The UK’s most popular narrow gauge railway is celebrating after its trains clocked up one million kilometers – 84 years after it opened.
The trains have been taking up to 200,000 passengers a year on a 2,066 metre journey around Wicksteed Park, Kettering, since 1931.
The one million kilometer milestone will be reached 219metres into journey number 484,026 – due to leave the park station on Thursday December 4.
The trip will be completed as part of the park’s festive train attraction, with the diesel locomotives taking passengers on a ride around the lake to see a host of beautiful hand-crafted lanterns, decorated trees and floating lights.
The railway at Wicksteed Park was built by founder Charles Wicksteed, the inventor of the modern day slide and swing, as part of his vision to improve families’ health and well-being.
He decided to build a railway following on from the success of his early rides and attractions and the first two engines (named King Arthur and Lady of the Lake) and their carriages were ordered on September 24 1930.
It was first opened at Easter 1931 but Charles became ill and died on March 19, having never seen his beloved railway in operation.
One of the original trains – King Arthur – still operates on the railway to this day although is mostly used for maintenance tasks rather than carrying passengers.
The trains run for much of the year and can complete four trips an hour during the summer months, taking up to 90 passengers at a time.
Wicksteed Park managing director Alasdair McNee said: “The railway has been an iconic part of the park for generations and is becoming ever more popular with adults and children alike.
“To this day the park holds true to Charles Wicksteed’s ethos of inspiring young people to make the most of its amazing green spaces and enjoy play as part of a fit and healthy lifestyle.
“The railway, which runs through the heart of the park, is the perfect demonstration of that and it is fitting that the milestone is reached during our Festive Train rides, which are a new way of encouraging families to get our into the fresh air and enjoy the whole of the park throughout the year.”