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The scenic fairy woodland miniature railway which only costs £2.50

‘People ask us what we sell at Brookside and I say we sell smiles.’

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@brookside_miniature_railway / Instagram

A cute miniature railway station close to Greater Manchester has been a popular attraction amongst families for the past 40 years — and its station manager is a TV star.

Brookside Miniature Railway in Poynton now looks even better after a team of volunteers saved it from risk of closure five years ago — giving it the TLC it deserves and a much needed glow-up. A team of railway enthusiasts look after the mini station, tending to the steam trains and tracks, paint it and keep it looking picture perfect for when it opens to welcome visitors every week.

The Cheshire-based attraction is open to the public every Thursday to Sunday and costs just £2.50 to take a ride on the tiny train. The little loco heads out to do its half mile loop of the Brookside Garden Centre where it takes in scenic river views along its route, weaving through tunnels and even passes an original 100-year-old signal box.

The owners have created a fairy garden and kingdom through the woodland to add some extra magic and imagination to the journey, along with a colony of garden gnomes donated by local residents.

Brookside Miniature Railway

The train navigates its way across the Nory Brook as it goes along the Stockport and Cheshire border. And there’s even a local celebrity who is the station manager — band lead Andy Prior who had his own entertainment show on the BBC in the 1990s, called The Andy Prior Big Band.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, retired police officer Chris Mackenzie MBE and Lee Oxley joined forces as the directors of the railway back in 2018. Chris, 62, says: “I’ve always been a railway enthusiast so I always knew about it here, and when we had a young son he loved it, and of course we were there every weekend.

“When we heard it was closing down, there was a public outcry. We decided it was too good to close down, so we formed a local company, a lot of us got together and here’s where we are now a few years later.

“We didn’t realise how run down it was, so a lot of work has gone into it and without the volunteers we wouldn’t be where we are now.”

Brookside Miniature Railway

During lockdown the team took the opportunity to repaint it all, while the garden centre, now owned by Klondyke & Strikes, helped in providing materials too. Chris said: “The general community here have been brilliant. It’s how to run a railway, with a lot of volunteers and not much money and a community behind you.

“One of the things we created to make it interesting all the way around was a magical fairy wood. People donated gnomes, we got a load of fairies and spent a lot of time making it. Wives will come along and ‘donate’ their husbands to help out!

“Only a couple of months ago a widow donated a shed to us, so we transformed that into a signal box and painted it in red and cream it looks lovely now.” Dozens of volunteers help out to maintain the railway and man the trains and generally make it a lovely time for all involved.”

Brookside Miniature Railway

Local celebrity and station manager, Andy Prior, gamely dresses up for the themed events at the railway, which include special Santa trains at Christmas and an Easter egg hunt over Easter.

He told The Manchester Evening News: “People ask us what we sell at Brookside and I say we sell smiles. It’s aimed at families and that’s why we have the fairy wood and pirates and that sort of thing, just to make it that bit more magical.

“It was in a pretty derelict state when we took it on, I’ve always been involved in railways and trains all my life. A lot of kids know me as Andy the train manager now. I train all the drivers. Sometimes I’ll be driving, sometimes I’m train guard taking the platform tickets — I’m pretty hands on.”

Brookside Miniature Railway

The sit-in carriages are each named after volunteer’s family members and even Chris’ beloved pet dog that sadly died called Daisy. They’ve also just invested in a new loco called Graeme — for which the naming ceremony is set to take place in the next few weeks.

The station also features a gift shop, which includes a range of Thomas the Tank Engine toys and ice creams. There’s also an original signal box that came from Aughton Road near Southport. Staff have worked hard to repair and restore the historic building, although little of the signal works in the top floor survives. 

The railway is open weekly from Thursday to Sunday, and also on bank holidays. Opening times are 10.30am to 4pm.

Tickets are £2.50 for adults and children aged over two. You can also buy 10 rides for £25.00 and get an extra two rides for free. You can find out more on the Brookside Miniature Railway website.

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Hot Wheels interactive experience hosting its first-ever European event in Trafford

This will be mint!

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Hot Wheels City Experience

A Hot Wheels interactive experience is coming to Trafford Park this summer, the first time the event has ever taken place in Europe.

Coming from Live Nation, BeFUN, and Mattel, the Hot Wheels City Experience is heading to the B.E.C Arena in Trafford Park this August, making its European debut as it brings the legendary toy cars to life.

Spanning a series of immersive stations and interactive activities, the event will have something for families and devoted collectors alike.

Hot Wheels City Experience

The 6,000 square metre experience will let fans step through a nostalgic and educational journey consisting of 10 stations, including a design centre, immersive museum, playground, gamer zone and Hot Wheels Lab.

Fans will go on a journey through the colourful world of Hot Wheels, starting with an introductory video which will take a deep dive into the history and culture of the brand.

Luís França / Hot Wheels City Experience

The next station features an immersive museum and expo where visitors will get to see the best of the Hot Wheels collections – including graphics with the history of Hot Wheels, classic arts of the brand, and the Hot Wheels legendary life-sized cars. 

There’s also the Gamer Zone, where gamers can show off their skills, the Design Centre, where the latest technology is used to introduce colour and graphic projection onto virtual cars, and a Digital ‘build your car’ and painting workshop where fans can create and have their work emailed to them or projected on the walls.

Hot Wheels City Experience

Lastly, the Hot Wheels Lab will let guests play with the most popular Hot Wheels toys, including giant tracks and pre-built racecourses – with the opportunity to win prizes.

The Hot Wheels City Experience opens its doors on August 13th and runs until September 12th 2024, with presale tickets launching at 10am next Wednesday, April 24th – sign up for pre-sale HERE.

On-sale tickets will be available at 10am on April 26th, starting from £27.50 for adults and £22.50 for children – head here for more info.

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Epic indoor inflatable park reopens with huge new ball pit filled with nearly half a million balls

Take advantage of the discount while it’s still available

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@inflatanation / Instagram & Inflata Nation

A Greater Manchester indoor inflatable park has reopened after a revamp revealing the addition of a huge new ball pit filled with nearly half a million balls.

Inflata Nation has reopened its doors in Trafford Park after undergoing a renovation, revealing some exciting new features for visitors to enjoy.

If you’re wondering what you can do to keep the kids entertained, why not take them to this newly upgraded indoor park?

Inflata Nation

An incredible blue ball pit filled with 418,000 balls looks like an ocean as it floods the open space. Other new features include the epic double tipping slide, a ballcano, ball pit blasters and obstacle courses.

The park has also upgraded its mini arena, which is exclusively for children under four.

Packed with ball pits and engaging soft play activities, this area offers sensory stimulation and opportunities for cognitive development, tailored specifically for the little ones, the park says.

@inflatanation / Instagram

Since opening back in 2017, the site has attracted thousands of visitors looking for fun-packed family days out. 

Visitors have jumped into its ball pits, bounced on its inflatables and dived down its slides, where they’ve enjoyed plenty of fun and laughter that has brought them back time and time again.

Tickets for Inflata Nation Manchester cost £13.99 for visitors aged four and above and £6.99 for under fours. You can add an extra hour for £8.50 and £3.50 respectively. The park is also offering 15% discount of all visits when booked in advance online until April 17th.

To get the discount simply head to the booking panel on the website, choose the location, complete your details and enter the correct discount code at checkout. For Manchester use the code: EASTERMANC. For discount on bookings and more information, click HERE.

Inflata Nation Manchester is located on Textilose Road, Trafford Park, Manchester, M17 1WA. 

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Charity pop-up with up to 70% off designer clothes coming to King Street

Funds will be used to help women looking for employment support

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Smart Works Greater Manchester

A sustainable charity fashion pop-up is coming to Manchester’s King Street this month.

The pop-up marks the first event as part of a new concept ‘King Street Presents’ and will feature some of the best and newest names in fashion including the likes of Adanola, Barbour, Nobody’s Child, Pretty Lavish, Rixo, Saint & Sofia, Whistles and more.

Shoppers can enjoy up to 70% off items with all proceeds raised being donated to the female-founded charity, Smart Works.

Smart Works Greater Manchester

Smart Works Greater Manchester can be found at 35 King Street from Thursday, April 18th to Saturday 20th, with its sustainable fashion pop-up shop, selling brand new high street, designer and pre-loved clothing and accessories.

The pop-up will raise vital funds to support Smart Works’ two Greater Manchester centres, in Manchester city centre and Stockport.

The team will also be on hand to provide advice and guidance on how to access their free services to any women looking for support in finding employment and preparing for job interviews.

During its time on King Street, Smart Works will share the postcode with its roster of high- profile tenants which include; GAIL’s artisan bakery, The White Company, El Gato Negro restaurant and vintage football shirt hotspot, Stunner, to name just a few.

Smart Works Greater Manchester

Thomas Royston, director at DTZ Investors, said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Smart Works Greater Manchester to King Street. At its core is a female founder on a purpose-led mission to make a difference to women. 

“For them to choose King Street as their platform for reaching and showcasing their offering and commitment to women across Manchester is a testament to the reputation this now renowned street has developed in recent years. 

“As part of our ongoing ESG policy we will be continuing to work with a selection of exclusive brands throughout 2024 to take up pop-up stores in currently vacant units on the street, enriching the retailer experience for visitors and giving a physical presence to out of area and online brands.”

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