Fernhill News

Mike’s railway return is just the ticket

A lifelong steam engine enthusiast enjoyed a welcome return to his family-run railway courtesy of his Dorset care home.

Mike Haylock, whose brother Jim founded the Moors Valley Steam Railway in the mid-1980s, was guest of honour on a trip from Colten Care’s Fernhill home in Longham.

It was the first time in three and a half years that Mike, a former artist and illustrator, and a fan of steam trains from boyhood, had visited the popular attraction.

Jim and fellow railway volunteers enabled him to view a steam engine that he still owns and it was an ideal opportunity for his first proper family picnic since the pandemic.

Mike said: “It was absolutely fantastic, such a nice experience.”

Fernhill’s Companionship Team Leader Kate Morris, who accompanied Mike, said: “He has always been interested in steam engines, the same as his brother.

“It was so lovely being able to bring him back to Moors Valley and see him at the ‘family business’ once again.

“Although Mike’s engine is off the track at the moment undergoing maintenance and waiting for a new boiler to be fitted, that didn’t spoil his fun.

“He hadn’t seen his family for a proper outdoors visit for more than two years and just having the chance to be among the steam trains and look around the station again was so rewarding for him.”

Since the railway opened at Moors Valley Country Park in July 1986, hundreds of thousands of visitors including families and children have taken happy trips around the looping one-and-a-half-mile track. Jim had originally set up his own railway in 1980 at Tucktonia Leisure Park near Christchurch.

After five years he decided he needed to move to a better location and with council permission relocated the track, rolling stock and equipment to the new Moors Valley park.

Until Moors Valley Railway (MVR) came into being, the site had been a dairy farm. The original buildings were converted into use as the station, carriage and engine sheds, and shop.

Further additions included a station buffet, ticket office, waiting room and two signal boxes. A second station, Lakeside, closer to the park’s main picnic area, was added in 1996.

Fernhill Care Home Day Trip

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Fernhill Care Home Day Trip Steam Railway