It’s no secret that I have a bit of a love affair with all things vintage but you guys may not know that I’m rather obsessed with steam trains too. It’s a childhood thing…
Every year, the East Lancashire Railway host a wonderful 1940’s weekend, where people from all over the UK head to the Lancashire town of Bury and enjoy three days of nostalgic fun. Some go the whole hog and dress up in authentic 1940s attire, which is always awesome to see, whilst others prefer to stay more low-key. I decided to settle somewhere in the middle with soft curls, red lips and a repro-vintage Lindy Bop ‘Bletchley’ dress.
Over the spring bank holiday weekend, Adam and I headed to the train station and boarded a beautiful steam train. The weather was on our side and the sun was shining, making the green Rossendale valley look prettier than ever. We chose a carriage and settled into our seats, alongside other vintage enthusiasts and the occasional ‘Allo ‘Allo character!
As the locomotive wheels began to turn and the smell from the hot coals hit our nostrils, my childlike excitement took over. There’s something oddly therapeutic about being on the train (not a standard Virgin train mind, where you may well be a stressed, sweaty mess just trying to get home from work) and I took great pleasure in peering through the window during our scenic journey and even spotted the Camp Roanoke living history display by the trackside.
We decided to depart the train in Bury as we had flexible ‘Rover’ tickets and made a pit stop at the Transport Museum (the entry fee was also included in our ticket price). This is just across the road from the main station and is a bit of a hidden gem. With a rich heritage, it’s filled with interesting vehicles and literature and there’s even the opportunity to play ‘bus driver’ if you like!
The East Lancashire Railway and museums rely heavily on a dedicated group of friendly volunteers who were on hand all day to help answer any questions. (although one gentleman did ask if I’d come as a deckchair thanks to my blue and white striped dress. Awkward) There were also numerous stalls dotted around the area, offering vintage memorabilia and souvenirs; I was super proud of myself for not buying ALL OF THE THINGS!
Usually, the East Lancashire Railway 1940s Weekend host various battle re-enactments as part of the activities, however, due to the recent attack in Manchester, these had been (understandably) cancelled this year. There was a brilliant performance by the Rum and Cola girls at the Transport Museum; a singing duo who specialise in recreating the classics of the 40s to help set the tone of the day and they had attracted quite a crowd!
Next, we jumped back on the train towards the pretty little village of Ramsbottom (I know, it has a daft name that non-locals find highly amusing). The platform had more live music, stalls and entertainment. Across the road, there were Spitfires, a Static Hawker Hurricane Mark II display and an array of folks in classic uniform showcasing other vintage vehicles. We stopped for a ginger beer and wandered around for a couple of hours before boarding the train to Rawtenstall.
The platform was extremely busy by the time we got there at around 5pm, with locals enjoying a sing-a-long and dancing merrily outside the Buffer Stop bar/German field hospital after clearly sampling the local real ales and ciders! I’m already counting down the days until the next event. If you’re interested in the next 1940s Weekend, you can find all the information you need here.
Have you visited the East Lancashire Railway before?
Find me on: