Bluebell Railway Blog:
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Blog and Web-site Update Archive 2013
31 December 2013
- Wishing everyone a Happy New Year. We are pleased to provide our listing of 2014 Special Events.
- Ashley Smith made his last visit for the year last Saturday, and provides this photo showing Black Five No.45231 "The Sherwood Forester" as it passes the site of the former Holywell Halt. See also more of Ashley's photos and a video. The Black Five has been in charge of the trains since Friday, whilst a teething problem with the S15's injector steam valve was solved, with the S15 returning to haul the lunchtime Golden Arrow train on Sunday.
- Updated Locomotive Duty Roster covering the next month.
- For use during the forthcoming partial line-closure for engineering work, we have been loaned, by The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, a twin-power-car DMU, formed of Class 101 Driving Motor Composite E51505, built in 1959, and Class 108 Driving Motor Brake Second E50599 of 1958. They arrived at Sheffield Park late afternoon yesterday. Details are available for the service they will operate in late January and early February.
- Martin Lawrence provides a short collection of video clips, showing showing No.1638 making its steady way to Horsted Keynes with a Santa Special (25 minutes in section being allowed for Santa to get through the train). We also see two piles of ballast that have been delivered to Freshfield Bank and the Ardingly spur in preparation for the forthcoming engineering works, No.45231 running round at Horsted Keynes (and the Wickham) and finally some mobile phone footage of the incoming ballast train crossing the viaduct the previous evening.
Please note that the area where the viaduct footage was shot is not accessible to anyone, with the exception of those such as Martin, who was on duty to lock the viaduct gates.
- Derek Hayward has a gallery of photos featuring the Fairy Godmother specials.
- John Sandys has a gallery showing S15 No.847 in service on Boxing Day. He also visited on 28 December, and also provides this
video of the Black 5 heading South.
- A reminder that we are still operating a curtailed service between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes at present, and the timetable tomorrow will be that shown below.
27 December - Updated
- We can now confirm that the line between Horsted Keynes and East Grinstead will remain closed until at least the 4th January while we work to repair damage caused by the recent heavy rain. Between Saturday 28 December and Wednesday 1 January we will operate six steam-hauled and steam-heated round trips each day between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes to the timetable shown here. Please do check this link over the coming days for any further alterations.
- Visiting us today? We are only operating between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes due to a landslip between Horsted Keynes and Kingscote. Trains depart from Sheffield Park station hourly between 10am and 4pm.
Passengers traveling to and from East Grinstead who are in possession of a valid Bluebell Railway ticket may travel between East Grinstead and Horsted Keynes on bus service 270 (download pdf timetable) operated by METROBUS who have kindly agreed to accept our tickets. Metrobus are running a Saturday Service today, so are serving Horsted Keynes Station.
The Booking Office at our East Grinstead station is open; if buying tickets from Sheffield Park or Horsted Keynes please make the Booking Clerk aware of your intention to use the bus. Kingscote Station is closed.
- We regret that we will also be restricted to running trains on the Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes section of our line until the New Year. More information here.
24 December - Evening update
- Santa Trains ran today, and many thanks to everyone for their understanding and patience over the problems with flooded car parks, and for the help from the nearby business park, National Trust, and our two bus drivers for ferrying customers past floods!
- Due to a small landslip just South of the Tunnel, which we hope to deal with in the couple of days after Christmas, we regret we will be able to run trains between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes only on 26 and 27 December. As shown in the updated Locomotive Duty Roster we plan to use the newly overhauled S15 locomotive on those two days, running an hourly service.
- Derek Hayward has added more photos of the Santa and Victorian Christmas trains and events to his photo gallery.
- Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas.
24 December - Morning update
- We will be checking our tracks thoroughly this morning before the first Santa train today, but hope at this stage (9am) to run our services as planned. If you are visiting the railway today, please
keep an eye on this Weather Update page. There are trees across some roads including Beeching Way in East Grinstead, so please do take care, and allow extra time for your journey!
- Andrew Strongitharm's photo shows S15 No.847 on Santa Special yesterday, when rather better weather held sway!
- Our Santa Special trains are currently running normally, in spite of the weather. If you are visiting the railway, please
keep an eye on this Weather Update page, and allow extra time for your journey.
- Nick Burgess provides a few photos from a brief visit to Horsted Keynes on Saturday.
- Dave Braley has added a new set of photos showing activity at the Bluebell yesterday.
- Three photos below:
- A timeless shed scene from Malcolm Porter, taken on 14 December;
- No.592 with one of the Victorian Christmas Specials last Friday, by David King;
- GBRF's No.66737 'Lesia', which had brought 20 full wagons of ballast in for the engineering work next month, both for the Horsted Keynes pointwork and renewal of track on Freshfield Bank, is seen leaving with its empty train at Horsted Keynes, thanks to Andrew Strongitharm, early yesterday morning.
- Derek Hayward's photo taken today shows the Victorian Christmas team at Horsted Keynes. Today's Victorian trains should have been hauled by the C-class, but problems, thought to be with a piston ring, meant that the U-class, in steam for the evening Pullman train was a last-minute substitute for the third and fourth trips, with L.150 steamed to haul this evening's Pullman dining train.
- KUTP "Stowe" Appeal video: As explained in the newly-published edition of Bluebell News, our members' magazine, we are expanding our "Keep Up The Pressure" campaign, which is raising funds for the overhaul of locomotive boilers, to include that for Schools-class No.928 "Stowe", and this new appeal video with Nicholas Owen outlines the importance of raising the money for No.928's boiler overhaul, as well as explaining more about the technicalities of such work, which applies to all our engines.
The KUTP Appeal currently stands at a magnificent £112,800, of which the first £100,000 was enough to complete the funding required to put "Sir Archibald Sinclair" back into steam. Further donations are nevertheless still needed if we are to push forward boiler overhauls for Nos.65 and 80151, and get "Stowe" back in service in just a couple of years' time.
- The updated Locomotive Duty Roster from Lewis Nodes shows that we again intend to have the S15, U-class and Black 5 on the Santa trains this coming weekend and on Monday and Tuesday, with the H-class shunting and pre-heating the coaching stock; as always, please bear in mind that the roster may be subject to last-minute changes (as it was today!).
- Update with the current positions in the Football Competition which, like the sale of home-made jams and chutneys in the entrance/exhibition area of the carriage works at Horsted Keynes, is raising funds for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.
- Paul Furlong's photo shows Black Five No.45231 "Sherwood Forester" hauling its Santa Special train on Saturday morning.
- Roger Carpenter was delighted (and a little surprised) to see the Platform 1 Down Starter at Horsted Keynes pulled off on Sunday. Up to now it's been fixed at danger, with drivers having to ask for permissions to pass it. It was commissioned on Friday and was in use for the PW trolley. Roger has a few photos of the signal and of 847 (in the driving rain...).
Just the previous week another signal, also previously fixed, became operational; the Up Inner Distant (at Three Arch Bridge).
- Polegate Historical Association have a talk on the Bluebell Railway by David Jones on 17th January 2014: St Johns Church Hall Polegate, 19:00-21:00; £2 admission for non members.
- There aren't many shopping days left until Christmas, but there's probably still one relative for whom you're struggling to find a present. How about a Bluebell Railway gift voucher? They're available in £5 or £10 denominations for spending across the railway, or for travel and dining on our Fish and Chips, Lounge Car, or Golden Arrow Trains.
Order today to receive them in time for Christmas.
- Derek Hayward's photo from Saturday shows S15 No.847 on its first day of Santa Special operation, at Poleay Bridge. It's really great to have this locomotive back in service after 16 years. A classic Southern engine; a goods version of the King Arthurs, with its origins going back to the LSWR designs of Robert Urie.
Derek's photos of the Santa Specials are starting to be assembled.
- Another nicely produced video from Philip and Gary Bull, from 30 November, featuring the recent return to service of SR U-class No.1638 after its firebox repair.
- Martin Lawrence provides an atmospheric video of C-class No.592 with the Victorian Special train for the visiting railtour last Thursday. It also includes the Sentinel ("Skippy") shunting at Horsted Keynes.
- News update on the overhaul of Schools No.928 "Stowe", including videos of it being shunted and the interior of its boiler, from yesterday, and one, from 1964, showing it being delivered to its initial home in preservation at Beaulieu.
- Initial details of a few 2014 special events, and dates for Fish & Chip, Rail Ale, Golden Arrow, Murder Mystery and Wealden Rambler Lounge Car trains now available - booking is open for all these.
- Fairy Godmother Specials on Saturday 28th, Sunday 29th, Monday 30th and Tuesday 31st December are booking up fast, don't miss out - call us on 01825 720800 (lines open Monday to Friday 8.30am - 6.00pm and Saturday & Sunday 9.00am - 5.00pm).
- We are running our peak public Service 2 timetable daily between 26 December and 1 January - Book in advance for a "Bluebell Bonus" discount on 01825 720800, or via our enquiry offices at Sheffield Park and East Grinstead.
- Today saw the UK Railtours' Bluebell Victorian Christmas excursion arrive from London Victoria. Andy Prime's photo shows 66004 bringing the railtour stock into Horsted Keynes for the return to London. The C-class and the Victorian set are seen in the further platform.
Steve Lee's photos show 66004 on the back of the railtour set as the empty coaching stock entered Sheffield Park, and 66082 on the tail of the charter coaches on its departure from Sheffield Park today, and also this atmospheric shot of two 4-6-0s on shed at Sheffield Park.
The C-class was photographed by Steve Hamblin at East Grinstead with one of the two Victorian Christmas trains run for today's railtour passengers.
- John Harwood caught this evening's Victorian Special on video.
- Yesterday saw the eagerly awaited return to service of SR S15-class 4-6-0 No.847. This video from Martin Lawrence shows the locomotive on the Staff Christmas Lunchtime Dining train, arriving at East Grinstead (where Martin had unlocked the viaduct gates), and his photos show the S15 at East Grinstead, and that L.150 is back at Sheffield Park.
- Consequent updates to the Locomotive Stock List, the Operational locomotives, and the Locomotives under overhaul pages. The updated Locomotive Duty Roster shows that we plan to have the S15, U-class and Black 5 on the Santa trains this coming weekend, with the C-class also in steam at Sheffield Park.
- L.150 is seen in Tim Easter's photo on the Christmas Steam on the Met on Sunday, where it was deputising for a failed Met.1.
This red GW Prairie tank (aka 5521) has now returned to the Bluebell, on loan courtesy of The Flour Mill Ltd., and is with us until it returns to LT for the August 2014 Hammersmith-Moorgate runs, which should see Met.1, L.150, Sarah Siddons, and our four Metropolitan Railway carriages together again to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Hammersmith & City line.
- New web page for visiting locomotive 33103 "Swordfish" with thanks to Martin Skrzetuszewski, Martin Lawrence and Nick Beck.
- John Fry's photo shows S15 No.847 with a loaded test train approaching the Tunnel yesterday. It ran right the way through to East Grinstead. No date has yet been announced for its return to public service.
- Martin Lawrence also provides photos and a video of the S15 on its test runs yesterday. The photos are part of his gallery covering 23 Nov - 9th Dec.
It was a good week for Bluebell picking up 2 major awards! Details of the Ian Allan and Heritage Heroes awards are available on the Society Notices page.
- A great set of photos from Nick Burgess, taken on a visit to Horsted Keynes on Saturday.
Peter Gibbs (Camelot Society Chairman) and the Bluebell's Chris Shepherd and Andy Kelly have recently visited LNWR Heritage, Crewe; to inspect the work being done there on Camelot's boiler. His report is on the 73082 Camelot Society's web site.
- A Year in the Life of Ashdown Forest is a film which takes a look behind the scenes and reveals just what it takes to manage and maintain Ashdown Forest in the 21st Century.
- We are sorry to report that Brian Greene, a booking clerk at Sheffield Park, died in hospital on Sunday 1 December, and that Irene Cope, wife of Society vice-president Geoffrey Cope, passed away on Tuesday 3rd. Fuller reports are available on the Society Notices page.
- Enjoy our Christmas Carvery in the Birch Grove Suite at Sheffield Park station on the first floor above the Bessemer Arms. Reserving a table is essential, which can be booked by contacting the Sales and Information Office at Sheffield Park on 01825 720800. (Please note that unfortunately there is no wheelchair access to the first floor).
The Christmas Carvery is available on 14, 15, 21 & 22 December.
- Page & Picture have some beautiful photographs of a recent wedding held at Horsted Keynes station.
- There is an update to the details of the annual Photographers' lineside PTS, with dates for 2014 sessions.
- Wallab.ee is a game available via the Apple app store (but not currently on Android) and played in over 90 countries. Players are rewarded with virtual trading cards when foraging at various locations. Sets of cards have so far included Alice in Wonderland, Pirates, A night out at the opera and Railways. There is an option to create your own "unique" card, which can be traded with other players. Rob Faulkner proposed SECR 178, as "Nettle", which has been created, and features the following wording: "This little tank engine was built in 1910. Restored in 2010 by a group of volunteers, it now pulls trains on the world famous Bluebell Railway in the UK." The overall look seems to capture a P-class very well and it has been well received by the Wallab.ee community. For those unaware of this locomotive's 'name', with our other P-classes being "Bluebell" and (at one time) "Primrose", the theme of common lineside plants appears to have extended informally to No.178!
- This video from Philip Bull features the Victorian train, as hauled on 16 November by the SECR C-class, with a particular focus on LBSCR Stroudley First-class carriage No.661 of 1880, our oldest operational carriage.
- We've already had a lot of positive feedback, via Facebook and Twitter, from happy families who enjoyed the first day of our Santa Specials, last Sunday.
- We featured as an answer on University Challenge on BBC2 last night! See it at 17mins 50s into the programme, available for another 6 days. The question was "Which woodland flower gives its name to a heritage line that runs along the border of East and West Sussex, with a terminus at Shefffield Park?" - and yes, Trinity College Cambridge's team got it right!
- John Harwood's "North of Kingscote" video diary from yesterday features the well-patronised Christmas Weekday Wonder service in our Edwardian carriages. The train runs again on 9 & 10 December, from Horsted Keynes, with a special tour of our museum and a traditional Christmas Lunch at Sheffield Park. Book here.
- Update to the Locomotive stock list, Locomotives on static display, and Locomotives under overhaul pages, now that SR Schools-class locomotive No.928 "Stowe" is at a more obvious stage of dismantling, with boiler cladding being removed (photo here). Funding to enable this locomotive's boiler overhaul to be fast-tracked at external contractors is to be sought through a forthcoming appeal under the "Keep up the Pressure" campaign. If you'd like to see this iconic locomotive running again in the near future, please start putting those pennies and pounds aside now, for when the appeal is formally launched.
- During November 2013 there were 80,323 total hits on this page, from 45,729 unique visitors.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows No.263 departing from Sheffield Park with the Golden Arrow Luncheon Train today, in the capable hands of driver Ted Oades and fireman Bruce Morgans. The U-class and the Black Five were in charge of the two service trains.
- Tomorrow the same three locomotives will be running, but of course it's the start of our Santa Specials, and other Christmas Services, for which booking is essential to ensure everyone gets a seat.
- Just a reminder that, even on days when no trains are running, The Grinsteade Buffet Carriage at our East Grinstead site is still open for custom. The refreshments offered are proving very popular with passing trade, and provide a good advert for the railway. The only day through the year when it is not open will be Christmas Day itself!
- The S15 travelled up to Horsted Keynes yesterday (Friday) light engine, on another test run, and then went back again. It couldn't go any further north as filming was taking place at the north end of the tunnel. Today it was back in the works for further fettling.
- As usual in December we will be running our hugely popular Santa Special trains, and other festive services. If you haven't yet done so, call 01825 720806 for availability and booking.
Note that this coming weekend we will therefore be running our public service (Service Two timetable) on Saturday 30 November ONLY. Our Santa Specials start on Sunday 1 December.
- No.92212 has now returned to the Mid Hants Railway. Derek Hayward supplies this photo, showing the locomotive, appropriately hauling a Santa Special, arriving at Horsted Keynes in the golden glow of dusk last December, and has also updated his "visiting engine" gallery for it with a selection of appropriate images.
Derek is also working his way through a huge number of images from 2011 to 2013 that he simply has not had time to process, and has made a start with large updates to the individual galleries for locomotives 178, 323, 263, 55 and 592. They can all be accessed from his Bluebell locomotives page.
- Further to yesterday's report about the planned visit of The Furness Railway Trust's GWR 0-6-2 Tank No.5643 next year, David Haggar's photo shows the locomotive on the Severn Valley Railway on 22 September, where it has been on hire for most of this year.
The locomotive, with its class-5 power classification and 25,800 lb tractive effort should be a most welcome and useful addition to our available loco fleet, effectively replacing the LMS Black Five (albeit with a month's overlap).
Interestingly this will be the fourth member of its class to find itself in the Southern area, with two now based at the K&ESR and one at Swanage. The other survivors are at Didcot, the North Norfolk Railway, East Somerset Railway, and Barry, with another being at the Severn Valley for overhaul.
- Dave Braley also has an album of 5643 from a SVR charter last month
- Amongst his photos from yesterday, from Keith Duke, which show the three locos running, and much more, was this one of the U-class No.1638 back in service, on the Wealden Rambler afternoon tea train. The U-class is thus now back in service following copper-welding repairs, as described in detail in the latest e-mail newsletter (which reached its 50th issue today!) This photo also shows the platform 1 canopy valance and guttering, recently completed by the Friends of Sheffield Park and contractors.
- Brighton and Hove have named a new Volvo bus No.477 "Bernard Holden" in honour of our late President.
- Video from Dan Green, showing all the action yesterday.
- Nick Burgess provides some photos he took yesterday, including the U-class back in service, hauling the Wealden Rambler.
- Steve Lee took a number of shots of Black 5 No.45231 at various locations yesterday, together with the 9F No.92212 on the tramway awaiting loading for its return to the Mid Hants.
- Dave Braley has added a set of new photos of the Bluebell from the last couple of Sundays, taken whilst working with the Permanent-way gang.
- As reported in the Bluebell e-mail newsletter, The Furness Railway Trust's GWR 0-6-2 Tank No.5643 will be visiting us from February to December next year. The LT-liveried Prairie Tank No.L150 (GWR 5521) will also be returning to the Bluebell in mid-December for a further period on loan courtesy of The Flour Mill Ltd.
- A further twist to the tragic story of the wartime couple killed while walking back from their wedding along the line in 1943 is now known, as reported in the Mid Sussex Times. Winifred Knapp had had a daughter, Rosemary, two years earlier, who was adopted. She has only recently discovered the story of her mother's fate, and has now visited the church where her mother married and was buried so soon after.
- To continue to celebrate its forthcoming return to steam, this photo, plus a video, by Robin Johnston, are from Wednesday's test steaming of Maunsell S15 No.847.
- A reminder that this weekend we are operating our normal Service Two timetable, with the Kids for a Quid special offer applying. For Saturdays 23 and 30 November, plus two dates in December, we are also offering Christmas Shopping by Train, from Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes. Travel to East Grinstead for a return fare of just £5 per person (kids for a quid). Details and applicable train times.
- Our Christmas services are booking up fast - as well as our hugely popular Santa Specials, we also have Victorian Christmas trains, and much more - a full list of December services is available here. Phone 01825 720806 to book for Santa Specials or 01825 720800 for other services.
- Kevin McElhone took this photo today, showing further testing of the S15.
- The Locomotive Duty Roster has been updated to show the locomotives expected to be used this weekend, with the Black Five and the C on the service trains, No.323 "Bluebell" also in steam, and a most welcome return, following firebox repairs, of the U-class No.1638.
- Pictures from Dave Bowles, illustrating the historic top and tailed trip from Victoria to Sheffield Park and Uckfield, at Hurst Green, on what was a very wet day!
- Tony Hillman's photo shows the Maunsell Locomotive Society's Southern Railway S15 No.847, in steam and moving under its own power for the first time since 1997. There's a bit more work to complete before it re-enters service, but it's looking good! There's a couple of video clips showing it moving on the 928 Stowe FaceBook page.
- Martin Lawrence provies a video compilation of short clips, behind the scenes at last Friday's the Children In Need event at Sheffield Park.
- Keith Duke's excellent photos from last Saturday, when there were some quite good steam effects to be seen first thing in the morning.
- Autumn sunshine and still, cold air make for great photographic opportunities. Yoshi Hashida was near Horsted House Farm on Saturday to use these components to create this fine photo of visiting Black Five No.45231 on one of our service trains.
- It's hoped that S15 No.847 will have its steam test later this week, although there will still be a little work remaining before it can re-enter service. The next loco into the works will then be No.73082 "Camelot", so that the frames can be completed ready for the return of the boiler from Crewe. The Q-class is now back on its wheels in the workshop.
- We suspect this is another "Bluebell First" - Nick Delfas provides this video of his son, playing an appropriate piece of Cello music, shot in their garden next to the line on Saturday. Conker the dog plays his part too.
- Martin Lawrence provides some photos from the last couple of weeks, including Friday's Children In Need activity and the current platform work at Sheffield Park. He also provides some photos from the social event on Saturday evening, run as a "Thank you" for all staff and volunteers, for their enormous efforts in running the railway over the year.
- Keith Leppard was tempted South on Saturday by the promise of a sunny day in Sussex. He reports lots going on at the Railway and plenty of visitors to enjoy it. At Sheffield Park, several locos were nicely arrayed in the yard, and folk in the loco dept seemed to be mixing concrete (for the S15 smokebox perhaps?). All trains were using platform 2, as the north end of platform 1 is currently dug-up. The autumn colour is fantastic just now but, choosing the Metropolitans / 4-wheeler set for his trip, the glow of the sun on their varnished woodwork as we headed North behind the C-class gave the leaves stiff competition. Several of the local residents of Horsted Keynes took advantage of the special shopping rates on the first up service to East Grinstead, and when he reached there later, there looked to be a lot of people starting and ending the journeys there too. All this at what would in previous years have been a very quiet time at the railway. By the time the H-class came up the line with the "Wealden Rambler", it was starting to get dark.
Keith has some photos, and a compilation video.
- This video showing all the action from 20th October is from Gary and Philip Bull.
- John Sandys visited the Railway today - photos showing work going on at Sheffield Park and Kingscote, and preparations for Christmas, are to be seen. The tamper was in use fettling the new track on the extension now it has bedded in a bit. He also visited briefly on Saturday, and found the Railway very popular, with the various special offers seemingly going down very well. The Black Five was hauling the main service train and sounded in fine form, with the C-Class in charge of the Victorian train. And all bathed in glorious sunshine for a change! Photos here, and this YouTube video of the Black Five running non-stop through Kingscote and on into the cutting.
15 November Stop Press:
- Pudsey Express - As part of BBC Children in Need, we feature on the 6.30pm and 10.25pm South East Today programme (7 minutes, and also 19.15, into the programme), and also in the South East regional inserts in the main BBC1 fund-raising extravaganza. We wish everyone associated with the appeal all the best for a sucessful evening! (Photo from Tony Sullivan).
Our first mention on TV this morning was at 6.30am! As well as featuring Pusdey, and Children in Need, the coverage also features our achievement in extending through to East Grinsted this year. With 600 visitors on site for the filming today, including invited guests, particularly fund-raisers from all over the South-East, and a large number of children, it has been a very busy day for the Railway!
Mark Carter, on BBC Sussex, is coming live from the Bluebell this afternoon.
- Andrew Crampton's photo shows Black Five No.44932 returning northwards from the Bluebell during "The Bluebell Explorer" tour last Saturday, approaching Hurst Green Junction.
- John Sandys' photos from yesterday show that, now midweek running has ended, maintenance work has stepped up a gear. Work is under way to lay in wiring ducts on platform 1 at Sheffield Park, complete the fitting of the original style LBSCR canopy valance there, and also attend to painting at East Grinstead, amongst other work around the Railway.
- A reminder that this weekend, 16/17 November, we are operating our normal Service Two timetable, with the Kids for a Quid special offer applying. For the next three Saturdays we are also offering Christmas Shopping by Train, from Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes. Travel to East Grinstead for a return fare of just £5 per person (kids for a quid). Details and applicable train times.
- The Locomotive Duty Roster has been updated to show the locomotives expected to be used over the next week. This weekend should see the Black Five, the C, H and No.323 "Bluebell" all in steam.
- Saturday's incoming Bluebell Explorer railtour, topped and tailed by No.34046 "Braunton" and Black 5 No.44932 is seen here in the rain at Birchstone Bridge in David Haggar's photo.
- An updated component sponsorship list for the Brighton Atalntic Project is now available. Please do support this great project, and help complete the reconstruction of this important "missing link" locomotive.
- Lee Davies provides a great video covering the Bluebell in 2013, the year we returned to East Grinstead, including Saturday's railtour through the London Suburbs and the visiting Black Five seen the previous weekend, along highlights of other action in 2013, and ending with a reminder of the part our Victorian Metropolitan Railway carriages played in the Tube 150 trains in January.
- Talking of the Met coaches, it seems likely that they will be returning to London in August 2014, for more steam haulage, this time between Hammersmith and Moorgate, to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of that line.
- Please note that whilst Steam Dreams has announced two main-line excursions to/from Sheffield Park in 2014, the dates have yet to be confirmed. Please also note that all such railtours are organised by third parties, who should be contacted with any queries about them; the Bluebell is not able to provide any information about such tours, since we are not directly involved in their operation, except for the short time they are on Bluebell metals.
- A significant piece of Bluebell history was made yesterday by Driver Liz Groome (right) and Fireman Ruth Lee, as seen in Neil Glaskin's photo, when the 1.45 service from Sheffield Park became the first Bluebell train to have been operated by an all-female loco crew.
- Saturday saw our third incoming steam charter, which was also the first to also depart with steam leading, thanks to the train of 11 carriages, which originated from London Victoria, being topped and tailed by Bulleid rebuilt pacific No.34046 "Braunton" and LMS Black Five No.44932.
- We can confirm that this coming weekend, 16/17 November, we are operating our normal Service Two timetable, with the Kids for a Quid special offer applying. For the next three Saturdays we are also offering Christmas Shopping by Train, from Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes. Travel to East Grinstead for a return fare of just £5 per person (kids for a quid). Details and applicable train times.
- On Saturday 9 November we have a slightly revised public timetable due to the incoming charter train. Trains start from Sheffield Park at 9.45, 11.15, 12.45, 2.00, 3.00 and 4.15. Trains from East Grinstead depart at 11.00, 12.30, 2.05, 3.15, 4.00 and 5.15.
The Railway Touring Company's Bluebell Explorer is expected to be topped and tailed by No.34046 "Braunton" and Black 5 No.44932, and timings are now available from UKsteam.info. The special arrives at East Grinstead at 10.03, and Sheffield Park at 11:00. For the return leg it departs at 12:20. arriving at East Grinstead at 1:10, from whence it continues to Oxted where it reverses for a trip down to Uckfield before returning to London Victoria.
- Derek Hayward's photo shows one of the two trains we are running on each operational day at present, as the H-class is seen approaching Kingscote with Victorian carriages on 2nd November.
- Christmas Shopping by Train, from Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes on Saturdays 16th, 23rd and 30th November, Monday 2nd and Thursday 19th December. Travel to East Grinstead for a return fare of just £5 per person (kids for a quid). Details and applicable train times.
- We're getting involved in Children in Need on the 15th November; for a chance to ride the Pudsey Express email email@example.com
- Last month a translation by Nuria Reina Bachot of Edith Nesbit's "The Railway Children" was published in Spanish. Nuria, the daughter of a railway worker from Madrid, hopes that this might lead to an eventual increase in Spanish visitors to the Bluebell!
- No.45231 is seen yesterday at the foot of Freshfield Bank in Sheila Beaumont's photo. We had 4 locomotives running, with C-class No.592 hauling eight Victorian carriages, and the H-class on the lunchtime dining train, assisted by P-class No.178, which was shed pilot at Sheffield Park. Steaming a P-class as shed pilot, enabling it to also top-and-tail on the second "half" trip of the "Golden Arrow" to Horsted Keynes, is now a regular feature on Sundays, and occasionally on Saturdays, to provide crew-training opportunities, as well as having a locomotive available for shunting, and providing an additional visitor attraction.
Locomotive Works News updates for the Maunsell Locomotive Society on all their locomotives and on 84030, the Standard Class 2 project.
- As mentionned in a report in the Telegraph, we received a "Highly Commended" at the British Guild of Travel Writers Awards yesterday. In the Tourism Awards category, the Mary Rose at Portsmouth Dockyard won Best UK Tourism Project, and the Bluebell Railway's Extension and the Titanic Museum, Belfast were runners up.
- Further coverage of Oliver Cromwell's visit on Saturday, with Philip Bull's video at Sheffield Park, plus photos from Jon Hughes,
and Chris Thomas,
and a short video showing Oliver Cromwell passing through East Croydon from Bob Garbutt
- The Bluebell Railway Walks website has three new features, as follows:
1) A video tour (illustrating what you might see)
2) Additional walks that involve travel on the Bluebell Railway
3) Train arrival times at each of the view points.
- Tony Sullivan's photo shows the departure from Horsted Keynes of 70013 "Oliver Cromwell" on today's incoming railtour, which originated at Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway. Whilst the railway was not over-crowded by railtour paricipants since the train only stopped at Sheffield Park for half an hour, a good number of people did visit to see it arrive!
- Matthew Hume provides a few photos of his visit to the railway on Thursday.
- John Sandys was also about on Friday, and provides a few photos and a YouTube video from the final day of Half-Term, quite a rainy day but still the crowds came!
- Thomas Trim has a great video from last Saturday, with 45231's first outing on Bluebell services.
- The Locomotive Duty Roster has been updated to show the locomotives expected to be used over the next couple of weeks.
- During October 2013 there were 82,786 total hits on this page, from 46,933 unique visitors.
- Today regrettably marks the scaling back of coverage on this blog, due to the need to balance the time spent working on it against the rest of my life. Thanks to the Facebook page, the Bluebell's hugely succesful e-mail newsletter, and its archive, hopefully online news coverage will still be maintained at a good level!
- John Sandys provides this photo, showing the fantastic sight which has been greeting our visitors this week, the SECR H-class with the Victorian carriages, forming the second set, with the Black 5 on the corridor set. John reports yet another busy half-term day today, and he supplies several other photos, including that below, showing some of the Network Rail rail-head treatment trains which have been offloaded onto Bluebell metals from road transport at Sheffield Park, and assembled at Horsted Keynes, prior to onward transport. Two class 73s (73213 and 73207) arrived this evening to take them away.
John also provides a gallery from Tuesday, including photos of visiting Black 5, and work commencing on the boiler removal on "Stowe", plus new stock in the shop. The Maunsell Locomotive Society's plan is to accelerate the overhaul of this locomotive by sending the boiler away for overhaul, finance permitting, whilst the running gear is overhauled at Sheffield Park. The tender was given a comprehensive rebuild in preparation for this overhaul some years ago now.
- On Saturday 2 November we have a slightly revised timetable due to the incoming charter train behind No.70013 "Oliver Cromwell". This rail-tour starts from Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway, and is our first incoming tour starting from another heritage line.
- James Bloomfield provides a great video from Sunday's Vintage Bus day, including all the trains running that day as well.
- The Locomotive Duty Roster has been updated to show the locomotives expected to be used over the next week.
- Martin Lawrence provides a few photos from recent days, including the H and the Black 5 in action, along with a couple of videos:
Firstly a short clip starting off with a mobile crane setting up to lift Sir Archibald Sinclair's boiler, and then we see No.09018 depart Sheffield Park for Horsted Keynes with part of the consignment of wagons destined for Network Rail.
The second compilation of clips includes Black Five No.45231 and H-class No.263 with the Metropolitan set and four wheelers yesterday.
- Cards based on a pair of paintings below by Matthew Cousins are now available to raise funds for the Brighton Atlantic Project. The cards are available from Matthew at the Railway Art Exhibition van at Horsted Keynes, or by post from 1 Sunnycroft Close, Scaynes Hill, West Sussex. RH17 7PT.
The cards are available both in the Christmas version, and the "all year" version without a message, and are priced at 10 cards for £12 collected (also from Atlantic House when open) or 10 cards for £15 posted - cheque payable to "Bluebell Railway Atlantic Project". If you wish, mixed sets are also available.
Vintage Bus Day - Sunday 27 October 2013
- Keith Duke's photo on the right shows some of the buses which provided free services into Sheffield Park.
In this photo we see an ex-Eastbourne Corporation Leyland Titan PD2A, London Transport RT 1798 and a Bristol MW6G.
Keith's great collection of photos from yesterday's Vintage Bus Day also covers the four locos in steam.
His photos below show:
- RT 4779 at East Grinstead, which had operated a service starting in Redhill that morning;
- Southdown No. 122, a Leyland Leopard PSU3/1RT, with Marshall body, and an East Kent AEC Regent V, at Sheffield Park,
- Southdown No.277, a Leyland PD3/4, with one of the frequent services which were run from Brighton;
- London Transport RT 1798, also in Brighton.
28 October - Travel and Service Update
- Following clearance of a fallen tree on the line, we are running our normal Half-term Service Two timetable today.
- A reminder that Sunday is our Vintage Bus Day for which, full details and timetables of the many free services are now available. Derek Hayward's photo shows Roy Watts' RML 2731 at Sheffield Park back in 2009.
- LMS Black 5 No.45231 should, if everything goes to plan, be running this coming weekend, and every day over half-term week. Don't forget our Kids for a Quid offer applies between Saturday 26th October and Sunday 3rd November, and also weekends in November until Saturday 30th.
- John Sandys' videos show: Black 5 No.45231 arriving at Sheffield Park on Tuesday, in the platform, and taking water, and shunting around Sheffield Park, amongst other reasons, to confirm clearances.
photos from today (a glorious sunny day which has brought out lots of colour in the trees line side) show No.178 on the penultimate day of the Autumn Tints Specials, good progress on completing the S15 and on the preparation for replacing the south-end points at Horsted Keynes, which is to take place in January 2014.
Update on the Bulleid Society web site with pictures of 34059's boiler lift, which took place yesterday, using the crane and low loader on site for Network Rail's railhead treatment train road/rail delivery. The photos below, by John Fry and Tony Hillman, show the boiler being lifted, being manouvered in the yard, and departing for overhaul at Crewe. We still need to raise more money to pay for all of the work on Sir Archibald Sinclair's boiler, through the
"Keep up the Pressure" appeal, which has currently raised over £80,000.
- There is new coverage of our Royal visit earlier in the month in the East Grininstead Courier & Observer/Crawley News/Kent & Sussex Courier.
- LMS Black 5 No.45231 has arrived on the Bluebell, as a visiting engine, and is seen here en-route at Clapham Junction in Nicholas Woollven's photo. It is expected to stay on the Bluebell until early spring 2014.
- We are running FREE VINTAGE BUS SERVICES on Sunday 27th October 2013, for our Vintage Bus Day, full details and timetables for which are now available. Sunday 27th October 2013 is 50 years to the day since the branch line between Haywards Heath, Ardingly and Horsted Keynes closed to passengers. To commemorate this event as a 'one off' buses are running on Service 88B between East Grinstead and Haywards Heath via Ardingly station.
Visitors intending to travel by rail from London and Croydon to East Grinstead on Sunday should note that there are engineering works planned between Croydon and Oxted, check with National Rail Enquiries and allow extra time for their journey. Alternatively, free bus services 409 from Redhill and 708 from Croydon (see timetables) may offer a limited alternative, but are operated by a single vehicle and sufficient accommodation cannot be guaranteed.
Compass Bus Service 769 provides a link between Haywards Heath and Sheffield Park Station, on a normal fare-paying basis, and there are other scheduled bus services on Metrobus route 400 from Three Bridges to East Grinstead.
- Nathan Gibson just managed to catch the Black 5 on video as it ran through Sanderstead station.
- John Harwood's North of Kingscote Video Diary features the locomotive's arrival at East Grinstead, plus today's Autumn Tints service.
- On its journey down to Sheffield Park, gauging tests were conducted. John Sandys has a gallery of phtoos and videos from today, including the photo below showing No.45231 on arrival at Sheffield Park.
- Keith Duke's photos from last Friday show that the autumn colours at the National Trust's Sheffield Park and Garden are already stunning, and are only likely to get better over the next few weeks. Keith also has some photos from a quick visit he paid to the railway at the same time.
- A photo by Martin Brown is now available showing our 9F, No.92240, when it was at Barry Scrapyard.
- We hosted an RCTS visit on Saturday - with reserved seats on this public service train, seen at Horsted Keynes behind the C-class, in the photo below from Nathan Gibson. The current maintenance work on our Grade 2 listed signalbox at Horsted Keyens, which includes replacement of some substantial structural timbers on the cabin, is seen in the background.
- David King's photo on the right shows C-class No.592 with the 4pm from Sheffield Park on Saturday 12 October.
- The official gallery of photos from the visit of HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO, from last Thursday is now available, with thanks to Derek Hayward.
- We are pleased to announce that Dick Fearn, former Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann, has been named as the new Chairman of Bluebell Railway PLC. Dick is an extremely experienced rail man, with 40 years in the rail industry in Britain and Ireland, including as Zone Director of Midlands and North West Railtrack/Network Rail; Managing Director of the South Eastern Train Company; and Divisional Director of BR Network South East, Thames and Chiltern and South East Divisions.
Roy Watts, BRPS Chairman, writes that we had nine excellent candidates for the position of Chairman, and each bought unique elements and visions to the table. It was a tough call to compile the shortlist.
Dick is very keen to get stuck in to understanding what needs to be done to make sure our Railway sets itself up for the future, and he will spend his initial weeks meeting the Railway's management and committees. He is under no illusion that the next few years present a great challenge, but as a true lifelong railwayman, he brings us a wealth of knowledge. We welcome him to the Railway, and we wish him every success.
- Loco update from Lewis Nodes, L&RS Director: The Railway is taking on hire LMS "Black Five" No. 45231 "The Sherwood Forester" from the end of October until it goes back to main-line work in March. Its exact arrival date has not yet been agreed.
Prairie tank No.L150 is currently being re-tubed at the Flour Mill, and will be returning to us after its "Santa on the Met" duties on 8 Dec. It is planned to stay for 2014, with some some short visits to London Underground.
SECR P-class No.178 returned to service on Friday following its annual boiler exam, and is currently the regular engine for the Autumn Tints specials.
A pioneering technique for repair of the fractures in the copper firebox plates in SR U-class No.1638 has been approved by the insurance inspector, and we are awaiting a contractor to carry out the copper welding work. Note however that the success or otherwise of this repair will only be known once the welding has been attempted.
David Haggar's photo, taken in 2005, shows No.45231 on the main line at Eastbourne, and Brian Lacey's, below, shows No.178 at East Grinstead yesterday.
- As some context for the visit of No.45231, Black 5s were used on the the Newhaven-Glasgow Car Sleeper services, and were serviced at Eastbourne Shed, in the early 1960s. Roger Haggar took photos of some Black 5s in Sussex: No.44862 on Eastbourne Shed on 26 June 1964, No.45142 at Eastbourne Shed, and No.44665 passing Willingdon Junction, both taken in the Summer of 1964.
Jonathan Horrocks has some photos of No.45231 taken in recent years.
- The first part of Alan Postlethwaite's collection of photographs has been added to the Museum website. This set joins the collections already available from JJ Smith and Colin Hogg, and as with these sets, prints of Alan's photos can be ordered. You may know Alan's name as he has written many railway books and contributed articles to magazines such as Southern Way. We thank Alan for making his collection of photographs available to the Bluebell Railway Museum Archive. All the photographs and their descriptions are included in the BRPS web site's Search function, although you may sometimes need to delve deeper down the listed results to find the photos referred to.
- Update on the 769 Bus service - Sundays only: Brighton - Haywards Heath - Sheffield Park (Station and National Trust Garden).
This bus service has been extended to include Sundays 3rd and 10th November, as part of the National Trust Autumn Colour season. The service has proved very successful in 2013 and will be repeated in 2014 commencing on Sunday 30th March with a few minor tweaks to the timetable.
- John Sandys provides photos and videos from Tuesday, when the Autumn Tints Specials were proving to be very popular with the trains being pretty full. John also has a few shots of the S15 and Q-Class in the works, plus Sir Archibald Sinclair. Also some shots of Horsted Keynes dressed as "Cambridge" and "Kings Cross" Stations!
YouTube Videos show the Autumn Tints approaching Horsted Keynes, then leaving Horsted Keynes, and on the climb from Kingscote to East Grinstead.
- Martin Lawrence provides, for those of you who love the sound of a 174-litre, 1550HP "Sulzer" straight eight working hard, a short clip from 6 October, a ride behind 33103 "Swordfish" thumping its way up the 1-in-75 sections north of Horsted Keynes and Kingscote.
- Three photos below:
- Preparations for the changing of No.23 points at the south end of Horsted Keynes, which have included moving the S&T location cabinet to prepare for a small re-alignment of the track, and the new drainage in place (David Chappell)
- Pullman Car "Fingall" is now being finished off in the Paint Shop at Horsted Keynes. Derek Hayward's photo shows the refreshed and re-assembled interior.
- The LNWR Observation Car has replaced Fingall in the main works, for an intermediate overhaul; the amount of work required will only become clear once the work starts to progress. (Derek Hayward)
11 October - Further photos of yesterday's Royal Visit:
- Derek Hayward's official photos of the visit show BRPS Chairman Roy Watts being introduced to HRH The Duke of Gloucester by the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Mr Peter Field.
The Duke was shown around the Museum at Sheffield Park station by BRPS deputy chairman, Sam Bee, where he also unveiled the commemorative plaque. The party then travelled to East Grinstead on the GNR Directors' Saloon, where the Duke is seen signing the visitors' book, and then leaving the Bluebell to travel on by public service train on the National network, to his next engagement.
- The East Grinstead Courier and Observer today carries a story about pupils from Dallington Primary School, learning about life during the Second World War at first hand - by being evacuated on one of our trains.
- John Sandys' photos from today show the SECR P-class No.178 back in service after its annual boiler exam, on Autumn Tints duty with two beautiful SR-designed Bulleid coaches. Also more photos of new stock in the Bluebell's shop.
- With the return to service yesterday, after minor maintenance work, of SECR H-class No.263, all services this weekend should be steam hauled, being in the hands of the H-class, the SECR C-class and the BR 9F.
We were honoured today by a visit from His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester.
Cousin to Her Majesty The Queen, and 22nd in the line of succession, the Duke is a grandson of King George V, whose portrait hangs in the Station refreshment room at Horsted Keynes.
- John Sandys' photo on the left shows the Royal train awaiting departure, as No.323 arrives with the Autumn Tints special. John's photos below show HRH The Duke of Gloucester, at Sheffield Park Station meeting some of the Northern Extension volunteers, before he boarded the Great Northern Directors' Saloon, hauled by SECR H-class No.263, for a journey to East Grinstead, to formally mark the opening of the Northern Extension. John provides photos and videos of today's visit, and the departure from Sheffield Park is seen in this video.
- Tony Hillman's photo shows the plaque recording today's Royal visit, as now installed in the Museum.
- John Harwood's "North of Kingscote" video Diary today covers both No.323 on the Autumn Tints and the arrival of our Royal visitor at East Grinstead.
- Tony Sullivan's photo below shows No.323 nearing Sheffield Park with the midday return working of the Autumn Tints service today.
- Derek Hayward has uploaded some photos of the newly arrived viaduct sections to his "Ardingly" collection, and some of his other photos from Sunday to his 2013 Bluebell album.
- We are pleased to report that Chris White, our Infrastructure Director, was Highly Commended in the Rail Staff Awards in the Rail Engineer of the Year category, for his achievement in bringing the Bluebell's Northern Extension Project to a successful conclusion. To be rated so highly in a competition intended for staff working on projects on the National Network is a huge accolade not only to Chris, but also acknowledges the professionalism of the entire Bluebell operation.
- Stephen Hamblin's photo shows No.323 "Bluebell" testing the new East Grinstead water crane at around 2pm yesterday. This was thus the first loco to use the new facility, although it was not quite fully commissioned. The water tower includes a sump tank in its foundations which collects rainwater from our station platform and the viaduct, which is pumped up into the main tank.
- John Sandys' photo below, taken from the train, shows the two long viaduct sections now stored at Horsted Keynes for eventual installation on the line towards Ardingly. John has more photos from yesterday and a video showing 323 shunting at Sheffield Park.
- Derek Hayward steps into the breach with the request for photos from the weekend showing 33103 and 592 in service, as seen below with the Class 33 at Vaux End, and the C hauling the lunchtime dining train at New Road Bridge, on Sunday.
- Reminder that on Sunday evening this week we have our Clarinet on Track evening concert. Tickets are available direct from Chequer Mead Theatre in East Grinstead (free parking at the Theatre) for what promises to be an excellent evening's entertainment. The compere is Nicholas Owen.
Please call the Box Office on 01342 302000 to purchase tickets (booking charge applies), or buy them on the door.
- No photos of 33103, or the C-class, in action this weekend, since no one has sent any to me yet! Derek Hayward provided this one of the 9F approaching New Road Bridge on Sunday.
- Martin Lawrence provides this short compilation of video clips from last Thursday, including P class No.323 "Bluebell", a digger at work preparing the ground for the No.23 points replacement and Charles and Roger on duty as signalman and station master respectively at Horsted Keynes. The video ends with a shortened trip through Sharpthorne tunnel which clearly shows the Northern most ice prevention shielding. Martin also has a
short clip of Bluebell heading a fitted freight Saturday at HK.
- Mark Tickner provides the photos below, also taken yesterday, showing the array of LBSCR signals at the north end of Sheffield Park, and the 5pm train being flagged away from East Grinstead by the guard. The GNR Saloon was in use for private hires both days over the weekend.
- Another of Brian Lacey's photos shows No.323 "Bluebell" arriving at East Grinstead with the Autumn Tints special on Wednesday.
- This weekend we are unfortunately short of steam locomotives to operate our planned services, therefore trains will be operated using a mixture of steam and diesel locomotives. It is planned that trains will operate as below:
- Set A (9:45, 12:15, 2:45 from Sheffield Park, 10:45, 1:15, 3:45 from East Grinstead): Class 33 No.33103 "Swordfish"
- Set B (11:00, 1:30, 4:00 from Sheffield Park, 12:00, 2:30, 5:00 from East Grinstead): BR 9F No.92212
- Saturday Wealden Rambler and Golden Arrow both days: SECR C-class No.592
- SECR P-class No.323 will also operate as pilot at Sheffield Park
- The Loco Duty Roster has therefore been updated.
- Martin Lawrence's photo shows some of the finishing touches being put to the water crane, which was installed at East Grinstead today. Martin's photo gallery from yesterday and today shows this work progressing, along with work at Horsted Keynes in preparation for the swapping out of No.23 points.
- Alan Dengate's photo below shows the start of work, on Tuesday, clearing the ground for both track re-alignment and the pre-assembly of the replacement No.23 points at the south end of Horsted Keynes.
2 October - A second update for today!
- Chris Rigby's photo from Sunday shows the SR U-class No.1638 looking the part, in charge of the lunchtime dining train at Holywell, which was, exceptionally, reinforced with the First Class Lounge Car.
- Martin Lawrence has some photos taken at Horsted Keynes today recording the arrival of the replacement bridge spans for Sheriff Mill Viaduct. These have been obtained now because they were available, and are very suitable for our long-term purposes, and not because we are in a position to go charging off Westwards immediately! There's a lot of other work to do, and fundrising for vital and urgent projects like Keep Up The Pressure, before we can think about raising the funds to start major work on the Ardingly Branch.
This web page from the Malvern Industrial Archaeology Circle showing the dismantling of the M50 bridge in March 2012 has more about the history of these bridge sections.
- Brian Lacey's photo below shows that the Autumn Tints are back in the hands of one of the SECR P-class locomotives, and No.323 "Bluebell" is seen at the head of the train consisting of two Bulleid coaches, at East Grinstead. Clearly few people are turning up on spec without realising that these trains are pre-booked, so the third carriage is not needed.
- Alan Dengate's photos on the right and below show the latest refurbished and repainted signal at Horsted Keynes, in this case HK38/40, at Three Arch Bridge, the work being completed yesterday.
- Ashley Smith spent Saturday afternoon at Kingscote, which resulted in four photos added to his 2013 Bluebell album, and this excellent video.
- Kieran Hardy has re-loaded his photos from our 50th Anniversary Gala, from 2010.
- Brian Lacey's photo below shows the two U-class locomotives together on shed at Sheffield Park on Friday.
- Steve Lee's photo shows the 9F on "Set A" (formed of Bulleid and Mk.1 carriages) on Sunday.
- During September 2013 there were 74,247 total hits on this page, from 42,504 unique visitors.
- Brian Lacey's panorama taken in the Loco Yard on Friday shows No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair" ready to have its boiler lifted. The "Keep Up The Pressure" appeal has now rasised over £71,000, which is a magnificent total. We hope that, as the appeal goes out to the full membership in Bluebell News in the next couple of weeks, we'll power through the £100,000 mark, which is what is needed, along with what was raised last year, to fund the boiler work on 34059. The photo also shows 1638 and 92212 being prepared for the weekend.
- Paul Booth took the photo on the right, showing our Southern Railway U-class back in service, on the Wealden Rambler, on Saturday. It will be out of service again for a bit, while the planned boiler repairs are completed.
- Royal Visit - as is reported in the
Royal Diary, on 10 October, following the successful opening of our Northern Extension, the Bluebell Railway is to be honoured by a visit from HRH the Duke of Gloucester. The Duke, having been invited by the High Sheriff of East Sussex, will dedicate a plaque at the Railway's Museum at Sheffield Park, before riding from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead in the Great Northern Director's Saloon. The Duke is a grandson of George V and a first cousin to The Queen.
- Martin Lawrence has some photos now available covering the following periods this summer: 21st and 22nd July, other dates between 7th to 28th July, and August 2013.
- Our Facebook page has now achieved 6,000 "Likes", which we believe is the highest of any UK heritage railway, and the third most popular such page after the National Railway Museum and the London Transport Museum.
- Keith Duke has an album, largely showing the
U-class on the Wealden Rambler, on Saturday.
- Today was the first day of Autumn Tints, and in case we had as many people turning up as we had last week, we felt it prudent to use a larger engine and add an extra coach. John Harwood's North of Kingscote Diary starts with a look back at last year's operation, before covering the service running today.
Please note the change to the timetable for the Autumn Tints compared to the normal midweek service we have been running through September.
- Brian Lacey's photo below shows the family of sparrows who've made their home on the North London Tank locomotive, and Steve Lee's shows the C-class with the Maunsell set on Sunday.
- The long bridge sections, which will eventually be used to replace the missing viaduct to the West of Horsted Keynes, are due to arrive soon. Concrete pads have been cast, and steel trestles are now set up (as seen in David Chappell's photo) ready to receive them in the yard at Horsted Keynes. They will need to be overhauled and the skew ends modified for their future use on the Bluebell, and with all the other more urgent projects already in hand which need to be completed, this will not be a high priority job.
- Derek Hayward's photo on the right shows the H-class with the lunchtime dining train at Vaux End on Sunday. His photo below shows the 9F at West Hoathly.
- Update to the
Horsted Keynes resignalling page, with thanks to Chris Majer and Peter Richards. Derek Hayward's photo below also illustrates the current state (as of Sunday) of Horsted Keynes Signalbox, which is receiving a repaint and some minor repairs and replacement of small parts of the timber cladding.
- Our Southern Railway U-class No.1638 will be in service this weekend, as shown in the latest update to the Loco Roster. Some copper welding is still required on the firebox at a later date.
- Yesterday's "North of Kingscote" video diary from John Harwood shows the C-class on the Bulleid and Mk.1 carriages, the road-railer with components for the East Grinstead water crane, and the diggers at work to complete the profiling of the cutting.
- Brian Lacey's photo below shows 592 buffering up to the 4 coach set under the directions of the fireman, in preparation for the 2.15pm departure from East Grinstead yesterday.
- The incoming charter which had originally been planned for Saturday this week, running from Worcester, is now scheduled to run from Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway through to Sheffield Park behind No.70013 "Oliver Cromwell", on 2nd November. The charter planned to come in from Cannon Street on 9th November topped and tailed by "Tangmere" and another loco will now run from London Victoria. Details of both from the organisers, The Railway Touring Company.
UK Railtours are offering a diesel-hauled tour from London with a chance to sample our Victorian Christmas attractions, including a steam-hauled ride in our Victorian carriages, on Thursday 12 December.
- Derek Hayward's photo shows No.92212 hauling the main Bulleid/Mk.1 set last Sunday, seen near Horsted House Farm. Derek has further photos from the day, and also the first two photos below, showing the C-class with the 1920s/30s set at the same location, and the H-class with the lunchtime Golden Arrow, approaching Horsted Keynes, near New Road Bridge.
- Martin Lawrence provides a short video of No.592 arriving at Kingscote on Sunday.
- Paid employment vacancies: We are currently recruiting enthusiastic, positive and motivated staff to join the our catering team. More details.
- Having played host to a 1920's style wedding this weekend, we are featured on a new web site, as the venue for a wartime-themed wedding next year!
- Pat Plane's photo, taken on the overnight shift around midnight on 19th September, shows work in progress adding steel lining to part of the tunnel roof to prevent the build-up of icicles in the winter.
- John Sandys' photo shows the H-class at Sheffield Park, preparing for the day's work yesterday.
- Update with the current positions in the Football Competition, raising funds for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.
It appears there is a possibility of a slot in the Carriage Works for this coach in maybe 3 years time, which would work well in terms of where we need to be with the fund raising to start the physical work. Nothing is certain yet though...
- Also raising money for this carriage restoration project, as well as for the carriage works extension project, is Deborah Salmon's Clarinet on Track evening concert in East Grinstead on 13 October. Tickets are available direct from Chequer Mead for what promises to be an excellent evening's entertainment. The compere for the evening is Nicholas Owen.
Please call the Box Office on 01342 302000 to purchase tickets, or call in there in person.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the H-class ready to leave East Grinstead yesterday, with Bulleid brake No.4279 behind the loco. It's good to be able to continue to offer, even on this daily off-peak four-coach service train, two SR-design Bulleid coaches, included in the set.
- All the action on 22nd August is to be seen in this video from Jonathan Malton.
- Update to the Loco Roster. This coming weekend, the public services, Wealden Rambler and Pullman trains will be in the hands of 5 steam locomotives on Saturday and three on Sunday; No.33103 will not now be running in service this weekend.
- In the light of our experience over the last 6 months, with plenty of visitors arriving early in the day, we have updated the planned Service 2 timetable, and the 9.45am from Sheffield Park (10.45 from East Grinstead) will continue to run for the remainder of the year. Spare a thought for the volunteer firemen and drivers who have to be on duty at 6.15am on a November Saturday morning to get the locomotive ready!
- This photo, showing the H-class with the special train (formed of SR stock) run as an extra for the Railtour participants last Tuesday (10th), is by Andrew Crampton.
- Martin Lawrence has uploaded a video of No.263 with the service train en route to East Grinstead on Monday.
The new Infrastructure News page includes reports of work on constructing an ice shield in the tunnel, and on closing out the Northern Extension works.
- John Sandys reports that despite the rainy weather yesterday, it didn't seem to put people off visiting the Railway, with again just enough seats for customers at East Grinstead. John also provides
Photos of progress in the workshop on the S-15, Q-class, and Sir Archibald Sinclair, plus new fingerboards at East Grinstead, and new stock in the Shop.
- Update on the Bulleid Society's web site, showing the removal yesterday of Sir Archibald Sinclair's smokebox (see also John Fry's photo below), and also covering recent work on their carriage, Bulleid CK No.5768.
- Huw Lloyd's two photos below from Sunday show 323 "Bluebell" and 55 "Stepney" at Kingscote, and the 9F coming off the viaduct at East Grinstead.
- Jon Bowers' photo from last Tuesday at Sheffield Park, shows two blue engines together: Tornado and No.323 "Bluebell". The line up in the yard also deliberately placed the LNER-designed A1 (Pacific) between LBSCR Stroudley A1s (Terriers) 672 and 55.
- Nathan Gibson's photos from around the railway today, feature in particular the four locomotives in steam, the 9F, the H, and our two pioneering preserved engines, 55 "Stepney" and 323 "Bluebell". Nathan also provides this video showing the two pioneers getting stuck into the two-mile long climb (at 1-in-75) to West Hoathly, with the SR Maunsell set at Horsted House Farm crossing.
- Update from the Brighton Atlantic project, including the photo below showing one of the pair of crosshead castings, now machined, complete with gudgeon pin.
- John Sandys' photo shows No.92212 prepared for use this evening. No.33103 is not, in the end, now planned to be used this weekend, as shown in the updated Loco Roster, and services will be in the hands of Nos.92212, 263, 323 and 55. There's also a Video from today from John Sandys, showing the 1.15pm departure from Sheffield Park, and photos of some new stock arrived at the shop yesterday, plus a few other shots around the railway. The service train was surprisingly busy today, but everyone managed to find a seat at East Grinstead.
- "North of Kingscote" video diary from John Harwood, from 11th September.
- Ashley Smith reports having had a very nice day chasing Tornado along the Bluebell on Tuesday, resulting in this
photos. Ashley's father, Gary, also enjoyed an excellent day, and provides three videos:
Tornado at West Hoathly,
66172 and 33103 with the empty stock working and the returning railtour passing through Horsted Keynes station.
- Great video compilation showing Tornado arriving on the Bluebell, and on the return journey passing though Woking, from James Corben.
- The photos below, from Charlie Rose, show the two blue locos together on Tuesday, and from Paul Banham, showing the returning special with Tornado trailing, at Leamland.
- More photos, reports, and videos of yesterday's incoming railtour with No.60163 "Tornado":
- Further update to the Loco Roster, although Sunday may change again, since we're waiting for a spare part for 33103 at present.
- Review of 'The Invisible Woman' - Looks like we won't have too much longer to wait to see this film - the reconstruction of the Staplehurst crash, a pivotal moment in both Dickens' life and in this film, was staged in painstaking detail on the Bluebell. We understand the film is to be released in the UK on 7 February 2014.
- Brian Lacey provides the first three photos below: 323 and 263 at East Grinstead on the service train today,
66172 leading the railtour back onto Network Rail metals at East Grinstead yesterday, and Tornado trailing the departing train.
- Steve Lee provides the final photo, showing the C-class and No.323 "Bluebell" on the public service train yesterday (the H-class had charge of the special working for railtour participants).
10 September - more of Tornado's visit
- More photos and videos are now becoming available from the first through steam railtour to the Bluebell since 1963, behind A1 Pacific No.60163 "Tornado":
- The photo on the right, by John Sandys, shows Tornado on Bluebell metals at East Grinstead - John has more photos from today here.
- Video from Redgatemill of Tornado's special entering our tunnel, and arriving at Sheffield Park.
- Simon Smith's video showing the incoming special behind Tornado, at Oxted, slowing down for the speed restriction imposed over the viaduct.
- Three photos by Ian Wylie
- Video of the special passing through Selhurst from OldBoySteaming
- Video showing the train at Lingfield on its way to East Grinstead from Rictore1208
- Video from Jason Pollard of Tornado at Dormans Park Bridge heading for East Grinstead and Sheffield Park
- Photo below from David Pratt, taken this morning, showing the train reversing into Victoria station.
- Photo below from Brian Lacey, showing Tornado in East Grinstead station.
- Photo below from Roy Watts, who was responsible for conducting the train onto Bluebell metals, showing the train on the viaduct.
- The next photo below is from Horsted Keynes resident, Patrick Bedwell, which shows the railtour at Leamland Bridge.
- Another photo from Brian Lacey, showing the C-class and No.323 on the main service Bluebell train today.
- Updated Loco Roster from Lewis Nodes.
Today is the day of the first through steam railtour to the Bluebell since 1963. Back then the train came in via Haywards Heath and Ardingly. Today, new-build A1 Pacific No.60163 "Tornado" is bringing in a Steam Dreams train, again carrying "The Blue Belle" headboard, as seen in Richard Salmon's photo of the train passing through Clapham Junction just after 10am this morning, en route to Sheffield Park. You can see newsreel footage of one of the tours from 50 years ago here.
The next photo shows Tornado waiting to move onto Bluebell metals at East Grinstead - this photo taken by someone with authority to be on the track!
- Phil Horscroft's photo shows the C-class with Maunsell set on Saturday 7 September.
- The (tentaive) main-line times for tomorrow's incoming Steam Dreams tour behind "Tornado" are now available on UKsteam.info. The Bluebell timetable for tomorrow, which features three of our SECR locomotives, is available here.
- As previously announced, the other service train running this weekend, formed of Bulleid and Mk.1 stock, was hauled by Crompton No.33103 "Swordfish", as seen in photos below from Phil Horscroft and Steve Lee.
Steve's photo shows the last service train of the day as it passes Waterworks heading north. On Sunday we also had the H, the C and No.323 in steam on trains too.
- There is a video from Martin Lawrence covering the weekend's activities, and photos from
- David Haggar's photo shows the ex-LBSCR E4 in BR black on a photo charter with a set of three Bulleid coaches back in February 2005. It has been added to the page recording that period in the locomotive's history. More of David's photos are available here.
- Derek Hayward's photo from Sunday shows Nos.263 and 323 at West Hoathly. Derek's two photos below, also from Sunday, show L.150 at Black Hut, and the token exchange taking place at Kingscote box.
- Following yesterday's confirmation that the incoming charter hauled by No.60163 "Tornado" will be arriving on the Bluebell on Tuesday 10 September, the Bluebell's timetable for our service for the day, which includes an extra train to accommodate participants on the railtour, is available here.
- John Sandys reports a more relaxed day at the railway yesterday as the children are getting back at school, but none the less a busy day with shunting at Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes as well as the main service train running. John's photos also cover work continuing at the cutting with landscaping.
Three videos cover shunting at Horsted Keynes and the arrival of the 11am service from Sheffield Park, the
C-class and No.323 climbing up to Holden Summit, and a longer video of shunting at Sheffield Park.
- Martin Lawrence provides this short video of activity at Sheffield Park yesterday.
- Philip and Gary Bull provide a video from the Bluebell from 30th August: A trip to Kingscote.
- A couple of weeks ago our services were severely delayed by a dog on the line, which ran in front of the train all the way from Imberhorne to Horsted Keynes. The story has a happy ending and is covered in the East Grinstead Courier and Observer.
- Updated Loco Roster showing what locos we expect to have hauling our trains through September. On some days when we are using the class 33, it shows we will also have four steam engines running as well!
- Derek Hayward's photo from Bank Holiday Monday (26 August) shows No.55 "Stepney" assisting the C-class with 7-coach train. It was good to hear the distinctive bark of a Terrier working hard at times! Derek also supplies the photo below, showing the GNR Directors' Saloon attached to this train, seen fresh from the paintshop. Derek also has an update to his 2013 album with more photos from 26th August and 1st September.
- We are now able to confirm that the incoming "Steam Dreams" charter, hauled by the A1 Locomotive Trust's 60163 "Tornado" will be arriving on the Bluebell on Tuesday 10 September. We will be running a two-train service on our line in addition to the incoming charter - more details soon.
- It is with some regret that we have to announce that, due to the temporary return of L.150 for operation in London, the temporary unavailability of the 9F, and other locomotives requiring boiler washouts, over the weekends 7-8, 14-15 and 21-22 September, only the 11am, 1.30 and 4pm departures from Sheffield Park (12 noon, 2.30 and 5pm from East Grinstead) will be steam-hauled, with 33103 "Swordfish" operating the other timetabled services.
NB: Subsequent update: Due to awaiting a spare part for 33103, and the return to use of 92212, this substitution now only applies on 7-8 September.
- Brian Lacey's photo below shows the C-class and No.323 "Bluebell" after arrival at East Grinstead yesterday.
- Another photo from Sunday's Branch Line Society special, from Steve Lee, below. This was the first passenger service to be signalled northwards out of Platform 1 since before electrification (in 1935), the up platform starter on the bracket, having been commissioned the previous day.
- L.150, which has been on loan to the Bluebell courtesy of The Flour Mill Ltd., approaches Horsted Keynes with our historic Met coaches, as photographed by Tony Sullivan on Sunday. The locomotive will be running in London next weekend for the "Steam on the Met" event, and is then due to return to the Bluebell. The first photo below, also from Tony, shows the H-class, with No.323 tucked away out of sight behind it, approaching East Grinstead over the viaduct on Sunday.
- Nick Beck has updated the progress page for the 45 Ton steam crane with details (provided by Neil Cameron) of the PRISM grant received.
- Nick has also updated the page for BR Class 4 4-6-0 No.75027 with an explanation provided Martin Skrzetuszewski of the discrepancy between published build dates and that on its builder's plates.
- John Sandys provides a gallery of photos taken yesterday, and reports that the Railway was very busy, on the first weekday running of Service one, since some school children are still on holiday at least for the first few days of this week. The C-class and "Bluebell" were in charge of the Service. John has included some views from the Occupation Bridge, and from the train, showing the cutting with work continuing to landscape and lay more Geo-Textile material. Also progress painting the Q-Class wheels. John also provides a short video.
- As seen below in David Chappell's photo, eleven potential new volunteers toured the Railway on Sunday for one of our regular Find Out More days, seen here with Dave Clarke outside the C&W. Your next opportunity to join such a tour is the 6th October - details here.
- Steve Lee's photo below shows the C-class with the Golden Arrow luncheon Pullman train on Sunday, at Leamland Bridge.
- Bachmann have announced that in 2015 they will be producing ex-LBSCR H2 Atlantic locomotives in OO gauge. The two initial models are planned to be No.2426 "St Albans Head" in SR olive green and No.32424 "Beachy Head" in BR black (with the early BR emblem). The assistance of our own Brighton Atlantic team is acknowldged in the announcement. There is a good report about the Atlantic model announcement and coverage of the Bachmann Collectors Club Event on the Bluebell (by Glen Woods) in Model Railway Express Mag.
- Andrew Strongitharm's photo shows the C-class leaving Horsted Keynes with the Bachmann Collectors Club special, appropriate not only in that Bachmann have recently produced a model of this particular locomotive (in the same Wainwright goods livery it carries on the Bluebell), but also that the train included two of our Bulleid coaches, which Bachmann also model.
- Booking is now open for our Christmas services - Santa Special phone booking opens on 30 September, but you can book now by post or online. In addition we have School Yule, Victorian Christmas, midweek lunches, and the Carol Service - Further details here.
- September Shopping Specials - when you buy your all line ticket to East Grinstead ask at the booking office for your complimentary Qaboo discount voucher book offering special discounts at over 20 different shops and restaurants in East Grinstead.
- Ben Gray took some photos at the Bluebell yesterday.
- Bluebell from the air
and also Balcombe Viaduct on the Brighton main line, filmed from a multicopter by SkyrisUK.
- Tony Sullivan provides two photos below from Sunday. No.09018 is seen at Horsted Keynes on a special charter by the Branch Line Society, covering parts of the Bluebell not usually covered by our normal passenger trains. The SECR H-class is seen, watched by interested visitors, as it takes water at Sheffield Park.
- During August 2013 there were 79,171 total hits on this page, from 44,110 unique visitors.
- The Bluebell's 'Terrier' No.672 "Fenchurch" was photographed this morning by Mike Constable at Littlehampton Railway Station's 150th Anniversary Celebrations.
- John Sandys provides a few photos from Friday, featuring progress on the Water Tower at East Grinstead, and the Double-Header arriving at East Grinstead with the 12.15pm from Sheffield Park.
John also provides a short video to mark the last weekday running of Service Two for this summer, featuring activity at Horsted Keynes and East Grinstead.
- It appears that the soon-to-be-redundant Billingshurst Signal Box will not, after all, be coming to the Bluebell to provide staff facilities at East Grinstead, as had been mooted some months back. More details here, courtesy of the West Sussex Country Times.
- A short compilation of video clips from Martin Lawrence, taken over the last month or so, including Stepney, Swordfish, Skippy and the steam crane.
- Tony Sullivan's photo shows H-class No.263 and C-class No.592 at Leamland Bridge yesterday, with the 2.45pm Sheffield Park to East Grinstead service.
- 11,005 members! Back in 2007 we were wondering, when we broached the 10,000 level, whether we'd ever reach 11,000 - certainly membership numbers only inched slowly upwards for some years thereafter, but over the last year the impetus of opening through to East Grinstead has clearly given us a boost.
Our Chairman, Roy Watts, says "So, welcome to all the new members who have helped swell the membership numbers - a measure of supporting the railway in its own right and I am sure there are future volunteers, Trustees and Chairmen out there. We must ensure you continue to be part of our success as we have many ambitious plans but not forgetting there is a railway to run!"
The BRPS is the organisation which is the majority owner of our railway, elects the Trustees, and supplies the volunteer staff who run the line. In return for your support, members receive discounted travel, a wonderful quarterly magazine, and many other benefits. If you'd like to join us, full details are available here.
- Secondly, 5 months to the day since it opened, East Grinstead booking clerks Roger Bell and Ron Cheeseman sold the 10,000th Adult return ticket from there (and there have been many child and family tickets sold too), which goes to show the volume of traffic through the new station. Many are using the National Rail/Southern service and have travelled from places such as Peterborough, Cambridge, Didcot, Oxford by train to visit and travel the new line.
- Clarinet on Track - Gala Fundraising Concert On Sunday 13 October, 7.30pm at Chequer Mead in East Grinstead, as fund-raising venture for both the restoration of our unique Maunsell SR Restaurant Car No.7864 and the Carriage Works Extension project, the Bluebell is promoting a clarinet recital being given by Deborah Salmon, who as well as being an active volunteer on the Bluebell, working in the Carriage & Wagon and Permanent Way departments, on the GN Directors saloon, Fish & Chip trains, and the Rail Ale events, is also a professional clarinettist. Tickets are now available direct from Chequer Mead for what promises to be an excellent evening's entertainment. John Bruzon will accompany and
the compere for the evening is Nicholas Owen. Please call the Box Office on 01342 302000 to purchase tickets.
- The response over the first month of the "Keep Up The Pressure" appeal has been magnificent, with over £59,000 given so far. The average donation is over £200, which shows how important Bluebell Members feel this appeal to be. Because of the Credit Card charges on JustGiving, most donors are opting to donate by cheque - details on the web site.
For smaller amounts, text donations, deducted from your mobile bill, or PAYG balance, are very efficient - Gift Aid can be applied, and except for any operators charges for your text messgae, there is no fee, due to sponsorship from Vodafone. Simply text "KUTP59 £10" to 70070 to donate £10 - you can donate £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10.
- A quick look around the loco yard earlier in the month on Philip Bull's video.
- John Sandys reports another busy day at the railway yesterday; the trains were well filled on the penultimate day of the school holidays. 263 and 592 were again in charge of the mixed Mk1 and Bulleid set, with the Prairie hauling the Mets and the Maunsells. John provides photos of the S-15 and Q-class in the Workshop, (with special permission obtained to photograph from within the works), and also some new stock in the Shop, and a short video of the 09 shunting at Horsted Keynes.
- Updated Loco Roster from Lewis Nodes, showing what locos we expect to have hauling our trains in the coming weeks.
- The Long Two Miles: The official DVD telling the inside story of how the Bluebell Railway returned steam trains to East Grinstead, produced by Jon Bowers, is now available on DVD. You can buy it online, and a trailer and extract are available as YouTube clips.
Another Loco Works News update, with an engineering report from Fred Bailey on work on the Brighton Atlantic project, and a report on progress with the Maunsell Q-class from the Loco Works Working Group.
- John Sandys' photos from Bank Holiday Monday show the GN Saloon, returned to service following Graham Ward's revarnishing of it, looking brilliant! The Prairie was on the Mk1/Bulleid Set, and Stepney and the C-class were double heading on the Mets, Maunsells, & GN Saloon. John also has this video of 592 shunting at Sheffield Park that morning.
Tuesday was a lovely Summer's day, and saw the return of the H-class & C-class double heading on the Mk1s/Bulleids, and the Prairie in charge of the Mets & Maunsells. John has photos of the Prairie shunting first thing in the morning, plus new arrivals in the shop, and videos of the Prairie shunting, and 263 running round at Sheffield Park.
- Video taken on Saturday 17th August by Gary and Philip Bull, and edited to their normal high standard.
- Ashley Smith visited last week, and has some extra photos therefore added to his
2013 Bluebell album, plus this Video from Monday 19th August.
- Brian Lacey's photos below, taken yesterday, shows the C and the H, reversed from their normal order, ready to leave Horsted Keynes, The scaffolding up on Horsted Keynes signal box, which has had some timber-work repairs and is being repainted, the Sentinel shunting the Wealden Rambler coaches in the carriage yard at Horsted Keynes, and L.150 running round at East Grinstead.
- Bernard Clarke's photo shows the H and the C at Three Arch Bridge on 17 August. Bernard also supplies the very last photo below, showing the Prairie tank, on loan courtesy of The Flour Mill Ltd., at the same location, with the Metropolitan Railway carriages forming the front half of the train.
- A busy Bank Holiday weekend is in prospect. The Great Northern Directors' Saloon will be available for first-class ticket holders, serving Morning Coffee with toasted tea-cakes, or Afternoon Tea with cake or scones, on Sunday and Monday. The saloon is on Set B, on the 11am, 1.30pm and 4.00pm departures from Sheffield Park.
Two Loco Works News updates this week, with a Newsletter from the Standard Class 2 project, and an update for SECR P-class No.27. The latter is also the subject of a renewed fund-raising appeal, and has a new JustGiving page.
- Neal Ball has some very atmospheric photos from a week ago, our final Real Ale & Jazz evening for 2013.
- A story in the East Grinstead Courier and Observer this week, reporting our Vintage Transport weekend.
- Kieran Hardy has an album of 31 photos from last Saturday, featuring 263, 592 and L.150, and supplies the first photo below, showing L.150 approaching Horsted Keynes that day.
- John Sandys provides a few photos from his visit last Tuesday, another quite busy day despite the warm beach weather, and a video of the double header through the Cutting. John was back yesterday (Thursday), with more photos and a short video of the 09 shunting Stepney and Captain Baxter at Sheffield Park.
- Keith Duke also provides an album from yesterday showing the Prairie, the C-class and the H-class on the service trains, and the 09 shunting stock at Sheffield Park, plus shots around the loco yard, including progress on stripping Sir Archibald Sinclair in preparation for its boiler lift.
- Two Northern Extension items: The Rail Engineer magazine has an article by Clive Kessell which helps explain why our extension was such a great achievement in civil engineering terms.
Pat Plane also supplies the second photo, below, taken earlier this week from Hill Place bridge, and shows the 12.15 ex Sheffield Park. Although work is still taking place to relocate spoil from above the western side of the cutting, the eastern side is rapidly being covered in vegetation.
- Paul Furlong provides the next photo below, taken today, showing the SECR pairing of the H and the C having just climbed through the tunnel.
- Cameron Smith's photo below shows L.150 approaching Three Arch Bridge with the Met and Maunsell stock on Wednesday.
- Nick Talbot's portrait below shows newly qualified loco driver, Liz Groome, with her father Clive, relaxing at East Grinstead earlier in the month.
- Brian Lacey's photo from yesterday shows the guard giving the right away to the driver of the Prairie tank in platform 3 at Horsted Keynes. As is usual for outside-cylindered GWR locomotives, it is barred from using platforms 4/5 there, hence the use of the latter platform by the up-train headed by the H and the C.
- Google are today celebrating the 155th anniversary of the birth of Edith Nesbit with a Railway Children inspired doodle. You can see more about our involvement in the filming of the ITV version of The Railway Children here.
But if you want to help us raise funds through your internet searches, please use EasySearch!
- Sussex Express yesterday published a a 1913 photo and a short article about Newick and Chailey station, which was the next station South from Sheffield Park.
- Brian's photos below (again, taken yesterday) show L.150 getting away from Sheffield Park with the vintage set, and the H-class and the C-class during their run-round at East Grinstead. The C-class had missed the first train of the day, since it needed a welded repair to the tender water tank, which took longer than hoped.
- Derek Hayward's photo below from Saturday shows Pullman Car "Fingall" in the works at Horsted Keyens, with the roofing canvas spread out on the roof. The Car was moved into the paint shop (where there is a fall-arrest system suitable for roofing work) for Monday and Tuesday, and the canvas was bedded down with a special carriage roofing compound. It has now been shunted back into the same position, and the canvas will now be trimmed to size and then painted. We are expecting "Fingall" to re-enter service on our Pullman Dining Train in 2014.
- Derek Hayward's photo on the right shows No.92212 approaching Kingscote with the lunchtime Golden Arrow on Sunday.
- August Shopping Specials - Throughout August, when you buy your "all line" ticket to East Grinstead, ask at the booking office for a complimentary Qaboo discount voucher book, valid at over 20 different shops and restaurants in London Road and the High Street in East Grinstead - save money and enjoy your shopping experience in the medieval market town of East Grinstead. More information here.
- Andrew Strongitharm's photo below shows "Captain Baxter" shunting the Golden Arrow stock on Saturday evening.
- Two further photos from Derek, showing 1937-built Triumph Dolomite Saloon CWR 860, which was on display at Horsted Keynes, and the majority of the Bluebell team who organised the Vintage Transport Weekend (it takes a lot of people to make it run smoothly!). Those shown are (Left to Right): Tim Baker (Bluebell Railway), Dave Philips (Bluebell Railway), Kathryn Sinclair (Classic & Vintage Cars, Commercials and Agricultural Vehicles), Clive Emsley (Fenchurch Fund plus Classic Cars etc), Claire Emsley (Fenchurch Fund plus Classic Cars etc), Ian Brook (Steam Vehicles), Bryan Sharp (Stationary Engines), Davida Krill (Vintage & Classic Motorcycles), Duncan Bourne (Vintage & Classic Motorcycles), Dave Colwell (Classic & Vintage Cars, Commercials and Agricultural Vehicles), Angela Colwell (Classic & Vintage Cars, Commercials and Agricultural Vehicles) and
Steve Everest (Classic & Vintage Cars, Commercials and Agricultural Vehicles).
13 August - Additional News update!
- John Sandys provides a small gallery from today, including this photo showing that the S15's boiler is back in its frames - a great step forward. As seen below, L.150 is back, on the vintage set this week (with the SECR H and C double-heading on the heavier main service set).
13 August - Part 1
- Nathan Gibson's photo shows H-class No.263 and P-class No.323 "Bluebell" arrive at East Grinstead with the first service of the day on Saturday. He also has a YouTube video showing the departure from East Grinstead filmed from LCDR brake coach No.114.
- Tim Holyoake provides a compilation of images and videos from several visits, entitled Bluebell Railway Revisited.
- Derek Hayward has started a gallery of the Vintage Transport Weekend event and expects to have a collection of over 100 photos available in a few days. If your vehicle is not currently shown check the gallery again later in the week.
The three photos below from Derek Hayward show the presentation of "The Southdown Cup" for Best in Show, awarded to Steven Green for his Mini Rio, L363RBP, the Bluebell Railway Band, who were playing at the event on Sunday, and from Saturday, the P+C combination with the Southern-liveried set at Leamland Bridge.
- Don't forget that this weekend is one of the biggest events in our calender. The Vintage Transport Weekend will see hundreds of vintage and classic cars, stationary engines, commercial vans, steam road engines and motorbikes on display at Horsted Keynes. In addition we have two vintage trains running - four locomotives, all over 100 years old, and carriages dating from all decades from the 1880s to the 1930s. A fifth loco will also be in steam each day - "Captain Baxter" will be shunting at Sheffield Park today, and the 9F will be on the "Golden Arrow" luncheon train tomorrow.
- Alan Jenkins' photo shows the H-class taking water at Sheffield Park on Wednesday.
- Four photos from Phil Horscroft, taken yesterday. This first shows Bulleid light pacific No.34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair" outside the loco works, being stripped in preparation for its boiler lift. Over the last six months as much had been done internally as possible in preparation for this without affecting the external appearance of the engine, which had remained on display. But now, with the launch of the fundraising appeal to pay for the boiler work required to get this loco back into service, and a prospect of dispatching the boiler next month, work has stepped up several gears. The advantage of this loco is that, since the bottom end has very little wear, when the boiler returns it will simply be a question of putting everything back together, and we'll have a great loco with the potential to run for a new 10-year certification period.
However, we can't do this without the money; hence the "Keep Up The Pressure" appeal. We already hold a substantial sum, raised in 2012 for this locomotive, but additional funds are required for the contracted-out overhaul of the boiler. In the first two weeks of this major appeal, we've now raised £25,066 towards the £400k target, which should see this and hopefully two other locomotive boilers overhauled. So, if you wish to see this locomotive running again in 2015, your support is urgently needed now. Please Donate to the KUTP appeal.
Further photos and news describing the work on 34059, plus other Bulleid Society News (including the newly arrived replacement boiler back-plate for 21C123 "Blackmoor Vale" and recent progress on the Bulleid Composite Carriage No.5768) are now available.
- Three further photos from Phil show one of the two trains operating yesterday; the SECR H-class has drawn the vintage set of 8 carriages out of the HLF-funded Sheffield Park Carriage Shed into the Pump House siding, and the C-class has backed onto the coaches. The enxt photo shows the C-class having drawn the coaches into platform 2, with the H-class released from the pump-house then able to run through platform 1. The third photo shows the ensemble en-route to Horsted Keynes. The other locomotive on service trains that day was the visiting 9F.
- Brian Lacey's photo, taken at East Grinstead yesterday, shows the C and the H which are working together this week on the vintage set.
- Update on recent progress on the Brighton Atlantic project, with thanks to Fred Bailey.
- The webpage for the Steam Crane Project has been updated with photos of 9F Club members working on the crane in September 2012 and July 2013. The photos were taken by 9F Club Supervisor Steve Booth and the update was carried out by Nick Beck.
- Update on the page for the current overhaul of 1908-built GW wagon No.87782, thanks to Nick Beck and Martin Skrzetuszewski.
- Dave Bowles has updated his website with photos of Std 4 75027 and 34028 'Eddystone'
on the Bluebell in 2006.
- John Sandys provided some photographic updates from a couple of weeks ago:
23 July, 25 July and 26 July. We wish John well for a full recovery from his recent illness.
- Here are some photos Ben Gray took at the railway on 29th July.
- Update to the page covering the life of Kingscote station in 1953, adding the context of some of the feature films which were to be seen in cinemas that year.
- Dave Chambers visited the Bluebell (although without his normal Nikon DSLRs) in June and on 1st August, and has just uploaded some photos from those visits.
- Bernard Clarke provides the first two photos below, showing the Prairie on the Vintage set, and the 9F with its train, on 3rd August.
- Derek Hayward provides photos, below, showing the recently refurbished Kingscote Up Home signal, and the rededication on Wednesday 31 July of the Knapp memorial stone in the churchyard at St Giles' Church, Horsted Keynes. The grave is that of the young newly-weds, tragically killed on our line during the second-world war. Over the years weathering had caused the memorial to become indistinct (see Derek's photos of the original and the new one, here), and for this new stone we thank the War Graves Commission as well as the persistence of the recently deceased St Giles' archivist Colonel Tom Irlam. Tom, like Ron Knapp, was a gunner. The stone is unique in the United Kingdom with the two regimental badges intertwined, signifying a couple who died together. The re-dedication was carried out by The Right Reverend Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester, with Canon John Twisleton (Father John), Rector of St Giles and Chaplain to the Bluebell Railway. They are seen below, together with Hilary Nicholson, Chair of St Giles Churchyard Committee, and Tim Baker, John Hotstin, Ian Fribbens and Geoff Peters from the Bluebell Railway.
- Keep Up The Pressure:- Having completed the fund raising for our extension to East Grinstead, what next?
We have concluded that we need to switch the focus of our efforts raising money to expedite the return to service of more of our vintage steam locomotives, and so we are launching the "Keep Up The Pressure" appeal to create a fund for which the target is £400,000. If successful this fund will be used to send at least two more boilers away for overhaul. It will also finance the many associated costs, in addition to boiler work, required to bring these locomotives back into steam.
With the boiler of No.73082 "Camelot" already away under overhaul, priority will be given to the boiler of No.34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair". A substantial sum was raised in 2012 for this locomotive which was sufficient for an in-house overhaul, but to send it away will require additional funds. A booking is being sought for the end of September which means we must rapidly raise a substantial additional sum to see the boiler back at the end of 2014 or early 2015. Simultaneously it is planned to send outside the boiler for South Eastern Railway locomotive No.65, which will be needed to replace the C-class which has only a few years left on its certificate. If this appeal is really successful we might even consider a third. This will depend on the generosity of our supporters and the availability of capacity in outside boiler works.
To address the longer-term challenge of overhaul capacity for our own locomotives, we also plan to increase the capability and staffing of our own works, where S15 No.847 is nearly completed, and Q-class No.541 is currently under overhaul. With the wheels of BR 2-6-4T No.80151 shortly to be sent away for re-tying, and only relatively light boiler repairs required on this locomotive, we hope that within a few years we will have 5 of our large locomotives in steam, alongside three medium-sized locomotives. If you share this vision of our future, your support is urgently needed for the appeal. Please Donate to the appeal.
- Belated thank you to all who attended this year's Sussex Food Festival at Horsted Keynes station.
With over 45 exhibitors, the festival saw some fantastic produce from our beautiful county of Sussex. The results of the Raffle are available here. The dates for the next Sussex Food Festival are planned to be 28-29 June 2014.
- The updated Loco Roster shows that the coming weeks trains will be in the hands of the SECR C-class and SECR H-class locomotives, alongside visiting 9F No.92212. Over the last week the two-train summer service has been in the hands of the 9F and L.150, the latter hauling 8 vintage carriages, every one of which is at least 100 years old, as seen in Peter Edwards' photo, showing L.150 on the 4pm train on 28 July 2013.
- During July 2013 there were 84,805 total hits on this page, from 46,902 unique visitors.
- Whilst the Toy and Rail Collectors Fair went off excellently, with plenty of stalls at Horsted Keynes to keep people entertained, and loads of visitors to keep stall-holders happy, in the background yesterday there was a lot of plate-balancing going on to keep the trains running. The difficulties all started when the second train of the day, hauled by L.150, sat down for an extended period just south of Horsted Keynes; this was due to crew unfamiliarity, and not the loco itself. Steve Lee captured the moment (right) as it moved away after its prolonged pause at New Road Bridge. By this time it was clear the locomotive was not going to make it any further, and 33103 was sent to rescue the timetable. The Class 33 then shunted the steam locomotive off the train, and took over for a hugely delayed remainder of the round trip, as seen in Phil Horscroft's photo below. Meanwhile the 9F was doing its best to get the timetable back on time, as seen in Phil's second photo below at Leamland Bridge, and this was pretty much achieved at the expense of dropping one trip from the timetable. Meanwhile L.150 made a light engine move back to the Park, and was able to make further ventures up the line, which it did, but with 33103 attached to the rear of the train for insurance purposes, as seen in Nick Farrant's photo at Three Arch Bridge, below. However, difficulties continued, and the decision was taken to drop it from the roster today. So our sincere apologies to visitors for the disruption and problems experienced on Saturday.
- Pleased to report that today (Sunday) went much more smoothly, with the 9F and "Swordfish" on the two service trains, and the pair of P-tanks taking the Golden Arrow Luncheon Pullman train. Several small lineside fires had to be attended to, but these were thankfully easily dealt with, and everything ran with only minor delays, of about 5 minutes to most services, due to the fires.
Jon Horrocks has added a few pictures taken today to his photo gallery.
- Our annual Autumn Tints, special trains to view the autumn colours, run on weekdays, 30 September, and 1-4, 7-11, 14-18, 21-25 October. Because our LNWR observation car is going to be receiving some much needed tlc in the carriage works, the train will be operated using two of our comfortable and spacious Southern Railway-designed Bulleid coaches. Also new for this year, you can use the train to visit Sheffield Park Gardens.
Advance booking is essential due to limited places.
- Please note that the weekend of 26 & 27 October will no longer be "Giants of Steam" as had originally been planned. However we hope to run an alternative special event that weekend, for which details are still to be confirmed.
- You may have read in some of the railway press that Tornado was to visit the Bluebell Railway this weekend. No official announcement had been made as negotiations with the locomotive's owners had not been concluded. Unfortunately, owing to a gauging issue on Network Rail, it is not currently possible for Tornado to reach the Bluebell Railway. We hope that these issues can be resolved in the future and that Tornado will be able to visit the line.
- The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust's "new-build" LNER-designed pacific No.60163 "Tornado" is seen here in Steve Lee's photo on railtour duty at Hampden Park near Eastbourne on 5 July this year.
- This weekend is our Toy and Rail Collectors Fair and we will be operating a steam service featuring visiting GWR Prairie L.150 and 9F No.92212, as per the updated Loco Roster.
- John Sandys' photos from today show the service train was hauled by the 9F, with Clive Groome driving. The carriages were well loaded without being overcrowded, Shunting was handled by the 09 at Sheffield Park & Horsted Keynes, whilst spoil trains were hauled by Swordfish. The scaffolding was removed from the Water Tower at East Grinstead, revealing the lovely brickwork in all its glory. The pipework was being tackled seriously as well.
- John Sandys photo shows the C-class being warmed through yesterday for test running, following the work undertaken on it over the last six months to re-line the cylinders and re-face the valves. More of John's photos from yesterday are available here, including the morning's shed scene (below), the S15 and Q class under overhaul, and the 9F on the service trains (as seen at East Grinstead, below). The final photo below shows members of the Alf Brown Gang working on the foundations for the water crane which they have already constructed off-site for installation at East Grinstead. John also has a video shot yesterday, of the 9F climbing from Kingscote to East Grinstead.
- This weekend, 20 & 21 July, is our big Toy and Rail Collectors Fair - Railway Artefacts, Model Railway Equipment and many other stalls at Horsted Keynes, both on the station platforms and in a marquee. There will also be guided tours of the carriage works available, in the middle of the day and early afternoon.
- Because of incredibly high demand for the July Fish & Chip supper trains, we are running an additional one on Fri 2 August: Booking details.
- A proud moment for "Terrier" No.55 "Stepney" as it steps into the breach on Sunday, to top-and-tail the lunchtime Pullman Dining train with No.323 "Bluebell". The photo by a member of Stepney's footplate crew, Nathan Gibson, is taken from a vantage point not available to our visitors.
- Friday evening's Golden Arrow Murder Mystery train was hauled by the visiting Prairie Tank, as seen in Andrew Strongitharm's photo below. Sadly L.150 suffered a tube problem on Saturday, resulting in the last train of the day being hauled by the 09, and 33103 deputised on Sunday (running alongside 92212, 55 and 323)
- Two videos from John Harwood, from last Thursday, showing L.150's first day in Bluebell service and the 09 on a clay spoil train.
- Keith Duke has a set of pictures from the Model Railway weekend
- John Sandys has a
set of photos from Friday, covering L.150 and other locos, and new stock in the Shop (including the Bachmann "Tornado", and Sheffield Park station buildings), plus two videos showing L.150 on the Run-Round at Sheffield Park and a journey from East Grinstead to Kingscote behind the Prairie tank. John's photo below, from Monday, shows the entrance to our platform at East Grinstead, with the welcome sign now much improved with the lettering picked out in a contrasting colour.
- This Saturday, 20 July, you can use a Bluebell Railway train to visit East Grinstead's mid-summer market.
- Also new, on 23 August we are running a Wealden Rambler Supper train, offering the opportunity to enjoy an evening meal, served in our Wealden Rambler Lounge Cars.
- On 29 & 31 July, and throughout August we again have our Children's Fun Days - Punch & Judy Shows at Horsted Keynes Station every Monday, Wednesday and Friday - fun for all the family. Shows start at 11.30am, 12.45pm, 2.00pm & 3.15pm - book tickets in advance for discount fares.
- A good selection of books relating to the Southern Railway/Region are being offered for sale to help raise funds for the Railway via eBay for Charity
- Tony Sullivan's photo shows the saviour of the moment... GWR "Small Prairie" Tank No.5521 (currently running as L.150), on loan courtesy of The Flour Mill Ltd., which entered Bluebell service yesterday, and is seen having just left Sheffield Park with the 3.30pm service to East Grinstead.
- This Sunday, 14 July is our annual Evening Songs of Praise, 6.30pm at East Grinstead station, with a special train at 5.45pm from Sheffield Park calling at Horsted Keynes at 6pm for East Grinstead.
- The spate of locomotive firebox and other problems has caused various further short-notice changes to the Loco Roster, including on Wednesday the substitution of the 09 on a shortenned service train, due to the double failure that morning of 92212 (with a broken spring) and 33103. 92212 should be running again at the weekend, along with 55, 323, L.150 and the 09.
- Martin Lawrence took this short video of No.09018 on "Thunderbird" duty on Wednesday. She resolutely plodded up the line with the steady hand of Mr Gain at the helm and even attracted some young admirers at East Grinstead.
- Brian Kidman took these two photos below, while working with the Wednesday lineside gang at Birch Farm Crossing, south of Kingscote. The first shows the 12-noon ex-East Grinstead, hauled by our recently acquired '09', and the second shows L.150, complete with 'The Red Dragon' headboard, on a test and gauging train en-route to East Grinstead at 1.05pm.
- Tony Sullivan's photo below shows the 9F emerging from the tunnel with its train on Sunday.
- Derek Hayward's photo on the right shows the 9F approaches Horsted Keynes on Sunday 7 July.
He also provides the three photos below, showing 33103 (which substituted for the failed U-class) at Horsted Keynes, and two stalls at the weekend's Sussex Food Festival, the Central Sussex Beekeepers Association, and Sieze the Cake.
Derek also has a full gallery covering the Sussex Food Festival, although some of the captions are currently still being prepared.
- Martin Lawrence has a video showing the 9F and the Crompton in service last weekend.
- Ashley Smith has photos and a video from the Model Railway Weekend.
- GWR "Small Prairie" Tank No.5521 (currently running as L.150) arrived this morning at Sheffield Park, as seen in John Sandys's photo. L.150 has arrived for an extended period, on loan courtesy of The Flour Mill Ltd. Painted in LT colours to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the World's first underground railway, L.150 will return to LT metals for the September "Steam back on the Met" events, and then it's planned to return to Bluebell and stay with us until next summer.
John Sandys has more photos of its arrival here.
- Owing to a problem with the firebox on loco No.1638, loco No.263 being out of service for its annual boiler examination, and loco No.323 being out of service for some mechanical repairs, we are being forced to run this weekend's services with just the 9F and Class 33 "Swordfish". More details of
this weekend's services are here.
- John Harwood's video of 9F and Swordfish on service and spoil trains on Thursday, and his video covering Swordfish's runs on the Model Railway Weekend.
- John Sandys' video from Thursday, showing the 9F at Sheffield Park, then hauling the train up from Kingscote to East Grinstead
- Yoshi Hashida brought some visitors from Japan to the Bluebell on Saturday 29 June and captured this shot at Sheffield Park, showing "Stepney" still celebrating its 138th Birthday from the previous week, and "Captain Baxter", recently turned to face North.
- Final update to the web page for BR Mk.I BSK 35448 which left the Bluebell earlier this year.
Photos from Jonathan Hughes, showing the "Brighton Road" layout last weekend, and also some of the trains operating on the Bluebell over the weekend.
- Martin Malins has provided four photos he took in 1983 when there were regular Class-33 hauled trains between London Bridge and East Grinstead. The first photo below shows a Class 33 shunting ECS (empty coaching stock) at the north end of East Grinstead (with the old semaphore signals). The other two views show 33s shunting the coaching stock which was stabled on the viaduct during the week before being hauled back to London for servicing at the weekend. The two latter views show the location of the new Bluebell station with a DEMU stabled in the then yard, and also the old Halls depot that existed before the Sainsburys store was built on the site. This fourth photo shows a train at London Bridge, about to depart for East Grinstead.
- Nathan Gibson's photo on the right shows Chris Shepherd's C-class No.1592 on a test run on the Gauge 1 layout in the Locomotive workshops on last Friday evening as things were being set up for the Model Railway weekend.
- Update to the Loco Roster, although it should be considered provisional, since in-service dates for L150 (which may arrive tomorrow) and 592, although shown, are not yet confirmed.
- Derek Hayward provdes the next few photos below, showing some of the model layouts displayed in the Carriage Works at Horsted Keynes, a fine model of a Dukedog,
92212 approaching Kingscote with one service train, 1638 with the other at New Road Bridge, and the additional train amidst the buttercups near the same location.
Derek also provides a gallery of 92 images from the
Model Railway Weekend and a gallery for 33103 Swordfish.
Derek has also updated his gallery from the Edwardian Weekend, which now contains 108 images.
- The top news story of last weekend was of course the running of an additional train, hauled by 33103 "Swordfish", to fill in gaps in the timetable of our advertised Service 2 timetable. The world hasn't ended, and although it was difficult to tell how many extra visitors came for it, and how many for the Model Railway event, clearly the two complemented each other, and the unusual opportunity to ride behind a diesel on the Bluebell did attract a good many extra people. 'Folkestone Jack' provides a good write-up and more pictures on his own blog.
- Matt Wickham has two videos from the Saturday of the Model Railway Weekend; part 1 covers East Grinstead to Horsted Keynes, and the models there, whilst part 2 covers some of the activities and layouts at Sheffield Park.
- Another six photos below, also from the Model Railway Weekend:
- Brian Lacey provides two photos, showing the crowds at Sheffield Park (which also shows the now matching canopies on the two platforms very well), and the Fenchurch Fund stand and related models in the Loco Shed.
- Paul Pettitt captured 33103 on the last working on Saturday at Rock Cutting, on its way to Sheffield Park.
- 9F No.92212 was photographed by Peter Edwards on Freshfield bank with the 4pm train from Sheffield Park on Sunday 30 June.
- "Swordfish" is seen at Vaux End in Steve Lee's photo from Sunday, and the last photo, also from Steve, shows the U-class arriving at Horsted Keynes on the Saturday.
- John Sandys provides photos showing a busy railway on Tuesday this week, including the C-class having a steam test, and more from today, with the S15 back in the Loco Works, and the 9F on the service train.
- During June 2013 there were 74,267 total hits on this page, from 43,254 unique visitors.
30 June - Stop Press:
28 June - second update
- John Sandys provides a
gallery of photos taken today, from which a selection presented here show some of what has been going on today.
The first photo is a montage of shots, showing current progress with the S15, halted for the weekend to clear the loco works for public access to display some of the model layouts.
The next, below, shows the U-class, No.1638 back in action today. Because there is a Fish & Chip train this evening, it's convenient to have a single larger engine on the train rather than the pair of smaller ones running earlier in the week.
The next montage shows some of the preparations at Sheffield Park for the
Model Railway Weekend, including the track for one of the larger scale models which will be offering rides for visitors, and the amazing sight of an empty loco workshop.
The final photo shows the completion of the zinc sheeting on the outer faces of the platform 1 canopy at Sheffield Park.
Others of John's photos from today show "Swordfish" in action shunting, more detail of work on the Canopy, and new arrivals in the shop.
- Amongs the layouts which will be on display at Horsted Keynes are two LBSCR period offerings: Brighton Road (c.1911, P4) from Barry Luck, and East Grinstead Town (1866-1883, 00-fine) from Ian White. Another Bluebell member represented is Matt Wickham, with a variety of his models of Bluebell rolling stock.
The Fenchurch Fund will have models of the Bluebell's Ps and Terriers in various scales, as well as fund-raising by selling Strawberry Jam, and other items. The Bulleid Society shop will also have a good variety of stock on sale, raising funds for boiler work on our two Bulleid Pacifics.
- Normal Fares apply over this weekend, including for the extra Class-33 hauled trains.
- Chris Rigby's photo shows The H-class 0-4-4T No.263 at Holywell with one of the three superb rakes of carriages running at the Edwardian Weekend.
- Nick Beck has added several photos by Roger Barton, with captions from Martin Skrzetuszewski, to the page for the overhaul of our 45-Ton Steam Crane.
- In addition to the photo below, Martin Lawrence provides some photos and a video of 09018's first day out to Horsted Keynes; it and 33103 were doing some shunting there and at Sheffield Park yesterday. The "09" has had its Harry Needle branding removed, but not yet the orange livery!
- Brian Lacey's photo, from 12 June, shows the P and the H at East Grinstead.
- Martin Lawrence's photo shows 33103 with a full train of clay capping removed from the stockpile above Imberhorne Cutting, passing members of the Wednesday gang near Ingwersons yesterday.
- A reminder that we have what promises to be a very good
Model Railway Weekend coming up. The event takes place at both Sheffield Park & Horsted Keynes stations with traders & layouts at both locations. The show will be open from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday and 10am to 4 pm on Sunday.
In conjunction with this, in addition to the normal Service Two timetable, we have an additional (third) train running, a Bluebell first - hauled by 33103 "Swordfish". This does two round trips on the Sunday, and three on the Saturday. There is a fourth train running on the Sunday - the H-class will be hauling an afternoon pre-booked "Wealden Rambler" tea train. So lots going on, with models from N-gauge up to 10 1/4-inch running in addition to everything else.
- Derek Hayward has a 9-page gallery with superb and comprehensive coverage of the Edwardian Weekend
- Details of the easy-to-enter Football Competitions, raising funds for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864, are now available. The competitions require no ability or knowledge about Football - you'll be in good company if you enter, since none of last year's entrants managed to predict that Wigan Athletic would win the FA Cup!
- Update to the Loco Roster, from Lewis Nodes.
- Update, adding the sixth issue of the Bluebell Safety News to the Safety web page. Of interest to holders of Bluebell Photographers PTS certificates should be the reminder that access to the line and lineside north of Kingscote is not permitted to photographers, and that railway staff need to be aware of the special (and very restrictive) arrangements applied to "The Narrows", which are essentially a "no go" zone.
- Martin Lawrence provides the photo below showing the foundations in place for the new water crane at East Grinstead (more photos of this taken yesterday, here), as well as a new video and some further photos from yesterday. The video features 33103 shunting an engineering train at Horsted Keynes, with an additional wagon added by Rolls Royce Sentinel No.10241, and the service train behind P-class No.178 and H-class No.263. The railway was extremely busy with all those engines, the shunts and run rounds and even the Wickham getting in on the act. The S&T department were performing maintenance on the signals at Nobles bridge with the members of the Wednesday gang clearing the lineside at Horsted Keynes and Ingwersons. A very busy and interesting day indeed.
Martin's next photo below shows LBSCR Terrier No.55 "Stepney", which was giving brakevan rides for the Stepney Club members to celebrate his 138th birthday on Saturday.
- John Sandys' photo from yesterday shows the great progress with the zinc sheeting going on the canopy.
- This photo from Chris Rigby shows No.178 at Holywell with four of the centenarian carriages on the Sunday of the Edwardian Weekend.
- James Bloomfield has put together a substantial film of the Sunday of Edwardian Weekend.
- Rob Langham has a great Blog post about the Edwardian Weekend.
- The latest installment of news of the Horsted Keynes Re-signalling has now been uploaded thanks to Peter Richards, and includes a piece by Brian Hymas on the Sykes Instruments.
- Several new items being offered for sale to help raise funds for the Railway via eBay for Charity
- Martin Lawrence provides several more photos from the Edwardian weekend (including that below showing the fun fair at full swing) and some of of the SR handcrane at work in the 1970s at Sheffield Park, which he bought at the Bulleid Society shop.
- John Sandys provides photos from Tuesday, showing another very busy day at the railway, with several coach parties, including school children, plus more passengers joining at Easty Grinstead, and over 60 Cream Teas booked on the afternoon train, but still everyone found a seat. Felbridge WI enjoyed a Ploughman's at East Grinstead Buffet, the 9F is seen over the wash-out pit, and there are more new arrivals in the shop. An extra visit today, includes the two photos below showing P-class No.178 and H-class No.263 arriving at East Grinstead with their train today, and progress in the loco works in cladding the boiler for the S15, which should be ready to go into the frames soon. In addition, work is continuing on the canopy at Sheffield Park.
- The photo here, from Tony Hillman, shows 73082 Camelot's boiler leaving the Bluebell for a contract overhaul at LNWR Heritage at Crewe, the first time we've contracted an overhaul off site since we built our own loco works in the 1970s (excepting a couple of small locos: i.e. Fenchurch's new firebox at Luggs of Billingshurst, and Blue Circle at Chatham). This is aimed at ensuring that "Camelot" can return to service next year, over a year earlier than would otherwise be possible.
- John Harwood has
a video showing the three trains running today at the Edwardian Weekend.
- Martin Lawrence has a couple of photos from today, here.
- John Sandys' photo, taken today, shows that U-class No.1638 is back in service after repairs to its copper firebox.
- This coming weekend we have our Edwardian Weekend special event, which includes the use of all of our oldest coaching stock, some of which was used in the filming of "Downton Abbey", as well as an Edwardian Summer Fair, band concerts on the platforms, and real ale available in the Beer tent.
The planned timetable for the weekend is shown below; three-quarters of the locomotives and carriages in use date from before the First World War, so in view of their age please be aware that last-minute changes of plan could be required.
Set A is formed of three Southern Railway carriages, plus two from the South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SE&CR), and one from the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR). All are painted in Southern Railway livery as is the engine hauling it, Southern U-class locomotive No.1638.
Set B is formed of four 1898-1900-built coaches from the Metropolitan Railway, plus the Great Northern Railway Directors' Saloon (referred to as the Dining Car in Downton Abbey) and the London and North Western Railway Observation Car. This set will be hauled by locomotives H-class No.263 and P-class No.178, both of which carry the ornate Edwardian Livery of the SE&CR.
Set C, hauled by SE&CR P-class No.323, is formed of an LB&SCR first class coach, two London Chatham and Dover Railway (LC&DR) carriages, plus one superbly restored in the Edwardian finery of the London and South Western Railway. This set includes "The People's Millions" carriage which provides wheelchair access. This 1889-built LC&DR carriage, rescued from use as a domestic bungalow, has been completely rebuilt by a team of our volunteers, with help from the Big Lottery Fund, and is painted in the SC&CR's exquisite Edwardian lined deep purple lake livery.
- John Sandys provides two galleries; first a few photos from Tuesday, including progress on the canopy at Sheffield Park, new stock in the shop, and the new windows in the water tower (as seen in the photo below). Then there's a gallery from today, when the Railway was very busy again, with several coach parties booked, including a party of school children, plus more passengers joining at East Grinstead. The photos feature further work on the roof of the canopy (as seen below, the zinc sheeting is nearly completed), preparations for the Edwardian Weekend at Horsted Keynes, and shunting at Sheffield Park (of which there's also a short video).
- Derek Hayward's photo on the right shows P-classes Nos.178 and 323 with a service train, formed of SECR and SR carriages, at Birch Farm Crossing on Sunday. The annual visit of the weedkilling team is actually due imminently! Derek also has further images of Sunday's service trains, and other pictures taken in recent weeks. The first photo below, also from Derek, shows the Sunday Lunchtime Golden Arrow Pullman Train, behind the H-class, approaching Kingscote from the South. The fourth locomotive working on Sunday was the 9F.
- A reminder that next Sunday, 16 June, is the annual London to Brighton Bike Ride, which as usual will make some of the roads very difficult to the West of the Railway, as the route goes though through Turners Hill and Ardingly. Access to Sheffield Park and East Grinstead should be relatively un-affected, and access to Horsted Keynes from Danehill will be similarly fine.
- The Kingscote Up Distant Signal, previously fixed at caution, situated 903 yards in the rear of the Up Home Signals, become operational on 1 June 2013. When in the off position (as seen in Derek Hayward's photo below), the line is clear, via the main platform, through to East Grinstead station. Further Telecoms work has continued on the extension in recent weeks, with cables and optical fibres being pulled though the ducting north of Imberhorne Cutting.
- Steve Lee's photo below, taken on Sunday 2nd June, and sent in for inclusion here to demonstrate the dedication of our volunteer maintenance gangs, shows the Sunday volunteer permanent way gang setting off from Horsted Keynes in the Wickham trolley, with a trailer carrying tools.
- The Railway was awarded a 1st prize in "A Taste of Sussex" at Ardingly, the South of England Show. This shot (thanks to Tony Sullivan) shows Tim Baker receiving the cup together with Tony himself, Kevin Leggett and Bob McLean.
- Our congratulations also to another prize winner at the show, Bluebell 9F Club member Cameron Smith, whose entry (seen below) was awarded highly commended, having been judged against 208 entrants, in the Young Craftsman of the Year competition. His entry was two narrow gauge 45mm gauge model coaches (a composite and a brake) inspired by the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway.
- Our restored LSWR brake coach, No.1520, is representing the Railway at the South of England Show at Ardingly, as seen in Tony Sullivan's photo taken yesterday. The show continues this Saturday, and is focussed this year especially on promoting the Edwardian Weekend, 22-23 June.
- In addition to all the other attractions and vintage coaches running at the Edwardian Weekend, the Great Northern Directors' Saloon is available for pre-booking for a limited number of passengers wishing to partake of a Champagne Brunch or Champagne Tea.
- Derek Hayward's photo below shows the 9F in service last Saturday, at Town Place Farm Bridge. This weekend should see four steam locos in service, with the 9F on one service train, the pair of P-tanks on the other, and the H-class hauling Pullman luncheon trains both days. The 9F takes the evening Pullman on Saturday.
- John Sandys' photo taken on Tuesday shows P-class No.323 at Sheffield Park. His photo update from Tuesday features new arrivals in the shop, work resuming on the canopy extension at Sheffield Park after the Half-Term Break, the S-15 boiler undergoing a steam test, another view of the new entrance sign at East Grinstead Station (seen below), and the two locomotives on duty.
- This video from Andi Fenneymore covers a trip from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes behind the 9F on 26 May. Part two covers Horsted Keynes to Kingscote.
- Some further photos of the Dukedog - three during its stay at Didcot and three when running back in the 1970s on the Bluebell with the C-class tender (nicknamed the "C-Dog").
- Derek Hayward's photo below shows the U-class leaving Sheffield Park with the 4pm train last Saturday. We are currently hoping that the locomotive will be back in action this weekend after remedial attention to its firebox this week.
- Below is another photo from John Fry showing yesterday's work on the C-class, which resulted in the fitting of the right hand slide bars. Measurements are taken along the length between the fitted bars to ascertain their correct alignment which will be finely adjusted with shims. This process will be continued with the left hand set of bars when fitted. Some reassembly of the motion has also taken place. It clearly shows why this work is best done with the front wheelset removed!
- John Fry's photo shows progress made in the locomotive workshop yesterday, when the re-sleeved cylinder block was relocated in the frames on No.592. He reports: "The small group of us involved in this aspect of the overhaul were ably advised by Tony Deller, with Russ Hubner stating that it was one of the enjoyable days when positive progress was the end result. We hope to complete the final bolting in place of the cylinder block later this week, return the engine to its 0-6-0 configuration [the front wheelest is currently out], reinstate the motion and reset the valves."
- An online collection of pre-1968 Railway photos, covering GWR out-side frame locomotives, includes
four photos of our Dukedog, No.9017.
- John Sandys' photo taken today shows the S15 boiler being prepared for its (out of frames) steam test. All being well, this loco should re-enter Bluebell service in August.
- Martin Lawrence's photo from Sunday evening shows LSWR brake No.1520 ready to leave Sheffield Park for Ardingly, to star in the South of England Show, which starts on Thursday.
- Steve Lee's photo from Sunday shows the H-class No.263 with the 11.00 ex-Sheffield Park as it passes the site of Holywell Halt.
- Details and dates for the 2014 Murder Mystery Pullman Trains are now available.
- Chris Rigby's photo shows U-class No.1638 at Holywell on Saturday.
- The H class had been running (as seen in the last report) on Thursday, due to problems with the U-class's fireman's-side injector. When it became apparent that work done on it on Thursday had not improved matters, on Friday morning this was changed (in 23 minutes) for the one overhauled ready for use on the Q-class. The U then ran on Friday and Saturday, as seen in Chris' photo on the right. Unfortunately it was failed again on Sunday morning, resulting in the H deputising on the service train, and the two Ps (as seen in Steve Lee's photo below) taking the Lunchtime dining train. With the C-class still a few weeks from returning to service, and the E4 currently out of service and requiring a boiler lift for attention to its firebox, things are very tight at present on the locomotive front. Fingers crossed we won't need to fall back on the Crompton!
- But first we go back to Friday, and a
set of photos from John Sandys, featuring the new sign welcoming customers at East Grinstead Station, the U-class in action, along with the 9F.
- Friday evening saw a sold-out Rail Ale train, with the 9F in charge, as seen in Neal Ball's photo below. Neal has more photos from the event here.
- John Harwood's YouTube video covers East Grinstead, and the 9F on the Friday evening train in Imberhorne cutting.
- Derek Hayward's photo below shows the 9F to the North of Sloop Bridge on Saturday.
- Martin Lawrence has a few photos from Sunday, including the LSWR brake coach ready to set off for the South of England Show at Ardingly, where we will be primarily promoting the Edwardian Weekend.
- John Sandys has photos of the H with P-class No.323 on the service train today at East Grinstead.
- The South of England Show starts on Thursday this week, and tickets for the show may be obtained at a discount in advance, through our travel centre at East Grinstead.
- During May 2013 there were 79,313 total hits on this page, from 46,071 unique visitors.
- Steve Lee's photo from yesterday shows the H-class at Sheffield Park. That below shows the 9F arriving at Horsted Keynes.
- We are currently advertising three vacancies, for a Locomotive fitter, a Carriage & Wagon fitter, and in administration.
- Update to the FAQ, adding 2012 financial figures.
- Derek Hayward's photo from Monday shows the U-class with a high-capacity vintage train formed of two SECR coaches, the four Mets, and the GN saloon (providing 392 seats in all).
- The Long Term Plan (otherwise known as the BRPS Objectives, Aims & Plans), which was unanimously agreed at the recent AGM, is now available here, and via the BRPS Members' Notices web page. In addition, the Members' Notices page now also hosts the document describing the Bluebell "Rules of Debate" and "Method of deciding tied elections".
- Photos are now available from John Sandys taken on a visit today, when the H-class stood in for the U (and also this video of the 9F today), more photos featuring the 9F in the rain on Tuesday (very atmospheric!), and a general update from around the railway from Monday, which covered progress with the water tower at East Grinstead, the extended canopy at Sheffield Park, the U and the H on their respective trains, new stock in the Bluebell's shop and the S15 in the works. The work required to get the U working again is not said to be very major.
- Lewis Nodes reports on recent locomotive works progress:
The increased income following the opening of the line to East Grinstead is enabling Camelot's boiler to be sent to the LNW Heritage at Crewe in order for the rest of its overhaul to be carried out. The boiler departs on 12 June, and it is expected back in early 2014.
Work on reassembling No.592 is progressing now that the valve buckles have been delivered, following repair of the spindles by metal-spraying and grinding. The photo below shows one of the valves being trial fitted before the two cylinders are assembled together.
Lastly, S15 No.847's boiler has passed its hydraulic test, and it will shortly be test steamed on the boiler trolley. The second photo below shows the inside of the firebox after completion of the work.
- Peter Austin's photo from Sunday shows the 9F recreating a very authentic train, the reporting number denotes: '1' - Class one express passenger train; '0' - train bound for the Western Region from the North/Midlands, ultimately Southern Region destination (i.e. Bournemouth/Poole); '94' is the actual train reporting number in the working time table. Peter's photo below shows P-class 323 and H-class 263 on the lunchtime Golden Arrow luncheon train.
- Update to the "Who's Who" page following the BRPS AGM.
- Update with this year's final positions in the Football Competition, raising funds for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864. Now, the important question - why did no one enter with Wigan Athletic to win the FA Cup? Entry forms for next season's competitions will be available soon.
- Another fund-raising venture for the project, raising funds for both No.7864 and the Carriage Works Extension project, is a clarinet recital being given by Deborah Salmon, who as well as being the fund-raising coordinator for the Maunsell Dining Saloon is also a professional clarinettist. Further details will be announced soon - please put the date (13 October) in your diary for what promises to be an excellent evening's entertainment, at Chequer Mead in East Grinstead.
- Some more slide scans from David Haggar - photos of the 2004 Goods Train Day which featured
No.65 with a pre-grouping goods train,
No.9017 with a second goods train and
No.96 with the SR Hand Crane.
- There is collection of railway books currently listed on eBay, though the eBay for Charity scheme. The vendor is supporting the Bluebell Railway Trust with a percentage of the eventual sale price.
- Derek Hayward's two photos below show the H-class in Lindfield Wood with the Wealden Rambler Loung Car Afternoon Tea train on Monday, and the 9F with a service train, just south of there.
- The water tower at East Grinstead is now looking more complete, as seen in Martin Lawrence's photo taken yesterday afternoon. In terms of plumbing, Mike Hopps has the mains water supply, pump feed from the sump, and overflow pipework to install, and the Alf Brown Gang are dealing with the 6-inch pipe and the water crane. Another of Martin's photos is below. As always, click on photos for enlargements.
- Yesterday, Mike Hopps took advantage of the platform he was working from on the water tower to take the photo below showing the U-class, a pair of 377s in the mainline station, and the two new booking offices, at East Grinstead.
- The final two photos below, thanks to Pat Plane, show the water tank being craned into position yesterday morning.
- Dave Bowles has updated his website with
pictures from last Wednesday of 3205 on its photo charter.
- Update to the Loco Roster, from Lewis Nodes.
- John Harwood's video from yesterday showing the U-class and Swordfish on the extension, with a passenger train and the removal of clay capping; also more of the new water tower at East Grinstead with its water tank in place.
- There was a delivery of ballast, which came in by rail from Tonbridge for use on the extension, last night.
- Bernard Clarke's photo, taken on 11 May, shows the E4 with the Victorian coaches. The first photo below is another of Bernard's, taken the same day, showing the U-class at 3-Arch Bridge with the Southern set.
- News update from the Brighton Atlantic project, with thanks to Fred Bailey. Nicely timed (by coincidence) to coincide with publication of an article about the project in Steam Railway magazine.
- Dave Bowles'
photos from the Charter with Stepney in lined BR black are now available.
- The successful candidates for the post of BRPS Trustee at Saturday's election were Tim Baker, Chris Saunders and Martin Widdowson. Congratulations to them and to Nigel Longdon who succeeds Ian Aitken as
- Robin Willis' photos below show the bluebells at Kingscote, and the ducks, which are clearly back in residence at Sheffield Park, on Monday.
- David Haggar's photo shows 3205 with our Crimson Lake and Cream carriage set, on Wednesday's photo charter which was organised by Jon Bowers - more of David's photos are available here, as is his video.
Further photos from the charter are available from:
- Martin Lawrence, who says: "Despite some pretty dull weather the sun did make some appearances and I had a great day. A big thank you to all involved in making things go so smoothly especially the loco crews, signalmen and Jon Bowers for organising and managing the charter. I am looking forward to the next charter already!"
- Stephen Leek;
- Paul Simpson, and
- Paul Gildersleve;
- Martin Lawrence provides some photos from Monday including that below, showing "Swordfish" at Kingscote. Between trains this week the Class 33 has been shuttling up and down on spoil trains, removing some of the excess clay capping stockpiled at Imberhorne.
- Keith Duke was also about on Monday, and provides photos of a day spent travelling on the service train, a couple of passes by the 33 at Kingscote and a wander round East Grinstead.
- John Harwood's video from Thursday shows "Swordfish" on a spoil train, taking away some of the clay capping material from Imberhorne. Also shots at East Grinstead, showing the interior of the restaurant car (which is open to the public as well as railway visitors) and of the new water tower, where the brickwork is pretty much now completed. Once the mortar is thoroughly hardenned, the water tank will be added.
- Derek Hayward's photo shows the visiting Collett No.3205 with the Vintage set last Sunday, the second day of the Southern at war event. Derek's photos below show the Home Guard at Horsted Keynes, and also Saturday's Spitfire, G-ILDA owned by the Boultbee Flight Academy. G-ILDA was rebuilt within the last decade as a 2-seater Spitfire TR 9 trainer from the remains of SM520, a Mark H.F.IXe high level fighter, having been salvaged from a South African scrapyard in 1981.
Derek has over 100 images of last weekend's Southern at War event available.
In addition he has added four shots of the spring flowers in the Memorial Garden (bottom of page 3 and over into page 4). Unfortunately it was a dull day, so the full effect of the colours is somewhat lost, but he congratulates the team who look after the garden. It has been transformed into a lovely and well-tended area.
The one downside is that some flowers have been damaged by a small proportion of visitors who continue to use the Memorial Garden for photography and video. A notice has been erected asking visitors not to use the area for this purpose, and, no doubt, members will encourage those concerned to stand elsewhere.
- James Chatwin captured a short video, as the Spitfire managed to display in between rain showers on Saturday.
- Nathan Evan Gibson provides a photo, below, of 3205 at Imberhorne cutting on Saturday, and provides a sample of his photos and a video from Southern at War.
- Matthew Nightingale and his father also provide
a video and
- Update to the Loco Roster, now covering intended locomotive usage for June, thanks to Lewis Nodes.
- Update to the FAQ page.
- The Mid Sussex Times has an article Looking back - 50 years ago to a through railtour onto the Bluebell Railway.
- Simon Lathwell's photo shows "Stepney" still wearing the vinyls from last week's photo charter, seen as 32655 at Sheffield Park on Sunday 12 May. Today is the 53rd anniversary of Stepney's arrival at the Bluebell.
- Martin Lawrence's photos from from Sunday at the Southern at War: Colour set and
Black and White Set
- Mike Jones' photos from the weekend.
- Paul Gildersleve also attended the event on Sunday and had a good day. These are his photos depicting his take on the day.
- Ashley Smith was at Horsted Keynes on Sunday, mostly to see the Spitfire fly over, and has a short video and added three photos to his gallery.
- Dave Braley provides some photos from his visit to the Bluebell last Sunday on what he describes as a very pleasant sunny Spring day.
- Paul Pettitt provides a super collection of Southern at War images, and the first two images below are his, showing Sunday's Spitfire, and a visiting airman. Spitfire TE311 is a low-back/bubble-canopy Mk LF XVIE, with 'clipped' wingtips. This is its first display season since Battle of Britain Memorial Flight staff completed its restoration to airworthy condition.
- John Sandys provides photos from Tuesday, featuring the roof now on the canopy at East Grinstead, and progress on the canopy at Sheffield Park, plus visiting locomotive No.3205 at East Grinstead, and Swordfish on Spoil Duty at Kingscote. His photos from Thursday also cover new arrivals at the Bluebell's shop, and the pretty-much completed water tower brickwork at East Grinstead.
- Derek Hayward's photo from Saturday below shows 1638 leading the 6-coach SR set northwards out of Horsted Keyens. The final three photos, from Sunday, are from Nick Farrant (3205 preparing to haul the last train of the day), Cameron Smith (showing 3205 north of Horsted Keynes) and Richard Farrant, showing B473 at Horsted Keynes with the lunchtime pullman dining train.
- David Haggar's photo shows Terrier No.32655 with the Birdcage Brake amongst the bluebells at Birchstone Bridge on Wednesday's photo charter - more of David's photos are available here.
- Update to the Loco Roster, thanks to Lewis Nodes.
- Martin Lawrence has uploaded a couple of photos, showing the visiting No.3205 during a gauging run today.
A few photos from John Sandys' visit to the Railway today, including the visiting GWR Collett 0-6-0 locomotive No.3205 on test at Sheffield Park, further progress on the new canopy extension at Sheffield Park, and new paintwork on the canopy at East Grinstead, a selection of the photos being seen below. The canopy at Sheffield Park will extend a little further South from the new pillar, with a sloping end to match that on platform 2, so that both canopies match the design and length of the originals (just leaving replacement of the signal box by a new one at the north end of the platform and a reconstruction of the covered footbridge to recreate the original 1880s look of the station - both of these developments are planned, but are definitely something for the very long term future).
- Martin Lawrence's photo shows the newly arrived visiting GWR Collett 0-6-0 locomotive No.3205 (facing South) at Sheffield Park today. It is from Martin's new album covering the period from 25th April. Below we see his photos of the U approaching East Grinstead today, and a nice view of Sheffield Park station house taken from the riverside picnic area.
- On Saturday, for the Southern at War Weekend, we have a three-train service, with departures from Sheffield Park at 9:45am, 10:20, 11:00, 12:15, 12:50, 1:30pm, 2:45, 3:20, 4:00 and 5:15. Corresponding departures from East Grinstead are at 10:45, 11:23, 12:00, 1:15, 1:53, 2:30, 3:45, 4:23, 5:00 and 6:30.
On the Sunday, trains will run to the Service Two timetable, with the last round trip from Sheffield Park at 4pm. The third train operating on Sunday will be the pre-booked Pullman Luncheon train.
- Yesterday there was a Jon Bowers photo charter with Terrier No.32655 and the Birdcage Brake, as seen in David Haggar's photos and video.
- Update to the Carriage & Wagon Works News with the latest on the restoration of GWR 5-plank open wagon No.87782 from Nick Beck and Martin Skrzetuszewski.
- John Sandys has a set of photos showing the arrival of 3205 this morning at Sheffield Park, further progress with work starting on installing the final section of the canopy extension at Sheffield Park (seen below), further paintwork on the canopy at East Grinstead, and further work on the water tower base at East Grinstead.
Patrick Plane's photo, taken while working on the covering of the remaining section of cutting face, shows B473 hauling its train though the cutting yesterday. It is one of several photos used to illustrate recent work on the extension, in the cutting, on the water tower, and inside its tank, and on the canopy over the booking office.
- Photos from Matt Hume from a visit to the railway on Bank Holiday Monday.
- John Sandys has photos from yesterday, including work on both canopies, the water tower at East Grinstead, and new arrivals in the Shop. His photo below shows B473 at Sheffield Park, alongside work to prepare zinc sheeting panels for the rebuilding of the canopy there.
- A new video from Philip Bull, from 20 April, covers his first ride on the extended line.
- The Kingscote Running-in board which was relocated to the station forecort in the closure period has been completely rebuilt, since its predecessor had rotted away. The photos below, from Richard Hill, show the squad who helped carry it from the "Giraffe House" to the forecourt, it being seriously heavy.
The new sign has been built by Graham Dell and Bob Burchell, and is an example of the excellent work carried out by the Friends of Kingscote.
- Another of Chris Rigby's photos on the right from Sunday 28 April shows the U-class with the Southern-liveried set, approaching Three Arch Bridge.
- Reminder (as shown in the painting below from Matthew Cousins) that this coming weekend (11 & 12 May) will be our annual
Southern at War Weekend, featuring visiting GWR Collett 0-6-0 locomotive No.3502. There will be flypasts at Horsted Keynes by a Spitfire on both days, in addition to military vehicle displays, concert party shows, afternoon band concerts, The 23rd Sussex Home Guard, wartime food stalls, Jive dancing, wartime cinema, and much more. A "Southern at War" programme is available with full listings of exhibits and timings of events, priced at £2.00, available in advance from the Sales and Information Office at Sheffield Park Station and the Travel Centre at our station in East Grinstead, or on your arrival next weekend.
- There are currently 48 items listed on eBay, though the eBay for Charity scheme, to benefit the Railway.
- There is now a new web page for British Railways 350HP diesel-electric shunter D4106/09018 created by Nick Beck, with text from Martin Skrzetuszewski and photos from Martin Lawrence.
- For those wishing to give by cheque (which avoids the JustGiving fees, thus raising more money for the project) there is now a Gift Aid and dontaion form available as a PDF file, for the Appeal in memory of Phil Stoneman, for a loco yard clock.
- Chris Rigby's photo on the right from last Sunday shows the U-class with the Southern-liveried set, approaching Horsted Keynes. This is coincidentally a near-recreation of the 3.26pm Haywards Heath to London Bridge via Horsted Keynes train which ran over the line in the 1950s, formed of a 3-coach birdcage set leading a 3-coach Maunsell corridor set, and usually hauled by a K-class 2-6-0 or an Ivatt 2MT tank. This was not the only regular train over the line to have a similar formation either. His second photo below shows the H-class with the Pullman Dining train at Three Arch Bridge the same day.
- John Sandys provides the photo below, showing great progress with the booking office canopy at East Grinstead yesterday, and has more photos from East Grinstead and Sheffield Park from Thursday.
- John Harwood's video shows work at East Grinstead and in the cutting on Wednesday.
- An updated Loco Roster, thanks to Lewis Nodes, shows current plans for loco useage during May. Visiting GWR No.3205 should be running every day between 11 and 21 May.
- Our 4 Vep No.3417 is seen below in Clive Emsley's photo taken yesterday at Clapham Junction. The unit was used (as hauled stock) at the Mid Hants Diesel Gala last weekend, and is off down to Swanage in a week's time for their similar event.
- Photos from John Sandys, including yesterday's service (photo of the H-class on the right), work on the canopies at Sheffield Park and East Grinstead (photos below), the water tower, new stock in the shop, P-class 178 being serviced, and the 9F having work done on its regulator valve.
John also provides a video of the H-class with the 3pm departure from Sheffield Park.
- We are currently preparing a DVD about Schools class locomotive "Stowe", and are seeking video/film material showing the locomotive running on the Bluebell and in BR days. If you think you have something that could be suitable (preferably in DVD format), it would be much appreciated if you would contact Roger Kelly at the Railway, or via e-mail.
- As from 4 May you'll be able to book through tickets from pretty much any station in the South East (the old Network SouthEast area) to include travel on the Bluebell - with a discount included on the Bluebell fare.
- On 6 May we have a Special offer on early morning Bluebell tickets to travel to East Grinstead for the East Grinstead Lions Club May Day Fair. The East Grinstead Concert Band (otherwise known as the Bluebell Railway Band) are also playing for the opening of the Fair, between 10.10am & 11.00am in the High Street just along from the War Memorial.
- Dates are now confirmed for the remaining appearances in 2013 by the Bluebell Railway Band, who made numerous appearances at the opening festival.
- Details are now available for the 21 June Beer, Brass & Steam evening. Enjoy a picnic supper box, a good choice of real ales, a ride behind steam, and music from the Horsham Borough Band.
- Video from Ian Lynagh showing scenes from the Opening Festival on Wednesday the 27th March, including a clip of 263 and B473 running a short way on parallel lines.
- During April 2013 there were 89,732 total hits on this page, from 51,874 unique visitors.
- Haunted Horsted? Kirsty Chapman provides the two photos below, possibly showing a ghostly couple, or maybe children, at Horsted Keynes. The images were captured during the Ghost Hunt which took place at the station back in 2010; she'd be interested to know whether anyone would be interested in running another similar evening in the future.
- John Sandys' photo shows the U-class with the Pullman train at East Grinstead today. It was run for the workers and fund raisers involved in the Northern Extension Project. Below is a photo of John's from yesterday showing progress with the zinc sheeting on the canopy at Sheffield Park.
- Tomorrow, 27th April, is our Spring
Toy and Rail Collectors event on the platforms of Horsted Keynes Station. We are also, of course, running a two-train service to East Grinstead, plus the Wealden Rambler, so plenty of steam action, and the chance to ride in the Southern carriages, which are on one of the trains this weekend.
- There will be flypasts by a Spitfire on both days of the
Southern at War Weekend on 11 & 12 May.
- Update to web page for SR brake Van No.404 adding another photo, internal photos, and details of the paint colours used. (Correct link now in place... sorry).
- John Sandys provides some photos from today, including that on the right showing progress with the new canopy at East Grinstead Booking Office, and below, the pair of P-class locomotives at Sheffield Park.
- John also shows below, progress with the brickwork on the water tower at East Grinstead, which will rise another metre before it's ready to take the tank. In addition to this visible work, the fittings on the tank itself for 3 lots of 2" pipes going into and the 6" pipe outlet have been added, as have covers to prevent pigeons getting in. The 2" pipework is being prepared by Mike Hopps and Mick Coppin, making use of the Carriage & Wagon Department's pipe-threading equipment usually used for steam heat and vacuum brake work on the carriages, and the 6" pipework for the outlet is in the capable hands of the Alf Brown Gang.
- Phil Stoneman is a much-missed member of the Loco Department and Loco workshops group. His untimely death in June 2012 was especially tragic as he had recently arranged early retirement and was planning to spend more time at the Bluebell. While working as a cleaner, he used to use an old watch to gauge how much time was left while preparing his engine, but was irritated to have to keep stopping to read it. He remarked to many people that "Before I leave this railway, I'm going to buy a clock to put up there" pointing to the top of the loco shed. His colleagues would like to raise around £1800 to buy a yard clock in Phil's memory, to be fitted on the new "above workshop facility" building. To this end a JustGiving Page is now available.
- Details now available for the Edwardian Weekend - 22 & 23 June - a new event for 2013 - rekindle the days of Edwardian splendour, travel in the rolling stock used in the filming of Downton Abbey. Summer Fair, Band concert, and Real Ale tent.
- Diesel shunting loco No.09018 was delivered to Sheffield Park on Tuesday. This locomotive has been purchased by a consortium of members who are setting up a company to manage the loco, which will be hired by the Railway. Locomotive No.13236 will leave the Railway once 09018 has been commissioned into service. Tony Sullivan's photo below shows it at Sheffield Park today. It is not going to remain in those HNRC colours!
- Martin Lawrence has a gallery of photos from Tuesday, including photos of 33103 on an engineers' train, 178 and Bluebell double heading and the arrival of class 09 No.09018 at Sheffield Park.
- Update available to the web page for Mk.I Brake Composite carriage No.21271 adding another photo.
- John Sandys' photo shows the P-class locos ready to leave Sheffield Park with the service train today. This gallery of photos from today shows progress on the Canopy at Sheffield Park, on the S15 in the Loco works, new arrivals in the shop, and work on the water tower and the canopy for the ticket office at East Grinstead.
- We are shortly to receive a visit from 1930-designed Collett 0-6-0 locomotive No.3205, from the South Devon Railway. It is coming mainly as an appropriate guest engine for the
Southern at War Weekend on 11 & 12 May. The visit is as a result of the loan of the Dukedog to the South Devon Railway a little while ago.
- On the Model Railway Weekend - 29 & 30 June, our two-train steam-hauled Service two timetable operates, and in addition extra trains will be hauled by the Diesel Locomotive No.33103 "Swordfish" - more info.
- At Horsted Keynes the down outer home and up advanced signals (those furthest away to the North) are now all back on levers in the frame, rather than the temporary switches. To celebrate this Roger Carpenter provides photos showing the incredible wire run from the box all the way to signal 28 - the 'up 2nd advanced starter' which is some considerable distance from the box, and yet not hard to pull.
- On 6 April the Bluebell Railway arranged tours of St. Giles' Church, Horsted Keynes, which were conducted by the Rector. The tours were very well received, and hopefully it may be possible to repeat them on another occasion. Father John is, of course, also Chaplain to the Bluebell Railway. With the kind cooperation of the Rector, Derek Hayward provides a photographic tour of St. Giles', which includes the first photo below.
- Peter Edwards' photo below shows the work being done on the Sheffield Park canopy where the new zinc sheeting is being installed. It all has to be paid for, and
the fund raising by the Friends of Sheffield Park is going well, but could do with a further boost!
- Cameron Smith's photo below shows the 9F arriving at East Grinstead on Saturday - a sight which still pleases, a month after we opened the Extension!
Stop Press: The latest Bluebell e-mail newsletter regrettably went out without a link to the web version, which is therefore now available here.
- On 3 April the Bluebell Railway operated coach tours to some adjacent closed stations and Cinder Hill Tunnel. Derek Hayward has, in consequence, updated his images of Barcombe Station and Barcombe Mills Station. Barcombe Station is seen on the right (this is a private road and access and photography were by kind permission of the owner). Derek also provides below photos from the 3 April tours of the Vintage coach used for the tour of the local stations and Barcombe Mills Station.
On Saturday 6 April a team of bell ringers toured churches in the area (travelling largely on our trains). Derek provides the photos to the right and below showing: Bell ringers from Saturday with their hand bells at Sheffield Park, the tours of St Giles' from Saturday including the Church interior, The Rector talking about Macmillan's Grave (a family plot), and the Knapp Grave (the young couple killed together whilst walking on the track near Waterworks on 31 July 1943) - this is the only known stone where two regimental badges have been included (in this case interwoven) - allowed because the young couple were killed simultaneously. The inscription is worn, and so the colour has been adjusted to slightly improve legibility.
Derek also has a full set of photos available from the incoming railtour on 28 March
- Visit to the Gartell Light Railway on Saturday 4 May 2013 -
There are still some tickets available, should anyone wish to join the Social Sub-committee's trip, which includes the chance to travel by train on part of the old S&D.
- To conclude the 2-week long opening festival, a group of bell ringers, the majority being Bluebell members, rang 1260 Grandsire Triples at St Swithun's, East Grinstead, prior to the Service of Thanksgiving on the Sunday evening.
- Ben Goodsell's photo shows the tokens having just been exchanged between the 9F and Kingscote South box on 4 April.
- John Sandys today shot a companion video for his earlier one - a ride Behind the 9F from East Grinstead to Kingscote, this time showing the Eastern side of the line, and also provides a set of photos, including the E4 preparing for the day's work, progress on the Water Tower at East Grinstead, and the 9F in action at East Grinstead and Horsted Keynes.
- In mid May, a DVD of the Cab Ride in the Class 66 from Victoria Station to Sheffield Park on 28th March, including the naming ceremony of the loco, should be available for sale through the Bluebell Shop - as seen below. It is priced at £16.99 and is being produced for us by Locomaster Profiles who do a lot of cab ride DVDs. Nikki Favell in our shop is taking orders for the DVD already if anyone wants to make sure they get a copy!
- Keith Duke's pictures from Saturday, include the buses used to provide a free link to Horsted Keynes village for the open day at St Giles' Church.
- John Harwood took a video of the evening Golden Arrow arrival and departure from East Grinstead on Saturday evening.
- David Haggar's photo below is from a new web album of slide scans which he's just put together from a photo charter we had with the E4, which was matched with three BR(S) Bulleid carriages back on 14 October 2005, when the locomotive had just been painted black.
- Neal Ball and the regulars from Hove had a terrific evening last Friday at the Real Ale and Jazz, as seen in the photo below, and Neal's album from the evening. As you will see, this was the inauguration of the new Rail Ale Special headboard.
- Another update has been made to the Loco Roster, showing current plans for loco useage.
Nicholas Owen narrates this official Bluebell video, recording the completion of our Northern Extension Project which has taken 39 years and cost about £11 Million, almost all raised by and from the Bluebell's membership and the public. The footage was captured on the opening day, 23 March 2013, when the Bluebell Railway's first public steam trains were run out of, and into East Grinstead station.
- Several photos from Alan Jenkins, on a visit to the Railway on Wednesday. On the right the 9F is departing from Horsted Keynes, creating a balanced composition with 488 and 80151/4. Below we see the 9F during its runround at East Grinstead, and the U-class at Sheffield Park, at the head of the all-Maunsell liveried train led by the Birdcage Brake .
- Just two days remain of our East Grinstead Opening Festival. On Saturday there will be free vintage buses from Horsted Keynes Station to Horsted Keynes village where guided tours will be given around St Giles's Church and the final resting place of former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. The St Peter's Church bell ringers will also be travelling by train from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead and stopping off to ring at local churches, including hand bell ringing at St Giles's Church.
- On Sunday free vintage buses will operate from East Grinstead Station on a regular timetable to the National Trust Standen House.
On arrival at Standen show your Bluebell Railway travel ticket to East Grinstead for a special discount off the admission price to Standen House. Return by any train from East Grinstead to Kingscote, Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park.
In the evening join us on the 6pm departure from Sheffield Park, 6.17pm departure from Horsted Keynes to East Grinstead, where we will have a celebratory Service of Thanksgiving at St Swithun's Church (at 7.15pm) led by our assistant Chaplain Father Clive Everett-Allen.
- For the whole of next week (8-14 April) trains operate to our new
two-train "Service two" timetable over the full length of the extended line between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead.
- Chris Berryman provides the three aerial photos taken on Good Friday, two over Sheffield Park station, and the 9F with the 5.30pm service from Sheffield Park.
- Ashley Smith offers another fine video, from Easter Monday, the 10th day of our Opening Festival, and has added some more photos to his gallery.
- The latest news of the Horsted Keynes Re-signalling was updated on 10 March 2013, apologies for missing notifying that update.
- Owen James Hayward has put up most of his photos from Sunday.
Nick Slocombe provides the photo below of the incoming special train crossing Cooks Pond Viaduct in the morning last Thursday, and has a gallery of photos also taken that day on the Railway.
- New link added to Bluebell Railway Walks, who provide details of several local walks, which you could combine with a visit to one of our stations.
- The Nearby attractions and Local information sections of our links page have been given a long-overdue overhaul.
- A further update has been made to the Loco Roster, showing current plans for loco useage.
- John Sandys' photo on the right shows the U-class with the Birdcage Brake at Horsted Keynes yesterday. Also available are other photos from his visit on Tuesday, including the 9F, and U-Class, and installation of signal cables at Horsted Keynes. Below are photos by him showing the 9F during its run-round at East Grinstead, also showing the current state of the water tower, and some of the rolling stock display at Horsted Keynes, showing the 1877-built Manning Wardle, No.4 Sharpthorn, which was used in the original construction of the Bluebell line when it was new, along with LBSCR open wagon 3346, which has recently been fitted with a new tarpaulin following an intermediate repair/repaint of the wagon. This, with the tarpaulin, supported on a hinged bar, represents the way many goods consignments were carried in the 19th, and the early years of the 20th, centuries, when vans were much less commonly used than open wagons.
John also provides a video of a journey on Monday from East Grinstead to Kingscote, hauled by the 9F.
- Photos from Easter Monday with thanks to
Neil Munro-Thomson - with lots of great photos at East Grinstead station and
- Congratulations to Mike Hopps, whose photo of the first public train from East Grinstead, in the cutting in a snowstorm, makes the cover of the
May edition of Railway Magazine, just published.
- Update to the web page for SECR C-class locomotive No.592, with thanks to Nick Beck and Martin Skzretuszewski, adding details of its shed allocations under BR.
- Two further photos below with the 9F are from Sunday evening, from David Chappell and Owen James Hayward, and show the 9F hauling the train up to East Grinstead (5.30pm from Sheffield Park), to form the evening special to introduce Sainsburys' staff to our railway - their new neighbours, and No.92212 as it basks in the evening light prior to the departure of the special.
- The next photo below, again from Owen James Hayward, does rather make it appear that the Adams Radial tank is in steam, whilst on display at Horsted Keynes.
- Nathan Gibson's photo below shows last week's railtour returning to London, at Sanderstead.
- During March 2013 there were 149,813 total hits on this page, from 74,119 unique visitors. This is a 50% jump, which suggests there may have been something of major interest going on in March! Many thanks to all who have visited this site.
- Mark Hemsley's photo shows the U class entering East Grinstead station on 27 March.
- The Bull's video coverage of the first public Bluebell steam trains at East Grinstead last Saturday (23rd) are worth having waited for.
- Daniel Gosling provides an excellent video from yesterday
- Ashley Smith has photos from Wednesday and Thursday.
- On 29 March 2013 the Mayor of Haywards Heath, Councillor John Sabin, accompanied by his wife, Mrs Margaret Sabin, launched the new 769 bus route (Sundays and Bank Holidays only) to Sheffield Park from Brighton, Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath. This compliments the 121 and 270 services running to the Railway on Saturdays.
The launch was also attended by Graham Flight, Chairman, Bluebell Railway PLC; Tim Baker, Commercial Director; Steve Walker, Manager, Sheffield Park National Trust Garden; Russell Pearce, Retail Director; Barry King, Compass Bus and Chris Chatfield, Managing Director, Compass Bus, who are seen below with the new bus in Haywards Heath.
Subsequently the Mayor opened the newly refurbished Birch Grove Suite at Sheffield Park Station (also seen below), and was later given a tour of the line.
Those who heard the speeches at Horsted Keynes on the arrival of the rail tour will understand why it is important to maintain good communication and relations with adjacent local authorities.
Further photos from Derek Hayward are available here.
- Martin Lawrence has a new gallery of photos from 21st to 28th March and a video from the 28th, the day of the incoming charter train.
- John Harwood has a video of the incoming special train on Thursday in the cutting.
Graham Court provides the photo below showing the special on arrival at Sheffield Park station.
- Nick Burgess provides a few photos from his visit to the Railway on Friday.
- Yesterday, Luke Bridges visited the Bluebell and took some videos: 1638 moving off shed in the morning, 1638 running round at East Grinstead, and 1638 leaving Sheffield Park for East Grinstead. Also
178 shunting the Wealden Ramber set.
- The last photo below, from David Chapman, shows the proud crew of U-class No.1638 with their engine on 26th March at East Grinstead.
- The incoming railtour from Victoria yesterday has generated (probably due to the better weather) rather more photos than the opening weekend. Tony Sullivan's photo on the right shows the pair of 73s arrive at Horsted Keynes after the quick turn-round at Sheffield Park.
- Matt Sampford's video is a very nice representation of the days activities.
- Ashley Smith has two videos, one from Wednesday and a second from Thursday.
- Chris Ward has photos from the visiting train yesterday, and this video.
- John Sandys provides videos of the Railtour arriving at Horsted Keynes, and the Naming of the Class 66, No.66739.
- Tom Waghorn has added 4 photos of yesterday's "Blue Belle" to his album "Bluebell 2013".
- Chris Livings' photos from yesterday.
- Below are two photos from Derek Hayward, one showing 66739 passing the Victorian train at Kingscote, and another showing GBRf's John Smith at the Naming Ceremony for the locomotive.
Two from Steve Lee show the pair of 73s looking as though they own Sheffield Park station (as they ran round they needed to keep 73119 inside, being the vacuum braked locomotive) and on departure from Sheffield Park, having dropped "Birch Grove" from the formation, since by this time the coaches were warm enough to dispense with steam heat for the short final run of the "Blue Belle" special up to Horsted Keynes.
Chris Ward's photo shows B473 "Birch Grove" hauling "The Pioneer", the first Bluebell service train out of East Grinstead last Saturday, through Imberhorne cutting in the snow. Paul Perton's photo shows the SECR locos with the Victorian set at Sheffield Park on the opening Sunday.
- The incoming railtour from Victoria is seen arriving at Horsted Keynes this morning in John Sandys' photo. John has a complete album from today, and also supplies further photos of today's events below:
73207 and 73119 "Borough of Eastleigh" are seen bringing up the rear of the train before being used to power a "Blue Belle Special" round-trip of the line.
66739 is seen being named at Horsted Keynes today.
Photos of the locomotive and a further nameplate were presented to the Bluebell.
- The next photo below is from Reuben Smith, and shows the two 73s, plus the E4 (providing steam heat) with the "Blue Belle Special".
- The East Grinstead Courier and Observer reports on the remaining activities for the Opening Festival, which runs until 7 April.
- A video from Philip Bull, from 17 March, featuring in particular the H-class, LSWR 488, and our oldest operational carriages.
- More photos from Saturday, the first day of the Opening Festival are below too:
- Steve Lee's photo shows B473 with the very first Bluebell service train from East Grinstead, at Vaux End.
- Nathan Gibson's photo shows 9F No.92212 as it heads North, passing Horsted House Farm foot crossing.
- Patrick Nairne's photo shows the same engine during the token exchange at Horsted Keynes.
- 80151 is seen as 80154, the locomotive which ran the final timetabled service over the line in 1958 (and the very last steam locomotive to have been built in Brighton Works), on display at Horsted Keynes in Steve Lee's photo.
- Apologies for the delay in updating this page - the last few days have been personally absolutely full, leaving no time to attend to this site. The opening, weather excepting, was a fantastic day, and the celebrations are continuing until 7th April. Many thanks to everyone who has sent links and contributions covering the festival so far - I hope I've captured them all, and they are listed below:
- John Sandys reports: "Such a lovely atmosphere all over the railway, (despite
the freezing weather!)" and has photos and a short video to catch some of the atmosphere of today at East Grinstead.
- Neal Ball's photos
- Ken Upton's view from the footplate: having signed on for duty in the Loco Department at 4:00am on Saturday, he was lucky enough to be on the E4 for the first train from East Grinstead, and managed to take a few photos.
Here are Dan Hill's pictures from the the Opening Day of the East Grinstead Opening Gala.
- Keith Duke spent quite a lot of time actually on the train on Saturday but did get some pictures, and came back for more on Monday.
- Here are some photos that Ben Gray took on the 23rd March.
- Photos from Mark Kehoe, Chief Photographer of the Sunday Express, which although not used in the printed edition are on the web edition and as this slide show.
- Keith Leppard has posted some pictures from Saturday.
- Photos from Alex Davies:the first train departing, B473 steaming in the snow, the U on the aproach and another of the U-boat.
- Alan Bedford's video available here. He comments: The carriage cleaning on carriage 6686 is so good, it almost looks like there is still no track under Hill Place and Imberhorne Lane Bridges, from the 4:30 train from East Grinstead, on Sunday.
- Ashley Smith reports he had a very good but very cold couple of days at the opening gala this weekend. "So good to finally see steam at East Grinstead! Some photos and two videos from when I braved the cold weather and got off the nice warm trains!!" Photos, and Video 1 and Video 2
- Dave Braley's photos from Saturday and Sunday's opening gala.
We are now open to East Grinstead!
Live on BBC Sussex today, and on the BBC website too.
The formal public opening of the railway line back into East Grinstead takes place tomorrow, 23 March 2013.
- We're currently front page news on the ITV Meridian website.
- The East Grinstead Courier and Observer has a feature on Russ, who will be driving the first train out of East Grinstead tomorrow. Another article is about the journey we've made to get to East Grinstead, and finally "Everything you need to know" about the opening day!
- Roy Watts has provided his last thoughts before tomorrow's opening, which are on the BRPS Members' Notices page, along with, rather belatedly due to other things taking precedence, notes from the February committeee meeting.
- Over the weekemd the Fenchurch Fund will be offering all manner of items on their stand at Sheffield Park, (as long as it is not too wet!). They will be offering Tea Cans, Tea Mugs and Tee Shirts, together with key rings and fridge magnets and cuddly dogs (we call them terriers!), and of course the non-award-winning preserves (orange marmalade and some chutneys).
- The Bulleid Society shop at Sheffield Park will open every day for the first ten days of the festival. Normal opening hours will be from 10.30 to 17.30 every day. They have a large selection of secondhand books, videos, DVD's, framed pictures, prints and general railway ephemera. So why not call in and see if you can find a bargain! They also expect to be open during the second week of the festival, however this will be subject to volunteer staff availability.
- There's a new webpage with the Signalling Diagram for East Grinstead, and a major update to that for Kingscote, and other updates on the signalling pages, including updated diagrams for Sheffield
Park, with thanks to Peter Richards and Adrian Lee.
- Also in honour of the opening is a revamp and update to the Location Map and Gradient Profile page.
- Visitors on Saturday can arrive at East Grinstead from London / East Croydon by train, of course, although due to engineering works there are no direct trains from London Victoria (so change at East Croydon). We had hoped that the Sunday would also be free of engineering work, but a late change has resulted in there being replacement buses between Purley and Hurst Green, although the alternative route via Three Bridges, with a bus to East Grinstead may be the best route. Please do check your travel plans in advance!
- Two great videos of today's crew training runs from John Harwood: The H-class with the Victorian coaches (now with correct link) and U-class with set B.
- John Sandys has captured a journey (in the GN saloon) behind the U-class on one of the crew training runs today, from Kingscote to East Grinstead and
back to Kingscote. His
photos from today are also available, and that on the right shows the H-class in the cutting on one of the training runs.
- Lest anyone think we're only focussed on the extension, Tony Sullivan took the photo below today at Sheffield Park, showing the pattern for the trailing pony truck frame for Standard 2 tank locomotive No.84030, which is being made by our two volunteer pattern makers, Roy Stirling and Syd Prentice.
- The web pages for BR Standard 4 tanks Nos.80100 and 80064 have been updated with the locomotives' BR shed allocations, with thanks to Nick Beck and Martin Skrzetuszewski.
- Tim Baker's photo shows the interior of the newly installed restaurant facilities at East Grinstead; the carriage, originally a Mk.I Brake second, was converted from Ashford Staff & Generator coach BDC 977166 by members of the Infrastructure department. The newly created interior, and the refurbished original Maunsell and Bulleid period restaurant chairs (of which just one remains to be installed), provide a most appropriate ambiance to welcome visitors while they await our train services. At the far end is a separate kitchen area, beyond the serving counter.
- Martin Lawrence provides a video showing 33103 working from Horsted Keynes to East Grinstead yesterday, together with some photos.
- Ben Gray took these photos on 23 February, featuring B473, the U-class and the class 33.
- Today, SR U-class No.1638 took a 7-coach test/training train up to East Grinstead, as seen in David Haggar's photo on the right.
- The 9F also took a crew/staff training train up the extension, as seen below in Yoshi Hashida's photo.
- Ashley Smith got this photo and
video this afternoon in the pouring rain of the U-class on another round test trip to East Grinstead today.
- Martin Lawrence's photo below of yesterday's training run, at Horsted Keynes on its way to East Grinstead and Victoria... If only! Presumably this board has been stored unused at Horsted Keynes for the last 55 years.
- Today was another momentous day on the extension, when, for crew/staff training purposes, the 9F ran three trips between Kingscote and East Grinstead with a train of Southern Railway coaches. Mike Hopps has produced this poster, since the NEP team held something of a celebration to mark the event! Mike hopes to have it available via the
Heritage Rail Poster - Amazon shop front soon. Others available now and new designs on the way for the opening.
- Timetables for the various days of the East Grinstead Opening Festival (23 March to 7 April) are now available.
- Steve Lee provides the three photos below, showing the train passing up through the cutting at about 3.35pm, the 9F at East Grinstead, and on its return journey today.
Once word got out today, Imberhorne Lane Bridge became a popular place, but we understand that the police may take measures to control crowds on what is quite a dangerous road bridge next weekend, during the start of our formal opening festival. So we'd please request that photographers exercise considerable care when in this area, since it's a narrow and busy road.
- John Sandys only had his pocket camera with him today, but none the less provides these photos and a video showing the train approaching Imberhorne Cutting, and this one of it returning through the cutting.
- David Haggar has uploaded an album of slide scans from the Goods Trains Galas we staged between 2005-08.
- There's a further extensive update to the Extension News Page, recording activites over the last week.
- Martin Lawrence's photo shows preparations under way for the opening festival, with stock to be displayed being formed up (Brighton-built No.80151, LSWR 1885-built No.488, and matching LSWR carriage) ready for transfer to Horsted Keynes. Martin also provides a video showing H class No.263 starting from Horsted Keynes, one showing 33103 with the East Grinstead buffet/shop coach and the U-class on Mothers' Day, some photos of 92212 undergoing its steam test, and a short video and some photos of the stock seen on the right being moved to Horsted by 08 No.13236.
- It is now apparent that, due to circumstances beyond our
control, "Britannia" will not be able to visit for the Opening Festival,
so as shown on the updated Loco Roster, the timetable on 23rd March will
be operated by the following 8 steam locomotives, namely the visiting 9F No.92212, and
our own Nos. 1638, B473, 263, 323, 178, 55 and 3. We have already
explored all other options for visiting engines, and it is understood
that nothing suitable is available at this very late stage. Although clearly the attraction is
the opening of the Bluebell's long-awaited extension to East Grinstead,
rather than a visiting engine, we are none the less disappointed to have
to relay this news.
- John Sandys provides the two photos below, showing the first stage of the canopy extension at Sheffield Park, and work to complete the inter-station path at East Grinstead. John has photos showing new arrivals in the shop today, photos from the extension, and a video of the Road-Railer ballast regulating today, plus a video showing the tamper in action yesterday, photos of the canopy work at Sheffield Park and finally yesterday's photos of the tamper in action.
- Update to the third page, and a new fourth page of the History of Kingscote Station thanks to Martin Skrzetuszewski and Nick Beck, using a photo from Terry Cole.
- The final photo below is another of Simon Lathwell's, showing the H with the Golden Arrow on 3rd March.
- Another significant occurence on the extension, photographed by John Sandys today. The Queen Mary brake van is the first item of the Bluebell's pre-war Southern stock to make it to East Grinstead. It is seen in the company of 33103 Swordfish, our three Dogfish ballast hoppers, and the tamper. John's photos below, also taken today, show the tamper at East Grinstead, and the travel centre, the refurbished restaurant/shop coach, and the toilet block in place.
- John Sandys has
further photos in this album. John Harwood provides this video taken at East Grinstead and Imberhorne yesterday. Today has seen more ballast laid, and much work continues on the cabling and signalling side.
- A Flutter to Fund the Future (from Roger Kelly, Funding Director)
In these exciting times, the Railway is ever more grateful for your long-term support. As part of the Funding for the Future Campaign, which will be launched after 28 March, the Railway has teamed up with Unity Lottery, which runs lotteries every Saturday on behalf of charities and good causes.
The top prize each week is £25,000, and other prizes range from £1,000 down to £5. Everyone has a 1 in 63 chance of winning something. Fifty pence of every entry goes towards specific Railway projects. Participants must be older than 16, but otherwise entry is open anyone, and you can place many entries.
Sign up at unitylottery.co.uk/Bluebell-Railway. Paper application forms will go out with Bluebell News next month.
- You have the option to pay by direct debit, card, or cheque.
- You must be 16 or older to enter and be resident in Great Britain.
- Once we receive your completed application form, we'll send a letter with your unique six-digit Unity Lottery game number.
- This game number is entered into the draw each week, provided your account has at least £1 in it.
- For those using direct debit, there is a 14-day cooling-off period; however, a letter will be sent with a game number in all instances.
- If you have queries, call the Unity Lottery hotline at 0870 050 9240.
- The highlights (for Southern fans) of Bachmann's plans for the next 18 months, announced on Sunday, are an 00 model of an LBSCR E4 0-6-2T, inluding one representing our own preserved No.B473, and a three-coach SECR Birdcage set - the only surviving 60-ft birdcage brake is also on the Bluebell. Further releases of SECR C-class locos are also announced. The Blog post from Graham 'Muz' covers the news of interest to followers of the Southern.
- Three major milestones towards the opening of the extension on 23rd March have occured. Firstly, the track was connected up, temporarily on Thursday, to enable 66712 to run through, light engine, from East Grinstead to Sheffield Park that evening on a hastily organised gauging run in preparation for the incoming charter on 28th March, as seen in Andrew Strongitharm's photo taken at Horsted Keynes, below.
The following day saw our version of the "Golden Spike" when Barbara Watkins, the power behind the tea that has fuelled the workers on the extension, fitted a celebratory pair of "White Fishplates" in a private "Thank You" ceremony for the extension volunteers. The Official Video of the event is now available, as are John Sandys' photos and videos, and this report on the BBC website. John's two photos below show Barbara tightenning the fishplate bolts, and the three cheers from the team for a job completed (if not of course totally finished yet...)
Thirdly, last night the temporary restaurant car was craned into position last night, as seen in Shane Drayton's video.
- The first rolling stock through was, however, the S&T departments Wickham trolley, which was the cause for a minor celebration as seen below in Alan Grove's photo. Just after 5 pm on Thursday 7th March 2013 members of the S&T Department pose in front on the Wickham Trolley at East Grinstead station, shortly after it had become the first rail vehicle to travel over the newly "joined up" extension. The trolley had spent most of the day parked south of Imberhorne Lane bridge whilst members of the department had carried out various tasks in and around the new cutting, including track bonding. Following the "joining up" at about 4.20 pm, the trolley had to travel to East Grinstead in order to allow the tamper to complete its journey from the south. As well as S&T members, the trolley also carried a large number of P-Way staff who had been involved in making the final connection. Shortly after this the tamper made its way North.
- Tim Baker's photo shows the other major event at East Grinstead, as the new National Rail/Southern station was officially opened. Chris White, Tim Baker and Customer Service Team members Caroline Collins and Lesley-Anne Liddell represented Bluebell at the ceremony. Seen cutting the ribbon in Tim Baker's photo is Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames, in the company of Cllr Liz Bennett, The Mayor of East Grinstead, Chris Burchell, Southern's MD and Mark Ruddy, Network Rail's Sussex Route Manager. Note the new sign pointing to the Bluebell Railway visible through the window!
- Also seen below is some of the Carriage & Wagon's "can you just" work, with Tom, Chris and Steve assembling a completely overhauled double sided Southern Railway seat, with all new timbers, for Horsted Keynes on Saturday. There's a similar one being prepared for East Grinstead, as well as a single-sided one, seen below being trial-assembled in undercoat, that was little more than a rotten pile of timbers and rusting metal just a week before.
- The Bulls have another video, showing the U-class in action on 24th February.
- Simon Lathwell's photo from Sunday shows 323 shunting the Maunsell stock into the carriage shed.
- There's an extensive update from earlier in the week on the Extension News Page.
The hot news is that the momentous and long awaited 'official joining up' moment (not a 'Golden Spike' since it would have to go into a concrete sleeper) will be held on Friday 8 March 2013 at Imberhorne Lane Bridge. This will be a relatively 'private' and low key affair for the guys who actually did the work to celebrate with a traditional cup of tea, although it will be filmed and a limited (because of space and access difficulties) number of press representatives invited. Roy Watts will be doing a few radio interviews too.
As for who is going to tighten up the final fishplate, this honour goes to Barbara Watkins who has done so much to support the teams working on the Northern Extension Project in so many ways. She has a specially cleaned and painted fishplate lined up for the job!
- Keith Duke has some pictures online from Saturday.
- As seen in his photo below, John Sandys has a set of photos from this morning at Sheffield Park, showing good progress on the Platform 1 canopy extension, where to start with one extra bay is currently being constructed, plus new stock arrived in the Shop. Please do support the canopy project with a donation since we need to raise the funds still required if it is to be completed this year.
- 92212 and 1638 are seen on shed below, as captured by 9F Club member Cameron Smith on Sunday 3 March.
- Great news from the Brighton Atlantic project (more photos and details on their News page). The completed leading and driving wheelsets have arrived as seen in Fred Bailey's photo taken yesterday morning.
Atlantic House will be open with a sales stand, and the chance to get a closer look and discuss progress, for several days over the extension opening week. The intended 'open' days are 23, 24, 28, 29, 30 & 31 March and 1 April.
- John Sandys' photo from today shows a great moment - the sub-base for the track is complete, and the last of the ballast is now being laid. John has further photos and a video from today, including more tracklaying, ballasting, and progress at East Grinstead to complete the water tower and the ramp to access the visitor facilities.
- An updated Loco Roster thanks to Lewis Nodes indicates current plans for loco usage for the first three weeks March.
- Martin Lawrence has a gallery of photos from 20 - 23 February, which include photos of the H-class (seen below leaving Horsted Keynes last Friday), and 33103 "Swordfish" on a driver training / gauging run last Saturday (as seen below with the Queen Mary brake van). A second gallery has photos from the track trek last Sunday and taken at Sheffield Park on Monday.
The canopy on Platform 1 at Sheffield Park is being extended back to its original length, to match that on Platform 2. Martin's third photo below shows some of the original canopy footings that have been uncovered below the platform surface. The work on the canopy is being done by the Friends of Sheffield Park, and there is a JustGiving page to help with the £18,800 which still needs to be raised to complete the project. We will shortly begin to erect some of the timber structure, and it is now vital we build up the funds needed to finish the project. Please do support this great project.
- During February 2013 there were 108,490 total hits on this page, from 55,995 unique visitors.
- The official Track Trek video is now available, reporting on our hugely successful fund-raising day on Sunday, with an estimated total of £40,000 pledged/received in sponsorship.
Many thanks to everyone who took part, who helped with the event, and who sponsored participants.
Check out their appearances in the video, and then, why not retrospectively sponsor one of the following three of our top fundraisers:
- Tony Sullivan's photo below shows some of the Track Trekkers in the depths of Imberhorne cutting last Sunday.
- John Harwood has a High speed video of the trek and an "outside" view of the event.
- John Sandys has photos showing work on the extension, including preparation of the trackbed, and work at East Grinstead from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today this week, as well as videos from Tuesday, Wednesday and today
John also provides photos of new stock in the Shop.
- In advance of the opening of the extension on 23 March, staff are receiving familiarisation training on the token and signalling to the north of Kingscote, by means of extending the normal short run-round onto the single line section, as seen in this video of the training from John Sandys.
- The photo on the right shows that U-class No.1638 is back in service again. It passed a steam test on Wednesday, and ran on Friday and Saturday as well as today, when it was photographed during its run-round, at Kingscote. Note also that the Friends of Kingscote are currently in the process of repainting the signal posts seen here partly in primer, at the South end of the station.
- Today was of course Track Trek day. The final reckoning is still to be done, but we believe pledges and donations, plus Gift Aid will be in the region of £40-50,000, well above our target, although there are some costs to be deducted. More detailed information should be available tomorrow. Many thanks to all the walkers and their sponsors, to the organisers (especially Nigel Longdon) and all the volunteer stewards and St John Ambulance, plus Megan, Margaret, and the catering team, who kept everyone supplied with bacon baps and tea. The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all participants, who appreciated the chance to see the state of the work close-up, and the opportunity to discuss progress with members of the extension team, even if it was rather colder than one would have liked. It all helps to pay for the remaining engineering work and ballast.
The photos below show (from John Sandys), setting off across the viaduct, and Roger Kelly presenting Mayor of East Grinstead, Cllr Liz Bennett, with her certificate and medal, (from Tony Sullivan) the walkers in the cutting and (from Richard Salmon) looking southwards at the ballasted section awaiting tracklaying beneath Imberhorne Lane Bridge.
John Sandys provides many more photos of the Track Trek.
- Ashley Smith also did the track trek today travelling via train from Horsted Keynes and got a couple of photos of the U-class on the way back.
- Keith Leppard has a gallery from Saturday.
- Derek Hayward's photo from last Sunday shows the two P-class locomotives with the Southern set at Kingscote.
- Today was the first real outing for 33103 "Swordfish", which ran for driver-training purposes. It was also good to see U-class No.1638 back in service after its boiler repairs, alongside Nos.B473 and 263.
- John Sandys has a series of photos and a video showing work on the extension today including the spreading of ballast North and South of Imberhorne Lane bridge.
- Fred Ivey's great film footage of the London Underground 150 steam train that ran with Met No. 1 steam locomotive, a milk van, coach 353 recently restored at the Ffestiniog Railway, the Blubell Railway's Chesham set of four "Ashbury" coaches and Met electric locomotive No. 12 "Sarah Siddons", starting with the delivery of the carriages by road, and including coverage of the December test run and January's public runs.
- Article about the completion of our extension in the Mid Sussex Times, and an article in the East Grinstead Courier and Observer about a local couple who lived at Kingscote station for 16 years, and rode on the last train before closure back in 1958.
- Jon Bowers' photo below shows the unloading of the ballast train on Thursday, taken from mid-way along the eastern bank of the cutting.
- Derek Hayward's photo below shows the LMS BGZ back in service after its repaint which has seen the pantry and brake coach, which had turned somewhat green in the sunlight, returned to Pullman colours.
- Tony Hayllar's photo shows that a second ballast train arrived today, and is seen here at East Grinstead. 66708 "Jayne" again providing the motive power.
- John Harwood took this video, yesterday showing progress in hand with the water tower, and the Ballast train being shunted and unloaded.
- John Sandys also has a video showing the arrival of yesterday's ballast train.
- The Track Trek is all set for Sunday, with over 750 people taking part in the walk over the extension trackbed. If anyone would like to help pay for the ballast now coming in, we do still need to raise around £100,000 so please sponsor Liz Bennett, the Mayor of East Grinstead, or one of our "Chit-Chat" team.
- Brian Kidman's two photos above show Class 66 66708 and its train of Falcon wagons loaded with ballast for Imberhorne Cutting, passing Hurst Green Junction at 2.20pm today, en-route to East Grinstead. Once the ballast is laid between the sleepers a tamper will come in to achieve the final line and level.
- Our man on the spot, John Sandys, has visited the extension this morning, and will be adding more photos to today's gallery following his second visit this afternoon - as seen below, his first two photos show the train arrived at Imberhorne, and the first half being unloaded. He also has some
photos from yesterday, showing the continued work to profile the eastern cutting side, and replacement of the temporary 30ft lengths of rail with 60ft lengths, plus progress on the Water Tower at East Grinstead.
- Steve Lee's photo from Saturday shows three of the weekend's four engines, at Horsted Keynes. The two P-class locomotives and the E4 were on the two service trains. The H-class was also in use, on the afternoon lounge Car train and Sunday's Golden Arrow luncheon train.
- Ashley Smith was also at the Railway on Saturday and has a few photos, and has added some clips of the extension to a video of the trains running.
- Some photos from Martin Lawrence from Friday and Saturday.
- Yesterday the last substantial quantity of the rubbish was lifted out of the cutting, and tracklaying is now progressing round the curve into the last section of the cutting, with drainage and communications ducting being dug in, and the formation with its clay capping being formed beyond.
John Sandys has been keeping us up-to-date with:
John Sandys' also provides
photos taken on Sunday at Horsted Keynes, showing three of the four locos running, in lovely sunny weather.
Please do sponsor John for Sunday's Track Trek, if you appreciate his updates.
- Derek Hayward provides the sequence of photos below, showing training taking place at Kingscote North signal box, and on the Northern Extension on Sunday - Derek's updated gallery.. This is the first operational use of the box, which will otherwise not be used for signalling for the first few years of operation of the extension. Eventually the North box will take over control of Kingscote from the temporary South box, once the final signalling system (planned to extend to cover operation of the entire layout at East Grinstead, with full track circuiting) comes into operation.
The token machine shown is connected with an identical machine in the South Box, such that only one of the single line tokens for the section to East Grinstead may be withdrawn at any one time. This enables the token for the section to be issued from either location, and returned to either location, hence the good supply of tokens (20 in all between the two machines) to ensure that any imbalance between the two machines does not affect operation. The token is fitted into the pouch, and is the driver's authoriity to take his engine onto the single line. Not normally required for running round the train within station limits, on this occasion, as part of the training, the locomotive did, again as part of the training exercise, venture northwards onto the extension beyond the down outer home signal. The addition of signal numbers to the posts has drawn some criticism from purists, but had been requested by the operations department.
- New official video presented by Nicholas Owen discussing current progress on the extension.
- Martin Lawrence provides photos taken on footplate of H-class No.263, and this photo showing the locomotive heading the Valentine's Day Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train through Horsted Keynes yesterday.
- Final details are now available for the Track Trek on Sunday 24 February, and we are in the process of sending information to all pre-registered participants. Please note that with over 750 participants, we have now closed to new participants, and institute a "one-way" system. If you wish to support us, and help to raise the final sum needed to complete the extension (we still need to buy quite a lot of ballast!), in addition to the Mayor of East Grinstead, you could also consider sponsoring members of "Team Chit Chat", members of our e-mail discussion group who have set up JustGiving pages for the trek.
- Further preparations of trackbed though the cutting, with trench work and pipe laying, and ballasting seen in John Sandys'
and video from Wednesday, and
photos from Thursday. John also provides photos of
new arrivals in the shop at Sheffield Park.
- John Sandys caught this evocative portrait of the H-class on Sunday, preparing to leave Horsted Keynes with the 12-noon ex-Kingscote service.
- There was an interview with Chairman Roy Watts on BBC Radio Sussex this morning, which is currently available on BBC iPlayer at 1.23.39 into the programme.
- Update now available on the overhaul of SECR P-class tank locomotive No.27.
- John Sandys provides photos and a short video of work on the extension today.
In addition here are some
recently arrived items now in stock in the Shop at Sheffield Park.
If you've appreciated his updates, why not sponsor him for the forthcoming Track Trek!
- Update to the web page for South Eastern Railway Drawing Room Car No.33 which was later Pullman Car "Constance".
- Updates to the web pages for our three remaining Dogfish hopper wagons, with thanks to Jon Elphick and Martin Skrzetuszewski:
DB 983103, DB 993217 and DB 993348
- Congratulations to our friends at the Swanage Railway in winning a £1.47 million grant to extend services to Wareham in 2015.
- The Bluebell was the subject of a very complimentary article on the inside back page of the January edition of Professional Engineering magazine (which is the journal of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers).
- David Haggar has just uploaded a couple of galleries from the Branch Line Weekend and 50th Anniversary Gala staged in 2010. These galleries were previously on the now defunct fotopic site.
- 33103 "Swordfish" arrived at Sheffield Park yesterday to start its period on hire for work on the extension (which will extend beyond the opening gala, since there will still be work for it to do tidying up the mound of clay capping afterwards. If you missed it, the notice explaining the reasons for the hire is on the Society Notices web page.
The photo below is one of Martin Lawrence's, from his gallery, and this video also covers its arrival and unloading.
John Sandys also has photos and a video of the arrival of the Crompton.
- Update on the Brighton Atlantic project, showing progress leading up to the successful pressure test of the cylinder and valve chest assemblies - a major milestone due to the novel techniques used in sealing the fabricated assemblies together through the frames.
- There was high demand this morning for tickets for the first trains for the Opening Festival of the Extension to East Grinstead - and staff worked through the phone calls as quickly as possible, but our apologies to those unable to get through immediately. Some trains (notably the Breakfast Pullman service) sold out immediately, but remember that, whilst we were taking bookings for the "first trains" of various descriptions, there is plenty of accommodation on trains throughout the entire fortnight.
- John Sandys provides
photos taken today, from both bridges on the extension at the cutting, where it looks as though we are very nearly through!
Also, photos and a video from yesterday, showing more digger work on the West Bank, further clearance of the remaining rubbish and track panel preparation, brickwork repairs on the occupation bridge, and, under the supervision of two members of the infrastructure/extension team, with permission from Roy Watts, some photos just North of Kingscote, including the new Kingscote Up Advance Starter signal seen here, which has replaced the previous "Stop" board. The post for this signal came from Shoreham Junction (Steyning Branch).
- We've had a lot of exposure on TV in the last couple of weeks.
Quite apart from Dan Snow's "Locomotion", we've also been seen extensively during "Dancing on the Edge" (largely using the Semi-Royal Saloon and Pullman Car Doris, with U-class No.1638 and the Birdcage Brake), and yesterday on BBC2 on The Genius of Invention - 3. Communication - link to iPlayer - although one would have thought they could have also showed the telegraph needles still in use in our signalling system as well!
- Update on the East Grinstead Extension - with a special report from Roy Watts on preparations for the opening.
The photo on the right is from Mike Hopps - sunset at East Grinstead.
The photo below is from Roy Watts, and like Mike's was taken on Tuesday this week.
- More from John Sandys, with work on the extension: Photos and video from Tuesday, and also photos and a video from yesterday.
- Nick Beck has updated more wagon pages with text provided by Martin Skrzetuszewski:
- An updated Loco Roster thanks to Lewis Nodes indicates plans for loco usage for February.
- Cameron Smith's photo below shows the E4 arriving at Horsted Keynes on 6 January. Of particular note is the SR-pattern elevated shunt signal controling the exit from the up sidings (which has been in place for some time now), which is seen in the context of the relevant tracks.
- Update on work on the East Grinstead Extension - Good weather enables work to progress well, and so March 23 has been announced as the start of our opening festival.
Many thanks to Martin Lawrence for providing the countdown above! Please note it assumes your computer is set to GMT.
A further update on our plans for the opening and subsequent operation of the Northern Extension should be available on Wednesday for subscribers to our e-mail newsletter, which you can sign up for here.
- The news of the forthcoming opening has been picked up by the ITV website, and apparently we were also mentioned on the BBC yesterday morning.
- Dave Clarke's photo shows the participants in Sunday's Volunteer Recruitment "Find Out More Day" at the Carriage & Wagon Department. Sign up now to join the tour next month.
Photos from today, and a video, of work on the extension from John Sandys, mainly showing the team assembling track panels at East Grinstead, but also of work to dig out the remaining material in the cutting.
- Another video from the Bulls, showing the H-class and P classes on the trains on Saturday.
We are pleased to be able to confirm that:
The Bluebell Railway's Extension to East Grinstead
will open to the public on Saturday 23rd March 2013.
We are launching our long awaited Northern Extension with a fortnight-long festival, including a visiting engine (the identity of which will be confirmed soon).
Further details, including links giving full information, and how to book for the various events (booking opens next Friday), are available via the events listing, here, and more information will be available tomorrow in our regular e-mail newsletter, which you can sign up for here.
Martin Lawrence's photo shows that the way North is becoming clear, as the H-class runs round its train this morning under the full control of the new signals installed at the north end of Kingscote. This was the very first time this newly commissioned signal had been used.
John Sandys' photos and video from the extension yesterday show the excellent progress being made, which has enabled us to confirm the opening date. The tracklaying from the South has almost reached Imberhorne Lane Bridge, and the diggers are doing well getting rid of the last mound of rubbish.
Work also continues on the parapet repairs to the occupation bridge at the north end of the cutting, and on the signalling and telecoms, at both Kingscote and East Grinstead. Even the Carriage & Wagon department volunteers are involved, repairing platform seats for East Grinstead, and Southern Railway dining chairs for the new restaurant car there, which is itself currently being refurbished in the P-way yard at Horsted Keynes by members of the infrastructure department.
- This photo from Ben French shows one of our four Metropolitan coaches, No.394, back at Sheffield Park last Saturday, after their starring role in the 150th Anniversary celebrations, where they carried the majority of the passengers. Congratulations also to our own Jon Bowers, whose photo of the overnight Underground test run on 10 January made the cover of Steam Railway magazine this week.
- More photo and video updates from John Sandys, showing work over the last week on the extension:
- Saturday 26th: Work continued on the West bank, despite the muddy conditions which weren't helped by the heavy overnight rain. .More geotextile material has been installed at the North end of the site.
Photos and video.
- Tuesday 29th: Good progress: the buffer stops have been removed at the north end of the cutting, and track laying has re-started south of Imberhorne Lane. The diggers have re-starting work in the cutting.
Photos and video.
- Thursday 31st: The first clip in the video shows work South of Imberhorne Lane bridge, laying track from the South into the
curve. The final clip shows work to remove what's left of the rubbish mound, using no less than 3 diggers plus two on the bank above!
The photos additionally show that track laying from the North has reached right up to the edge of the mound of capping material prepared for spreading on the cutting floor.
- Great video from the Bulls, showing the H-class on the service train on Saturday, and we also see P-class No.178 on the Wealden Rambler afternoon tea train, and the Metropolitan coaches being shunted after their return from London Underground.
- Nick Beck has updated some wagon pages with text provided by Martin Skrzetuszewski:
- Chris Jennings has just uploaded some more nocturnal Bluebell shots from the end of last year.
- The first photo below, from Andrew Shapland, shows the H-class emerging from the Tunnel with the service train on Saturday.
Steve Lee's photo shows the same event, 24 hours later, by which time the snow had melted!
The final photos show (upper), on Saturday, 394 on the low loader, having returned from London Underground thanks to Ben French, and (lower) the
departure of Mk.I BSK No.35448 on Sunday. This coach has been replaced in Bluebell service by the freshly overhauled No.34556, and is now going to the East Somerset Railway.
- During January 2013 there were 100,010 total hits on this page, from 54,528 unique visitors, which is both a record and a milestone!
- We are pleased to report that our Train services should be running normally this weekend.
- David King's photo from Saturday shows the E4 with the delayed first-train of the day. His photo below, taken on Sunday shows B473 back at Sheffield Park after its light-engine test run up the line.
- In view of possible snow tonight, but warmer weather tomorrow, do please check our weather update page before travelling to the Railway this weekend.
- Notice, now available via the BRPS Members' Information page, from Roy Watts (Chairman BRPS) about Northern Extension construction work.
- John Sandys provides photos of work on the extension, and this video from today, and photos, and a video from yesterday, with work on drainage and conduit for comms cables progressing in parallel with the earthmoving. More of the West side of the cutting has been covered in geotextile materials.
- Sarah Siddons is seen with the Bluebell's four Metropolitan Railway coaches at Edgware Road on Sunday, in Tim Easter's photo on the right. Here are a few more of Tim's photos from the Metropolitan 150 anniversary specials from this Sunday.
- Probably the best compilation of sequences so far seen of the recent steam running on the underground is to be found in this film, which really captures the atmosphere of this fantastic event. It was taken over both operating weekends by Sam Brown, Donna Lipowitz, Chris Eden-Green and Conor O'Connor.
- John Sandys provides photos of new stock in the Bluebell's shop, and also photos of work on the extension, and this video from yesterday, as the final clearance of the cutting gets ever closer.
- The third page about the history of Kingscote station has been updated to give a taste of life at the time of the station's closure, with thanks to Martin Skrzetuszewski and Nick Beck.
- Video from Gary and Philip Bull from Sunday showing Birch Grove's light engine run back from Horsted Keynes, and at Sheffield Park.
- Two photos below from David King, taken on Saturday, showing Birch Grove, and the brazier at Sheffield Park which stops the water crane from freezing.
- Volunteer, Mick Ralph, photographed the only thing moving on the Bluebell on Sunday, as the E4 approached Horsted Keynes on its return from the tunnel in the morning. Having decided that it would not be possible to run trains through the tunnel, the next task was to establish whether the loco could run round its train at Horsted Keynes. In Mick's photos below, we see the E4 leaving Horsted southwards, and Roy Watts and David Chappell discussing the frozen point which scuppered plans for public services that day.
- John Sandys provides further photos taken of work on the extension today, along with a video, and this video from yesterday.
- Those working members with long pedigrees will be saddened to learn that Phyl Blackburn (Mick Blackburn's Mum and "Aunty Phyl" to many) passed away on Sunday 20 January 2013, aged 97. Further details and funeral arrangements are on the BRPS Members' information page.
- David Chappell's photo below shows Horsted Keynes Signal Box in the snow on Sunday.
- The set of photos which complete today's update are from Derek Hayward, who has just completed a major overhaul of his Bluebell Railway People galleries:
Derek says that having typed about 325 captions there will inevitably be some mistakes, some please tell him of any you find. Similarly, if you feature in a picture and prefer not to be there, please let him know.
- We regret due to the weather conditions and frozen points, services on Sunday 20 January are suspended. Please check the Snow update page for an update on services next weekend.
- On Sunday 20 January a revised train service will operate, departing Sheffield Park at 11am and 2pm. Passengers are advised to start and finish their journey at Sheffield Park station to avoid problems on local roads in the Horsted Keynes and Kingscote areas. Please check the Snow update page for any subsequent updates tomorrow, before travelling to the Railway.
- This photo, taken today by Martin Lawrence, shows Sheffield Park Station House in the snow. It is from an album which also shows Birch Grove waiting for permission to pass through the tunnel, since an inspection is required in icy weather, as seen in the photo below. You will see from Martin's video that the train did indeed get the all clear to proceed to Kingscote.
Photos from Keith Duke taken today at the Railway.
- Video compilation in honour of the 150th anniversary of the Metropolitan Railway from Barry Coward.
- A great
video from John Harwood, from last Sunday morning at Kensington Olympia, shows our carriages to particularly good effect. John also has a video showing work on the extension, including on the water tower at East Grinstead, from Thursday.
- Photos of a snowy cutting today, from John Sandys, including one below, taken from the north end of the cutting looking southwards.
18 January - Please check the Snow update page before travelling to the Bluebell this weekend
- So to a small portion of the reports available on the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Metropolitan Railway, which saw steam-hauled passenger trains returning to the Edgware Road-Moorgate section of the line for the first time since 1907! Some services started from Kensington Olympia, running via Earl's Court and High Street Kensington, before gaining the original route at Edgware Road.
- The first two photos are from the test run on the night of 9th/10th January, when we left Earl's Court at 1.30am, for a slow run to Moorgate, with frequent stops to check the loco and stock. After taking water from two 1000 litre tanks, the steam heat could finally be applied, and Sarah Siddons hauled the return journey. The first photo shows some of our carriages, being admired by participants in the test run, at Edgware Road station, and the second shows the train about to depart from Earl's Court after disembarkation at 4.20am!
- The next two photos show the empty stock being drawn into Kensington Olympia on the Sunday morning, and the crowd of VIPs ready to board the train there.
- The final photo from Conor O'Connor showing our composite coach 412 passing through Baker Street Station on the Sunday evening.
- Please keep your eyes on the Snow update page on the bluebell-railway.com site.
Currently we are reporting: On Saturday 19 January we hope to operate our train services as planned, with steam trains departing from Sheffield Park at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.
Passengers are advised to start and finish their journey at Sheffield Park station to avoid problems on local roads in the Horsted Keynes and Kingscote areas.
- John Sandys' photo shows the Dukedog in the snow at Sheffield Park today.
This is from John's gallery of photos taken at Sheffield Park today.
Martin Lawrence also has photos of the snow at Sheffield Park, and
- 150 years ago today the world's first underground railway was opened, between Paddington to Farringdon, by the Metropolitan Railway Company. Rowan Millard's photo shows the Bluebell's four 1898/1900-built carriages, built to run behind steam locomotives and which were used initially on this very section of the Metropolitan Railway. They are seen at LUL's Depot in preparation for their runs behind steam on that same section of track over the next two Sundays, as part of the Tube150 celebrations.
There are still a very few tickets available for the trains.
- Below are three of John Sandys' photos showing lots of activity on the extension yesterday. Track laying is seen underway, with ballast arriving by train from our railhead at West Hoathly. The last section of the east side of the cutting face is being completed, with material brought over, which had been temporarily stored on the West side. At the south end of the West side, the two layers of material which are being used to cap off the remaining waste are being installed; the second layer is a woven fabric, to promote the growth of grasses on the embankment side. John's gallery of photos from yesterday (now with the correct link) provides more photos of the work in progress, and also this video.
- Cameron Smith's photo shows the E4 taking water from the tanker at Kingscote yesterday. The photo also shows the new loop platform up starting signal (the white cross indicates that it has yet to be brought into service), and in the siding beyond the loading gauge, erected as part of the Kingscote Goods Yard Project - whilst this would ideally be in the up yard, there is insufficient space for it to be positioned in an operationally sensible location there.
- Update on work on the East Grinstead Extension - progress is such that, whilst we cannot yet confirm a March opening date for the extension, neither can it be ruled out. It all depends on the weather over the next few weeks.
- Below are two of John Sandys' photos from the extension. The first shows that the signalling is very nearly completed for the extension, with power now being applied to the Down Home Repeater (and the down home nearer to Kingscote as well). The second, from Saturday, shows work in progress just north if Imberhorne Lane Bridge, on the western side of the cutting, where drainage is being provided to stabilise the top of the earthworks. Further into the cutting, the final profile of the cutting wall is being created, and the curve of the cutting edge set to the final geometry. John provides galleries of photos from Thursday (and also a video), from Saturday, and from today (showing the resumption of track laying).
- Bluebell Retro Posters, such as that seen below, are now available to order
on-line from Amazon. Each poster sold generates a £5 donation to Northern Extension Project funding. Many thanks to Michael Hopps for taking the initiative to produce these - they also now adorn the Bessemer Arms, and have provided an attractive range of products being sold in our Shop.
- Nathan Gibson provides the next photo below, showing the second of the four Met coaches, No.412, being loaded for transporting to London on Friday afternoon. Nathan has a set of photos from Friday, which are worth a look!
- We now have an entry on the Tube150 Partners page.
- Steve Lee's photos from Saturday show the last two Met coaches on Allely's low loaders, and Birch Grove with its train at Sheffield Park.
- Steve Lee's photo from New Year's day shows the 9F and the water crane, and that below, the H-class entering Horsted Keynes with the Edwardian set.
- Martin Lawrence provides a video of the 9F at Rock cutting and a small gallery of photos from 23rd December to 3rd January, which includes the photo below showing two of our four Metropolitan Railway carriages yesterday, ready to be shipped to London this weekend, to be prepared for operation as part of the Tube150 celebrations when they will be steam hauled between Kensington Olympia and Moorgate on the following two Sundays.
- Video compilation from Gary and Philip Bull, filmed on the Bluebell over the last 2 years: It's Full Steam Ahead!
- Update to the Volunteer Recruitment Find Out More Days page, with dates for behind the scenes tours of the Railway in 2013 - the first Sunday each month from February to November.
- Update to the Football Competition page, with the latest positions in this competition raising funds for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.
1 January 2013
- Happy New Year - 2013 is the year the Bluebell Railway will arrive in East Grinstead!
- Paul Pettitt provides two photos from today, that on the right showing the H-class No.263 climbing Freshfield Bank with the 12-noon train from Sheffield Park, and one below shows 9F No.92212 on Freshfield curve with the 1pm train.
- Daniel Green provides this video shot today.
- John Sandys' photos from today, covering East Grinstead, Kingscote, and Horsted Keynes, including the carriage works, as well as the 9F and H-class locos on the trains.
- Tim Gregson's photos from a visit on Sunday. It was not the best weather for photography, but they still capture the atmosphere.
- An updated Loco Roster indicates plans for loco usage for January. The Engineering trains shown are to transport ballast to support track laying on the Northern Extension towards East Grinstead.
- Steve Lee's two photos below show the 9F leaving Horsted Keynes today, and the H-class at Sheffield Park.
- During December 2012 there were 85,901 total hits on this page, from 48,578 unique visitors.
The Current What's New page, the what was new archive, the 2016, the 2015 and the 2014 archives contain
all the recent update information.
Also see the 2012, the 2011, the 2010, the 2009, the 2008, the 2007, the 2006, the 2005, the 2004, the 2003, the 2002, the 2001, the 2000, the 1999 and the 1997-8 "What was new" archive pages.
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