A trip to the railway museum near Aylesbury brings back memories for residents of care homes

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For residents of a care home in Bicester, a trip to a railway museum near Aylesbury was a trip down memory lane.

Memories of World War II flooded in when residents of Launton Grange, Bicester, visited the Bucks Railway Center in Quainton.

The group outing for 13 residents and four members of the healthcare team was their first outing since the start of the pandemic.

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Helen Steele, 94, visits the cockpit

For Helen Steele, 94, traveling on an old-fashioned steam train brought back memories of wartime evacuation.

Helen, who was 12 when war broke out in 1939, said: “I was evacuated during the war to live with relatives in Scotland.

“The trip from London took at least eight hours – it seemed like an eternity.

“I remember the moment the train left the station and I waved to my mother.

Residents on the station platform at the heritage center

“I was traveling alone and had a suitcase and a badge pinned to my blazer.

“When I arrived in Edinburgh my uncle was waiting for me.”

During her visit to the Bucks Railway Center, Helen was able to tour the train driver’s cabin and be photographed wearing her cap.

Joyce Teat, 96, said sitting in the vintage car reminded her of day trips and vacations when she was younger.

She said: “The train was like going into the country – I remember waving through the window to the people I was leaving behind.”

But for 74-year-old former technical model maker Barry Newton, the dream of becoming a motor driver should wait another day.

A fan of the little steam train since his teenage years, he was the first to offer a visit to the heritage center, but did not feel well on the day of the outing.

However, a second trip is planned.

Danielle Garnon, Lifestyle Manager at Launton Grange, said: “This was the residents’ first big day trip since the lockdown and there had been a lot of talk about where we would be going.

“Ultimately, the rail hub was chosen because many of our residents worked in the rail industry and a couple are avid model railroad enthusiasts.

“We took a minibus and all went as a large group and enjoyed the day, of course following Covid guidelines.

“We were able to sit in the steam train car and take a ride.

“It brought back many memories and created many conversations about the evacuation and other times on a train.

“After having had a great day, we know this will be the first of many exciting trips initiated by residents.”

Attractions at the Heritage Center include vintage railroad cars from the early days of the 20th century, including one used by Winston Churchill during World War II, an LNWR locomotive from 1847, a Victorian station building and a track of miniature iron 1 km long.


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