Statfold Railway Spectacle Of Steam Enthusiast Day Review
THIS EXPERIENCE WAS GIFTED TO THE REVIEWER AND GUEST/S FOR THE PURPOSES OF WRITING THE REVIEW.
Reviewed by Catherine Brown
Statfold Barn Railway, located close to Tamworth in Staffordshire, is a fascinating place to visit for an unusual family day out. The venue puts on special events throughout the year, and we attended during their festival of steam. I visited with my partner and children aged 12, 10 and 8.
We arrived using a free bus service put on by the Transport Museum Wythall which ran from Tamworth town centre and train station. There was free parking on site with helpful marshalls directing traffic. We first explored the roundhouse museum, where over a dozen tracks radiate from a central turntable. This may sound silly but I have never seen so many locomotives in one place! The walls were covered with signs and information boards which made it a fascinating room wherever you looked. Here the children got chance to power a Sheffield 3 handcart, which they described as one of the highlights of the day.
Next, we moved into a room containing stands and stalls displaying and selling books and memorabilia. As we are only amateur enthusiasts we didn’t linger long here, but they were popular with the more knowledgeable visitors. This building also houses a soft play and climbing area (extra charge), plus a café selling hot and cold food and drinks. The Hunslet archives, which gave visitors chance to have guided tours by the archivists, is also located here. The upstairs area with more locos and displays could be accessed by a lift for visitors with mobility issues. The children enjoyed spotting signs with their names on. Just outdoors there was additional seating set up like an original dining car.
Now to the most exciting part of the day for the grown ups – riding on the trains! Statfold Barn Railway has multiple stations on a looping track. Before riding our first train we watched them refill a steam engine with water. A fascinating watch until the loud whistle of a passing loco made us all jump! Our first ride was on a diesel locomotive and took the short journey round to the main Statfold Junction. Here was an authentic station with a traditional bridge to get across the other tracks. We spent time looking at how the locomotives were built and maintained at Statfold Works, and immersing ourselves in the sights and smells of steam transport.
After exploring the area, including the viewing points perfect for photographs, we took our return journey on a smaller steam train. Also available to take a ride on was the Burton and Ashby light railway tram and a quirky little railbus called the Goose. My fact of the day was that narrow gauge refers to tracks less than 4 foot 8 ½ inches. There were occasional signs around the site explaining what we were seeing and also staff members dressed in authentic clothing willing to answer questions. It may have been handy to have had a board at each station naming the trains currently on the track, but I understand with so many running this may have been difficult to maintain.
Overall, I found this a fascinating experience and would rate 4/5. The variety of trains and clear explanation from the guide meant that I learned a lot. I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in steam trains but it is also suitable for visitors who would do not have much previous knowledge. The sign ‘Preserving the best of our past for our future’ summed up our experience perfectly. The site contains so many well-maintained vehicles and items which give the next generation a valuable chance to find out about life in the past.
Adult tickets for this event cost £15, child tickets £10 and a family ticket was £42.50. Under 1’s were free and concessions/carers were £12.50. These were all advance prices and increased if bought on the gate.
Information about Statfold Barn Railway (Ashby Road, Tamworth, Staffordshire, B79 0BU) and future events can be found at www.statfold.com