Photos by Rob Tysall
Looking for somewhere different to take the children? Ann Evans highly recommends the Evesham Vale Light Railway.
Take the little ones for a great big adventure during the Easter holidays at the Evesham Vale Light Railway. Situated within the Evesham Country Park this 15-inch gauge Light Railway is owned and operated by Adrian and Sandra Corke – and their team of enthusiastic volunteers. And they provide a warm welcome to visitors every weekend and throughout the school holidays.
There’s a delightful old-world charm about this nostalgic little railway system, with its ticket office and shop where you might treat yourself to a train driver’s cap or station master’s flag before you step out onto the platform. And there you’ll find the beautifully maintained steam locos and carriages all set to take you on a journey through a mile and a quarter of Evesham countryside. On your journey you can enjoy the views of the Vale of Evesham overlooked by the Cotswold Hills.
You can get off at the Play Fort where the kids can let off steam. Why not take a picnic if the weather is good. Or you could walk to the River Avon or simply relax and enjoy the views. You can even take your dog – so long as it is well behaved!
The Evesham Vale Light Railway was built by Jim and Helen Shackall with help from family and friends. It first opened in 2002 and over the year gave rides to around 450,000 visitors. In 2012 Adrian and Sandra Corke took over the helm, continuing to provide a magical train ride for tens of thousands of families over the years.
The couple are dedicated steam train enthusiasts. Adrian is a steam driver and steam engineer having worked at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre and in the restoration of the Greensand Railway Museum Trust’s WDLR Baldwin 4-6-0T No.778. While Sandra has filled many roles at Leighton Buzzard including catering, accounting and even painting locomotives. She is now a trained steam train driver, and you may find she’s your driver on your visit.
Visitors will find themselves riding in carriages built by John Ellerton for his ‘Reseau Guerledan Chemin de Fer Touristique railway in Brittany, France in 1978, which were purchased by Jim and Helen in 1996.
Their rolling stock all have an interesting history. The 0-4-0 Tender/Tank No 312 ‘St. Egwin’ was constructed new for Steve Bell by Exmoor Steam Railway at Bratton Fleming, Devon.
The 0-6-2 No 3 ‘Dougal’ Built by Severn Lamb of Stratford-on-Avon in 1970, to a design by David Curwen for Longleat Safari Park. It’s since been rebuilt with a larger boiler and tender.The Ruston & Hornsby diesel No. 452280 ‘Cromwell’ was based at Markeaton Park and prior to that at Littlecote House. The loco was regauged and converted to hydraulic drive by Alan Keef Ltd, a “new” Ford Engine was fitted during its last overhaul in 2008.
The Exmoor Steam Railway Locomotive No.300 of 1996 has been purchased for use at the Railway. It was supplied new to the Markeaton Park Railway in Derbyshire and named “Markeaton Lady”. The locomotive has had a full rebuild including a new boiler, new wheels and axles.
Visitors will probably also spot ‘Sludge’. This 4wDM Diesel Locomotive No JGF4 was designed and built by R.L.Lister & Co in 1955. It was bought by Jim and Helen in 1996.
The Evesham Vale Light Railway runs daily during school holidays and every weekend throughout the year. Look out for the Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday.
All coaches are enclosed or semi enclosed, and there are compartments adapted for wheelchair users. Dogs are welcome on the trains at no extra charge.
For further details visit: http://www.evlr.co.uk/