If you've heard of Horsted Keynes before then it's
almost certainly because of "The Bluebell" Railway. Stand in the middle of the village
and as long as the wind's in the right direction you can hear the toot and enjoy the smell of hot
oil and steam, which even the internet can't convey - YET !
Getting on for 50 years ago the then British Railways decided to
implement a report that recommended reducing their mounting losses by the simple expedient of closing down every line
that didn't make a profit! A group of train enthusiasts managed after a long
battle with officialdom and with the help of a little old lady called Miss. Bessimer
to reopen 4 miles of the line that used to run from East Grinstead to Lewes in
Sussex. Their line ran from the station of Sheffield Park to the edge of our
local station Horsted Keynes. This was the first full scale railway line to be
reopened by private enterprise and it has gone from strength to strength. Now
The Bluebell Railway is 9 miles long and a Public Company. It is actively
pushing back to its main line connection at East Grinstead.
Given good luck, they now hope to reconnect with the main line at East Grinstead by Easter
2013. We wish
them the best of luck ! Perhaps then Horsted Keynes will return to its happy
status as a quiet Sussex village with two Churches and two pubs but I expect
that it will never be the same. "No bad thing" we hear you say !
|Pop video filming at Horsted
Keynes station October 2007
If you'd like to visit The Bluebell Web Site then please follow this link. It's a great day out with
lots to see and do. If travelling by car then Horsted Keynes has easily the
better parking facilities and a pleasant picnic spot. Metrobus route 270 busses connect with Horsted Keynes station at weekends.
Until the through line reopens coming from the North get the
train to East Grinstead station and a vintage bus will take you on the two mile trip
around the rubbish tip to Kingscote Station. Please note that to placate the
local residents you CANNOT park at Kingscote or even buy a ticket there (unless
you arrive by bus or bike!). It is now 2012 and a path through the rubbish dump at Imberhorne
has just been cleared. Passenger trains still haven't started to
run along this track yet and much work still needs to be completed, but it seems
that with enough money and fair weather you will only have to wait until next
Easter to book your seat for the inaugural through journey!
Dogs are welcome on the existing line, and there is even a special ticket
available for them. The upper part of the field at Horsted Keynes is a good
place for them to let off steam. The only restrictions are entry to the buffet/restaurant
building and Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train, for obvious reasons. Guide
and recognised assistance dogs are most certainly welcomed, and travel free
Local residents also get to travel on the Bluebell at a
discounted fare, this concession is NOT well publicised but
more details can be found here. This
idea, of giving local residents, who inevitably have to put up with a certain
amount of disruption and much extra traffic at weekends, cheaper admission to local attractions
is one that other tourist sites might like to emulate. We think that it is fair
to say that the Bluebell are generally regarded as good neighbours.