Awdry's Influences

The Bluebell Railway

The Home of Stepney The Bluebell Engine

Home to a friend of Sodor, Stepney the Bluebell Engine, the Bluebell Railway in East Sussex has flourished in the years from 1960 when it was first established and opened as the UK's second Standard Gauge Heritage Railway. 

 

Since those early days, the Railway has gone on to become one of Britain's premier Heritage Railways, and become the only Railway in the UK to hold the honour and privellege to call itself a Steam Railway.  Until very recently, the line was completely run by steam traction, however, with work on the East Grinstead extension, tradition has had to be broken and a Class 08 shunter brought in to fulfil the duties.

Built in 1882 by landowners in the Lewes and East Grinstead area, it was placed in the hands of the LBSCR, Southern and British Railways throughout its lifetime.  The line came under threat in the 1950s by BR Executives who wished to close it, only to be jepordised by the clause that four trains a day should run on the line "Forever".  

 

However, BR got an Act of Parliament to get their own way against the "Forever" clause and closed the line again in 1958.  However, by this time there had been time to form a Preservation group to keep part of the line open.  They bought locomotives and carriages and took matters from there, soon rebuilding the line steadily throughout the years.

The locomotive list of the line is highly extensive.  Stepney was one of the first two locomotives that were acquired for the line, along with two coaches.  He has served throughout the years alongside a great deal of locomotives who currently reside on the Bluebell, such as the last remaining Q1 locomotive, Class A1X 0-6-0T No.72 Fenchurch of the LBSCR, also a Terrier; Bullied Pacifics; other LBSCR locomotives such as Cromford, Adams, 323 and 27 - Bluebell and Primrose, and the youngest of the group BR Class 9F 2-10-0 No.92240, built in 1959.