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Devoran Railway Centenary Festival Update

The Devoran Railway Centenary Festival on the weekend of 25-27th September will not only mark 100 years since the last train on the Redruth and Chasewater Railway came into Devoran, but it also marks a new beginning for Devoran Village Hall. The hall will close the day after the festival for a major refurbishment.

The 25th September this year is 100 years since the last train to run on the Redruth and Chasewater Railway, into Devoran, after 91 years of operation. The Redruth and Chasewater Railway was Cornwall’s first true railway, using edge rails, and remained a mineral railway throughout its life. It carried 4.75 million tons of copper ore, coal and timber up and down the line and through the port of Devoran and Point Quays to support the mighty Gwennap Mining District. Upwards of 100,000 tons per annum was exported or imported in its heyday (1830-65), making Devoran the busiest mineral port at the time in Cornwall. Devoran is now a quiet creekside village, but traces of its industrial heritage can still be found, including the village hall which was a workshop for the railway.

Devoran Village Hall Management Committee has organised a weekend of events and activities to mark the centenary and has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the West Briton Community Cash Back Scheme and Devoran Community Association towards the festival. The festival will be open on Friday, 25th September at 6.30pm by Sarah Newton. MP for Truro and Falmouth.

Earlier in the year Devoran School pupils spent a week discovering the history of the village. Using guided 'welly walks' around the village and looking at archive material they worked with artists, professional writer Becca Gregson and actors from The Story Republic to produce work to display at the festival. Devoran School and Devoran Pre School will open the festival with 'Our Village Past' a performance of their interpretation of the village in the time of the railway. This will also include a performance of a song, specially written for the festival by Roger Bryant (Rum and Shrub), by the pupils. Work produced by the pupils, together material from the festival, will appear in a souvenir book to be produce following the festival.

As part of the work funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the First World War roll of honour, housed in Devoran Village Hall, is undergoing conservation by a specialist paper conservator. The roll of honour lists all those from the then parish of Devoran who fought in the First World War. The document was thought to be in two pieces, but the conservation work has revealed that there is a third part, which has remained hidden for nearly 100 years. This third piece which has revealed further information about some of the men listed will be on display for the first time at the festival.

Further funding has been secured from Feock Parish Council to renovate the Mineral Tramways information board outside the village hall, it is hoped the work will be completed in time for the festival.

The weekend will also include a community writers’ workshop, the collection of residents' memories of past events by Cornish Memories, an exhibition, talks, walks and a cycle ride along the railway route. Most events will be free, but it is asked that participants make a small donation for each event towards the Devoran Village Hall Refurbishment Fund. Full details of all the events can be found on the festival Facebook page

During the festival the village hall car park will be reserved for elderly and disabled drivers. The village hall is on bus route 46 Monday – Saturday and bus U1 stops at Devoran bus slip (less than ten minutes’ walk from the village hall) every day.

The day following the exhibition the hall will close for major refurbishment, thanks to a grant from SITA Cornwall Trust The work will include a new roof, refurbishment of the toilets, main hall and kitchen. This will not only upgrade the hall facilities, but also provide the hall with disabled facilities. If the grant from SITA Cornwall Trust had not been secured the hall would almost certainly have had to close permanently next year, because of the deteriorating fabric of the building there was a real danger of becoming unsafe to use. The Devoran Village Hall Management will be continuing to work hard to raise funds to refurbish the meeting room, store and car park in the future to ensure the hall will be able to mark the bicentenary of the last train on The Redruth and Chasewater Railway.

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