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|This article is about the Railway Series book. You may be looking for the engine or the Story Library book.|
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.
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 that he was running a Special and flatters Thomas by complimenting his knowledge of branch line life, Thomas is happier and begins talking about his branch line.
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 batsman hits a six and the ball lands in one of his trucks. Stepney does not hear the cricketers shout, so four of them pile into an old car named Caroline and race after them. At Ffarquhar, they find the ball, and, as Caroline is exhausted, Stepney takes them all back on a flatbed and in a brake van and stays to watch the match. Caroline does not mind engines now.
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 have to take his train, and they reach Cronk in record time. Stepney leaves next day in style, with the engines asking him to return, while the Diesel creeps away in disgrace.
- Donald and Douglas
- The Diesel
- Sir Topham Hatt
- The Elsbridge Cricket Club
- 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)
- Stepney's Controller (does not speak)
- The Important Visitor (does not speak)
- Other Railway Diesels (cameo)
- The Scrapyard Engines (cameo)
- Daisy (mentioned)
- Rusty (mentioned)
- The Other Railway
- Tidmouth Sheds
- Ffarquhar Sheds
- Elsbridge Cricket Field
- River Callan
- Hackenbeck Tunnel
- The third 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 bonnet is brass.
- Throughout the book, Duck is missing his sandboxes.