|Station stop at Riddlesdown: tunnel beckons!|
We began with the tram from their home to East Croydon station, using our Oyster cards for the fare payment, then bought a group day-return ticket for the four of us to East Grinstead and back - I had not known of this ticket and was advised of it by the clerk: it cheaper than buying four separate tickets even though two of us had a Two Together railcard.
|Train loco running round at East Grinstead platform 3|
The train was soon on its way along the newly-reopened northern section of this intensely rural branch line and paused at Kingscote station, restored in 1959 British Railways style, but we stayed on here and travelled through here and the next station at Horsted Keynes, restored as in the 1920s in Southern Railway style. It is here that the restoration of the line's carriages takes place, and they have a fine collection of coaches from various eras. The Bluebell Railway is licensed for civil marriage ceremonies and a wedding was taking place on the other platform at Horsted Keynes as we passed through. This station has an odd layout where the track between two of the platforms is single, with access to the train from both sides. And the platforms are numbered towards the entrance and not away from it as usual. A very quirky place, which we visited later in the day.
|The current terminus at Sheffield Park: train of BR Mk1|
coaches just arrived at platform and passengers making
their way to lunch
|Carriage restoration at Horsted Keynes|
Our next train back as far as Horsted Keynes was hauled by an ancient LBSCR locomotive and was composed of wooden-bodied Metropolitan Railway coaches, very much older than the British Railways Mk1 standard coaches on which we had arrived. At Horsted Keynes we looked around the workshops in which further examples of wooden-bodied coaches were being restored, original components being used as much as possible, with new timber used where the original was beyond re-use. A very great deal of work is needed on each vehicle, mostly by volunteers.
And so back to East Grinstead and the next Southern Trains electric to East Croydon and the tram back to where we were staying.