Find out when and where Puffing Billy engine will visit as it takes tour of towns and villages in lead up to Christmas

Christmas is on its way – and so is Puffing Billy as the engine takes to the streets so Santa and his elves can visit towns and villages in the lead up to December 25.

Thursday, 7th November 2019, 4:00 pm
The engine pictured on tour last year.

The road train was built by businessman Ian Morrell in tribute to the one he remembered from his visit to Butlin’s in Filey as a youngster.

Created in 2012, it first toured communities the next year, with each festive time becoming bigger and better than the last.

This year, Father Christmas, Mrs Claus and nine elves will be on board as it sets out on its nine-date tour, with Papa Elf ready to take the wheel.

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Families will be able to use an app to track the tour this year so that they can make the most of the event.

One again, the celebrations will help boost the funds of the children’s heart unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where Ian’s grandson Caden, now eight, had open-heart surgery when he was just two-months-old.

This year’s book, published to accompany the tour and to also help raise cash for the ward, is called Puffing Billy and Wicked Santa, with the book written and illustrated by Swin Tempest, with each book £3 and two editions available for £5.

This year there will be a free app, which people can download so they can track the route to save fans from standing outside for long periods.

The details of exactly where it will go will be released soon, with the plans put together after consultation with police and councils.

Santa Claus and Mrs Clause will be taking a trip out on Puffing Billy once again this year.

It has said it will not be able to stop for large groups, with pauses planned for designated following conversations with the authorities to keep people safe.

Jolene Brumby is Ian’s daughter and helps bring together the plans.

She said: “It’s lush and I’m in the lead vehicle so can see people all waiting and can see all the kids and parents screaming and waving to the elves.

“Puffing Billy has got a big following now.

“Every year we get better at it and it gets bigger.

“We’ve brought out the tracker app to make it easier for people to see where we are and so they can follow us on the map.”

The tour dates, arranged with the support of Ian’s company, the South Hetton-based North East Mobility Warehouse, are:

Sunday, December 8

Haswell, Haswell Plough, Ludworth, Thornley, Trimdon Grange, Trimdon Village, Trimdon Colliery and Wheatley Hill

Monday, December 9

South Hetton, Peterlee, Horden, Easington Colliery, Easington Village

Tuesday, December 10

Easington Lane, Hetton, Houghton, Burnside, Newbottle, Hall Lane Estate, Rainton Bridge, East Rainton and West Rainton

Wednesday, December 11

Murton, Seaham, Dawdon, Parkside, Dalton-le-Dale and Hawthorn

Thursday, December 12

Pittington, Sherburn Village, Gilesgate, Durham, Pity Me, Newton Hall, Waldridge, Chester-le-Street and Great Lumley

Monday, December 16

Hartlepool, Blackhall Colliery, Blackhall Rocks, Hesleden, Wingate and Shotton Colliery

Tuesday, December 17

Hetton, Herrington , Barnwell, Penshaw, Shiney Row, Biddick Woods, Bournmoor and Fencehouses

Wednesday, December 18

Ryhope, Tunstall, Farringdon, Grindon, Pennywell, Barnes, Hendon, Sunderland city centre, Roker, Stadium of Light area, Southwick, Hylton Castle and Castletown

Thursday, December 19

Fatfield, Rickleton, Oxclose, Lambton, Blackfell, Usworth, Concord, Albany, Washington Village and Fatfield.