We have visited the Watercress Line a couple of times already as both daddy and son are big train enthusiasts. However, we never attended a Meet Thomas Day.
For those whose never been there, the Watercress Line is located in Alresford, Hampshire. It’s a heritage railway which was saved by enthusiastic volunteers in 1973, and Watercress Line was re-open as a tourist attraction four years later. A 10 mile line is operating currently with steam locomotives between Alresford and Alton. They regularly do Meet Thomas The Tank Engine days, in every few months.
Visiting the Watercress Line is great fun every time, we especially like stopping at Ropley, where all the engineering works are being done, and can be watched too. Fascinating for train enthusiasts. There’s a playground for small children (I’d say from 3 years up) and picnic area. Snacks and drinks are also available in the station gift shop. The King’s Cross bridge from one of the Harry Potter episode is moved down to Ropley, so even Harry Potter fans will find something exciting.
Visiting the restored ticket office and the station masters lounge makes you feel, that you stepped back in time. Even the toilets are made to look vintage. Another times we also stop at Medstead and go for a picturesque walk to Alton, visiting the Jane Austen House in Chawton village.
This April we booked tickets (£18 for adults and £12 for children) to see Bobcat’s favourite character Thomas The Tank Engine. We arrived early to make the most of the day, as you’re entitled to unlimited travel on the day, so we stopped at every station, marvelled the engineering works, watched the character trains pulling into Ropley station. The trains were running up and down between the stations in every half an hour.
We went for a few rides on the miniature train, which was one of the top favourites of the day. We packed lunch and had picnic, whilst the little guy spent some time on the playground and went for teacup rides – he was way too excited to eat. Outside of the station we even met with Bertie the bus, his second favourite character from the show. Apart from Thomas, some other tank engines are present (don’t ask me names, all I know that, they all have a name and a number) and running between the stations. He also shook the Fat Controller’s hand – the organisers really paid attention to the smallest details.
There was a tent with story corner where they did daily story time and DVD shows. Also some tables and chairs with Thomas themed coloring sheets and play sets. Bobcat received a certificate and some Thomas stickers too. The only thing we didn’t try was the big bouncy slide, it said from 3 years+, but Bobcat was too small for that, we thought. But he didn’t mind, he was perfectly happy with all the other fun things. Naturally, fell asleep on the way home and had an unusual long nap which resulted him bouncing around till 11pm that night. Oh well.