Tanfield Railway – Review for families

All aboard at Tanfield, Gateshead for a ride on the world's oldest railway

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What is it?

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It’s the world’s oldest railway. Find it between Gateshead in Tyne & Wear and Stanley in County Durham, on the side of the A6076 road. The SatNav postcode is NE16 5ET.

Best for:

The attraction is less about age more about how much your child enjoys trains and is interested in the history of the railway.

Cost

£££ – A family of four will cost £23. Children under 5 go free, whereas older children cost £5. Adult tickets are £9.

What’s on offer

If you and your little ones fancy a ride on a steam locomotive, then hop on board at Tanfield Railway, where you can take a spin on the world’s oldest railway, passing such historical hidden gems like Andrew’s House and the last surviving single-arch railway bridge, known as the Causey Arch. For an extra fee, families can enjoy an afternoon tea whilst aboard the Victorian steam train.

As part of the ticket price, you can also experience the steam workshop and engine yard. Volunteer staff should be on hand to impart their wisdom.

Seasonal events such as fireworks, wintery rides, beer festivals (for mum and dad) and scary Halloween exhibits are available throughout the year. There are also longer rides to Newcastle available on occasion. Check the events timetable for more details.

There’s a nice station café, but you can also take a picnic as there are a couple of benches around the site. There are toilets at the Tanfield Railway station.

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Highlights

Your ticket buys you unlimited travel on the day of your visit, so you don’t have to worry about parking the car at the other end or having to pay more to fetch it. Just enjoy the ride. Staff are incredibly friendly as they’re volunteers, they’re passionate about what they are doing. It’s ideal for train lovers, budding photographers and children who appreciate nature (and being sat down)!

What to watch out for

  • Trains only run on Sundays, bank holidays and selected dates.
  • It’s not the easiest place to find and be careful that the SatNav postcode doesn’t drive you past it towards a nearby farm. If you’re driving from Gateshead towards Country Durham, the railway is on your right hand side. Keep your eyes peeled or make spotting the signs into a game for your kids!
  • Regular buses do run to Tanfield Railway during Monday – Saturday, but it can be quite difficult to get public transport to the station on Sundays.  It can involve a bit of walking from the nearby Sunniside village, where city centre buses will stop.
  • Check there are no engineering works taking place before your visit, as it may alter the course of your journey.
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MFM tips:

  • If you’re looking for an exciting and unusual Christmas activity in the North East, you may want to consider a family ride on the North Pole Express. Tickets are £12 per person. Mince pies and hot drinks for adults, as well as snacks, drinks and a little gift from Santa are available for children. It’s very popular so make sure you book in advance. Check the website for details.

What the owners say

“Working steam railway museum with extensive engineering shops open to the public. Recreates defunct colliery lines of NE England. Steam train rides every Sunday.”

Visit the official Tanfield Railway website

Read more MFM days out guides:

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