Peppa Pig and other lively characters

Craig Amess enjoys a day out at the Great Central Railway with his young family – and now that summer’s finally here, we bring a round-up of other railway family attractions.

Sunshine, steam trains and cartoon characters – surely this is a winning combination, and it seems to be for many families with young children looking for a day out… and mine is no exception.

When I was a child I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All I wanted was to have my picture taken with them, and eventually I succeeded during a holiday in Blackpool.

Craig and his family enjoy a day out on the Great Central, with the added attraction of children’s favourite Peppa Pig.

Today it’s much easier to see cartoon characters, and some of that is down to heritage railways, which organise their visits to entertain thousands of children every year. Thomas the Tank Engine, as mentioned in our feature in the March issue, is just one of the traditional favourites, along with Paddington Bear and Peppa Pig, with newer casts of Paw Patrol and PJ Masks also appearing.

On Monday, May 7, my fiancée and I took our seven-month-old daughter Betty-Rose, seven-year-old daughter Jessica and my four-year-old god-daughter Soraya to the Great Central Railway at Loughborough to spend a day with Peppa Pig and her brother George. We arrived at about 12.30, just in time to meet George and get a few pictures together before going to the back of the queue as Peppa was due out 15 minutes later.

As anyone with youngsters will tell you, it’s nice to get such pictures relatively early in a visit, as it allowed us to enjoy the rest of the attractions at a leisurely pace and without “when’s Peppa here?” Face or arm-painting was offered for £3.50, so Jess was soon in line to have a unicorn painted on her arm – by far the most popular option of the day. Soraya decided not to have hers done – a combination of nerves, shyness and excitement meant she couldn’t take her eyes off Peppa!

We visited a marquee on the station where a children’s entertainer was walking around with his monkey puppet talking to the children, who were playing with the table-top toys from the Peppa range or colouring pictures of Peppa and her family.

Manning Wardle 0-6-0ST Matthew Murray crosses Moor Road to arrive at the Middleton Railway’s station in Hunslet, Leeds. BRIAN SHARPE

After exploring as much as I could manage of the GCR’s wonderful Loughborough setting and taking a few photographs of the locomotives in the sidings, we jumped aboard the train for the 8¼ mile trip along the double-track line behind BR Standard Class 7 Pacific No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell. We rode through Quorn & Woodhouse to Rothley, where a funfair was available at extra cost, and then on to Leicester North, where we watched 70013 running round for the return trip.

For the full article, see the June edition of Modelling – available now!

For a complete list of stockists and how to get your copy, visit: