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Blue Bell Steam railway 

10th August 2022

                                                                        AWC visit to the Blue Bell Steam Railway


it was a very hot Wednesday (and for the Treasurer a most auspicious day since it was his birthday), when a party of 14 people and a dog assembled outside the East Grinstead station of the Bluebell Railway in time to catch the 11.30 am train to Sheffield Park.  We found our reserved seats in the refreshment coach and, with a toot on the steam engine's whistle, we were soon on our way.  The leisurely "clackety-clack" as our coach went over the joints between the rails and the occasional whiff of smoke from the engine brought back memories of childhood train journeys.  Stops were made at Kingscote and Horsted Keynes and all too soon we had passed through the tunnel and chuffed into Sheffield Park station.


From there many of the party decided to stroll across to the National Trust's Sheffield Park and Garden, a walk of about 20 minutes, mostly gently uphill across grassy fields scorched brown by the prolonged drought.  On arrival there, it was a welcome relief to be able to wander along the paths in the shade of the trees, to enjoy the beautiful views across the numerous lakes, and perhaps indulge in an ice cream at "The Shant".


The walk back was downhill and there was still time to examine the beautifully restored engines in the locomotive shed, to experience in the simulator what it is like to drive a steam engine along the Bluebell Railway, to browse in the gift shop, or to sample the beverages (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) for sale in "The Bessemer Arms" on Platform 1.


Seats had again been reserved for us on the last train of the day, scheduled to depart at 4.30 pm and we were duly summoned to climb over the bridge to Platform 2.  We puffed back leisurely to East Grinstead, arriving there over 30 minutes late.  That reminded us that, after all, this is England!


After group photos we said our goodbyes and headed homeward after a most enjoyable excursion into the Sussex countryside.


The Master is to be thanked for his hard work in organising the event and for shepherding us to ensure that nobody missed a train.


Chris Eyles

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