Newest Review: ... based around steam trains, but diesel is much more efficient so there was lots of sitting around at the end of the line and the like. The... more
The old man and his train set: do not disturb.
Midland Railway Centre (Ripley)
Author Name: Ralph
Midland Railway Centre (Ripley)
Advantages: Good for hard core train fans
Disadvantages: Not very disabled / buggy friendly. Some staff indifferent. Not always steam trains
We went to the Midland Railway Centre in Jan 2009 and can't say that we found it all that enjoyable or remotely good value for money. We paid just under £30 for two adults and two children. After paying we found that there were no steam trains in operation, just a diesel. I'm sure it was an old and venerable diesel - that could be why it still had its original graffiti - but to most of us a diesel is a diesel and is the kind of train you'd normally take from one town to another and is nothing special.
The lack of steam was a big disappointment. We took the train to the museum site- the timetable is based around steam trains, but diesel is much more efficient so there was lots of sitting around at the end of the line and the like. The museum site was OK. There was a big shed - take your wellies to get there, it hadn't rained for a good while but the site was like the battle of the Somme - which was filled with various engines and carriages. Very poorly lit, generally well labelled, but mostly you walked about on the level of the carriage wheels - if nothing else this helped show you how high station platforms are, but made it difficult to see into the carriages. Didn't really matter that you couldn't reach the windows though as it was too dark to see in. So we walked over to the model railway display where the gentleman running the display basically said that we couldn't bring the (well behaved) kids in. Why have a bloody train set and not allow the kids to see it? There was another that we saw later at the original station, which the kids loved. Also at the museum site there was a kid's play area, which we didn't look at closely as it was too cold. We waited an age for the train back before getting off. We didn't see anything of Thomas the Tank Engine although they do have Thomas days. Most of the visitors there had small children (under 5) but there wasn't anything Thomas on display except in the shop.
Most of the volunteers (although not all) were older men who generally ignored the visitors and indeed (as with the model train) seemed to consider us to be a bit of an inconvenience.
I know that to an extent I'm complaining that the train museum focussed too much on trains and that's not really all that fair, but it's true. £30 to ride a diesel train is a lot of money, the engine shed was not very child friendly (not disabled friendly either, I'd think) and the model railway man was frankly unhelpful. I felt a bit like we were trespassing on the preserve of the elderly and bearded and were resented for all except the money in our pockets.
So it's good if you're a real train fan, but if you just have casual interest in trains you'd be best of going somewhere else.
Summary: Not good value for money for all except hard core train fans.