The Caledonian Special

As of 2013, the Bluebell Railway in Sussex has been connected to the main network at East Grinstead. It’s ironic that back in those early 60s, it was Bluebell Railway locos that helped with the removal of the track. But back then, the branch through Ardingly to Haywards Heath on the main London to Brighton line remained open and special trains could get to the Bluebell Railway. One that I deemed very special went to the line, I think on 15th September 1963.

What made it special was the choice of locos. One was what Imight call an old friend – the old London and South Western T9 class. The other loco, though, was a real stranger to my part of the world – a Caledonian Railway engine.

My dad caught the bug and came out to take photos. I fear they were not too good and although they were taken as colour slides, the colour rendition was just awful so I have dropped one of them down to monochrome. It’s a shame because the old Caley single was painted in the livery of that company, a rather charming shade of blue.

The picture was taken near Copyhold Junction where the branch to Ardingly and Horsted Keynes veered away from the main line.


There we see the two locos with the old London and South Western Railway loco nearest us. She was built in 1899 and had already been earmarked for the national collection of preserved steamers.

The Caledonian engine is in front. She dates from 1886 and is one of the great survivors in railway preservation.

The pairing of the two locos, from opposite ends of the country, was very appropriate for both were designed by the same man, Dugald Drummond.



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