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Full Steam Ahead For A Family Day Out.
Midland Railway Centre (Ripley)
Member Name: DaisyDuck
Midland Railway Centre (Ripley)
Date: 04/09/01, updated on 04/09/01 (304 review reads)
Advantages: Some thing for everyone.
Disadvantages: Can get smutty ( close the windows)
My husband is a steam railway enthusuiast, the rest of us our less enthusiastic about steam engines, nevertheless we all had a good day out at the Midland Railway Centre. This opinion does not contain a lot of detailed info on locomotives, signal boxes etc. as I don't really understand it all, just a mums view of the place.
Although listed as an attraction in Ripley the stations are actually at Butterley and Swanwick Junction. We parked at Butterley where there is a free car park, which is actually a large field belonging to the local angling club. There is also a car park at Swanwick Junction, but although we drove through Swanwick we didn't see any direction signs for the railway centre.
Ticket to ride... the cost of an adult ticket valid for the day was £7.95, the children went free as they had a special offer on of up to 2 children travelling free with any paying adult. I think the normal price for children was £4.00 and free for the under 4's. Your ticket gave you unlimited travel for the day.
We arrived early so while we waited we looked around the souvenir shop and watched the staem engine being prepared.
The journey... From Butterley to Swanwick Junction, turns round at Riddings, back to Swanwick Junction through Butterley, up to Hammersmith where it turns round again and terminates at Butterley. All the main attractions are at Swanwick Junction, so they recommend that you get of at Swannick on the return from Riddings.
Diesel Depot.. This is a biulding under construction ready to house a collection of mainline diesel engines.
Demonstration Signal Box..
You can see how a Midland signalman would have worked. It's interesting to look round, but the kids were disappointed that you were not allowed to pull the levers.
A "Tin Tabernacle" Victorian Church rescued from the railway village of Westhouses.
This is in a portakabin, wasn't open on our visit.
Basically a souvenir shop.
Matthew Kirtley Museum..
A large engine shed housing the collection of steam, diesel and electric locomotives and rolling stock. I am not an expert on locomotives, but hubby said it was an interesting collection, although unfortunately some of the most interesting were not accessible due to some building work.
Richard Levick Workshop..
This is where the restoration work goes on.
Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust Depot.
Locomotives housed here include Princess Margaret Rose and Duchess of Sutherland.
Walk along the footpaths past the ponds and marshy areas ( ideal for ducks), 35 acres in area. You can also explore the park on the Golden Valley Light Railway train, we didn't get round to trying this.
Brittain Pit Farm..
This was April's favourite bit of the day. It's quite a small show farm with slightly tatty but brightly painted pens. The animals donkeys including a new foal, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, Charlie the Llama, ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, chinchilla, sheep, chipmunks, I think thats about the lot. As with most of these farms you could buy a paper bag of food pellets for 40pence, with a choice of feeding furry or feathered friends. April loved the animals tickling her hand as they ate, Matthew was nervous of the although he's the eldest, so I had to get my hands covered in donkey spit. There were plenty of signs reminding you to wash your hands after feeding or touching the animals and adequate washing facilities and toilets. The whole atmospere of the farm was very friendly, April had a short pony ride, all this was free, you had the choice of whether or not you would like to leave a donation. the thing I liked about the farm was that the animals seemed well fed and cared for and were not clamouring to get food from
There is a small childrens play area consisting of a couple of swings, a slide and a see-saw, I wouldn't recommend it as it looked a bit rusty and rickety and was set on grass with no safety mats.
There is a buffet at Butterley and Swanwick Junction, we opted for Johnson's Buffet at Swanwick. There was a choice of hot, cold meals vegetarians catered for. The hot meals were the usual burger, sausage,chicken nuggets, etc with chips and baked beans of peas. The veggie things were you've guessed it veggie burgers, nuggets etc. The portions were large enough for any engine driver, with big chunky chips and huge mugs of tea, at under £12 for the four of us I would say it was value for money.
So after stuffing ourselves on sausage and chips in the buffet, feeding the animals and looking in wonderment at the huge steam locos we got the train back to Butterley. There is a footpath from Swanwick Junction to Butterley , if you feel like walking it takes about ten minutes.
Facilities on the train.. There was a buffet car selling drinks, crisps and chocolate. The toilets were not in use, but it's only a short journey and there are toilets at both of the stations.
We went on a quiet day, they ran four trains between 11 and 4. They do run more on bank holidays and special Thomas the Tank events etc.
Family verdict.. not a bad day out at all, we had warm sunny weather which helped , not really a trip for a rainy day.
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