22 May 2010
In the past I have taken a baby on a day out on a steam train at both the Severn Valley and Howarth and Keithley and Worth Valley Railways. Although we had a good day out in the past it was hard work having to accommodate the needs of a baby such as feeding, changing and taking a pushchair (see previous review Howarth and Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, with a baby).
Our children are now a bit older and as we found out it's much easier with our four year old and a two year old toddler than trying to take a baby. This is a review of a day out on the Severn Valley Railway travelling from Kidderminster station in Worcestershire to Bridgenorth station in Shropshire.
When taking our toddler on a day out we will normally take a pushchair (stroller) with us. The convenience of being able to push a child around normally out-ways the hassle of having to find lifts etc., but on this case as we were planning to spend much of the time travelling on a train we decided to manage without the pushchair on this occasion. This turned out to be a good decision as whilst a pushchair would have been useful in Bridgenorth it can be an inconvenience having to fold and unfold a pushchair whilst also trying to get children on and off a train.
We parked in the car park at Kidderminster Severn Valley Railway Station (there is a mainline station very close) and bought our tickets form the station. This was a bank holiday Monday and there was a long queue to buy the tickets, but this was the only real extra inconvenience of it being a public holiday as the trains and other attractions coped well with the large number of visitors.
The tickets we purchased were full return tickets to Bridgenorth station which could be used as day rover tickets (allowing any number of journeys on the railway) and gave free entrance to the Engine House Visitor Centre (museum) at Highley Station. Although fairly expensive for the train journey, including the visitor centre into the cost of the ticket meant that the price wasn't too badly priced.
We got off the first train at Highley station which is where the Engine House Visitor Centre is located. We had got on one of the rear carriages and the conductor told use we would need to move further up the train as the platform is shorter at Highley station. We had a part of the carriage to ourselves so we waited until the station prior to the one we needed before moving up the train. We were able to move up the carriage whilst the train was stopped at Arley, although even if we hadn't completely moved whilst it was stopped the train was smooth and it would have been possible to walk up the train whilst it was moving.
After alighting at Highley we had lunch in the museum restaurant which providing a good selection of hot and cold meals and also sold some traditional real ale (bottled rather than draught). The children had a play in the outdoor playground. We then visited the indoor exhibits including a selection of engines and some hands on exhibits before heading for the next train the rest of the way to Bridgenorth.
At Bridgenorth we walked up hill to the town centre and had a look around a few shops. The hill is very steep and this is the one place where a pushchair would have been useful. I managed by carrying my son on my shoulders. Alternatively there is a Cliff railway, although I've not actually visited that.
We then returned to Kidderminster where we visited the small museum at Kidderminster station. There are a couple of hands-on activities at the museum including a telephone exchange with working telephones that can be used to call each other. There is also a working signal box lever frame where you can try your hand at being a signal man. Most of the other exhibits are static.
The railway goes through some great scenery including a glimpse of some of the animals in the West Midlands Safari Park. In our case we saw a glimpse of the new Armoured Indian Rhinos. The journey takes just over an hour from one end to the other, but it doesn't feel it.
There are gift shops at various stations and museums. We went to the one in Kidderminster station which is quite small. It had a good selection of Thomas the Tank Engine toys and toys suitable for our son, but there was less choice for our daughter. We bought a Thomas Make and Do Book which whilst quite expensive is worthwhile. There is a better gift shop at the Engine House Visitor Centre.
Taking a baby on a full size steam railway is hard work, but a toddler is much easier. We had a great day on the Severn Valley Railway. There is lots to see on the train and at several of the stops. They were also well prepared for the public holiday.
Other related days out
- Thomasland and Drayton Manor Park for toddlers
- Thomasland at Drayton Manor – visiting with babies and children
- Howarth and Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, with a baby
- Evesham Vale Light Railway with a baby and young child
- Day out with a toddler – The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway in the Lake District
- Day out with a toddler – Almond Valley Children’s Farm, Museum and Railway, Near Edinburgh Scotland
- Children’s Day Out – Kirklees Light Railway, Clayton West, West Yorkshire