Sunday 17 July saw a total sell-out for the visit of Chase and Skye from PAW Patrol to the Leighton Buzzard Railway’s PAW Patrol. All five trains carried more than 100 passengers each, who were invited to meet the characters at Stonehenge Works.
As is now customary for these character visits, seven-coach, non-stop trains were operated. This year, due to the fire risk caused by the hot weather, the train was operated by a diesel locomotive, known as ‘NG51’ as well as Doll, one of the railway’s resident steam engines, which was only in light steam to mitigate fire risks. NG51’s owner, Robert Leah, claimed he suspected ‘it was the hardest day’s work the loco had ever done’.
The event kicked off a bumper summer at the railway, with trains operating every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday all through the school holidays from 24 July to 1 September.
Sunday 4 September offers the perfect end of holiday treat for children, when baby dinosaurs will again be taking over Stonehenge Works – an event that proved very popular last year.
There will be four departures during the day – at 10am, 11.40am, 1.20pm and 3pm. Tickets are online now and selling fast.
The return trip will take 80 minutes, including 40 minutes at Stonehenge Works where, as well as the meeting the dinosaurs, customers can visit the Stonehenge Trail offering the chance to view static engines and wagons, including a sand train as it would have run on the railway from the 1920s to 1970s. There’s a steam loco called ‘Penlee’ where children can climb in the cab and pretend to be the engine driver. There is also a bomb train from an RAF ammunition depot, and a logging train, as well as displays about sand quarrying and military railways.
The popular craft shop will be open, selling locally made items, as well as hot and cold drinks and confectionery. There will also be a guided Engine Shed Show tour at Page’s Park which will include most of the railway’s steam locomotives as well as the photographic display of the line and its construction. The Train Shed Café will be open at Page’s Park with a full menu from 10am.
The annual Steam Gala returns over the weekend of 17 and 18 September. Tickets are on sale now, with locomotive allocations to be confirmed nearer the time, but there should be some surprise sights, including making use of the recently opened Mundy’s Hill extension.
Fee-free online booking is available at www.buzzrail.co.uk, and advance booking is advised to reserve your place for special events, as it’s expected there will be very limited ticket availability on the day.