The Bluebell Railway, which winds its way through the beautiful Sussex countryside, is delighted to be ‘headlining’ its Autumn Steam Gala Weekend, with the rare visit of one of Sir Nigel Gresley’s steam giants, ‘Union of South Africa’ (courtesy of the Cameron Trust).
Gresley, whose statue stands proudly at Kings Cross station today, was himself a true ‘giant of steam’ being one of Britain’s most famous steam locomotive engineers. He was responsible for designing much-loved favourites, such as the ‘Flying Scotsman’ and the distinctive streamlined locomotives, including ‘Mallard’, which is now displayed at the National Railway Museum in York but still holds the record for the fastest steam locomotive in the world.
These Bugatti-inspired, streamlined, wedge-shape engines became a symbol of 1930s luxury and elegance and a fascination for speed. They were designed as the express passenger services of their day and were built to serve London & North Eastern Railway’s East Coast mainline service, between London Kings Cross to Newcastle and Edinburgh.
The ‘Union of South Africa’ is 1 of only 6 surviving locomotives of this type and is the last operational survivor of the 4 remaining in the UK. So, its visit to the Bluebell Railway offers a rare opportunity to see and enjoy this famous ‘Giant of Steam’ in action – Perhaps for the last time in the South East, as it is due to be displayed in a museum in Scotland from early 2019.
The ‘Union of South Africa’ enjoyed a long and illustrious career from its introduction in 1937 right up to 1966 when it was withdrawn from standard service. It was famous for fronting the last booked steam-hauled train from Kings Cross in October 1964 and more recently for carrying H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to officially mark the 2015 re-opening of the Borders Railway between Edinburgh Waverly and Tweedbank in Scotland.
Come & see this rare visitor to the Sussex Countryside in October before it retires in 2019!
On Saturday 13th October Union of South Africa will be on duty hauling our famous Pullman dining trains. There will be a special Golden Arrow ‘Gala Dinner’ evening service with a luxurious 3 course meal.
- Harveys Brewery of Lewes will be with us in their Beer Tent at Horsted Keynes station
- Our Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park station will also be offering:
- Breakfast from 8.00am on both Saturday & Sunday
- Late opening until 11.00pm on both Friday & Saturday
- A mobile Prosecco Bar
- BBQ in the Paddock at Horsted Keynes from 10.00am -4.00pm
- Lego mosaics on display
- Children’s quiz
For further information, or additional pictures and our event timetable go to www.Bluebell-Railway.com