102-year-old Coventry woman rides Santa’s Vintage Sleigh as part of four generations in Transport Museum visit

This weekend four generations of the same family led by a 102-year-old great-grandmother rode Coventry’s famous Vintage Santa Sleigh Ride.

May Chinnock was joined by son Colin, daughter-in-law Viv, as well as their children and grandchildren, at the city’s Transport Museum on Saturday (9 December).

Remarkably, May has been going on the ride since the 1950s, taking Colin when he was a little boy. She then took her grandchildren 35 years later. 

May, 102, said: “I can’t believe I’m here after all these years. I’ve been so excited, it has been wonderful.

“I remember taking my boy on when he was little, he’s not little anymore!

“I used to take the grandchildren too so now to also go on with the great-grandchildren as well is lovely.” 

Viv, May’s daughter in law, said: “It’s been brilliant, we’ve loved it. It was faster than I remembered!

“It’s also smaller than I remembered but I suppose that’s because I was smaller.”

Colin, May’s son, said: “It hasn’t lost any of its magic at all. It is so different to anything else and I think its simplicity really just makes it all the more magical.

“You only have to look at the faces of the children while they’re on the ride to see it is just as magical now as it’s always been.”

The sleigh ride was one of dozens commissioned by the Co-Op in 1956 to make visits to Santa accessible to more children, with the mechanical rides put in stores across the country.

When Coventry’s Corporations Street Co-Op closed in 2015, the Sleigh was saved thanks to a campaign from BBC CWR, which saw it rehomed at the Transport Museum.

Almost 70 years on from the Sleigh’s conception, the Coventry ride is believed to be the only working one still in use.

Kath Healion, Operations Manager for CV Life, the organisation that runs the Transport Museum, said: “We’re so happy we’ve been able to host May and her family at the Museum. We really hope the whole family had a fantastic time.

“The Sleigh is a huge festive Coventry tradition which means so much to the people of the city. Part of the reason for that is its longevity and I think someone like May, who has been coming on the ride for almost 70 years, really highlights that.” 

Tickets for the Sleigh are still available before Christmas – you can book your slot here.