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Footplate Experience Recommendations

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linda halsall27/12/2010 16:30:42
2 forum posts
Next year my father is 80.  He is a keen model engineer, building steam engines and tanks mainly.  He also owns many a steam train DVD!  For his 70th we sent him up in a biplane,  but I think for 80 we should keep his feet on the ground.  So I thought of a footplate experience.
I wonder if any of you could recommend a footplate/engine shed experience - one with not so much waffle but plenty of hands on.  And probably not a whole day....he is 80 after all!  (but he is perfectly mobile and not shy of a ladder).  Preferably somewhere within 150 miles of London or Exeter - severn valley would be fine.  Steam engine or steam train, probably not a tank.  He probably woild be happy to venture into a vintage car though.
So, fair experts, all ideas or recommendations would be very welcome!!
Many thanks
Peter G. Shaw27/12/2010 16:52:47
1018 forum posts
39 photos
I have no experience of these matters, but did notice that the A1 Steam website - the one that deals with Tornado - does talk about the possibilities of Driver Experience Courses.

Now how many people would like a chance to experience the very latest steam locomotive!


Peter G. Shaw
Ian Abbott27/12/2010 16:52:56
279 forum posts
21 photos
South Devon Railway does them, and they're within walking distance of Exeter, well almost, Buckfastleigh on the A38.
NJH27/12/2010 17:50:42
2314 forum posts
139 photos
Hey Linda
Don't discount aviation for a youngster of only 80 years!  I can recall a lady turning up at the airfield on her  90th. birthday for a glider flight. She was launched at high speed by winch (in a glider with an Instructor!)  and came back  to earth beaming with pleasure.  She said she would love to learn to fly but didn't think she had the time!
My kids bought me a lesson in a helicopter for my 60th. and I took this up at Bristol. Really good fun.
Whatever you decide it's nice to know you kids look after your Dads! 
David headings27/12/2010 17:56:31
2 forum posts
Didcot run them or Bluebell.
I did my footplate at Bluebell about 4 years ago. A very enjoyable day
DMB27/12/2010 22:37:47
959 forum posts
A great many moons ago, when I was a teenager actually, I obtained a footplate pass from BRand had a ride on an M7 tank from Ryde StJohns road down to Ventnor and the other roue, out to Newport and Cowes, all on the Isle of Wight. This was just befor closure of Wroxall and Ventnor section and complete closure of Newport/Cowes line under the Beeching cutbacks of non-viable routes.
The journey from Wroxall to Ventnor was an experience! Most of it was in a tight fitting tunnel under Knighton Down and the tunnel had a bend in the middle so you couldn`t see the other end. It was absolutely choking on the footplate with brown sulphurous gases/smoke.
Ventnor was in a bowl shape carved out of the chalk, rather like the Chalkpits museum, West Sussex. Down the West sidewall, large caves had been hewn. I dont know original use for them but when I was there, some were in use for coal merchants storage.
When we came back from Cowes and entered the Junction with the Sandown/Shanklin/Ventnor line, said junc. having a speed limit of 40MPH, the well-worn tank was making a deafening racket, jerking the pole reverser backwards and forwards.
Happy memories!
DMB27/12/2010 22:39:00
959 forum posts
PS, I`ve got a bus pass now!!
Gordon A28/12/2010 00:37:41
143 forum posts
4 photos
Greetings Linda,
When you mention tank, do you mean a tank engine or a tracked vehicle with a big gun?
I've done two footplate experiences on the Severn Valley; they tend to use a tender engine as there is more room on the footplate. Both occasions were a most enjoyable half day, and the people were very friendly and helpful.
The steam experience did involve a turn with the shovel, but you can be excused if you don't feel up to it.

Terryd28/12/2010 08:26:19
1926 forum posts
179 photos
Hi Linda,
I had a great  footplate experience at Telford, just North or Wolverhampton.  The day consisted of firing the 0-6-0 tank engine, breakfast cooked in the firebox with the crew, driving the engine during the morning, Lunch and then driving the steam tram which was small but enjoyable to drive during the afternoon.  You can do a whole day, half a day or an hour on each according to your interests or even tailor your own course.  They are very accommodating
I also managed to get a footplate ride on their 08 Gronk (0-6-0 diesel shunter.  It is a small and friendly preserved railway near Ironbridge where you can have a wonderful tour of the history of the Industrial Revolution in the Ironbridge Gorge living Museum.  It makes a great weekend.  Worth a look at their websites.
P.S. No waffle or theory, just a great hands on experience, and take your video camera to catch the biggest smiles you'll ever see .


Edited By Terryd on 28/12/2010 08:28:16

Peter Wood 528/12/2010 08:45:10
94 forum posts
11 photos
A few years ago I was gifted a days driving experience on the Great Central line at Leicester.
Can't recommend it srongly enough. I had the silver package which involved driving an LNER ROD 2-8-0 twice along 18miles of main line track with a full rake of carriages. Apart from the driving you can couple and uncouple the loco for the run around etc, visit the loco works etc etc. Have a look a the website. Not cheap but a truly memorable experience and after all as my Dad used to say ' You can't take it with you!'
Niloch28/12/2010 12:23:10
371 forum posts
My footplate experience at the Gwili Railway was a resounding success.  The Gwili is a small society and very friendly.  The day included exposure to signalling and guards duties.  The scenery is outstanding and we found a luxurious farmhouse B&B within sound and, almost, sight of the railway.  Probably just about within your distance requirements. Unforgettable.
linda halsall28/12/2010 14:54:38
2 forum posts
Many thanks for your replies, I shall look into the options you all suggest.

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