Nostalgia and the age of steam in the UK | TravelResearchOnline


Nostalgia and the age of steam in the UK

Just as the Chelsea Flower Show defines excellence for garden lovers, so do the three little words, “The Flying Scotsman”, resonate with the tens of thousands of people who flock to see the Steam Preservation and Rail Museums in North America.  Take a look at the Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums, and then check out the UK product possibilities at the Heritage Railway Association.

In September of 2015, the National Railway Museum announced its outline for the long awaited, 2016 return to the tracks of the internationally renowned steam celebrity The Flying Scotsman.

While it may not be one of this week’s top travel stories, there is a huge interest in the glory days of steam travel, especially among the older generation for whom these mighty beasts bring back many happy memories, myself included.

Specialist heritage railway publications are going to be filled with eye catching photo stories about this world famous locomotive and many readers will want to include it in their customized UK tour—perk up your ears!

Given the extensive media coverage, perhaps you should take a closer look at this niche market.  Who knows, some of your best clients could hold the key to a valuable and unexpected piece of new business.  Take a look at some of our offerings, send them this information, and see what they say.

Steam Legend set to be 2016 Steam Star

Starting in early 2016, the globetrotting screen star and multiple record-breaker will be seen around the UK as a working museum exhibit, demonstrating the engineering science behind steam traction to new generations of Scotsman fans. Preview rides will take place on four occasions in January prior to its end of February triumphant run from London to its new home at the National Railway Museum in York.  

The Flying Scotsman at the National Railway Museum

The headquarters for this world-beater will be the National Railway Museum in York where a series of exhibitions, footplate experiences, and other events are being finalized.  In addition, the great steam icon will be out and about on Britain’s mainline and heritage railways for more up close and personal encounters with this diva of the tracks. 

Great Railway Journeys in England’s North Country

With many railroad enthusiasts focusing their attention on the National Railway Museum, capitalize on their interest by offering them a program that includes visits to the northern railway heritage sites like those at Keighley and Worth Valley, East Lancs, the North Yorkshire Moors, and the Great Little Trains in North Wales.

Great Railway Rides in South East England

Another seven-night tour brings together the castles at Hever and Leeds, the award winning garden at Exbury, the new enlarged and awe-inspiring attraction at Stonehenge, and nostalgic steam-hauled journeys on seven of our top Heritage Railway sites.  It works well as a small group tour, but can also be set up as a tailor-made program for just two people with their own driver guide. 

Great Railway Rides in the Heart of England

Using the air side-curb side in 30 minutes service through the Birmingham Airport gateway, you can offer a seven-night program that concentrates on the Heritage Railway sites in central England with additional visits to the great Elizabethan treasure House at Burghley, romantic Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds, and a Tudor England experience at Mary Arden’s Farm near Stratford upon AvonIt’s also available for independent travelers.

Steam Trains, Poldark, and Doc Martin

Locations associated with the popular UK TV programs ‘Poldark’ and ‘Doc Martin’ can be worked into a longer nine-night itinerary that includes visits to some famous privately owned historic properties and an overnight stay in the timeless Devon coastal village of Clovelly. There are also rides on seven of the Heritage Railway lines and a visit to Steam, the Museum of the Great Western Railway.

Castles, Cathedrals, Watercress, and Bluebells

This driver guided pre/post-cruise extension brings together Winchester’s great Norman Cathedral, the imposing castle at Arundel, the superb gardens at Pashley Manor, and Sissinghurst Castle.  Also included are some ancient pubs, tea and cakes at a privately owned garden, and nostalgic steam hauled train rides on the Watercress, the Bluebell, and the Kent and East Sussex heritage railways.  It works well in reverse, too.

Paull Tickner, creator of Special Interest Britain, is an expert in developing customized niche travel programs for the United Kingdom and Ireland. Check out his website at and email him at

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