Steam Dreams was the brainchild of steam train enthusiast Marcus Robertson, whose mother wrote the Wombles.
“As a child I loved steam travel and always felt it had a magic – making travel exciting and fun. In the mid 1990s when I started taking my children on steam trips I realised that there were many people like me looking to re-live the nostalgia of steam travel. My wife, although enjoying the on board experience, was equally keen on finding an attractive destination and it was this that got me thinking – ‘why not combine the two?’ Steam travel for me, an attractive destination for her and delicious on board meals. With this in mind, the concept of The Cathedrals Express was launched.”
In 2000 the first Cathedrals Express left London for Canterbury. “It was an immediate success” said Marcus Robertson. “Everyone was so enthusiastic and really appreciated the extra touches – like the innovative menus, fresh flowers on the table, the links with the cathedral and the information we produce outlining the route and places of interest to look out for along the way together with information on what to do and see on arrival in the city.
“From there over the next couple of years we worked hard to develop a good range of cities – all with enormous historic interest and within easy reach of London. Our customers voted with their feet – some travelling with us as often as 10 times in a season.”
Find out more about our award-winning customer service here.
Since those early days, the basic principles have remained the same, whilst we continue to strive to bring new itineraries and improve our service wherever possible. For instance, we now offer two classes of dining – Pullman Style and Premier Dining – and our Premium Standard passengers are served tea & coffee at their seats.
Find out more about the service on board here.
We are always looking into new destinations and trying to source different locomotives, while still keeping the essential friendly and personal touches that make The Cathedrals Express so special.
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In addition to the traditional day trips, Steam Dreams started offering 3 and 4 day breaks to Scotland, Cornwall and Wales. They launched Holidays by Steam with the first Cathedrals Explorer 8 day holiday in 2010, and The Emerald Isle Explorer, the first extended steam-hauled excursion around Ireland in modern times, launched in 2015.
Find out more about our holidays here.
The Cathedrals Express was the first rail charter to be carbon neutral and we are proud of our commitment to counteract the damage caused to the environment by our trains. Find out more here.
We hope to see you on one of our trips soon!