Arriving at the railway, you will be able to buy your tickets at the Ticket Office. The Booking Clerk will be able to explain the routes to you and to advise about ticket options, queue lengths, waiting times and help you with any queries you may have. You have a choice of ticket options and routes, the Red route or the Green route. A double ticket can save you money so why not try both?
Red or Green?
The Red route leaves Hardwick and goes to Cockcrow Hill where the train stops for the engine to run round. On the way back, the train takes an extra loop to bring you back along the Jungle Line. Watch out for the wild animals! The Green route is a non stop run out over the level crossing, round the Lower car park, up to Cockcrow Hill and back. Both routes are about 1 ¼ miles in length and both go through the tunnel!
When you reach the platform, you will be shown to your waiting coach. Please help our staff by following their instructions when seating yourselves so that your journey will be safe. At the front of the train you will normally have a steam locomotive (an eighth-
Once the train is loaded, the Station Master will indicate to tell the signaller in Hardwick Signal Box that the train is ready to depart. Once the signal clears, your journey will start. Hardwick Signal Box contains a lever frame which was part of the signal box at Crewe South. The miniature levers control the points (which route the trains) and the signals (which tell the driver if it’s safe to go). At Hardwick, we have semaphore signals where a horizontal red arm means stop, a diagonal arm (either up or down) means it is safe to go.
Having left the station, make sure you keep your arms inside the carriage and enjoy the ride. As you go, listen to the sounds of the engine working on the gradients. Your driver will be making sure the engine has a hot fire to create steam and enough water in the boiler. Since it takes several minutes for the coal to get hot and heat the water, your driver will be working hard to make sure the engine is ready when it needs the steam pressure.
On route to Everglades Junction
Once you leave Hardwick, look at the signals. They will soon change to colour lights where a red light means stop, a single yellow or double yellow means caution and a green means proceed at line speed. The fastest stretches of the line are 8mph, although the majority is 6mph, although it probably feels faster!
Everglades Junction is the focal point of the railway with the signallers routing all trains along the correct parts of the railway. Count how many times you pass the signal box (and don’t forget to wave to the signaller!). The signalling frame in Everglades was originally used at South Croydon. Climbing from Everglades, you will pass over the viaduct, and then approach Cockcrow Hill. Here, the lever frame was rescued from Waterloo on the Waterloo and City underground line.
A short stop or out into the fields?
On a Red route you will stop in the station and your engine will go onto the turntable. Watch the engine go past you and be ready for it to couple back onto the train. On a Green route, you can enjoy the trip out into the country before the line sweeps back to Cockcrow Hill for the return journey.
Leaving Cockcrow Hill, you will enter Greywood Tunnel on your way back to Everglades Junction. Listen to the engine as it works hard back up the steep hill to Piggery Summit before entering the station. You will probably pass other trains – don’t forget to wave! Leaving Everglades you will swing around to head back down the hill before passing under the viaduct for a second time. The Green route returns directly to Hardwick whilst the Red route climbs back up the spur to Everglades Junction before joining the Jungle Line and then returning to Hardwick.
Returning to Hardwick, your train will come to a stand and after you have disembarked, the engine will be moved onto the turntable before being filled with water and coal ready for the next trip. If you want to find out about the engine or take a photo, then don’t be afraid to ask the driver.
We hope that you enjoyed your trip. If you would like to know more about the Great Cockcrow Railway then please ask any member of staff. They all like stopping for a chat!