Reminder that the Bluebell Railway's Giants of Steam Gala is next weekend. Full details now available, including the Bus timetable which includes the use of a vintage RML.
7 locos in use, including visiting 35005 "Canadian Pacific" and 41312 from the Mid Hants, both seen at Sheffield Park in the photo below, on 18th October, together with our own BR 4-6-0 No.75027. (both photos: Chris Dadson)
An Itinerary for this event, with full working timetable and other
details, is available from Horsted Keynes Booking Office:
Send an SAE with Cheque for £2.50 payable to "Bluebell Railway" to:
GoS, Horsted Keynes Station, Nr. Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 7BB
The latest report from the Bulleid Society indicates that our Bulleid West Country pacific, 21C123 Blackmoor Vale, has been repaired in time to take part in the Gala.
Details of its recent repairs are to be found on the Bulleid Society Web Site.
Two more vintage coach bodies have been recovered for eventual reconstruction and use on the railway. LSWR Family Saloon No.25 and LCDR Third No.668 are seen here upon arrival at Horsted Keynes on 18th October. Eventually they will be mounted on suitable 4 or 6 wheel underframes, and restored to operational condition.
The LCDR coach, dating from 1897, is of particular interest to us, since we had three LCDR brakes, but no ordinary carriage to run between them.
The LSWR coach, from 1885, might be useful as part of a train of LSWR vehicles, since the three we have already are all third class, and being able to add some first-class accommodation to an LSWR train would clearly be useful operationally. Although sections of bodyside and doors had been removed from the body many years ago, much of the material from the coach survived on site, and has also arrived at Horsted.
The costs of transport were kindly covered, at short notice, by the Bluebell Railway Trust, and the move was coordinated by Peter Milnes.
The bodies will be stored under a tarpaulin at Horsted Keynes, sitting temporarily on the underframe of former SR Bulleid coach 4035.
The 1927-built Howard Locomotive has been seen
moving around under its own power at Horsted Keynes for the first time since about 1969! More
information and photos are now available. It is hoped that this rail-tractor may be useful for the Carriage and Wagon department, in being able to move one or two carriages around the yard.
Last week, the last of the four new bracket signals was installed at
Horsted Keynes. Jon Bowers has provided this photo showing the new bracket post, alongside that installed last year. Chris Dadson has photos of this available, and also
of the Autumn Tint Specials which are a new feature of October
midweek for this year.
The excavation of spoil from the south side of Imberhorne Bridge is proceeding, and Dave Clarke has photos of the latest progress. Please note that this is a construction site, out of bounds to all, including working members, except with the express permission of the project manager.
Dave has also supplied photos of progress around the Carriage & Wagon.
A full news report of recent progress with the Bluebell Railway Atlantic Project is available. The photo shows the foundations in and track laid, ready for the concrete floor and erection of the building which will house the locomotive and tender during its erection.
Other work completed is a new pattern for casting the chimney, and the second of the four main driving wheels which has been re-cast. The profiled and joggled main frames should arrive once the building is up to cover them. The completed tender frame is now on its wheels, and this and the boiler will also be accommodated within the building.
Finally, a reminder that booking is now open for the Santa Specials.
Yes, it's our wandering North London Railway tank loco, which went away on loan to Barrow Hill Roundhouse in 1999, and has more recently been visiting the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway at Wirksworth (very close to its former stamping ground on the Cromford and High Peak line) for a few months on its way home.
The plan is to overhaul the locomotive over the next year or two, to replace "Normandy" as our main shunting loco, with the added advantage that this 1880 veteran will also be able to play its part in hauling normal service trains. Normandy's boiler certificate expires next March, and until the North London Tank returns to steam, our twice-weekly shunting turns will be covered largely by the SER O1 and LBSCR "Birch Grove".
The arrival was a surprise to everyone at the Bluebell, since it was not expected back quite yet!
Right: Double-headed Bulleid pacifics hauling a train of mainly Bulleid stock, together with 1928-built Pullman "Car 76 - Lilian". Photo: Derek Hayward
The gala itself has been a great success, with trains comfortably loaded (and more visitors than last year, leading to slight overcrowding on a few of the trains). Highlights included the attractive combinations of motive power, and the ability for our more discerning visitors to travel in a variety of unusual saloon carriages. About 150 people each day joined guided tours of the Viaduct on the extension to East Grinstead, and a similar number viewed progress on carriage restoration at close quarters at Horsted Keynes.
The carol service at Horsted Keynes, led by the Railway's Chaplain, the Rector of Horsted Keynes, the Revd Timothy Rawdon-Mogg, and accompanied by the Bluebell Railway Band, was attended by over 250 people and the obligatory steam engine, "Stepney".
As always, there was an enforced pause in proceedings whilst the Golden Arrow Pullman Dining train made its way through the station on its way to Kingscote. I never know who is most surprised, the first-time visitor to the carol service, or the patrons on the train.
Public trains run on 267 days next year, and the majority of running dates will see at least two trains running, with one of them being a vintage train (using either Victorian or pre-grouping 1920s carriages).
Highlights of the Special Events list include the February Branch Line weekend, a goods trains weekend, Giants of Steam in October, with the visit of "City of Truro" being the first time on a preserved line that it will appear alongside the Bluebell's "Earl of Berkeley", the other surviving GWR outside-framed 4-4-0. The year's enthusiast events conclude in November with what should be the biggest gathering yet in preservation of members of a single class, with 6 Stroudley Terriers, all of them around 130 years old, steaming together!
In the carriage shed during November and December the volunteers of BASH have undertaken a bodywork repair and re-varnish of the Met Composite No.368, which re-entered traffic on Boxing Day to take its part in the Vintage New Year festivities, which see the daily two-train service handled by the three Victorian Metropolitan Railway varnished teak coaches, our 1903 Brighton first, the 1913 LNWR Observation Car, and the two SECR hundred-seaters. The trains are steam heated, and the fires will be lit in the grates in the waiting rooms!
The photo above shows the Dukedog hauling the Obo and Met coaches, forming the 3.21pm departure from Horsted Keynes on 28th December as sunset approaches, whilst the one to the right, taken by Nick Beck, shows the same train departing northwards the following afternoon. The freshly revarnished No.368 is the centre of the three Met coaches.
Click on any of the photos in this report for an enlargement.
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