There’s still time to catch the train this weekend at the Downpatrick & Co. Down Railway before the last summer train pulls out of the station.

Dress up and explore vintage trains in our gallery - free of charge this weekend!

Dress up and explore vintage trains in our gallery – free of charge this weekend!

The Railway is running its last trips to Inch Abbey this weekend, Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September, as part of the European Heritage Open Days, and in the spirit of Province-wide scheme there will be guided tours on request of the lesser seen parts of the railway site not normally accessible to the public, as well as the chance to sample the atmosphere of rail travel at its most traditional.

After this weekend the next time the train will be out will be for the Halloween Ghost Trains at the end of the October, so this will be the last opportunity people will have to let the train take the strain before it is infested with ghouls and ghosts at that spooky time of the year.

Railway chairman Robert Gardiner says “As part of the European Heritage Open Days, we’re offering free access to our Carriage Gallery and workshop viewing area, where you can view vintage rolling stock under restoration and explore our unique collection of old railway carriages and locomotives.

The cab of a G class locomotive

Experience the driver’s life in the cab of a locomotive on our South Line.

You can even climb into the cab of an old locomotive and imagine the world of the driver, or explore inside some of the old carriages like passengers of old.”

He adds “As an extra special treat, we’re offering you the chance to travel in the cab of a diesel locomotive with the driver, for a short trip down our South Line, for a unique view of our railway. Places on this will be limited, so be sure to ask our volunteers when you arrive.”

Mr. Gardiner says “A trip to the station is also much more than boarding the train, with our museum and Carriage Gallery visitor centre we bring the golden age of the railway vividly to life and you can find out what impact the railways had on people’s lives, through artefacts from the smallest such as a ticket in the upstairs exhibition, or the largest such as lovingly restored railway carriages in the Carriage Gallery and the stark contrast of the wrecks these vehicles once were when rescued.

For the younger train fans, children can enjoy their own “Kids’ Station” in the Gallery, and dress up as a train driver or guard, or can get to control a model railway layout.”

Explore the ruins of Inch Abbey

Explore the ruins of Inch Abbey

From 1pm to 4pm, the steam train will run to Inch Abbey, and visitors can disembark and take a short walk up to Inch Abbey. These extensive remains are of a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1180 by John de Courcy, who led the 1177 Anglo-Norman invasion of East Ulster, and are the reputed site for where the story of St Patrick chasing the snakes out of Ireland was first recorded by the monks.

Mr Gardiner continues “You can also visit the museum in the station building which looks at the impact that the railways had on people’s lives, through artefacts from tickets to signals, and a gift shop you can visit before you leave.”

The new Downpatrick East signal cabin

The new Downpatrick East signal cabin

Also open to the public for the first time this year is the lovingly restored Bundoran Junction signal cabin, now taking pride of place at Downpatrick Station rechristened ‘Downpatrick East’, where you can imagine yourself as the signalman controlling the trains and learning about the vital role signalling had on our railways – and is the only genuine vintage signal cabin that is also wheelchair accessible.

Refreshments are also served in a 1950s ‘buffet carriage’ parked at Inch Abbey Station where you can wait to make the return journey to Downpatrick.

Train fares, which are separate to the free access to the station and museum, cost £6.00 adults, children £4.50, and £5.50 senior citizens, whilst a family ticket costs £18 and children aged three years old or below go free.

Tickets provide all-day access to the steam trains, the museum, signal cabin and model railway. You can buy tickets on the day, or purchase in advance at our online ticket office.