Your best memory of a visit to a preserved railway in the UK?

alexl92

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Thought it would be nice to take a trip down memory lane, by sharing our best memories of trips to preserved railways (or railway museums) in the UK?

For me, a stand out experience was my first visit to the Bodmin and Wenford Railway in my early teens. We only did Bodmin Parkway - Bodmin General and back, but we were surprised and delighted to see City of Truro sitting in a siding at Bodmin Parkway. Funnily enough in later years when I was trying to find out where I'd seen it, everyone I asked was adamant that 3440 was not in Cornwall at the time - but I definitely saw it!

A year or so later, a photo of that day inspired a piece English homework, where the brief was to write the beginning of a short story... which was apparently so far above my usual standard of work that my teacher wrote 'Where has this come from?!' at the bottom of the page!


Anyone else had any particular stand out memories? Doesn't have to be from childhood, and recollections of galas, 'first time I saw...' or anything else welcome!
 
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Mcr Warrior

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First visit to the Embsay and Castle Bolton steam railway a few years ago in 2015. Taking it easy (and dry) in the first class Directors' Observation Saloon car during monsoon rain conditions outside with all the local lineside streams full and overflowing.

Had originally planned to walk the four or so miles between the two stations and just call at Bolton Abbey station for a cuppa but didn't take long to abandon the idea of walking in view of the prevailing weather outdoors.
 

Mack91

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Having my photo taken on the footplate of 'Sir Nigel Gresley' at Pickering, I'd guess around ten years ago now
 

43096

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The first visit of 41001 to the Mid-Norfolk Railway, specifically the Beer/Curry-ex on the Saturday night. 41001 took the return back to Dereham single-handed with some Class 50s on the back, giving a load equivalent to around 15 coaches. Doors were opened through to the power car engine room and the noise was outrageous. The load meant a sustained period of running with the Valenta in notch 5!
 

RuralRambler

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Mine's a weird "best" really. I grew up in the late 60s/70s close to Carnforth, so Steamtown would be my "first" experience of preserved rail, but at the time it was pretty normal, as I remember the tail end of steam on the main railway. Then I was more interested in model railways through my teens so the "preserved" scene was in its infancy and I don't really remember going on preserved railways as such (besides Steamtown).

My stand out "best" memory is about 16/17 years ago taking my very young son on his "first" preserved experience to a Thomas Day Out at Embsay. (Yes I know, I'll be struck down by a Thunderbolt sent by RailUK regulars!). I think I enjoyed it more than he did as he was probably only 2 years old! It certainly re-ignited my interest in railways, both real and model after a few decades of not being interested at all. Since then, we must have been to 15-20 preserved railways all over the country and graduated onto gala days etc rather than children events. Son still isn't interested but I certainly am! I think it shows how the "novelty" and children's events are so important to keep interest in preservation. The more mature/serious enthusiasts may sneer, but it does drive interest from all ages. I'd probably never have got back into preserved or model railways if we hadn't gone to that Embsay event - it just wasn't on my radar anymore. It was only my wife seeing an advert on children's TV that led to her googling to see if there were any near us at that time.
 

greatvoyager

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I visited the West Somerset Railway whilst staying at Butlins in Minehead in 2004. My parents took me and we got on a train to Bishops Lydeard. The train was pulled by a Manor Class steam locomotive, (I think it was 7820 Dinmore Manor).
It was the only time I’ve been on a train powered by steam, and the scenery was great.
 

Tempest3K

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The first visit of 41001 to the Mid-Norfolk Railway, specifically the Beer/Curry-ex on the Saturday night. 41001 took the return back to Dereham single-handed with some Class 50s on the back, giving a load equivalent to around 15 coaches. Doors were opened through to the power car engine room and the noise was outrageous. The load meant a sustained period of running with the Valenta in notch 5!
Believe it was 3 x Cl50 on the back and the term I heard used repeatedly was 'Hellfire'! One of my favourite memories too.
 

alexl92

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Mine's a weird "best" really. I grew up in the late 60s/70s close to Carnforth, so Steamtown would be my "first" experience of preserved rail, but at the time it was pretty normal, as I remember the tail end of steam on the main railway. Then I was more interested in model railways through my teens so the "preserved" scene was in its infancy and I don't really remember going on preserved railways as such (besides Steamtown).

My stand out "best" memory is about 16/17 years ago taking my very young son on his "first" preserved experience to a Thomas Day Out at Embsay. (Yes I know, I'll be struck down by a Thunderbolt sent by RailUK regulars!). I think I enjoyed it more than he did as he was probably only 2 years old! It certainly re-ignited my interest in railways, both real and model after a few decades of not being interested at all. Since then, we must have been to 15-20 preserved railways all over the country and graduated onto gala days etc rather than children events. Son still isn't interested but I certainly am! I think it shows how the "novelty" and children's events are so important to keep interest in preservation. The more mature/serious enthusiasts may sneer, but it does drive interest from all ages. I'd probably never have got back into preserved or model railways if we hadn't gone to that Embsay event - it just wasn't on my radar anymore. It was only my wife seeing an advert on children's TV that led to her googling to see if there were any near us at that time.
Nothing to be ashamed of. My parents took me to two or three of these events as a child, and I remember being allowed to sound Thomas's whistle at Embsay station - so exciting for a 6 year old!

This type of event is so important. Nothing gets me reminiscing like the smell of coal smoke... given that I lived in a fully central-heated neighbourhood, there's only one thing that could have started this...!
 

32475

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I'm always biased towards the Bluebell because it's near to where I grew up and volunteered there in the '70s. Also the K&ESR which is not too far from home and always of interest.
However the railway which I have come away from with the greatest feeling of joy and surprise is the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway. It is small but perfectly formed and just oozes bucolic charm. I look forward to a return visit
 

alexl92

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I'm always biased towards the Bluebell because it's near to where I grew up and volunteered there in the '70s. Also the K&ESR which is not too far from home and always of interest.
However the railway which I have come away from with the greatest feeling of joy and surprise is the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway. It is small but perfectly formed and just oozes bucolic charm. I look forward to a return visit
I'd love to visit the MSLR, it seems like a really atmospheric place.

Loved my one visit to the Bluebell too - we were in East Grinstead and hoping to have a ride but didn't have time to find a long-stay parking space. A staff member told us that if we were quick we could make it to Horsted Keynes in time to catch the train... cue a mad dash down the A22! We did catch the train and had a great trip.
 

LowLevel

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A Severn Valley autumn steam gala in the late 2000s.

Having a few pints in the Harbour Inn at Arley and collecting some bottles at closing time. Staggering up the hill on to the bridge in the thick fog that tends to gather there as a freight train clanked into the station. Our train arriving which was the Gresley teak set and quietly waiting time approaching midnight.

OK, the long mainline trains on a branch line thing isn't for everyone but standing there with the signals glowing in the fog and the soft hiss of steam with a few good friends was as close to railway heaven as I've been.

Failing that, around the same time I was manning the bar at the beer tent at Quorn and Leander was coming through on a TPO drop. The late Mick Pickering (ex Nuneaton shed) was on the handle and I have rarely seen a sight like it. Regulator in the roof, Stanier hooter blaring away and the driver's eyes nowhere but the signals. Absolutely stunning.
 

Flying Phil

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I have lots of good memories, but seeing a 9F on the GCR with a long train of grey mineral wagons trundling through Quorn station was very satisfying - knowing that I had painted several of them....:smile:
 

L401CJF

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A trip to Llangollen around 2008/9 for a bash behind 37240, only to be treated to a cabride for part of the journey. Happy days!
 

GRALISTAIR

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The summer of 1967 we went on a family holiday to Bouth in the Lake District. My father and mother took us all for a ride on the Ravenglass- Eskdale railway. Wonderful memory.
 

Trackman

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1982. Deltics 9 and 19 on the NYMR.
Yep, I went in 1982 and the diesel gala in 1983 where the star of the show was that Ribble Cement Clayton!
When I first went I dont think they got the hang on of them, lots of wheel-slipping!
 

1955LR

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About 1956 travelling on the Tayllyn Railway with my parents & brother when on Holiday. I distinctly remember my mother was not impressed , she said the wheels must be like threepenny bits !

 

Dave S 56F

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If mainline steam is included in this discussion mine has to be 45690 and standard 4MT 76084 double heading on the Buxton spa 76084 joined the train at Heaton Norris and was detached at Blackburn return due to 76084 been shedded at lower Darwinin days gone by. And then lucky enough to cop 76084 topping and tailing the Whitby flyer with B1 61264 both tours in February and March in 2017. and then 76084 was sent to the north Norfolk railway so it could pull main line trains from Sheringham to Cromer.
 

Peter C

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The GWSR has been, and will always be, my favourite heritage line - mainly because I had so many lovely journeys up and down it as a young child. I can't remember specific journeys/days out from when I was younger but I do have a collection of memories of being able to wander around the sheds at Toddington, the bouncy DMU ride from Toddington to Laverton (this was before the extension to Broadway), and just generally loving the whole thing. The first thing I want to do, when lockdown's eased to allow for it, is to go for a ride there.

I don't really have a specific favourite memory of any heritage line - all my visits to heritage lines have been brilliant - but a fun one was the SVR's Steam Gala 2018. The day I went, the weather wasn't amazing, but the trains made up for that. It was that day that I realised either how massive Britannia is, or how small Bewdley station is: that and how popular 70000 is. That was also one of the SVR's events where they ran trains into the night, and I stayed there to ride on a service from Kidderminster to Bewdley and back again. Steam is always a brilliant thing to see but even more so at night when you get a better feel for the 'good old days' of steam.

-Peter
 

Crewe Exile

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2 that stand out - in my bashing days a group of us went to the East Lancs Railway - must have been about 89 - first ever time I’d had a Western (or Warship or Hymek for that matter) - D1041 - an absolutely fantastic display - the throttle was pulled back a little outside of Bury - smoke everywhere - plenty of horn blowing - fantastic machine.
For sheer enjoyment of a line fast forward nearly 30 years or so and a trip on the Dartmouth Steam railway. A really lovely line - past the beach at Goodrington, and the run into Kingswear next to the Dart estuary is superb. Can’t wait to visit again.
 

Journeyman

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I very clearly remember my first ever visit to a heritage railway. I was about 9 years old, and my mum took me to the Bluebell Railway. Train to Haywards Heath, and the bus connection. This was about 1984, so the line was in its original short configuration. It was the first time I'd ever seen a working steam engine, and the loco in question was 541, a Southern Q class 0-6-0 at the head of some Bulleid coaches.

Another memorable visit was the Epping - Ongar Railway in 2017, because this is the only heritage railway I've ever visited that I knew in its former life as part of the rail network. That made it fascinating in a way other heritage railways haven't been, as I could see for myself exactly how it had changed. Given how rare closures are these days, I don't think I'll ever have that experience again.
 

dgl

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Going out for my birthday on the Swanage Railway, primarily because My Dad and Step-Mum brought my Nephew (1 and a half at the time) who had a lovely time.
Early September so the weather was excellent, they had a classic car show on a Harmans Cross (?) and it was the Swanage folk festival as well.
Now normally a folk festival is not my thing but my nephew loved it, dancing away to the music and getting approving looks from the various old fogies that were around.
Also despite my Sister (not the mother if you were wondering) claiming that he won't care about the trains the first thing that came out of his mouth when we got on to the platform was "choo! choo!", despite the train not being there yet.
 

Bigman

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Annual KWVR Beer & Music Festival. Only trouble is, I never seem to remember it for some reason. First visit to the South Devon Railway 2 years ago. Lovely railway and some nice local bottled beers in the buffet car. Fantastic cream tea at the Totnes Rare Breed Farm next to the station.
 
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Seeing a Duchess and a Black Five standing alongside each other, with the crews chatting across the cabs, at Corfe Castle on the Swanage Railway.
 

2392

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I suppose for me it would be glimpsing 92220 Evening Star in the Goods Shed at Haworth on the Worth Valley. That'd be about 1972-3, before she was recalled by the National Railway Museum for the opening of the "New" Railway Museum at York in 1975. Or seeing 4498 Sir Nigel Gresley not long before she left the NCB workshops at Philadelphia on the Lambton System in Washington. She left in early 1977 to move to Steamtown Carnforth. What's more I actually glimpsed Gresley in the distance as she travelled light engine past the Freightliner terminal at Follingsby/Wardley on the Leamside line.....
 

colchesterken

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Bluebell to see the delivery of 421 Gordon Pettit and the £1 payment handed over

Shame they left it to rot and have to have a second refurb, it was in ex works condition then, I am sure it would have attracted visitors in service with a 33/73 to push it around
 

Bessie

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A couple of years back I organised a works outing on the RAT train an the Mid Hants. It was pulled by 9F 92212. Managed to get up onto the footplate and when back on the train I encouraged a great sing-song of "Time flies by when I'm the driver of the train". There's a reason why Bessie is my avatar!
 

Fireless

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Visiting the West Lancashire Light Railway back in 2009.
Ended up having a brilliant afternoon with footplate rides on Stanhope (loco in service that day) and Utrillas (was in steam for testing something) and a great guided tour through the sheds and leaving more than the fare paid in the donations box.
 

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