Santa by train!

Round & About

Christmas Oxfordshire

Why not enjoy a magical journey on the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway through the south Oxfordshire countryside and visit Santa in his grotto?

A dedicated group of steam-powered volunteers are ready and waiting to take you on a heritage train ride on this rural branch line, first opened in 1866.

Known locally as “The Bunk”, its passenger services ceased in 1959. Having secured the line in 1981, the CWR Preservation Society now aims to enhance the facilities that the railway offers and to improve the Wallingford site.

Running through the beautiful countryside, the line links the historic riverside town of Wallingford with GWR trains at Cholsey. You can travel on the 1950s coaches, hauled by one of the diesel locomotives or by a visiting steam engine.

On your journey, look out for Cholsey Church, where Agatha Christie is buried, and perhaps spot the magnificent red kites soaring above. If you want to make a day of it as a family, a 10-minute walk away you will find castle ruins, the museum and shops, restaurants and pubs. Trains run on selected weekends and bank holidays throughout the year and, where available, are steam hauled.

Enjoy Santa specials on the train on 8th & 9th, 15th & 16th and 22nd & 23rd December.

Pre-booked tickets cost £10 for adults and £7 for children (aged between two and 15), under-twos £5. Every child gets a gift from Santa and there’s a mince pie and hot fruit drink for all adults.

Dick Whittington star: Oxford Playhouse panto

Round & About

Christmas Oxfordshire

Ricky Oakley, who stars as Dick Whittington in this year’s Oxford Playhouse pantomime, chats to Peter Anderson.

Q. How did you get into acting and who were your inspirations?

A: “I remember I was told I should be an actor by my Nan because each week while I was growing up I decided I wanted to do a different job; these included vet, prime minster, a doctor, a builder and a vicar… She told me I should be an actor then I could play at all those professions instead. I don’t think she actually expected me to become one. My inspirations are quite old school – Norman Wisdom and Laurel and Hardy; psychical comedians who are universally hilarious.”

Q. What was the first pantomime you remember seeing, and where?

A: “I remember it was back in Birmingham I was only a kid so I can’t remember exactly where. It was Peter Pan and it was brill.”

Q. What was your first panto role?

A: “My first role was here at the Oxford Playhouse playing Jack in last year’s Jack & the Beanstalk.”

Q. What do you enjoy about playing panto?

“It’s genuinely the most fun I’ve had in rehearsals and on stage. It’s also the hardest work I’ve done as an actor. You’re up dead early and warming up for the 10am show then a bit of a break before you’re on to the second of the day.”

Q. Is there a role on your wish list you would love to play one Christmas?

“Oh there’s loads but I’d love to have a go at Scrooge one day… But I’m a more like to be Tiny Tim right now.”

Q. Which places in Oxford are you looking forward to visiting in when you are not on stage?

A: “Last year I felt like I only explored around the theatre because I didn’t make much use of my time off but this year I think I’m going to do some walking tours and venture a bit further than Tesco’s.”

•     Dick Whittington and His Cat is on at Oxford Playhouse from Friday, 23rd November until Sunday, 6th January. Tickets start at £10; call the box office on 01865 305305 or visit