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By train - Travel by Southern Railway to East Grinstead. A Special bus service number
473 operates between East Grinstead and Kingscote stations on Bluebell operating
By Car - There are car parks at Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes but no public parking
is allowed at Kingscote station. Sheffield Park Station, the southern terminus, is
on the A275 between the junctions with the A22 at Wych Cross and the A272 at North
Chailey. Horsted Keynes station is well signposted on the lanes near the village of
Horsted Keynes. Refer to the map above for postcodes and directions.
The map below shows the location of all the stations on the Bluebell Railway, click
on any of the markers to see the station name and postcode. Use the zoom and pan
tools to explore the map.
A steam only service is provided daily between early April and early November. Trains
also run every weekend (except Christmas Day) and school holidays for the rest of
the year. Even maintenance and shunting is done with steam locomotives. The 9 mile
steam train ride from Sheffield Park to Kingscote takes about 35 minutes.
The Golden Arrow Pullman dining train operates most weekends and certain weekdays
serving lunch or dinner. Refer to the Bluebell Railway website for details of all
services (see link below)
The Bluebell Railway has a varied collection of steam locomotives, too many to list
here (search the locomotive database on UK heritage railways for full list, see link
SR West Country class 4-6-2 no. 21C123 Blackmoor Vale
Another great thing about the Bluebell Railway is that they not only use preserved
steam locomotives but they also have a varied selection of restored carriages, most
of them from before or between the World Wars. The railways own award winning Carriage
and Wagon Department can be visited at Horsted Keynes.
Attractions and Facilities
If you are travelling the full length of the line I would highly recommend stopping
off at Horsted Keynes on the way. All the stations are meticulously renovated in
the styles of different eras paying great attention to detail.
Sheffield Park - Headquarters of the Bluebell Railway, locomotive works, museum and
model railway, shop, restaurant, real ale bar, picnic area, Sheffield Park Garden
(National Trust), car park, toilets.
Horsted Keynes - Restored in 1930s style, carriage and wagon works and picnic area,
car park, toilets.
Kingscote - Restored in 1950s style. Please note that due to planning restrictions,
there is no public car parking at the station or on the nearby roads. If you want
to start your journey from here you must arrive by No.473 bus, taxi, cycle or foot.
The Bluebell Railway was the first standard gauge line to be preserved although it
was only the short stretch between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes for the first
In 2010 the Bluebell Railway is celebrating 50 years of progress by the Preservation
Society by extending the line. The Northern Extension Project will see the Railway
steaming back into East Grinstead over Hill Place (Imberhorne) Viaduct, thus achieving
the ambition of the pioneers of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society. This will
also provide a connection to the National Rail network.
I visited the Bluebell railway for the first time in 2009, I’m not sure why it took
me so long as it’s been there longer than I can remember. But I got there eventually!
Getting to Sheffield Park Station, the southern terminus, shouldn’t be too difficult
by road as it’s right on the A275. Unfortunately, I tried to avoid all major towns
by taking to the tangle of lanes between the M23 and A275, I don’t recommend this
unless you are using satnav as Sheffield Park is not signposted from these minor
roads, best to stick to the A roads!
I never did find Sheffield Park station but Horsted Keynes station is well signposted
on the lanes so we ended up there. As it turned out this was a good thing because
we had time to look around this atmospheric and well preserved station. We didn’t
miss out on visiting Sheffield Park either as there was still time to travel to both
ends of the line from Horsted Keynes.
We had the privelige of riding on board a train consisting of immaculately restored
ex Metropolitan Railway carriages with GWR Dukedog 4-4-0 No.9017, Earl of Berkeley
The stations, locomotives and carriages are all restored to a very high standard
and the historic ambience of the line is cleverly created. Don’t wait until you are
in the area for a visit, it’s worth a special journey and you are guaranteed a steam
train ride, there are no diesels here!
The first standard gauge preserved passenger railway in the world.
Located on part of the ex London, Brighton & South Coast Railway Lewes to East Grinstead
line in Sussex, the Bluebell Railway was opened in 1960 making it the first standard
gauge preserved passenger railway in the world.
The Bluebell Railway also boasts the longest tunnel on any preserved railway; Sharpthorne
Tunnel between Horsted Keynes and Kingscote is 780yds (710m)
Bluebell Railway plc, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex. TN22 3QL
1877 - Act of Parliament for the Lewes and East Grinstead Railway was passed and
included a clause that four passenger trains per day had to be provided in each direction.
This meant that another Act of Parliament would be needed to repeal the clause.
1878 - Act of Parliament enabled the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company
(LB&SCR) to acquire and operate the line, the Act included the same special clause.
1882 - The Lewes and East Grinstead line was opened.
1923 - The LB&SCR was absorbed into the Southern Railway.
1948 - The line became part of British Railways Southern Region.
1954 - British Railways proposed closing the line from East Grinstead to Culver Junction
1955 - Line from East Grinstead to Culver Junction closed.
1956 - British Railways were forced to re-open the line after a local resident, Miss
Bessemer, discovered the clause about the statutory line in the 1877 & 1878 Act and
requested them to honour their obligation.
1957 - After a public enquiry, an Act of Parliament was passed to repeal the special
clause in the 1877 & 1878 Acts.
1958 - Line finally closed.
1959 - The Bluebell Railway Preservation Society was founded.
1960 - passenger services commenced from Sheffield Park to Bluebell Halt (a point
just to the south of Horsted Keynes station).
1961 - The Bluebell Railway was finally allowed to operate into Horsted Keynes in
October, despite the station still being used by BR electric trains.
1994 - The current northern terminus at Kingscote was reopened as part of the drive
towards East Grinstead.
2010 - Bluebell Railway platform at East Grinstead opened together with a section
of line over the Hill Place viaduct to Imberhorne cutting. The cutting itself is
filled with household waste and needs to be cleared.