Sheffield Park Station
East Sussex TN22 3QL
The Bluebell Line is a heritage steam railway running between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead on the border of East and West Sussex. The Bluebell railway is about 45 miles (73 km) from central London and runs through delightful countryside.
The line is currently 11 miles (17.7 km) long with East Grinstead providing a mainline connection to London. Constructing this connection was a marathon task due to a massive rubbish tip which had built up on the disused rail corridor. The tip was gradually removed by the Railway volunteers and the connection made. The Bluebell is an extremely professional operation.
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Visitors can now catch a Southern Trains service from London Victoria station to East Grinstead station where there is the interchange to the Bluebell Railway.
The Bluebell line was the first standard gauge steam operated passenger railway in the world to be preserved and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010. It is renowned for its collection of 150 carriages and wagons, and 30 plus steam powered locos. Only the National Railway Museum in York has more engines.
Most of the locomotives are on display in the loco shed or can be seen elsewhere at Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes stations. The two most famous locomotives are probably Fenchurch, the A1 Terrier built in 1872, and Stepney , another Terrier which featured in a Rev. Audrey book along with Baxter, another popular favourite on the line.
All these lovely locomotives may be seen by clicking on Web: Bluebell Railway Locomotives External Link
The Bluebell Line is also famous for its rake of Chesham carriages. These beautifully restored carriages operated on the Metropolitan Railway in 1898-1900 on the Chesham Line.
In 1960 they were the oldest coaches running in the country. These coaches served as the Bluebell’s passenger fleet throughout the 1960s. The four coaches have been restored to as close to their original condition as possible, and make a unique century-old train of matching "close-coupled" coaches when hauled by the Terriers.
A unique 1920s dining experience can be enjoyed on the line’s Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train. Enjoy a three-course silver service dinner. Another unique experience is a trip in the Observation Car. For information on these services click on the official website.
The line runs north from its main station at Sheffield Park. It is an uphill run with an average gradient of 1-in-75 and in some places it is 1-in-60. This is quite a challenge for some of the smaller engines and there is plenty of huffing and puffing to enjoy.
The railway does not have a turntable so the locos use the loop at Kingscote to run around the train to make the return trip tender first. Some of the line is single track which necessitates the use of a token or staff which is collected from the signal box.
Between Horsted Keynes and Kingscote stations the line runs through Sharpthorne Tunnel. At 731 yards (668 metres) it is the longest tunnel on any UK heritage railway.
The stations have been restored to show different periods of the railway's life.
- Sheffield Park
Built in 1882 to service the needs of the Earl of Sheffield who lived at nearby Sheffield Park & Garden, Sheffield Park is the southern terminus for the railway. The station has been restored to a generally Victorian ambience and recalls the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (up to 1922).
There is plenty of parking and visitors are advised to start their journey here. There is the loco shed with its many engines to explore, a museum, a model railway layout, a shop, and the "Bessemer Arms" Bar and Restaurant.
Open every day 11:00 – 16:00 hours. On non-running days the Bar and Restaurant are only open for lunch.
Sales & Information Office open 09:00 – 17:00 hours.
- Horsted Keynes
Horsted Keynes is midway along the line. The station has been restored to recall memories of the Southern Railway (1922–1948).
There is a shop and exhibitions in old railway coaches; toilets, a buffet and carriage workshops. The station has a number of engines stored on the premises.
Kingscote was the northern terminus of the railway until the connection was made at East Grinstead. It recalls the early British Railways period of the 1950s.
Toilets including disabled.
There is No Parking.
Plan Your Visit
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The railway is open every day of the year except Christmas Day.
Steam trains run on about three quarters of the open days. On these days the railway opens approximately half an hour before the first departure and closes approximately half an hour after the last arrival.
Full details of all trains are available by clicking on ‘timetable’ in the Bluebell Railway website.
Full details of the train fares (and admission charges for those not travelling on trains) are available by clicking on ‘Fares’ on the official website.
Level access to all stations but staff assistance will be needed to cross the line.
Train destinations are indicated both visually with “finger boards” and audible announcements.
All areas of Sheffield Park station and attractions are wheelchair accessible.
Horsted Keynes station is mostly wheelchair accessible except for the old carriage exhibitions and the shop. Parking may be arranged with staff.
Kingscote station has disabled toilets but no parking.
East Grinstead station has marked "Disabled"parking bays, suitable toilet facilities and easily accessible Travel Centre, Buffet and main platform.
Some train services have special wheelchair friendly carriages otherwise passengers can travel in the brake-van. For more details click on Web: Bluebell Railway Disabled Access External Link
The Bluebell does not have a special day when ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ visits, however it does have many different special events of interest to children. Nearly every weekend there is a reason to visit the railway, ranging from Food and Drink festivals to Vintage Vehicle displays. The official website has an excellent events calendar.
The Bluebell as a film location
The different periods deliberately evoked at the stations and the large variety of period locomotives and rolling stock makes the railway a very popular location for shooting TV and film series. Horsted Keynes played ‘Euston Station’ in the 2006 film ‘Miss Potter’ with Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor.
In 1999 Carlton TV filmed Web: ‘The Railway Children' External Link
A run on the Bluebell Railway is particularly enjoyable in April when bluebells carpet the woods or in October when the countryside is ablaze with autumn colours.
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)1825 720 800 (General enquiries)
Bluebell Railway External Link
Bluebell Railway Getting There External Link
The Bluebell Railway at Sheffield Park is well signposted with brown tourist direction signs from the A22 and A23 trunk roads. There is plenty of available parking at Sheffield Park as well as a Coach Park and Disabled Bays.
Google Maps - East Grinstead
Google Maps - Sheffield Park