Details are available elsewhere on the web site for up-and coming special events:
Rolling Stock movements:
The Battle of Britain Locomotive Society's locomotive, 34081, "92 Squadron" arrived yesterday, to stay on the Bluebell for three weekends, for photo charters and the repeat performance of its double-heading with our own "Blackmoor Vale" at the Summer Giants of Steam.
34081 will operate our services on three weekends:
21 & 22 July - Collectors Fair
28 & 29 July - Giants of Steam
4 & 5 August - unusually normal weekend
Also yesterday our two LBSCR Stroudley Terriers, 55 Stepney and 672 Fenchurch, left for a two-week summer holiday on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, where they join the Island's two resident terriers for a 9-day "Terrier Rail Gala".
They were accompanied by our IoW Ballast Wagon (which had been built using components from an LBSCR goods wagon), and which has been returned to the Isle of Wight where it will be restored.
55 will rush back from IOW after their Terrier Gala in time for the Stepney Specials in August.
672 will stroll back a week on two later but will come back via Eastbourne where the locomotive will be on display for nearly a week at the Eastbourne Air Show, Airbourne 2001, 16-19 August. If you are around, make sure you visit the Bluebell Stand.
Also expected to leave soon is the Metropolitan Railway Ballast Wagon, which is being sold to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at the old Metropolitan Railway Station at Quainton Road.
East Grinstead Extension Progress
Much unseen activity continues behind the scenes, I hear. Visible activity on the trackbed is shown on the web page. A recent article in the railway press gave the impression that the tip was almost clear, and we would complete the extension this year. This is a complete fiction, and Roy Watts has put them right on this. The time-scale is still "years" rather than "months".
Carriage Works Extension
Installation of electrical system is going ahead at a pace. Once this is done we can move equipment in. On the volunteer front, the mess room is now at the stage where fitting out can begin. The toilets will be tackled next, with Chris Willis taking on plastering and laying tiles on the floor. The major works still outstanding are the dust extraction system, and the walkway at the north end, together with the revised layout for the old part of the works, and completion of the fire-break wall.
The formal opening will take place during the national Carriage Restorers meeting on the weekend of 8/9 September.
Locos and Carriages
The boiler is back on 80151, with final assembly now going ahead. The Maunsell Locomotive Society have completed the tender for U-class 1638, and are intending to start overhauling the tender for "Stowe". The interest free loan which helped to secure the engine has been repaid, thanks to a good response to the appeal from both MLS and Bluebell members, and the gentleman who made the loan waiving the final chunk of repayment. It's hoped that 1838 will enter the loco works for erection of the motion very soon.
Two carriages, 6575 and 1481, were brought back into service temporarily for the Thomas event, and are now back under tarpaulins to await major overhauls. This, along with the temporary outshopping of the Mk.1 Brake Third in green undercoat enabled us to run 24 ordinary passenger vehicles for the first time ever, in addition to the rake of Pullman and special-traffic vehicles available but not used. The LNWR Semi-Royal saloon is coming towards theend of its re-paint, although this work was interrupted by a booking which had been accepted for the vehicle. The new steel cladding is cut and fitted on one side of the Maunsell Drop-light Open Third 1336.
Traffic so far this year
In spite of the closure of half the line earlier this year, revenue so far this year is only marginally down on the record figures we had for 2000. The Thomas event was a notable success, about 20% up on last year! We also had a very successful visit from the Yetties. The Santa Specials leaflet is out and enquiries have already been received. Booking does not open until October, and the forms will be available on the web site in a few weeks.
If you would like to support the Carriage Works Extension project then why not enter our Football Competition. Entries must be in by 3rd August, so download the entry form now. It's also available at all the stations and around the railway. No knowledge of football is required!
A historic moment has been reached on the Brighton Atlantic project. The tender is now being worked on, with unwanted steel-work being removed from the frames, and new horn-guides have been cast.
The failure of "Bodmin" with cracked wheels at Eastleigh during a main-line inspection has prompted the inspection of the wheels of many Bulleid Pacifics. Our own "Blackmoor Vale" has been checked, and is fine, and has been doing good work in regular traffic over the last few weeks.
Progress is being maintained on our other Bulleid Pacific, "Sir Archibald Sinclair". The valve and outside motion is being erected, and serious expenditure on the boiler has started, with the order now placed for a new throat plate, tube plate and corners for the firebox.
The tender for the Maunsell Society's U-class No.1638 is now all-but complete, following a month in the loco works, where the overhead cranes came into their own.
The Standard 4 tank, No.80151, has passed its boiler hydraulic test, and the talk is of an August return to traffic, if all goes well. As an engine which regularly operated on the line in the 1950s, this will indeed be a welcome event.
Forthcoming Musical Events at the Bluebell
Details of our 60's Music evening (29 June) and "An Evening with the Yetties" on 30th June are now available on the web site - See the Special Events Listing.
Party at the Park
Foot and Mouth; Restrictions fast disappearing
Sussex has been mercifully spared from Foot and Mouth disease. We played our part in the precautions to keep it that way by the closure of our linesides. However, these restrictions were lifted a few weeks ago. Now also on entering West Sussex, road-side notices proclaim that most public footpaths are again open, and as from 8th June it is believed that the same will apply in East Sussex.
The Preservation Society's AGM on 19th May was not without note. For the first time ever, a tie in the election of Society Trustees caused some consternation, such an eventuality not being covered by the rules. There were six candidates for the four vacancies, and the results were as follows:
Martin Lock 181 votes Charles Hudson 176 votes Jim Turtle 173 votes Russell Pierce 98 votes Robin White 98 votes Ron Harwood 82 votesThe options of declaring the whole of the election void, and repeating the vote, or of electing the first three and carrying out a further election for the fourth place were problematic, due to the difficulty of obtaining a quorum other than at a General Meeting. The Rules allow for 14 Trustees, but do not prevent there being 15, so the AGM resolved that the top five would all become Trustees.
The various speeches and presentations were largely linked by a common theme, that of fund raising. The Membership Secretary appealed for more donations, Eric Earnshaw, in his Bluebell Railway Trust report, re-iterated the advantages of giving by gift-aid through the Trust, Russell Pearce reported on the success of the Fenchurch Fund in returning this locomotive to steam, and indicated that they were continuing their fund-raising efforts, now directed towards SECR P-Class No.27. Terry Cole appealed for further donations towards the Brighton Atlantic Project, but was able to report that about a sixth of the £300,000 estimated cost of this project had been subscribed or promised in quarterly or annual payments over the 8-year time scale of the project, much of it via the Trust. Much more will be needed though.
The sale of refreshments before and during the interval, together with donations collected at the end of the meeting raised £505 towards the Carriage Works Extension.
Subsequent to the meeting, the Society Trustees have met and allocated their tasks. Bill Brophy took the opportunity of having an additional Trustee in place to retire from both the plc board and the Society Committee, and Martin Lock takes his place as Traction and Rolling Stock Director. Thus we again have the correct number of 14 Trustees. Chris White has passed his Operations portfolio on to Robin White, but takes on the Civil Engineering/Permanent Way mantle. With the appointment of a P-way manager, Graham Ward is hoping to re-establish a volunteer Civil Engineering section to take on projects such as bridge maintenance, in addition to leading the volunteer p-way gangs.
Barry Coward's tenure as Society Hon. Sec. has started with the establishment of a sub-committee to look at the resourcing of the railway, with its first priority to be consideration of Heritage Lottery Funding for specific projects.
Bulleid Well Wagon to come to the Bluebell
The only remaining unmodified SR Bulleid well wagon, has been identified as significant by the Railway Heritage Committee, and will be coming to the Bluebell from Three Bridges in the near future. It will be used on the Bluebell as it was on BR, to carry plant and machinery for civil engineering work. The wagon was built some time between January 1944 and June 1945.
Of course the more vehicles, like the above, which arrive, so the more we have to dispose of if we are to maintain running lines clear of stored stock and a safe environment for our shunters. We are currently open to offers for a Dace wagon on roller bearings (brought in for filming work), a Tube Wagon underframe, Bulleid and Maunsell coach underframes and a surplus Mk.1 Restaurant/Buffet Car.
The LNWR semi-royal saloon has occupied the paint-shop for the past several weeks. The complexities of fabricating and fitting an aluminium roof covering on this clerestory coach, and the time it takes to prepare a timber panelled coach for repainting, conspired to make the target of a return to traffic this last weekend impossible, in spite of employing several extra contract staff over recent weeks. With the BR BSK required for the Thomas weekends, and with some bodywork repairs still to be completed prior to repainting, this latter coach has entered the paint-shop, so the Semi-Royal has moved further into the shed, displacing the Maunsell Droplight open third, which has been sidelined (although the first steel panelling on the sides has recently been fitted).
Volunteer-run projects are progressing more smoothly! Structural repairs on the toilet area of the SECR Birdcage are well in hand, as is the next section of floor. The LCDR coach now has a partition in place, allowing the fitting out of the first compartment to start. The third Metropolitan coach comes on in leaps and bounds, with third-class seating being installed, and all the lincrusta applied to the panelling in the first-class, so that the first of the new walnut panels, lined in gold and with a deep varnish-shine can be fitted next. Only the inner-ceiling mouldings for the first-class now remain to be made. The Bulleid brake is now ready for the floor to go back, and steel-cladding is being fabricated and fitted.
The LSWR team have transformed the LSWR Road Van, and the midweek wagon team have just about completed the re-plank and repaint of the LSWR/SR hybrid wagon which was marooned at Sheffield Park for many years. This curious wagon was built by the SR, assembled from second-hand parts from various LSWR wagons. The sorry remains of the last of the Bristol docks ex-SECR wagons, which will emerge from a complete rebuild as a 2-plank ballast wagon, have finally been shunted into the yard, and work has started in earnest. The GN Saloon gang have again repainted the roofs of the two sleeping coaches, as well as the P-Way mess coach, which has also been repainted on its platform side.
A new short siding is taking shape behind the goods shed. The station itself is looking very smart, thanks to the exertions of the maintenance team there during the winter closure. The rather splendid new lamps (one original and one replica) are now in place to light the subway steps.
Horsted Keynes Canopy
The second chimney stack is now completed, and further roof timbers and zinc sheeting are being fitted. The hope is that the current phase of work will be completed this year, leaving only the building beneath to go. The challenge does not stop there, though, since the other two canopies are really now due for their once-in-120-year overhauls, which the volunteer team are considering undertaking. This would involve re-levelling where subsidence has occurred, replacing rotten timbers and renewal of much of the life-expired zinc.
Horsted Keynes Re-signalling
Peter Richards has provided an update on the HK Re-signalling web page. The temporary starting signal at the south end of Platform 4 has been commissioned, saving the signalman from having to hand-signal every departing train.
Carriage Works Extension
The roller-shutter door was fitted last week, making the building secure. The contracts for the electrics have been let, but we still need to raise in the region of £10,000 to bring the works into use. There will be a working week (well, 4 days, 15-18 August) when we plan to commission the works and new mess room. You are welcome to join us over those days.
The competition which has been run over the last football season, as a fund raising venture for the Carriage Works Extension project, has reached its conclusion. The final results are now available. Our thanks to Tony Pearce for organising it over the last year (taking it on very much at the last minute before the start of the season). You may notice that I actually managed to win something. This is in spite of my total disinterest in football, so this should inspire you to enter next season. There's no need to know anything about football to win!
And now some news from Horsted Keynes:
To celebrate the re-opening of the full 9-miles of line, a promotion entitled "Welcome Back Kingscote" will take place throughout May in villages along the line, enabling local residents to travel on our trains as special fares of £2 per adult & £1 per child.
Villages in the scheme are Fletching, Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, Sharpthorne, Highbrook, West Hoathly, Kingscote & Turners Hill. The offer is spread over 3 weeks with a different week per village or group of villages to avoid overcrowding.
The very latest news reports on this and other locos (the Dukedog 3217, U-class 1638, P-class 1178, Fenchurch and Baxter), are included in Lewis Nodes' Locomotive Department Photo News page.
Once 80151 and 3217 have been completed, the next main job to be tackled in the works will be either S15 class No 847 or U class No 1638. The intention is that this will be followed by the Schools class No 928 "Stowe". Also No 592 may be re-boilered using the spare C-class boiler.
The Villa Team's next project after Baxter is most likely to be P class No
27, a job which is expected to take about 8 years.
"Sharpthorn" has been moved from its previous home at the back of the top
car park to a new home
outside the Bessemer Arms, alongside the beer garden. Steps are to be made
to enable children to climb into its cab in safety. There is no plan to
start any repair work,
but having it displayed in a prominent position will keep it in the eye of
visitors and members alike.
There will be an intensive three train service, including the vintage branch-line train and the chance to travel in the Great Northern Directors' Saloon. With the chance to ride in this (on one of the large trains) and the LBSCR First No.7598 (on the Branch-line train) it will be a good time for discerning visitors to buy first-class tickets.
Therefore we continue to run to a temporary timetable, between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes only, with the fare for a day's unlimited travel correspondingly reduced. The railway's 473 bus from East Grinstead has been extended to Horsted Keynes.
Because of both Foot and Mouth restrictions to lineside access, and the
nature of the work being undertaken using heavy machinery on the site,
please note that no one may visit the slip site.
Vintage bus services will operate between East Grinstead and surrounding towns and villages. Two routes serve the Bluebell Railway via Kingscote (473 from East Grinstead and 434 from Dormans to/from Copthorne), with two additional single-deckers linking Kingscote to Horsted Keynes station as a Rail-replacement bus service, if the line between these stations is still closed due to the embankment slip. The Bus Station for the day is in King Street, East Grinstead.
In addition, special coach tours will operate from Sheffield Park station, lasting about 35 minutes, departing at 11.20, 11.45, 12.45, 13.45, 14.45, 15.20.
All bus routes are free of charge. Full bus timetables from: Alan Charman, 19 Hampton Way, East Grinstead, RH19 4SG, price £4.00
473 from East Grinstead Railway Station (via King Street) depart at: 10.35, 11.35, 12.35,13.35, 14.35, 15.35, 16.25. Additional 473 services to Kingscote depart King Street at 16.20, 16.35.
434 from Dormans Plough to Kingscote depart at 10.34 and then every half hour from 11.34 to 16.04. In addition there are extra 434 services from Kingscote to and from Copthorne.
All our other special events continue as planned, and the next of these are:
While it looks nearly complete, there are still the fire alarms, emergency lighting and the main lighting as a minimum before we can actually use it for anything. Foot and Mouth has affected traffic and the slip is costing money. So it is back to good old fashioned appeals to try to get this 6000 sq ft of extra workshop space into use. If you can help, cheques to Sheffield Park for Carriage Shed Extension, or to Bluebell Trust clearly marked for Carriage Works are most welcome, or sponsor Roy Watts on the Marathon.
The first steel sheeting is now in place on Maunsell Droplight Open Third 1336. The last structural repairs to the LCDR second are nearly complete, and many of the panels are ready for fixing in place. The third Met coach is looking externally pretty complete, but the current excitement is the first of the lincrusta, which is ready to be applied to the interior of the first class.
The LSWR team had a ten-foot section of their coach bodyside on the floor in the shed last weekend, just about ready for re-fitting to the coach. This was the section around the west-side toilet and adjacent compartments. Three doors are now on the LBSCR Stroudley first, and the floor is back in both the second class compartments of the Birdcage brake, with attention moving to the toilet area. The new timbers which support the floor of Bulleid brake 2526 are now in place in the saloon, and steel sheeting is going up on the east side. The GNR Saloon has had its kitchen refurbished over the winter, with a new fridge and cooker fitted.