st ives Railway Station
Work of building the branch line between St. Erth and st ives, one of the most picturesque in Britain, began in May 1874. By September, 250 labourers were employed by which time many complaints were voiced about the conduct of the navvies at Lelant, where they were said to be rambling through the village in a drunken state on Sundays.
Fine weather enabled the work to be carried on without interruption into the winter, and by December the embankment across Lelant Pool had been completed, and Carbis Valley viaduct brought to a good height. By March 1876, the iron girders had been placed across Primrose Valley viaduct, and a strong wall built on the seaward side of the ground allotted for st ives station. This wall was also being carried around the Malakoff, and would be brought up to meet the new station approach road below The Terrace.
The four new stations for the line were completed by March 1877. In place of the "miserable shanty" at st ives Road (St. Erth Station) a handsome stone building had been erected in the shape of the letter L. The station building at st ives was, in architectural terms, similar to a number of other Great Western local stations. The substantial, hip-roofed building was constructed in stone, with a projecting platform canopy and an array of tall chimney stacks. The station building provided the usual facilities for the travelling public, including waiting rooms, booking offices and toilets.
The station building was intended to be used for coping with a large volume of business. Its design was thoroughly Victorian in concept. A description of the station written in May 1877, just before the opening of the line, describes it as "a very creditable building - 128ft long by 25ft wide, and with rooms 12.5ft high".
The late 1950's and early 1960's were a turning point in British railway history. The growth of road transport, and in particular the rapid development of private motoring, deprived the railways of a significant proportion of their passenger and freight traffic. In its earlier years st ives station was a very busy place, handling heavy goods and passenger traffic.
On Monday 28 June 1971 work began on the pulling down of the st ives Railway Station building which in a further six years' time would have been 100 years old, like the branch line itself. Many people, convinced that the building could have been put to good use, regret its destruction.
Once, of course, all st ives' visitors arrived by train, and it is surprising to learn that about 40 people once worked the branch line. Now there is a booking office staff of three.