News From the Bluebell Railway
Archive - April 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 9th April 2003

OPERATION UNDERCOVER - from Nicholas Pryor
You will no doubt be pleased to hear that we were able to complete the purchase of the site successfully at the end of March.

As a result of the amazing generosity of Bluebell members and shareholders, we have raised over £370,000 so far. This includes a substantial element of Gift Aid which will have to be recovered from the Inland Revenue over the next few months. However, the cash available to us for completion was sufficient to pay for the land and we have only had to ask for a small short term "bridge" from the Plc while we await recovery of Gift Aid.

We are now moving on to work on the application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. We are drawing up an account of the appeal and will report on what has been received and how it has been spent at the AGM in May.

Some work will take place on the new site over the summer to fence it off and make new access ways. Other than that, we will leave it untouched until the result of our application to the HLF is known. A realistic timetable for the new building to open (assuming we are successful) is 3 years from now.

To everyone who contributed to the appeal, thanks for your support. There is still a long way to go to raise the remaining part of our funding obligation, and we will be asking members to consider support by standing orders to help fund the ongoing development work.

Vintage train at Sheffield ParkDue to the large numbers of passengers travelling with us over the last few weekends, we stepped up to our two-train weekend service a week earlier than planned this year, with the SECR O1 hauling the SR-liveried vintage set as the second train (and of course a third train on the Sunday with the lunchtime Golden Arrow.) The photo shows the vintage branch-line train ready to leave Horsted Keynes on the morning of the last Sunday in March.

54922 Hits the streets of London this weekend - No, not a former LMS Locomotive being resurrected and towed around but that time of year when limbs and lungs work together in close association, I am of course referring to my running number in the London Marathon!

Each year I run for the railway as well as a number of Charities through work.

This year I would like to raise enough money to have my own freight train!! Now you might think as Chairman, why not just go to Horsted and couple up a few wagons and go for a run??
Well, it is not quite like that.
Let me explain.
The Railway has the opportunity to acquire a whole host of materials as part of an environmental disposal policy as a result of the partnership with Balfour Beatty Rail maintenance.

We can get virtually new track, sleepers, troughing and other materials that are surplus to requirements. Members may have already seen the mountains of ballast that are appearing at various locations along the line. The railway has saved an absolute fortune by taking advantage of this material. All we have to do is transport it away, its as simple as that. We have already had two trains of track materials in via Three Bridges.

If I can raise three thousand pounds (or more..) that will guarantee one full train load of materials. Put another way, we can not only save huge sums of money for the railway but also start stockpiling for the final push on the Northern extension BUT if we are not successful, all that material will simply be melted down or crushed for other purposes and that is a crime on material possibly less than a year old and that is a true statement of fact. I realise there is never a good time for asking for help especially after such a superb response to the Woodpax appeal but if I can raise enough for my own train, the railway benefits all round.

I am already well on the way to my first thousand so it is already happening but the more I can raise, the more materials we can get in, every pound helps!

My target time this year 3 hours and 59 minutes, which would be my best yet, I am sure you can see the personal significance in that time.

As always, thanks so much for what you all do in supporting YOUR railway. All sponsorship money (payable to Bluebell Railway) should be sent to

Chairman's London Marathon Appeal C/O Sheffield Park Station, Near Uckfield, TN22 3QL

Clock stolen from SP As reported last month, the station clock inscribed LB&SCR and 116 from Sheffield Park Station was removed from its case by thieves on the evening of Thursday 20 February. This recent photo (thanks to Ian Dendy) shows the clock face. Last month's appeal for information has provided some leads for the police. Anyone with further information that might lead to the clock's recovery should contact Sussex Police on 0845 60 70 999 or e-mail

The BRPS Social sub-committee organises social events for those that keep the Bluebell ticking and their families. Most events are also open to members of the Society. Next Event: Sunday 20 April - Yardales Live.

For a few weeks in the Autumn, and most particularly for Giants of Steam, October 25-26, we should see a visit to the line by LNER 2-6-2 "Green Arrow". This NRM loco is soon to retire from active service, so this will be a good opportunity for people in the South to see it in steam, possibly for the last time ever.

Interior of new building The first section of the new building on Platforms 1-2 at Horsted Keynes is now open, and contains a photographic exhibition of the twinning ceremony last year between the Bluebell and the Stoomtram Hoorn-Medemblik, along with photos of Fenchurch during its visit to the Dutch line.

More photos are available here.

The Extension Team have now arrived at East Grinstead! Initial work has been to tidy up the compound that we previously occupied adjacent to Sainsbury's car park. Accumulated rubbish that has been dumped over the fence, waste from the building work on the viaduct and scrap track material will be removed by skip.

On Saturday 5th April we commenced clearance of the banks surrounding the cattle creep immediately south of the viaduct (see photographs). This will enable a full survey of required remedial work to the brickwork to be carried out. It is good to report that we have seen an increase in numbers both from new volunteers and past Team members - we would welcome even more help if you are interested.

Cattle creep immediately south of the viaduct After first day of scrub clearance

Members will be pleased to know that the Board, at its meeting on the 19th March, considered the company's financial position and authorised the letting the first contract in the construction of the new Shop. This was possible in the light of the success of the appeal for funds for Operation Undercover.

The bulk of the finance is provided by the bank, but the company must find a proportion of the finance from its own budget, and some of this is provided for in this years cash flow projections. However, despite the outstanding response to Operation Undercover the company will have to bridge items such as Gift Aid, and VAT, for that project, and so we are taking a cautious approach.

Shop contracts will be let on a phased basis, the first one being let now, to allow us to comply with the planning consent, which expires in June, and we will review the letting of further contracts as funding allows. That means there may periods of apparent inactivity on the site; nonetheless it is our intention to open the new shop for Easter 2004. This should be possible if the response to Operation Undercover remains good through the next few months.

The project is being handled as a Bluebell Railway self build project, and is being overseen for the Board by Chris White, as infrastructure Director, working with professional agents. You can expect to see holes in the ground during the late spring, meanwhile the north door in the Bessemer Arms is being closed and a new one made in the west face of the building as the first practical step along the road.

On Sunday 27th April from 10am our Mini Collectors Fair takes place on the platforms at Horsted Keynes and in the field behind Horsted Keynes station. More details here.

Vintage buses will also be running that day between East Grinstead and Kingscote station as part of the East Grinstead Vintage Bus Day.

and finally:
VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT: begin the experience
We are particularly targeting younger (16-25) potential volunteers with a special weekend to allow you to come and see what's involved in becoming a Bluebell volunteer for a day.
12 & 13 April 2003.

Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the Heritage Railways News Express
See also Operation Undercover News, Extension Progress, C&W Works News, 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 & Index - FAQ
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

Update 20th April 2003

Dukedog Boiler The GWR Dukedog No.3217 is being prepared for its boiler steam test. The photo from David Chappell shows the boiler on the boiler trolley outside the works. Other photos and more detailed news of this overhaul are on Lewis Nodes' recently updated Loco Works Photo News pages.

Available for service at the moment are 75027, 80151, 65, 55 Stepney, 672 Fenchurch, 473 Birch Grove and 96 Normandy. Last week 73082 was de-winterised and having some other repairs carried before entering service for the main season. 21C123 is in the workshop for repairs to the steam reverser and some attention to the paint work. Lewis Nodes and his gang are working on the overhaul of Baxter. The Yankee tank is now in all over grey and is awaiting top coat and numbering as WD 1959. The spare C class boiler has now had all the tubes removed. (Thanks to Neil Glaskin for these notes).

For news about the U-class 1638 and 928 Stowe see the Maunsell Locomotive Society pages.

1336 interior, 16 April 2003 Following the outshopping of BR Mk.1 SK 25728 in green, the LBSCR Stroudley First has entered the paint shop.

The photo shows the first of the new interior mahogany panels, with mahogany veneer centres, and white celluloid banding between, fitted in one of the saloons of SR Maunsell droplight open third No.1336.

A major new section of the web site was launched yesterday. Carriage & Wagon Works News with Photos will keep you up to date on the latest news from Horsted Keynes in much greater detail than previously.

Guided tours of the Carriage Works will take place tomorrow, Easter Monday, at 12.20, 2.20 and 3.20.

Loco Shed Wall Another photo from David Chappell shows the progress with the completion of the North end of the Loco Running Shed at Sheffield Park. Work will now pause until the end of daily running in the Autumn.

10th & 11th May 1943 (or 2003)
Come back 60 years and re-live the past

Prime Minister Churchill in attendance
Saturday Evening entertainment, Big Band Dance and Barbecue, evening train service between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes
Intensive train service (every 35 minutes from 10.30am); hourly 473 bus service, starting at 10.10 from East Grinstead; further details soon.

Saturday 17th May is Members' Day. This will feature tours of the Loco Works, of the C&W at Horsted Keynes, of the Horsted re-signalling and of the Woodpax site. There will also be displays by groups based on the Bluebell. Participation on each tour is limited to members and to get a application form please send a S.A.E. to Members Day, Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park Station, Nr Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 3QL. Further details are available here.

These events are, of course, in addition to our normal Table 2 hourly train service, which includes the vintage branch-line train.

Bluebell Preservation Society Chairman, Roy Watts, completed the London Marathon last Sunday in a time of 4 hours 39 minutes.

Amongst the causes Roy was raising money for was his own train of track materials for the Bluebell extension. If you've not yet sent in some sponsorship towards this, then sponsorship money (payable to Bluebell Railway) can be sent to

Chairman's London Marathon Appeal C/O Sheffield Park Station, Near Uckfield, TN22 3QL

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 & Index - FAQ
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

Go to earlier News from the Bluebell Archives:
2003: Jan-March
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
or the latest news page or the more recent archive: July-Sept 2003.
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