Go online for ‘virtual’ tours of Bluebell Railway

The Bluebell Railway has launched new virtual tours of the heritage railway.

Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 1:29 pm

Start your virtual tour with a view of Sheffield Park Station from the air. Swoop down into SteamWorks! to explore some of the railway’s impressive collection of steam locomotives.

Hop from one spot to another in the locomotive shed and turn 360 degrees to fully appreciate your surroundings.

With superb views of engines, you can even get on the footplate of Stepney and C Class locomotives. The tour includes snippets of information, film clips and links.

Picture: Bluebell Railway

But that is not all! Fly to Horsted Keynes Station and explore the many waiting rooms on platforms accessed by the subway and get an exclusive peek in the signal box.

The current tour includes a Santa hunt for younger members of the family.

You can even step inside the tour by popping on some virtual reality glasses.

Affordable VR viewers which use your mobile phone to facilitate the tour are available from online stores and the tour works brilliantly with these.

Picture: Bluebell Railway

The preserved steam railway in Sussex, also known as ‘the line to the stars’ due to its appearances in many famous film and television productions, responded quickly to audience needs during the 1st lockdown by increasing its online presence.

“It’s been a difficult year for many people and not everyone has been able to visit the Bluebell Railway as planned,” said Ruth Rowatt, marketing and communications manager.

“We wanted to create something that would bring the railway to the visitor’s home in an interactive way.

“We wanted to keep connected to our members, visitors and volunteers and thank them for their continued support.

Picture: Bluebell Railway

“We wouldn’t have reached our 60th birthday in August 2020 without them.”

The railway produced video story times, a #SteamingThrough60 social media campaign to celebrate its diamond anniversary, and The Bluebell Times, a new digital publication for the whole family.

360 Virtual tours is a project funded by the Cultural Recovery Fund for Heritage.

It has been produced by the railway in collaboration with Stef van Vuuren of Stef’s Photography, who is responsible for the fabulous production values of the tour.

Picture: Bluebell Railway

The project enables more people to access their cultural heritage in a Covid-19 safe way, learn a little more about the history and science behind steam and plan their visit in 2021.

The Bluebell Railway is working to increase the tours by including its accredited museum, a working booking office, carriage interiors and a tour of the carriage and wagon workshop.

Look out for new additions in the New Year.