According to Wikipedia – “the Bluebell Railway is a heritage line running for 11 miles along the border between East and West Sussex”. Living not far away, we have been there before. You don’t have to be male or a geek to fall in love with the beautiful steam locomotives and there is plenty to see besides. Sheffield Park station was built in 1882 by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. From platform 1 it is possible to walk through the locomotive shed. Among the other engines, it houses Stepney, who appears in the Thomas the Tank Engine books. Platform 2 is home to a large museum.
I didn’t actually have any plans to visit, but just before the Easter holiday we spotted on the local news that the Flying Scotsman would be there for a week. Thinking that it would be ridiculously busy over the break, I rushed through my chores and went that morning. It was still ridiculously busy, but definitely worth it.
From the timetable I could see that the Scotsman would be in the station for an hour, before departing for East Grinstead and then returning some time later to go through the whole routine again. I didn’t get much opportunity to see her the first time as the platform was packed solid. The best I could do was to stand near the far end and hope that I got lucky. With a long line of people all standing in front and leaning out with their smart phones and tablets, I didn’t seem to be in with much of a chance. Then the man in front turned away for a moment and I was able to capture the shot below just as she set out.
Of course, she wasn’t the only locomotive running that day and I was able to capture the image featured at the top from the other end down by the sheds. It wasn’t until I put the image on my photography forum (where a lot of the guys ARE geeks) that they spotted it was a C class and the one used most on the film The Railway Children. Geeks can come in handy sometimes.
They were also useful pointing out another fascinating locomotive. Number 73082 – Camelot. Built in 1955, she ran on the Southern Region for eleven years. After withdrawal from service, she was sent to a scrap yard in Wales where she was not actually scrapped, but slowly deteriorated. The Camelot Locomotive Society was founded in 1974 to purchase and restore the train. She finally returned to steam in 1995 and is the only running BR Standard 5 class. Becoming somewhat of a geek myself, I have since learned that she once did more than a “ton” and the wonderful story can be found on the 73082 SITE. Look under the tab “Technical Stuff”, then “107 through Andover”.
I did actually return to the Bluebell Railway a few days later with my husband. I also had instructions from the owner of my forum to take more photographs of Camelot, which I duly did. I still prefer the close up I took on my first outing though, which for me sums up the passion for steam.