The Bluebell Railway Preservation Society was founded in March 1959. We took occupation of Sheffield Park Station in May 1959 and ran our first train over the line in May 1960, leading up to the formal opening in August 1960.
Therefore, over a period of a year or so we have planned a series of 50th Anniversary Events:
Please also look at the special web site for our 50th Anniversary Appeal.
Details of all the other Special Events during the year.
Visit of Furness Railway No.20We can now confirm a second visitor for our 50th Anniversary celebrations in August 2010: Furness Railway No.20, which is owned by the Furness Railway Trust. Together with "Tornado", this means we will have both the oldest (built in 1863) and the newest (completed in 2008) steamable main-line engines to help us celebrate 50 years of standard gauge preservation.
Gala Weekend: 6-8 AugustDiscount tickets for this event are available if purchased before Sunday 4th July.
Further details of the weekend are available here.
Land Cruise Special trains
Guarantee a seat on your chosen train by booking in advance
Full details are available here, and Reservations are now open (phone 01825 720800) and tickets will be dispatched from Monday 19th July.The Special Land Cruise train will be formed of carriages 1503 (LNWR Observation Car), 661 (LBSCR First) and 114 (LCDR Brake Third)
This photograph (by Ray/Tall Fool), showing No.20 at Haverthwaite on 23 July 2006, is reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
Visit of "Blue Circle"The third visitor for our 50th Anniversary celebrations in August 2010 is no stranger to Bluebell metals. No.9449 "Blue Circle" is an unusual loco; an 2-2-0WT(Geared), built in 1926 by Aveling Porter, who were well known for their road-going steam engines. They also built a few railway locomotives, and most of those surviving are 0-4-0s. Formerly operated at Snodland Cement Works, it was presented to the Bluebell in 1964 by its owners, Associated Portland Cement. Finally restored to working order after many years of inactivity, it was not a locomotive which fitted any niche on the Bluebell Railway, so was placed on loan in the care of a group who owned another similar locomotive, and was sold to them in 2001.
This photograph (by Tony Pearce), shows "Blue Circle" on a previous visit to the Bluebell in June 2004.
The Bluebell Railway regret that we have been advised repairs to the A1 Class Locomotive "Tornado" are more extensive than first thought. As a result, the locomotive will not now be visiting the Bluebell Railway to participate in our 50th Anniversary.
We are very sorry for the disappointment this will cause. Customers with bookings will be contacted very shortly by our Customer Service Team.
Our Gala will still be something very special with special displays, all available locomotives in steam, behind the scenes tours and the first passenger trains over our new extension from Kingscote to Imberhorne South.
In addition the special Land Cruise Trains with the visiting Furness Locomotive Number 20 will take place the week after the event.
Tim Easter's photo (above) was taken on 25th April 2009 during the London to Edinburgh run filmed for the BBC "Top Gear 1949" race to the North.
Official start of 50th Anniversary celebrationsOn Monday 17th May 2010, at Horsted Keynes Station, The Bluebell Railway marked the 50th anniversary of the arrival of its first train.
On 17 May 1960, Terrier locomotive 'Stepney', together two coaches, travelled from the Ardingly Branch line (originally having come via Haywards Heath) into Horsted Keynes station. It was handed over to the Bluebell at Horsted Keynes and then hauled its coaches down the line to Sheffield Park, thus becoming the first train run by a standard gauge preserved railway.
Exactly 50 years to the day since this happened, there was a short ceremony at 11a.m. attended by many founder members and others that were involved in the 1960s. The photo (by Tony Sullivan) shows the Bluebell's centenarian President, Bernard Holden MBE, flagging the train into Horsted Keynes. Stepney then joined the E4 locomotive 'Birch Grove' to haul a special train to Sheffield Park.
Stepney is a small 'Terrier' Tank engine with an 0-6-0 wheel arrangement, built at Brighton works in 1875 and designed by William Stroudley. It began life working in South East London but after ten years returned to Brighton where it was prominent in the Kemptown area. It was purchased by the Bluebell Railway in May 1960. It has just been returned to service after a rapid overhaul in our workshops at Sheffield Park, and for this year only carries the original temporary livery it wore in 1960.
Southern Railway Carriage 6575, built in 1929, was also part of the Bluebell's inaugural train, and was painted "Bluebell Blue" on arrival at the Bluebell in 1960. This carriage is not currently able to run in public service, but has been made presentable and repainted into that original blue livery especially for this recreation.
'Stepney' and 6575 also appear in their 1960 condition in the limited edition Hornby set available exclusively from the Bluebell's shop.
During late February and through March 2010, having the line closed between Horsted Keynes and Kingscote for four weeks whilst we relaid the track through the tunnel gave us an opportunity to kick start the 50th Anniversary Celebrations by recreating Bluebell train services from the past 50 years.
Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th February,
Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th March
Timetable from 1963 season
SECR P-class loco No.178 made its preservation debut 27-28 February.
Trains paused at the sites of former halts.
1963 was the last year in which Horsted Keynes saw an electric service from Haywards Heath, and the once-electrified platform 2 was host to the Southern Electric Group's 4 Cor motor coach No.11201 coupled to our three contemporary Southern Railway carriages, to enhance the re-creation. The 4 Cor motor coach was open to visitors.
Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 March
Timetable from 1972 season
Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 March
Timetable from 1983 season
Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 March
Due to the early completion of the engineering work in the tunnel, the planned "1990" weekend did not take place. Instead trains operated the full length of the line to Kingscote, to our hourly Service 1 timetable, with Fairburn Tank 42085 hauling one of the trains.
To launch our 50th anniversary celebrations we held an open day, enabling people to come and discover the Bluebell Railway from a behind-the-scenes perspective and see 50 years of railway preservation at work.
On Wednesday, 17 June 2009, the four original students that thought up the idea of the Bluebell Railway in 1959, and were instrumental in organising the original meeting in Haywards Heath where the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society came into being, attended a grand reunion at Sheffield Park Station. The founder members and other invited guests toured Sheffield Park Shed, the Workshops, the Brighton Atlantic project, the Carriage and Wagon Works and the signal box at Horsted Keynes.
Pictures are available from Derek Hayward, including the one on the right, which shows (from left to right): Alan Sturt, Chris Campbell, Bernard Holden MBE (who chaired that inaugural meeting, and is now our President), David Dallimore and Martin Eastland.
Return to the Bluebell Home Page or to the Timetable - Special Events - 50th Anniversary Appeal
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