News From the Bluebell Railway - Aug-Dec 1996 Archive

This is an Archive for the main News from the Bluebell page. Please note that due to the historical nature of this page, some links may no longer work correctly.

Update 20/12/96

Martin Nichols has provided the following Loco Update:

The Standard 4, No.75027 and U-class No.1638 were both re-wheeled last week.

75027   Boiler work continues. Plate patches not arrived
        from Pridhams yet.

1638    New forgings for coupling rods arrived last week
        as did the new smokebox tube-plate blank.

473 Birch Grove: Repairs to one of the side tanks completed.
        Firehole door ring and foundation ring now all riveted up.
        Westinghouse pump returned from Fred Bailey's home workshop
        and successfully run on air.

263 H-Class: Some firebox problems have been discovered. Also
        needs new pistons and valves. A pattern will have to 
        be made for the new piston. 

92240 9F: Operational, but the driver's steam brake valve will need
        some new parts making. This will be done when the Santa
        specials have finished.

Pullman Car No.76 entered traffic on Saturday December 7th. The Dynamo from the LBSCR First was not fitted, since it has a different size of mounting pin, which meant that Car 76's own dynamo has had to be re-wired and re-fitted.

So the Pullman train is now up to four vehicles, all dating from the 20's and 30's. Booking for 1997 Golden Arrow dining trains is now open. Having had a superb meal on it with my girl-friend last Saturday, it comes highly recommended (from both of us!)

Future Events:

The date I previously gave for the Little & Often "Branch Line Weekend" special event has been changed. Here is the full published list of special events for 1997.
February: Sat 8 - Sun 9: Branch Line Weekend: Little & Often
March: Sat 15 - Sun 16: Children's Fun Weekend
April: Sun 20: Vintage Bus Day
June: Sat 28 - Sun 29: Friends of Thomas the Tank Engine© Weekend
                       (Event licensed by Britt Alcroft Limited©)
July: Sat 19 - Sun 20: Toy and Rail Collectors Fair
July: Sat 26 - Sun 27: Steam Fair & Vintage Vehicle Rally:
                       Vintage Vehicles and Machinery, Steam-driven
                       Fun Fair, Intensive Train Service.
October: Sun 26: Giants of Steam and Military Vehicle Display

Extra attractions for 1997:

Vintage Goods Trains: Saturdays in May, August and September
             - Please telephone for confirmation and timings.
Vintage Branch Line Trains: These will run in addition to
                  Service 3 on Saturdays in April and October. 

The centenary of the GNR Directors' Saloon will be celebrated throughout the coming year, and specifically on the weekends of the 7-8 and 14-15 June.

At present the coach has been stripped of the lower body panels, which were plywood, so that these can be replaced with teak. All the iron knees which hold the body to the bottom-side, and their bolts, have been removed. They are being galvanised, and galvanised bolts will be fitted, since this is a once in a century chance to do this preventative maintenance work whilst the body-structure is exposed.

At Kingscote, the ex-Brighton Upper Goods signal box is coming on well, with much work done to turn a bare shell into a habitable building with floors, windows, and an entrance door ten-feet in the air to which there is access. (This latter was achieved just in time to let out the team who had been installing the floor, thus shutting off the previous access which had been via a ladder inside the box!)

The platform 2 canopy is progressing. Most of the work at present is concerned with the preparation of the distinctive Brighton-style cross bracing at the top of the pillars. This involves, I am told, 800 stopped chamfers, 16 end-caps (each having four faces) and over 300 mortise and tenon joints!

After completing the brick-work on the signal box, the team have moved on to build the parapets to the bridge just south of the station. These are copies of the originals visible in old photographs of the station. Attention will then turn to the wing-walls of the bridge where the brick-work has suffered due to tree-roots.

In November the wagon collection in the Dock sidings became connected to the rest of the railway, although access to the sidings is only possible during an Engineers possession, until such time as the area becomes fully signalled.

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or to Mark Dewell's UK Heritage Railways Home Page or his News Page

Update 20/11/96

Service Locos over the last few weeks have been:
Martin Nichols has sent me a Locomotive Works Update from Sheffield Park:

75027 BR Standard 4MT 4-6-0

All 10 loco wheels returned from Swindon after tyre, journal and crankpin machining.
Axleboxes re-metalled & ready for machining.
Valve chests re-bored.
Frame alignment and horn positions being checked.
Slidebars being re-aligned.
Lubrication pipework checked, cleaned and re-fitted.
Frames painted.
Piston and valve rods metal-sprayed and ground.
New valve rod bearing bushes being made.
New bogie support pads made and fitted.

Some new platework cut-out and profiled for the firebox outer wrapper. New rear corner plates due from Pridhams this week. Firebox crown stays being removed.

473 "Birch Grove" LBSCR E4 0-6-2T

Large crate of new copper firebox side-stays arrived.
Some work done on re-tapping the firebox crown for new crown stays.

A new hydraulic riveter has been made. This is big enough to put in foundation ring or firehole door ring rivets without giving everyone a headache. We also have an electric rivet heater. This is basically a transformer, with a very low voltage, high current secondary. The rivet forms a short on the secondary, and is heated (or melted if you're not quick enough), to red heat in just a few seconds by the passage of several kA.
A number of test pieces have been made and sawn in half to prove the effectiveness of the hydraulic riveter.
Birch Grove's foundation ring will be the first real test of the new gear.

The volunteer gang, led by Lewis Nodes, have been busy repairing the side tanks. This has meant cutting out some of the lower platework, and welding and riveting in patches.

263 SECR H-class 0-4-4T

In the works for the replacement of some leaking tubes.

3442 "The Great Marquess" LNER K4 2-6-0

Gone back to the SVR after a successful month's running on the Bluebell.

92240 BR 9F 2-10-0

Awaiting repair to the drivers steam brake valve.

34023 "Blackmore Vale" SR West Country 4-6-2

Flues being removed.

72 "Fenchurch" LBSCR Terrier 0-6-0T

The cylinder pattern is slowly taking shape.
Pullman Car No.76 is starting to shine in the Paint Shop at Horsted Keynes, where Robin, the full-time painter, is being assisted by Alan Elliot who pops in to put a coat of paint on before and after his usual job of painting buses. The Dynamo requires repairs, so as an interim measure that already restored and in place on the LBSCR First is to be fitted.

Thanks to advice from the Southern E-Group via e-mail I have established what the shade of orange for the panels of the Stove Fitted SR Passenger Brake Van should be, and a can of 0860-Y50R "Clementine" BS 06E51 has been delivered. Time will tell whether this will fade to a dirty yellow as quickly as did the prototype!

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Update 31/10/96

Current News:

LNER K4 "The Great Marquess", which drew in the crowds on Giants of Steam day, should also be running both Saturdays and Sundays for the next two weekends. The noise of a three-cylinder conjugated-valve-gear machine has certainly been thrilling us!
The 1997 Timetable leaflet has been published. Birch Grove is featured on the cover. Highlights are the Vintage Goods Trains running on Saturdays in May, August and September, and the Vintage Branch Line Train, which will fill in the gaps in the Saturday timetable in April and October. Fares are not being increased.
Pullman Car 76 has arrived at Horsted Keynes, and gone straight into the paint shop. Only five weeks are available for final painting, and completion of the interior, as well as the fitting of new external doors and some attention to the electrics. Graham Ward has the bogie overhaul well in hand, such that the coach is currently resting on two SR1A bogies. The marquetry of this coach is unusual, in that the panels have a decorative border, but the centre of the panels is a single piece of highly figured natural wood.
On Monday the four Metropolitan Railway carriage wheelsets requiring re-tyring were due to be dispatched by BASH to Swindon, with the same low-loader returning with Fenchurch's. Fenchurch is now potentially a runner again for the first time since cracks were discovered in one of the original wrought iron wheels some years ago. Such are the costs of maintaining what is likely to be the country's oldest working steam locomotive.
Kingscote's north-end remodelling has seen the temporary run-round point replaced with the 40-mph single-line point for the eventual extension to East Grinstead. A lot of earth-moving was required to bring the track up to the level it will need to be to cross the road-bridge whilst climing at 1-in-75. Two other points have also been installed, that giving access to the up sidings into the docks, and that on the down side. The Kingscote team will connect these up to, and install, the other point and the two trap points.
Over 100 working members enjoyed the Loco Department party at the Sheffield Arms last Saturday. The (optional) fancy dress theme of loco names or classes had most of us scratching our heads trying to work out the relevance of some of the costumes. Some were easier such as Ian Collins as a skinhead "Britannia", or the school-masterly uniform worn by the party's organiser, Jim Grant. Clive Emsley, subtly, had a piece of paper with the word "Brighton" pinned to his shirt, but this had to be read in conjunction with the footBALL he was carrying and the gold TICK on Claire's blouse. Just for added effect, Claire had "Southern Bells" as earrings. The most stylish were Clive Groome's daughters in heavy makeup and black lipstick, with Lizzie's hair in pig-tails, as the Adams radial tank Family.
Daniel Wilson posted the following on the uk.railway newsgroup:

To alert the public to the restored hourly service on the Uckfield line, Connex South Central are offering free travel between Oxted and Uckfield throughout the weekend 2/3 November. The Uckfield DEMUs will mostly operate from Oxted as usual on the Saturday, but the Sunday service will be the first "winter" one on the line for many years and the trains will all operate hourly to and from East Croydon. Details from enquiry line 0345 484950.

East Sussex County Council has revived a scheme of 5 years ago to reconnect the Uckfield line to Tunbridge Wells Central via the Spa Valley Railway (and through the Sainsburys supermarket car park at Tunbridge Wells West and the disused Grove Tunnel) and Lewes via the Lavender Line and Hamsey link closed in the 1880s. First estimates of cost are 25m ukp if electrified and 17m ukp if not. The Spa Valley Railway is cooperating with their plan. Council consultants Mott Macdonald report "It is considered that ... there is merit in having a scheme ready to go if and when the (funding) situation becomes more favourable for rail investment." (Tunbridge Wells Courier 25 Oct)

Jon Piesing added that an ex-Hastings line unit from St. Leonards would be used to supplement the service this weekend.

The Southern E-Group is a E-mail discussion forum for people with an interest in modelling the Southern Railway, its constituents or successors. One current topic of discussion is favourite loco classes, and, believe it or not, the Bulleid Q1 is leading the league table at present!

See the www page: [now] or send e-mail to (David Lawrence)

Also of interest may be Dave Searle's LBSCR pages:

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News Flash 15/10/96

GIANTS OF STEAM - Sunday 20th October

At short notice, we have obtained the use of LNER K4-class 2-6-0 No.3442 "The Great Marquess" on loan from the Severn Valley Railway. This engine was built in 1937, and spent most of its working life on the West Highland line.

The other three locos will be BR 9F No.92240 - one of the largest, and last, steam locos built in this country, SR S15 No.847 - the last of the powerful Southern Railway 4-6-0 "Goods Arthurs" built in 1937, and BR 5MT "Camelot" No.73082, the only surviving named BR 4-6-0. SR Bulleid Q1 No.C1 has failed as of the time of writing, but if repaired will be double-heading some trains.

Our Pullman Golden Arrow train will also run.
This train will include two SR Bulleid coaches for non-Golden Arrow passengers.

The timetable involves departures every 40 minutes, from Sheffield Park between 10.40 and 5.20 (plus 6.00 to Horsted Keynes only) and from Kingscote between 10.35 and 5.55

Other Special Attractions for Giants of Steam day:

At Sheffield Park:

At Horsted Keynes:

At Kingscote:

Our next special event is "LITTLE & OFTEN", an intensive service of two and three car trains on Saturday and Sunday 8th & 9th February 1997.
Due to arrive on Friday: Pullman Car 76 - a 1928-built all steel third-class car. This was part of the Bulmers Cider train, and has been stored by the VSOE under cover at Stewarts Lane for the last decade. Car 76 has, in the last six months, received a contract overhaul by VSOE staff at Stewarts Lane.
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or to Mark Dewell's UK Heritage Railways Home Page or his News Page

Update 3/10/96

I'll start this news update with a reminder that booking is now open for the Santa Specials. More details are available. This page also includes details of the Bluebell's Golden Arrow Pullman Christmas trains, for an extra-special Christmas meal in our restored 1920's and 30's Pullman Cars.
N.B. On some dates the Golden Arrow is nearly fully booked, so don't delay!


You many have read in the national railway press that West Country Pacific "Boscastle" was to visit the Bluebell from the GCR in the next few weeks, and particularly for the Giants of Steam event on 20th October. Boscastle has unfortunately failed (I think with boiler problems) and so will not be coming after all. The Giants of Steam will therefore be our four largest locos: BR 9F No.92240, SR S15 No.847, BR 5MT "Camelot" No.73082 and SR Bulleid Q1 No.C1. These locos will work an intensive service, with a turnover loco at each end of the line such that the four locos will all be kept busy.
I've received Locomotive reports from both Martin Nichols and Cliff Wood, and we start with a recent arrival: Colin Turner's wife has recently given birth to a bouncing baby boy. As for the locos:

BR Standard 2 No.84030: The boiler is now stripped of all tubes with regulator and main steam pipe dismantled, and is now awaiting boiler inspectors inspection.
Front replacement stretcher components cut to size ready for welding together. New studs being machined for front and rear cylinder covers.
Spring Damper housings machined ready for new pony truck, now looking at construction of new pony frame assembly

BR Standard 4 No.75027 is now completely stripped. The wheels are at Swindon for tyre turning and attention to the journals and crankpins.
The frames are being re-painted.
The boiler has had several large chunks of plate cut out which were badly grooved. The most difficult pieces are the rear corners (bent in all three planes) of the outer firebox. The old bits have been taken down to Pridhams (at Tavistock) as patterns for new ones. The cylinders are loose. This means lots of new fitted bolts. There are also some fractures in the steel castings that support the slidebars which will have to be welded.
A return to traffic for this ever-so-useful medium-sized engine is predicted (at board level, so reality may be different) for next spring.

The repair of "Birch Grove" progresses, although the boiler work awaits the arrival of the new stays.

9F was out of traffic for a couple of weeks as the firehole door protector ring fell into the fire and melted !!. Colin Turner was off having a baby and everyone else thought that we did not have any spares !!

The draft of the 1997 timetable leaflet was briefly glimpsed at Horsted Keynes yesterday evening. It is largely similar to this year's, although with Service 2 retimed half an hour earlier to provide better bus connections with Connex South Central services at East Grinstead. An innovation is a vintage train service (a tank loco with two coaches) which will act as a relief train in Service 3, on Saturdays in April and October. The goods trains with Baxter are also advertised, having proved popular this year. The cover features "Birch Grove" which should be back in service next year.
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or to Mark Dewell's UK Heritage Railways Home Page or his News Page

Update 24/9/96

September is nearly over, so the coming weekend will be a good time to see the "Vintage September" events. Last Saturday, for example, we had the SECR H-class with four pre-war SR and SECR coaches, the Q1 on the other service train, SECR P-class "Bluebell" at Horsted Keynes, and Baxter running up and down the line with its short demonstration freight train.


The wooden top was craned onto the completed signal box base on 30th August, so Kingscote now, visually, has another major feature in place. The brickwork is not the "piano" type, as had supported the box originally at Brighton Upper Goods, but is a scaled-up version of what was originally used at Kingscote. The narrow and tall piano base was only used in places of tight clearance, so would have been inappropriate, (and looked out of place and scale) at Kingscote.

The Friends of Kingscote have decided that they will have to take on the p-way work to complete the siding and running-line layout at the north end of Kingscote. They calculate the cost of the sleepers, ballast and crossing timbers as £9440. All the steelwork for the six points, and the rails and chairs are already on the railway.

The canopy on Platform 2 progresses, with woodwork being erected. The zinc sheeting recovered from Lavant and Hassocks canopies has been sorted out, and it appears there will be enough to complete the project. The initial intention is to cover the top of the subway, and an adjoining section which will then provide shelter from the elements for the preparation of the remaining woodwork.

Carriage & Wagon News

The Mk.1 BCK has arrived and gone straight into service as the p-way mobile mess facility. The coach is in excellent structural condition, and is a medium-term possibility for a return to traffic, although some parts are still required to complete the interior fit. Structurally it appears to be in first-rate condition.
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Update 27/8/96

First an update on the Locomotive fleet from Martin Nichols.

In the works 18/8/96 E4 473, Class 4 75027, 3217.

96     Steam test passed OK.  Now 'Running In'.
473    Boiler work continues.  Stays are now being manufactured
        (externally), tubeplate has been fitted, but not riveted.
        Palm stays fitted.  Eccentric straps ready for white metaling.
        Other work on the chassis continues. Air pump being overhauled,
        (including making many new parts,) by one of the workshop
        volunteers in his workshop at home.
3217   Still waiting for boiler lift, but external boiler work, (needle
        gunning, & painting) continues.
75027  Boiler lifted last week, inverted and moved into the workshop for
        what will have to be an extensive repair. Chassis stripping
        continues and will be ready for lifting off its wheels next week.
        I understand that the repair of this loco. has been given top
        priority.  With luck it should be back in traffic next year.
92240  Receiving minor attention to a foundation ring rivet. (Back in
        traffic this last weekend)
592    Recently received several new driving wheel springs.
1638   A comprehensive boiler survey has now been carried out on this
        loco. The findings were better than expected, although a new
        smokebox tubeplate will be required.
        Quotations are being sought for the new motion parts.

73082, C1, 847, 592, 263, 323, 96, 3 all OK.

A Snow-plough (ex-Schools class tender) has been delivered to Sheffield Park. This is one of two which I understand will provide frames and running-gear for tenders for 1638 and 830.

The Metropolitan third class coach is now nearly finished, and has been filmed by Channel 4 for a series on vintage restorations, due to be seen on the TV in February. It cannot enter service however, until we have finished the Metropolitan brake vehicle, to which it is close-coupled. It also still needs new tyres on the wheels.

Bulleid open third 1481 has been in the paintshop for a smarten-up and attention to its canvas roof, which should see this coach through the next few years until it can be withdrawn for what will then have to be a major overhaul.

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or to Mark Dewell's UK Heritage Railways Home Page or his News Page

Update 2/8/96

By all accounts last weekend's steam fair was considerably busier than the previous year's, although I've not heard the final figures. The weekend also saw the welcome return to the traffic fleet after a few months absence of the S15, and a service making use of three sets of coaches.

Martin Nichols has sent me an update on the Loco situation as of last Sunday.

96    LSWR B4 "Normandy"  Steam test this week.
323   SECR P "Bluebell"   On the washout road with the dome cover off.
473   LBSCR E4 "Birch Grove"  Boiler work continues. New outer wrapper
        plates ready for tapping for the new stays. 320 feet of copper
        bar for the stays is ready to be sent away. Some of the motion
        work (done about 10 years ago) will have to be redone.
35027 SR MN "Port Line"  Withdrawn for 10 year overhaul.
3217  GWR "Earl of Berkeley"  Waiting for boiler lift.
75027 BR Class 4   Waiting for boiler lift. In the meantime the
        crownstays are being removed.

73082 Camelot, 92240, C1, 847, 592, 263 and 3 Baxter all OK.

Carriage News:

The exterior panelling of one side and one end of the LBSCR First is now complete. It was extracted from the carriage shed on Sunday, and the resulting photograph should be in the next issue of Bluebell News, together with a photograph showing what has still to be done on the other side of the vehicle.

Pullman car "Bertha" has been in the paint shop and has had its roof stripped back to bare metal and repainted.

Future Events:

Saturday 3rd August - STEAM TO COUNTRY
August 3-4 - STEPNEY WEEKEND. Children's activities. Faces on engines!

On Saturdays and Sundays in September a two-train service will be run.

STARLIGHT SPECIALS - Saturday 19th October - Enjoy the magic of trains after dark.

GIANTS OF STEAM - Sunday 20th October

Special working timetable with full details of arrangements available after 1st October, £1 from: Bluebell Railway, Horsted Keynes Station. RH17 7BB

SANTA SPECIALS - 30 Nov., 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23 and 24 Dec.
Booking opens 1st October - More details on the Santa Special Web Page.

LITTLE & OFTEN, an intensive service of two and three car trains on Saturday and Sunday 8th & 9th February 1997.

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