If you’re looking for a day out with a difference this festive season, Bodmin Railway may just be your ticket!
With their ‘Santa Specials’ returning this December, families in and around Bodmin will be able to explore the heritage of the local railway, spend some time with Santa and go home feeling ready for Christmas.
Bodmin’s railway line is steeped in history. The Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway was one of the world’s very first railways, commissioned in 1831 by Sir William Molesworth to bring sea sand from the Camel Estuary to inland farms. The railway was opened in 1834 and became the very first steam-worked railway in Cornwall, as well as one of the first to carry passengers.
It wasn’t until the 1890s that the railway was connected to the North Cornwall line, taking passengers to Launceston, Exeter and Waterloo.
Bodmin Life was delighted to meet some of the team at the railway, including the station’s oldest volunteer driver Courtney, and staff member Adam on the footplate of the GWR ‘4575’ Class 2-6-2 small prairie tank - No.5552, a beautiful traditional steam locomotive built in 1928.
Courtney and Adam are part of the small team that brings beautiful railway journeys to visitors and locals here in Bodmin. Generally, the railway runs for 6 1⁄2 miles, with branches to Bodmin Parkway and Boscarne Junction, taking in some stunning views along the way.
Santa by Steam is at the core of the Santa Specials this December. Running every weekend in December up until Christmas Eve (including the 21st and 22nd), families can book their spaces on the train and be greeted by Santa himself! There are also VIP tickets available, plus the station’s Victorian carriage will transform into a beautiful Santa’s Grotto for family photo opportunities.
VIP compartments will include seating for up to six people (with two babies/toddlers on laps), with space for Santa to pop in for a more personal experience. Your tickets will see Santa going from table to table, chatting with families and going through their wishlists.
In addition, some coaches will become a destination for festive activities and crafts, plus there will be three Murder Mysteries for Christmas, performed by ‘Murder by Appointment South West’. ‘1950s The Train to Nowhere’ will be at Bodmin Railway on the 7th, 14th and 21st December, and is open to all ages.
On the 5th and 6th, and 12th and 13th December, Storytime with Santa will welcome children to sit and listen to a wonderful Christmas story, with tickets including hot chocolate and a cookie, and being able to take the book home. There will be no train ride involved.
If a sumptuous high tea is your family’s idea of fun, you can take advantage of the one-on-one experience in the Victorian coach, where Santa will be ready to say ‘hello’ and tell the story of the railway’s history. Tickets include a cream tea box and gift bag to take home.
If you love the idea of celebrating Christmas at the railway, but would like to have a day away from the children, make sure to book yourself a place on the wreath making classes, which take place on the 5th and 12th December,11am-2pm. Tickets include a glass of fizz on arrival, and a pasty and hot drink for lunch.
Julie from Bodmin Railway said: “We have a lot of attractions here in Bodmin. It’s a lovely community, and we want to be a part of it - Christmas is vital to us!”
If you are interested in the Santa Specials events at the railway this December, visit bodminrailway.co.uk for further details and to book. If your family has a slightly tighter budget this year, but would still like to treat yourself to a day out, the railway recommends Storytime with Santa.