top of page

Bluebell Railway


RCD’s Overview

This is one of the UK’s premier heritage lines. Along with just 12 railways, it gets our very top rating.

Established in 1960, this is where standard gauge railway preservation began. With over 60 years of preservation, this railway has one of the biggest collections of steam locomotives in the country. It is also one of the most authentic heritage railways, most of its collection being closely related to the former railway companies that operated in or near its area, including the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, the South East and Chatham Railway, and Southern Railways. The railway also has a collection of historical carriages, including those from the Metropolitan Railway built between 1898 and 1900, six Pullman cars from the 1920s and 1950s, a LNWR Observation Car, a venerable Great Northern Railway Directors’ Saloon, and numerous other pre-nationalisation carriages, such that passengers can truly experience travel by train as it was 100 years or so ago. The railway also has an award-winning wining interactive exhibition at Sheffield Park, namely  SteamWorks!


Happening This Month: June 2023

  • Service every day (except 5, 12, 19 and 26 June).

  • EVENT: ‘Bluebell on Parade’ 10 and 11 June.

Key Facts (where and when)

Extent of Railway (where to where):

East Grinstead (West Sussex) to Sheffield Park (East Sussex)

Principal Visitor Centre:

Sheffield Park station (TN22 3QL)

Period of Operation*

- All year (except January): Near daily basis

 [* This is a summary. Please go to the railway’s website for definitive operating days] 


Key Facts (what you’ll see)

Services usually steam or diesel?

Nearly exclusively steam (exceptions, Class 33 diesel and DEMU 1305)

Type of Steam / Diesel Locomotives Used:

Full range of steam locomotives (large, mid and small-sized)

Length of Line:

11 miles

Time taken for a round trip:

1 hour 50 minutes

Number of trains per day:

5 to 7 trains in each direction


Adult Rover: £25. Child Rover: £12.50 (but kid for £1 applies on most weekends). Family £60 (advanced ticket prices)

Number of Stations:

4 stations

Time to allow for Visit:

Half to full day


Yes, at Sheffield Park station



Picnic/Play areas:


Special Features:

Extensive collection of locomotives authentic to the area

Preservation Established:


Car Park Facilities:

Free at Sheffield Park


Key Facts (Galas/Events/Dining)

Dining Trains:

- The Golden Arrow train

- Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea

- Chocolate Afternoon Tea Train

- Pie and Mash Specials

- Fish & Chip Specials

- Curry Evening

- Sussex Wine Train

Event Trains:

- SteamLights: November

- Santa Specials: Late November and December

Principal Galas:

- Diesel Gala: March

- Steam Gala: August

- Giants of Steam: October




Telephone:                                                           01825 720800


Social Media:                                              

                                                                                Also on Twitter/ Instagram/ YouTube/ Flickr



Brief History of the Railway and its Preservation

The line forms part of a route that ran from East Grinstead to Lewis, for connections to the south coast. It was operated by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, together with a branch from Horsted Keyes to Haywoods Heath, connecting to its Victoria - Brighton main line. The line duplicated other routes and was proposed for closed in 1954, and closed in 1958 save for the Horsted Keyes to Haywoods Heath branch which survived until 1963. The line is famous for being the first preserved standard gauge steam-operated passenger railway in the country to operate a public service, and is seen by many as the precursor to the extensive railway preservation movement of the following decades. As a preserved railway, it initially ran from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes, but extended to East Grinstead in 2013. There are aspirations to extend the railway further along the branch from Horsted Keyes to Haywoods Heath.


Principal Aspiration

To extend the line by opening the branch from Horsted Keyes to Haywards Heath


Operational Locomotives:

(1) SER Class O (Stirling) [Rebuilt as Class O1: Wainwright] - No. 65

(2) SR Class Q (Maunsell) - No. 30541

(3) GWR ‘Wightwick Hall’ - 6989 (visiting)

(4) BR Standard 4 - 80151

(5) BR Standard 5 - 73082 ‘Camelot’

(6) BR Class 09 shunter - 09018

(7) Sentinel Shunter - 10241


Locomotives Under Overhaul:

(1) LBSCR Class A1 Terrier (Stroudley) - 72 ‘Fenchurch’

(2) SECR Class P (Wainwright) - A27

(3) SR Class V ‘Schools’ (Maunsell) - No. 928 ‘Stowe’

(4) SR Rebuilt Battle of Britain Light Pacific (Bulleid) - 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’

(5) BR Standard Class 2 - 84030

(6) BR Class 33 - D6570 ‘Ashford’ (33052)


Locomotives on Display (awaiting planned overhaul)


(1) LBSCR Class E4 Radial Tank (Billinton) - B473

(2) LBSCR Class A1 Terrier (Stroudley) - No. 55 ‘Stepney’

(3) SECR Class H (Wainwright) - 263

(4) SECR Class P (Wainwright) - 178

(5) SECR Class P (Wainright) - 323 ‘Bluebell’

(6) SECR Class C goods (Wainwright) - 592

(7) SR Class S15 (Maunsell) - 847

(8) SR Class U (Maunsell) - 1638

(9) Fletcher Jennings - No. 3 ‘Captain Baxter’

(10) Manning Wardle - ‘Sharpthorn’ (static display)


Stored/ Displayed / Under Restoration/ Out of Service:


(1) LSWR Class 0415 Radial Tank (Adams) - 30583

(2) LSWR Class B4 dock tank (Adams) - No. 96 ‘Normandy’

(3) GWR Earl/Dukedog - 9017 ‘Earl of Berkeley’

(4) SR West Country Light Pacific (Bulleid) – 34023 ‘Blackmoor Vale’

(5) SR Class U (Maunsell) - 1618

(6) BR Standard Class 4MT tank - 80064

(7) BR Standard Class 4MT tank - 80100

(8) BR Standard Class 4MT - No. 75027

(9) BR Standard Class 9F - 92240

(10) North London Railway Goods Tank


New Build

LBSCR Class H2 Atlantic - 32424 ‘Beachy Head’



Name of Support Group:

Bluebell Railway Preservation Society

Annual membership fee:

Adult: £30. Senior: £25. Junior: £15 Family: £50. Life: £900


Benefits of membership:

-          Free admission to the stations, museum & visitor areas

-          Unlimited travel on 3rd class coaches at reduced rates

-          10% discount on selected bookshop items

-          Reduced rates for line-side photographic courses

-          Quarter Magazine, ‘Bluebell News’


How to Join:                                                


What They Say About Volunteering:

It is now easier than ever to become a volunteer at the Bluebell Railway. If you are interested in volunteering, you can contact our dedicated volunteer coordinator Graham Aitken by emailing: . We will then talk to you about the roles you are interested in and arrange a visit so you can find out more. There are over 50 roles that can be undertaken by volunteers, and these are shown on the following list, which also gives broad details of any qualifications or skills needed, or preferred. We also require a commitment from you to attend regularly, usually a minimum of twice a month, although this will depend on which role you undertake. Note that some roles are only required on specific dates or periods and this information will be clarified when you are contacted to discuss you preferred role.


How to Volunteer:                                               Go to


How to Donate:                                                    Go to


WHY JOIN: With its large collection of locomotives and rolling stock, historical infrastructure and extensive services, help is always needed to maintain this prestigious railway.   



Those interested in this railway may also be interested in the following railway societies also listed on this



Traditional Railway Societies:

- Brighton Circle

- Southern Railways Group


Locomotive Societies (steam):

- Bulleid Society

- Maunsell Locomotive Society

- 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society

Model Railway Clubs:

- East Grinstead Model Railway Club

- Horsham Model Railway Club

- Uckfield Model Railway Club

- Brighton Model Railway Club

bottom of page