This place is really so gobsmackingly amazing, it’s definitely a MUST-GO, MUST-SEE (note the capitals) kind of destination!
And not just for train-lovers either. For anyone. And especially for anyone who has grown up with Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends. Which is pretty much everyone today in the UK, either with the original Railway Series books (26 written by the Rev. Wilbert Awdry from 1945-72, and a further 16 written by his son, Christopher Awdry – 14 between 1983 and 1996, and 2 more in 2007 and 2011) or through the TV series, Thomas and Friends from 1984 onwards. In the stories, the engines have their own roundhouse where all the engines live. Well, Taiwan has its own real live version of the Thomas the Tank Engine Roundhouse ~ welcome to the Changhua Roundhouse in central Taiwan…
First you must check out this wonderful article about the Changhua Roundhouse on the very excellent Synapticism website – the author (Alexander Synaptic) has done a lot of homework, so you’ll find all the information there, and I quote:
‘One of the most unique attractions in Taiwan 台灣 is the historic Changhua Roundhouse 彰化扇形車庫, originally built in 1922 during Japanese colonial rule and still in operation today. Although information is hard to come by it seems that it might be the only roundhouse still operating in Asia—and certainly one of the oldest still in regular use anywhere in the world. Every other roundhouse I researched for this article has been abandoned, demolished, repurposed, or converted into a museum, and those rare few that are still operational have been mighty hard to date. As such, the Changhua Roundhouse is a dream to visit for a railway enthusiast like myself, particularly since the ambiance hasn’t been ruined by the sort of tacky treatment you’ll often find at Taiwanese tourist attractions….. This roundhouse is one of six that were built in Taiwan 台灣 in Japanese times; others were once found in Taipei, Hsinchu, and Chiayi 嘉義, with two more in Kaohsiung. Like most of the others this roundhouse is semicircular – hence the name in Chinese, 扇形車庫, which translates to “fan-shaped train garage”.’
So I’ve known about the Changhua Roundhouse for years, after all, you pass it if you’re heading north out of Changhua on a train, but it’s gone from view in a flash, and I never knew it could be visited, nor that it was still being used.
On Saturday I had the chance to go to visit, along with hundreds of others. It is very very popular with families, groups, young couples, old people, everyone!
Entry is free, just sign in the visitors book. There’s even a 2-floor viewing tower. And photo opportunities galore!
While we were there, a train was being driven in and out of its shed to be inspected. The turntable was not used that day, but it’s clearly well-used.
There was plenty to see, including an old black steam train sitting on the left side….
And plenty of others, all orange!
Some getting inspected….
And others just taking it easy…..
Plus an empty shed or two….
Ah, yes, it’s a great place to visit – it’s real history still in action, and so much fun! Definitely Changhua’s most interesting destination, and so easy to get to. And free! Must-go, must-see as soon as possible!
A big thank you to my friend En-Yu, who lives nearby and who met me at the train station and took me there, along with her daughter. Afterwards, the next place to visit is the nearby iced dou-hua stall (temps were in the 30’s, so iced anything was very welcome!), followed by all the local Changhua delicacies, all within walking distance!