The Folk Train

How would you like to go back to the days when train travel was an exciting adventure? Travelling somewhere new, you could watch the scenery, chat to fellow passengers and perhaps meet someone interesting. Put away your phone, what you need is a journey with live music. Where could you find such a phenomenon? Try Sheffield!

Try the 19.14 from Sheffield to Manchester on the fourth Tuesday of the month. It’s not any old train. It’s the Folk Train! Musicians sing and play alongside the crowd of regular commuters and folk music enthusiasts on a good-humoured, friendly journey. I was there in 2009 with a group of student ethnomusicologists*. This was our introduction to fieldwork. The band sang and played to a packed carriage, and when we reached Edale, a village in the Peak District surrounded by lush, green countryside, the musicians, followers and our lot got out and went to the pub. What better way to motivate a bunch of students! 

Folk Train small

The music continued at The Rambler Inn. It was a warm evening and the band played in the open air, a happy throng spilling out of the bar to enjoy the tunes against the backdrop of the hills. At about twenty past nine, we walked the few yards back to the station platform and all piled back on to the train for more music all the way back to Sheffield. What an entertaining introduction to fieldwork and to the music-making of this friendly city.

Folk Train1 small

I would love to go back one day. Does anyone know the name of the band pictured here? Or do you know of any similar musical train journeys? I’d love to hear about them.

So far, I’ve heard about the Buxton Line Blues Train, the Glossop Line Folk Train and the Manchester to Hathersage Folk Train – all running from Manchester Piccadilly. 

* I was studying for the MA in World Music Studies at University of Sheffield. I would recommend this course to anyone wanting flexible part-time study of a wide-range of music. It was great fun too!

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