One great thing about living in Chandler’s Ford is the transport available given we are near the motorway network (without living on top of it). Then we have the railway station, a bus service and we are not far from the ferries.
I often use these links. For example I went a couple of years ago to the National Railway Museum in York, which has recently been in the news because of its restoration of The Flying Scotsman.
I didn’t see that magnificent locomotive come through Chandler’s Ford (though my son saw it at Romsey) but I did see the crowds at various stations on our shuttle service gather to wait for this historic engine. As I returned from Southampton, I saw one chap stand on top of the containers just outside Eastleigh station for, literally, a grandstand view!
So how to get to York from Chandler’s Ford and is it worth going all that distance for a long day trip?
I often use our shuttle service to connect to Southampton Airport Parkway and did this for the trip to York. I used the London train which left at just after 7 am and arrived at York at just after 11.30 am, going through Waterloo, using the Tube to get to King’s Cross and picking up the York train from there.
The nice thing about York’s National Railway Museum is it is close to the main line station and a short five minute walk led me to the entrance. This was nice at the end of an excellent day when tiredness dictated the sooner I got on to the train home again the better! It was also nice on the return journey not having far to get home from our station.
I left York at about 5 pm and was back at home for about 9.30 pm, having had a very long day but also having had a wonderful time.
I relish using the train for these trips and appreciate using our shuttle service directly and to connect to the rest of the national rail network. You can sit back in reasonable comfort and enjoy the journey. No driving or parking worries and on the longer journeys you usually have the trolley or buffet car service. Even the legendary railway tea is better than it once was.
The National Railway Museum at York
I’d had no idea just how huge the National Railway Museum was before I went there and expect I’ll go back at some point especially since they now have an exhibition about The Flying Scotsman.
I’m not an engineering “nut” (sorry, some pun intended!) but appreciate (a) trains and (b) the beauty of the steam engines. They are magnificent machines when all is said and done.
The Museum contained a marvellous display of engines and railway memorabilia. The images were all taken by me. I was fascinated to see the reproduction of Stephenson’s Rocket (which is a working model). All journeys start somewhere and the story of the train begins here.
Entry to the Museum is free (though they welcome donations). I almost always buy a guidebook on trips like this as these have a wealth of information I can read later on at home and have much better photos than I can take.
I found it fascinating to see how the train developed from Stephenson’s initial idea. When you think how far the train has come it is incredible. The National Railway Museum uniquely hosts a train at the very opposite end of the spectrum to Rocket and this is the Japanese Bullet train. The Eurostar “section” has a video screen showing the development of the cross Channel train. And indeed throughout the Museum there are various interactive items and videos.
On the classic old engines, I was also taken aback by the their sheer size (the wheels in particular). And the National Railway Museum is home to The Mallard, which still holds the world record for fastest steam locomotive.
It took a good couple of hours to walk around the Museum to see everything and there were some queues to go on those locomotives where this was permitted. (Some you can’t go on but these are clearly indicated). But it was good having the time to go around the Museum a second time to make certain I hadn’t missed anything. And my son discovered he was a dab hand at manually changing signals. (It also made for a brief but good workout!).
What was lovely was that trains of all sizes were covered here and there were many model trains, including some set up with track, ancillary buildings and so on. The Museum really is a train lover’s paradise.
There was also an excellent museum within the Museum which had a wide range of memorabilia stored away from the engines. There was everything from the famous Harry Potter train platform sign (yes the 9¾ one was there!) to beautiful porcelain chamber pots to solid silver plates and cutlery used on Victorian and Edwardian restaurant cars. These were stunning.
And you can take a peek inside the workshops at the Museum too.
So a long day? Yes. Worth seeing the Museum? Definitely. Worth doing by train? Yes. I find the train websites invaluable for planning journeys, especially for trips like this.
Chandler’s Ford Railway Station
Oh and you can’t beat the personal touch. The lady who is often on duty at our station looked up some information for me for a journey I’ll be taking later in the summer. I then went and boarded our shuttle service, she came running up with some additional information, mouthed at me she’d give the paper to the guard who promptly did pass it on. So support your local railway staff!
My only regret with our station is it is not open more. Ticket machines can be useful but I prefer having a human being serve me and, in fairness, not just at the station. (I distrust those self service machines at the supermarket. I don’t want to hear “unexpected item in the bagging area”, thank you.).
So I must put a repeat visit to York on my To Do List (I’d love to walk around the city walls again too). All I know is whenever it is I do go, it will be by train. And I will continue to use our local station to enable me to explore the wider, rail based UK.
The ironic thing is my late mother-in-law learned to drive because Dr. Beeching closed our line. And here I am using the reopened line to get to places because I’m deliberately choosing not to drive to them!
So what are your favourite railway journeys? What have you found most useful about our local station? And if you’ve got any thoughts about other good places to visit, using our station as a starting point, please let me know via the comments box. (I’ll use them to plan my future itineraries!).
Oh and I’m pleased to say that CFT posts do get noticed. A lady from Travelsmart contacted Janet and thought the following links might be useful for anyone visiting the UK and perhaps picking up on articles highlighting places to visit and so on. Maybe they can give us a chance to look at our tourist attractions in a new light. Certainly they can indicate how we are seen by others. (And there’s some good anti-scam advice on the NZ guide particularly).
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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