“ Location: Bickleigh, Tiverton / www.devonrailwaycentre.co.uk „
The Devon Railway centre in Bickleigh, Mid Devon is a lovely little family run attraction that we have visited on a couple of occasions.
Now, my only interest in trains is whether they can get me from A to B but my son is 5 and train mad and loves this place. It's charm is it's uncomercialised nature so don't expect a theme park, but for a young child (or older train buff) it's a great place to spend a couple of hours.
The centre was established in 1997 on the derelict site of the former Bickleigh station which closed in 1963. The track was changed to fit smaller narrow gauge trains and the station has also been restored. Coaches have been rebuilt and house several model railway layouts which are detailed and impressive including sound and lighting which make the scenes very atmospheric. There are nice touches you don't see in bigger attractions like step stools provided for younger kids to be able to see.
Narrow gauge (small) trains were apparently used in industry such as mining and several have been restored by the centre and are now used to give rides around the site. This is something my son particularly likes because you can ride as many times as you wish on your entry ticket. Enthusiasts will like the detailed information available on the history of each train.
There is a small Victorian model village and a gnome village which the train does a circuit round which again is nice for young children.
Some train coaches have recently been converted into an inside play area which is a well thought out use of space with a big wooden train set, some ride on toys, a sandpit and a ball pool. There is also an outdoor play area and a crazy golf course for a small extra charge.
The station itself is now being used as a tea rooms and although we haven't eaten there as yet, the prices look reasonable and the food to be light snacks which look appetising. We have so far taken a picnic and used the area provided which is also set out as a small nature area beside the river. The centre has its own car park. I do not think that it would be easy to use a wheel chair on the site as most of the attractions involve climbing onto trains or stationary carriages.
Admission charges are £6.10 adults
Family £18.80 which covers 2 adults and 3 children whilst under 3s are free.
Santa specials and other events are held throughout the year.
To sum up, if you have a young child who likes trains its worth an afternoons visit.
Railway theme park, model village and more.