Title ID 1953Collection ID414
Title[The Stepney at Sheffield Park Station; The Brighton Blue Belle]
Date27 October 1963
CollectionBluebell Railway
KeywordsSteam Locomotives Commemorative Events Beaches Clothing Leisure Time Activities Railways Railway Stations Seaside Resorts Fancy dress Workers Transport Piers [Palace Pier, Brighton]
LocalSheffield Park Horsted Keynes Brighton
RegionalEast Sussex West Sussex Brighton and Hove
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionTom Martin
CameraTom Martin
Format16mm Colour Silent
Duration13 min. 25 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


Scenes at Sheffield Park Station, where workers are busy during a period costume event, and Brighton Station, where the Brighton Belle leaves for a special trip to Horsted Keynes in 1963, filmed by Tom Martin, a founding member of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society who produced over 400 films of the railway, its engines, passengers and workers.


Bluebell Railway Sheffield Park Station (sign). A circular sign hung over door reads 'Bluebell Railway Preservation Society'. Men are seen, working on the line, painting signs and fixing the signal. The camera pans across the station. Members of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society sit at a table labeled 'society inquiries'. The antique signs and advertisements, which adorn Sheffield Park Station are shown in succession; 'Visit Station Cocoa Rooms', others advertise 'Vantas Sparkling Drinks', Smith & Co. Oatmeal Stout, Southdown and East Grinstead Brewers Ltd. Ales & Stout, Ogdens "Guinea-Gold" cigarettes, "Rajah" cigars, James Dome Black Lead "used in the Royal household" and Sunday Times. The Station Master speaks through a megaphone. People gather at the cafe, a disused buffet car, and sit at the tables outside on the grass. A family sits on some tree stumps, used as chairs, and a young couple in period costume sit on a bench together. A woman stands by a tea stall, also in period costume. A woman tends to plants and a boy in railway uniform hands a basket at the platform. the Bluebell 323 is cleaned by another worker in overalls. The Stepney 473, a Birch Grove train, passes. The warning signs at the end of the platform are show; 'Stop look & listen before crossing the line' and 'Passengers must not pass beyond this board by order.' Children gather on the platform. Passengers hand their tickets to a man in railway uniform, standing with the Station Master. They lean out of the windows to talk to the workers at the station when on the train. The signal changes and the train moves off as a man with a moustache, wearing uniform, waves a flag. Children lean out of the window as the train moves along the track in footage shot from one of the carriages. The train pulls in to Horsted Keynes Station. The Primrose pulls carriages backwards as a family waves from the platform. Workers shake hands with one another before climbing on board an electric train from the same station. The Stepney moves off, out of Horsted Keynes Station.

An intertitle reads 'The Brighton Blue Belle, 27th October 1963 - Closure of Passenger Services between Horsted Keynes and Haywards Heath.' East Brighton Beach and the Palace Pier are seen from the Volks Railway Station on the Seafront. Views of the sea follow, the waves choppy and rough. The Volks Electric Seafront Railway station is seen. The VR train moves along the track towards the fun fair and Black Rock, past Madeira Drive. Passengers sit on benches inside the open-sided train. A poster advertising the Brighton Belle, running to Horsted Keynes, is shown. A worker at Brighton Station operates the departure board, turning station names and times while standing on a ladder. The Stepney passes along the track, the emblem 'Brighton 1825 Works' on its side. Men in top hats and sideburns watch as the Birch Grove 473 moves backwards onto a turntable, where it is turned to drive forwards along the track. Women in period costume wave from open top buses as they arrive at Brighton Station. A large group of men and women, young and old, all wearing Victorian costumes, walk towards the camera outside the station. Men are dressed as Sherlock Holmes, a Priest, and in top hats. Women wear elaborate feathered hats. The train leaves the station, led by the Bluebell 323, adorned with a sign reading 'Brighton Belle', the Birch Grove 473 and carriages behind. Passengers in costume wave from the windows of the carriages as the train passes along the track to Horsted Keynes Station in West Sussex. The camera pans across platforms fill of people taking refreshments. A man in a top hat waits expectantly for the train to arrive before it pulls into the station. Families look up from the platform at Sheffield Park Station in East Sussex, the train's next destination, in footage shot from a carriage as the train moves in. A series of portraits of men, women and children, dressed in period costume, smiling to the camera follow. A young women is seen filming with a cine camera, dressed in Victorian costume. A couple in costume walk together by the tracks, the water tower at Sheffield Park Station behind. 'That's all Folks.'

Contextual information

Founder member of the Bluebell Preservation Society, Thomas Martin, made over 400 films that are now held by Screen Archive South East, making the collection one of the largest in the archive from a single organisation.

His films show the arrival of the Stepney at the Bluebell line in May 1960, footage of the Brighton Belle, the last train on the Ardingly Branch in October 1963 and of the Dukedog 9017 arriving at Horsted Keynes, its restoration and naming ceremony.

Related resources


Wolmar, Christian. Fire and Steam, a New History of the Railways in Britian 2007

A history of the industry and its social, economic and cultural implications; the consolidation of British railways; the "Big Four" lines, established in 1923 (LMS, LNER, GWR and SR); the formation of British Railways in 1948, and their privitisation in the 1990s.

Other Resources

Tom Martin Collection

Three volumes of films, taken by Tom Martin, a founding member of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, of the Bluebell Railway at work.


Bluebell Railway: 50 years of preserved steam in the heart of Sussex.