The Churnet Valley Railway is getting ready for another nostalgic journey, as Staffordshire’s Little Switzerland gets transported back to the 1940s for one of the line’s biggest crowd-pullers – the annual war event which takes place for the 18th consecutive year over the weekend of 10th & 11th of September.
Rebranded for 2016 as “War in the Valley” the weekend will see a return of soldiers after last years Home Front theme. Taking centre stage will be the North-West Military Collectors, who will be showcasing both an Allied and Axis camp to visitors throughout the weekend before they descend on Froghall each day to play out the CVR’s first ever live battle re-enactment.
Also at Froghall will be the entertainment tent, with singers Paul Harper, Brandyn Shaw and Don Gentile being joined by the Victory Girls dance troupe. They will all be performing at various times during the weekend, with an additional show on Saturday evening. Supporting this will be a bar offering a selection of locally brewed ales as well as a number of Gins that proved popular at the recent “Gins & Trains” event.
Consall is where the NWMC Axis camp will be focused for the weekend, supported with a WW2 Weapons display courtesy of the ET044 Living History Group. Also keep an eye out for Field-Marshall Montgomery, as Operation Copperhead gets relived across the Churnet Valley throughout the weekend.
At Cheddleton, life on the home front will be recreated with the CVR’s own education team playing out the life of Dorothy Ryder – the daughter of Cheddleton Stationmaster who lived in the station from 1941 and left her memories behind in the diary she kept during the war. Additionally the education team will be providing a rationing exhibition, taken from their hugely popular Evacuee Days that are offered to local schools during the year. There will also be a Women's Land Army display courtesy of the Notts & Derby branch, explaining the significance of the contribution women made to efforts on the home front. The home front theme will be complimented by a display of period vehicles that could be seen across Britain during the wars, whilst the RAF Association will be commemorating the Battle of Britain.
On the railway there will be a full timetable of heritage passenger trains along Staffordshire’s Premier heritage railway, including the recreation of a military goods - transporting Military vehicles on railway wagons to assist with the war effort.
“War in the Valley brings a new twist to an already popular event,” said Jon Kerr, one of the events coordinators. “After running the event for over a decade, previous event organiser Chris Fletcher passed the baton on for 2016 and so a new team has come together for this year. We’ve looked at ways of adding to what Chris has already achieved with past events, and we’re hoping this proves to be bigger and better than anything that’s gone before”.
The main event gets underway at 10.30am with the departure of the first train, with steam and diesel trains providing a trip down memory lane for some passengers whilst offering a history lesson for others. The live entertainers at Froghall will commence from 11am, with the Saturday evening show commencing at 6pm for which evening only tickets will be available on the night for the bargain price of £6 per person! In support of the evening show a late night steam service will be provided, allowing residents to let the train take the strain whilst offering an alternative night out.
As a preview to the event, Paul Harper and Brandyn Shaw will also be performing at Cheddleton's The Boat Inn from 8.30pm on the Friday evening for all to enjoy and get into the weekend's 40s spirit.
No booking is required for this family favourite, though a discount is offered on advance tickets online and a 50% discount is available on daytime tickets to all those who turn up in period costume. Entrance to Froghall station will be restricted to ticket holders only for the duration of this event. For more information call 01538 750755 or check either of the Railway’s website or Facebook pages.