While trainspotting is less popular these days than it was in the golden era of steam, it's still a hobby for as many as 100,000 people across the UK. It takes dedication - and stout clothes, as standing about for hours on a railway platform certainly isn't for the faint-hearted.
But some lucky people get to enjoy their hobby from the comfort of their own home: we look at seven houses perfect for rail fans.
Combe Florey, Somerset
You couldn't get closer to the West Somerset Steam Railway than this - the track runs right past at head height, making for some surreal views. And this four-bedroom house comes with a two-bed barn conversion, so there's plenty of space for train-spotting friends. It's a lovely old stone house, Grade II listed, and there's a beautiful south-facing garden. It costs £585,000 through Purple Bricks.
Monks Close, Cornwall
Trains haven't run through Old Luckett Station since 1966 - which is probably a good thing, as the station-house itself faces a leisure complex, created from the old waiting room and ticket office, across the tracks. The four-bedroom house is immaculately presented, and the leisure complex houses an indoor heated swimming pool as well as a sauna, spa bath and shower room/WC. There are several other outbuildings in the two and a half acres of land, and lovely views across Dartmoor and the Cornish countryside. The house costs £695,000 through Purple Bricks.
It won't be finished until July, but this two-bedroom duplex apartment is just yards from King's Cross and St Pancras stations. It consists of an open-plan reception with contemporary fitted kitchen and large master bedroom with access to a private terrace, as well as a second bedroom with access to outside space, luxury family bathroom and guest WC. Close to Eurostar, it would make the perfect pied-a-terre for the European train traveller with £1,150,000 to spare; it's available from My London Home.
A 170-yard light railway track winds its way round the garden of 1920s farmhouse Lea Rig - 'a relic back to the passions of a previous owner', say agents Hamptons. The six-bedroom detached house is centered around an octagonal hall, and there are three further reception rooms plus a study. For those wishing to commute via rather larger trains, Taplow station is just a short walk away. There's an asking price of £1,450,000.
"Whether you are a train enthusiast or looking for a mixed residential or commercial investment which could produce an income of over £20,000 per annum this is your chance to buy a piece of North Wales & railway history," say agents Auction House North West. For a guide price of £125,000, you'll get Penmaenmawr Station itself, which is on the main Euston to Holyhead line with 20 trains stopping there each day. On the ground floor, there's a chunk of retail space, and there's a three-bed flat above, It's up for auction on 18 May.
The attic room takes up most of the top floor of this period house, and has a large working Hornby railway running all the way round. There's a fitted cupboard - though the railway currently runs right through it. The railway can be removed, or sold separately. There are another two bedrooms, a brand new kitchen diner, and the house is just minutes from the beach. It costs £725,000 from iMove Estates.
This last property is purely a commercial proposition - but it'd be easy enough to find somewhere to live nearby. Transport Models was founded in 1989 and turns over around £771,000, with a gross profit of around 33%. There's over £400,000 worth of good quality stock at cost value, including model railways, collectable diecast and plastic soldiers. It's up for sale for £100,000 through agents Hilton Smythe Commercial.
10 things that add value to homes in an area
10 things that add value to homes in an area
A view out over the park isn’t just a nice bonus, it’s a valuable asset. A study by Marsh & Parsons has found that a park view can add up to 10% to a property's asking price.
It carried out its research in London, where it found that a view over Warwick Square in Pimlico added £75,000 to the asking price of a one-bedroom apartment.
Understandably, this is largely a London phenomenon, where the vast majority of train-based commuting takes place in the UK.
The Nationwide Building Society found that being 500m from a station would add 10.5% to the value of a property in London. In Manchester it fetched a 4.6% premium and in Glasgow 6%.
The researchers found that the closer the property was, the higher the premium would be - until the proximity of the station started having an impact on the area itself.
Having a Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer or the Co-operative within striking difference, will add value to your property. In fact, a survey by Lloyds claimed that it would add 7% - or just over £15,000.
However, apparently what we all really want is a Waitrose, because the same study found that having a branch nearby added almost £39,000 - or 12% to the value of the property.
The way the survey was carried out, however, doesn't make it clear whether this is a reflection of the attraction of the supermarket itself, or whether the supermarkets tend to target affluent areas with expensive houses.
People will pay 12% more to live in a market town than they will for the same property in the surrounding countryside. The findings come from Lloyds Bank, which claimed the towns offered a balance between country life and community spirit that proved irresistible to buyers.
It added that in some market towns the mark-up was even larger, with Beaconsfield in the South East attracting a 156% premium over the surrounding area.
A study by the London School of Economics found that living in a conservation area adds 23% to the value of your home. Given that this was an academic study, the researchers went even further and adjusted the results based on the kinds of properties in the area, and other aspects of the location (which none of the other studies took into consideration), and it still found an uplift of 9%.
Being near a good school will add 28% to the value of your home - according to Savills - with parents calculating that it’s cheaper to move into the catchment area of a good school and pay anything up to £100,000 more for their property than fork out for years of extortionate private education.
A study a few years ago by Zoopla discovered that living on a road with ‘Hill’ or ‘Lane’ in its name meant your property was likely to be 50% more valuable than the national average.
Those with ‘Mews’, ‘Park’ and 'Green’ in their names were also more valuable.
It’s unlikely that there’s any element of cause and effect here: instead they are by-products of the same thing. Expensive houses have always been built in the more exclusive parts of town, including the hills and the quiet ‘lanes’ around those hills.
A survey by Primelocation claimed that being near a top golf course would add 56% to the value of your property. It added that prices were also rising faster near golf courses than elsewhere in the country.
Of course, there’s a chance that the results were impacted by the fact that many of the courses are in leafy and exclusive areas, where people pay a premium to live regardless of the course.
You’d have thought the threat of flooding would make people take to the hills, but it appears we’re still happy to pay a premium to be beside the sea.
The Knight Frank Waterfront Index found that overlooking an estuary adds an average of 85% to the price of a property, a harbour adds 83%, while the coastline in general adds 56% to the value of the property. If you have a mooring, that’s even better, as it adds 104% to the value of your home.
Despite all the bad press surrounding flood plains and rivers breaking their banks, being near a river is actually more valuable than being by the sea.
The Knight Frank Waterside Index claims it adds 57% to the value of your property - making it the most valuable asset to have in the neighbourhood.