Steam Day Down East Grinstead Way

Can it really be since we visited Bluebell Railway? That seems far too long, so it was with pleasure Heather and I went down with Faith and Dylan to a special Road Meets Rail steam day.


Steam locomotive

Erlestoke Manor

In steam

We arrived at the far end of the line at Sheffield Park just in time to catch a glimpse of a departing train. Isn’t that always the way? That did give us a chance to have some lunch before having a bit of a mooch around the station, including an early visit to the little shop, and discovery that we were actually right on the Greenwich Meridian (it needs a line painted on the ground so we can all do the straddling two hemispheres photos). Soon enough though all else was forgotten as a mighty steam locomotive came chuffing into the platform. The 7812 Erlestoke Manor arrived in a cloud of steam to make the station feel very busy as passenger got on and off on both platforms. Sadly timings would mean we wouldn’t actually get to ride behind it, but it was good to at least get up close with the loco.

Young Farmers

With tractor

Back across the tracks and up the hill (noting in passing the “Downton” station sign, as Horstead Keynes makes an appearance in Downton Abbey) we found a small, for want of better wording, fun fair—a little carousel, an organ, a couple of side shows. There was also the first hint of road steam, with a couple of big traction engines and numerous smaller models. Not steam driven but still fitting in with the overall feel were the couple of old tractors, one of the running around. The bar was a bit more modern, but you can’t have everything.

Down below us on the track the rail action was still going on, as Fenchurch, Terrier class brother to the famous Stepney, continually running light freight demos in and out of the station.

Belt Slip

The effor to get the belt back on the driving wheel

So it was back down and across, passing Fenchurch, and up the other side of the hill. That’s where all the real action was taking place. A plethora of steam driven traction engines, steam rollers (as in, actual steam rollers), steam driven cranes, and associated machinery, as well as the odd classic car or two. We were immediately greeted by a log cutting demonstration, rough trunks being hewn by a circular saw driven by one of the numerous traction engines (though someone still had to turn a handle to inch the log forward!). That provided more entertainment as the driving belt evidently came loose and we got to watch two men struggling to reposition it. It’s a sign of the versatility of the traction engine—basically useful for any piece of machinery which can be run by a simple drive belt. As example a bit up the hill another, much smaller, engine wobbled precariously as it drove the mechanism of a hay bailing machine.

Look Out!

Don’t get flattened

The steam rollers mean while were making a habit of heading down the quite steep hill to the station, before turning and coming back, often with a bit of a struggle (the cars running up and down seemed to have it a little easier). Another roller had a field of bricks to break up in a demonstration of their power.

It was all an exciting and busy sight to behold as we rested on the grass in the sun, and with a squint the whistle of a steam engine below really good almost convince one that there had been a time-slip to a bygone age, where steam ruled the road both tarmac and iron.

As the day began to wind down though we also couldn’t stay, as we had to catch the last train (steam of course) back to Sheffield Park and the end of the line. Jumping off there was still time to have a mooch round the sheds (where Heather could see her favourite steam engine Stepney, and we found Fenchurch coming to the end of its busy day). And a repeat visit to the souvenir shop (Heather can’t resist a nice rum) before heading off home.

Lots Of Pics

Comments and Pings

There are no responses

Leave a response

At least a name and email address are required. Email address is never displayed. Required fields are marked *

You may use the following markup: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <var> <del datetime=""> <dd> <dl> <dt> <em> <i> <li> <ol> <q cite=""> <span title=""> <strike> <strong> <sub> <sup> <ul> Comments policy