|Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine|
1963 - present
Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine is the eighteenth book of the Railway Series.
Percy is a kind-hearted little engine. He feels sad because many fine steam engines are cut up on the Other Railway (B.R.).
Percy's ideas, however, though natural for an engine, are a little muddled. British Railways Officials are not cruel. They are sad to lose faithful steam friends, and glad to help engines to go to places like the Bluebell Railway at Sheffield Park in Sussex, where they can be cared for, and useful, and safe.
Bluebells of England
Percy is singing about bluebells when Douglas comes up and tells him that his song is daft. Percy is cross, and tells him about the "Bluebells of England". He then goes on to inform Douglas that Stepney is coming to Sodor, when Stepney suddenly arrives and the two welcome him with a chorus of whistles.
After talking to Edward about the Bluebell Railway, Stepney goes to Tidmouth to help Duck. Thomas has just left with his last train when he is stopped so Stepney, with a V.I.P. in tow, can pass. Thomas is furious, but when Stepney explains the next morning and flatters Thomas by complimenting his knowledge of branchline life, Thomas is happier and begins talking about his branchline.
Percy takes pity on Stepney when he reveals he misses trucks and offers to share his train with him. Stepney later passes the Elsbridge Cricket Field when a batsmen hits a six and the ball lands in a truck. Stepney doesn't hear the cricketers shout, so four pile into an old car named Caroline and race after them. At Ffarquhar, they get the ball, and, as Caroline is exhausted, Stepney takes them back on a flatbed and stays to watch the match.
Stepney's stay is almost over, but in his place a rude Diesel arrives and starts insulting the engines. Although the engines have no idea of what to do, the Diesel soon gets his just desserts when an Inspector's bowler hat lodges in his air intake. Duck and Stepney take his train, and reach Crovan's Gate in record time. Stepney leaves next day in style, while the Diesel creeps away in disgrace.
- Donald and Douglas
- The Diesel
- The Fat Controller
- Toby (does not speak)
- Bluebell and Primrose (do not speak)
- Adams (does not speak)
- Cromford (does not speak)
- Captain Baxter (does not speak)
- Annie and Clarabel (do not speak)
- Boxhill (cameo)
- Other Railway Diesels (cameo)
- The Scrapyard Engines (cameo)
- Daisy (mentioned)
- Rusty (mentioned)
- The second illustration of "Bluebells of England" is based on the illustration Peter Edwards did for the Graham Greene novel, "A Gun For Sale".
- This was the first book in the Railway Series illustrated by Gunvor and Peter Edwards.
- The carriages that Stepney brought to Sodor were the Bluebell Railway's well known Metropolitan coaches.
- The Reverend acknowledged the help given by members of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society in the preparation of this book.
- From this book onwards, Duck's smokebox is black and his safety valve is gold.