This latest volume in the series covering preserved lines is rather special as it covers a line that has gone from virtually zero to a working railway in a very short time. Chris Heaps knows the railway well having travelled on the line since childhood until closure by BR.
HOLYER AN GOF AWARDS 2013
A book about the history of the Helston Railway published in 2012 by Helston-born author, Chris Heaps, was amongst the recipients of a certificate in the prestigious Holyer an Gof Awards 2013 organised by the Cornish Gorsedh, the results of which were announced at a ceremony at Waterstones in Truro on Thursday, 18 July 2013. Publishers' Awards are promoted each year by Gorsedh Kernow for publications relating to Cornwall or in the Cornish language, divided into various classes including Cornish Language Entries; Books for Children; Adult Fiction; Non-Fiction; and Booklets. The sub-classes within Non-Fiction are History, Language and Creative Arts; Marine, Industrial Heritage and the Environment; and Non-fiction works in which illustrations predominate.
The awards were inaugurated in 1996 to commemorate a former Bard who had taken the Bardic name of Holyer an Gof - Follower of The Smith - after Michael an Gof, the blacksmith from St Keverne who was one of the leaders of the unsuccessful Cornish Rebellion in 1497.
The winner in the Marine, Industrial Heritage & the Environment class was a detailed and academic study of Ferns, Clubmosses, Quillworts and Horsetails of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly by four authors for the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, but Chris Heaps - like other nominees for awards - received a certificate from the Past Grand Bard of Cornwall - Vanessa Beeman - to celebrate the nomination of his book. Over 80 titles had been submitted by publishers for consideration by the Awards panels.
The Helston Railway Past & Present is a detailed and illustrated history of the branch railway from Gwinear Road to Helston, which the chairman of the judging panel described as a definitive work on the line. Chris Heaps travelled on the last passenger train on the branch in November 1962, but his great-great grandfather had had the more pleasing experience of travelling on the official opening special service on 9 May 1887. The book includes illustrations of the ceremonial arches throughout Helston celebrating the cutting of the first sod in 1882, photographs of the Cober Viaduct in various stages of construction, and details of the opening festivities before describing and illustrating trains and features throughout the branch - at Gwinear Road, Praze-an-Beeble, Nancegollan, Truthall Halt and Helston - throughout the 75 life span of the line.
It also features a chapter about the bus service to The Lizard inaugurated by the Great Western Railway in 1903 as the first-railway operated motor bus service in Great Britain, and the magnificent work carried out by the Helston Railway Preservation Society (HRPS) in re-opening since 2005 over one mile of the former track bed between Prospidnick and Truthall Halt (via Trevarno) as a restored passenger carrying railway.
Although Chris Heaps is not a full-time resident in Helston, he has maintained a house in the town which has been in his family since 1922, and is a Steward of the Helston Furry Dance and the Vice-President of HRPS. He is also a member of the First Great Western Advisory Board and a trustee of the Transport Trust, which organised the erection of a Heritage Site Red Wheel (similar to an English Heritage blue plaque) at The Top House at The Lizard in 2012 to commemorate the historic bus service.
Copies of The Helston Railway (published by Past & Present Publishing Ltd) can be purchased from the HRPS shop at the station at Prospidnick and from the Helston Museum, also available through branches of WHSmith, Waterstones and all good bookshops
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