Exploring Railway Heritage during Heritage Open Days

30 August 2023

Heritage Open Days is England's biggest festival of history and culture. Each year in September, thousands of sites across the country invite you to explore local treasures of every age, style and function and many special events are held. It's your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences.

Here are just a few railway-related highlights that are being held across the country to celebrate this year's Heritage Open Days, most of them are supported by community rail partnerships and station volunteer groups. What hidden gems will you discover?

*All events are free to attend, unless otherwise stated. Details correct at date of publishing. Please check with organiser for any changes before visiting.



Coventry Station Community Day
Elephant & Bear Line

Saturday 9 September: 10.00am until 2.00pm
Celebrate community work at Coventry Station's Community Day with the Heart of England Community Rail Partnership. Free activities for all ages run throughout the day, from learning new crafts to discovering hidden local history. Find out more...

Ridgmont Station Heritage Centre
Marston Vale Line

Friday 8 - Sunday 10 & Wednesday 13 to Sunday 17 September: 10.00am until 4.00pm
Visit the award-winning Victorian (1846) station house and booking office restored in the Gothic Cottage Orné style. The building is now home to a delicious tea room, gift shop and a growing collection of artefacts in the on-site Heritage Centre. Find out more...

Ridgemont Station building in the sunshine
Ridgmont Station Heritage Centre

A History of the Trent Valley Railway
North Staffordshire Line

Tuesday 12 September: 10.30am and 2.30pm
Discover the history behind the development of the Trent Valley Railway Company and the building of the railway including its largest single civil-engineering item, Shugborough Tunnel, 175 years ago. Find out more...

A History of Rail Travel Poster Art
North Staffordshire Line

Thursday 14 September: 7.15pm
Head to Stafford Railway Station for an illustrated, engaging talk on the history of railway art post advertising to explore social and technological development over 180 years. The talk will also feature artwork from a glittering array of artists and poster designers. Find out more...

Tracks, Smacks and Sunhats
Friday 15, Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 September: 10.00am until 5.00pm
This year marks 175 years since the opening of Grimsby Railway Station, with Cleethorpes Railway Station celebrating its 160th year. Discover how the early years of the Railway helped shape Grimsby and Cleethorpes. Find out more...


South East


St Albans South Signal Box
Bedford to St Albans City

Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 September: 10.00am until 5.00pm
St Albans South Signal Box will be open with displays of signals and signalling plus garden railway, model trains, live steam and a huge display of railway artefacts. Light refreshments are available. Find out more...

People inside St Albans Signal Box, open for Heritage Open Days
St Albans Signal Box

Wartime Women on the Railway

Monday 11, Tuesday 12 & Wednesday 13 September: 2.00pm
Discover how and why women stepped up during the war years to help and work on Britain's railways. Enjoy this live Zoom with Daniel Ball, Education & Outreach Coordinator for Mid Hants Railway – The Watercress Line Heritage Railway. Find out more...

Bat & Ball Station
Darent Valley Line

Saturday 16 September: 11.00am until 3.00pm
Watch Victorian history come to life through your local station with family trails, heritage film screenings, miniature invention exhibits, dress up, miniature steam engines, and meeting Queen Victoria herself! Find out more...

A Treasure Trove of Toys: A Brighton Toy and Model Museum Tour

Sussex Downs Line

Saturday 16 September: Tours at 4.00pm & 5..00pm

Looking to revisit your childhood? Or want to see what your parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents used to play with? Then you will enjoy a visit to Brighton Toy and Model Museum, home to one of the world's finest collections. Find out more...

Take Shelter at Downs Junior School

Sussex Downs Line

Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 September: 10.00am until 4.00pm

During World War II every school had an air raid shelter. Today the only accessible school shelter in the south east is in Brighton and is opening its doors for this year's Heritage Open Days. Find out more...

North West


Crewe: Your Railway, Your Family
North Staffordshire Line

Thursday 14 September: 1.30pm until 8.45pm
Come along to find out more about Crewe's railway heritage, working on the railways and tracing your railway ancestors. You'll be supported by a series of short talks from experts and stands where you can ask questions. Find out more...

Behind the scenes at Crewe Station
Crewe to Manchester Line

Friday 15 September: 12.00pm until 1.00pm and 2.00pm until 3.00pm
Join Avanti West Coast for a behind-the-scenes tour of Crewe Station. The tour will include history of the station including the links to Crewe works, the spider bridge, Royal Mail links and general history of the railway companies around it how it was formed and the great train robbery. Find out more...

East Lancashire Railway Tour
Clitheroe Line

Sunday 10 & Sunday 17 September: 10.00am & 1.00pm
Take a sneak peek into the various departments and visit Castlecroft Sheds, where the engines are stored and maintained. This tour will give you an incredible insight into the work of the volunteers and what really makes this railway so special. Find out more...

Tour of Chester Railway Station with guide John Whittingham
Mid Cheshire Line

Sunday 17 September: 2.00pm until 3.00pm
A guided tour of Chester Railway Station, covering the history and heritage of this remarkable building. Chester Station will be celebrating its 175th anniversary this year of the official opening of the station which took place amongst great public rejoicing on 1 August 1848. Thomas Brassey was the builder & contractor. Find out more...

Yorkshire & North East

FOBS - Batley Railway Station - past and present
Saturday 9 September: 10.00am until 2.00pm
Find out about the wonderful history of Batley Railway Station. How it survived. Old photos on display. Take a look at the great work the fantastic Friends of Batley Station (FOBS) volunteers do and learn how you can get involved too. Find out more...

Dewsbury Railway Station celebrates 175 years in style

Saturday 9 September: 11.00am until 5.00pm
A day to celebrate 175 years of Dewsbury Train Station will feature heritage film screenings, a performance by Dewsbury Community Choir and much more. Find out more...

Shildon circular historic railway walk
Bishop Line

Saturday 9 September: 10.00am
Discover Shildon's historic place in the industrial revolution with this circular walk between the key sites in the world's first railway town though the story of the Stockton & Darlington Railway and Timothy Hackworth. Find out more...

Hunmanby Railway Station Heritage Day
Yorkshire Coast Line

Saturday 9 September: 10.00am until 3.00pm
Discover more about this award-winning railway station that provides a valued gateway to the village. See the display of 'then and now' photographs, the North Eastern Railway tile map and the 300ft flower borders that encourage wildlife to make the station their home too. Find out more...

Poppleton Community Railway Nursery

Saturday 16 September: 10.00am until 4.00pm
Britain's last surviving railway nursery, built in 1941, is now a volunteer-run local charity based in Poppleton, near York, set up to restore this historic site. A working plant nursery, it helps people recovering from health issues and you can discover this charming nursery during this year's Heritage Open Days. Find out more...


South West

Gloucester's railway history
Severn Shores Line

Friday 8 September: 10.45am
A two and a half mile walk around the key spots of Gloucester's railway history. Start at Blackfriars, walk through the Docks to Llanthony Bridge then via Park Road to Barton Gates and via Bruton Way to the railway station. Find out more...

A guided 'Walk and Talk' of Swindon's railway heritage
TransWilts Line

Thursday 14 September: 10.30am until 12.30pm
Come to Swindon and be surprised by how much heritage and green space can be found in the charming town centre with a walk starting from Swindon Railway Station. Find out more...


Cromer Signal Box
Bittern Line

Friday 8 & 9 September: 10.30am until 3.30pm
A signal box where visitors can operate levers and see signals and points work. Visitors can explore railway artefacts as well. Find out more...

City Station to Hellesdon Station along the Marriott's Way with the Friends of Norwich City Station
Wherry Lines

Saturday 16 September: 2.00pm
This walking tour takes you along the former Midland and Great Northern Railway, from City Station to Hellesdon Station on the footpath named after the railway's chief engineer and locomotive superintendent, William Marriott. Find out more...

Port Of Lowestoft Tour
Wherry Lines

Friday 15 September: 11.00am
By kind permission of Associated British Ports, a unique opportunity to take an escorted tour of the Port of Lowestoft, an opportunity to view both the inner and outer harbours and hear about the port's history, current operations and future plans. The visit is by minibus which will collect from Lowestoft Railway Station. Booking is essential. Find out more...

"What this place needs is some decent toilets and the bloomin' roof put back!"
Wherry Lines

Saturday 16 September: 11.00am, 1.00pm and 3.00pm
Over the past six years the Lowestoft Central Project has been working with community and industry partners to improve and bring new life to Lowestoft's iconic railway station. Join this guided walk & talk showing the efforts of the Lowestoft Central Project to restore and rejuvenate Lowestoft Railway Station. Find out more...

175 years since the railway reached Lowestoft
Ipswich to Lowestoft

Special exhibition available anytime
View the giant timeline installed at Lowestoft Railway Station retelling 175 years of railway history in the town. Find out more...

If you're a community rail partnership or station volunteer group hosting an open day or event that isn't listed, please send the full details to: [email protected]

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