Trip to railway museum near Aylesbury brings back memories for care home residents

Memories of being evacuated during the war came flooding back to elderly residents from a Bicester care home, on a visit to the Bucks Railway Centre, in Quainton

By Hannah Richardson
Monday, 13th December 2021, 4:20 pm

For residents of a Bicester care home, an outing to a railway museum near Aylesbury was a trip down memory lane.

Second World War recollections came flooding back when the residents of Launton Grange, in Bicester, paid a visit to the Bucks Railway Centre, in Quainton.

The group outing for 13 residents and four members of the care team was their first trip out since the start of the pandemic.

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Helen Steele, aged 94, visits the driver's cab

For Helen Steele, aged 94, travelling on an old-style steam train brought back memories of being evacuated during the war.

Helen, who was 12 when war broke out in 1939, said: "I was evacuated during the war to live with relatives in Scotland.

"The trip up from London took at least eight hours - it seemed to go on forever.

"I can remember the moment the train left the station and I waved to my mum.

Residents on the station platform at the heritage centre

"I was travelling on my own and I had a suitcase and a name tag pinned to my blazer.

"When I arrived in Edinburgh, my uncle was waiting for me."

On her visit to the Bucks Railway Centre, Helen was able to visit the train driver's cab and be photographed wearing his cap.

Joyce Teat, aged 96, said sitting in the vintage carriage reminded her of day trips and holidays when she was younger.

She said: "The train was just like going to the countryside - I could remember waving out the window to people I was leaving behind."

But for former engineering patternmaker Barry Newton, aged 74, dreams of becoming an engine driver would have to wait for another day.

A miniature steam train enthusiast since his teens, he was the first to suggest a trip to the heritage centre, but was unwell on the day of the outing.

However, a second trip is planned.

Danielle Garnon, lifestyle manager at Launton Grange, said: "This was the residents' first big day trip since lockdown and there had been much discussion about where we would go.

"In the end, the railway centre was chosen because several of our residents used to work in the railway industry and a couple are keen model railway enthusiasts.

"We took a minibus and all went as a big group and enjoyed the day out, of course adhering to Covid guidelines.

"We got to sit in the carriage of the steam train and have a ride.

"This brought back many memories and created a lot of conversation about being evacuated and other times on a train.

"After enjoying a really lovely day out, we know this will be the first of many exciting trips initiated by the residents."

Attractions at the heritage centre include vintage railway carriages from the earliest days of the 20th century, including one used by Winston Churchill during the Second World War, an LNWR locomotive dating back to 1847, a Victorian station building and a 1km-long miniature railway.