The fun-packed day out that is Buckinghamshire Railway Centre occupies a sizeable site in the midst of the rolling Buckinghamshire countryside. There is a wide variety of things to see and do, making it a fantastic time for the whole family.
Exhibits range from larger passenger locomotives to simple shunting engines along with a broad variety of smaller items that help recreate the golden age of steam. There is often a full-size steam train working on site that is happy to take passengers around the site. There are also miniature steam trains that people can ride on (rather than in).
The Railway Centre is a 25-acre working steam museum that is home to one of the UK’s largest collections of locomotives, rolling stock and assorted railway memorabilia. It is open to the public every Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday throughout the period between March and October. During the school holidays, the centre is also open to the public on Wednesdays.
One of the main features of the museum is the original station building for Quainton Road, the station and tracks that form the majority of the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. The is a stunning glass-roofed visitor centre that houses the onsite café, gift shop, a coach used by Churchill and Eisenhower for secret war strategy meetings, and an exquisite Royal Dining Coach from 1901.
The railway first came to the village of Quainton in 1868, just outside of Aylesbury, the station formed part of the Aylesbury & Buckingham Railway. In 1870 construction of the Wotton Tramway began, to link the nearby Wotton estate to the railway, making wider travel available to local residents.
Initially the site was used for freight that was pulled by horses, but as demand for agricultural produce and construction materials increased, the line was re-laid for locomotives and became known as the Brill Tramway. The expanding Great Central Railway arrived in 1899 and built the present brick station in a joint venture with the Metropolitan Railway. It is this late Victorian station building that forms a substantial part of the current centre.
Many railways had a docking point for loading cattle, but the one at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is believed to be the only one displayed with a restored cattle wagon. The permanent exhibition in the weighbridge hut tells its own story and how this particular building formed a key part of the active goods yard.
In the Buffer Depot part of the museum, there are a wide variety of interesting items including a Passimeter and a Post Office railway car. There is even a British rail Horse Box and an American velocipede, a precursor of the modern bicycle. The collection has been growing since 1962 and there is now a large and diverse collection of smaller artefacts such as signs, rule books and tin plate toys.
In 1969 the Quainton Railway Society was formed to operate a working museum at the station, following the closure of the Aylesbury & Buckingham Railway. On 24 April 1971 the nascent society absorbed the London Railway Preservation Society, an older railway preservation group, taking ownership of their collection of historic railway equipment.
There are guided tours around the onsite exhibition hall, which houses a diverse selection of exhibits, with tracks displaying a number of rail vehicles that are still waiting to be restored. There is a Travelling Post Office that tells the story of transporting the mail via rail.
The planned route for the HS2 high speed rail line is intended to go just to the west of the site, although it will not impact the centre directly, the development does mean that the Brill Tramway is unable to be restored any further.
Offering free parking, excellent access, picnic areas and indoor attractions, the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre makes a great day out for the whole family!