The Watercress Line has announced its 2019 events programme, featuring annual family favourites, behind the scenes tours and two jam-packed steam galas.
Kicking off the family event programme on 13th April, the world’s favourite little blue tank engine will once again chuff into town for 10 days for the heritage railway’s hugely popular Day Out With Thomas event.
From 13th-22nd April and 3rd-11th August, visitors will have the chance to meet Thomas and his friends, shake hands with The Fat Controller, and enjoy unlimited trips behind the famous engine as well as Thomas-themed activities at the Imagination Station, including entertainment by Rusty and Dusty.
The Watercress Line’s annual War on the Line will be returning on 15th-16th June to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, transporting visitors back in time to the 1940s to experience the ‘Blitz Spirit’ against the backdrop of a Second World War railway.
Budding witches and wizards are encouraged to put on their cloaks and pick up their broomsticks for a day of magic and mischief when Wizard Weekend returns on 26th-27th October, featuring a plethora of spellbinding performances and activities, hooting owls and creepy crawlies.
Adding some festive cheer to its event programme is the Watercress Line’s family-friendly Santa Specials, from 30th November and on various dates throughout December, followed by Christmas Leave on 26th-27th December. Visitors will be able to enjoy a magical trip with Santa and his jolly helpers in a festive train carriage and experience Christmas at a WWII railway, respectively.
Woodies Mountford, Marketing Manager at the Watercress Line, said: “I am delighted to announce our events programme for 2019, which includes the return of Day Out With Thomas, Wizard Weekend and Santa Specials – all highlights for many families in and around Hampshire.
“From family favourites, to behind the scenes tours, to our standard travel experience and activities for visitors, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the Watercress Line in 2019.”
There will be further opportunities throughout the year for visitors to go behind the scenes at the Watercress Line, view current restoration projects at Ropley, and explore the yard and the Engineering Shed and Carriage Shop Viewing Galleries. These include two steam-packed galas on 8th-10th March and 18th-20th October and an open weekend on 14th-15th September, which is free to members.
Visitors will also be able to experience the railway from a completely different view as well as play an important part in securing its future when the Watercress Line’s annual sponsored event Walk the Line returns on 9th November, after raising more than £15,000 at last year’s event.
Further adding to visitors’ experiences, new interpretation panels will be installed in the first half of 2019. Plus, children aged four and under can now travel for free on the Watercress Line’s standard service, as part of its scheme to encourage love and enthusiasm for heritage railway at a younger age.
For more information about the Watercress Line, including upcoming events, visit https://www.watercressline.co.uk/events
Spring Steam Gala
Date: 8th – 10th March 2019
A ‘steam’ packed three day event featuring opportunities to see and ride behind guest engines and the home-fleet locomotives as well as go behind the scenes at Ropley workshop and yard. Among the heritage locomotives confirmed for this year are the ex-London Transport Pannier Tank L92 and No. 300 Frank S. Ross in Longmoor Military Railway Lined Blue.
Day out with Thomas
Date: 13th – 22nd April & 3rd – 11th August 2019
The hugely popular Day out with Thomas returns to the Watercress Line in 2019. Meet Thomas and his friends, shake hands with The Fat Controller, enjoy Rusty & Dusty’s entertainment show and so much more.
War on the Line
Date: 15th – 16th June 2019
Transport yourself back in time to the 1940s, against the backdrop of a Second World War railway, to experience the ‘Blitz Spirit’ and commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Date: 21st July 2019
Join one of Britain’s largest free bus rallies at Anstey Park Alton, showcasing a static exhibition of buses and coaches of all shapes and sizes from a variety of eras and operating areas. Plus, classic cars, lorries, vans, motorcycles and emergency services vehicles.
Date: 14th – 15th September 2019
The Watercress Line will open its stations, giving visitors the opportunity to view current restoration projects at Ropley as well as explore the yard and the Engineering Shed and Carriage Shop Viewing Galleries.
Autumn Steam Gala
Date: 18th – 20th October 2019
Join the Watercress Line for a ‘steam’ packed three day event, featuring guest engines and home-fleet locomotives, behind the scenes tours and rides on the ‘Queen Mary’ brake van, among more.
Date: 26th – 27th October 2019
Get dressed up and join the Watercress Line for a spooky day of magic and mischief, when its popular Wizard Weekend returns with a host of spellbinding activities.
Walk the Line
Date: 9th November 2019
Experience the railway from a completely different view and walk along the trackbed of the ‘Watercress Line’, as part of its annual sponsored event to raise funds for Hampshire’s heritage railway.
Date: 30th November – various dates throughout December 2019
Enjoy a magical trip with Santa and his jolly helpers in a festive train carriage this Christmas.
Date: 26th – 27th December 2019
Come along and join civilian and military re-enactors and experience the atmosphere of a WWII Christmas on the railway.