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The Lost Co-op Sleighs

02 December 2016

The story so far...

We know there were more sleighs around the UK located in Santa's grotto's in Co-operative department stores from the 1950's to the present day. 
We think the sleigh at Coventry Transport Museum may be the last mechanical vintage sleigh in operation in the country. 
Below are images and archive materials we have gathered so far. 

If you have any pictures, videos or memories related to the sleigh, it's staff or even the people that made the ride we'd love to hear from you!

Post to: Sleigh Ride Appeal, Coventry Transport Museum, Millennium Place, Hales Street, Coventry CV1 1JD,

E-mail to:

or using the hashtag #SleighMemories share on

Twitter @CovTM  Facebook /CovTM or Instagram @CovTM

Your memories, photographs and our research are forming the Co-Op sleigh archive. Scroll through below. 

Image from Vanessa Howard at the Coventry Co-op Sleigh
Image from Sandra Jeffrey: York Co-operative Santa
York Co-operative Department Store- Super Rides on Santa
Co-operative Society News: Staff Magazine
Image: Anne Baker 1963, Coventry
Image: Alan Aldrich - our volunteer!


" I'm so glad someone has decided to try and find these sleigh rides. I was born in 1971 so grew up in the 70's and 80's. Our local Co Op in Kidderminster, Worcestershire had one of these, and I've often told my children about it and wished they could have had the experience. I remember so vividly waiting in the long queue on the stairs, so excited and asking my mother ' how long now'. Eventually at the front of the queue we would go through a door, step into the sleigh, Christmas carols playing, there was so much to see and I adored the reindeer pulling the sleigh. I remember sitting down and the wintery, Christmassy scenery rushing by. And in front the reindeer flying and swaying through the pitch black night sky and feeling a gentle breeze. I can't remember if the sleigh rocked. sadly when the ride ended you would leave by a different door to collect your present from Father Christmas in the grotto. Sorry for rambling on, but it is one of my fondest Christmas memories, so magical and just wonderful. Deep in my heart, I really do hope the sleigh from Kidderminster was not destroyed and it's being stored somewhere. I think about it every Christmas, and I believe there has never been anything like it since. The children today would love it. All the best with your findings. Bless you and Merry Christmas."  - Caroline Wood

"At the age of fourteen in 1968, I took a Saturday job at The Co-op Store in Fratton Road, Portsmouth.  I initially worked on the book counter and was then asked to ferry customers on to the sleigh ride.  It was a busy role, I'd sell the tickets, collect money in a satchel, then ferry customers to the sleigh.  Once the outer door was locked, I got behind a curtain and switched on the record player - I can still remember the music to this day!  After the sleigh ride, I unlocked another door and took the children and their parents down a gladed passageway to meet Father Christmas.  The morning Santa was a large jolly man and the afternoon one was very thin and more serious. " - Heather Canavan

"One of my earliest memories is of the reindeer ride at the co op in Walsall.I seem to remember the song Land of make believe by Bucks Fizz being played during the ride.It was just magical.When I heard that the ride was at the co op in Coventry two years ago,me,my mom and husband took my five year old son.He loved it but I think me and my mom were more excited!" - Lisa Adams

"I worked for York Co-op for over 20 years from 1971. Once our display department finished setting up the ride and the grotto each year, we staff always went for a ride. If i remember correctly, the person in charge of the design of the grotto was called Anne McKendoo (not sure if that is the right spelling) she always did a fantastic job. We had 2 motors for the ride in case of breakdown. Once York Co-op merged with Harrogate and became North Yorkshire Co-op, they took our spare ride and motor and had their own grotto." - Carole Smith

Staff from the York Co-op at Christmas.

We featured on BBC Midlands Today 







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