Tom has explained what the railway did to celebrate the spooky season.
Last weekend, the Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway opened its doors for a very spooky event in aid of the railway and to celebrate Halloween. Tom Willis spoke to us about the event and told us a little more about the special trains.
What was the event? What was it in aid of?
My event was organised for Halloween, although it did not actually take place on Halloween given that our target audience was young children and actual Halloween was on a school night so the Saturday before had to do.
Our Halloween night at Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway was decorating the railway in a spooky fashion as well as dress up ourselves. We would then be running trains around in the dark with people lurking around the track ready to jump out at our unsuspecting passengers. We were also playing music and games on the platform, along with a coloring room for anyone who was either a bit too young for it all or just wanted to sit quietly somewhere and watch the trains.
The main part of the event however, was the ghost stories. We ran two of them on the night, the first being aimed at young children and a late one held for families. Being sat in the middle of the dark country park surrounded by Halloween lights and lanterns really made a spooky atmosphere which everyone loved. All the profits will be going back into the railway as keeping steam engines and a railway running isn’t cheap!
So, what about the railway, can you give us a bit of background?
Eastleigh Lakeside Steam railway has been operating in Lakeside country park for 25 years. We are a miniature railway operating on 7 1/4 and 10 1/4 gauge. We mainly use steam engines some dating back to the 1930’s, some being as new as 2016. We are very proud to still be building and maintaining steam engines in Eastleigh given the towns proud railway history. The line itself is a mile and quarter in length and we are proud to say that we have the longest miniature tunnel in the UK! The line provides great views of the lakes and wetlands along with some lovely pieces of wildlife.
The railway is run entirely by volunteers. Should you ever visit and see a member of staff walking around these people are doing all this through the goodness of their hearts. The railway is always looking for new volunteers so if you have passion for trains, railways or event a bit of engineering or history then do get in touch. We are always happy to meet new people!
What was your role during this event?
At the Halloween event my role was organizer and MC (Master of ceremonies) where during the story time sections I would be in charge of welcoming and warming up the crowd before the story teller came out using a little bit of “Are you ready boys and girls!?” “Oh no you’re not!” etc.
I was also in charge of leading the decorating teams with decorating the tunnel, stations and story time area. I also lead the marketing campaign, getting ads out on Facebook, producing a posters and meeting and talking about it with passengers who would visit the railway.
What would you say was the best part?
I’d have to say for me was watching full trains of people coming through the darker bits of the track and joining in with giving them a scare but I also enjoyed the rewarding feeling I got at the end with a job well done and a successful event.
We doubled our numbers on last years event which was my first Halloween I was running. And in the four hours of running we did we gave around 640 train rides! Which is a lot of people to shift in that time! As well as covering our costs on the decorations and advertising we’d paid for.
I am feeling very positive about Halloween 2018 but, in the mean time I going for a lie down!
You can find the lakeside railway website here.
By Jarrod Jones