- “Bluebells forever!”
- ―Stepney, Stepney Gets Lost, fifth season
Stepney, named after a district in London, is a tank engine who lives and works on the Bluebell Railway, hence his nickname, "the Bluebell engine". He is Boxhill's brother.
In the Railway Series, Stepney lives on the Mainland and works on the Bluebell Railway. In Thomas & Friends, Stepney works on a branch line neighboring the Skarloey Railway, also known as the "Bluebell Railway".
The Railway Series
Stepney was built at Brighton Works in Brighton, England in 1875 as an LB&SCR A1 class engine and later rebuilt as an A1X in 1912. He arrived on the Bluebell Railway on 17th May 1960, after the railway's founder Bernard Holden MBE helped to save the line for preservation. Stepney was the first engine to be rescued by the Bluebell Railway.
In 1962, Stepney came on loan to Sodor and worked briefly with Duck at Tidmouth before working on Thomas' Branch Line, which during the time he caught a cricket ball in one of his trucks while passing the Elsbridge Cricket Field. Towards the end of his stay, he returned to Tidmouth and on his last day double-headed the Express with Duck after the Diesel failed.
Thomas & Friends
Stepney was stranded on a siding in the scrapyard at the Vicarstown Goods Depot where Rusty found him and helped arrange for him to be put back into service. He now runs the Bluebell Branch Line.
Stepney later wanted to have a change from his branch line and he was sent to help Toby and Mavis at Anopha Quarry. This excursion nearly ended in disaster after 'Arry and Bert tried to scrap Stepney, luckily without success, after Stepney accidentally ventured into the Sodor Ironworks. Stepney later helped Edward with the running of The Loop Line and when there was a Hot Air Balloon flying across the island, Duck accidentally ran into him due to gazing up at it. A while later, he was hit by a truck of sugar in an incident caused by Rosie.
Stepney is a bubbly, honest and humble chap who is busting with enthusiasm. He is very eager to please and is every engine's friend. Even if an engine might not like him at first, his personality wins them over. After being saved from scrap by Rusty and the Bluebell Railway, he now runs his own branch line, but loves helping out on the Fat Controller's Railway. He has an enthusiasm for learning and listening to advice, as well as keeping busy. Stepney can feel down in the dumps if he does not get enough work to do or if he does not get a good long run to stretch his wheels. Stepney is high-spirited, lively and is keen to see fair play. He is popular amongst the engines and is always game for more work.
Stepney was built by Brighton Works in 1875, and was rebuilt into an A1X in 1912. During his final working years, Stepney worked on the Hayling Island branch line, until he was taken out of service in 1960 and placed on an out-of-use siding. He was bought by the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society and arrived on the railway on 17th May, making him the first standard gauge steam locomotive in the United Kingdom to be preserved.
Since his first appearance in the Railway Series and Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, Stepney has become one of the most popular engines on the railway, with children all across the country coming to see him. Stepney has even participated in "Day Out with Thomas" events, and has carried a face for these events.
Stepney was taken out of service in 2008 after his boiler ticket expired, but underwent a fast-track overhaul and returned to working order in 2010, just in time for the line's 50th Anniversary. In March 2014, Stepney was withdrawn from service following the failure of his main steam pipe. He is currently awaiting new cylinders and significant work on his frames and boiler.
Stepney is painted in the LB&SCR goldenrod livery, formally known as "Stroudley's Improved Engine Green", with green, red, white and black lining. His name is painted on his side tanks and the number "55" is painted on the sides of his bunker, both in white. The real Stepney has a brass funnel top and numberplates.
In 2010, he was painted in "Bluebell Black". On 14th January 2012, Stepney made an "only-morning" appearance in BR Lined Black with "cycling lion" crest and his BR number, 32655, for a special photographic charter. He carried the same BR Lined Black livery again on 17th April 2012 for another photographic charter; this time though with the later "ferret and dartboard" crest. He returned to "Bluebell Black" in time for his visit to the National Railway Museum's "Railfest" in the first week of June 2012.
As of August 2014, he has returned to his famous "Improved Engine Green" livery, officially being released to the public in May 2015.