The Churnet Valley Railway is once again readying itself for action with another nostalgic journey, as Staffordshire’s Little Switzerland gets transported back to the 1940s for one of the line’s biggest crowd-pullers – the annual war event which takes place for the 19th consecutive year over the weekend of 30th of September and 1st of October.
Following its successful rebranding as “War in the Valley” last year, 2017 will see a further development of the event. After their popular debut last year, the North-West Military Collectors will be returning to showcase both Allied and Axis forces throughout the weekend, before they descend on Froghall each day to play out a live battle re-enactment.
Froghall will be the focal point of the event, with entertainment being provided by the hugely talented Paul Harper, and supported by all the favourites from last year Brandyn Shaw, Don Gentile & the Victory Girls dance troupe. Each act will be performing at various times during the weekend, with an inclusive Evening show on Saturday as well.
For the duration of the event, Consall will be disturbed from its usual tranquil retreat, as Axis Forces take a stronghold. A combined NWMC and South Staffordshire Living History Group force will be present to check tickets, and root out any spies trying return information to Froghall.
At Cheddleton, life on the home front is to once again be recreated with the CVR’s own education team playing out the life of Dorothy Ryder – the daughter of Cheddleton Stationmaster who lived in the station from 1941 and left her memories behind in the diary she kept during the war. Additionally the education team will be providing a rationing exhibition, taken from their hugely popular Evacuee Days that are offered to local schools during the year. There will also be a Women's Land Army display courtesy of the Notts & Derby branch, explaining the significance of the contribution women made to efforts on the home front. The home front theme will be complimented by a display of period vehicles that could be seen across Britain during the wars, whilst the RAF Association will be in attendance once again. A Live Radio Show will be broadcast from Cheddleton to keep everyone informed of the war efforts, and keep an eye out for the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who is expected to make appearances throughout the weekend.
On the railway there will be a full timetable of heritage passenger trains along Staffordshire’s Premier heritage railway, including the recreation of a military goods - transporting Military vehicles on railway wagons to assist with the war effort. “War in the Valley brought a new twist to an already popular event,” says Jon Kerr, one of the events coordinators. “Last year was the first Forties event I’ve assisted with, and so this year we’ve set about trying to enhance what we achieved in 2016 and make it bigger and better where we can”.
The main event gets underway at 10.15am with the departure of the first train, as steam and diesel trains provide a trip down memory lane for some passengers whilst offering a history lesson for others. The live entertainers at Froghall will commence from 11am, and keep everyone singing and dancing until 5pm. On Saturday Evening a live show will begin from 5pm, with the UK’s no1 Vera Lynn Tribute Act – Lorrie Brown. She will be performing her award winning show from 6pm, before Paul Harper returns with his ENSA Radio Show from 8pm alongside Brandyn Shaw, Don Gentile & the Victory Girls. A bar serving a selection of real ales and spirits will be open at Froghall, and Froghall tearooms will be offering an extended evening menu until 9pm. Evening Only tickets are available at £5 per person, and a late night steam service will be in operation, allowing residents to let the train take the strain whilst offering an alternative night out.
No booking is required for this family favourite, though a discount is offered on advance tickets online. A 50% discount is available on daytime tickets to all those who turn up in period costume, and Entrance to Froghall station will be restricted to ticket holders only for the duration of this event. For more information call 01538 750755 or check either of the Railway’s website or Facebook pages.