5 Bletchley sign. Courtesy of Phil Marsh

Weekend of railway charity events on May 18/19 offers two unique railway visits.

Published 13th May 2013

Fawley Hill Steam opens for centenary celebrations & Bletchley Signalbox opens for one off tour...

The well-known railway enthusiast and collector Sir William McAlpine and his wife Judy are opening their private railway and grounds for the first time on May 18 and May 19.

The weekend event is a charity fundraiser and celebrates the centenary of the Hudswell Clarke built steam locomotive, 0-6-0ST No. 31. This has worked all its life for the McAlpine family and has now operated on Sir William’s private standard gauge ‘Fawley Hill Railway’, near Henley-on-Thames, for the past 48 years.

There will also be a few visiting steam locos which will be used on the mile long standard gauge track or in the yard. Old fire engines will be making sure the locomotives do not run out of water.

This is a one-off opportunity to see this private railway as it is normally by invitation only. In addition to wagon rides, the event celebrates all forms of transport with anything between bicycles, horse-drawn ploughs, traction engines and aircraft machinery.

Admission and sales stands

Admission prices are adults £10 per day, £16 for the weekend, concessions £8/£14 and children free. Camping can be booked at £20 per pitch for the weekend, and car boot/autojumble pitches at £20 per day. Several small charities will be using the event to raise funds.

Flypast and parachutes

A Spitfire, Hurricane and a “Red Arrows” plane will perform a flypast while there is a chance that you will be able to get close to a Spitfire and a Hurricane on the ground. The Red Devils, the well-known Parachute Regiment’s display team will be dropping in on Sunday.

Camels, steam bus, commercials and traction engines

Jacob’s camels will be raced in the Fawley Hill grounds while a Traction Engines rally has been organised. Steam Rollers and portable engines have also been booked to appear. Many military vehicles have also been booked for display.

Tractors and other Agricultural machinery will be on display while a steam and vintage buses are promise to be at the event. Commercial vehicles, will be alongside veteran and vintage cars complimented by Ecurie Ecosse cars and a Brabham racing car is promised and maybe a Maclaren car as well. Veteran and Vintage Motor Bikes will also be at the event.

Models and miniatures

Several model railway layouts will be present in addition to the resident huge layout in the Fawley Hill museum. Railway model makers will be on hand to explain how to build your own layout. A 5″ gauge railway will also be operating with locos visitors can drive.

Nautical flavour

The transport theme continues with steam and vintage boats, which will be on their trailers, while radio controlled versions will be in action on the lake.

Artistic area and zoo…..

Several authors and artists such as David Shepherd, Vicky Palmer, Alan Wilson and Paul Atterbury will be attending.

The Kenton Theatre, the 2nd oldest in the country, will be performing while Marcus Lovett, the current Phantom of the Opera will be singing on Sunday while the 100 Ukeleles of the The International Ukelele Orchestra of Sonning Common and The Wycombe Orpheus Male Voice Choir also provide musical entertainment.

Visitors will be able to check out the many trade stands and also sample the catering which will also offer home-made cider, local beer and wines.

Bletchley’s secrets unveiled on May 18

Bletchley signalbox was closed over Christmas but is reopening for one day only so visitors can see how it operated.

The day has been organised by The Railway Children and Network Rail and this is a once only opportunity to visit the redundant and decommissioned Power Signal Box at Bletchley Station.

The signalbox will be open between 10am and 2pm on Saturday 18th May 2013 with many rare photo opportunities. The tour will last around 20 minutes and places must be prebooked as places are strictly limited.

Access is via flights of stairs so you must be able to take these in your stride. Entry is free but it would be good to support the Railway Children charity by donating £5 on the day.

The signalbox is adjacent to Bletchley station in Sherwood Drive,

Bletchley, MK3 6DZ

Written by Phil Marsh

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