News From the Bluebell Railway
Archive - August-December 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.

News Report: 31 December 2001

Finishing the year as it started

We started and finished 2001 with vintage engines hauling vintage trains. Here are some of Jon Bowers latest photos, taken on Sunday 30th December.

Stepney and
Fenchurch emerge from the tunnel Birch Grove 
heads south out of Kingscote

He has more photos here.

New Timetable

The provisional timetable for 2002 is on the web site. It is "provisional" for the following reason. Whilst we applied for an extension to our current temporary planning permission for the use of Kingscote as a station back in October, discussions with the council have been time consuming, and a decision is awaited, hopefully from the January meeting. The timetable leaflets cannot sensibly go to press until we know for certain that we can run to Kingscote!

Secondly, you will notice a Table 4 in the timetable, covering the period from 19th January up to 3rd March, during which time the "fire slip" just north of Horsted Keynes will be dug out and rebuilt starting from a firm foundation. Since repairs some years ago this embankment has continued to move slowly, and this winter's work aims to rectify the problem once and for all. Our trains will therefore operate only between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes during this period, with our 473 bus from East Grinstead extended to Horsted Keynes.

Whilst the line is severed, the opportunity may be taken to re-lay a poor section of track just north of the platforms at Horsted Keynes.

Branch Line Weekend

Preliminary details for the Branch Line Weekend, 9-10 February, are now available.

Potential for land acquisition at Sheffield Park

As indicated in the Winter Bluebell News and the latest Heritage Railways magazine, the old timber yard adjacent to Sheffield Park station is for sale. This represents our only chance of rail-connected expansion of the Sheffield Park site, and is being actively pursued, through a professional land agent. It appears we cannot afford to put in a bid of £1.5 Million for the whole site, so we are in active discussions concerning the possibility of obtaining a sufficient part of the site such that we might be able to construct a carriage running shed of useful size, and a bit of extra space to expand our museum.

Of course, if we could afford more of the site, it would be wonderful (providing a ready-built 30-vehicle storage/museum building, further archive/museum storage and offices, in addition to the space for a running shed), and anyone able to offer significant financial support towards that end is asked to contact Barry Coward urgently (since negotiations are likely to be concluded within a week or so).

Negotiations are being coordinated by the team who are putting together a Heritage Lottery Fund bid for covered accommodation, but even the HLF's fast-track procedure is no-where near fast enough to be of assistance in this case!

East Grinstead Extension news

Recent work by the extension team has concentrated on clearance of the recently acquired section of trackbed on the east side south of the dam (opposite Ash Lea Farm). Some trees have been felled but a good number which are unlikely to affect the running of the railway have been left. The trackbed is being scraped to improve the drainage as this is a particularly wet area. The drainage ditch which was dug some time ago along our border with Ash Lea Farm has been extended north across the width of the trackbed to drain the cleared area.

Work on the trackbed near Ash Lea Farm The majority of fencing has now been renewed. Few posts have required replacing but new wire has been installed. Additionally the fence that borders our land along Imberhorne Lane has been replaced. This was in poor condition having suffered from a constant buffeting from passing traffic.

Finally essential plant maintenance has been carried out. The rebuild of our 3-ton dumper is complete - this has taken a considerable amount of time and effort, however, it is now firing on all three cylinders - something that it hasn't managed to do for a long time!

The photograph (courtesy of Jeff Machin) shows recent work on the trackbed near Ash Lea Farm. I'm grateful to Nigel Longdon for the above report.

Second Hand Book-sale

The second hand book sale run in the last month on the Internet by Barry Coward and Neil Glaskin has raised over £500 for the Carriage Sheds fund, and has now finished, with remaining stock being passed to Barry Jones, for sale through his "Carriage Shop" at Horsted Keynes.

Loco Latest

It is hoped that the spare boiler can be swapped into the SECR C-class in the spring, to get that splendid loco rapidly back into service. Much will depend on the condition of the spare boiler, which is believed to need very little work on it.

Lewis Nodes made more photos available just before Christmas on the Loco Works Photo News pages.

Carriage update

The pace of work hasn't slackened, with SECR Hundred-seater Third No.1098 now re-painted, lettered and lined in full 1930s style following its replacement roof canvas, and Brake Van 404 being smartened up. Over the New Year the Hastings-line Maunsell Brake has been in the works for the first time, enabling Roger Williams to weld up the long steel sheets on the brake-van sides. This completes the exterior cladding for this vehicle, which David Wigley's team are restoring. Unfortunately the ex-4LAV corridor partitions are of too late a design to be correct for this vehicle, so new ones will be made from scratch.

New on the Web Site:

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 - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search the site - FAQ
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

News Report: 17 December 2001

Loco Roundup

and Fenchurch

The big news is the debut of BR Standard 4 Tank, 80151. A photo charter prior to its launch into service saw it recreate some classic poses with Fenchurch, recalling some publicity photos of a bygone era. The photo above is by Lewis Nodes, and more in the same vein are here.

photo by Jon Bowers The formal return to traffic took place at the October Giants of Steam event, as seen in Jon Bowers photo, right. Since then the engine has rapidly become a stalwart performer, confirming again the feeling amongst the loco crews that the Standard 4 tank engines are much superior to the 4-6-0 tender engine of the same rating.
Several other locos have been in and out of the works. Stepney has had attention twice, first to swap its chimney for a temporary replacement after holes developed in it, and secondly for attention to a crack in the firebox backplate, just above the foundation ring between the corner and a mudhole door. This part of the boiler is immediately in front of the trailing axle, so the trailing wheelset has had to be removed to gain access to the area.

73082 Camelot sprang a leak from a crack in the firebox outer wrapper, just beside the driver's knees. An in-situ repair has been completed, with the aim of enabling it to complete the remaining 18 months of its boiler ticket.

In the last month both of Birch Grove's big-ends have re re-metalled, and the left small end bearing has been replaced. The small end pins have worn oval, and removing them actually proved a much more difficult task than replacing the bearing.

All three of these locos are now back in action. Indeed on Sunday Birch Grove and Stepney were pressed into service, double-heading a fully loaded Santa Special train, deputising for the 9F, which had suffered a broken tender spring. The replacement of the 9F's spring only took two hours though, and it was back in service having only missed one round trip!

Baxter is now looking very forlorn, stripped of its boiler cladding, in preparation for its boiler lift. Some limited mechanical work is required, and the frame will be lifted from the wheels for attention to the axle-boxes.

Work continues on Duke of Berkeley's boiler and bogie, but dismantling of the front of the underframe has revealed extensive corrosion. Recent photos are here. It currently looks as though a significant proportion of the loco's frames will have to be replaced.

Significant work is being undertaken at Sheffield Park on the Boiler for Sir Archibald Sinclair, including replacement of the firebox tubeplate, and the welding in of some smaller replacement sections of inner firebox. Full details and photos of recent work are here.

Santa Specials

These have been booking up solidly, with essentially every single seat taken except on the first weekend. The on-train takings from the sale of drinks and mince pies have been reaching new records, and as usual the profits from this activity will be going to various volunteer-run projects. With anything up to 12 volunteers working on each of the two trains (in addition to loco crew, guards, signalmen, booking office and platform staff), this is a worthy recompense for all their hard work.

Carriage roofs re-canvassed

Our timber roofed carriages need re-canvassing about every 15 years, and three of these have been replaced in the last couple of months. Southern Railway Maunsell open third No.1309 and Bulleid open third No.1464 were both restored during the mid 1980's and were now due this work. They have also received major paint-shop attention, the work being completed just in time for these coaches to take their places on the Santa Special trains. SECR Hundred-seater No.1098 did not receive a new roof canvas when it was overhauled in the early 90's and is also receiving a rapid re-paint, which should be complete by the end of the year. At the same time the SR Brake Van No.404 is receiving some roof-top attention to make it watertight, to the undoubted relief of the guards on the vintage branch-line train.

The LSWR team have now completed the replacement of their coach's bottom side (the main structural timber at the base of the body).

The SECR birdcage brake is coming on well, with floors and partitions in for about half the passenger area, and the structural body-side repairs also completed in this area. Much of the interior woodwork for these compartments is being varnished and some of it test fitted to provide a morale boost to the team.

The third of the Metropolitan coaches is now lettered and lined, and much of the interior fit of the first-class compartments is now finished. The luggage racks are the most significant interior components still to be tackled, and the parts (and wheels) are now to hand to re-assemble the final bogie. It is just about possible that the coach will be completed in time for the February Branch-line Weekend.

Bluebell on the Box

"Station Jim" is a TV film featuring Queen Victoria and Jim, a station dog. Much of it was filmed on the Bluebell, is one of the main features of the BBC's holiday schedule, being shown on BBC1 on 30th Dec at 6:30pm. In addition to the various Bluebell volunteers appearing as extras, some members of the Bluebell Railway Band also appear as the Village Band welcoming Queen Victoria to Kingscote station.

The recent Carlton "Railway Children" is being shown again on ITV on 24th Dec at 4:45pm.

In addition, we are holding another Railway Children weekend on July 13 - 14, with re-enactments of scenes from the Carlton TV film, and the chance to meet some of the cast. The weekend is also a fund-raising event for the Railway Children charity.

Horsted Keynes Platform 1 & 2 Canopy completed

The final zinc sheets are now in place, and the new lighting has been fitted, completing Phase 2 of the reconstruction of this feature of the station which had been demolished in 1913. Phase 3 will be the re-construction of the building which went under the canopy, and the plans for this are to be discussed at the next meeting of the Society Trustees, in January. It is possible that the re-instatement of the building will be divided into two phases.

New bracket signal at Horsted Keynes

New Starting
The photo (by Richard Salmon) shows the new bracket signal which was erected last month to the south of Platforms 3 and 4. Once complete it will replace the two temporary down starter signals. Gavin Bennett provides some of the background to this signal, which was recovered many years ago:
As a bit of history, this particular bracket came from Hove and was recovered by us one night, in association with the Brighton steelworks gang. It was originally mounted on a lattice post at the country end of the island platform. The steelworks gang managed to cut the post below platform level and then craned it onto a wagon, with the intention of transporting it to Three Bridges yard for collection. As soon as it was loaded, we realised it was foul to gauge and wouldn't be going anywhere! A quick site meeting resulted in the wagon being shunted to the Up Yard and the signal offloaded in the coal yard so that we could collect it by road.

An early morning phone call to the coal yard manager on Monday morning to apologise and explain why he was now looking at a signal in his yard and that it was Bluebell's elicited the response "I thought it might have something to do with you"!

Yesterday the S&T were working on connecting the temporary platform 3 up starter which will allow bi-directional working in platform 3. This will be an operational bonus, simplifying the station operation at quiet times of the year when only one train is on the line. As at the other end of the station, this signal (and that for Platforms 4 & 5) will eventually be replaced by one of the Alf Brown group's new bracket signals.

Carol Service draws a crowd!

Saturday evening's Carol Service on the platforms at Horsted Keynes exceeded expectations, with about 180 people attending the candle-lit service on the station platforms. The music was led by the Bluebell Railway Band and presided over by the Bluebell Railway's Chaplain, the Revd Father Timothy Rawdon-Mogg, the Rector of Horsted Keynes.

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 - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search the site - FAQ
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

News Report: 15 October 2001

Getting 80151 ready for Giants of Steam

View of loco

Lewis Nodes photo, above, shows that BR Standard 4 tank loco No.80151 is coming on nicely, now fully painted and lined out, and outside the works yesterday, awaiting a visit from the boiler inspector. More photos are here.

At the Giants of Steam event on 27-28 October, 80151 will be joined by Bulleid Pacific 21C123 "Blackmoor Vale" and three further BR Standards, No. 75027, No.73082 "Camelot" and our 9F, No.92240. In addition our two Stroudley Terriers will be in steam, "Stepney" on the Saturday and "Fenchurch" on the Sunday.

I will be leading guided tours of the Carriage Works on both days, and on the Saturday, starting at 4.30pm, in exchange for a £5 donation to the Carriage Works Extension fund, there will be an extended tour taking in the stock stored on the back sidings at Horsted Keynes, for which stout footwear is essential.

Brighton Atlantic Promotion Day

This event takes place at Sheffield Park station on this coming Saturday 20th October. There will be displays of photographs, drawings and 'hardware' in the Training Center and the Birch Grove Suite. Roger Brasier is giving illustrated talks about the Atlantics in the Birch Grove Suite (the upstairs of the Bessemer Arms) at 11.30 and 2.30.

Further parts for this locomotive have recently been obtained, and work on the tender is progressing, as illustrated in the 28 September Loco Works Photo News.

Other Loco News

It appears that a Southern Railway Maunsell loco will be the next into the works after 80151 is outshopped. This will be either U-class 2-6-0 No.1638 or S15 4-6-0 No.847. However, some of the current traffic fleet will need attention before major work can start on a Maunsell. The GWR Dukedog 4-4-0 will be the next outshopped after 80151, and the boiler of Bulleid Pacific "Sir Archibald Sinclair" is also in the works at present, being attended to by our contract welders.

This News Service

You will probably have noticed that over the summer, news reports were notable by the absence! I hope to improve that situation by making more shorter reports, as news items present themselves.

2002 Special Events

These are listed on the Special Events web page.

Extension News

We are now able to announce another land purchase on the extension from Kingscote to East Grinstead. It had previously been announced that we had obtained enough of the land in private ownership to reach East Grinstead. However, this did not include, in all places, both sides of the former double-track formation. The latest purchase means that we have more of the full width of the formation, which will make construction and future maintenance much easier. Clearance and fencing of this section has commenced.

Alan and Nigel with Cherry Picker Back in August (when the sun shone) Alan Summerfield and Nigel Longdon, who qualified for use of chainsaws in January this year, undertook further training, this time working from an elevated platform (known as a cherry picker). Along the route of the trackbed there are several trees which did not need to be felled but that had branches which would have posed a risk to the line and rolling stock. A cherry picker was hired in and we removed the offending branches - an interesting experience.

More recently the Saturday team have been carrying out further clearance work on the east side south of Keepers (the dam).

Signalling progress at Horsted

New Starting Signal Chris Majer's photo shows the components for the new down platform starter bracket signal for Platforms 3 and 4, which will also have an arm for movements into the carriage works yard. The plan is that the hole for this signal will be dug today, the main rail-built column planted tomorrow, and the upper works fixed in place on Wednesday. This is the culmination of months of preparations by the Alf Brown Gang, or looked at another way, merely the warm up for the next three SR bracket signals they are building for Horsted! Further news and photos have just been posted on Peter Richards' HK Re-Signalling progress web page.

Work on the Track, and Carriage Works

The P-way working week (last week) has concentrated on remedial work on the Sheffield Park-Horsted Keynes section of the line. In addition in the last few weeks "A" road within the carriage shed has been re-laid, and work has started to provide a p-way siding parallel to the headshunt in the down yard.

During the re-laying of track within the shed, as had been hoped, the water pipe supplying the shed was discovered. This enabled a branch pipe to be added to supply the new Carriage Works mess room, plumbing for which we are now to do ourselves, following a quote of about £10k from professionals for plumbing in the mess room and toilets/showers.

Moving on to the carriages, SR Maunsell Open Third No.1309 is now in the paint shop, and SR Bulleid Open Third No.1464 has replaced it in the "scaffold" area of the new works for re-canvassing of the roof. BR Brake No.35448 is having all its trim replaced, and is being generally smartened up internally, with seating installed for 8 per compartment, as against the original six.

New Definitive Stamp issue and First Day Cover

Starlight Sheetlet Starlight Stamp

Full details of this "Starlight Special" issue featuring SECR P-class No.323, and other issues, are available on the Bluebell Railway Letter Service web page.

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 - Signals - History - Other - Links - Search the site - FAQ
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

News Report: 2 October 2001

80151 should return to steam for Giants of Steam:

The Giants of steam event on 27-28 October should be another unforgettable Bluebell event, featuring our largest engines, and an intensive 3 train service.

Further details are available here.

Other news from the loco department:

Lewis Nodes has just provided a mammoth update with loads of photos, showing that they've been busy on many locos in the last few months. Quite apart from 80151, there's pioneering work on the Dukedog. We're ready to try the first cast of new cylinder blocks for the Terriers, following completion of the patterns, and not a moment too soon as the repairs to a hole in Stepney's frail cylinders show!

The Maunsell team have moved onto the boiler of the U-class 2-6-0, and their tender team have as big a task ahead of them with "Stowe's" tender as they had with 1638's! They've started by demolishing most of what was already there. Talking of tenders, the Brighton Atlantic project is making progress on their tender.

Boiler work is under way on the Southern Locomotives "P" class, and the Villa team have started dismantling "Baxter" for its boiler overhaul.

1940s Weekend a great success

Fenchurch and Birch GroveWelcome
for Mr Churchill

A new special event, held in September, the 1940s weekend went off splendidly, as can be seen by the photos from Jon Bowers and Ian Bowskill, with more photos to be found here.

Booking now open for Santa Specials

Hello! Our 2001 season of Santa Specials kicks off on 1st December, but bookings opened yesterday. Last year some trains were fully booked in the first week, so ring 01825 720806 now, or see the web page for the Santa Specials.

Carriage Works Extension opening

This was the highlight of the second annual National Carriage Restorers' get-together in September. This year's event was organised by Peter Milnes, with Keith Edwards and others from the GN Saloon team providing the catering on the Sunday.

The Opening

Martin Lock (Left) and Stephen Middleton open our new restoration facility (photo: Brian Hallett)

On the Saturday, following an introduction from Martin Lock, Stephen Middleton, who described himself as "green with envy" at the facilities we had now at our disposal, performed the opening ceremony on the new carriage works extension. A special train consisting of Fenchurch and the two Met coaches then took delegates on a round trip of the line in the early evening. With Fenchurch having to stop for a brew up in section, the delegates had plenty of opportunity to examine the interior of the compartments in minute detail!

Most of the real business took place on the Sunday. As last year, the LMS Carriage Association from Peak Rail brought several demonstrations and their "Carriage Exchange" for-sale/wants board did good business. We put on a variety of demonstrations ourselves. Many useful contacts were made, and techniques discussed, and friendships made over the internet were deepened. Joint orders of components will help all of us, and trading in various other bits and pieces through the weekend must have brought various projects closer to completion!

At the end of Sunday afternoon everyone was feeling well satisfied, and started to make their way home. The longest journey was Jon Tyler from the Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society near Aberdeen, who nearly didn't make it since all the flights south were fully booked.

Fenchurch stars at an Airshow!

Fenchurch Fenchurch called in at Airbourne 2001, at Eastbourne, on its way back from the Isle of Wight in August, as is seen here in Tim Fellows' photo. Much good publicity was gained from this unusual addition to the local tourist board stand!

Carriage restoration

Too little time for me to mention everything that's been going on. Our new painter, Dave, with help from Graham Ward, has got stuck into the backlog, having turned out the BR Mk.1 Brake in Green (it was Maroon) after its bodywork repairs. Mk.1 CK 16210 has received a much needed re-varnish, and the wheelchair accessible coach is having a touch-up and repaint at present. Maunsell Open third 1309 has been re-canvassed, and will be repainted soon. The Maunsell Droplight Open Third, 1336, is progressing well, with all the external steel sheeting now in place. The large section of bodyside of the SECR birdcage 3363 has been repaired and re-installed. The third of the Met coaches, composite 368, is coming on very nicely, with third and first class compartments nearly complete.

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 - 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:
2001: Jan-March, April-July
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 more recent archive Jan-March 2002.
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