We had a day out with Thomas, the tank engine on Sunday. It was a special day at the Didcot Railway museum: Thomas and his friends came to visit.
The museum has an extensive collection of Great Western Railway steam engines, coaches, wagons, buildings and small relics; and a recreation of Brunel’s broad gauge railway. It is set in a rural setting and is based around the original 1930s engine shed. The setting is right next to the working railway station, but well separated off that there is no danger for wandering Littlins.
On arrival we were greeted by the Fat Controller’s staff, who sold us some pricy tickets: £10 per adult and children £8.50 (children are counted from 2 (!) to 15). Ouch! That’s £37 for a family of 4. (For their DecemberThomas& Father Christmas events the age drops & prices rise: entry for children 1-16 is £10). We were given a map of the museum and then headed in along the tracks towards the shed. It wasn’t long before Little Man spottedThomas’ friends all smiling, tucked up in the engine shed. He was overjoyed. We had to go in. There, we could climb up onto the engines and get really greasy and dirty. Just what little boys (and girls) like! …mummies not so much, but, hey, an extra dose of washing powder and it all came out in the evening.
After a bit of assisted climbing, ‘cause these engines were the real deal and were BIG, we were entertained by Mr Clown and none other than the Fat Controller. We had a bit of fun, as Diesel tried to pick up 5 carriages and had to attempt it a couple of times before he got it right. The children helping the Fat Controller give instructions. Lots of giggles!
It was a gorgeous hot day, so being in a mostly outdoor museum was great. However, I think, there is enough covered places that even in rainy weather, with wellies and raincoats children would have fun so much fun.
There are 2 full sized trains running between 3 “stations”- one from the entrance, which we totally missed, and one, the famousThomas, from the station beyond the large shed. There is a balloon artist just outside the train station to mull away to 10-15 minute wait for the next trip onThomas. The queue for balloons was actually longer – they were doing an awesome job! Have you ever seen a balloon twisted and turned intoThomas, the tank engine?
The ride on Thomas was short, but fun. There are a couple of carriages hooked behind and you get to enjoy sitting in those. The children love it and buzz with excitement. We took the train to the bottom station and then back to where we left from.
There was a sparkle in most children’s eyes as they waved Thomas off on his next journey.
We enjoyed a picnic in the grounds and even found a marquee put up against an engine and a carriage to protect us from the sun. Having enjoyed the picnic, the children went in different directions: nearby there was a tent with a Punch and Judy show and there was also a chance to practice all sorts of clown tricks including plate spinning. Little Miss was so proud of herself that she had managed to spin a plate on a stick! The clown teaching the tricks was very patient.
The afternoon flew away, the kids started getting tired, so we headed home. Only as we walked towards the exit did we realise we were the last ones to leave. This afforded us some great snaps of Thomas and his friends once more.
Our children were exhausted and dirty (, no amount of wet wipes were enough) at the end of the day. We packed them into the car and they promptly fell asleep as soon as we drove out of the car park (which was just opposite Didcot railway station and very reasonably priced £2)
Overall it was a great family day out. The children really enjoyed it, the facilities (including toilets, baby changing) were pretty good and the shows put on were very good, well targeted for 3-7 year olds. The entrance fee, we felt, was a bit high and the restaurant prices were rather dear too. However, you can always bring a picnic and enjoy it in the shed or the fields… or even if you so fancy sit on one of the disused tracks.
Apparently , Thomas visits a number of railway stations and museums throughout the year. Didcot will have Thomas days in the run up to Christmas again. We are thinking of going back.
Check out if there’s one near you & link up if you have a post about your one.