News From the Bluebell Railway
Archive - September-December 1999

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.
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News update 20 December 1999

Bluebell Railway 2000 Timetable

The Railway's 2000 timetable is now available on the web site. There are some slight adjustments to train times, particularly in service 3, and also for the times of the 473 bus service between Kingscote and East Grinstead. However, the major changes are that far more use is made of the vintage sets of carriages, which are timetabled for 65 days in the coming year, now that two alternative sets of pre-grouping carriages are available to be matched with our older engines.

The year's special events list (which has now been finalised, adding dates for the Victorian Evenings, a Twenties Evening, and the Military Vehicles day) kicks off with, between 31st December 1999 and 3rd January 2000, a special series of Vintage Trains, which will feature two sets of pre-grouping carriages hauled by pre-grouping engines.

Steaming into the New Millennium

In addition to the timetabled vintage trains (service 2) on 31st December 1999, the following double-headed trains will run during the evening (and into the New Year), thanks to sufficient staff volunteering to remain "dry":
31 Dec    8-00pm from Sheffield Park, return at 9pm from Kingscote
         10-30pm from Sheffield Park, return at 11pm from Horsted Keynes
 1 Jan   12-30am from Sheffield Park, return at 1am from Horsted Keynes
Travel is free to members.
The Bessemer Arms will be open.

Line-side developments

Carriage Works Extension

The foundations are in, the track in the dock has been relaid on concrete sleepers, and the erection of the steel frame starts tomorrow. Money is available to lay the ground beams and start the lower (brick) parts of the walls. However, we are dependent on further donations to be able to progress to the cladding, doors and windows, so please help if you are able. Full details are elsewhere on the web site, and a more detailed update will be found in the next edition of the Bluebell News magazine.

New Web Site for our favourite Pub!

The C&W's local, The Green Man in Horsted Keynes village, has a fine web site. Although the pub has been frequented less in recent years due to modern railway safety regulations, it none the less was host to my own stag night last year, and has been visited on occasions in evenings, purely to ensure that the quality of the beer is being maintained at their normal high standards!

1999 Santa Specials

Bookings have been well above previous years, with few seats left on any of the trains. For the first time we have been able, on the first weekend of the Santa operation, to offer wheelchair-accessible accommodation in our recently converted Saloon carriage.

New section of Web Site for the
Bluebell Railway Fire Service

A new web page for our volunteer Fire Service has been added, with thanks to Julian Best.

The Fire Service have a new recruits day on the 9th Jan 2000, when they are inviting people to come along who may like to join the department for all its many roles! Should anyone be interested then they can contact Julian Best in the first instance or drop in at the fire station in the weeks beforehand.

Port Line to leave?

"Steam Railway" magazine reports that the Rebuilt Bulleid Pacific owned by Southern Locomotives Ltd. is to be overhauled, probably at Sellinge, prior to moving to Swanage, which was always planned to be the loco's eventual home. It will then be able to take the place of "257 Squadron", due itself for a 10-year overhaul next year, as the Swanage's flagship engine.

With our own two Bulleid Pacifics able to act as the Bluebell's "Flagships" over the coming two decades, with "Blackmoor Vale" expected out of the works in the next few months, and "Sir Archibald Sinclair" also likely to enter service during the next decade, "Port Line" will be missed, but not too much!

Recent changes on the Web Site

Finally, I'd like to wish all subscribers to the Bluebell's e-mail news service a Very Happy Christmas and a problem-free start to the New Millennium!

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Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
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News update 10 November 1999

Special Events for 2000

This item is now updated and has been placed on the Special Events 2000 page.

Railway Children Filming completed

Carlton have completed three weeks of filming on location at the Bluebell for a feature-length film of "The Railway Children". Jenny Agutter was again in the film, this time as the Mother. Other cast members included Richard Attenborough, Michael Kitchen and Gregor Fisher. Filming mainly took place at Horsted Keynes station, but the tunnel and three-arch cutting also featured, along with Birch Grove, which was turned to face South (and will remain so for some time), the C-class, Normandy and Maude from the SRPS. Six of our pre-grouping coaches were also used.

The film will be shown on ITV next year, and their publicity machine is already gearing up for it!

Locomotive Fleet News

>From Martin Nichols

Visitor 'Maude' has returned to the wilds of the north.

92240, 73082, 75027, C1, 592, 473, 323, 65, 55, 3 operational.

Following the recent boiler repairs (new patch screws in the firebox doorplate seam) to 92240 is has been decided to operate the loco at reduced pressure. This is not because of any weakness in the boiler, but simply that it will reduce the amount of boiler maintenance. The safety valves are now set to 225lbs/sq in instead of 250. This also brings the boiler pressure in line with the other BR standards operational on our line. The theoretical tractive effort is reduced from 39,667lbs to 35,700.

Bulleid Q1, C1, is now back in service after repairs to the piston valves.

In the works...
34023 Blackmore Vale is progressing well. The tender chassis was re-wheeled last week after much work that has included fabrication of a complete new front dragbox. The tender wheels and journals have all been turned at Swindon. Unfortunately one wheel-set had a very worn journal and this is now at the minimum allowable diameter. The axle will have to be replaced at the next major overhaul. A great deal of other work has been done on the tender, which was actually in rather poor condition. A complete new tank will be fabricated in the next few months. In the meantime the brake gear is being refurbished. The main brakeshaft, which runs across the back of the tender and translates the force from the vacuum cylinders to a pull on the brake rigging, has been found to be bent. A new shaft is being made to replace this.

The loco is actually a 4-2-2 currently, with the leading and training wheel-sets away for tyre and journal turning. The piston valves are being examined.

Overall it looks like the return to steam will be in time for the summer 2000 service.

The effort on Dukedog 3217 is still concentrated on the boiler. Almost all the crown stays have been re-drilled and tapped (it is good practice to leave a few in place to support the firebox whilst the others are removed). The few remaining ones will have to wait until we have some new stays to take over the support. The copper side are all unchanged in size (1" x 11 tpi), but the outer wrapper has been re-drilled and tapped to 1 1/8" x 11 tpi. The new stays will thus be compound. It is likely that the manufacture of the 112 new stays will be contracted out. The new smokebox tubeplate is complete, and we are almost in a position to place the order for the new angle ring that will secure the tubeplate to the boiler barrel.

The cylinder block for 'Fenchurch' has been re-assembled after repair and will shortly be replaced in the frames.

New SECR Birdcage Coach arrives

SECR Lavatory 2nd/3rd Brake No.1084 (SR 3363) ended up as a Gauge Template Vehicle in departmental service, DS 22. In this form it had wooden spikes protruding from the body to enable measurements to be made of the clearances through bridges and tunnels.

Initially preserved, from 1978, on the Kent and East Sussex Railway, and subsequently at Robertsbridge, it has now been bought for restoration to traffic by Bluebell C&W member Trevor Rapley, and moved to Horsted Keynes. Restoration work has already started on components of the mahogany panelled interior, although the magnitude of the task means that it will be several years before the vehicle returns to passenger duty.

Trevor's intention is to restore the vehicle initially as Southern Railway 3363, in lined olive green, to match the two SECR "hundred seaters" and the LBSCR First, No.7598, the restoration of which Trevor also led. When the Railway's other two Birdcage Brakes are restored, it might then be possible for our 60' brake No.1170 to take the place of 3363, which might then be returned to SECR livery, as 3363 is the correct length of vehicle to match our other "Ashford Gothic" 50' Birdcage Brake, No.1061 on the other end of a "Trio" set.

Volunteer Track Gang

This now meets on the 3rd Sunday of each month. All welcome.

Starting 21st November: If wet: lifting and packing track in Sharpthorne Tunnel; if dry: lifting, packing and cant correction around Black Hut.
Meet: for 9.30 trolley departure, at PW Mess coach, Platform 1, HK. Return at time of last service train. Bring Packed Lunch.

Carriage Works Extension

>From Martin Lock

The Carriage Works Extension was started on Monday. Excavations for the first of the foundations in the down yard car park have been made and approved by the building inspector. First pour of concrete was yesterday. There is enough money for the foundations and steel frame. Money is coming in from the appeal and I hope we can go straight on with the next phase straight away. Only about 20% of membership had the leaflet inserted into Bluebell News which was a bit of a blow. Details and a donation form are available on our web site.

Trevor's Birdcage arriving has highlighted how desperately we need this extra space. The existing shed is now full with carriages either restored or being restored. Nice to get some physical progress at last. Help if you can.

Recent changes on the Web Site

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Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
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News update 18 October 1999

Details available for Starlight Special and Giants of Steam

Full details of next weekend's events are now available. Highlights are:

Starlight Special: 23rd October

Giants of Steam: 24th October

Full details of both days' events are available here.

Other News in Brief

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Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages & Wagons - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search the site
Why not become a BRPS Member?     -     Get more involved as a Volunteer

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News update 1 October 1999

Restoration starts on new SECR Birdcage coach.

Trevor Rapley, who's team has just completed the restoration of LBSCR Bogie First No.7598, has acquired SECR Birdcage Brake 1084 from Robertsbridge. The Bluebell board have given approval for it to come to the Bluebell, and Trevor has already started work on the restoration of the blind boxes, prior to the arrival of the vehicle at Horsted Keynes.

It has the advantage that it comes with a substantially complete underframe (unlike the LBSCR coach now completed), and doors which are all in fairly good shape.

Once restored it will provide a brake coach, in lined olive green, for the current SECR/LBSCR vintage train. Completion of the LSWR Brake Third (see below) could make this a 5-coach set. Subsequently, once other SECR vehicles are completed, it is the correct diagram to go at the other end of a Trio set with our existing short birdcage, exactly matching the body-style, so could be re-painted to match.

As with our existing 50' birdcage brake, No.1061, it has six passenger compartments, originally a 2nd/3rd composite. In addition it has a pair of lavatories, serving two compartments.

Booking opens for Santa Special trains.

Our popular Santa Special trains are running again this December. The page on this web site has full details, and also a postal booking form. Don't delay, since some trains get fully booked quite early, and the booking clerks will today have started processing the hundreds of bookings already received through the post.

Restoration report on LSWR Carriage 1520.
from Andrew Pepper

On Sunday September 26, the group restoring the LSWR lavatory brake third at Horsted fitted another length of new bottom rail to the vehicle, along with the repaired west-side Guard's Ducket. The new bottom-rail is a 17' length, also on the west side, and means that this 56'-long body now has 37' of new bottom-rail in place on this side and 20' on the east side. The ducket looks good, and is largely the original wood.

We have also re-fitted some of the internal partitioning. The section between the brake end and the southern-most compartment, which had one-third cut away in 1948 to allow internal access to the brake end, is now virtually complete. All the surviving original partitioning has been retained, and for any passing observer it was difficult to tell what was new and what old, so good is the original material. Half of the partition between the next two compartments, all of which was also removed in 1948, is back in place. This already makes the inside of the vehicle look very different - less like a parcels van and more like the passenger vehicle it is.

We expect to fit a further east-side bottom-rail section, plus re-fit the other Guard's Ducket, before the year-end. This Ducket needs more replacement wood, but still has some original material.

An order has been placed for plywood panels to clad the brake end.

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Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages & Wagons - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search the site
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News update 22 September 1999

September: Sat 25 - Sun 26: Somerset & Dorset Weekend.

The memory of the Somerset and Dorset line will be re-kindled with trains hauled by engines appropriate to the line, with suitable locomotive combinations, headboards and carriage destination boards. Our BR Standard class 5 locomotive will carry the Name and Number: 73087 "Linette", and the other locomotives should be Standard 4 No.75027, and, we hope, 9F No.92240. On the Saturday a mixed Passenger and Van train will run in between the two main trains which will maintain an hourly service between 11am and 4pm. On the Sunday, the Golden Arrow Pullman dining train will run, for pre-booked luncheons, and double-heading of the service trains will occur as per S&D practice.

Normal fares apply. Event Guide and working timetable available for £1 from booking offices.

Please ring 01825 720825 (24 hours) for further information.

Report on Summer Steam Gala.

A splendid event with our most intensive four-train service, with all available locos in steam, and with the pre-grouping ones double-heading in different combinations. Seven of our pre-grouping coaches were in use, along with Maunsell, Bulleid, Pullman and BR sets plus a van train. A full report is available.

October: Sun 24: Giants of Steam.

More details of this event soon.

Carriage Works Extension.

There is a new web page with details of the current push for overhead cover for our unique collection of carriage stock. Construction starts soon, but more donations are required if we are to see the works extension completed and brought into use.

London Area Group Meeting.

On October 12th the Bluebell's London Area Group have a talk about BASH (the restoration of the Met coaches) and the Carriage Shed Extension from Martin Lock, and a certain Richard Salmon.

7.30 pm, Willington School, Worcester Road, Wimbledon SW19 (approx. 5 mins walk Wimbledon BR/LT station).

P-Appeal.

An appeal has been launched to raise the funds for overhauling SECR Loco No.323 "Bluebell" when its boiler certificate expires. Please have a look at this page. If the fund-raising goes well, we might even see a production line in the works with all three P-classes being worked on simultaneously!

Wivelsfield Historical Society - "Steaming through Sussex".

David Mills writes:

Wivelsfield Historical Society has a meeting, which is open to the public, on Thursday, 21st October at Wivelsfield Village Hall (off the Chailey to Wivelsfield/Burgess Hill Road and by the playing fields), Wilvelsfield Green, opposite Slugwash Lane. It will cost a £1-00 to get in.

According to the leaflet: "Bill Gage, Assistant County Archivist, is giving a vdeo presentation on early railways in Sussex to include archive footage of steam trains and a look at the lines no longer in use."

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Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages & Wagons - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search the site
Why not become a BRPS Member?     -     Get more involved as a Volunteer

Your ideal Film/TV location?


News update 3 September 1999

Bluebell is one of the top-50 great rail journeys of the world

A feature article in 'The Independent' newspaper on Saturday 28th August included a ride on the Bluebell Railway as one of the top rail journeys world-wide, and amongst the 10 best rail journeys in Britain. Two other UK Heritage lines also featured in the list; the Ffestiniog and the Keighley & Worth Valley.

4th September - O1 takes demonstration goods train

The O1-class No.65 is scheduled to haul the SECR goods train tomorrow (Saturday 4th September). The goods train runs as follows:

HK-SP 10.40 am
SP-KC 12.30 pm
KC-SP 1.33 pm
SP-KC 2.30 pm
KC-SP 3.33 pm
SP-HK 4.30 pm


John Huntley Film Show

On the evening of Monday 6th September 1999, railway historian John Huntley is presenting a film show about the preserved railways of Sussex and Kent, with the Bluebell Railway featuring predominantly. He will be presenting both amateur and professionally shot footage all on its original film format.

The show is at Croydon Fairfield Halls, Park Lane, Croydon, CR9 1DG.
Box office: 0181 688 9291.


Reports on Recent Events

O1 at the SECR Gala; Jon Horrocks SECR Gala - SER O1 No.65 enters regular service

Right:The SER O1 in action at the SECR Gala Weekend
Photo © Jon Horrocks

The SER O1 No.65 turned heads at the SECR Centenary Gala. To look at, it's very much a 7/8 scale C-class, so they make a good combination when double-headed. Also entering service at the SECR Centenary Weekend, after an overhaul, was SECR Passenger Luggage Van No.153, which can be seen behind the loco in this photo.

Since the SECR Centenary events the O1 has been in frequent use for the last month, having been in regular service, often double-heading with the C-class. It has also been running solo; on the Bank Holiday Monday it hauled the three-coach SR Maunsell set, forming the Vintage Branch-line train for our three-train peak service.

O1 and Birch Grove at Kingscote; Jon Horrocks

Left:The SER O1 and Birch Grove at Kingscote
Photo © Jon Horrocks

The SECR Centenary Gala weekend itself was a great success, although the complex timetable (much the same as the Winter-steam-up, which ran to time) did result in some late running. Vintage coaches, the SECR freight train (complete with another newly overhauled SECR wagon making its first outing) together with three SECR (and several other) locos made for a splendid event, with four different sets of coaches ensuring that one could spent the entire weekend coming across some combination you'd not previously seen.

Jonathan Horrocks has put several of his photos of the event on his website.

W11 and 473 at Haven Street, 21st August Birch Grove has been on its summer holiday to the Isle of Wight

Right:W11 and 473 at Haven Street, 21st August
Photo © Lewis Nodes

Peter Richards and Lewis Nodes have provided photos and a web page which gives an account of the visit of Birch Grove to the IoW Steam Railway this summer. By all accounts, the visit has been a great success, swelling visitors to the line, especially for the gala weekend when they had three Brighton locos, plus the LSWR 02, in action.


Millenium Cavalcade
The Millennium Cavalcade of Steam, which is taking place over the August Bank-Holiday weekend, 2000, should feature our very own Stroudley Terrier "Fenchurch", which also participated in the previous cavalcade at Shildon in 1975.

Carriage Shed progress

The extension to the current carriage shed is getting under way, with an area concreted within the existing shed to take machinery displaced from the metal-working shop which has to be removed as part of the development. Building Regulations approval has been received and the contracts for foundations and steel frame have been let.

Encouraging news for the proposed stock storage sheds. The Lottery Heritage Fund application has been approved in principle, and the next stage is to submit the detailed application.


Sponsored Walk for LSWR Coach Project

The LSWR coach team provided us with a fine selection of routes, including new paths not explored on previous walks. The weather was kind to us, starting in sunshine, and with the slightest sprinkling of rain later in the day, when much of the south-east had much worse weather.

My thanks to those of you who sponsored my wife and I; we raised £215, most of it from recipients of this news service. I'm told that the total is nearing £2000, which will go a good way towards the funding required for the LSWR coach project for the coming year, and with more money still coming in.

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Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages & Wagons - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search the site
Why not become a BRPS Member?     -     Get more involved as a Volunteer

Your ideal Film/TV location?


Into 2000

Vintage Trains
Vintage Style

Celebrate the turn of the century by travelling in the
style your great-grandparents would have experienced.
Stepney with Metropolitan Railway coaches

>From 31st December 1999 to 3rd January 2000, the Bluebell Railway will be using its oldest locomotives to haul Victorian and Edwardian carriages between Sheffield Park and Kingscote. Come and experience the teak-panelled splendour of our recently restored Metropolitan Railway coaches and the spacious luxury of LBSCR First-Class compartments and our Great Northern Railway Directors' Saloon.

A special timetable (using two vintage trains) will operate on these days, and will also include the use of a vintage goods train. Train times will be as the timetabled Service 2.

Birch Grove with the Vintage Branch Line Train

The year 2000 is a special year for the Bluebell as it is our 40th anniversary. The Bluebell is proud of the fact that it has now operated the railway for longer than each of its previous owners! Special events will be held throughout the year to mark this marvellous achievement.

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Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - What's New - Extension - Locos - Carriages & Wagons - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search the site - FAQ
Why not become a BRPS Member?     -     Get more involved as a Volunteer

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Go to earlier News from the Bluebell Archives:
1999: Jan-April, May-Aug
1998: Jan-June, July-Dec
1997: Jan-June, July-Dec
1996: Jan-July, Aug-Dec
1995: June-Dec
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