‘Santa Special’ steams into Whitehead

The no 85 Merlin brought visitors to Whitehead.
The no 85 Merlin brought visitors to Whitehead.

One hundred children and parents boarded the “Santa Special” for a trip to Whitehead by steam train recently.

The trip was organised by the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul (SVP) in association with Whitehead Railway Museum and The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland (RPSI).

A Salvation Army band played Christmas music, giving passengers a festive send-off in Belfast.

Passengers travelled in style in one of the society’s steam locomotives, No. 85 Merlin, built in 1932.

On board, children met Santa and his elves and received a specially chosen Christmas gift.

The visitors were also treated to a tour of Whitehead Railway Museum.

Siobhan Dillon, Whitehead Railway Museum’s general manager, said: “The Santa Special is a wonderful experience for children and families alike. We are grateful to all those involved from the RPSI and respective charities who made this trip a memorable and magical day out.”

Kirsten Hewitt, the Salvation Army’s regional homelessness manager, said: “Christmas is ultimately about love. To bring children and families together is special and we are so grateful to everyone involved, we simply could not do the work we do without the generous support of others.”