Launceston Railway Circle celebrated its 60th anniversary in style, with the mayor of Launceston attending celebrations marking the important milestone for the group.  

The circle is a gathering of local railway enthusiasts, who meet monthly to share their interest.  

For the 60th anniversary, they celebrated their milestone in a joint celebration with the Launceston Steam Railway, which itself was marking 40 years since the opening of the narrow gauge steam line.  

Railway enthusiast Simon Artymiuk happened to be at the attraction as the celebration took place.  

He said: “I accidentally ‘gatecrashed’ the Railway Circle’s joint celebration with the Launceston Steam Railway on Sunday afternoon, it was also a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the opening of the narrow gauge steam line) after deciding on a whim to visit the line as I hadn’t been on it for a while.  

“I then found the town mayor in attendance, complete with her gold chain, and had to ask what was going on. There was even a photographic run-past staged at California Crossing, a one-time terminus of the LSR before it was extended to New Mills. 

“Nigel and Kay Bowman had also had a special ‘Launceston Railway Circle’ headboard made to go on the Quarry Hunslet locomotive ‘Lillian’ (a veteran from the Penrhyn Quarry Railway, the 1ft 10 3/4in gauge line that used to run from the huge slate quarry at Bethesda to Port Penrhyn near Bangor) and afterwards the Railway Circle members were treated to cream teas in the railway’s café. 

He also added some news on the fate of a former locomotive, adding; “The former Launceston Steam Railway regular ‘Velinheli’ (originally from the Dinorwig slate quarry at Llanberis) has now been acquired by the Ffestiniog Railway after its Cornish owner James Evans, who lives here in St Dominick and is the partner of the Tamar Valley artist Mary Martin, decided that making the Ffestiniog Railway its custodians would be the best way to safeguard the future of a locomotive he bought direct from the quarry on its closure when he was just 17 years old in 1969.”

Les Whaley, chairman of Launceston Railway Circle, said: “As chairman, my wife and I were pleased to welcome on one of the coaches, Helen Bailey, Launceston town’s mayor,  Arthur Wills, and Dr Michael Ireland from Okerail and Connect Bude as well as personal friends and circle members. 

“I was pleased that I could join our mayor on the footplate of the steam locomotive while it stopped at New Mills for photos along with a group photo on the platform taken by our senior member Bernard Mills, a well-known local railway photographer. Other photos taken for the circle collection were taken by our archivist Andrew Bird and our vice chairman Ivor Davey. 

“We had the sun with us, so in all it was a pleasant late afternoon on the steam train, with thanks to Nigel and Kay Bowman owners of the Launceston Steam Railway and long standing members of the Launceston Railway Circle. 

“A cream tea followed at the station cafe which was first class, with thanks to Kay and her staff in the cafe and shop. 

“As chairman I thanked our distinguished guests, members and friends for coming to our 60th anniversary. It was in 1963 when many railway lines and stations closed along with Launceston, that The Launceston Railway Circle was formed to provide gatherings for keen railway enthusiasts and provide learning opportunities along with social and friendly meetings featuring guest speakers. This is in addition to film shows on heritage railways and railways through out the world and summer trips on railways in the UK.” 

He added: “Thanks must also go to members that have passed away, including Lloyd Goodman who started the circle, and in no particular order, Gerald Geake, Reuben Rosevear, Brian Tunbridge, Len and Audrey Clarkson, Peter Baker, Russell Pollinger and Alex Hodson. Thanks again go to Nigel and Kay and their staff and the circle committee for their work on the anniversary afternoon. 

“In closing, I would like to thank Bernard and Audrey Mills for the many years that they have supported the circle with film shows on their railway trips throughout the UK. 

“Thanks also to Helen Bailey our mayor for coming and giving up her time at the weekend, all our other guests and members were wished a safe journey home.”