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"The bluebells are coming, oh-ho, oh-ho!
The bluebells are coming, oh-ho--
— Percy singing before Douglas cuts him off.

Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine is the eighteenth book of the Railway Series.


Dear Friends,
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.
The Author


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.

Stepney's Special

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.

Train Stops Play

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 with Caroline on a flatbed and the cricketers in a brake van and stays to watch the match. Caroline does not mind engines now. 

Bowled Out

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.




  • 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.
  • From this book onwards, Donald and Douglas are painted blue, rather than from Branchline Engines like it should have been.brass.


  • Throughout the book, Duck is missing his sandboxes.
  • In the third illustration of "Bluebells of England", Stepney's face is missing.

In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
Japanese がんばりやの機関車 Locomotive of hard luck
Chinese 风铃草火车斯蒂芬尼 The Bellflower Train Stephanie