• Drive a steam train in Bristol Avon
  • Driving the Avon Valley Railway

STEAM TRAIN DRIVING BRISTOL

Be captivated as the gorgeous Bristol and Avon countryside glides past, as you take the controls of a handsome steam engine on the experience of a lifetime with our wonderful friends at the Avon Valley Railway.

From: £225.00


What can I expect on the day?

Capture the essence of a bygone era at the control of a full size steam locomotive. Feel the rumbling of her firey belly as you work our West Country track just a short drive from the centre of both Bristol and Bath.

You’ll get an expert introduction to your loco and the opportunity to ask questions galore as you assume the roles and responsibility of both driver and fireman – this is a real hands on experience, so be preapred to live it as it was back in the day!

Leave the hustle and bustle of modern life behind for a while as you take in the heat, smoke and distictive aroma of the coal fire engine as your locomotive brings the past to life. If you stay with us for a full day experience, you’ll also learn the art of shunting and working the brake car – which really make for a comprehensive day out.

What's included in this experience?

We look forward to seeing you here at the Avon Valley Railway and we aim to make your day as special and memorable as possible. You’ll receive a very warm welcome along with an introduction and safety briefing. Depending on whether you’re here for half or a full day, your experience will include:

  • HALF DAY
  • Fall in love with a vintage steam engine over at least 12 miles
  • Drive at least one round trip of the line
  • Fire at least one round trip of the line
  • Light refreshments
  • Approximately a three hour experience
  • Commemorative certificate
  • A year’s membership of the Avon Valley Railway
  • Railway information gift pack
  • FULL DAY
  • Fall in love with a vintage steam engine over at least 12 miles
  • Drive a steam locomotive hauling a brake van
  • Drive at least one round trip of the line
  • Fire at least one round trip of the line
  • Act as a shunter and guard on the brake van
  • Light refreshments and lunch are provided
  • Commemorative certificate
  • A year’s membership of the Avon Valley Railway
  • Railway information gift pack

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When and where is it available?

These railway experience days are offered on selected dates throughout the year. Please note that they are very popular and so you should book early to avoid disappointment. Please see the “When is it available” tab on the booking page for current availability.

Bitton Station is located approximately half way between Bristol and Bath on the A431 (see map lower on the page).

Avon Valley Railway Logo

How do I make a booking?

Once you’ve decided that our Kent location is the perfect choice for your steam train adventure, simply hit the ‘Make A Booking’ button which will take you to our booking partner.

When you make a booking you will receive a voucher for your train driving day, which you will have a full 12 months to use – particularly handy if you’re buying this as a gift for someone else.

You can choose to either have the voucher delivered online as an eVoucher, or if you prefer a free luxury gift box can be sent under plain packaging (you can personalise both). Whichever method you prefer, you’ll find booking your train driving day with us is fast, easy and painless.

Who is it suitable for?

Our steam engine driving days are suitable for anyone over the age of 18. The only physical requirement is the agility to be able to climb up into the cab via the ladder.

With regards to clothing, we strongly recommend some sturdy footwear, long sleeves and trousers and preferably something you don’t mind getting a little dirty as this very much a hands on experience!

Can anyone come along to watch?

You are welcome to invite friends and family along to watch all of the steam engine action! While you’re out and about they can admire the lovingly restored Bitton Station – here they will have access to meals and refreshments and our station is fully equipped for disabled access and we are dog friendly.

They may wish to visit our gift ship or take some time to explore the heritage of the station itself. Dotted all over the site they will find locomotive and wagons in varying states of refurbishment along with knowledgeable and passionate staff & volunteers.


Further Information


Be Captivated by the Bygone Era of Steam!

Take to the open rails amongst the gorgeous setting of the Avon Valley just a few miles from Bristol’s city centre. This train driving experience day really has some heritage to offer with as much as a story of the railway’s survival as that of the vintage locomotives that you can get to drive here.

To get the session rolling you’ll have the introduction and safety briefing – these locomotives are big(!), so knowing the rules of engagement is going to help you enjoy the day even more.

Time then to get acquainted with your loco – we have two main ones in service here and both are just gorgeous! Every step up on the cab’s ladder are going to send waves of excitement through you as each takes you one step closer to the controls of a full size steam engine.

Feeling the power come to life all around you, you’ll soon be easing your way out of Bitton Station and heading off along the track and a journey back in time. As the unmistakable aromas of the coals and steam swirl amongst the heat of the cab, you’ll get a real taste of what life was really like for those full time crews back in the day. And to make sure that you get as much authenticity as possible you won’t just be driving the loco and blowing her whistles, you’ll be acting as the fireman too – feeding the flames with coal to keep the old girl chugging along the track. So be prepared to really work with you locomotive – it’s a team effort after all.

If you opt for our full day option, you’ll have the additional experiences of shunting duties and riding in the brake van – originally manned by the guard and used in the olden days to help the driver slow the train down on steep descents. All up you’ll experience one truly complete heritage railway day with the fine staff and volunteers of the Avon Valley Railway.

 


Meet Our Locos!


drive the avon valley railway Robert Stephenson Hawthorn 0-6-0T No.7151Take to our railway tracks at the controls of a beauty of a locomotive – No. 7151, a Robert Stephenson Hawthorn 0-6-0T class engine that is as elegant in motion as she is sitting at the platform edge awaiting your arrival…

Originally her power and tractive capabilities were used to haul coal trains – up to 1,000 tons at a time. She was the type of class frequently used by Midland power stations, and it was this labour intensive job role that took up most of her working life.

 However, life took a change of course in 1980 when she was moved to Bitton Station where some minor repairs and the fitment of some steam heat equipment and vacuum brakes would see her hitting the tracks again, albeit with a different pace of life when she reentered service on our Santa Special runs that year.

Two years later and No. 7151 was withdrawn from service so she could undergo her 10 year boiler overhaul. However the amount of work required had been underestimated, with her wheels, motion equipment and inner firebox all in need of attention. After considerable financial input and the best part of 17 years worth of loving restoration, she was once again in service in November 1999.

 After seven years captivating the hearts and minds of visitors to the Avon Valley Railway, she was relieved of her duties in 2006 so maintenance could be carried out on her boiler. With that successfully completed along with a re-tube, No. 7151 was once again in service in time for the End of Season Gala in 2007. You too can enjoy the results of her journey by becoming part of her ongoing working life here at Bitton Station.

Drive our Ferrum 0-6-0T Class Loco - Karel - at Bitton Station and the Avon Valley RailwayMeet No. 4015,  a Ferrum 0-6-0T class locomotive built in 1954 in Poland by the Chrzanow (pronounced ‘Sharnov’) Factory. The engine however was not outshopped for another three years as his boiler and works plate are dated 1957.

The Ferrum 0-6-0T’s were destined for a working life on the industrial lines of mines and steelworks, and it was a steelworks in the South East Polish town of Ostrowiec that this handsome locomotive would first call home.

Following 34 years of manual labour, he was finally relieved of his duties and brought to the UK in 1991. Six months after his arrival in his country, No. 4015 was back in service on heritage railways. Although he was in pretty good shape, it would take until 1998 to have him in full working order, complete with a UK boiler certificate.

To compete the transition from working industrial loco to pampered heritage railway engine, No. 4015 was bestowed the name Karel. The name is Polish for Charles and was chosen as both a nod to his past – being named after Pope John Paul II, (Pope Karel Wojtila) – and also as a play on his new family, with his owner’s wife being called Carole…

Having worked at the Cholsey & Wallingford and Pontypool & Blaenavon railways, he made his move to Bitton via a year in Norfolk. With his large footplate and free-steaming, Karel has been a popular locomotive on our train driving experience days here at the Avon Valley Railway – and maybe he’ll be the engine that makes your dream come true!