Showing posts from 2014

Santa Specials 2014

Our Santa Specials are now under way. This year we have put up a lot more decorations and lights, hard work but worth it, especially when you see the childrens reactions. Two more days to do this weekend and then they all come down again! The Twilight Express departing at 16:15 on the 13th Halstead station Hedingham waiting room


Congratulations to a team from Blackwater Preservation who pulled WD190 through the station area today to raise funds for the Dystonia Society. Many of the team regularly come to our events with fire engines, and Railway volunteer Natalie Halls also joined in. Pulling a 50 tonne loco uphill is not an easy thing to do but the team put all their effort into pulling the loco.


What a busy Summer, and how quickly it seemed to pass! Visitor numbers were up considerably for both July and August and September seems to be going the same way.  It's good to see so many people on site enjoying themselves. We were featured on BBC1 series A Taste Of Britain, this was filmed in July but we were asked not to name the programme until after it had aired on 9th September.  Brian Turner and Janet Street Porter spent a couple of hours on site. Work has started on WD200 with the boiler tubes being removed ready for inspection - roll on the day when we have two Austerity saddle tanks working together.


We have reached the final three in the Best Small Attraction category in the Essex Tourism & Hospitality Awards 2014. We have reached the final all four times we have entered, winning it once. Keep your fingers crossed for us this time.  the winners will be announced at the end of October.


The final weeks of the school term saw several schools visit us, and July finished with the highest visitor numbers for several years.  We also had another full day with a photo shoot for a lingerie company to launch their new range. Now the summer holidays have started we are open Tuesdays and Thursdays with a diesel train running and Wednesdays and Sundays with steam train rides so quite a busy time for us.


Today we had Mark Wesley Productions on site making a training film for London Overground Railway.  The film stars Shaun Williamson and Richard Tate both seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.  The whole crew were a great bunch and it was great to see them in action - very entertaining.  They will certainly be welcome back anytime.


The 24th June saw the arrival of the Colne Valley Railways latest acquisition, WD200 from the Kent & East Sussex Railway. An 0-6-0ST this is from the same batch as our WD190, and they used to work together at Shoeburyness Military Railway.  WD200 stayed there until 1970, when a group from the K&ESR purchased it.  It saw regular service there until 2012 and now needs an overhaul to get her back on track. Having recently finished WD190, our Engineering team - the Eccentrics - should be able to get this one working in no time!!


June has been a hectic month.  We've had several schools visit us, a film crew arrived at short notice to do some filming for a new BBC programme, I've been asked not to publish photos though until the programme airs in September. We then had two weekends of A Day Out With Thomas The weather was a bit damp the first Saturday but that didn't stop visitors coming to see Thomas, Daisy, Mavis, Trevor and of course, Sir Topham Hatt who made sure everyone behaved.  New for this year was a 7 1/4" Toby who looked very cute. The four days were a great success, and seeing the faces of some of the children as they saw Thomas made it all worthwhile

999 DAY

18th May saw the 2nd Emergency Services day.  Fire service vehicles  from the 1950s and 2000 were in attendance along with an ex Essex Police car, Essex Police Museum, St Johns Ambulance and British Transport Police Search Dogs.  A re-enactment saw a Fire Engine, Police and Ambulance go into action with lights and sirens, much to the delight of younger visitors.


Peppa and George paid a return visit to the Colne Valley Railway over the Bank Holiday weekend of 4th & 5th May.  We were lucky with the weather and they were able to stay out on the platform meeting and greeting their fans, young and old.


The weekend of 26th 27th April saw the annual Vintage Vehicle Rally. Cars of every shape and size filled the field along with some commercial vehicles and stationary engines. Unfortunately the weather wasn't too kind on the Saturday but Sunday was a lot better.


The access paths and area at the end of the main toilet block has been tarmacked, making that area look cleaner and tidier With the removal of a carriage we have created a viewing area for visitors to get another view of the trains as they go by. We have also improved the step-free crossing here by tarmacking some areas, marking the route and installing two smaller gates.  These will eventually be controlled from the signalbox. This crossing has already received very good comments from our regular wheelchair users.


We now have our very own castle at Castle Hedingham - Peter has been busy over the winter and this magnificent building has appeared.  Conwy Castle gave him some inspiration as the track runs through the Castle. Several new buildings and a roadway have also appeared.


The booking office has had a new partition built so visitors will be able to step into the office and get a better view of what's inside.  


Just because we have been closed to the public for a few weeks don't assume we have been sitting doing nothing - far from it.  This is the time when track can be worked on and shunting can take place without the pressure of getting it ready in a short time.  Lots has been happening this year already.   The hedge at the rear of the signal box                                                         has been removed allowing the model railway shed to be more visible.  Steps will be put in at this top end whilst the ramp will continue to the right. The area below tarmacked within a few weeks and a new flowerbed has also been created and is being planted up. One of the carriages by the crossing has been removed to the engineering area - the furthest it's moved in 20+ years.  This gives better visibility of the crossing from the signal box in preparation for a new step-free crossing which is being installed.  The are to the right will be tarmacked and fenced and provide


This week Paul, Evan and Sally attended a Days Out With Thomas seminar at Drayton Manor - home to Thomasland.  This was a look back at 2013 and a preview of what it to come.  Apart from the business talk there were also six awards and we were lucky enough to get one for the "most innovative and effective marketing" this was because of signs around the site prompting visitors to Tweet and use Facebook whilst on site, thus spreading the word they were having such a great time.  Our thanks go to Natalie for this simple but highly effective idea.

January 2014

The closed season is when work-parties can get on with jobs not able to be done easily during the running season.  The Permanent Way gangs have been replacing sleepers - this usually entails the removal of track and all the bits that hold it together.  The Signalling group have resumed their work on making Hedingham signal box look smarter, the hedge between the signal box and the model railway shed is also being removed, the plan is to open this area up and make access easier. There is also lot's of behind the scenes work, bookings for Pullman dining, Driver Experience and school visits are coming in, and events are being planned. Peppa Pig and Thomas the Tank Engine will be visiting again this year, other events include a Diesel Gala and Vehicle Rally in April, Emergency Services and Model Engineering days in May, Colne valley at War and Bus & Commercial vehicle Rally in July.   Other events may be added - keep an eye on the website.


Well another year has gone and my problems accessing Blogger seem to be cured (fingers crossed) The beginning of December saw a school visit - they were all dressed as evacuees. We also had Hedingham Sidecars annual end-of-year rally.  About 25 units attended and this year the weather was kinder so no-one lost their tent in the middle of the night! The year finished with some very busy Santa Specials and lots of happy customers. Again the weather was kinder with some days feeling quite spring-like.