News From the Bluebell Railway
Archive - January-April 2000

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.

News update 4 April 2000

More news of "The Railway Children"

Gregor Fisher as Perks the Porter (c) Carlton Television Ltd Carlton's "The Railway Children" will be shown at 8pm on Easter Day itself. Advance reviews have been coming out in the Newspapers, and the critics seem to like it. Jenny Agutter (as "mother") will also be appearing as the cover on the Radio Times. For those of you in the USA, you might be interested to know that it's been sold to WGBH Boston.

Carlton's official site launched on 31st March, and on 10th April at 4pm, there will be a Jenny Agutter webchat on that site. Carlton are apparently to release a book and video to coincide with the screening, but here the news is not so good for America, since they are not currently planning a US video release. The video will be available from the Bluebell's shop, so get your order in now!

A "Railway Children Day" will be held on May 6th on the Railway, using trains formed up as used in the film, and with most of the cast present.

The photo shows Gregor Fisher as Perks the Porter. (© Carlton TV)

The Chatham Twins

Double Headed SECR locos Peter Edwards' superb photo shows the two SECR goods locos being used on a Footplate Days and Ways experience course on 15th March 2000, as I mentioned in my last report. One of my colleagues on the railway suggested that we'd missed a trick by not advertising the day as a photo charter as well as a driver experience course!

Art Demonstration and Exhibition

Two events as part of the Mid Sussex Community Arts Festival:

Rail-art Workshop

Led by Matthew Cousins and John Cowley

There are 12 places for artists of all abilities who wish to receive tuition in water-colour, acrilic and gouache media. The workshop will be based in the exhibition van at Horsted Keynes station. Come and enjoy this new experience in the comfortable surroundings of the railway. Line-side passes will be provided.

Saturday 8 April and Sunday 9 April from 9.30am.
Ticket prices: £50 for two-day workshop.
Information and booking: Contact Matthew Cousins on 01444 831474

Locomotives Illustrated

Come and see an exhibition of original artworks and photographs and see how the magazine Locomotives Illustrated is put together.

Saturday 15 April to Sunday 30 April at Horsted Keynes Station.
Admission free for railway visitors.

Carriage Works Extension

Framework of shed Photo right: The steel frame of the Carriage Works extension. (Richard Salmon) Volunteers from BASH have taken time off from restoring the Metropolitan coaches over the last two weekends to lay 3 mixer-loads of concrete. This has seen the section of A-road within the extension, which has been re-layed on concrete sleepers, tram-tracked. The next phase of construction will see the remaining floor levelled and concreted, the re-inforced ground-beams cast in-situ, and the brickwork built up from them. 3,500 bricks are already on site for this.

Chairman runs in London Marathon

BRPS Chairman, Roy Watts, is running in the London Marathon on Sunday, 16th April to help raise funds for the Carriage Works Appeal. We hope that many Bluebell Members and supporters will sponsor him, or even go to London to cheer him on during the run. Please e-mail Barry Coward with offers of sponsorship, or for details of where the best places to go are to support Roy. If you are a UK tax-payer your sponsorship could be worth more to us if it is made via the Bluebell Railway Trust.

Restoration Update, LSWR Brake 3rd No.1520

from Andrew Pepper.

LSWR 1520 partially rebuilt Photo left: The rebuilt brake-van end framework, prior to replacement of the guard's ducket. (Richard Salmon)

A further 10' length of bottom rail has now been inserted on the east (platform) side of 1520. This brings the total lengths inserted so far to 37' on the west side and 30' on the east side of this 56'-long body. The new section was fitted at the same time as the second of the two repaired guard's duckets, and marks the completion of one of the more tricky jobs. The completion of this work also means that the entire brake-end of the vehicle has received its new bottom rails and either new or repaired body-side framework. This allows us to start fitting the plywood side and south-end panels during the next two months.

Peter Milnes is making the first two of the four pairs of brake-end doors, incorporating the few parts that are reuseable.

We have also dismantled most of the surviving side framework and the remains of the bottom rail from the next section of the east side, and started repair of the reuseable timbers. This section forms the side of two of the four compartments, as well as the lavatory area.

The design of our proposed wheelchair lifts has been received by the HSE for their approval, and we await their comments. Once received, with any required changes, the engineeering students of Kingston University will commence trial construction of the first lift, hopefully this Autumn.

Spring trackwork

The new tandem point (i.e. three-way) at the North end of platform 2 at Horsted Keynes is now connected to the new crossover from 3-road, and Normandy became the first engine over this trackwork yesterday afternoon. The PWay gang will also be doing some work on Freshfield Bank in the next couple of weeks before daily running commences in the middle of April.

Graham Ward's "Third Sunday" volunteer track gang are starting on the new Ardingly point at the south end of Platforms 1 and 2, and are aiming to connect the existing long siding to this over the coming months. For anyone who fancies flexing their muscles on trackwork, this relatively new team is a good place to start. It meets the third Sunday of each month at the P-way mess coach in Platform 1 at Horsted Keynes.

LCDR Carriage 106

The brake end of 106 Peter Milnes' team have now been working on this project for over a year, with materials funded by the Bluebell Railway Trust. I thought it was time to share some progress on this with you. The accompanying photograph shows the brake end of the body, with the "bungalow" window removed, and now completely re-panelled with second-hand salvaged teak. The brake van floor has been rebuilt, and the roof sticks have been steamed and cramped to bring them back to the correct profile. Much of the original roof timber is good enough to be re-used.

The SR van underframe to take the body is ready for the new hot rivets, after shortenning. Steam heat piping and brake-gear have also been prepared, along with a battery box.

Loco News

We're a bit light on Loco News because our special correspondent has just moved house. I understand that "best guesses" for the next outshoppings from the works are: Standard Tank 80151 is likely to enter the works once space becomes available.

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

News update 17 March 2000

New BRPS Vice-President

The Bluebell Railway Preservation Society is honoured and delighted to announce that Sir Alastair Morton, Chairman of the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority has accepted an invitation to become a Vice President of the Society. Sir Alastair, whilst Co-chairman of Eurotunnel, gained practice of opening tunnels when he presided over the opening of our extension through Sharpthorne Tunnel to West Hoathly in 1992.

Stepney Fun Weekend - 25th & 26th March

A fun weekend, featuring our children's favourite locomotive, "Stepney", who will be helping to haul one of the two trains.

This year we have teamed up with Dorling Kindersley Family Learning, who will be providing some of the entertainment at Horsted Keynes station.

Full details are available elsewhere on this web-site.

"The Railway Children"

Waving at the Train (c) Carlton Television Ltd Whilst we still await confirmation of the Easter TV schedules, rumour has it that Carlton will be showing their newly shot TV film on Easter Monday.

Also the Edith Nesbit Society are planning to hold a "Railway Children Day" on the railway. More details once these are confirmed.

Kingscote Progress and News

The Friends of Kingscote continue to make dramatic progress with their station. The first two panels for the back wall of the new Platform 2 canopy are essentially prepared, and the "Great Wall of Kingscote" between the station and the yard is now complete. This wall, designed to keep materials and fork-lift trucks at bay, is a substantial affair, constructed from RSJs and no less than 220 second-hand telegraph poles. The Goods Shed is also now looking as though it had always been there.

The building supplies firm occupying the yard is apparently selling up. Purchase of the yard is not, so far as I am aware, a high priority for the railway, since it is likely to carry a price tag beyond our means, although we could always do with more space!

Met Carriages for "Steam on the Met"

Met Brake coach restored As usual, the Bluebell will be represented at Steam on the Met (20, 21, 27, 28 & 29 May) by the BASH team, who are restoring the four Victorian Metropolitan Railway carriages at Horsted Keynes. This year our stand will be rather more dramatic than most. In the bay at Rickmansworth, coupled to Met Loco No.1 from the Bucks Railway Centre, will be our two restored Met coaches, Brake No.387, pictured here, and Full Third No.394.

Restoration work continues apace on the third coach, 1898-built composite No.368, which was very nearly scrapped in the late '60s. This coach now has its new floor, partitions and most of the roof in place, and the new external mouldings are starting to go on to the repanelled sides. New roof-sticks have been made by steaming and bending 8-foot lengths of ash, and fixing these to the refurbished steel hoops.

Pembroke's Report

George Pembroke's long-expected (feared?) report on the Bluebell in Steam Railway magazine was, I'm pleased to say, largely enthusiastic about our achievements and the facilities we offer to visitors. We may take it that his reference to us running Mk.2 coaches must have been a mis-print, and he seems to have failed to notice that his train did in fact include the disabled-accessible carriage (and that this carriage is in use so regularly that we have great difficulty in getting hold of it for regular maintenance!). He also appeared to overlook that both Sheffield Park and Kingscote stations have purpose-built disabled lavatory facilities. Other than that, his report seemed very fair, with many of his minor criticisms being ones which we'd probably acknowledge were areas that could be improved in the coming years.

Sheffield Park Garden (National Trust)

We have been developing closer links with our neighbouring attraction recently. Amongst George Pembroke's other comments in Steam Railway magazine, his suggestion that we should open a halt closer to the Garden is mystifying, since the current station is already situated as close to the Garden as it can be!

A new web page has details of the Joint ticket arrangement which is now in place with the National Trust.

Loco News

Kevin George preparing one of Fenchurch's Axleboxes A crane is booked to put Fenchurch's frames back on its wheels on Monday 27 March. (Photo: Axlebox being prepared). Other jobs planned for the crane are turning 1178 around for ease of access during current restoration work, putting 80151's boiler onto the small boiler trolley, and putting 34059's boiler on the big boiler trolley.

Work continues on the major overhauls of Bulleid Pacific "Blackmore Vale", with its new tender body coming together, and the GWR "Earl of Berkeley", on which boiler work is progressing.

When I made my usual Wednesday evening working visit to Horsted Keynes this week, I witnessed the splendid site of our two SECR 0-6-0s double-heading a train of pre-war coaching stock on one of Clive Groome's more advanced "Footplate Days and Ways" courses.

Bulleid Pacific "Port Line" has now, as expected, been moved to Swanage for its owning group to undertake a full overhaul. This follows the Swanage Railway's success in upgrading their line for 25mph running and heavier axle-loadings.
Buffer assemblies fitted Photo: Left: The overhauled buffer assemblies, with new springs fitted, were fixed to Fenchurch's chassis on March 5th.

Recent changes on the Web Site

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

News update 21 January 2000

The Railway Children - Latest

It's not certain yet, but it's possible that the Carlton Television film of E.Nesbit's "The Railway Children" will be shown at Easter. Two web sites are already available.

On Location Carlton's official site is in preparation, and promises to be quite an in-depth look at the film and the making of it. At present it's just a holding page, with the full site rolling out in the run-up to the transmission date.

An un-official Carlton's "Railway Children" web site, which none-the-less has close links with the production, has quite a lot already, including interviews, biographies, reports of the filming, and several photos taken during filming on the Bluebell.

Photo: Peter (Jack Blumenau), Mother (Jenny Agutter), The Old Gentleman (Lord Richard Attenborough), Phyllis (Clare Thomas) and Bobby (Jemima Rooper) with The Green Dragon (592). (Photo used with permission of Carlton TV)

Producer Charles Elton is quoted as saying:
"We're not 'remaking' the 1970 film, but making a film of the 1906 book, and in many ways we're trying to be more faithful to the original novel- for example we're including the canal scenes from the book, and also the scene when Bobbie gets trapped on the engine when she's taken Peter's toy train to be repaired. The project is really a labour of love for all of us.

"We looked at many different railways throughout England and we loved the Bluebell Line. It's so beautifully preserved and wasn't like a tacky tourist attraction, it's a working line. There is a long tunnel with lovely north and south entrances which will be perfect for a sequence when the boy breaks his leg. We wanted to find a railway with rolling stock and locomotives from the period and the Bluebell Line has the most incredibly preserved stock.

"Simon Nye has stayed very close to Edith Nesbit's book in his adaption but has brought something entirely fresh to it. The Bluebell Railway in Sussex is the perfect place to bring it all to life."

It's nice when someone else blows our trumpet for us! However, I thought the page on our web site advertising our suitability as a film and TV location could do with a higher profile, so it's been considerably enlarged!

Winter Steam-up Weekend - 19th & 20th February

Stepney and 323 with the Metropolitan coaches at last year's event This looks set to be quite as splendid an event as last year's, involving: If you do come down that weekend, why not join me for a Guided Tour of the Carriage Works at Horsted Keynes? Do introduce yourself!

The web page for this event has more details.

The Event Guide and working timetable is available in advance:
send £1.50 plus S.A.E. to:
WSU, Bluebell Railway, Horsted Keynes Station, Nr Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH17 7BB

Of course, our steam trains are also running each weekend in January, February and March, plus the half-term week starting 21st February.

Carriage Works Extension

The steel-work is nearly all erected, and the track-work in A road extended into the new structure. I gather the response to the appeal in the Winter Bluebell News has been good, but more money is still required to complete even the shell of the building, so if you can help, please take a look at the web page for this project.

Santa Specials

These were exceptionally busy this year, with virtually every seat sold on every train throughout December. The two of the three BR standard locos ran the service, with the third standing ready as spare, or on the Golden Arrow Pullmans, and Stepney was also in steam as station pilot at Sheffield Park.

9F on Santa Special

Picture of the 9F on a Santa Service, from John Bowers

New Year's Eve

The free evening (and early morning!) trains, double headed by two Victorian engines, were well patronised, and with fireworks at Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes, those who came reported having a most enjoyable time.

The two-train service of pre-grouping locos and coaches run on four days over the New-Year period also proved to be very popular, although it was noticeable that there were fewer takers for champagne on the GNR Directors' Saloon on 1st Jan than on the other days!

Recent changes on the Web Site

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 - 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
Go to earlier News from the Bluebell Archives:
1999: Jan-April, May-Aug, Sept-Dec
1998: Jan-June, July-Dec
1997: Jan-June, July-Dec
1996: Jan-July, Aug-Dec
1995: June-Dec
or the latest news page or the later archive May-Aug 2000.
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