ONE of the region’s most popular visitor attractions, Barnards Farm, has announced that is to remain closed for the foreseeable future – though it hopes it may be able to open for its popular Santa Express events in December.
Barnards, off Brentwood Road (A128) near West Horndon, is a much-loved local place to visit and features several attractions including its well-kept gardens which are managed in part by volunteers.
A statement by Barnards Farm says: “Since this Covid-19 Pandemic started we have been closely watching the Government's advice, reading their guidelines and watching what has been going on in other nations.
“Sadly, we have now taken the tough decision to confirm that there will be no garden open days for the rest of the season. The gardens will remain closed for the remainder of 2020. We will continue to monitor and review the situation as we go through the winter months with a view of opening up again in 2021.
“Those with season tickets that expire in 2020 should please email [email protected] if you haven't already done so and we will extend them to expire in 2021 instead.
“We are now focussing our attention on trying to work out if it is possible to put some events on at Christmas for the children in terms of the Santa Express. It would definitely not be the same as previous years because of social distancing but we are working through what could be achieved within the current guidelines and estimating where the guidelines might be by the time December comes.
“These thoughts are at a very early stage and will be constantly subject to change as new guidance and advice comes out. We thank you for your understanding, for staying home and helping to save lives.”
However, while the doors may be closed the work at Barnards goes on and the garden are being maintained.
To keep supports of the site up to day Barnards has been featuring the work of some of its volunteers.
The latest is Carol who has been volunteering at Barnards for 10 years coming twice a week.
Barnards’ pays tribute to her online saying: “When she joined the volunteers at Barnards she was offered the garden that you can see her watering. 'Oh my word' she thought when she went to look at it because the whole area was full of ivy and wild garlic.
“However, she took it on and set about the job and she has transformed it. Now her section of the garden is full of colour. Thank you Carol, we appreciate you.” You can enjoy some of the pictures from the section of garden in our gallery (above).
And the work also continues to improve and upgrade Barnards’ miniature railway.
Anyone who is missing it this summer may enjoy this short video.
The railway also has a new train arriving at Barnards next week.
'Daisy' is a replica class 101 diesel multiple unit., the type seen all over the country working branch lines and local services from the 1950s right up to the 2000s.
She was built by Mardyke Railways in Rainham in 1980 and then was stored for 30 odd years before she was restored and a second coach build for her by a group in Chesterfield.
A Barnards spokesperson said: “It was very appropriate that when she came up for sale that she returns to a few miles from where she was born. Daisy will give rides once we re-open next year in between our main trains. We are already planning to add capacity by adding new carriages between her end cars.”