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The Midland Railway - Butterley
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Butterley Station, Derbyshire, England DE5 3QZ
+44 (0)1773 747674
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Trains and Goats and Lanes
Derby, United Kingdom
March 4, 2010
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We are heading toward the summer months when we all start to think of going out to play. Like most people we have our favourite places to visit and often these are places that we may choose to visit regularly. We consider ourselves lucky because we ...
We are heading toward the summer months when we all start to think of going out to play. Like most people we have our favourite places to visit and often these are places that we may choose to visit regularly. We consider ourselves lucky because we live within an hours drive of The Midland Railway station at Butterley.
I think the first thing I ought to explain is where Butterley is, if you are on the M1 then you will need to come off at Junction 28, it is on the B6179 one mile north of Ripley town centre and if you have SatNav then put in the postcode DE5 3QZ.
Obviously with a name like The Midland railway centre the focus is on steam engines and a bygone era. The Other Half and I both love the old steam trains but we aren't fanatics, we just love the whole idea of being able to spend a day out, enjoy a cuppa and a walk and watch the young families enjoying themselves. The places that you can go and visit and spend relatively little are very few and far between nowadays and this venue is among one of them.
Do take care as you travel along the narrow track towards the Midland railway, for about a mile you wind your way down towards the centre and will find yourself having to pull into passing points because there isn't enough width for two cars on the road.
At the bottom of the track there is a fairly large car park, now they don't ask for any parking fee but there is an Honesty box, of course all of the money collected from parking will help with the running costs of the railway.
It is a very relaxing day the kids can enjoy themselves, if you have a dog then you can walk the dog around the centre along with you ( on a lead ) and in general you only need to bother wearing some old casual clothes.
I feel that I need to point out that the ground is hilly, rough and uneven in some parts so anyone with mobility problems may struggle. But I wouldn't foresee any problems pushing either a wheelchair or a pushchair around.
If the weather is good then sandals are fine but if there has been a lot of rain then it may well be appropriate to wear your wellies!
If you have never visited the centre then try to pick a dry weather day, take a picnic, there are plenty of grassed areas to stick a rug down and although you can buy food and drink it does become expensive for a family day out.
At the entrance to the railway you will see a static engine, this is the Thomas the Tank engine that has been put there especially for the children. Now Thomas `talks` ( with the aid of an adult volunteer who sits inside and yells through a hole!), if any parent asks Thomas nicely he will engage in conversation with their children. The children's faces are a picture!
One of the large sheds is set aside for model railway enthusiasts and in there you will see some spectacular model railways in action. The volunteers who own the train sets are more than happy to chat about their train sets and anything to do with model railway in general.
To the far right of the centre they have re-sited an old tin tabernacle (church), it may be basic but this is one of my favourite places to visit. There are some pews and a couple of old organs and an altar that has been made to look cared for.
The Midland railway centre has a license to hold weddings and you could even consider having your wedding reception aboard a steam train!
The centre can also provide the perfect setting for a children's birthday party, a pre- organised Sunday lunch or an evening charter. For information you would need to contact the railway.
As you are wandering around the centre you will periodically see the volunteers at work, now the whole centre depends on those who volunteer their time and as you work your way around the railway centre is becomes very clear just how dedicated those volunteers are.
The museum section will probably be more interesting to the adults, there is a galleried walkway that allows you to look down on the workshops. There you will see the men at work on the steam engine restoration projects and some of the equipment hanging on the wall has to be seen to be believed! I have never seen spanners so large!!
There are a couple of enormous sheds that are home to the steam centres engines. One of the engines is named The Princess Margaret Rose, a spectacular site to see, lovingly restored and cared for. Sometimes another engine called The Duchess Of Sutherland will be there too but that particular engine is often loaned out to other steam centres or railways.
Now don't get the idea that there are only a couple of engines here to look at, in fact there are a host of old engines to feast your eyes upon.
I must just tell you about the old platforms, they have been decorated with old posters, vintage chocolate vending machines, old suitcases and bicycles!
There is a souvenir shop that sells trinkets, postcards, sweets, ice cream and cold drinks.
There is also a large portakabin that is again manned by volunteers who serve home cooked food and the most delicious puds!
In there you can always buy a welcome cup of tea or coffee too.
They do run a steam train for a short journey, tickets can be bought on the day. The short journey on the steam train is great but sometimes it is just enough to wander around, to let the children play and we still haven't been to visit the animals at Brittain Pit farm yet.
Brittain Pit animal farm is on the same site, let me tell you what they have at the farm.
Lots of birds, from cockatoos to finches, hamsters and guinea pigs, rabbits, sheep, pigs, goats, fish, Llamas and a few more that I may well have forgotten about.
In the farm they have little bags of food that can be bought for pence and the children can feed the animals but they will need to be well supervised, the goats are gannets!
I think by now you have the gist of the Midland railway centre, it is well worth a visit if you live near enough or you are maybe holidaying nearby.
During the summer holidays they have many days where they run Thomas the Tank engine and Oswald the engine along the tracks for fun. Some of the volunteers dress up, the Fat Controller is always a wonderful sight.
You can easily spend a whole afternoon at the Midland railway, it makes a thoroughly enjoyable family outing. Some time ago the centre received funding from the National Lottery to enable them to carry on their remarkable venture.
Summary: A good family outing
This review is on Ciao and Dooyoo under user name Emmald.