A Day Out in Winchester With Kids – The Watercress Line

This summer we are rediscovering places where I grew up in the south of England . What’s wonderful is seeing everything through the eyes and enjoyment of my daughters. We’re staying in the historic city of Winchester, Hampshire. The last time I spent any amount of time in the area was 20 years ago when I attended 6th form college.

Winchester with kids

It has been such a treat exploring Winchester and the surrounding Hampshire villages as a family. I had no idea how much there was on offer, both within the city and the surrounding area.

The Watercress Line

It still amazes me that the first Thomas and Friends story was written in 1945 over 70 years ago. We were delighted to be invited by the WaterCress line to one of their themed Thomas The Tank engine days.

We didn’t know quite what to expect from the day out, however we did expect to have unlimited train rides, on a real steam engine! And of course we were going to see Thomas the most important character. But we were surprised and delighted by the whole host of other activities on offer, which I go on to explain on this post.

Firstly, on arrival we were met by Rusty and Dusty; in character of course to check our tickets and give us an activity sheet, and point us in the right direction.

The Watercress Line

Thomas the Tank Engine

Bella, Andre and Maya wanted to run up to the bridge to watch the first steam train rush past, the atmosphere was wonderful, the volunteers and staff had created such a magical timeless atmosphere. It felt like we travelled back in time and we were seeing Thomas The Tank Engine brought to life in the 1940’s.

The trains looked so realistic our youngest daughter Maya asked whether she was able to speak to Thomas The Tank Engine. Also they couldn’t believe their luck when they actually got to meet The Fat controller, yes speak to him and have their photo taken with him.

Thomas the Tank Engine The Watercress Line
Thomas the Tank Engine The Watercress Line

Unlimited Train Rides

Now it was time to ride the a real steam train, we were all very excited to see what it was like inside the carriages. Even my Dad  was curious, to see what it was like, seeing if it resembled the trains of his childhood.

My Dad being the organised person he even brought expresso coffee in thermos flask, so as we travelled toward towards the next station in style, siping our espresso coffee.

The children were extremely excited just to be on the train and peer out of the window watching the beautiful Hampshire countryside rush by.

inside thomas tank train

Thomas the Tank Engine

In keeping with nostalgic mood of train ride the conductor came around to clip our old fashion ticket stub. We got off the train at Medstead. And completed an activity sheet and checked out some of historic memorabilia at each station.

Then we headed back to the main station at Alresford where the atmosphere was magical and really authentic.

Throughout the day Thomas and the other trains were going up and down on the main platform blowing steam and changing tracks. The illusion of stepping back in time was kept alive with each station decorated and in theme.

The staff and volunteers were all so friendly we received our Thomas Sticker book and staying safe on the train book.

The Watercress Line
Thomas the Tank Engine winchester

Vintage Fair Rides and Picnic Lunch

All the children were so excited to have a go on the old fashioned fair rides, which they were allowed to have unlimited goes on. After a few goes on those we headed to the picnic area to have our lunch over looking the station, of course watching Thomas riding the tracks.

cookie bar bus

Story Time and Activities 

After lunch it was time for story time with the Fat Controller and Rusty and Dusty. Then it was sing along time. Bella and Maya loved this part of the day, they were completely captivated by The Fat controller and Rusty and Dusty. There was more story time and sing alongs.

Thomas the Tank Engine

Dressing Up

To finish off our busy day we headed upstairs to the station which had more fun an activities, all the children were allowed a transfer tattoo of the their favourite character and there were model trains to play with even dressing up outfits which I think us grown ups enjoyed most.

IMG hc242l

Here is what is included in your ticket

Make sure you don’t miss anything, every activity is well organised and fun for the children.

  • Rusty and Dusty Magic show in the Marquee
  • Rusty and Dusty Magic show in the Marquee
  • Daily story Time with Rusty and Dusty and the Fat controller
  • Certificate Signed by The Fat Controller
  • Vintage Chair-O- Planes and Dobbies Rides
  • Tomas theme activities from the viewing gallery – removable tatoo’s and dressing up.
  • Miniature railway
  • Story Corner and Dressing up
  • Thomas Gift shop
  • A selection of food outlets
  • Network Rail stay safe with Thomas Sticker book and reading book
  • Ride the big steam trains

Thinking Nomads Verdict

We had a fantastic day out, it was well organised with great varied activities for all the children, they didn’t get bored once. Maya was even crying as we were leaving, as she had so much fun and didn’t want to leave.

A great day out that is value for money considering all the activities on offer.

The day was educational as well teaching the children about safety around trains and on the platforms. We would highly recommend a day out with Thomas and we looking forward to attending another event in the future.
watercress line
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Eternal adventurer and wanderlust seeker! Always thinking about (and planning) our next adventure, hence the name"Thinking Nomads"! Wife to Marco and mamma to Isabella and Maya. India, Nepal and Vietnam are my top three countries! Norway, Iceland and South Africa are top of my bucket list!

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