The Bluebell Railway: 2016


I like a bit of synchronicity; I like it when things come together;  I like it when the ends join up, unexpectedly.  Nothing planned; it just happens.  I like Twitter; I’d like to qualify that. I like those individuals and organisations, who use Twitter, and who have interesting hobbies, amazing skills and talents, who don’t want to be negative or critical but who want to open up their world to you.  I don’t mind what it is, or where people live; it just needs to be interesting.  I know there is big competition about how many followers you have, how many Retweets you get but to someone like me, for whom a Tea Towel Blog is not a business, I can afford to be choosy about who I follow.  Enough of all that rambling.  How does that link with the Bluebell Railway?

I follow @MrTimDunn on Twitter.  He seems like a nice, uncomplicated young man with a variety of interests: Model Villages (and has a Blog to prove it), railways, Heritage Railways, buildings, the London Underground and, I am sure, a lot more.  Not long ago, @MrTimDunn posted a few Tweets about the Bluebell Railway which looked interesting.  I like a steam railway, have travelled on many, have quite a lot of tea towels from various steam railways, have even written Tea Towel Blogs about them and thought ‘there is a line I must travel on some day’.  Coincidentally, a couple of weeks later, Lyn was celebrating a ‘special’ birthday; with friends, she was going to dine on the Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Car of the Bluebell Railway; ‘must remember to ask her about that’ I thought.  Her birthday is just a few days before mine and, wow, she bought me a tea towel of the Bluebell Railway.  There is something nice about the connectedness of these events, which make this tea towel even more special.

The Bluebell Railway is interesting in that it closed in the late 1950s, before Dr Beeching did his worst and re-opened only a couple of years later after the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society rescued it.  It is only 11 miles long, running between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead with four restored stations: Sheffield Park, restored in the style of 1880s Brighton; Horsted Keynes, restored to the style of 1920s and where some scenes from Downton Abbey was filmed; Kingscote, restored in the mid-1950s style and East Grinstead where it arrives at Platform 3 of the mainline station.  Some of the original line had already been sold, and dismantled, before the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society had raised enough money to buy it.  The Bluebell Railway was the UK’s first preserved standard gauge passenger railway and is now one of Sussex’s biggest tourist attractions. The Bluebell Railway Preservation Society holds the largest number of steam engines in the UK, outside of the National Railway Museum in York: it has over 30 engines and more than 150 carriages and wagons, mostly pre-dating 1939.  I can see why @MrTimDunn likes it so much.

As with all Heritage Railways, the Bluebell Railway has to look to find ways of raising money and attracting visitors;  the Pullman Dining Evening is one of those events that does just that, trying to recreate the fabulous Golden Arrow journeys which once linked London and Paris “with style and panache”, but on a much smaller, or rather shorter, scale.

I love this tea towel, pure linen, very colourful, in the style of the old railway posters (which I always think would make such great tea towels).  The Bluebell Railway have been clever in producing this image.  It’s the sort of picture that makes you want to go places, travel, see different parts of the country and, in this case, take a trip on the Bluebell Railway.  Thank you Lyn for making drying up so much more enjoyable.

Click below to return to the Virtual Tea Towel Museum


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