Archive of News from the Bluebell Railway 2006
The year has slipped by...
Another successful Santa Season ends a year of progress for the
Bluebell Railway. Judging by the numbers who visited the railway
the big event of the year was the Terrier weekend, when the Bluebell
brought together five of these diminutive Brighton tank locos for a
gala in November. In the previous month crowds were drawn to the
Bluebell to see the National Railway Museum's "City of Truro" run in
tandem with our own Great Western locomotive "Earl of Berkeley".
(Photos: David Chappell and Nick Beck)
The railway's extension to East Grinstead reached Imberhorne cutting and the inert spoil to the south of the main tip has been removed, to access the land fill site in preparation for extraction. Chris Dadson has provided a web page detailing this work as well as the photo on the right. The land at East Grinstead for the Bluebell's station was passed to Bluebell ownership from Network Rail.
Two coaches have recently returned to service, seen in photos below (from Dave Clarke and Paul Pettitt). Pullman Car 64 returned to service as "Christine" after a
substantial overhaul, at the start of December. London, Chatham and Dover coach No 114 built
in 1889, and for years referred to as "the bungalow", has been fully
restored to a standard that many would expect from the Bluebell
Railway, and has already proved to be very popular with the travelling public.
Bulleid locomotive No.34028 "Eddystone" has returned to steam courtesy of the Bluebell's locomotive works, and will stay with the railway for much of next year. (Photo below from Dave Clarke)
For the Victorian Christmas Trains this week, the fourth of the Metropolitan Railway carriages, No.412, has returned to service. However, over the coming months the BASH team will undertake further work on the other three Met coaches (the first two have now been in traffic for 7 years) before the Gala Launch is organised (hopefully in the late spring of 2007). The photo shows the four-coach set at Kingscote during the test run on 14th December.
Celebrate the New Year in StyleFrom 26th December 2006 to 1st January 2007, the Bluebell Railway will be using some of its older locomotives to haul Victorian and Edwardian carriages between Sheffield Park and Kingscote. Come and experience the splendour of our recently restored Metropolitan Railway carriages, the newly outshopped LCDR carriage and two LBSCR First Class coaches. Admire the elegant beauty of our vintage locomotives, such as the SECR O1, which is over 100 years of age. Our Service One timetable will operate on these days (although with both trains as "Vintage Trains" rather than just one), departing Sheffield Park hourly from 11am to 4pm. Normal ticket prices apply to these trains.
Details of 2007 special events: A full programme of special events is planned, including the Branch Line Weekend in February, and Bluebell 125 in August. Dates and further details available here.
The "What's New" page now includes topical photos, and those which have appeared in the last couple of months make inspiring viewing!
Wishing you the compliments of the season,
Photo Update 5 March 2006
Two-train service yesterday, and a new attraction
Two photos from Derek Hayward illustrate the two-train service running yesterday, with the newly overhauled U-class No.1638 quickly assuming the role of mainstay of the railway, and the O1, No.65, taking the vintage train. The Dukedog was also in steam, and being used for Footplate Days and Ways courses at Horsted Keynes.
The railway's latest attraction, in a field adjacent to the line at Sheffield Park, was this newborn lamb, also captured on camera by Derek Hayward. He wonders whether we should use this, hitherto untapped, feature of the line for marketing purposes!
Another photo from David Harp, taken on Friday at the Mid Hants Spring Gala, showing Stepney on the dock at Alresford with its "push-pull carriage". It also gave brake van rides, whilst it and Normandy also handled a short goods train.
News Update 3 March 2006
Locos depart!The wonderful visiting Ivatt has gone, but the latest news is that it will be returning for another visit, arriving back in June and staying until its boiler certificate expires in September. Andrew Strongitharm has provided a photographic retrospective of its visit on his website.
The other two departures were also heading over to the Mid Hants, where "Stepney" (standing in for "Fenchurch", which was supposed to be standing in for "Birch Grove") and "Normandy" are visiting for this weekend's Spring Gala. David Harp's photos taken today, show "Normandy" with its goods train, and "Stepney" on a push-pull shuttle with a DMU!
Our own Branch Line weekendLast weekend was busy! We are well served by our photographers and video makers, and many reports are available from them on their own web sites. These photos from Jon Bowers serve to illustrate:
The return of the UThe Branch Line weekend was the official and public return of the U-class 2-6-0 No.1638, but its actual return was on a Maunsell Loco Society members' special the previous Saturday. There are, of course, plenty of photos available showing that event, and its subsequent use on the Sunday Lunchtime Golden Arrow Pullman train.
As seen on the right, the loco carried, as one of its headcode disks, a fitting memorial to the late George Nickson, who was responsibe for purchasing the locomotive from Barry scrapyard, bringing it to Sheffield Park, and later donated it to the Bluebell.
Those engineering works at Sheffield ParkThe re-laying of the points at the north end of Sheffield Park station at the end of January, in conjunction with the removal of Otye Bridge, all of which caused the disruption reported in last month's report, are covered in detail on the Permanent Way News pages.
Our next loco to be outshopped?Not to be outdone for long by their friends in the Maunsell Loco Society, the Bulleid Society and Bluebell BoB group are cracking on with 34059's restoration including the fitting of the middle connecting rod. A report, with photos, is available on the Bulleid Society's web site. In addition, membership of the 2006 300+ Club, to raise funds for the restoration of No.34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair", will close on the 21st March. Details and a 300+ Club membership form are also available.
Fancy an Irish night-out with a difference?On March 17th, St Patrick's Day, we have a special themed menu on the evening Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train.
News Update 3 February 2006
Tomorrow at Sheffield ParkIt appears that the engineering work may over-run, so to cater for that possibility an emergency timetable will be in operation.
February Sat 4 Engineering Works
The evening Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train departs as normal at 7.30pm from Sheffield Park, but to a slightly altered pathing. Full details
Happy Birthday, Blackmoor Vale
To celebrate its 60th birthday tomorrow (it entered service on 4th February 1946), the Bulleid Society have put this special birthday card for No. 21C123 "Blackmoor Vale" on their web site!
Today at Sheffield Park
Today's progress at Sheffield Park. The rails are now all in, and secured, and ballast has been dropped. The tamper has been through the points, improving the levels and alignment (Photo from David Chappell) and both Normandy (Photo from Jon Bowers) and No.65 were able to (gingerly) pass over the new trackwork to reach the loco yard.
David's photo on the left shows the state of the point at the end of the day. Tomorrow will be spent on hand packing and jacking - any member who feels in need of exercise and wants to lend a hand with this can report to Sheffield Park tomorrow!
Evening photo shoot, 25th February 2006More details now available for the evening photo shoot on the Saturday of Branch Line Weekend. The photographic evening features Maunsell U-class No.1638 and Maunsell carriage stock, and also Ivatt tank No.41312 with a Goods Train. Participation costs £10 if booked and paid in advance - phone 01825 720800 - or £15 if paying on the night.
Reminder that the Full itinerary for this weekend, with working timetable and other details, will be available from Horsted Keynes Booking Office: send an SAE with Cheque for £2.50 payable to "Bluebell Railway" to:
Yesterday at Sheffield Park
Two photos from David Chappell, above, showing the completed brickwork of the Loco Shed wall. The window frames still have to be painted, and as can be seen in the second photo, the shed is not finished. The next phase, once more funds have been raised, will be to complete the south end, with doors.
David's photo on the left shows the new No.16 points at the north of Sheffield Park, nearly completed.
David's photos below show the U-class No.1638 being inspected and tested, getting ready for its debut on public trains at the Branch Line Weekend.
Videos from David Chappell are also available showing the U-class No.1638 moving about at Sheffield Park.
Click on any of the photos in this report for an enlargement.
Also available: Photos taken yesterday around Sheffield Park by John Sands.
Wednesday evening at Horsted Keynes
Dave Clarke's photo shows the extent to which Peter Milnes has had to replace timbers in the brake doors on LCDR No.114 where the coach body had been mauled to fit a fireplace during its days as a bungalow.
Completion of this pair of doors is the largest remaining job to complete the restoration of the carriage.
The photo also shows the new pitch-pine step-board (running board) in place.
News flash 26 January 2006
More details available for the Branch Line WeekendFurther details now available for attractions planned over the weekend of February 25-26 include:
Bluebell Railway (BLW), Horsted Keynes Station, Nr. Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 7BB
Steam test for 75027, and U-class 1638 emerges from worksOn a day when no public trains are scheduled, we had four locos in steam!
All photos in this report taken today!
Two photos from John Sands, above. The first shows Fenchurch carrying out shunting at Sheffield Park for the engineering works taking place just north of the station. Later in the day, No.75027 emerged from a couple of months in the loco works, feeling much better for it, for a steam test.
In the meantime, assuming things were going as planned at Horsted Keynes, the two out-shedded locos there should also have been in steam, with Normandy shunting the carriage yard and the O1 on the spoil trains from the extension.
Then, later in the day, David Chappell, who had been assisting with the engineering work (replacing the point at the north end of Sheffield Park station), caught the following photos as the nearly completed U-class No.1638, emerged from the loco works to be gently warmed through ready for a steam test tomorrow.
Click on any of the photos in this report for an enlargement.
News update 19 January 2006
Advance Booking for Branch Line WeekendPreliminary details are available for Branch-Line Weekend, (Feb 25 - 26). A substantial discount is available for those who book in advance, and this closes next week, on 24 January.
U-class hopefully on course for debut at Branch Line WeekendThere are just a few last jobs to do on the SR U-class No.1638. If its steam test, due very soon, goes to plan, then Maunsell Loco Society members will be the first to know, and also be the first to ride behind the loco, back in service after 42 years. Then we hope the loco will make its public debut at the Branch-Line weekend.
Sheds, etc at Sheffield Park
The shed for the Brighton Atlantic now has its roof girders in place, and the loco running shed wall is coming along nicely, and should be completed in a couple of weeks.
The photo on the right shows preparations for next week's replacement of the point at the North end of Sheffield Park. A reminder that this will result in the O1 and Normandy being isolated to the North, and services on the weekend of 28-29 January will be limited to Horsted Keynes-Kingscote, with a free replacement bus service from Sheffield Park. Further details here.
Three photos above, taken today: David Chappell.
Click on any of the photos in this report for an enlargement.
Below: Normandy seen shunting at Sheffield Park today (John Sands)
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Compiled by Richard Salmon.