22.11.10

Vintage bus day at the Bluebell

Two or three times a year, vintage bus owners give rides to the Bluebell Railway and back in their beautifully restored vehicles - for free. These events usually coincide with special events, but unfortunately the Bluebell's 'Giants of Steam' gala coincided with the East Lancs Railway's Autumn Steam event so I was unable to go to that one. Sunday however was billed as Vintage Bus Day and so after a quick whizz round the Art Junkie at the Phoenix gallery, I crossed to St Peter's and flagged down a Stratford Blue Leyland Leopard HAC 628D and sank back into the plush deep blue unholstery for a pleasant ride to Sheffield Park, via Lewes.

At the station there was a splendid array of Southdown buses in the car park (one of which I was to take back to Brighton). It was time for the 1pm train so I jumped into one of only two carriages being hauled by Wainwright P Class 0-6-0T No. 178 in the green livery of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. We had to wait for the 'Golden Arrow' dining train to come in, hauled by London, Brighton and South Coast Railway 0-6-2T No. 473 (formerly known as Birch Grove), so we left about 20 minutes late. At Horsted Keynes I spotted Standard BR Class 4 2-6-4T No. 80151 coming the other way - the only other loco in service.

So it was to the end of the line at Kingscote, and back. Because there were only two coaches it was as crowded as a rush-hour tube train, with the added delight of several hundred screeching babies brought on the pretense of perhaps seeing Thomas The Tank Engine and the Fat Controller I can only suppose! But it was a lovely journey nevertheless, with the spectacle of lots of fat pheasants struggling to fly away from the cutting verges - and I think I saw a deer. Although it was fine it was not a great day for photography, nor for hanging about on platforms. Back at Sheffield Park, it was getting dark and there was a huge queue for the buffet so I had a quick look in the sheds and home (on Southdown No.547 PUF 647, a Park Royal-bodied Guy Arab from the 1950s) in time for a second look round Art Junkie!

Previous visits to the Bluebell:

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