouth at 11.32am. The walk will finish in time to catch the 13.56pm back to Plymouth.

It will be around Calstock, focusing on the railway, history of the viaduct and East Cornwall Mineral Line.

Booking is essential, by calling 01822 835030 or e-mailing [email protected]

The Tamar Belle Heritage Centre at Bere Ferrers will be open from 11.30am to 5pm on Sunday and trains will be running on the Centre’s own sidings, next to the station.

There will be performances by the Tavy Tars Railway Musicians with light refreshments, drinks, cream teas and cakes. 

Other events are planned later in the month. 

For more information on the celebrations, visit

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