Day Out With Thomas

Master ATWWAH is far from unusual in having an interest in Thomas The Tank Engine and it seems Mr ATWWAH loves any opportunity to encourage it.  At Christmas Mr ATWWAH’s only task, apart from getting the tree, was ordering a Fisher Price Trackmaster Thomas railway set which he took to with much enthusiasm.  We even had to make a special trip to a Toys R Us miles away from where we live as this had the specific type of track Mr ATWWAH wanted.

And, on Christmas Day, although Master ATWWAH seemed happy with his Thomas presents, who knew there were so many additional track packs to have, it was Mr ATWWAH who got cracking with putting the track together.  The pair of them have spent many a happy hour since devising new tracks and trying new routes so I wasn’t that surprised when Mr ATWWAH suggested a trip to the Spa Valley Railway in Kent which is the latest destination for a Day Out With Thomas.  The event is licensed by HIT Entertainment and runs at many heritage rail sites across the UK and always guarantees that Thomas will be there as well as the Fat Controller and you get a ride on a real steam engine.

A week or so before we were due to go we received our tickets in the post as well as a specific note to Master ATWWAH telling him what he could expect and a booklet with three Thomas stories and a ‘passport’ for the day which he could get checked every time he completed an activity.  It was a really nice touch especially as the tickets were pretty reasonably priced.

Passport for Thomas

Thomas passport

Ticket prices do vary depending on which railway station you go to and some have standard and first class options but for the Spa Valley one children’s tickets were £10 and adults £12 which included your ride on the steam train, which lasted around an hour, as well as all the other activities at the station.  There are also special tickets available for the Fat Controllers Tea Party train which unsurprisingly includes children’s tea and the Fat Controller is also onboard.  You also pick a specific train time which means not much waiting around on the day as people tend to arrive an hour or so beforehand to do some of the activities and then do some more afterwards.

The experience really didn’t disappoint despite the blustery weather.  All the additional activities were free of charge and very retro including machines which only take very old 1p pieces which are given to you to use.  The guy who was running these machines was really helpful and chatty and pointed us in the direction of the ones Master ATWWAH would be able to have a good go at.  There was also a ‘bash the rat’ game and a ‘three in the row’ ball game which are all so simple but kids love them.  You can sort of forget that in our now more sophisticated times with ipad games and so on.

Personally I’m not a huge fan of Punch and Judy but there was a show which ran regularly throughout the day, face painting and tattoos and a table with some Thomas train sets for kids to play with.

The star attraction, Thomas, was out in the yard throughout the day, ‘shunting trucks and hauling freight’ with a couple of the other engines.  The Fat Controller interacted with him quite a lot and it was very sweet to see Master ATWWAH excited when Thomas ‘peeped’ back a response to the Fat Controller.  We did find ourselves having to go out into the yard a few times to see Thomas again at Master ATWWAH’s request, although I’m pretty sure Mr ATWWAH was prompting this quite a lot too.


Cinders and Ashes….it’s Thomas

The actual steam train ride was very well ran and your tickets had seat/carriage numbers, although we found our carriage didn’t seem to have specific seat numbers.  Disappointingly on the way to Eridge our carriage was near the front which was pulled by a diesel engine so we didn’t really get the full steam experience.  You can get off at Eridge though for 10 minutes or so and as the train wasn’t full we wandered down to where the steam engine was and on the way back sat in a carriage close to that so we got the steam experience.

Thomas and Percy

Thomas and Percy

Throughout the journey railway volunteers pointed out things to look out for such as a waterfall and a newly restored station and there were also a couple of people dressed up doing magic tricks for the kids and making balloon models.  Every child received a certificate to say they had had a day with Thomas and The Fat Controller or Sir Topham Hatt which is probably the more politically correct way to address him was happy to sign it for the kids and have photos taken.  Often when you go to attractions like this the costume characters look shattered by the end of the day and have had enough but the guy who was playing The Fat Controller looked like he was having as much fun as the kids.

There are two static buffet cars at that particular site if you’re looking for a break and a snack.  The food offering was pretty limited but reasonably priced.  We missed a trick not taking a picnic which lots of other people seemed to settle into on the steam train ride.

I’d definitely recommend it as a day out, we spent a good three-four hours there and a whole lot more cash in the gift shop as you exit.  Apparently the railway set at home was in desperate need of another engine and track pack and I couldn’t help add to Master ATWWAH’s growing collection of Thomas storybooks, it was Jack the Front Loader this time.


Not sure who was more into it……


If you like this post you may like:

Days Out Sensacional

Days Out Chessington World Of Adventures



  1. This is one of those family day trips that stay with a child for a long long time, making memories and well worth the time spent

Leave a Reply