The Bluebell Railway, nestled in the beautiful Sussex countryside, is one of Britain’s best steam railways.
Arriving at Sheffield Park station is like stepping back in time. You are transported back to the golden age of steam, with an amazing attention to detail. In fact, it is so good that film and television companies often use it to provide authentic period settings for their productions; you may have seen it on the films The Railway Children, The Ruby in the Smoke and Miss Potter.
Young steam train fans will want a ride, and trains run most days throughout the year. The train takes a scenic route to Horsted Keynes and Kingscote, with a short stop to get out and watch the engine being re-coupled to the other end of the train, and then back again.
Sheffield Park station also boasts a small museum of railway items and a model railway (take some 20p pieces to put in the slots to make it go).
Perhaps the most fascinating part is the engine shed. If you haven’t experienced it, you won’t believe how big the engines are. You can see engines in various states of repair, as they are lovingly restored by the staff there. If you are lucky, you can see Stepney, an engine which featured in one of the Rev Awdrey’s Thomas the Tank Engine stories.
To complete a great day, I can recommend the catering. Good, hearty pub-type meals, sandwiches, snacks and drinks at the Bessemer Arms are always welcome.
The Bluebell Railway has grand plans. They are currently raising money via a share issue to complete the extension of the line to East Grinstead, where for the first time it will join up with the main line trains there. They also plan to improve facilities for visitors, with, among other things, a new museum.
Check out the website at www.bluebell-railway.co.uk, particularly for details of special events such as Santa Specials, vintage transport weekends and collectors fairs.
The Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex, TN22 3QL
Text © Alexandra Freeman 2008
About the Author:
Alex Freeman is a freelance writer specialising in parenting and family topics and can be contacted via eParenting.