Joe’s Gigantic Track Challenge

For those who are not aware, we have recently had a helping hand from a young man named Joe. With a little help from his mum and the rest of the family, Joe set about raising funds for both Summerfields and Riverside Railways to help them through the lean times of the Covid-19 Pandemic. So came about “Joe’s Gigantic Track Challenge(go to to see more on this ). The result of which was a significant donation to Club funds, which were very gratefully received.

Now, as you might have guessed, Joe is not only mad about trains, but he is also our biggest fan. He and his family are regular visitors and Joe has celebrated his birthday with us several times. So, we thought, how could we do something by way of a “thank you” for his hard work? That question was resolved with the imminent arrival of a pair of new carriages which we had ordered back in the heady days of the pre-Covid era – we could ask Joe and his family to be the first passengers. Better still, with the new coaches sporting a new blue livery, we had the opportunity to make a change and have one altered to a Pullman style.

Joe’s gigantic track.

The carriages only arrived on the Wednesday before our first public running of 2020 and needed some adjusting and running-in turns so we could not put them into service straightaway. However, when we realised that Joe’s Grandma had booked the last train of the day on Wednesday 29th we just had to get organised! A word with Joe’s mum meant that not only did we have Joe, his sister Florrie and Grandma with us, but Mum, Grandad and Great Grandma came along too.

Ensuring that Lewis was the first loco released from service trains that afternoon, we sent most of the family off with our Secretary on Bertie with the instruction to only return when buzzed for (Great Grandma understandably opted out of the train rides). In the meantime, the new coaches were assembled behind Lewis at Haynes End on platform 3 whilst the other two remaining service trains arrived and were disposed of. All was now ready with the “SMR” and the new Pullman logo covered with tablecloths borrowed from the Buffet. Time to summon Bertie!   

On their arrival, we had to make sure that Joe was properly attired, presenting him with a Club T-shirt which he couldn’t wait to get into – to much applause and kind words of thanks from the family. Joe was then asked to unveil the second coach of the train (the one with the standard SMR lettering) – again much applause and delight. Then came the last unveiling, Joe pulled back the covering and could not believe his eyes – our first ever Pullman car “JOE” was revealed. Cheers and sounds of amazement and delight, and even one or two moist eyes, followed! 

Unveiling over, the family boarded “JOE” with our illustrious Chairman acting as guard on the carriage behind (suitably distanced of course) and with Allen Fisher in the driving seat, Lewis departed for another trip around the railway. To quote Joe’s mum, it was “Potentially the best day in Joe’s life.”.

The whole event was captured by the lens of a professional photographer, Clare Davis, who generously provided her services free of charge. A gallery of the photographs can be found hereopens in a new tab.