By Phil Marsh

Christmas markets by rail and railway publications for rail and history fans from £10 to £450…..

Published: 26th November 2016

Some ideas for Christmas from rail.co.uk at Wormwood Scrubs and further afield

Now that ‘Black Friday’ has passed and the Christmas countdown is well underway, readers may be wondering what on earth to get for those they buy Christmas presents for. Rail.co.uk has been sent a few items which will be of huge interest to all ranging from under £10 to £450 for those interested in railways and history.

And if these items do not enthuse you (which they should), then we have taken a quick look at Christmas main line special trains serving the various Christmas markets around the UK.

Fascinating railway journey through the decades on Tyneside

Like-long railwayman Stephen Shields is well known in many circles, especially in the Northeast where he has worked on the railways for around 45 years. Like most long serving railway staff, he has many tales to tell and importantly, these document a way of life now just a memory. These memories have now been committed to paper in a 120 page book published by Quorn Publishing, and record the decline of the heavy manufacturing and mining industries on Tyneside which brought a consequential reduction in the associated rail network and services operated.

This book documents his life as a junior railwayman working with men who joined the railways in the 1920s, and all the what today, are recognised as poor and unsafe working practices. There are plenty of photographs, black and white and colour, which amply illustrate the amazing stories and bring them to life.

They said:

The author sums up his book as: “This is the story of the freight train guard during a now long-gone age where the words ‘Health and safety’ could only be found in a dictionary. These railwaymen were still working with nineteenth century conditions in the second half of the twentieth century, nothing had changed during that period. The freight train guard, unlike the driver, never got the recognition he deserved. I hope this book goes some way to correcting that”.

This included boosting the fire in a guards van with a detonator, or not, as the author describes in great entertaining detail! This book is an absorbing read and is a ‘must buy’ for anyone who has either an interest in the railways or worked on them or in the northeast.

How to get your hands on one!

This book can only be purchased from the author for £9.99 (inc P&P) at 8 Irvin Avenue, Saltburn by Sea, North Yorkshire TS12 1QH. He can be contacted on 01287 622365 or on 07545 906185. His email is: srcshields@ntlworld.com . He is now writing a sequel, look out for it!

De Haviland and Hatfield 1910-1935

If its not trains that excite you, then planes probably will if you are reading this. This book is an in-depth look at the iconic De Haviland company at Hatfield and is published by the Fonthill media at £16.99.

World War 1 – Our County at War – The Home Front in Buckinghamshire

This is a DVD put together by Joanna Barclay and the Buckinghamshire Military Museum Trust. This is an in-depth and well researched look at the Buckinghamshire War effort a century ago. It covers railways and Wolverton’s war effort with Ambulance Trains, to furniture makers in the Chilterns and many, many other subjects about how the County played its part in WW1.

The DVD is not for sale but can be obtained in exchange for a donation (Suggested at £10) as follows: By emailing Joanna Barclay joannabarclay2@gmail.com - the proceeds of which will be divided between the Armed Forces Charity (SSAFA) and the BMMT.

Prisoner Christmas Art Sale at Wormwood Scrubs

There is often comment about those in prison and what goes on behind the walls, but what is not well known is that there are numerous pieces of art offered for sale made by prisoners via the Koester Trust.

There is a public sale on Saturday 10 December between 2pm and 6pm at the Koestler Arts Centre, at the gates of HMP Wormwood Scrubs, in their Christmas open house event. Paintings, sculptures, ceramics and drawings will all be for sale, along with Koestler Trust merchandise, making it perfect for a spot of Christmas shopping. Nearest stations are White City and East Acton on the London Underground.

Christmas Markets

There are numerous Christmas Markets around the UK, a recent development, and several of them are now served by special trains, some steam-hauled to make an enjoyable day out.

Lincoln Market takes place between 1 and 4 December 2016 and attracts at least 250,000 visitors to the historic city making it a huge affair with over 250 stalls around the medieval square. Vintage Trains is running a ‘Lyndum Christmas Fayre’ steam special to Lincoln on 3 December from Tyseley, Coleshill Parkway, Nuneaton and Leicester. The railway Touring Company is promoting another steam charter to Lincoln from Kings Cross on 3 December.

There are several diesel charters, on 1 December, Belmond is running a Pullman service there from London Victoria while the Scottish Railway Preservation Society brings its train from Edinburgh and stations to Durham to on 2nd December. Virgin Trains will also be serving the Lincoln Christmas Market on 1st and 2nd December with extra trains from Doncaster and Leeds.

The Bath Christmas Market runs until 11 December and takes place between Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, all transformed into a Christmas Wonderland. Over 170 stalls are in Bath's main shopping district. There are several charter trains running there, a diesel hauled UK Railtour train on 1 December, a Belmond Pullman service from London on 6 December, a West Coast Railways train from Barrow and stations to Warrington on 7 December and on 10 December, Steam Dreams run a steam service from London Paddington and Reading.

There will also be 30 extra Great Western services on offer to carry the thousands of visitors to the market, but be warned as there will be a queuing system in place at Bath so make sure you have your rail tickets ready, purchased from www.Redspottedhanky.com .

There are many other Christmas Markets and Carol services to be visited by charter train, such as York, Dunster, Winchester and Sherborne, check out the charter train listings on rail.co.uk for all details.

In Scotland, Christmas Jacobite services will be offered this year with morning and afternoon trips between Fort William and Glenfinnan in the week prior to Christmas and after, several days of full-length ‘Jacobite’ services to Mallaig will be operated. These will give an extremely rare chance to travel past the UK’s highest mountain in midwinter – it should be spectacular so long as the weather plays its part! Santa will also be travelling…………

And finally! Belmond is offering around 25 Christmas specials running in England, Scotland and Wales culminating on New Years Eve with a £450 fare special from Victoria offering a trip via the Surrey Hills. But for £415, you can enjoy a steam hauled Christmas Lunch on several dates on the same route from Victoria. Enjoy!

Don’t forget ccompanies like UK Railtours are offering enthusiast trains in case you wish to get away from the festive season and travel on rare routes.

For details of all December special trains, see http://www.rail.co.uk/charter-train-directory/

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