Our traditional season opening event returns, which sees multiple steam locomotives take to the rails and enchant both young and old with the sight, sounds and smells of yesteryear making an excellent day out be it for Steam Railway enthusiasts or as a family day out with the children to end the February half term holidays.
Today's timetable offers a mixture of services along our combined 10 miles of railway with our main service set venturing out onto the Cauldon Lowe branch, which offers some of the steepest gradients on a heritage railway anywhere in the world, whilst a smaller shuttle set provides a frequent service along the picturesque Churnet Valley Line. With the opportunity to travel around 60 miles behind vintage steam locomotives each day, there’s a journey for everyone at our Winter Steam Gala
The locomotivesStar of the show will be guest locomotive no. 7827 "Lydham Manor", making her first visit to the North since preservation in June 1970 - being the fifth locomotive to leave the now infamous Barry Scrapyard. Since returning to steam on the Dartmouth Steam Railway in 1973, she has only ever visited the West Somerset and South Devon Railways, plus Didcot Railway Centre, so we are extremely privileged to have her visit ourselves. The locomotive has a real claim to fame, in that on 10th August 1960 she hauled HM The Queen along with HRH Prince Philip from Aberdovery to Barmouth as part of a Royal tour of mid-Wales. So why not come along and follow in royal footsteps, and enjoy the experience of travelling behind this glamorous iron-horse?
Joining 7827 in making her first visit to the Churnet Valley Railway is a locomotive that lived a lot less glorious life prior to preservation, working the industrial coalfields of the North-West. Joining us to assist with our hugely popular Santa Express, "Whiston" arrived from our neighbours at Foxfield. A highlight of the event will be seeing Whiston pair up with our resident Polish Tank "Hotspur", as these two powerful tank engines take on the challenge of our Cauldon Lowe branch together for a single journey each day.
Completing the line-up will be our hugely impressive American sisters, S160s nos. 5197 and 6046. Designed by the USA Transportation Company, they were built to assist the Allies during World War 2, and 6046 saw active service herself in France following on from the D-Day landings. One of these locomotives will be operating each day of the gala, while the other will be on standby at Cheddleton and available for cab visits.
If you choose to ride aboard our main service set, you can extend your journey and take in the sight and sounds as the locomotive climbs our gruelling gradients to the site of the former Ipstones Station. Such a journey sees you leave behind the quiet and sedate Churnet Valley, working your way through cuttings and bridges before bursting into the Staffordshire Moorlands with spectacular views as far as the eye can see on either side of the coach.
You can learn more about the history of both the Churnet Valley Railway and the North Staffordshire Railway Company in our small museum based at Cheddleton Station, which houses a wealth of information and memorabilia.
...dining options during the event...Fancy a bite to eat during your day out? Then enjoy the traditional atmosphere in our Signals Tea Room at Froghall Station, The Tea Room offers freshly brewed coffee, cooked breakfast, lunch including hot and cold sandwiches, cream teas and a delicious selection of cakes. On a cold day bask in the warmth of an open fire and listen to some music on the wireless. Signals Tea Room is wheelchair accessible and child-friendly.
Afterwards go and pick up a railway-themed souvenir, keepsake or a gift for family or friends at our delightful and well stocked Signals Souvenir shop at Froghall Station.
For further information please visit our frequently asked questions page, where are most common requests are answered for you. If you still have that unanswered query however, feel free to use our Contact Us page to get in touch direct.
*All advertised locomotives, rolling stock and train services are subject to availability, and therefore maybe altered and/or cancelled without prior notice.*