News From the Bluebell Railway
Archive - May-August 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.
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News Flash, 31 August 2000

Dutch Tram Loco in service

Stoomtram on test run Dutch tram locomotive No.18 Leeghwater, built in 1921, visiting the Bluebell Railway from the Stoomtram Museum Hoorm-Medemblick made a successful test run to Kingscote and back yesterday evening, hauling one of its coaches. The second coach arrives today. The locomotive showed itself capable of a good turn of speed, and appears to have sufficient water capacity for its intended use on the Bluebell in the coming two weeks.

Stoomtram on test run The Dutch train will operate pre-booked services daily between Saturday 2nd September and Sunday 10th September in addition to our normal timetable. Full details are available here.

Stoomtram on test run The photos, taken by Lewis Nodes at Sheffield Park, show Wednesday evening's test run. High resolution versions of the pictures are available: click here.


News update 22 August 2000

Blackmoor Vale in Steam
(but not yet in traffic)

Blackmoor Vale on test run Following a sucessful test run last Thursday (photographed right by Tony Pearce - see his web page for full-size photos) it was hoped that Bulleid Pacific Blackmoor Vale would run as planned at the weekend. However, a subsequent test run on the Friday say the loco failed with two tender axleboxes running hot. None the less, it was in steam on the Saturday for its re-naming ceremony, performed, as in 1976, by artist David Shepherd, together with H.A.V. Bulleid, the loco designer's son, and his grandson was also in attendance. The Pullman special for the Bulleid Society's guests, and an evening members' train were hauled by the BR 9F.

With two service trains and the Stepney Special vintage train also running, a four-train timetable was therefore in operation, achieved whilst maintaining the advertised public timetable. A revised loco roster is now available covering the rest of August.

Handel Kardas dies

Handel Kardas at Sheffield Park Handel Kardas, a one-time Bluebell Signal & Telecoms volunteer, and former editor of the Railway World, died on Friday after a long battle with cancer. Photographed in 1986 with one of his Staffordshire Bull Terriers, "Dinah", and fellow volunteer Dave Dare, Handel (on the right) produced the Bluebell's in-house newsletter, "The Flying Pig", prior to moving on the bigger things in railway journalism.

SP Inner Home Signal Handel was a leading light in the team responsible for the construction of the LBSCR-pattern Inner Home Signal at Sheffield Park (Photo right) and was largely responsible for driving the project forward. He obtained the long lenghts of pitch pine required, and made patterns for the castings, confounding the sceptics who said it couldn't be done.

Handel also instigated the Bluebell's Stepney Club some eleven years ago, which now has a membership of over 400. This is our club for children between 3 & 8 years of age.

The Eagle has landed

Eagle National Railway Museum owned Met-Cam Pullman Kitchen First "Eagle" has arrived on the Bluebell Railway on loan. The move has been prompted by the sale of Pullman Car "Bertha" by its owner to an individual connected with the Swanage Railway. Bertha, which has run on the Bluebell's Golden Arrow dining train for ten years, is a former SR 6-Pul electric vehicle. During the 1980s its interior was restored from a stripped-out shell by its owner. It was modified to be suitable for service behind steam engines by volunteers at Horsted Keynes, involving changes to the lighting, heating, braking, electrical, refrigeration and cooking facilities, as well as the gangway connectors. The sale comes at the end of the 10-year agreement between the owner and the railway.

Eagle, which has run on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway until recently, requires minor maintenance before it can enter service on the Bluebell's "Golden Arrow" Pullman dining train.

LSWR Carriage 1520 restoration progress

The restoration team hope to get another 17' length of the platform-side bottom rail and side structure in place before the sponsored walk in September. This would mean that 47' out of the 56' length would be complete on this side, and 37' on the west side. Also the brake-end cladding just needs one more coat of undercoat before being fixed to the vehicle. If they can complete these two stages before the walk then the progress since the last one will be quite marked, so hopefully people will feel their hard-walked money is being well spent.

A reminder that the sponsored walk, which is being run in support of this project, is on Saturday 23 September. Full details are here 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 10 August 2000

Visiting Locos and Coaches

1. The Bluebell Railway Goes Dutch

SteamTram 18 with Carriage 22 For one week only, Locomotive No.18 Leeghwater, built in 1921, will be visiting the Bluebell Railway from the Stoomtram Museum Hoorm-Medemblick. It will be accompanied by two vintage carriages, built in 1904 and 1915, which feature clerestory roofs and varnished woodwork.

The Dutch train will operate daily between Saturday 2nd September and Sunday 10th September. Seating is limited to 80 seats per train, and pre-booking is essential. Fares are Adult: £10.00, Child: £5.00 - your ticket also allows unlimited travel on scheduled Bluebell trains in addition to the 13-mile ride on the special Dutch service.

Bookings can be made by post to:
Bluebell Railway goes Dutch
Horsted Keynes Station
Haywards Heath
West Sussex RH19 4BB
or telephone 01825 790185 (between 10.30am and 4.00 pm daily)


2. Bulleid Light Pacific "92 Squadron"

92 Squadron 34081 '92 Squadron' is to make a return visit to the Bluebell Railway this autumn. It is scheduled to enter service on 30th September and run each weekend up to and including 19th November. Highlight of the visit will be the double heading with the Bluebell's resident West Country 'Blackmore Vale' at the Giants of Steam event in October.

The Battle of Britain Loco Society and the Bluebell Railway also plan a couple of private photo charters with both Bulleids sometime in November. Proceeds from these events will go towards transport costs. Details from Ian Bowskill

Stepney Specials

Saturdays for the remainder of August. Details here.

"Blackmore Vale" and The Bulleid Society

Blackmore Vale has been observed in light steam outside the loco works earlier this week, so it's looking good for the formal re-naming of this Bulleid Society locomotive on Saturday 19th August, and hauling public trains on Sunday 20th. The Bulleid Society also now have their own web site.

Football Competition and Carriage Works Extension

Works Extension The working week organised by Martin Lock and Paul Kemp has seen the groundbeams all in, and much progress on the trackwork within the building, as well as taking down existing shed walls which will be replaced by new blockwork. The next stages are the drains and the doors, heading towards the target of a finished building for the winter. To achieve this we still need every penny we can get. Please keep supporting it if you can. Donations to Sheffield Park, cheques made payable to Bluebell Railway Carriage Shed Fund - or you could help by entering our Football Competition, which is being run for us by Anthony Pearce.

The Football Competition is very easy to enter. The easier of the two competitions is to predict the winner of next year's FA cup. My wife picked Chelsea for this year, which shows just how easy it is! The other competition is as easy to enter, but harder to win, the aim being to predict the final order of the teams in the Premier league. Full details on the web site for the competition.

40th Anniversary Summer Gala - Photos

Jon Bowers has sent me some photos taken at last weekend's Gala. Take a look at the report of the event to see them. Everyone who attended reports having had a splendid time.

Volunteer opportunities

A quick plug for Charles Robert's Volunteer days later this month - see the web page.

1920s Evening

Wednesday 20th September - booking now open - see the web page.

New Signal

The Alf Brown Group (aka Southern Signals from Scrap Rail Ltd) report that the hole that was dug for signal 15 (the elevated shunt at the Horsted Keynes up yard exit) had the rail built post buried in it on Sunday Aug 6th. The ladder and gallery support bracket was also fitted. Tuesday (8th Aug) the wooden slats of the gallery platform were bolted on, followed by the gallery handrail. Finally the main components of the shunt signal were bolted to the top of the post. There remains some minor details to do with the mechanical linkages to be fitted. It will then be available for the S&T to wire up and link to the signal box.

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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 - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search & Index
Why not become a BRPS Member?     -     Get more involved as a Volunteer

News update 28 July 2000

Full details of the 40th Anniversary Summer Steam Gala on August 5 & 6 are now available. It promises to be one of our most spectacular events yet, with innovations such as the free "GricerBus" service, and conducted walks on the Viaduct on our East Grinstead extension and the Ardingly Branch trackbed.

Volunteer Experience Days - Friday 18 & Saturday 19 August 2000
We can always make use of more volunteers to help run our railway, so this is your chance to find out what it's all about! Details on a special web page here. With the railway experiencing an 11 per-cent increase in passenger numbers in the first half of the year, we need all the additional help we can get.

Stoomtram Visit
The Dutch steam tram Locomotive No.18 "Leeghwater" and two vintage tram carriages will be visiting the Bluebell between 1st and 11th September. Following a test run on the 1st, it is intended that the tram will venture up the line each day until Sunday 10th September. A marquee at Sheffield Park will feature a "Taste of Holland" week with Dutch food.

Trackwork and resignalling at Horsted Keynes station:
This massive project continues to progress. The last bit of track to give Horsted four platform roads for the first time since 1913, and complete the junction towards Ardingly, is close to completion. Last Tuesday the Alf Brown Group dug the hole in which will be planted their latest creation; the elevated shunt signal at the exit of the up yard.

Malachite Bulleid Pacifics:
The paint finish on "Blackmoor Vale" is apparently going to be a sight to behold, and we're hoping for a re-launch on 19th Aug, with its first public trains the following day. Plans are also well advanced (but subject to final confirmation) for the visit of "92 Squadron" for an extended stay in the Autumn.

Memories of the LBSCR - 18th & 19th November
Plans are progressing well for this event, which will include the Starlight Special evening on the Saturday. It looks as though there could be more than one visiting Stroudley Terrier!

Mk.1 TSO Carriage For Sale
With so many pre-grouping and Southern Railway coaches in service, we have a spare Mk.1 TSO for disposal. See the web page for TSO No.4921 for details.

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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 - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search & Index
Why not become a BRPS Member?     -     Get more involved as a Volunteer

News update 29 June 2000

LBSCR Bogie First wins award

LBSCR 7598 after overhaul Last Thursday Trevor Rapley received, on behalf of the volunteer team which he led, a cheque for £500 from the Eastbourne Historic Vehicle Club. The LBSCR First-class coach, No.7598, which returned to traffic last year after a bungalow/aviary to carriage restoration was "Category 5 Winner" in the Club's "Transport Preservation Awards". The award is to be put towards the carriage works extension at Horsted Keynes, and the coach now goes through to the final of the competition in September.

This is the second year running that the Bluebell has won this award, last year's winner being LBSCR locomotive "Birch Grove". Trevor Rapley commented that it had been a pleasure showing the judges over the vehicle, all the more so in that they evidently had a real appreciation for the effort and skills which had been put into the overhaul of what is believed to be the first bogie coach to return to traffic on a preserved line on a reconstructed underframe.

"Thomas" weekends a great success

The last two weekends have seen our annual "Day out with Thomas" event. Not always a hit with the enthusiast, there can be no doubt that these events are extremely popular with the family visitors, and this was the first year we had spread the event over two weekends in an attempt to limit the overcrowding which had occurred on occasions in previous years. A maximum four-train, 35 minute interval service, plus footplate visits to "Thomas" and "Baxter" shunting the troublesome trucks, made for what must be one of the most extensive Thomas events anywhere.

Loco News

Blackmoor Vale
View of
completed tender The Bulleid Society's "West Country" pacific is coming on well in the loco works. The photo from Lewis Nodes shows the completed tender with its new body. The new casing sheets for the air-smoothed boiler are being fitted. The advertised date for a formal recommissioning of this loco by the designer's son, H.A.V. Bulleid, is 19th August.

Fenchurch
View of
painted cabside This photo, again from Lewis Nodes, shows the cab and bunker structure of this 1872-built Stroudley "Terrier" in the course of being painted. The distinctive wrought-iron domed cab roof has been extensively repaired. The firebox door-hole layout has been re-engineered to enable the door to open fully. This problem went back to the new inner firebox fitted in the late 1970s.

Full photo reports are available on both of these projects on the Loco Dept Photo News pages.

SR "U" No.1638
part-completed tender The Maunsell Locomotive Society's news page (from which this photo is taken) reports that they have decided that there's no reason to wait for contract welders to become available to construct the new tender body, and so the society's volunteers are pressing ahead with this themselves, and the photo shows the significant progress achieved so far.

Toy and Rail Collectors' Fair

The weekend of Sat 22 & Sun 23 July sees the return of our annual Toy and Rail Collectors' Fair. As always, a large selection of stalls selling railwayana and collectibles, based around the grand marquee in our picnic field at Horsted Keynes, and on the station platforms, together with a three-train service (including our popular Vintage Branch Line carriage set) make this an event well worth a visit. Normal train fares apply.

Steam Fair & Vintage Vehicle Rally

Fowler Road Locomotive Sat 29th & Sun 30th July

Over 500 vintage cars, tractors, commercial vehicles, motor bikes and steam road engines will assemble at Horsted Keynes Station to take part in the annual Bluebell Railway Steam Fair.

Harris Brothers' vintage fun fair will be powered by two mighty Showman's Steam Locomotives all weekend, helping to give a taste of yesteryear to the many visitors who attend.

Other events coming up this summer:

Carriage Works Extension

Framework of shed With the very generous grant from the Bluebell Railway Trust of £20,000 towards the cost of the cladding, the prospect of completing the structure of the extension this year becomes feasible. Currently a volunteer team from the C&W department are installing the concrete ground-beams and the extension into the shed of "D" road. The brickwork and blockwork of the walls are rising, and the windows have been delivered.

Martin Lock, the project organiser, is running a joint working week, where work on both the Metropolitan coaches and the building work will be progressed. If anyone would like to join us for even one of the days in the week 31 July-4 August, then you'd be made very welcome. E-mail Martin Lock for more details.

Sponsored Walk for LSWR Carriage

This year's sponsored walk on Saturday 23 September 2000 aims to repeat the success of previous walks to support work on the ex-LSWR Brake Third carriage 1520. When fully restored this coach will be able to carry our disabled passengers and their wheel chairs in vintage style.

There will be a choice of three routes ranging from 4 1/2; to 11 miles through beautiful countryside, and full instructions will be given on the day. The selected routes offer opportunities to explore the Bluebell Railway's setting on foot, with options to visit stretches of the former Ouse Navigation (see Bluebell News, Spring 2000), the remaining operational section of the Ardingly branch, remnants of the planned but never completed Ouse Valley Railway and the famous Ouse Valley Viaduct. Full details are here 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.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search & Index
Why not become a BRPS Member?     -     Get more involved as a Volunteer

News update 16 May 2000

Another TV appearance for the Bluebell

Wednesday evening (17th May) sees another period-role for the Bluebell Railway, when ITV screen "Lady Audley's Secret" at 9pm. In addition to the usual appearance of our stations and period rolling stock, several Bluebell Volunteers also appear as extras.

Metropolitan Railway Coaches

Met coaches at 3-arch bridge - Photo: Lewis Nodes Following their use on tomorrow's press specials and Victorian Evening trains, the two Metropolitan Railway coaches are off to Steam on the Met for the next two weekends, where they will be on public display in the bay platform at Rickmansworth station, coupled to Met locomotive No.1 from the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. Full details of these events are on the Steam on the Met web site.

The coaches will be returning home in time for the second Victorian Evening on 7th June, for which the last remaining tickets are still available. Ring the catering Department to book for a journey back to Victorian times plus fine food and entertainment.

Railway Children Day

Saturday May 6th saw the railway packed with visitors, when Jenny Agutter, Clare Thomas and Jack Blumenau, together with many other people connected with the production, members of the Edith Nesbit Society, and Cystic Fibrosis Trust joined us for a fund-raising event for the latter charity, which raised over £2,000. We ran a special timetable which involved all the passenger trains used in the filming, including all seven of our currently operational pre-grouping carriages, in addition to the Green Mk.1/Bulleid set.

AGM news

At the AGM last Saturday the following were elected as Trustees of BRPS: Tim Baker, Bill Brophy, Chris White and Clive Groome. Richard Parfitt becomes Vice Chairman and Roger Price remains Hon. Gen. Sec.

The appointment of two new Vice Presidents of the Society was ratified. One is Dr David Quarmby, currently Chairman of the British Tourist Authority. The second, as previously reported, is Sir Alastair Morton, Chairman of the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority.

One speech of particular note was from David Ratcliff, chairman of the Bluebell Railway Trust, who reported on the Trust's activities in the last year, and announced the Trust's largest grant yet, being £20,000 towards the Carriage Works Extension project. This represents approximately half the cost of the cladding and roof. The interval teas and retiring collection also raised £445 towards this essential project, and further donations are always welcome, since there will still be much to be done to finish the workshop once the structure of the building is complete. With the completion of the Football Premier league matches, results for this part of the our fund-raising competition are now available.

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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 - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search & Index
Why not become a BRPS Member?     -     Get more involved as a Volunteer

News update 4 May 2000

Victorian Evenings

Victorian Passengers in 1999

Wednesday 17th May and Wednesday 7th June

Photo: Victorian Evening passengers in 1999 (James Young)

Although these two evenings are booking up fast, there are still some tickets available. For full details see the web page for these events.

Railway Children Day, May 6th

Railway Children Day

On Saturday 6th May we will be visited by Jenny Agutter, Clare Thomas and Jack Blimenau, members of the cast of the Carlton "Railway Children" film shown on Easter Day. The Charity day, organised jointly by the Bluebell and the Edith Nesbit Society, will see the trains used in the film in operation, including the chance to ride in the Old Gentleman's Saloon. Events get under way at 11.45 am at Horsted Keynes station, where there will be speeches and book signing, with Books and Videos donated by Carlton for sale in aid of The Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

More information is available on the Pete Coleman's Web Site.

Northern Extension Update

Jim Turtle, the Bluebell's Extension Director, has asked me to pass on the following:

The purchase of the remaining sections of trackbed continues to progress frustratingly slowly. The reluctance of some of the existing owners to sell at a reasonable price as well as circumstances outside of our control, are our main problems. As the number of sections remaining to be purchased falls so the asking price can increase with the railway more or less held to ransom. For these reasons and the fact that we do not have a bottomless pit of money, has meant that negotiations are complex and protracted, which is why precise details relating to land purchase cannot be divulged on a regular basis.

The remaining work on Imberhorne Viaduct is another area of the extension that has become protracted. The appointed contractor had been due to start as long ago as September 1998 but withdrew the week before arriving on site. This has led to a long-running contractual dispute which only now appears to be reaching a conclusion which should allow work to commence this year. Completion of the viaduct is a vital part of the extension and in particular of the removal of the tip, as it is hoped to move as much of the waste as possible by rail.

Under the original planning permission to reinstate the line granted in 1986, we are required to gain the approval of Mid Sussex District Council prior to removing the tip. To achieve this we are currently modifying the feasibility report to form the basis of our submission and have consulted East Grinstead Town Council in order to address any concerns they may have about the works. Hopefully full details of how the tip will be removed will be published in the near future.

Obviously all this work needs to be funded, to which end we have been pursuing finance through the Landfill Tax Credit scheme. Unfortunately we have been unable to obtain any further LTCs in the last 12 months so the total so far remains at £300,000. This is a long way short of the £6,000,000 required to remove the tip. Some of this money has already been spent on testing of the tip and the feasibility study to remove it, as well as the purchase of the land between the viaduct and the tip to allow removal of waste by rail. All remaining funds will be used to complete repairs on the viaduct.

Obtaining further LTCs is dependant on a number of issues being resolved, including completing the purchase of the entire trackbed and gaining the approval of MSDC to remove the tip. This is due to the reluctance of landfill operators to commit funds to a project until other issues that may cause delay have been resolved. It is therefore unlikely that we will receive any more money from this source until the autumn at the earliest.

And finally, East Grinstead Station. In reality it is unlikely that any funds will be available to construct a station building initially, so the realisation of the plans shown in the past is some way off. For this reason no further design work has been undertaken on the future station, although the existing proposals have been discussed with East Grinstead Town Council to gauge their opinion. Unsurprisingly they have their own ideas for the station, which are generally based on the reconstruction of the original station building to serve both Railtrack and Bluebell. A pipedream maybe, but not impossible.

Jim Turtle
Extension Director

Heart of Sussex Link

Details of the "Heart of Sussex Link" (Metrobus Service 40) from Haywards Heath to Sheffield Park have been added to the Access to the Railway - Bus page. The service, running on Sundays and Bank Holidays until 24th September, is sponsored by the various attractions in the area in conjunction with Metrobus, Connex, West Sussex County Council and Mid Sussex District Council. The route links Wakehurst Place, the South of England Centre at Ardingly, Haywards Heath station, Sheffield Park Bluebell Railway Station and National Trust Garden, Heaven Farm, and Danehill where some buses connect with Route 270 (see the Metrobus timetable for connections). Wheelchair accessible vehicles are normally used on this service.

The year so far

2000 has got off to an excellent start, with passenger numbers well up on last year. With the boost caused by the Railway Children also now coming though, it should be a record breaking year.

The year to come

In addition to our normal special events, some visiting engines are planned for later in the year. We hope to have Battle of Britain "92 Squadron" visiting for the Giants of Steam in October, and at least one Brighton engine visiting for the Memories of the LBSCR event in November. Full details as they become known will be on the Special Events page.

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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 - What's New - Extension - Locos - Carriages & Wagons - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search the site - FAQ
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