Sands of time reveal lost railway track on Bude's Summerleaze beach

The old tramway track resurfaced on Summerleaze beach in Bude Credit: BPM Media

A lost railway has been uncovered by shifting sands at a popular beach in Cornwall.

The old tramway track resurfaced on Summerleaze beach in Bude this week.

Lisa Vincent, a local resident who took the pictures, said: "I have lived in the area for 20 years and never seen them before!"

In 2018, the section of the railway was revealed by storms which swept away sand from the beach.

Sand used to be regularly taken from the beach to barges or used as a ship’s ballast Credit: BPM Media

Where has the railway come from?

According to the historical society Bude Canal and Harbour Company, the rails on the beach date from 1924 when sand was transported to reclaim land near the town’s recreation ground.

Sand used to be regularly taken from the beach to barges or used as a ship’s ballast.

The canal at Bude once ran all the way to Launceston, meaning it was ideally placed for transporting the sand inland. The practice of taking sand continued until 1941.

The tramway is believed to have used steel tipping wagons pulled by horses Credit: BPM Media

The society reports: "The tramway used steel tipping wagons again pulled by horses and was operational by 1924.

"Sand continued to be exported by rail until 1942, and the last boat to be ballasted with sand was the 'Lilla' in the late 1930s.

"And so the peace returned to Summerleaze Beach as this trade died, aided by lack of railway wagons, labour and the emergence of motor lorries, allowing hauliers to offer a door to door service and recoup the costs and profit from their customers."


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