News From the Bluebell Railway
Jan-July 1996 Archive

This is an Archive for News from the Bluebell. In fact, this particular page is an archive of news reports sent out by e-mail before the web site existed. Please note that due to the historical nature of this page, some links may no longer work correctly.

Update 4/7/96

June has been a busy month, and last Saturday will serve as an example of the level of activity which now occurs, following the opening of the signal box at Kingscote, allowing two-train operation north of Horsted Keynes. The two service trains were, as usual, behind Camelot and the 9F. The P-class, Bluebell, and the SECR brake van were at Horsted for Clive Groome's Footplate experience course. Between the service trains the C-class took a Golden Arrow wedding charter on two round-trips, and Baxter also took its goods train up to Kingscote when the Golden Arrow wasn't up there.

Baxter's short goods train (limited to 50 tons as befits a 119-year-old loco) consisted of the LBSCR Hi-bar tarpaulin wagon, the LMS banana van, the SR "Fratton" box van, and the vacuum braked WD (SR-design) pill-box brake van (the non-vacuum, SR one, being currently on loan to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway).

The Q1 has been in service, covering a period while the 9F and Camelot received minor works attention. The Camelot group celebrated the 30th anniversary of their loco's withdrawal from BR traffic on Sunday 30th, with a book launch, and made use of the GNR saloon attached to the train for their celebrations.

The GWR Dukedog 4-4-0 "Earl of Berkeley" has moved into the loco works, joining LSWR 0-4-0T "Normandy", the BR 4MT 4-6-0 and LBSCR 0-6-2T "Birch Grove".

Martin Nichols has sent an update of the current locomotive situation:

96      Loco nearly complete.
        Boiler cladding, tanks and cab all back in place.
        Some work remains to be done to the boiler fittings but should
        be ready for steam test soon.  All motion back in place but the
        valves have not been set.

323     OK but annual boiler exam due this month.

263     OK but has broken bogie spring.

473     New firebox outer plates finally riveted in place.
        Inner firebox back in the boiler to allow all the new
        stay holes to be drilled in the outer wrapper.
        New smokebox tubeplate complete but not fitted yet.
        Chassis has had the motion removed for cleaning and checking.

847     In works for replacement of broken spring and attention to tyres.

35027   Recently re-painted by Alan Elliott and Mike Carrol.
        Should have been in service, but when the boiler was filled
        some leaky tubes were found.

3217    Valves and some motion removed over the last couple of weeks.
        Interesting loco. The valves are outside admission piston
        valves, presumably because it was originally slide valve.

73082, 92240, C1, 592, 3    all serviceable.

Two Bluebell volunteers received MBEs in the Queen's Birthday Honours

Charles Hudson, our signal engineer for 36 years, and "volunteer No.1" received his for both his voluntary work for St. John's Ambulance and the Bluebell.

Martin Lock, who leads the BASH project restoring our four Metropolitan Railway coaches, was honoured principally as a result of his work, although the Bluebell and the Army Tank Museum were also mentioned.

The train formations planned for the Steam Fair weekend look interesting. There will be three service trains, one of which will be a vintage six-coach set, the newest vehicle on the train being our 1935-built Maunsell Open Third, and featuring four pre-grouping coaches.
The BASH Strollathon on Sunday 16th June was enjoyed by all who took part. As a result of this event, Martin Lock reckons we have enough money in the bank to order the new 8 new steel tyres for the wheelsets for the Metropolitan Railway coaches. My grateful thanks to those of you who sponsored me by e-mail.
New Arrival: A "Shark" ballast plough brake van, built in 1949 to an SECR design.
The two-coach SR pre-war Maunsell pair should be in traffic again in the near future, and we are looking forward to the time, hopefully before the end of the year, when they will be joined by the second brake coach.

Work has started on the re-sheeting of Bulleid open third No.1482. The bodywork underneath the steel sheeting is sound, as had been hoped.

A visit to Pickering has been made to collect the half-ton of teak which we had ordered through the LNER Coach Association for our Metropolitan Railway set and the GNR directors' saloon.

Return to Bluebell Railway Home Page,
or to Mark Dewell's UK Heritage Railways Home Page or his News Page

Update 31/5/96

April seemed to go by with very little appearing to happen, then it all happened in May, so here goes with an update on what's going on down on the line.

The regular pattern this month seems to have been Camelot and the 9F on the service trains at weekends, with the C taking the Sunday Golden Arrow luncheon train, the H shunting, Baxter as station pilot and Bluebell at Horsted on Saturdays for Footplate Experience courses.

Loco News

Martin Nichols has sent me updated news on the Bluebell's Locos, so here it is:

C1 Q1-class. In the workshop for minor repairs and annual boiler exam.
3 "Baxter".  Operational. In steam on Monday last.
24 "Stamford" ??
27 P-class ??
55 "Stepney".  Much discussed.
72 "Fenchurch" Wheels now fitted to axles. Gone away for tyre turning.
   Brian Wilkie and Roy Stirling busy making new cylinder pattern.
96 "Normandy" Still in works. New smokebox fitted. Boiler passed
   hydraulic test and is now back in the frames. Wheels turned and
   journals skimmed. Axleboxes re-metalled and machined.
   Hornguides trued up. Loco re-wheeled. Slide bars ground.
   Coupling rod bushes re-metalled, machined and rods re-fitted.
   Crossheads receiving new bronze slippers. Steam brake re-bored
   and generally overhauled. All valve gear parts re-bushed and
   some new pins being made.  Steam heat pipes being made and fitted.
   Injectors overhauled and refitted.  Re-painting continues as parts
   are repaired and re-fitted.

   As you can see a thorough job is being done. Back in service
   in about 2 months at a guess.

263 H-class.  Suffered a broken spring hanger recently. This was
   repaired by welding. Otherwise operational.
323 "Bluebell" Operational.
473 "Birch Grove" Boiler and chassis both in the workshop. The boiler
   inspector has condemned the smokebox tubeplate. A new tubeplate
   has been fabricated (outside job). This has now been drilled and
   turned on the o/d ready for fitting to the boiler shell. Work
   continues on the air brake system and generally on the chassis.
488 Adams Radial Tank.  Awaiting heavy boiler job.
541 Q-class.  Awaiting 10 year job.
592 C-class.  Operational.
830 S15.  Looks like things might start happening here soon !!
847 S15.  Tyres may be manually re-profiled, otherwise operational.
928 "Stowe"  Awaiting 10 year overhaul.
1178 P-class ??
1618 U-class.  Awaiting 10 year overhaul.
1638 U-class.  The Maunsell men are progressing on this loco. The new
   rear dragbox has now been fitted along with various bits of platework
   in that area. The front buffer beam has been straightened (rough
   shunt in Barry Yard) and is currently being re-fitted. The
   axleboxes are the next job. This should allow re-wheeling to take
   place this year. The boiler has been gutted for thorough exam.
3217 "Earl of Berkeley" Boiler gutted and awaiting lifting from the frames.
34023 "Blackmore Vale" Some work started, but not in the workshop yet.
34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair".  Boiler back at long last, but not much
35027 "Port Line" Boiler repaired and due for a test. Mike Carrol has been
   giving some attention to the paintwork. Visiting Swanage this year ??
30064 USA-class.  Awaiting 10 year overhaul.
58850 NLR tank.  Awaiting 10 year overhaul.
73082 "Camelot".  Operational. Goes well and is liked by the crews.
75027 4MT 4-6-0.  In the workshop. Boiler ready for lifting. This may go
   away for repair.
80100 4MT 2-6-4T.  Needs a lot of TLC and Dosh. Buying Barry locos is
   the EASY bit.
84030 2MT 2-6-2T.  Work continues. The front truck is being assembled and
   some new parts for the rear truck are being made. Parts being acquired.
   Boiler gutted and ready for exam.
92240 9F 2-10-0.  Operational. Also going well.

HM Railway Inspectorate passes two-train operation to Kingscote.

As I mentioned last time, Baxter will take a short goods train to Kingscote on Saturdays in June, between the service trains. This and the running of the Sunday Golden Arrow through to Kingscote has been made possible by the commissioning of the signalling at Kingscote, which, along with Platform 2 there, has been passed for public use by HMRI.

With that little objective out of the way, the new post for the inner home bracket signal south of Horsted is now planted, and should soon be sprouting! The existing signal at this position is a temporary affair, hastily strung together when its predecessor succumbed to advancing age a few years ago.

Future Events:

TOY AND COLLECTORS FAIR. July 20th and 21st, 10.30am to 4.30pm
Horsted Keynes Station
(Enquiries: Barry Jones, 01903 244 655 (evenings))

July 27-28 at Horsted Keynes station
Vintage Vehicles and Machinery
Steam driven Fun Fair
Real Ale tent.

August 3-4 Children's activities weekend

Special Event:

STEAM TO COUNTRY - Saturday 3rd August
Featuring - in the Grand Marquee:
plus: Showcase stage, Western Dance, Steam Fun Fare, 30 real ales, Barbeque, Stalls
FREE PARKING is available at Sheffield Park Station, then take the train to Horsted Keynes Station and Picnic site. No parking facilities are available at Horsted Keynes for this event. First train 3.00 pm, last train 11.00 pm. Concert: 7.15 - 10.45 pm.

Concert and train fare: £12.50 per person, child £6.50. Please make cheques payable to "Bluebell Railway", stating how many adults' and how many children's tickets are required, and send them with a stamped addressed envelope to:
Bluebell Railway (Country), Horsted Keynes Station, Haywards Heath, RH17 7BB. Telephone 01825 724084

News from the Carriage Shed

The Maunsell Brake No.6686 has had its roof recanvassed, and the external steel sheeting is nearly complete, as are the interior ceilings.

The other Maunsell Brake, No.6575, is nearing the end of its mini-overhaul and re-paint.

The underframe for the Stroudley coach is nearly complete, and Roger Barton is hoping to re-wheel it in the next day or two, following completion of the riveting and installation of the buffers. Wiring, steam heat and brake piping will be the next jobs.

The BASH fund-raising stall at "Steam on the Met" at Rickmansworth had two successful weekends, but more money is still needed to re-tyre the eight wheels for the otherwise nearly finished Full Third. Please support the Strollathon sponsored walk on 16th June. E-mail me for details, or why not sponsor me!

Return to Bluebell Railway Home Page,
or to Mark Dewell's UK Heritage Railways Home Page or his News Page

Update 9/4/96

Fenchurch's wheelsets are now at Swindon, with the new tyres on the new wheels now being turned to the same size as those on the other wheels. The wooden pattern for casting the new cylinders is being made, and it is expected that new cylinders for Stepney will be cast at the same time. It is possible that the order might stretch to seven castings, since the K&ESR and IoW terriers are likely to need new cylinder blocks at some stage!

The visit, now over, of the West Somerset Railway's GWR prairie tank has proved very successful, having handled the service trains on Sundays in fine style, despite a few worries about water consumption, which were found to be due to a blowing superheater element. The "Men in the Lobby" are now all acknowledged experts on GW engines.

Through March, most of the other trains have been handled by the SECR locos, but over Easter they gave way to the super-power combination of the two BR standards, the 9F and Camelot, which shifted the Bank Holiday crowds in fine style.

Yesterday (Monday) was particularly busy, with many trains full and standing. Whilst it would be nice to provide seats for all passengers, Bank Holiday visitors seem happy with such conditions. After all, at other popular attractions such as Thorpe Park or Alton Towers, you might well have to queue for a couple of hours for a 2-minute ride. Confusion reigned temporarily when a party of 150 turned up at Sheffield Park unexpectedly. When they got to Horsted we had another panic as they nearly all wanted guided tours of the Carriage Works!

Baxter ran a test Goods Train to Kingscote on Saturday evening. This proved to be successful, and clears the way for a possible series of Saturday runs in June, between the service trains. These will provided added interest for our visitors, as well as giving Baxter a more exciting life than just station pilot.

Future Events:

Sunday 16th June from 10am
Circular sponsored walk of 14km from Horsted Keynes Station to raise money for the EIGHT WHEEL APPEAL for new tyres for the Bluebell's Victorian Metropolitan Railway coaches. Sponsorship forms available by post - send an e-mail to Richard Salmon, or ring Barry Coward on 01323 849186 (daytime).

July 20th and 21st, 10.30am to 4.30pm
Horsted Keynes Station

Model Railways   -   Maps
Books            -   Timetables
Ephemera         -   Railwayana
AND: Bluebell Railway STEAM trains.
(Enquiries: Barry Jones, 01903 244 655 (evenings))

Carriage & Wagon News

Alan Elliot is making good progress with the lining and sign-writing of the Metropolitan Third class coach, which looks most impressive. Roger Williams team has just finished the canvas patches on the roof of Maunsell Brake 6575, and this is now being re-painted, initially only on one side, since it is required for filming. The LMS BGZ has been entered in the ARPS Carriage and Wagon Competition. The recently arrived BR Mk.1 Corridor First has now been stripped internally and is advertised for sale. The level of interest in it is such that we should have some more news on this before too long.

Two canopies, and two signalling schemes.

The new canopy at Horsted Keynes is moving ahead well, with the first section of wooden framing now erected above the structural steel box. The half-brackets on the next pair of columns south were fitted this weekend.

The Kingscote platform 2 canopy is also now making visible progress above ground level. The delivery of the concrete was a bit nerve-racking, but went well in the end, and now six of the seven canopy stanchions, and (as of yesterday morning) six of the seven steel columns for the back wall were erected. They were hoping to get the seventh up yesterday. Now that vehicular access has finished to the back of the platform, the area behind will be landscaped to form the picnic area. The tarmac platform surface will be installed, and all looks set for public admission to the platform hopefully in June, at the same time as the signalling is commissioned.

Signalling progress at Kingscote can be divided into two areas. The new signals are to have their arms attached in the next week or so, and should soon be connected up to the temporary 11-lever ground-frame in the new cabin south of the station. It is hoped to have everything ready for official inspection around the beginning of June, after which two-train operation north of Horsted will be possible.

On Sunday afternoon most of the Kingscote heavy-mob descended on the S&T dock at Horsted to pick up the components for the full installation of signalling, including the frame components and forty levers for the Box which will shortly be rising from the substantial foundations at the North end of Kingscote station. One load was taken up as "hand luggage" in the brake van of the service train. The heavier components (one being a ten-man lift!) were taken up by Wickham trolley and trailers in the evening. The components will be cleaned and repaired or repainted as necessary, in preparation for the eventual installation.

Return to Bluebell Railway Home Page,
or to Mark Dewell's UK Heritage Railways Home Page or his News Page

Update 23/2/96

Branch Line Weekend went off very well, even if the coaches were not quite in the expected formations due to shunting difficulties and maintenance requirements. Bluebell did not, after all, run north of Horsted due to concern over water quality at Horsted. The trains were taken by the C, the H, the Q1, and the visiting GWR small prairie tank No. 4561, in GWR Green. I don't know who it was who told me it was going to be in BR Black! Extra coaches were added to some trains to carry all the passengers who turned up, and some trains on the Sunday were double-headed by the two SECR engines.

Visit of Prairie Tank No. 4561

If you missed seeing it last weekend, it is hoped that 4561 will run every Sunday from now until it returns to the West Somerset in late March.
Return to Bluebell Railway Home Page,
or to Mark Dewell's UK Heritage Railways Home Page or his News Page

Update 5/2/96

Firstly a Locomotive Round-up from Martin Nichols:

3  Baxter:        Winterised at the moment. Due for a 5 year boiler exam.
323  Bluebell:    Operational.
96  Normandy:     Stripped in the works. Boiler repairs almost complete.
           These were / are:
             welding repairs to grooving in backhead and throatplate.
             Re-rivet foundation ring and firehole door ring.
             Some patch screws in lap seams.
             New internal pipe and boiler pad for addition of steam heat.
           Axleboxes and coupling rod bushes re-metalled.
           Steam brake cylinder re-bored, new piston etc.
           Frames painted in undercoat.

473  Birch Grove:  Boiler in works; new boiler plates drilled and 
           prepared for welding.
           Frames in yard; work continues on air brake system.

75027  (BR 4MT):   In works, ready for boiler lift.
73082  Camelot:    Winterised but operational.
C1  (Bulleid Q1):  Suffered frost fractured steam reverser cylinder last 
           weekend (27-28 Jan).
           New cylinder will be required (probably use the one from
           Q-class No. 541 in the short term.)

263 (SECR H-class): Broken bogie spring but otherwise ok.
592 (SECR C-class): In works. Valve and piston exam shows that new piston 
             rings will be required.  Would be nice to re-bore it but 
             cylinders are at maximum size already.  Will do in the short 
             term but new cylinders or liners at next 10 year overhaul.

847  (SR S15):     Winterised. Otherwise operational.
1638  (SR U):      Wheels back from Tursdale Engineering with new crankpin 
             fitted.  Work progressing on running board platework.

3217  Earl of Berkeley:  Boiler gutted and ready for removal.
35027  Port Line:        Awaiting boiler repairs.
92240  (BR 9F):          Operational.
72 Fenchurch:            New wheelset back from Tursdale. 1 set of new 
             tyres acquired but not yet fitted. Cylinder block removed 
             from frames and split apart.  Brian Wilkie making drawings
             etc. for new cylinder pattern.

84030  (BR 2MT):   Boiler gutted and almost ready for internal inspection.
             Work progresses on new frame stretchers and various fittings.

Branch Line Weekend - 17-18 February

Provisionally the guest engine will be GWR small prairie tank No. 4561, in BR lined black from the West Somerset. I understand it also hoped that the Q1 and the H will be working by then, with the P "Bluebell" also on passenger trains. The chances of the C-class running are put at 50/50.

Valentines Evening: Golden Arrow Pullman

Looking for something different on Valentines Evening? Then why not step back in time and enjoy a romantic evening aboard the Bluebell Railway's Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train.

Diners sit in beautifully restored 1920's and 30's carriages resplendent with gleaming brass, fine marquetry panelling and ornate tableware while the train glides rhythmically through the Vale of Sussex. The food and wines are of the highest quality, befitting the period setting. Diners may choose from a four course menu plus coffee. All the food is prepared on board by the Golden Arrow's own Chef de Cuisine.

Ticket prices: £18 First Class, £16 Third Class
Table d'Hôte Menu price: £25

For further details and reservations

New Arrivals:


A decorator has been employed to apply the anaglypta ceiling and bulkhead decoration in the first compartment of the LBSCR bogie first. New end foot-step brackets have been made, and all of the panelling and mouldings have been applied to that end of the coach.

Bulleid Brake 4279 has had its wheels swapped, due to tyre wear. Although it seems unlikely, it is thought that this may be the first time that this has been done in 25 years of Bluebell service!

The leaflet in the winter Bluebell News produced a good response to the appeal to re-tyre 8 wheels from the Metropolitan Railway Chesham Set. We now have half of the money for this in the bank - but that still leaves us £4000 short.

Return to Bluebell Railway Home Page,
or to Mark Dewell's UK Heritage Railways Home Page or his News Page

Update 18/1/96

The new timetable is out, and it appears to be the best designed leaflet we've had for many years. Now that the East Somerset Railway has acquired an 08 shunter, the cover makes the provocative statement "The Only All Steam Railway in the Country"!

Forthcoming Events for the Diary:

February 17-18 Branch Line Weekend - small trains running at frequent intervals
March 16-17 Volunteer's Weekend - come and find out what you can do to help run the Railway.
March 23-24 Children's Fun Weekend
April 21, Sunday: Vintage Bus day
July 27-28 Steam Fair - Vintage Vehicles and machinery, and steam driven Fun Fair
August 3-4 Stepney Club weekend - children's activities
October 20 - Giants of Steam

London Area Group meetings:

Feb 13 - Lessons learned in 42 years of railway life - Dick Hardy
March 12 - Waterloo to North Devon in the early 1960s - Clive Fairchild

All Welcome: 7.30 pm start with refreshments, Willington School, Worcester Road, Wimbledon SW19 (approx. 5 mins walk Wimbledon BR/LT station).

The Alan Willmot Film Show
7pm, Friday 22 March at Willington School, Worcester Road, Wimbledon.
Admission £3 including refreshments (profits to Bluebell Railway projects)

Croydon Area Group meetings:
Feb 6: Merchant Navy Loco Preservation - John Harvey
March 5: East Lancashire Railway - John Bolton

7.30 pm, Ruskin House, Coombe Road, Croydon

Last December's Santa specials reversed the decline of past years, with revenue of 90 thousand pounds, 10k over budget and 12k up on the previous year. This excellent result will ease the shortage of funds always experienced over the quiet winter months.
At Kingscote, the steel cage for the foundations for the rear of the canopy on Platform 2 is taking shape. On the signalling side, the ground frame is in position, and a hut is being constructed over it, since it is likely to be a good few years before the new signal box can take over. Much work remains, including the provision of telephones at signals and the North point.
The project to rebuild the third canopy at Horsted Keynes has taken a visible step forward, with the erection of the structural steel box which will provide longitudinal stability to the canopy under wind-loading. This steel-work will eventually be incorporated within a building, and matches the positions of the wooden columns in the Buffet walls on Platform 2-3.
For earlier news reports, see the News from the Bluebell Archive June-Dec 1995.
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