BLUEBELL RAILWAY AND SHEFFIELD PARK – A JOURNEY INTO VICTORIAN PAST

The smell of smoke, white steam and the whistle of an engine rises up from the dark green and dense woodland near the Sheffield Park Station.


The scene is idyllic and a red brick station is maintained in the original Victorian style of the London to Brighton and the South Coast Railway.

The Bluebell Railway does a line along the 18km route between the village of Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park.

The station opened in 1882 at the request of the Earl of Sheffield but its fortunes waned and it closed in 1958. It was saved from extinction by a group of enthusiasts in 1960 and became a popular tourist trail.

The main station is a typical Victorian building with the original ticket office, a museum, a shop and the Bessemer Arms pub.

Two platforms are linked by an overhead bridge.

With a childlike delight I observe a black locomotive puffing away and pulling several bright  green and old-fashioned Pullman carriages full of relaxed and beaming passengers.

With the sun out what can be better than a leisurely trip on board of a vintage train when it rolls gently through the forest and open pastures of the East Sussex. You travel in comfort enjoying a traditional afternoon tea and admiring views. You could easily be in the Edwardian era.

The surrounding countryside is very pretty with an abundance of open heathland, dense woods, numerous and extremely picturesque bridges and gentle green hills.

The line is adorned with daffodils in spring and bluebells in May (hence its name).

For me the most exciting part is the locomotive workshop and a shed housing veteran engines and rolling early 20th century stock located at the station.

The display includes late 19th and early 20th  century vintage locomotives and a black beast of the Brighton engine from the 1940s.

The train departs from Sheffield Park Station at 11am, 1pm and 3pm and train tickets are from £13.50 (children £6.80).

HOW TO GET THERE

By car: Sheffield Park Station is on A275 East Grinstead to Lewes  road

By train: southern trains operate between London Victoria to East Grinstead

Only a mile from the Sheffield Park Station, across a beautiful countryside , lies Sheffield Park and Gardens.


There are four lovely lakes linked by cascades and waterfalls, and fringed by rhododendrons and azaleas.

When in bloom their bright colours reflect in waters adding a wow factor to the place.

The park is famous for a huge selection of rare trees and shrubs and was originally laid out in the 18th century by “Capability” Brown

and beautifully maintained by the National Trust.

I particularly enjoyed magnificent Californian seqoias, flaming red acers, dates and palm trees.

It is a perfect weekend hideaway and a picnic site. With 120 acres of parkland and endless pastures outside with flocks of sheep there’s a lot to discover and enjoy.

HOW TO GET THERE

by car: midway between East Grinstead and Lewes (free parking)

Entrance fee is £7.80

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