St Erth railway station
A timeless branch line junction in Cornwall
(Photos © urban75, January 2011)
St Erth is the penultimate station on the main line to Penzance and serves as a junction for the busy St Ives branch.
Opened by the West Cornwall Railway on 11 March 1852, the station was originally known as St Ives Road and served as a railhead for the busy fishing harbour that lay some 4 miles (6.4 km) to the north.
Soaked in Great Western Railway atmosphere, the station retains many of its original features, with timber canopies, substantial booking office and facilities and a signal box.
Best of all, the station is controlled by semaphore signals, creating a scene that would seem familiar to Victorian travellers (see the Banbury feature for more semaphores!).
St Erth station at night [Feb 2001]
When the branch line to St Ives opened on 1 June 1877, St Erth gained its present name, with the station building being reconstructed in granite a few years later.
A second running track was laid on the north side of the platform to handle the branch traffic, while the main line to Penzance remained single track.
Around 1894 a loop line with its own platform was opened, and the main line doubled eastwards to Hayle on 10 September 1899, and westwards to Marazion on 16 June 1929.
Looking east with a train waiting in the St Ives branch line platform [Feb 2001].
To the left of this photo was the station goods yard and sidings which served a china clay dry for a few years and then a milk processing plant, with milk trains running from St Erth to Kensington Olympia and Ilford up until the early 1980s. The goods yard was taken out of use in 1982.
St Erth station from the western end of the platforms, [Feb 2001].
The station has enjoyed a fairly substantial rise in traffic in recent years, with the majority of passengers (sorry, 'customers') using the station to transit to the St Ives branch line.
According to Rail Statistics from the Office of Rail Regulation, the twelve month period from April 2004-2005 saw a total of 176,193 passengers use the station, with 45,570 entries, 44,971 exits and 85,652 changing trains.
By 2008/09, the total had risen to 212,544, comprising of a suspiciously neat 46,719 entries and 46,719 exits, with 119,106 interchanging.
Semaphore signals controlling access onto the up main and branch from the up platform. Here the signal is indicating all clear for the London-bound main line [Feb 2001].
Semaphore signals at the western end of St Erth station [Feb 2002].
Some St Ives branch trains run straight through to Penzance, hence the need for two way running.
Platforms 2 and 3 have a long canopy above them to provide protection for passengers, while platform 1 (on the right) has a fairly large wooden shelter with a covered footbridge linking the mainline platforms.
Both main line platforms can handle eight-coach trains.
St Ives branch line platform - designated as platform number three and capable of accommodating a five-coach train - as seen from the end of the adjacent short goods siding and loading platform.
The branch line is slightly lower than the main line platform, and is accessed via a gentle sloping ramp.
View from under the timber awning.
The signal box (which also controls the St Ives branch line) can be seen in this view of the eastern end of St Erth station.
A view of the station from the footbridge.
You can just make out disused sidings to the right.
There's a small granite building for staff use on platform one, with the public timber shelter closer to the footbridge.
The goods and branch platforms seen from the buffer stops.
The 1877 granite station building remains in fine condition in this August 2005 view. The booking office is located inside as well as an excellent, locally-run refreshment room.
Ornate footbridge detail.
Station exit next to the footbridge.
Summer 2005 view.
The St Ives branch train sets off.
April 2009 view of the station forecourt [Geof Sheppard].
View 360º panoramas of St Erth
» St Erth at night
» St Erth, day
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