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There's Nothing To Beat Messing With Trains - Steam That Is
The age of steam has long since gone as we seem to embrace ever more new technology. But, happily, there are still pockets of this bygone era to enjoy, and one of them can be found at the Chasewater steam railway in the heart of Staffordshire.
Billed as The Colliery Line, the historic track and the stations and engines that served it, would have been used to transport huge amounts of coal from the coal mines that previously dotted the local countryside from the 19th century onwards. Nowadays, visitors are able to turn back the clock to that era by enjoying a ride in a lovingly restored train and steam engine.
The railway operates on track that provides steam enthusiasts with a round trip of nearly four miles, with passenger trains setting off from its headquarters at Brownhills West station, near Burntwood, and embarking to Chasetown, with stops along the way at the stations of Norton Lakeside and Chasewater Heaths. The complete return journey takes around an hour, with rest stops along the way, including the steam engine being decoupled at Chasetown and transferred along an adjoining track to the front of the train.
The steam engine has to change train ends at Chasetown
But, in keeping with the more leisurely age of steam, visitors can get on and off the train at any of the stations, either to enjoy the facilities of the stations themselves, such as a model railway at Chasewater Heaths, or to enjoy a stroll through the beautiful countryside. You may even get to see deer along the way as I did on my trip. To enable visitors to enjoy the railway at their leisure, Day Rover tickets are available so passengers can hop on and off all day.
The main Brownhills West station is located within Chasewater Country Park, so makes for an obvious choice to start your steam train journey. As well as a gift shop at the station, there is also a well-stocked museum which has plenty of interesting railway and colliery artefacts dating as far back as the 1800s. The museum is located within the Heritage Centre which houses a collection of vintage railway carriages, steam and diesel locomotives.
Locomotives can be found inside the Heritage Centre
The overall site, which benefits from free parking, also has its own extensive and well laid out model railway, and a traditional Victorian-themed tea room appropriately called The Sidings. There is also a range of gift shops, including the Bric-a-brac located in an actual railway carriage on Platform 1 which provides a range of second-hand items with proceeds going to help with the ongoing restoration work of the railway. There is also Mabel's Vintage Carriage specialising in all things vintage.
Chasewater Railway operates both steam and diesel trains on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays throughout the year, as well as most Saturdays between Easter and October and certain weekdays throughout the summer. But throughout December the railway will operate its Santa Specials service on selected days, complete with a grotto and the promise of presents. For more information about Chasewater Railway, which is a volunteer run charity, please visit online or call 01543 452623.
The train will continue to operate on the weekends of October 15 and 16, 22 and 23, and 29 and 30, as well as October 27, and again on Saturday 5, Sunday 6 and Sunday 13 November, before the Santa Special service commences on Saturday 3 December.