News From the Bluebell Railway
Archive - Jan-March 2003

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.

Update 18th Jan 2003

Operation Undercover News: Contracts exchanged on Woodpax site.
We are very pleased to be able to announce that the Bluebell Railway has now exchanged contracts to purchase the enlarged Woodpax site adjacent to Sheffield Park station. Completion is set for Wednesday 26th March 2003. This gives us two months to raise the total purchase price, which (with expenses, Stamp Duty etc) is a total of just under £320,000. Full details here.

Photo of model

The above photo shows the model of the building we hope to build on the new site.

Thursday's Brighton Evening Argus contained a story about the East Grinstead Station site. Whilst reporting our success with the Rail Regulator, they assume that we have already purchased it, that we are talking to Sainsbury's and that we stand to make a big profit from it.

Before anyone gets excited, we have not yet purchased the site. Any sale to us would have to be authorised by the Rail Regulator after consultation with the relevant bodies. We have not yet reached a deal with Network Rail. In any case, any sale to us may well contain restrictive covenants to prevent us from selling on.

Discussions are now starting with all parties interested in the entire East Grinstead Station site, to consider options for the future, and we are re-starting the stalled negotiations for our acquisition of the allocated land.

Contractors complete work on Viaduct
The £175,000 contract to repair the parapet and outside walls of the viaduct just to the south of East Grinstead has now been completed. The next stage will be for Jim Turtle's volunteers to undertake repairs to the inner walls and the re-waterproofing of the deck.

Tip removal options
A further Consultant's report has been received giving considerable details of options for the removal of the tip, but the preferred option remains complete removal subject to funding being available for this. Funding plans include a share issue in Spring 2004, and we will shortly be holding a workshop session with parties with experience of Landfill Tax Credits.

Local press support for Extension
The local press in East Grinstead is being very supportive of the Bluebell Railway's extension plans, and we look forward to working closely with them in the coming months to maintain the high profile which the station site saga has given us.

"Bluebell Railway" was the answer to a question on this week's University Challenge, but neither team got it!

Return to Bluebell Home Page, our Official News Releases, or to the Heritage Railways News Express
See also Operation Undercover News, 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

Update 17th February 2003

The coming weekend looks like being one of the most spectacular in the Bluebell's history, with up to seven steam engines hauling six different combinations of coaches and a goods train. Horsted Keynes will be the hub of the operation, with four different trains passing through here almost every hour of the day! Further details are available here. At Horsted Keynes there will be the chance to examine the Operation Undercover plans and the model of the proposed building for the Woodpax site.

OPERATION UNDERCOVER: Appeal tops a quarter of a million
The appeal to raise £400,000 to purchase land at Sheffield Park and provide seedcorn funding for a storage and display shed for carriages and locomotives has reached £275,000. This sum represents receipt in the last month of most of the pledges which Bluebell members had made over the last year, together with the very first contributions to the postal appeal made last week to those members who had not already pledged. We need more support to get to our initial target by the 26th March completion date. If you have not already contributed, please consider doing so; appeal details are here. If you have already contributed, our thanks indeed!

The railway had a better year than it had in 2001, which was essential following the problems we'd had with the landslip the previous year. Ticket revenue was up 7%, visitor numbers, at 179,595, were up 3.3%, and passenger journeys were up 4% at 344,969. The santa season in particular was excellent, with a 9% boost in revenue, essential to keep the railway going through the quiet winter months. We distributed 16,000 mince pies on the Santa trains! With nearly every train full, we need to consider possible ways of increasing our santa-train capacity for 2003.

On Saturday 18th January Peter Cox died aged 66. Peter had first been involved with railway preservation with the ill fated attempt to preserve the Westerham branch after its closure in 1960. This led on to the preservation of SECR H Class locomotive No.263 at Ashford. In 1977 Peter arrived at the Bluebell Railway with the H class and a group of volunteers who like Peter himself soon became influential in the development of Bluebell locomotive restoration and operation.

In 1987 Peter took early retirement from employment as a solicitor and devoted many hours to Bluebell, working in locomotive, permanent way and traffic departments as well as being a much respected member of the management team. In the quiet way which was his manner Peter also helped various Bluebell projects with financial support. The latest project he supported was the Bluebell's Brighton Atlantic project.

Peter had a wonderful sense of humour, essential to survival in the railway preservation world. When he was Permanent Way Director he remarked that he was the only solicitor to gain membership of the Permanent Way Institution.

Peter had a passion for vintage motor cars, and built up a unique collection of vehicles including a rare Crossley Regis formerly owned by the late Handel Kardas himself a Bluebell volunteer and editor of Railway World. It is hoped that the Crossley will be on view at the Bluebell's Classic Car drive in.

The Bluebell Railway's first classic car drive-in is to be held on Saturday 15th March 2003 at Sheffield Park Station. The day is intended as a social event, at no cost to the owners of the interesting vehicles attending. There is no age limit on the vehicles, although a minimum of 20 years would be appreciated. Vehicles will be, as far as possible, arranged loosely in period groups. Stewards will attend the vehicles during the day, in 1960's attire. There will be discounted travel on the Railway for those who are not already entitled to it. Full details and entry form are here.

Advance bookings are already pouring in for these events.

Last chance to win "Legends of Steam" double DVD
If you've not yet done so, why not enter our BBC-sponsored competition (closes end of February!) to win one of five copies of their double DVD which features the Bluebell Line and Flying Scotsman.

We are hopeful of a summer return for the Dukedog. The long-term agreement under which the SECR C-class is maintained and operated on the railway has been extended for another 30 years, and volunteers are continuing to strip the spare boiler ready for overhaul and fitting to the loco. U-class No.1638 now has most of the large parts of the motion in place. Ray Bellingham is machining the new valve heads. The welding and riveting up of the rebuilt rear dragbox on Stowe's tender has been completed.

CARRIAGE NEWS Steve and Alan are powering on with the Travelling College TSO, with one end dismantled ready for repairs, and a significant section of bodyside cut out, including part of three main body-pillars, to effect a decent repair to some BR bodged collision damage. Already new sections of body pillar have been welded in to restore the correct body profile beneath the two windows concerned. A volunteer is assisting with dismantling the toilets to provide access to the other end for repairs there also.

Alan, Sheina and Chris Pyle have been working on droplight 1336, with the interior starting to become recognisable. John Coleman has started on seating for the SECR birdcage brake. New steel castings of LSWR luggage rack brackets have been received from Harling Foundry. We are nearly ready for the roof to go on the last Met; exterior mouldings and compartment decor well advanced on the LCDR brake, and interior walnut mouldings going into the LBSCR Stroudley first. The Brighton Box Van underframe now pretty much ready for final assembly. SECR 100 seater 971 roof has been re-canvassed in the new paintshop, and RMB 1838 is complete internally again, with toilets and boiler reinstated.

The Alf Brown Group have turned their attention to a new rail-built post for the down inner home North of Leamland Bridge, which will have a route indicator on it.

Return to Bluebell Home Page, our Official News Releases, or to the Heritage Railways News Express
See also Operation Undercover News, 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

Update 5th March 2003

We are delighted that the first target of £318,000 for the purchase of land adjacent to Sheffield Park station had now been reached, by an outstanding response from over 1200 Bluebell members and shareholders in just five weeks. We believe this must have been the fastest response in raising money within the history of railway preservation. The response from our members and shareholders, as well as the wider heritage railway community has been tremendous.

Now we will be able to purchase the site and go forward with our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant to construct a storage shed able to house and display two six car train sets, the Bluebell's prestigious Golden Arrow Pullman train and out of service locomotives as well as provide display and exhibition space for the public to view many of the Bluebell's historic artefacts. Further funding will be needed to support this application, so the appeal remains open.


No. 672 and the Metropolitan set at Kingscote

No. 672 and the Metropolitan set leaving Kingscote on the Saturday morning (David Harp).

The fine weather on the Saturday brought in the crowds for the first day of our 7-engine gala weekend, and as a result we experienced the busiest February Saturday in the Bluebell's history. The Sunday was slightly quieter, but the trains were nearly as full! This was just the start of the daily running of trains for half term week, which resulted in over 7,000 passenger journeys, quite a boost for what is traditionally a quiet time of the year.

No.65 with the early morning goods train

The O1 takes the 9.30 Goods from the Park (Dave Bowles).

The weather also brought out the photographers, and photo reports are available elsewhere on this web site, from:

41312 at Tremains

One of the star attractions was No.41312, the Ivatt 2-6-2 tank visiting from the Mid Hants Railway. (Photo above by Jon Bowers, showing the Ivatt hauling the Bluebell's set of four SR Bulleid coaches).

On Monday 24th February Norman Baker MP for Lewes, whose constituency includes Sheffield Park station, made a visit to see the site for the proposed storage shed on former Woodpax land adjacent to Platform 2. Nicholas Pryor Explained to him our plans for the Heritage Lottery Fund application to fund the new building on the site. Mr Baker said it was good to see the area prosper and he hoped the line extension to East Grinstead would be achieved "which will reinforce the high regard in which the Bluebell Railway is held." Mr. Baker took tea in Pullman 3rd 'Lilian'.

As the Liberal Democrat Environment spokesman Mr. Baker was interested to hear Nicholas Pryor explain the problems posed by the Imberhorne tip which is a major obstacle to Bluebell trains reaching East Grinstead.

The 1855 station clock on platform 1 at Sheffield Park Station was removed from its case by thieves on the evening of Thursday 20 February. The clock, inscribed LB&SCR and 116 on the face, once graced the platform at East Grinstead high level station before going into store and subsequently purchased for the Bluebell Railway in the late 60s. Made by Webb the clock was overhauled last year. Subsequently the thieves returned and stole the clock's hood. Anyone with information that might lead to the clock's recovery should contact Sussex Police on 0845 60 70 999 or e-mail


January 2002 shot of 661 with Loco Normandy

The restoration by volunteers of the Bluebell Railway Trust's LBSCR Stroudley First carriage No.661 of 1880 has been highly commended in the Transport Trust's annual Restoration Awards. The carriage is in the final stages of its 8-year-long restoration, having been rescued as a grounded body 20 years ago. The photo above (taken a year ago) shows No.661 being shunted by LSWR Loco Normandy.

The GWR Dukedog's boiler is now ready for a steam test.

Southern Railway U class No.1638 is currently having its motion, pistons and valves assembled by the Maunsell Locomotive Society.

The patterns for new LBSCR Terrier cylinders have been altered to allow the right hand replacement cylinders to be cast.

The bogie wheel patterns for the Brighton Atlantic are now prepared, and the driving wheel patterns will be next. The manufacture of these wheels is being funded by a generous donation, given to the project by Peter Cox just a few days before his sudden death in January.

Work on the North wall of the loco shed has started using funds raised over many years from Loco department members. Some useful extra funds have been raised for this project through a competition run on this web site over the last three months.

Bernard Holden MBE, President of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, celebrates his 95th birthday on 15 March. In 1972 Bernard took early retirement from a long and distinguish career in British Railway to follow an equally distinguished career as Superintendent of the Bluebell Railway. Five years ago Bernard became the Bluebell President. Over the past year Bernard has been busy writing his his wartime experiences.

On Sunday 27th April from 10 am our Mini Collectors Fair will give the possibility of purchasing a wide selection of railway and transport related material as well as the opportunity of visiting and travelling on the Bluebell Railway.

The Mini Collectors Fair takes place on the platforms at Horsted Keynes and in the field behind Horsted Keynes station. Station pitches, all under cover, need to be booked in advance (£12 per 6', contact Barry Jones on 01903 244655). However no pre-booking is required for the stall space on the field. Make sure you have some cover in case of rain. No tables are provided either for the field or on the station so if you want one you will need to bring it with you.

The Carriage Shop selling a very wide range of books, paperwork, timetables and small relics will also be open on Horsted Keynes Station.

Refreshments will be available all day.

Car parking is available at Horsted Keynes but will be limited . Why not travel by train leaving your car at Sheffield Park or use the rail/bus link via East Grinstead. Vintage buses will be running on Sunday 27 April between East Grinstead and Kingscote station as part of the East Grinstead Vintage Bus Day.

Return to Bluebell Home Page, our Official News Releases, 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

Go to earlier News from the Bluebell Archives:
2002: Jan-March, April-June, July-Sept, Oct-Dec
2001: Jan-March, April-July, Aug-Dec
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
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