31 May 2014


Steam trains have always fascinated me, which is lucky considering the number of Sundays and Bank Holidays we spent visiting steam railways up and down the country as a family.  My dad was very much into steam and in fact has built several his own steam engines in his garden shed.  Models of course!

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So on Bank Holiday Monday, after our trip to the Well Dressings, we headed off through the Derbyshire villages to somewhere where we knew we would be able to get a cup of tea - the buffet car on platform two of the railway station at Wirksworth.

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Unlike in France, dogs are rarely allowed in restaurants and cafés in the UK, so we took our steaming mugs of tea and sheltered from the drizzly rain on the platform.

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The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway is one of the many railway societies up and down the country run by volunteers and donations.  It operates a mainly tourist service along a few miles of line between Wirksworth and Duffield which is very popular.  You can read all about it here.

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When I was a little girl in the 1950’s we often travelled by steam train, regularly getting the bus to Cromford station and then the train to Derby for a day out shopping.  When my dad was in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm the steam train from Cromford would be the first stage in very long journeys by rail to Scotland or Northern Ireland to the Naval base.  We lived in the “married quarters” near to the base.

The railway station at Cromford was also a favourite destination for me and my male cousins to go on our bicycles in the school holidays, messing about on the platform and standing on the footbridge as the trains came and went, tolerated by the station manager, so long as we didn’t get in the way.

In my twenties I was a member of the Middleton Railway Society near Leeds and actually got to ride the footplate and assist in driving shunting engines – as close as I would ever get to driving a steam engine by myself!

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So it was on platform one at Wirksworth that I had to go and “spend a penny”.  Otherwise known as “going to the ladies”.  The original ladies loo would often be engaged and a queue would form at busy times hence the notice you saw the little notice fixed to the old post box - “extra ladies are available round the corner”.

Bon weekend !!


  1. Nothing to do with your post but I love the article on the CCC in Living France. Congratulations!

    1. Thanks Sharon, it was fun doing it and I hope it makes others think of starting a branch of CCC in their part of France.

  2. If only the little railway between Descartes and Le Blanc could be put back in order, or some of it - that would make a lovely tourist line. Make a successful movie or TV series on the line and you're made. I have fond memories of both KWVR and NYMR in Yorkshire. "Railway Children" and "Heartbeat" country continue to draw in visitors. P.

    1. Pauline, I actually know what KWVR and NYMR stand for, without having to look it up, which says something I think!

  3. Another bit of magic. What a nice day.

  4. Oh but my father would love this. It is on his bucket list of things to do.

  5. One of the first 'dates' Niall took me on was a trip on the NYMR :-) it's a lovely line

  6. It is sad that the steam trains do not run no except for special runs but I guess the environment come first! As for dogs in restaurants, thank goodness France does not 'do' health and safety, or not in the extreme anyway. Off to Spain and Portugal very soon will catch up on our return in July. Have a good week/month Diane

  7. I love steam trains too and your post transported me instantly back to childhood and the journeys by steam train to the seaside or the big city - Manchester in my case. Nowadays, like you, I get my fix on our local preserved light railway.