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“A pleasant way to spend an hour or two”
Review of Spa Valley Railway

Spa Valley Railway
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Heritage Railway operating Steam and Diesel trains between Tunbridge Wells West and Eridge with intermediate stations at High Rocks and Groombridge.
Reviewed May 26, 2014

The Spa Valley Railway is a heritage steam railway run by willing volunteers. We have travelled on this line a few times before and have always enjoyed our trips. If you are a railway enthusiast I suspect you will find much to interest you but it's still worth visiting even if you only have a slight interest in steam trains - for example, if you are in Tunbridge Wells and are thinking of having a leisurely coffee with friends you could have it on the train and see a little of the surrounding countryside in the process. Bar car 'Kate' is now back in action - a comfortable, attractive carriage that serves snacks, alcoholic drinks, soft drinks and tea or coffee in proper china cups with saucers (not paper cups). Of course there are other carriages of the more usual commuter kind for a more authentic 'historic train' experience.
The journey from Tunbridge Wells to Eridge is not a long one (about 5 miles I believe), once the train has driven past the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells the scenery becomes pleasant with views over open countryside, whilst it is not dramatic in any way it's certainly nice enough to see.
At Tunbridge Wells station there are toilets, a small gift shop and a fixed café in an old railway carriage.
Like many steam railways, it has special event days and opportunities to drive the trains but I have never attended any of these and so cannot comment upon them.
There is a 'Pay & Display' car park about 5 minutes walk away from the station (near the far end of the Pantiles and Sainsbury's supermarket).

2  Thank flutefairy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"buffet car"
in 32 reviews
"steam engine"
in 24 reviews
"west station"
in 22 reviews
"return journey"
in 18 reviews
"tunbridge wells west"
in 17 reviews
"diesel gala"
in 13 reviews
"thomas the tank engine"
in 11 reviews
"station master"
in 9 reviews
"bar car"
in 9 reviews
"main line"
in 8 reviews
"fish and chip supper"
in 7 reviews
"ticket office"
in 13 reviews
"diesel train"
in 7 reviews
"waiting room"
in 6 reviews
"murder mystery evening"
in 6 reviews
"santa train"
in 4 reviews
"curry"
in 4 reviews
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312 - 316 of 404 reviews

Reviewed May 25, 2014

We visited the railway on a day when they were doing the Thomas event and even though there were four of us at the more senior end of the age scale we had a lovely time.The staff were absolutely lovely- very friendly and patient and clearly enjoying themselves Lovely old carriages and stations and wonderful old penny games which we really enjoyed playing. Thank you everyone-thoroughly recommend.

2  Thank Russetgirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 23, 2014

I've visited the railway several times before and by and large had a really decent day out. However my last experience at the Spa Valley has put me off of going there.

I was told that disabled travellers get a discounted ticket. I showed my Disabled Rail Card, Disabled Bus Pass, etc to be told by the Booking office staff that 'i don't see why I should have it'. OK, I'm not in a wheelchair but I can talk but if you saw the state of my legs underneath my clothes you'd know why I'm disabled and believe me I wish I wasn't. I have never come across such ignorance.

To top it off one of the passengers who is a member of your railway was being loud mouthed, racist and sexist and being highly offensive to other passengers. By no means am I a prude but his behaviour was shocking.

I love the railway but based on my last experience I'd think twice before I visited again.

1  Thank Neil C H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paul M, Website manager at Spa Valley Railway, responded to this reviewResponded May 25, 2014

Dear Neil,
Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience last year. Unfortunately the time elapsed since the incident you allege makes it quite difficult to ascertain who was involved. However, if you are able to give me an exact date, we can work out who was on duty that day and issue some appropriate training. You have exposed a flaw in our pricing structure, and the management committee is reviewing our fares policy for reduced-mobility visitors. Currently (and largely due to no-one having flagged it up before), we have offered free travel to visitors assisted by carers, but it would appear this needs its scope widening. At the very least a bit more sensitivity and understanding from the ticket clerk would not go amiss.

Frankly I am appalled at the behaviour of whoever was "mouthing off", and reading between the lines I suspect you might be able to identify them. If you can, we would be very grateful, and can then deal with them appropriately. However, membership of our supporting society is open to everyone, and they could conceivably be a member of the public taking advantage of the numerous benefits membership offers. This, though, is pure conjecture on my part and hopefully our in-house detective work will establish what actually happened here.

All that aside, please accept our unreserved apologies, and I hope very much that given swift and appropriate action on our part to resolve the issues you've raised, you will feel able to visit again and experience the enjoyment of your previous visits.

Please could you drop me an email at paulatalpinehideout.co.uk (replacing "at" with "@", in a desperate attempt to dodge spam), so that I might get the ball rolling?

Thanks, Paul

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 20, 2014

What a great day ! Read a lot of the other reviews & wonder what some people expected from a collection of vintage steam trains maintained by volunteers / enthusiasts, (with the explicit exception of the wedding couple who should get a full refund for breach of contract ! )
We - 4 grandparents with our son/daughter & 2 grandchildren spent an interesting & entertaining couple of hours here. No, it's Not Disney World, but if you like steam engines and you have young children who love Thomas & his ilk - then you should have a whale of a time. Will go again when our youngest is a little older & can appreciate it more.

2  Thank Kentish_Bob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paul M, Website manager at Spa Valley Railway, responded to this reviewResponded May 21, 2014

Dear Bob,
Thank you very much for your kind words and support. I'm pleased you had a good day, as it's the principal reason we do what we do.
You're quite right about the wedding party - once the couple whose carriage went missing brought their plight to our attention (via the Trip Advisor review you can see, because unfortunately the email address they had been corresponding with was blocked shortly before they tried to contact us and we had no idea they were trying to get hold of us), we immediately issued a full refund with our apologies, albeit much later than anyone would have liked. They are charming people, incidentally, and accepted our grovelling apologies with the utmost grace, which given the time that elapsed they didn't need to do.
We certainly look forward to seeing you again, and thank you for taking the time to write a positive review.
Kind regards, Paul

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 19, 2014

Visited this railway for the first time during their recent Day out with Thomas event. Our two young children love Thomas so this was for them rather than Dad ! We started at Eridge which certainly seemed a wise choice having seen the traffic congestion in Tunbridge Wells - the mainline station car park was only £1 for the whole day. The train had one of Thomas's friends on each end, and we were taken non stop to Tunbridge Wells. As we pulled into the destination we got the first glimpse of Thomas and devious diesel outside the engine shed.
Leaving the train was a little conjested due to the narrow platform, but once in the engine shed there was plenty of space. The children enjoyed the Punch and Judy, and then got to meet the excellent Fat Controller. We were led by him into the yard where we stood right next to Thomas - he looked a lot bigger from ground level ! Thomas and Diesel then had races in the station, with the Fat Controller leading the cheering for the winner. After posing for some pictures with the FC, we returned to the shed to play on the vintage coin machines (all free) and visit the face painter (also included). After a reasonably priced lunch in their buffet coach "Kate", we could hear the punch and judy wrapping up again so knew it was time to head back into the yard. This time Thomas was having water problems and the children loved being asked to help the Fat Controller give him water, and seeing the fish being pulled out of his tank - just like one of the books. After all this fun, there was time to visit the gift shop, before reboarding the train back to our car.
We really enjoyed the day, and although it was hot and sunny the large shed that many of the activites are in would probably make it worthwhile even on a wet day. Did not realise that all the staff were volunteers until we got chating to on eon the train - most seemd to be having as much fun as the children.
Looking forward to returning on a non Thomas day to explore the stations in between.

3  Thank JL691
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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