SANTA's Christmas preparations have built up a full head of steam.

Santa Special trains are running on the East Lancashire Railway, and hundreds of youngsters enjoyed return trips between Bury's Bolton Street Station and Ramsbottom.

And they were also running on the miniature railway in Moss Bank Park, Bolton, at the weekend.

Father Christmas handed out a few early presents to youngsters in the carriages of the East Lancashire Railway train, which will be running six-hour trips each Saturday and Sunday until December 23.

Santa was also helping ELR with its fundraising campaign for the Bury Transport Museum by organising the sale of chalking slates at £8.50 - plus £1.50 for postage and packing.

Each one represents a roof slate for the Castlecroft Goods Shed which needs to be completely refurbished to house the new museum.

Meanwhile, in Moss Bank Park, tots munched on mince pies as they hopped on board the Yuletide trains.

Children wrapped up against the cold and got into the festive spirit by taking a trip on the miniature railway to visit Father Christmas as he finished making presents in his Toyland workshop. Each child received a present.

Little Dominic Eastwood, aged three, from Walkden, said: "It was fun."

His mum, Janet, added: "It's great for the kids. We've really enjoyed it."

William Clowes, aged two, from Breightmet, met Santa with his granddad, Geoffrey Clowes, who said: "He thinks it's brilliant, he loves trains."

There were also fairground rides, while children were able to try their hand at making winter bird feeders and Christmas cards.

Meanwhile, mums and dads got to warm up with free mince pies, mulled wine and hot chestnuts.

Pelin Klajic, from Great Lever, who was with her daughter, Layla, aged five, said: "It's been great and the children have loved it. Layla has been very excited."

Anne Horridge, from Bolton, who took her granddaughter Lauren, aged four, to see Santa, said: "She's having a great time.

"She's been on everything and she told Santa three times that she wants a hamster, a doll and a pram."

The event was organised by Bolton Council with the Moss Bank Park Model Engineering Society.