Celebrate the golden age of travel during the Coronation weekend with these five steam train experiences that are fit for a king! From scrumptious afternoon teas to fancy dress rail rides, get ready to wave your union jack flags as you rumble past rolling countryside and enjoy the royal celebrations from the comfort of a heritage railway train carriage.
Ribble Steam Railway
The Ribble Steam Railway opened in 2005 and runs steam-hauled trains along part of the standard-gauge Preston Dock Branch Line, crossing Preston Marina on a swing bridge, during the summer months. The adjoining museum includes a very large collection of nearly 50 industrial steam and diesel locomotives, mainly from the now defunct Southport Railway Museum. During the Coronation weekend, Ribble Railway is pulling out all the stops to ensure a fun-filled day on Sunday 7 May. Visitors are encouraged to come dressed as a prince or princess and enjoy Top and Tail trains (with an engine at each end), which will run every 45 minutes from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Advance bookings are a must, especially if you’re looking to reserve a table for the Coronation Cream Tea, starting at 1:15pm and finishing at 3pm. Adult tickets cost £15 / child tickets cost £12.
Plan your King’s Coronation adventure: www.ribblesteam.org.uk
Isle of Wight Steam Railway
Steeped in history, the first railway to be built on the Isle of Wight was opened in 1862 and by 1900, the island’s railway was finally in place – and remained so for another 52 years. The end for virtually all the island’s railways came in 1966, and today, the railway is a celebration of a bygone era with several beautifully restored Victorian and Edwardian carriages for visitors to admire and a riveting train journey that takes about an hour and travels between Havenstreet to Smallbrook Junction, to Ryde and Shanklin. On Saturday 6 May, this epic heritage train line will be celebrating the Coronation of King Charles III in style, with a quintessential ride on a majestic steam train; a big screen following all the live-action from Westminster Abbey; and so much more. Adult tickets start from £19.50.
Plan your King’s Coronation adventure: www.iwsteamrailway.co.uk
Spa Valley Railway
Reopened in 2011, passenger trains on the new Spa Valley Railway ran for the first time in 26 years between Tunbridge Wells West and Eridge, with the line also stopping at High Rocks and Groombridge. With destinations at every station along the line, the Spa Valley Railway offers travellers and families the ultimate day out. On Monday 8th May, a celebratory afternoon tea will mark the Coronation of His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen Consort with a special menu crafted for the occasion including finger sandwiches, quiche, homemade scones and more. Adult tickets cost £50 and you can discover the full list of what’s included with you ticket on the official Spa Valley Railway website.
Plan your King’s Coronation adventure: www.spavalleyrailway.co.uk
Bodmin and Wenford Railway
One of the earliest railways in Britain, the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway opened between Wadebridge Quay, Bodmin and Wenfordbridge in 1834. In 1963, steam hauled passenger services were ceased, as were freight trains in 1978. In 1984 the Bodmin Railway Preservation Society was formed and five years later the Light Railway Order was granted with passenger services recommencing between Bodmin Parkway and Bodmin General in 1990. Today, this cherished heritage railway chugs along through peaceful and scenic countryside – and over the May bank holiday weekend (6-8 May), there will be extra special treats for visitors. Dig into a Coronation Brunch Special on the 10:45am trains or an Afternoon Cream Tea Special on the 1:35pm trains. Guests can even indulge in a bottle of prosecco and box of chocolates in one of the dedicated King Charles Compartments.
Plan your King’s Coronation adventure: www.bodminrailway.co.uk
This picturesque Welsh heritage railway line leaves Tywyn Wharf station and climbs up through the town, passing through the tranquil Afon Fathew valley and nestling in the shadows of the Cambrian Mountains. Having run trains for the Coronation of the last two serving monarchs, Talyllan Railway plans to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III with an extra special train journey on May 6 between 11am and 2:00pm. Guests aboard the service can choose to include a Royal Afternoon Tea with their ticket, which will be served at Abergynolwyn at reserved tables. Tickets are priced from £18 for adults and £9 for children – book online in advance to ensure you get a seat.
Plan your King’s Coronation adventure: www.talyllyn.co.uk
Discover more romantic heritage railway adventures around Britain in Julian Holland’s book Britain’s Heritage Railways, which is out now in paperback and available to buy online and from all good book shops.