News From the Bluebell Railway
Archive - Jan-Mar 2001

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 1 March 2001

Fenchurch returns in fine style

Fenchurch at the WSU

Fenchurch running round at Horsted Keynes during the Winter Steam-up. (Tony Pearce)

Fenchurch on goods
train - Tony Pearce LBSCR Stroudley Terrier Fenchurch made a triumphant return to steam on 10 February, hauling a special train for supporters of the "Fenchurch Fund". Since then it has been busy with a photo charter (see Tony Pearce's photo, right) and took its share of hauling the trains at the Winter Steam-up event the following weekend, which saw the crowds turn out for a feast of pre-grouping steam, featuring six 19th century locomotives.

The return to steam of this dual air and vacuum-braked locomotive was key to the use of the two visiting Isle of Wight terriers at the Winter Steam-up weekend, since they are air-braked only locomotives, so could only be used to pilot dual braked locomotives. LBSCR E4 Birch Grove is also dual braked, so was paired with one of the island terriers, and Fenchurch with the other.

The weekend saw trains formed entirely of carriages from the Bluebell's historic collection of pre-BR stock, with the exception of Pullman Car Eagle, which is on loan from the NRM and provides support facilities to the otherwise 1920s-vintage Pullman train. The following week, half-term, saw passenger services in the hands of 1898-built Birch Grove with the railway's four-coach set of SR Bulleid coaches.

Bluebell endorses Children's Road Safety Campaign

On Saturday (3rd March) the Bluebell plays host to the Children's Road Safety Campaign, with special guests including Chief Constable Whitehouse of Sussex, and children and staff from West Hoathly school. The special train for this event will be formed of newly restored Fenchurch hauling the two Victorian Metropolitan Railway carriages.

Farewell to the Island Terriers
Sat 3rd & Sun 4th March 2001

Freshwater and
Fenchurch at 2001 Winter Steam-up

W8 "Freshwater" and 672 "Fenchurch" at the 2001 Winter Steam-up (Tony Pearce)

Your last chance to see the two visiting Stroudley Terriers, W8 Freshwater and W11 Newport, before they return home to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

Saturday 3rd: Four LBSCR engines in use, with Fenchurch hauling a special train for the Road Safety Campaign, Stepney in use on a Footplate Days & Ways course, and Freshwater & Birch Grove double heading the hourly passenger service train.

Sunday 4th: Double-heading on two trains: Freshwater & Birch Grove take the 11am passenger train from Sheffield Park, and then haul the Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train (for pre-booked Luncheon) for the rest of the day. Fenchurch and Newport will be double-heading the remainder of the hourly passenger trains and Stepney will also be in steam.

Foot and Mouth Restrictions

Due to the current Foot and Mouth disease outbreak in the UK, as a measure to protect our neighbouring farmers, One Day lineside photographic passes have been temporarily withdrawn from sale, and the Bluebell's lineside has been closed to photographers. We would also ask visitors to respect the livelihoods of local farmers by refraining from the use of footpaths in the area as well.

With one of the farms currently affected being at Alton, the risk of spreading the infection from the vicinity of one steam railway to another is something we need to minimise.

Children's Stepney Fun Weekend
Sat 31st March & Sun 1st April 2001

Clowns

Lots of fun things to do:

Hours of fun plus Steam Train Rides from Sheffield Park

Enquiries : 01825 720800 - office hours or
01825 720825 - 24 hours Talking Timetable

The Landslip

Contractors are due to start work on repairing the embankment slip just south of Kingscote station today (1st March).

For the present we are operating a "Table 4" temporary timetable, details of which are on the web site. The railway's 473 bus from East Grinstead has been extended to Horsted Keynes. It is intended that the line to Kingscote will re-open in time for the start of daily running on 7th April and the busy Easter period.

Santa Specials

The figures for these are now available and show that we carried 13% more passengers in December than the previous year. As then, all the trains run were very close to fully loaded, so the extra numbers were carried thanks to us having run more trains this year. A very successful Christmas season, thanks to the hard work of all the volunteers taking bookings, manning the trains, platforms and car parks, as well as the guards, signalmen and loco crews - not forgetting Santa and his young helpers.

Loco Works

Following the outshopping of Fenchurch the loco works is concentrating on the BR standard 80151, which it is hoped will be ready to steam in the summer. Normandy has been in for some routine maintenance, and the "Dukedog" is also progressing well.

The Bluebell Battle of Britain Group, working on the restoration of 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair have been making progress behind the scenes. The only piece of motion of which they were short was the inside connecting rod. They had one for a Merchant Navy, and this has been sold to the group restoring 35006 P&O Line at Toddington. This is helping to finance an order, made jointly with Southern Locomotives (for Eddystone) for this item. Many other more minor jobs are in hand, but the big one is the boiler, which has again been removed from the engine. The group have made an advanced payment of £12,000 to the Bluebell for boiler work, which is expected to start this year.

Extension Progress

A further report with photos dating from 21st February is available here.

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Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the Heritage Railways News Express
See also Exten sion Progress, the Loco Works Photo News 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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News update 5 February 2001

Fenchurch returns to traffic next weekend

Fenchurch, the Bluebell's oldest loco, and the first of Stroudley's famous "Terriers" to enter service in 1872, is set to make its return to steam on 10-11 February. Withdrawn from service a decade ago with a cracked wheel centre, the fund raising to make a pattern for, cast, machine and fit tyres to a new centre wheel-set, was done in memory of Matthew "Chip" Wood, a young Bluebell fireman who died in an Asthma attack.

The "Villa Team" volunteer workshop gang then took on the full overhaul following on from that of Birch Grove. During the course of the overhaul, with the smokebox requiring replacement, it was decided that Fenchurch should return as close as possible to A1 form, with a shorter smokebox, wing plates on the smokebox front, and sand boxes above the footplate. Dummy condenser tubes and an original Stroudley copper-capped chimney complete the transformation of the one-time Newhaven Harbour Company locomotive.

Fenchurch in
works Left: Fenchurch in the works last week. Enlargements: Medi um or Large . Photo: Lewis Nodes. See also 11th January photo below.

The decision to finish Fenchurch as No.672 in LBSCR Marsh Umber livery (it had been sold to Newhaven in 1898 and never carried either of these) has been controversial with historians, but is actually more representative of the history of the class than is painting Stepney in Stroudley's "Improved Engine Green", with the loco in its A1X form. With the eventual aim being that the Terriers should haul a train of Stroudley 4-wheel carriages, reversion to the visual appearance of an A1 is appropriate. The paint finish can change later! Fenchurch's condition, with A1X boiler but otherwise in A1 condition mirrors that of Waddon at the Canadian Railway Museum in Montreal.

With a successful steam test last Wednesday, the loco makes its debut on Saturday 10th, when, at about 11.15am it will be re-named, and the driver's and fireman's names painted in the cab will be unveiled. Then it will haul a special train to Horsted Keynes, and, with the help of Stepney, to New Coombe Bridge and back. From 3pm onwards Fenchurch will be available for inspection in the loco yard at Sheffield Park. Its train this day is specifically reserved for those who have contributed to the fund-raising for its overhaul, the sale of tickets for the train having been a very effective fund-raising tool. However, with Birch Grove scheduled to haul the service train that day, it will be thoroughly "Brighton" day. One of the Isle of Wight "Terriers" may also be in steam for Clive Groome's footplate course.

Fenchurch will then make its public debut on Sunday 11th February, double-heading with W8, with alternate trains hauled by Birch Grove.

This, however, is a mere warm-up for the following weekend ...

Winter Steam-up

Weekend of 17-18 February

This year there will be six locomotives in steam, every single one of them being over 100 years old! The two visiting Terriers from the Isle of Wight Steam Railway (W8 Freshwater and W11 Newport) will be in use, along with our own Stepney and Fenchurch, our oldest locomotive, built in 1872, which will have returned to steam in time to take part, in its new guise as A1-class No.672. Therefore there will again be the chance to see four terriers in steam together. The other locomotives are 1898-built LBSCR 0-6-2T "Birch Grove" and the South Eastern Railway O1, No.65, of 1896.

As is usual for this event, the passenger carriages will be the very best from our vintage collection, formed into three sets, and running to a 35-minute interval timetable for most of the day. Trains are running between 9am and 5pm.

On this special weekend there is an intensive service between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes only. This is due to a major embankment slip close to Kingscote, as a result of which the line North of Horsted Keynes is currently closed, and is not expected to reopen until early April, hopefully before Easter.

The Railway's 473 bus route will operate from East Grinstead to Horsted Keynes Station, with buses leaving East Grinstead Station at 9.40, 11.00, 12.35, 2.35, and 4.15. The journey to Horsted Keynes takes 30 to 35 minutes. The last bus leaves Horsted Keynes at 4.50.

In view of the shortened operating length, the day rover tickets are a bargain £6 for Adults.

Further details of the event are available: Click here. The full programme, including stock formations and the working timetable, is only available by sending £2 (cheques payable to Bluebell Railway) to:

Bluebell Railway (WSU),
Horsted Keynes Station,
Nr. Haywards Heath,
West Sussex RH17 7BB

The Landslip

Slip - Tony
Pearce The sixty-foot section of high embankment just south of Kingscote Station which slipped in the extremely wet weather during mid-December has been the subject of studies both by our own civil engineers and by contractors, and a way to deal with the problem has been identified. The site is difficult to access, either from ground level (which is also very wet) or from the track bed (which is a long way above the foot of the slip!). The railway's Permanent Way team are playing their part by removing three track panels and the ballast bed from the vicinity of the slip.

The current plan is that contractors will commence work in the first week of March with their completion by 29 March. This schedule then allows us just a week to relay the track. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

The above photo from Tony Pearce shows how precarious the trackbed is, poised above a vertical drop. Earlier repairs using loco ash have been exposed, so this location has obviously given problems in the past, but this is the first such problem the Bluebell has had on this particular stretch of the line.

For the present we are operating a "Table 4" temporary timetable, details of which are on the web site. The railway's 473 bus from East Grinstead has been extended to Horsted Keynes. It is intended that the line to Kingscote will re-open in time for the start of daily running on 7th April and the busy Easter period.

Extension Progress

Steady progress is being maintained every Saturday on the clearance of banks, embankments and fence lines, following the clearance of the trackbed as far as thetip during December. With luck (and better weather!) this section might have track laid on it within the next six months. A share issue then seems likely to finance the railway's share of the tip clearance and the final push to East Grinstead during the latter part of the year.

The work being done by the railway's telecoms team at Kingscote is described in detail by Geoff Harris on the Extension Progress web page. This is an essential part of the extension, since Kingscote's signalling and telephone exchange will cover the entire section of the line from the Tunnel to East Grinstead.

Bluebell Railway Atlantic Project

A fund-raising leaflet for the project to reconstruct the last of the Brighton H2 Atlantics goes to press this week. With the tender design details well in hand, detailed drawings are now being prepared for the locomotive's bogie.

Carriage Progress

Work continues on all fronts. The GN Saloon's winter maintenance programme includes major improvements in the kitchen, and the re-bedding of some external mouldings which were lifting. The SR Luggage van which has been overhauled to provide a replacement workshop for the S&T at Sheffield Park is now ready to replace the LBSCR milk van, to release this for an overhaul. During January Pullman Car Fingall has received a major re-paint and leaks in its roof have been attended to. SR Maunsell Open Third 1309 will be the next vehicle into the paint shop.

The structural repairs at the south end of the SECR Birdcage Brake are now largely complete ready for the roof to go back on. The third of the four Metropolitan coaches looks ever more complete, with the complexities of the first class interiors being the major work in hand, along with the completion of bogie overhaul, wiring, panelling of the south end, further coats of paint on the roof, and work towards the fitting of the seats. The LCDR brake is coming on nicely, with its south end panels largely back on after repair, and more new teak body-side panels going on as well.

The carriage works extension is progressing steadily, with the drainage work now complete, and doors being fitted. The floor and ceiling in the mess room are in, and the whole of the floor in the main area is now laid. The cost of renewing the electrical distribution within the existing works areas and extending it into the new area of the shed is the largest financial hurdle remaining.

Horsted Keynes Canopy

The new canopy is heading north! Following the topping out of the first chimney, the timber rafters and zinc sheeting are being fitted, heading towards the second chimney, which is now under construction.

Web Site developments

The new year saw the launch of introductory pages in French, German, Spanish, Dutch and Japanese. These texts will also form the basis of a long-planned leaflet for foreign visitors. Web pages in other languages are planned (Korean is in hand already, as is more detailed coverage in Dutch) and any offers of further translations are welcome!

The other major venture is an FAQ giving the answers to Frequently Asked Questions. In addition, as can be seen by the WAP section of the Links page, there is now a critical mass of railway related wap sites, resulting in the Bluebell's own mobile internet site wap.bluebellrailway.co.uk receiving a significant number of hits in the last month.

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Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the Heritage Railways News Express
See also Extension Progress, the Loco Works Photo News 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

Your ideal Film/TV location?


11 January: Latest photo of Fenchurch in the Loco Works

Things are looking good for the return to steam of Stroudley Terrier "Fenchurch", the Bluebell's oldest locomotive, in the next few weeks.

Fenchurch in the
Works
Enlargements: Medi um or Large . Photo: Lewis Nodes.

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Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the Heritage Railways News Express
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

Your ideal Film/TV location?


Go to earlier News from the Bluebell Archives:
2000: Jan-April, May-Aug, Sept-Dec
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 April-July 2001.
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