Bluebell Railway Blog:
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Blog and Web-site Update Archive 2017
- Martin Lawrence's photo on the right shows a group of the walkers at the end of their 11-mile Track Trek from East Grinstead, on arrival at Sheffield Park on Saturday.
The 210 walkers were led at a brisk pace by East Grinstead Town Mayor, Councillor Julie Mockford, accompanied by Bluebell Railway plc Chairman, Dick Fearn. The first arrivals at Sheffield Park were at around 12.45 and the last at 4.15.
Many thanks to those participating, raising over £13,000 in sponsorship monies towards the Tr(ack)Action Appeal, to support the cost of relaying sections of the track between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes. The walkers were given a first hand opportunity to see where their money was being spent as they passed Poleay Bridge as track renewal works were taking place following the works to the bridge itself. It was the track closure for this work which enabled the event to occupy the trackbed, since no trains were able to run that day.
A team of 52 volunteers, under the leadership of James Young, helped with setting up and managing the event, including 42 who acted as track-side marshalls.
The BRPS Chairman's Sponsorship Page is still open, should you wish to contribute to the event.
- Great video from John Harwood showing what's been going on at Kingscote during the last couple of weeks. With the repairs and reglazing of the canopy complete, the scaffolding is down. Slewing of the track in the sidings and a shunt has released Bulleid carriage 1481, which will be stored in the new shed at Horsted Keynes. Fascinating insight into the casting of new concrete gradient posts. The SECR dancehall brake van is being repainted.
- We are running steam trains to our Service One timetable this coming weekend (25-26 November), and again, after our Santa season, daily 26-31 December.
The following dates for 2018 are currently advertised on the Event Calendar:
- 1 January 2018 - Service 1 (No services 2 Jan - 9 Feb dues to track relaying)
- 2018 is the 60th anniversary of the (second) line closure, the start of two years of 60th Anniversary events. To start this off, we are replicating the "Sulky Service" on
10-18, 24-25 February, 3-4, 10-11 and 17-18 March. This is a four-train service with timings closely following those of the 1958 pre-closure timetable. Since we run trains more slowly, it works well with the Sheffield Park departure times approximating those originally from Lewes. The event culminates over the closure weekend of 17-18 March.
- 23-25 March - Diesel Gala
- Steam-hauled services run daily between 30 March and 30 September
- 18-20 May - Branch Line Gala
- 11-12 August - Steam through the Ages
- 12-14 October - Autumn Gala
- 29-31 October - Halloween
- Dates are now available for our Full Steam Ahead Driving Experience days with 'Camelot' in March, July & September 2018
- Update with the positions in the Football Competition as of 20 November. This is a fund-raiser for the forthcoming overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.
- Martin Lawrence's photo, below, shows the H-class having just been shunted by the O1, in preparation for its transfer on Thursday by road to the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition.
Martin has now added further photos the recently out-shopped H, the 9F club at work, some training turns, the signal post which will form part of the hands-on signalling feature in the Museum's Withyham signal box, and other photos from the Track Trek to his November gallery. He also has a video which includes clips from the mega-shunt at Horsted Keyens in preparation for filling the OP4 shed.
- Bruce Healey's photo, taken last Wednesday, shows the first pre-cast concrete block already in place, and the smaller block which is located under the walkway being lowered into place. Beneath the square holes there are 4 metre deep concreted piles. Old rail has been used as reinforcing. The piles and blocks stabilise the end of the embankment.
- Camelot powering up Freshfield Bank; another photo from Chris Rose taken on 29 October.
- A reminder that we're next running trains on the weekend of 25-26 November.
- Good luck to everyone taking part in our Track Trek sponsored walk, tomorrow, raising money for our Tr(ack) Action Appeal.
A couple more walkers have created on-line sponsorship pages on BT MyDonate:
Pleased to say that the weather forecast looks better than it was last year, particularly in the morning! It will however be cold.
- The Tr(ack) Action Appeal itself has now reached over £100,000, but more donations are needed to get us to our £250,000 target, to fund the relaying of half a mile of track next January/February.
- The Bulleid Society's Latest News includes an update on the restoraton of Bulleid composite carriage 5768.
- Nick Dearden has a short video showing OP4 progress, filmed about a couple of weeks ago.
- Hornby's The Engine Shed Blog covers the fine detail of the repainting of our H-class by Heritage Painting before its forthcoming trip to Warley for next weekend.
Infrastructure Update: New tracks to OP4! - with thanks to Jon Goff.
The new headshunt and the points that lead off it towards the new shed have been completed. The pointwork, assembled alongside the Ardingly Spur, is now in the process of being moved over into its final position. The points were broken down into three main sections and the long rails taken off. These were then lifted onto the road railer trailers and slowly taken into the yard next to where they will be sited. The out of gauge load cleared the rain water down pipe at the corner of the carriage shed by only 3/4 inch!
Two of the three sections of the points are now approximately in the correct position as seen below. E-road will be temporally disconnected to allow connection to the running in road. The turnout path will curve round though the pile of soil/clay/masonry waste into the shed in line with G-road, which is the second road from the left in the shed. Work to clear the path needs to be done very soon so that we can get the track into the shed in time for its grand opening at the end of November.
More details on the Infrastructure News page.
These points are now in position and lined up although the crossover section is not yet in position. The new headshunt and engineering sidings are now in their final positions and awaiting ballast. Also the route into the new shed has been cleared ready to connect up for the head opening at the end of November.
New Headshunt and engineers' siding
Route to OP4 F-road
- An all-SECR train, with No.323, the three LCDR 4-wheelers and the SECR hundred-seater, just north of Town Place bridge on 29 October. This is the first of what we hope will be many photos from new contributor, Chris Rose.
- January & February 2018: Footplate Tasters - New for 2018 - The perfect Christmas gift?
- We can now reveal that our SECR H-class No.263 has received a full repaint (at the mid-point of its 10-year boiler certificate) at the hands of Heritage Painting. It will be taking centre stage as the highlight of the Hornby stand at the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition, 25-26 November.
- Next Saturday, 18 November, is our Track Trek sponsored walk, raising money for our Tr(ack) Action Appeal.
To participate, see details here.
To support one of the walkers, the following have on-line sponsorship pages on BT MyDonate:
The Tr(ack) Action Appeal itself has got off to a great start, with £91,000 raised so far, but more donations are needed to get us to our £250,000 target, to fund the relaying of half a mile of track next January/February.
- Brian Lacey's photo below shows the Q-class freshly returned to service after a major valve and piston overhaul, on the 1.15pm train from Sheffield Park, arriving at Horsted Keynes on Saturday 4 November.
- Martin Lawrence has completed his October photo gallery, including a photo of the two scaled-down Deltics at Sheffield Park, and his Deltic Gala video. His photos below are from his November album. The first shows the levelled site next to Atlantic House where 84030 will be positioned (under cover) to enable work on the loco continue throughout the year. Please note that this is an area of the loco yard which is only accessible on the occasional days when Atlantic House is open to the public. The second, taken yesterday, is an unfamiliar view, with the stock shunted out of the long siding behind the signal box, whilst the stored stock is re-arranged into an order which will facilitate placing carriages in the new storage shed at Horsted Keynes.
- 73082 'Camelot' on arrival at Horsted Keynes with the 11:10 service from Sheffield Park on Saturday - photo thanks to Brian Lacey.
- During the coming month trains run to our Service One timetable, on 4, 5, 25, 26 November only. The line is closed for work on Poleay Bridge (just north of Sheffield Park), and some track relaying, between 6 and 24 November.
- There are still some tickets available for Thursday 2 November, 7.15pm: An Evening with Nicholas Owen. The talk will cover his life as a journalist, author and keen supporter of The Bluebell Railway. Further details here.
- On Thursday 21 December we are running Reindeer Special Trains from East Grinstead. As with all our Christmas seasonal special trains, pre-booking is necessary.
- Also on Thursday 21 Dececember we have our Victorian Christmas Trains from Sheffield Park. The two trains initially advertised have sold out, and a third train has been added, at 11am, and there are only a very few seats left on this too!
- Two updates on the Project 27 Blogspot which documents the restoration of SECR P-class No.27. The first covers the arrival of the frame components and work on the associated angle sections. The second outlines forthcoming activities, and an opportunity for anyone interested to get involved in the work.
In addition, some of the items sold in aid of Project 27 are now available via Harrison Brown Models' online shop.
- Update on the Bulleid Society web site with some pictures John Fry took of the new inner fireboxes for 21C123 and 34059 on his last trip to South Devon Railway (Engineering).
- Our Locomotive Works is looking for volunteers, both skilled and un-skilled.
- During October 2017 there were 46,260 total hits on this page, from 27,025 unique visitors.
- Brian Lacey's photo below shows the SECR O1 at Horsted Keynes with the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train on Saturday. Julian Heinemann's photo shows the Camelot Locomotive Society's CCT van on Sunday, stripped to a skeleton (the roof timbers have already been stripped, repaired and replaced, and work is progressing on the repair or replacement of doors) and the steel structure part way through being grit-blasted using our new water-based grit blaster.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows SECR P-class No.323 'Bluebell' with its vintage train, forming one of the two services running for half term. Service Two timetable continues this weekend, and then the only public timetabled services before the Santa Season are on 4-5 and 25-26 November (Service One) - Timetables available here.
- 20 Years ago...
27 October 1997: Virtually the whole of this site is new, much expanded from the Bluebell's pages formerly hosted on the Heritage Railway Association web pages.
Thus read the entry 20 years ago on this very page (the entry is still available at the bottom of the 1997-8 archive page). With the term "weblog" not being coined until 17 December 1997, and "Blog" itself another two years later, this is believed to be one of the longest-running continuously-maintained such pages in the history of the Internet.
- BRPS Chairman Graham Aitken is taking part in the Track Trek - why not sponsor him, or if you feel more energetic, take part yourself on 18 November.
- Keith Duke's Photos from Tuesday when 'Camelot' and 'Bluebell' were hauling the services.
- Brian Lacey's photo below shows 73082 'Camelot' exiting the tunnel on Wednesday.
- Peter Edwards' photo shows S15 No.847 with the Wealden Rambler last Saturday.
- Fred Bailey has provided another News update on the Brighton Atlantic project.
On the right we have a view of the chassis with the smokebox door and its surround sitting on the smokebox saddle. Its true position is about a foot nearer the front of the engine, so that the Westinghouse pump will actually be under the smokebox, but with a shortage of space in the shed, this seemed a good place to store the completed door assembly.
The component sponsorship list for the project has also been updated.
- Over Easter 2017 the famous steam locomotive 'Flying Scotsman' visited the Bluebell Railway.
This promotional trailer provides a taster for the official video, with narration and interviews by Nicholas Owen, covering the excitement of those who rode behind it, the hard work of 750 Bluebell volunteers and staff who made the event happen, as well as our own exclusive drone footage of the visit, its historic reunion with 'Typhoon', and the history of the locomotive.
The full 50-minute DVD is now available to purchase for just £9.99 from the Bluebell Railway's own shop, and can also be ordered online.
To launch the video we have a special "Evening with Nicholas Owen" on 2 November, for which tickets are now on sale.
- Matt Holloway was on hand to capture the unloading of the newly cut frame plates for SECR P-class No.27, delivered from Tata Steel on Tuesday, as seen in the photo below.
- No.847 is seen yesterday on an Autumn Tints service at West Hoathly (photo thanks to Brian Lacey). Although, as the very last S15 built as part of the final batch of the design, it always ran with smoke deflectors, earlier examples of the class ran without then at first. Having been removed for filming work last week, it's understood it may remain in this condition for a couple of months. Today is the final day of the Autumn Tints services.
- We are running a daily 2-train service (Service 2 timetable) starting on Saturday, for Half Term. Our Kids for a Quid Offer is available each day from Monday 23 to Sunday 29, excepting Friday.
- An additional date (Friday 1 December) has been added for the Christmas Festive Feast trains since the ones previously advertised have effectively sold out.
These trains provide a steam train ride from East Grinstead plus Christmas Lunch at Sheffield Park.
- All the compartments for the Victorian Christmas Trains running on Thurdays 21 Dec from Sheffield Park have now been booked. If people who have booked a third class compartment wish to increase the size of their party (up to a maximum of 8 people per compartment) they can do so by phoning 01825 720800. Please also phone to enquire about wheelchair access, which is available on this service.
- Thursday 2 November, 7.15pm at Sheffield Park: An Evening with Nicholas Owen - Nicholas Owen will be interviewed about his life as a journalist, author and keen supporter of The Bluebell Railway - limited places: booking essential. Our new official "Flying Scotsman Flying South" DVD, covering the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' to the Bluebell, will be on sale, and Nicholas will be autographing copies.
- 4, 5, 11, 12 December: Santa for Schools - a very special train for all our younger visitors from local schools and nurseries, from Sheffield Park
- John Sandys' photos from 15 and 17 October.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the S15, currently running without smoke deflectors, at East Grinstead on 14 October. His two photos below, the same day, show 65 with the Wealden Rambler at Horsted Keynes the same day, and 323 with some of the Victorian carriages entering Horsted.
- Special Half-term Offer: Kids for a Quid - 23-26 and 28-29 October.
- Thurs 26 & Fri 27 Oct: Hallowe'en Scream Train - a daytime train for kids (Friday), and evening train for adults and accompanied teenagers (Thursday and Friday). These events are being run in association with Fun Fear and Claire White Studios. Full details, including online ticket purchase, here.
- Those of you who have travelled on the Bluebell Railway recently will have noticed there are sections of the line where the journey is a little uneven. This is due to track wear. The Railway wishes to accelerate its programme of track renewal; thus we have launched the Tr(ack) Action Appeal to raise funds to do so. In addition to improving passenger comfort the renewed track will reduce maintenance costs on locomotives and carriages.
Please do donate to our Tr(ack) Action Appeal now if you are able to. You can read more details about the Appeal here, and there's a superb video available here.
- An Infrastructure News update with thanks to Jon Goff shows the preparation of reinforced concrete blocks for stabilisation of the embankments around Poleay Bridge, which will be November's main civil engineering activity.
- On Monday a group from Project 27 and the Fenchurch Fund went to Tata Steel and Premier Patterns to see the progress on the work on the new frames and cylinders. They had a grand day out and came away buzzing from the realisation that we are well on the way to seeing Southern Railway P-class No.A27 working again! Clive has added a picture blog to the Project 27 BlogSpot.
Another blog entry from a few days ago shows the progress with stripping the old frames and removal of the whitemetal from the axleboxes.
The Deltic Preservation Society 40th Anniversary Gala took place at the Bluebell Railway 6-8 October 2017.
- There were lots of photos and videos appearing each day, and over the following week, on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.
- Derek Hayward has added 22 images to his Deltic gallery (which also covers their earlier visit).
- Nick Dearden's video
- Sunday afternoon, from Ashley Smith - a short video and some photos.
- Andrew Crampton's photos below show the 09 approaching Holywell with a brakevan ride (taken with the permission of the farmer), and D9002 'The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry' just south of Horsted Keynes.
- Then we have Mike Anton's in-cab view from D9009 'Alycidon', and the same loco, from Julian Clark, as it blasts away from Horsted Keynes with Friday's 12 coach train (plus No.19 on the rear).
- Finally two more from Julian Clark, showing the special photographic line-up at Horsted on the Friday, and the token exchange at Kingscote, as 55019 'Royal Highland Fusilier' arrives with the 3pm service from East Grinstead.
- Stop Press: Due to filming taking place the Railway will be entirely closed to the public for the day on 11 October.
No trains were scheduled to run that day in any case.
- The Deltics have arrived: Video of the convoy en-route.
D9009, 55019 and D9002 are visiting us for the Deltic Preservation Society's 40th Anniversary Gala which starts on Friday, and continues all weekend.
- There are only a few spaces available on the Brake Van Rides during the Gala - book now so you don't miss out. £15 per person to ride the length of the line behind our 09, D4106, and also includes a bacon butty! Call 01825 720800 - office hours.
- Martin Lawrence was on duty at East Grinstead today and his photos of their arrival are below.
- Huw Lloyd has been visiting us from Canada to work in the C&W department for a few weeks, and provides this photo taken yesterday, showing the S15 departing from Horsted Keynes with the Autumn Tints service, whilst the 09 shunts stock to form up the three carriage sets required for the Deltic Preservation Society 40th Anniversary Gala, which starts on Friday.
- John Sandys' photos from Sunday, including the vintage buses, our trains, and a look at the stock in the Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes, which has extended opening hours (9am to 5pm each day, except closing at 4pm on Sunday) over all three days of the Deltic Gala. The shop currently has large stocks of previously-owned railway & transport books, photographs, models railways, vintage magazines and other collectables.
- An additional Fish and Chips Supper Special has been added on Friday 20 October. Board the 6:30pm supper train from Sheffield Park Station and enjoy a delicious fish & Chips supper. Tickets cost £30 per person (includes dessert and tea/coffee). To book please call the customer service team on 01825 720800.
- Advance notice: our Annual Carol Service will take place on Saturday 2 December. Further details awaited.
- Peter Churchman's photos below, taken during the Bus Running Day on Sunday, feature in particular Eastbourne Corporation No.42, the last surviving bus with a body by Bruce of Cardiff, on an AEC Regent III chassis, built in 1951.
- Peter Edwards' photo shows No.65 approaching Town House Bridge with a Wedding Charter at around 1pm on Saturday.
- To connect with the Deltic Gala, we have a Free Preserved Bus Service running from Brighton and Lewes to Sheffield Park on Sunday 8 October. You can download the Service 20 Bus timetable and details here.
- Another additional attraction at the Deltic Gala is a talk entitled "Trial Trips and Deltic performance on the ECML" given by BRPS President Gordon Pettitt. As a manager on the Eastern Region of British Railways when the Deltics were introduced, Gordon is able to give a first-hand insight into their performance in the early days. The talk, lasting about half an hour, will take place in the Birch Grove Suite above the Bessemer Arms Restaurant at Sheffield Park, starting at 2.15pm on Saturday 7 October.
- Tickets are now on sale for the Victorian Christmas Trains from Sheffield Park which run on Thursday 21 December.
- First class tickets can now be booked online for the Santa Specials. Third Class tickets have been on sale for some time, and some trains are already sold out! This year there are departures (each day of the Santa Specials) from East Grinstead as well as from Sheffield Park.
- During September 2017 there were 42,510 total hits on this page, from 24,950 unique visitors.
- Brian Lacey's photos below show the S15 at West Hoathley today with one of the Autumn Tints services, which run on certain weekdays through October, and which use both the Observtion Car, giving a all-round view, and the Lounge Car set, offering a range of on-train refreshment options. Pre-booking is recommended for the Observation Car, and essential for the catering options.
His other photos cover some maintenance work currently taking place in the Locomotive Works, where the SECR H-class, whilst awaiting the fitting of replacement springs, is receiving a partial repaint, and the SR Q-class is receiving a scheduled Valve and Piston overhaul; its valves and one piston can be seen receiving attention in the foreground of these photos.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows S15 No.847 as it brings its train (the 1.15 from Sheffield Park) into East Grinstead yesterday.
- Derek Hayward's "Steam Through the Ages" gallery is now fully uploaded, with 150 images available to view, covering both days.
- Martin Lawrence has added more photos to his September gallery.
- John Sandys has some photos from Tuesday (26 September).
- We've a lot coming up in the next month!
- Memorial for our late member, Stuart Burrell.
On Sunday 17th September members of the Burrell family visited the Memorial Garden at Horsted Keynes to unveil a memorial to Stuart who passed away last year.
The family were welcomed by Graham Aitken, Chris Saunders & Ben Coughlan on behalf of the railway.
Following the ceremony, the family, in accordance with Stuart's wishes, very generously presented the railway with the original BR smokebox number plate for No.30928 'Stowe', the Schools-class locomotive based on the Bluebell.
The presentation also included some documentation which included British Railways' maintenance record card for 'Stowe', an invaluable artefact that sheds light on an important part of 928's history.
The number plate will be attached to 'Stowe' when it carries its BR livery.
The photos below show the memorial block, and three generations of the Burrell family (including his widow, Gail) with Ben, who accepted the smokebox plate on behalf of the railway.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the S15 at 1940s' Horsted Keynes on Saturday as part of our very popular "Steam Through the Ages" event. His photo below shows one of two bomb disposal units present, and a further photo at the bottom of today's entry shows the O1, representing the Victorian period (four of our Victorian carriages were also in its train).
- Some versions of the SECR P-class OO-gauge model which Hattons have announced are available for pre-order through the Bluebell Railway Shop. These are:
- 178 in full SECR lined livery with brass dome
- 31027 BR Black Early Emblem
- 31323 BR Black Late Emblem
- 'Pioneer II' in Bowater's Paper Mill Green
- 27 'Primrose' Bluebell Railway Lined Black
- 323 'Bluebell' Railway Blue livery circa 2010
- The bus timetables for Sunday 1 October's Bus Running Day are now available to download in a more complete form. Trains run to our normal Service 2 timetable.
- Santa Specials: Appeal for more Volunteers.
This invitation is open to all BRPS Members, particularly those who have considered becoming a volunteer before but haven't got round to it, as well as volunteers from other departments who would like to try something different for a change.
The role of the stewards is to serve refreshments and look after our visitors during the train journey to and from Horsted Keynes whilst being a friendly face of the Bluebell Railway. Once our visitors have arrived at Horsted Keynes, we will need further volunteers to help with the attractions provided there.
Since we are expanding the operation this year, we are holding a Recruitment Drive on 14 and 15 October, and invite you to Sheffield Park station between 11am and 3pm to meet Julia Pique, Roger Sanderson and Graham Aitken, who will be on Platform 1 outside the shop to answer any questions you may have and hopefully welcome you as a Santa Volunteer. Alternatively please email Julia.
- Talking of the Santa Specials, whilst Third Class tickets have been available online for some time, First Class tickets go on sale on Monday 2 October.
- Nice video compilation of 323 'Bluebell' at the Severn Valley Railway from their gala last weekend, provided by Lee Andrew Davies.
- Roger Carpenter also provides some great photos of 323 at the event, from Saturday.
- Derek Hayward has posted 65 photos from Steam Through the Ages, mostly from Horsted Keynes with its 1940s wartime theme.
- Following the resignation of Tom Waghorn as a BRPS Trustee, Sheina Foulkes has been co-opted onto the committee until the next AGM. A full list of Society and plc officials is available on the Who's Who page.
- John Sandys took a few photos during a quick visit to Sheffield Park last Thursday, 21 September, including that below, showing the O1 in the yard alongside the frames of 'Stowe' which were lifted from its wheels a few weeks ago and now sits on the accommodation bogies in the loco yard. This is a significant milestone for the project and releases a huge amount of work on the frames, while also allowing the driving wheels to be sent away for tyre turning and attention to the journals. The front bogie is stripped into its component parts and is now undergoing cleaning and repair before reassembly. Offsite work on the boiler continues, with the specialist welding of the caulking grooves and assembly of the doorplate and tubeplate to the inner firebox crown sheet.
John also took a photo of the newly arrived Bachmann SECR Birdcage Set, available from our shop, in BR red livery.
- Julian Heinemann's photos below from 9 September show the recent focus of work on the Camelot Society's CCT van currently being overhauled in the C&W department. The large north-end doors have been rebuilt; these were in relatively good condition, requiring repairs to many of the planks but just one new plank across the bottom of each door. Those at the south end seem to have received the brunt of the weather, and whilst many of the inner layer of planks can be re-used, a complete set of new external planks will be required, the timber (utile) for which is on order.
The bottom of each end opening consists of a substantial timber which forms a flap which lowers onto the buffers. That for the north end has been repaired, but at the south end, a section has been renewed, as seen in Julian Heinemann's second photo.
Robert Hayward supplies the two photos below: P-class No.323 'Bluebell' is currently visiting the Severn Valley Railway for their Autumn Gala. It is first seen on its low-loader on Monday morning ready to leave Sheffield Park, and secondly being warmed though this morning at Bewdley, since it's not running until tomorrow.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the S15 on Saturday with the special Harvey's Halt launch train.
- A reminder that on Sunday 1 October we have our Vintage Bus Day - with free vintage buses running on routes from both Sheffield Park and East Grinstead stations. The bus timetables are now available to download.
- First Class tickets for our Santa Specials go on sale on 2 October. Third-class tickets for these family Christmas Trains are already on sale online. This year we have far more of these trains starting from East Grinstead, and all visitors now have the opportunity to visit Santa's Reindeer, which will be at Horsted Keynes station, as well as a new Special 'Elf House' for our younger visitors.
- Julian Heinemann's photo from the previous Saturday shows 73082 'Camelot' having just shunted the SR Queen Mary Brake Van onto the back of the train at Kingscote, prior to running round to take the train back south.
- Brian Lacey's photo below shows the O1 with the vintage coaches at East Grinstead, also on Saturday.
- Last weekend No.73082 'Camelot' hauled a goods train in the morning, as seen in this photo by Peter Edwards.
- An update on the Project 27 BlogSpot covering eccentrics, frames and cylinders.
- New pictures, taken by John Fry, of the overhaul of Bulleid coach No.5768 have been uploaded to the Bulleid Society's web site.
- We are holding a Macmillan Charity Coffee Morning on Friday 29 September. Bring along your cakes and a donation of £10 and we will provide a cup of tea or coffee on board the special train, which leaves Sheffield Park Station at 11:15am. Your donated cakes will be sold on the train for this good cause. Booking is essential; to book please call 01825 720800.
- John Harwood's video from earlier in the week, with the S15 on the viaduct, work taking place tracklaying in the new shed at Horsted Keynes, and 'Camelot' with a footplate experience course.
- Recent photos: Martin Lawrence has completed his August gallery and started September's.
John Sandys provides albums from 11-12 September, Thursday
7 September and 24 August.
- Brian Lacey's photo below, from last Saturday, shows O1-class No.65 with the Victorian 4-wheelers and the Observation Car, which is currently forming the vintage set at weekends.
- The second photo below (thanks to Stuart Pay) from Thursday shows Maunsell droplight open third No.1336, which has been in the paintshop and received two coats of paint on its roof, and currently a much-needed touch-up and revarnish on the sides.
- Join us for Track Trek 2017 on Saturday 18 November - A sponsored walk over the entire length of the line, taking advantage of a weekend when we have no trains running due to track maintenance work. A bus will be provided to ferry participants to or from the start/end points before and after the trek. Registration details available here.
- Details of a few additional events over the coming weeks:
- Lots of progress on the OP4 shed at Horsted Keynes over the last month is reported in several Infrastructure News updates, thanks to Jon Goff and Bruce Healey. See also photos below
- Update to the page for our Gangwayed Bogie Luggage Van No.2462, adding a new photo.
- We regret to report that Camelot's planned visit to the West Somerset Railway has sadly been cancelled/postponed.
- Following the appointment of some new directors at the recent plc AGM, there's an update to the Who's Who page
- During August 2017 there were 43,707 total hits on this page, from 26,037 unique visitors.
The almost completed tramroad in the maintenance area of the new shed
Tracklaying in progress in H-road, with F & G-roads almost complete
Bluebell Railway Cricket Match and Barbecue: Saturday 2nd September 2017
We are pleased to announce that the annual Bluebell Railway Cricket match against Scaynes Hill CC will be played on Saturday 2nd September. The team will be captained by Stuart Marks, our Locomotive Superintendent.
This match will take place at Scaynes Hill's beautifully-set new ground at Freshfields, adjacent to to the Railway's Freshfield Bank.
We still require players, and call on anyone with any cricket ability (or their relation) and a connection of any sort to the Bluebell to contact me by email - j.walls1(at)btinternet.com
This has been a great day out over the last two years, and is followed by a barbecue at the Scaynes Hill club house. There is also food and drink on the day, and we may also organise a barbecue during the day for those that can't stay for the evening. We are keen that this event develops into a Bluebell social occasion. If you are interested in attending please let me know at the above email address. Good parking is available at the ground.
We look forward to seeing you!
John Walls (Editor of Bluebell eNewsletter and wicketkeeper)
- The SECR O1, No.65, has been back in action this last week, and was caught by Brian Lacey as it rounded the curve past the C&W works on the approach to Horsted Keynes with the 12.15 service from Sheffield Park on Wednesday.
- Our 1877-built 'Captain Baxter' is hauling Vintage Goods Trains tomorrow, Saturday 19 August, to this timetable.
Our public Passenger trains run to our Service Two timetable.
It's also our Seaside Weekend, so there are lots of extra activities for kids, in the paddock at Horsted Keynes.
- VehicularBrit's new video showing the visiting 34092 'City of Wells' on a trip on our line.
- The 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society has posted a photo of 'Camelot' at Eastleigh in August 1961. Taken by Mike Peart, No.73082 was probably on a passenger working from Bournemouth West to Waterloo.
- Martin Lawrence has completed his gallery for July, featuring No.30541 on a goods train, the visiting No.34092, the return of No.65, and much more.
- Derek Hayward has added 30 images to his Bluebell 2017 collection.
- Derek Hayward's photo shows SECR H-class No.263 at Deans Crossing on 6 August.
- This coming weekend is our special Seaside Weekend, with lots of additional attractions, including a sandy beach and the Bluebell Railway Band providing music.
- We have raised over £22,000 through EasyFundraising. Many thanks to those people who already support us in this way. If you don't yet, please do sign up to support us when you shop online - it costs you nothing!
- Report and photos showing the repairs to the north end doors of the Camelot Locomotive Society's CCT van.
- John Sandys' photos from yesterday, with the O1 and S15 on the trains. Our two-train Service Two timetable continues daily.
- More details now available for our Steam Through the Ages event over the weekend of 23-24 September. This new event will bring different eras of history to life with a different period recreated at each station.
- Infrastructure update for 14 August - OP4 with thanks to Jon Goff.
Following excavation and levelling last week, work on the tramway being installed adjacent to the maintenance road in OP4 moved on today with the laying out of the track. It was also coupled up and straightened out. The first picture below shows a lot of jacks in place to bring it up to the correct height and to get it level.
The remainder of this week will be spent getting it exactly level and packing under the sleepers so that the jacks can be removed. A lot of shuttering has to be made up to produce a three inch flangeway inside the running edge, putting in drainage from the flangeway to the installed drainage system as any water used for cleaning will invariably end up in the flangeway. It will then all be concreted in. Notice the low blockwork wall to the right which will act as the east side shuttering and also form a good base for the curtain wall when it is installed.
The rails used came from the pile of second hand flat bottom short sections used for temporary short panels through the cutting when laying the extension. They are too short and in too poor a condition for use on our running line, but fine for track to accommodate bogies etc during maintenance. The sleepers (47 of them) are just about our entire stock of thin concrete sleepers, old and second hand and a good way of using up the odds and ends without spending money. As the rails were odd sizes that were going to be cut down (but didn't get cut) we ended up with a final length of 31.296 m or 102' 8". Hopefully the tramway will be useable next week.
Tram track in maintenance area
F and G roads in OP4
In the background of the tram-track photo are the North ends of F and G road within the shed. In the second photo the South ends of F road can be seen to need about 40' of track and G road about 50' to reach the end of the shed. Since the last report the rails in these two roads have been drilled and fish-plated up. It will probably be after the next track relaying on our main line before further track-laying happens in the shed. The aim however remains to get carriages under cover for this winter.
- Derek Hayward's photo shows the Q-class No.30541 to the north of Deans Crossing, with the lunchtime Pullman train. With the Wealden Rambler set under scheduled maintenance, the Mk.1 FO which currently usually also runs with the Pullmans was absent on this occasion.
- Update to the Locomotive Stock List, recording the operational status of the O1, and also to the page for Operational Locos.
- A short update to the Project 27 BlogSpot, outlining some of their activities over the last few weeks.
- Update to the web page for SR Passenger Luggage Van No.1184, with thanks to Martin Skrzetuszewski and Jon Elphick.
- Update to the Wagon Stock List, adding a list of wagons formerly on the Bluebell.
- Brian Lacey's first photo (right) from Saturday shows the re-built structure of the Sheffield Park Inner Home bracket signal, now complete with the refurbished signals, yet to be brought back into use, and shows well the temporary arrangement which has been in place at ground level whilst the work has been in undertaken, with colour lights for the main running signals and the calling-on signals for shunt moves.
His second photo, below, shows the H-class after its arrival at Platform one at Sheffield Park with the 1.15 service from East Grinstead, forming a nice cameo with 'Fenchurch' in the dock, a view that is not normally available if the Wealden Rambler stock is present in its siding on the right.
- Yesterday the first track was laid in the Horsted Keynes OP4 carriage shed. Using some of track recovered from Freshfield Bank in June, a start has been made on F and G roads. The panels are not yet drilled and fishplated and there is of course ballasting to be done for roads H and J. As we have not used all of the recovered track, more will be laid in OP4 this week.
Work on the points to connect to OP4 continues alongside the Ardingly spur although we are still awaiting delivery of some parts.
Two further photos, below, were taken earlier in the day by OP4 Project Manager Barry Luck.
- John Sandys has added some photos of work taking place in the Locomotive Works at Sheffield Park taken yesterday to his album from Monday.
- 'Captain Baxter' was on hand on Saturday to celebrate the official launch of the restored Elephant Van as our new Children's Play Carriage at Horsted Keynes. It will be open for public use as from Tuesday. The van, modified in British Railways' days to carry circus elephants, has been restored externally to BR condition and fitted out internally by our staff and volunteers with funding from Arts Council England's Resilience Fund.
'Captain Baxter', our 1877-built Fletcher Jennings 0-4-0T locomotive, after shunting the van into place for the ceremony, then gave brake van rides around the station under stormy skies as seen in Richard Salmon's second photo below.
- Keith Duke's pictures from Horsted Keynes on Saturday feature 'Captain Baxter' shunting the Elephant Van into position, and below, the assembled crowd awaiting the arrival of the van in the dock at Horsted Keynes.
See also a couple of photos of the ceremony from Martin Lawrence.
- John Sandys' photos from today including the departure of 'City of Wells' by low loader.
- Keith Duke's set from today.
- A few shots by Dave Bowles from Sunday morning featuring the H, S15 and the Q.
- Derek Hayward has updated his Bluebell 2017 collection with 40 images taken during July, including some previously unseen images of 34092 'City of Wells' and the launch of 65.
- The 2018 Golden Arrow Murder Mystery details and dates are now available.
- Brian Lacey had the chance to spend some time at West Hoathly on Tuesday. On the right we see the SECR H-class and Birdcage Brake on the 2.45pm service from Sheffield Park. Below we see one of our Wickham trolleys out on a maintenance job, and the S15 bursting out of the tunnel with the 1.30pm service.
- Throughout August we offer Summer Fun - Sports, Games, Falconry, Children's farm & Entertainment - see web page for details and dates.
Two steam engines will be hauling trains to our Service Two timetable daily.
Come to Kingscote Station on Thursdays and Fridays to meet some lovely animals waiting to see you in the Children's Farm next to the picnic area and the new Children's outdoor play area.
- The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes has recently donated £1,000 to our BR Standard Class 2 Tank Locomotive No.84030 project.
- Report courtesy of Andy Kelly on the boiler washout and other maintenance work being carried out on No.73082 'Camelot'.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for August.
- John Harwood's video from earlier in the week shows some of the Friends of Kingscote's current activities, the H-class and the S15 on the service trains, a bit of the work ongoing on the OP4 shed at Horsted Keynes, and the Wickham trolley.
- During July 2017 there were 45,310 total hits on this page, from 26,420 unique visitors.
- Derek Hayward's photo shows the SECR O1 No.65 near Medhurst Farm on the day it re-entered traffic, with three LCDR/SECR carriages behind the locomotive.
- A reminder that your last chance to ride behind No.34092 'City of Wells' during its visit to the Bluebell is this coming weekend, which is also our Toy & Rail Collectors' Fair. 'City of Wells' will be hauling the 11:10, 1:30 and 4pm departures from Sheffield Park (12:05, 2:30 and 5pm from East Grinstead).
- New link to Real Skills who offer Rail Training, Rail Apprentiships and Rail Assessments. Could be of interest to anyone considering turning their passion for railways into a career.
- Derek Hayward's photo below shows 'Camelot' North of Sloop Bridge with the goods train on 15 July.
- The S15, having received some maintenance work and passed its annual boiler exam, has been back in action this week, and is seen here in Brian Lacey's photo arriving at East Grinstead in the rain yesterday.
- Steve Lee's photo shows No.34092 'City of Wells' at Leamland Bridge with the 4pm service from Sheffield Park on Friday, the first day of our 'End of Southern Steam' event, Friday 7 July. This visiting locomotive runs for the final time on the Bluebell this coming weekend.
- This coming weekend is our Toy & Rail Collectors' Fair at Horsted Keynes - Railway Artefacts, Model Railway Equipment and many other goods to be found. Normal travel fares apply. Horsted Keynes station admission ticket £3.00 per person from 10.00am.
- Throughout August - Summer Fun - Sports, Games, Falconry, Children's farm & Entertainment - see web page for details and dates.
- 19-20 August: Seaside Weekend - all the fun of the seaside, complete with a sandy beach!
This year we have some exciting new displays and entertainers to bring some seaside magic. For lunch why not enjoy traditional Fish and Chips followed by an Ice Cream? Book at least 8 days in advance to get our Bluebell Bonus discount!
- Updates to the pages for Maunsell carriages 6575, 2356 and 1365, SECR 1098, LBSCR Directors' Saloon No.60 and LSWR/SR 320, with thanks to Martin Skrzetuszewski and Jon Elphick.
- Photos by Jon Horrocks taken on Sunday, featuring the O1, 'City of Wells' and the S15, as well as other locos around the loco yard and shed.
- Photos from John Sandys, taken on Thursday 20 and Tuesday 25 July.
- Photos below from Derek Hayward, taken on 15 July, show the crew of the O1, which entered service that day, and No.73082 'Camelot' approaching Kingscote with the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea Train.
- Peter Edwards' photo shows SECR O1 No.65 at Three Arch Bridge on the day it re-entered traffic after overhaul, Saturday 15 July, with the 5.15 service from Sheffield Park. The O1 has been performing excellently, and is due to run every day this week, as part of our holiday-time two-train service (Service Two Timetable).
- We are expanding our Education Department, and are looking for new Education Volunteers to join us.
- Our latest E-newsletter (corrected link) includes details of the four new Directors of the Railway (who all act in a volunteer capacity). They will be formally confirmed as board members at the plc AGM in August. They each bring an impressive amount of relevant experience to their respective roles.
- WARNING: Tuesday 25 July - the A275 will be closed between Sheffield Green and Sheffield Park all day for carriageway repairs.
- SR School's Class No.928 'Stowe' was lifted from its wheels in the works yesterday, following the re-wheeling of 80151's chassis last week. A huge amount of boiler work is in progress on both of these locomotives.
- We are pleased to be the winners of the Culture, Leisure & Tourism award in the Lewes District Business Awards - download Press Release (PDF).
- Great news from the project to overhaul our SECR P-class No.27, as the order is placed for new frames and cylinders! Donations are now urgently needed to enable these components to be completed as soon as possible.
- Keith Duke has some photos from this Saturday, and some from the previous Saturday.
- In spite of the weather, Saturday was a great day on the Bluebell, as testified by Reuben Grace's video.
- The two photos below show 'Camelot' at West Hoathly Station Site with Saturday 15th's goods train (Andrew Crampton) and 'City of Wells' yesterday (Brian Lacey).
The next goods trains run on 19 August (hauled by 'Captain Baxter') and 9 September (behind the S15).
'City of Wells' will run for the last time during its visit to the Bluebell each day next weekend, which is also our Toy & Rail Collectors' Fair.
- Ashley Smith's photo shows No.34092 'City of Wells' approaching New Road Bridge on Saturday 8 July during our 'End of Southern Steam' weekend. The visiting 'West Country' class pacific will be running on the Bluebell, hauling some of our steam trains, each weekend until the end of July.
- Ashley Smith's other photos, and this video cover the Friday and Saturday of the event, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the end of steam on the Southern Region.
- There will be a Goods Train running on Saturday morning (15 July), to this timetable.
- Our next Rail Ale Train, on 21 July, is now sold out, but tickets remain for the final one this year, on 22 September.
- Our Autumn Tints run on 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, 17, 18 & 19 October. This year these services use the Observation Car (£1 supplement) and our Lounge Cars. Pre-booking is recommended.
New for 2017: Autumn Tints in our Restaurant Car "At The Sign Of The White Horse" - enjoy a Bowl of Soup at lunchtime, or a Cream Tea, for which pre-booking is essential.
- This year you can choose to start your journey on our Santa Specials from either Sheffield Park or East Grinstead. They run on 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, 23 & 24 December, and initially 3rd-class tickets can be booked online, from 17 July. First Class tickets and phone booking will be available at a later date.
- From the End of Southern Steam event:
- "Tim's Video Channel" has some great coverage of our Model Railway Weekend.
- The two photos below show 'Camelot' at Horsted Keynes (Steve Lee, Friday) and
'Blackmoor Vale' and 'City of Wells' on shed (Mike Anton, Monday).
- Yesterday saw No.34092 'City of Wells' unloaded at Sheffield Park, as photographed by Tony Mallinson. The locomotive is visiting for our "End of Southern Steam" event, which starts on Friday 7th July. The timetable for the event is available via the PTI page.
- Details are now available for August's Summer Fun - Sports, Games, Falconry, Children's farm & Entertainment.
- Booking is now open for Christmas Dinner on the Golden Arrow Pullman train, on 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22 & 23 December.
- Next Friday's Fish & Chip evening supper train is sold out. Book early to join us on future dates: 3, 10, 17, 18, 25 & 31 August, 1 & 8 September.
- The recent newsletter from the Standard Class 2 No.84030 project has now been published on this web site.
This newsletter is sent to project supporters when produced, and only appears here a while after - if you would like to receive it when first published, why not Subscribe to it and support the project?
- From Project 27, covering the restoration of SECR P-class No.27.
- Full coverage of the Bluebell's Model Railway weekend from Derek Hayward, and these photos and video from Ashley Smith
- A huge album of photos from Carl Simmons, capturing the atmosphere around the railway on 29 June.
- John Sandys provides photos from Tuesday 27 June - quite a rainy day, which saw Camelot on the one train service very busy with coach parties, also some views of the new play ground at Kingscote and the 01 being prepared for service - and Thursday 29 June, a much drier day with more coach parties enjoying the line, the 09 shunting at Sheffield Park, further work on the 01, and work to install walkways in the Sheffield Park carriage shed.
- Update (with thanks to Jon Elphic) to the page for 09 shunter D4106, adding Martin Lawrence's photo of it newly repainted into its original livery.
- During June 2017 there were 44,307 total hits on this page, from 25,746 unique visitors.
- Brian Lacey's photos below show SECR P-class No.323 'Bluebell' arriving at Horsted Keyenes with the shuttle which provided additional services from Sheffield Park, topped and tailed with No.3 'Captain Baxter' over the Model Railway weekend, and No.65, the SER O1, in the yard at Sheffield Park where the last few things are being done to prepare the locomotive for test running.
- Filming was taking place at Horsted Keynes yesterday. No.263 was used with the stock in the photo below for filming purpose, running into and out of Horsted Keynes on numerous occasions.
Due to the filming, the service trains were all run through platform 2. This shot on the right shows the 1.15pm Sheffield Park to East Grinstead service with No.30541 running into Horsted Keynes. For filming purpose the station had been renamed 'Plymouth Causeway'. Both photos with thanks to Tony Sullivan.
- We regret that the Food and Crafts event, planned for the first weekend of July, has had to be cancelled. We apologise for any disappointment this may cause. We will still be open, running our normal steam trains, that weekend.
- We hope you're looking forward as much as we are to our annual Model Railway Weekend this coming weekend. The enhanced three-train timetable is available here.
- Phil Horscroft's photo shows H-class No.263 north of Horsted Keynes with the 10am service to East Grinstead on Saturday 17 June. Below Q-class No.30541 is seen leaving Horstead Keynes with a north-bound goods train in another of Phil's photos taken the same day.
- This coming weekend, 24-25 June is our Model Railway Weekend, featuring a fantastic array of model railways and trade stands in a large variety of scales running in our loco works at Sheffield Park, the carriage works at Horsted Keynes, and other locations at both stations. The basic timetable will be Service 2 , to which will be added a third public train.
- We are currently operating our Service 1 timetable Monday-Friday, and Service 2 at weekends. There is no need to pre-book, but there are 'Bluebell Bonus' discounts if you do book at least 8 days in advance (phone 01825 720800).
- We are advertising two volunteer positions as Competence Standards Managers. These posts could suit retired or partially retired trainers or assessors. More information here.
- Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday shows the Q-class with an unfitted goods train. At the head of the train are two wagons which have just returned to service after maintenance work to rectify faults, the SECR 2-plank Ballast Wagon, and the LBSCR Box Van. Unless plans change, the next goods trains are expected to run on 15 July and 19 August.
- From Project 27: Frames, Cylinders and LBSCR Railway Service Badges!
- Derek Hayward has added photos to his 2017 collection, featuring service trains and a large amount of lineside work undertaken by the Friends of Kingscote, much of it unseen from the train. A huge area of embankment between Birch Farm Crossing and Birchstone Bridge has been cleared, and new fences, stiles, handrails and anti-trespass guards installed. Note the animal-friendly gap next to the stiles for dogs to pass through. Further south the main lineside team have been making great progress near Ingwersons clearing embankments that have been in an overgrown state for several years.
- Neal Ball has loaded two albums onto Flickr:
one from the last Rail Ale evening and one from last weekend.
- Dave Clarke has updated some of his photo galleries with a few new photos:
- The start of work on the ex-Bicester Military Railway Mk.1 TSO, which is generally in much better structural condition than most Mk.1s of that age.
- A few photos from the new OP4 shed.
- A photo of Mk.1 BCK 21246 which is coming towards the end of its time in the paint shop.
- The roof boards have been repaired and, with the exception of a few of the outer narrow ones, refitted to the roof hoops of the Camelot Society's CCT. The northern ends doors have been removed for stripping and replacement of a couple of planks - the southern doors will probably need complete replacement as they took the brunt of the weather while stored at Kingscote.
- The 'Elephant Van' has returned to the dock and is in the final throes of fitting out and should be opened to the public in the next few weeks.
- The first of the overhauled brake doors is being trial fitted to the LBSCR brake third No.949.
- Lino has been laid in the third class end of Bullied CK No.5768. Only the sliding doors, arm rests and viewframe pictures remain to be fitted to the third class compartments. The final first class compartment and the adjacent corridor ceilings haves been completed. Fitting out of the final compartment has begun. The third class lavatory is also nearing completion. Externally, attention is focussing on the passenger doors and cant rail strips. The latter so that they are ready for painting with the body side. The inner faces of the doors have been painted to top coat in readiness for the internal panelling to be trial fitted and then varnished. The outer faces have been prepped, filled and had the first coat of green undercoat applied.
- On Friday 9th June, The Maunsell Society ran a special with the Q class on the Wealden Rambler set, as seen in Dave Bowles' picture.
- Heritage Painting have been about at Sheffield Park quite a bit recently. First they painted the O1's tender, then the 09, D4106, and finally the SER O1 No.65 itself. The aim with the 09 (photo thanks to Tony Sullivan) is that it represents its original livery, and other work is in hand to return the locomotive to as appropriate a condition as feasible. The O1 (photo from Brian Lacey) has since been having its backhead fittings fitted, and should be in steam very soon.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows 'Captain Baxter' with Victorian carriages at East Grinstead during the Branch Line Weekend (13 May).
- We are currently operating our Service 1 timetable Monday-Friday, and Service 2 at weekends.
There is no need to book in advance, but there are 'Bluebell Bonus' discounts if you do book at least 8 days in advance (phone 01825 720800).
Note that this Sunday, 18 June, is the London to Brighton Bike Ride; this will make access to Horsted Keynes station from the West very tricky, so visitors are advised to approach that station via Danehill or West Hoathly, or to join our trains at East Grinstead or Sheffield Park.
- There are still tickets available for the next Rail Ale train on Friday 23 June - this evening all the beer is from Harvey's of Lewes. Call 01825 720800 to book.
- Our next special event is:
- Infrastructure News update, covering mid-May to last week, with thanks to Jon Goff, covering OP4 and the next big track job.
A third line to Ardingly? Or preparation for something else?
Following the frenetic track laying season through the winter, the next job was another 200 yards on Freshfield bank at the end of the Temporary Speed Limit. IN ONE NIGHT!!!
Ten 60 foot panels were laid successfully on the night of Monday 5 June without disrupting trains on either day. A lot of preparation was required with the ten panels built at Horsted in advance using new flat bottom rail and by using up all our stock of good condition second hand concrete sleepers.
The track panels were moved from the Ardingly siding down to Freshfield Bank and placed beside the positions where they were going to be fitted early on the morning of Wednesday 24 May (as seen in the photos below) before the service trains started. All the other equipment, machinery and components were transported to site and placed in the correct positions ready for use, over the following weeks.
On the Monday evening, as soon as the last train had cleared the section, a track possession was taken and a convoy of roadrailers etc. made their way down to the work site - just as the rain started, one of the worst nights of rain of the year!
All the 200 yards of track was removed, the ballast bulldozed, and whacked smoothed and the 22 ton digger brought up ready to start lifting the new panels in. All this was done just as it was starting to get dark. All the new panels were laid, straightened, lightly ballasted and finished to the point where service trains could run safely at the 10mph temporary speed limit. Just after sunrise the rain stopped and everyone had left for home - very wet!
The following evening was spent fully ballasting, tamping and making final adjustments, all finished by midnight including moving the temporary speed limit signs to the bottom of Freshfield Bank at the end of the straight, significantly reducing the length of the restriction.
Several photos (including that on the right) were taken by Dave Wilson (of London Underground and 9F club fame) during the night. For more of these, and a full explanation of the whole job go to the Infrastructure News web page.
- Julian Clark's photo shows the LNWR Coal Tank on its second weekend with us, when it hauled the vintage set, seen here at West Hoathly, on Saturday 20 May.
- Heritage Painting completed their work on SECR O1 No.65 yesterday, as seen in these photos on their facebook page. They had painted the tender a few weeks ago.
- Are you interested in joining us as a volunteer? To help you find which department you'd like to try, you can join one of the 'Find out More' days; the next tour is this Sunday (June 11). The meeting time is 10.30am, at Sheffield Park Station, and the day should end around 4.30pm. Book your place on the tour by contacting the General Office on 01825 720800, or just turn up at Sheffield Park on the day.
- Project 27 will be selling their limited edition reporductions of LBSCR First World War Service badges from Saturday 24th June, coinciding with our Model Railway Weekend.
- Infrastructure News update, covering April and May, with thanks to Bruce Healey. The two photos below show work underway on Operation Undercover Phase 4, the carriage shed extension at Horsted Keynes, where the gap around the raised section of roof has been being filled in, and second-hand ballast laid. This week our infrastructure team have been hard at work with our first ever overnight track-relaying sessions.
- Steve Lee's photo shows SECR C-class No.592 with a goods train on 29 April. This locomotive bowed out of service, a day early at the end of its boiler certificate, on 13 May after the first day of our Branch Line Weekend. It is hoped that, with a new cylinder block and tyres in hand, its overhaul will not be too far into the future; the biggest challenge being that both of the boilers we have for this locomotive require new copper inner fireboxes.
- SECR O1 No.65 is in an advanced state of completion in the locomotive works, and Heritage Painting were on site last week and today to apply the finishing touches to the paint finish, as seen in these photos on their facebook page.
- From Project 27: news of the status of the new frames and cylinders, plus the restored steam reverser change over valve cover.
- A major new web page has been created for our oldest locomotive, LBSCR Stroudley Terrier No.72 'Fenchurch' and as part of the preparations for a move of this web site to a new server, the pages and photos detailing this locomotive's last overhaul during which it was converted back to represent its original A1 rather than A1X form, have been relocated.
- Updated web pages for our North London Railway Goods Tank No.27505, BR 20T "Flatrol SB" wagon B900036, BR 25T Well Trolley Wagon B900920, SR Pillbox Brake Van 55993 and LSWR (lengthenned by SR) third-class carriage 320 (as currently modelled by Hornby) with thanks to Jon Elphick and Martin Skrzetuszewski.
- Note a change to Colin Tyson's email address, for editorial contributions to Bluebell News.
- We are currently advertising vacancies to work on the restoration of Pullman Car 54, in addition to casual Catering staff, Silver Service waiting staff and kitchen porters, volunteers to help the commercial department, and the position of Fundraising Director.
- The Premier League has now finished for the season, so the final positions are now available for our fund-raising Football Competition. Particular congratulations to Andrew Sinclair whose predictions for the teams' positions in the Premier League was closest to the actual results and who successfully predicted that Arsenal would lift the FA Cup.
The total raised towards the restoration of Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864 from the 16/17 competition is £245; Many thanks to everyone who entered. Winners' cheques and entry forms for 17/18 will be issued shortly.
- During April 2017 there were 58,779 total hits on this page, from 32,561 unique visitors.
During May 2017 there were 51,375 total hits on this page, from 28,600 unique visitors.
- The highlight of our Branch Line Weekend was the visit of the LNWR Coal Tank No.1054, which was paired with our LNWR Observation Car. The Obo brings up the rear of this train, seen in Brian Lacey's photo from the Sunday. The leading four carriages, dating from between 1880 and 1897, were also a good match for the 1888-built locomotive.
- Julian Clark's photo shows the S15 with a combined Pullman train (for the wedding of a Bluebell volunteer) plus Afternoon Tea Wealden Rambler train on Saturday 20 May.
Opposite ends of the line, on Easter day. Brian Lacey's photo below shows 'Flying Scotsman' setting off from East Grinstead with the GN saloon the first of 8 carriages in its train. Then the photo from Graeme & Melanie McAlpine shows the operation which ensued on arrival at Sheffield Park, with 'Flying Scotsman' uncoupled from its train, and moved across to platform 1 to take water and allow footplate visits, whilst the SECR C-class then shunted the GNR Directors' Saloon into the Milk Dock to clear the foot crossing of what would otherwise be an over-long train. The Saloon's next party of passengers would subsequently board the carriage in the Dock before being shunted back onto the train just prior to departure.
John Goss' photo below shows 'Flying Scotsman' approaching Hazelden Place with 10am service from Sheffield Park on the 16th.
Roy Watts' photo shows the completion of the visit, as 'Flying Scotsman' departs from East Grinstead in the early hours of 20 April.
21 April: "Flying Scotsman - Flying South" Gala Report 1
- So the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' came to an end when it left Bluebell metals at around 5am yesterday morning - details summarising the visit are in this Press Release. 'Flying Scotsman' is seen climbing Freshfield Bank with the opening Breakfast Special, in Paul Furlong's photo on the right.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for the remainder of April.
- Reminder that we have steam trains operating daily - See timetable calendar - Just turn up and ride - no need to book in advance.
We also have several special events in the coming days and weeks:
In addition, on the morning of Saturday 29 April we are running a demonstration goods train, hauled by the S15 locomotive. Times for this will be published here once known.
- The photo on the right from Gordon Callander shows 'Flying Scotsman' at the former West Hoathly station site on Wednesday, the last day of the Gala, with the 10am train from Sheffield Park.
- Today I'll be mainly linking photo galleries (and when I get a chance, in the coming days, videos):
- The next three photos below are:
From Roy Watts, showing the opening Breakfast special arriving at East Grinstead;
Peter Wilson's photo from Sunday shows the token exchange as 'Flying Scotsman' passes non-stop through Horsted Keynes station;
Robin Willis' photo shows the reception at East Grinstead on Tuesday, with passengers from the train filling the platform, and onlookers on the walkway outside the buffet.
Next we have two from Mike Anton, from the opening day, showing that there was plenty of chance to view the visitor at close quarters, at Sheffield Park, and at the ever-popular foot crossing at the former West Hoathly Station site.
Two photos from Andrew Crampton, also from the opening day, showing the Q-class giving brake van rides around Horsted Keynes (here at Leamland Bridge) and secondly 'Flying Scotsman' heading its 8-coach train away from Horsted House Bridge, with the Great Northern Directors' saloon (built at Doncaster, just like 'Flying Scotsman') bringing up the rear.
Finally for today, a photo of the two Maunsell locomotives, the Q-class double-heading with the S15 on the 9.10am departure from Sheffield Park on 16th April (Robert Else) and Tony Sullivan's photo showing the 10.25-inch gauge Flying Scotsman alongside the larger 15-inch gauge 'Typhoon' from the RH&DR.
13 April: "Flying Scotsman - Flying South" Gala is underway!
Mike Anton's photos show the first train to be hauled by 'Flying Scotsman' on the Bluebell, accompanied by Gatwick Caledonian pipers: this morning's Gala Pullman Breakfast Train.
Contrary to some reports, the Railway's "Flying Scotsman - Flying South" event is not completely sold out yet.
While the Railway has sold almost all tickets for the 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled services (just a few VIP tickets to travel on the GNR Directors' Saloon for a few trains on some days remain), we still have capacity left on trains hauled by the Bluebell Railway's own locomotives on every day of the event (13-19 April).
For these trains, you can purchase "walk-up" tickets for £25 per adult (50% discount for children between between 3 and 15 years old, inclusive). These tickets will cover travel ALL DAY on trains hauled by our resident locomotives. They also guarantee that you will see 'Scotsman', as platform tickets won't be sold at East Grinstead and might not be sold at our other stations, depending on visitor numbers.
If coming by the mainline rail network, East Grinstead will be the natural place to start your journey. For those travelling by car, and not booked on the 'Flying Scotsman' services, you are encouraged to start your journey at Horsted Keynes (RH17 7BB). Doing so will assist the Railway with car parking demand during this busy time.
Keep watching the Flying Scotsman - Flying South event webpage for the most up-to-date information.
See also the timetable for our trains during this 13-19 April Gala.
- Paul Berry's photo shows 'Flying Scotsman' on route from Keighley to Southall yesterday before heading down to the Bluebell in the early hours of this morning. It's seen on the right hauling its support coach, passing Hoghton Tower in Lancashire, between Blackburn and Preston.
- This video from Jason Pollard shows 'Flying Scotsman' at Dormans and East Grinstead in the early hours of this morning, and Brian Seaman's video also covers its arrival at East Grinstead
- Come and see everything we have to offer, watch Flying Scotsman at close quarters, and enjoy unlimited travel all day on our own trains for £25. Beat the queues and book e-tickets ahead.
Children aged 3-15 years half price.
Limited parking may also be available at Sheffield Park, where car parking is mainly intended for those holding tickets to ride behind Flying Scotsman.
- Driving: park your car at Horsted Keynes (RH17 7BB)
- Come by train to East Grinstead (open to those intending to travel only)
- Bus service from Haywards Heath: catch the specially arranged Compass Service 22
If you just want to look at the passing trains, admission to our stations at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes and Kingscote will be available on the day at £10 per station. Stay as long as you like.
Food, drink and picnic areas are available. Visit our Museum, Atlantic House, and Loco Sheds at Sheffield Park.
Brake Van rides behind 30541 at Horsted Keynes - these are free of charge, but a donation will be appreciated.
Further information is available on the Flying Scotsman - Flying South web page.
The timetable for our trains during the 13-19 April Gala.
- Mike Anton's photo on the right shows that 'Typhoon', visiting from the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, has arrived for display at Sheffield Park, to be re-united with 'Flying Scotsman'. More details are available of the recreation tomorrow of the famous 1927 meeting in this Press Release from the RH&DR.
- If you were lucky enough, a month or so back, to get some of the now sold-out tickets to ride on the trains behind 'Flying Scotsman' itself, you are welcome to spend the entire day with us - your tickets include unlimited travel on the trains hauled by our own locomotives as well.
- Access to our lineside is restricted to Bluebell PTS passholders, who have received appropriate Bluebell-specific safety training. Visitors must not trespass on the lineside, and please also respect our neighbours' land and property. Parking restrictions are in force on local roads to keep the traffic flowing, and we ask visitors to respect these.
- For the safety of our trains and visitors, drones or similar airborne photographic platforms must not be operated from Bluebell Railway property or within 50m of Bluebell Railway property, except where specific authority is given. Further information available here - this is based on CAA regulations.
- Finishing the job at Horsted.
This update on the Horsted Keynes track work, from Jon Goff, brings us up to date with the deadlines met to return the station to full working order in time for tomorrow!
With 2-road connected at the end of the previous week during the diesel gala, all that was required to get platform 2 usable was some horizontal alignment and tamping the track up to the correct level. It was purposely laid slightly low because tampers can lift track but they cannot lower it. Ballast can get kicked up or dragged up slightly during the sleeper laying and rail insertion processes so it is bulldozed, levelled with the aid of a laser and vibrated 50mm low to allow for this.
The tamper ran through three times, first with a partial lift mainly to fill the voids under the sleepers, secondly to bring it all up to the correct level and thirdly to remove any final dips and to add an extra 10mm to allow for settlement when traffic starts running over it. Brian Lacey's photo on the right from Saturday shows the nicely finished work, taken from the passing train.
Prior to the tamper operation there had been a "manual alignment" when the rail was literally pushed horizontally until it was in the correct position by the roadrailer sitting on 3-road. The jib pushed or pulled with a small lift action while one person stood astride the rail directing the driver and checking for the correct measurements from the platform edge. Platform 3 has a quite straight edge but platform 2 varies nearly 100mm over its length with the southern end curved back very slightly. Presumably this is because the road 2 formation primarily went to Ardingly originally. Therefore a slight "by eye" curve was put in starting before the platform end so that the rail face stayed within the correct tolerances. (730mm, plus 15, minus 0) This is not yet perfect and some slight adjustments was intended to be made on Monday earlier this week, right from the existing track at the points at the north end through to the Ardingly points at the south end.
The alignment and tamping was completed sufficiently on Tuesday evening to open the road for traffic again. Road 3 received another tamp on Wednesday but the last tamp to give the final correct line could not be carried out as the lining wire has not yet been replaced on the tamper. This will be done after Easter when the track has settled.
The picture below taken from the centre of 3-road shows how good the alignment can be made by just pushing it around with the roadrailer and also show road 2 before being tamped with the hump over the subway being obvious. It shows the difference even an old tamper can make.
The photo on the right by Barbara Watkins shows the reinstated foot crossing at the north end of the platforms completed last Friday. This can easily be lifted and replaced for maintenance unlike the previous one. It also now sports a very good glass fibre/resin/grit anti-slip surface, with which we intend to cover all wooden walkways as wood can be very slippery when wet.
Since the wires to the signal gantry at the south end of platforms 3 and 4 were reconnected there has been a slight problem with their operation. This was found to be due to the poor state of the timber platform to which the pulley wheels were attached. All the signals at Horsted are in a program to have their planking replaced but not many have yet received the new woodwork. The photo below shows Matt Crawford suitably adorned with the appropriate harness, hard hat, etc. on the gantry with one plank removed and on his phone (there is always someone trying to phone him) "trying to get a good signal!"
The middle photo is of one person very well known around the railway, being a driver and part of the infrastructure gang: John Padgham. He has a cold and nurse Barbara Watkins has given him inhalant in a bowl of hot water and a towel. A caption is still required for this picture...
The final photo shows the signalman's crossing at the south end, partially re-instated as of Monday, which should be completed by now.
- Mike Anton's photo, taken using a pole, shows the S15 setting off from Sheffield Park with the 3pm Set B service on Friday.
- An updated component sponsorship list for the Brighton Atlantic is now available.
- In advance of the visit of the Flying Scotsman, the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust have provided a further Defibrillator for the Bluebell Railway. We think that the Bluebell is the only preserved railway with a Defibrillator at every station.
The picture below show our GM, Gordon Owen MVO, receiving this vital life-saving kit from Tim Fellows of Secamb.
- Martin Lawrence provides a photo below, showing David Chappell and Dave Clarke in the Carriage Works Yard, with a group of potential new recruits during the April Find Out More volunteer recruitment day.
Martin has also completed his March Gallery.
- Finally below we see two photos from this Saturday, with the H-class hauling the SECR 100-seater and three Southern Railway Maunsell carriages near Lindfield Wood on the Set A service train (Derek Hayward), and the SECR C-class with the afternoon tea train (Wealden Rambler) the same day, passing though the newly re-opened 2-road at Horsted Keynes (Brian Lacey).
8 April: Infrastructure Report:
Catching up, thanks to Bruce Healey, on the news as of Wednesday from the Horsted Keynes track work. Apparently the updates will get less interesting as the work on the platforms nears completion!
The final tamp of platform 3 road was completed on Wednesday and platform 2 has now also been released back into service (as seen in the photo on the right). However, this is some way from the end of the job, as there are still the inevitable tidying up and odd jobs to do.
Bruce's photos below show the H-class in Platform 3 and 'Camelot' on a test run in Platform 2, having just returned to service after winter boiler maintenance and the re-tyring of its tender wheels.
The triangle at Horsted Keynes has been used as a dumping ground during the work. With 4 inches of material removed from 3-road and 8 inches from 2-road, a large amount of spoil has been added to the triangle. This has now been graded to improve the appearance (as seen below).
Some lengths of rail and other oddments have been moved over to the Salt Yard. Just as soon as the area is being cleared, more is added. With the large dead tree at south end of the triangle felled and a lot more timber from felling work north of Horsted, a stockpile of logs is growing which needs to be dealt with, and Bruce's next photo shows timber being transported to the triangle. A number of such runs were made on Wednesday with many more still needed.
Now the tamping has been completed, the crossings between platform 2 and 3 need reinstating. The reinstatement of the one at the north end was well under way by the end of Wednesday.
The first photo below shows a Panlock clip. This chair will be inaccessible under one of the foot crossings and rather than using 'normal' clips which can come loose, these lock in place and don't need maintenance. These clips do not grip the track quite as well as the 'normal' clips which is why they are not used everywhere.
The barrow crossing (below) seen being reinstated, obscuring the chair in the previous photo. The anti-slip material will be used right across. The far section is not yet in place, for which a structure is needed to support the boards whilst not interfering with the signal wires.
73082 'Camelot' is seen below at the north end of Platform 1 dropping off some wagons and vans. The locomotive also shunted a wagon into the Ardingly spur.
Barbara Watkins' photo from Tuesday shows the boards on the signal at the south end of platform 3/4 which are being replaced. Two more signals need to be similarly repaired.
- Brian Lacey's photo from Monday shows the S15 arriving at Horsted Keynes to cross the pre-war Southern set behind the SECR H-class in platform 3. The newly laid track in platform 2 had been ballasted but not tamped at that stage.
- There are some VIP tickets available at £100 per person now available to travel in the Great Northern Directors' Saloon behind Flying Scotsman - upgrades to existing tickets are possible - give the office a ring on 01825 720800 to check availability and to book. Please be aware that phone lines are very busy at present, so if you don't get through you may need to try again a bit later.
Other than this, we still have tickets available to travel on trains hauled by our own locomotives during Gala which surrounds the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' (13-19 April), with loads of other attractions around the railway as well as the opportunity to see 'Flying Scotsman' at close quarters.
- In addition to the two service trains (running daily until 12 April), on Monday there was a third train running, for a party of 180 school children, which is seen below in Brian Lacey's photo leaving East Grinstead behind the Southern Q-class. Brian's second photo shows the S15 waiting to head the 1.30pm departure from Sheffield Park later the same day.
The photo on the right from Andrew Crampton shows 20205 and 20189 with the 12-car formation departing Horsted House Bridge.
and photos from:
The photos below show 09018 on Friday afternoon with Brake Van, Observation Car and 100 seater (Andrew Crampton) and 50049 at Horsted House Farm Bridge with the 12-noon Sheffield Park to East Grinstead service on Saturday 1 April (Tony Sullivan).
5 April: Infrastructure Report:
A further update, from the end of last week, on the trackwork at Horsted Keynes, with thanks to Jon Goff, with photos by him and Barbara Watkins.
Platform 2 Road reconnected! After a very busy week and a good turn out from the infrastructure team, and with a big help from the Thursday gang, road 2 was connected right through on Friday evening at about 6:30 pm.
Wednesday had seen road 3 tamped level but it has not had its finally tamp as the final straight line was not tamped due to a small problem with the tamper (the line broke). However it was finished sufficiently to be safely released back to traffic as reported by Bruce on Wednesday. This is good as most trains in the diesel gala ran over the new formation, which has handily helped settle it before the final tamp this week.
Thursday saw the two rails put back over the subway and three more 56 foot panels were put in by the Thursday gang which is a tremendous effort for bullhead rail as it takes a lot longer to lay than flat bottom rail.
Friday saw three more panels go in including the closing rails which had to be cut to a precise length in order to connect up with the existing track. Work was heavily inhibited but almost continuous use of road 3 for the diesel gala. The road-railer had to use road 3 for very short periods then disappear quickly before the next train was due.
It is seen above delivering the last two rails which are second hand rails from our small collection of spare rail.
The final photo above shows the whole length of road 2 connected and tidied up for the weekend. It was then ballasted and ploughed on Saturday and will be tamped straight next week. There are still some details to be finished off on both roads over the subway. Road 2 is not yet fully screwed down and both roads still require the plastic membrane sealed against the sides of the concrete pads with a silicon sealant below the ballast level. The foot crossings at either end of the platforms still need to be reinstated.
Further pictures below from Barbara Watkins on Saturday show our very good L&W contract driver working on Saturday, having ballasted and ploughed road 2 and removing the digger used to dig out the track bed and drainage diches and place the sleepers. Note the stop board showing the road is not in normal use. Darren had to finish this off on Saturday as he is taking his family on holiday on Sunday for two weeks. We wish him a good break after the extensive very good quality work he has done over the last six months - as well as working on network rail at night!
Further pictures of Darren carrying out the work were taken by John Sandys on Saturday and are shown on his Flickr site.
During March 2017 there were 54,806 total hits on this page, from 32,103 unique visitors.
30 March: Stop Press
- The timetable for our Diesel Gala, with revised locomotive allocations, has been re-published.
- The Saturday evening Beer-Ex will be hauled by the class 20s. We hope everyone has a great time!
- David Long's photo shows 50049 with the two class 20s in the newly reopened platform 3 at Horsted Keynes on Wednesday.
- Martin Lawrence has added some further photos to his March Gallery, including the wheelsets for Camelot's tender, returned from the South Devon after re-tyring.
- We have a Gala! Starting tomorrow, our 3-day Diesel event has come actually together! The best laid plans (for Westerns and Warships) have, after 5 loco failures, become an English Electric event, with 50049 'Defiance', 20205 and 20189, 73107 and 73119, plus resident 09018 on a morning trip. Roy Watts' photo shows the arrival of the 73s this morning.
- Andrew Crampton's photo below shows 20205 + 20182 & 50049 approaching Hurst Green Junction yesterday afternoon. Julian Clark's photo shows the same formation on arrival at East Grinstead mainline station.
- Martin Lawrence's short video shows the 20s and 50049 at Sheffield Park yesterday evening, proceeding slowly through the platform as clearances are checked.
An update on the trackwork with thanks to Bruce Healey. Yesterday was a busy day at Horsted Keynes, hence there are a lot of photos.
Following from Jon Goff's last report, a big vote of thanks to the Infrastructure volunteers who turned up in large numbers to ensure that the deadline of pouring the concrete over the Platform 2's subway was completed at the end of last week. Friday is usually a quiet day for volunteers but their dedication ensured that the concrete had the weekend to cure thus not losing us several days against our schedule.
On Wednesday, the remaining 2-road trackbed was scraped, the drainage trench, terram/polythene/terram, drainpipe and the ballast base completed. We almost finished grading and compacting the ballast.
Platform 3 has been tamped again and passed back to operational use.
Bruce's first photo shows, in the background, the digger cutting the central ditch, while in the foreground all the other operations can be seen. Note the crossing drain up near the digger.
The photos below show more detail, firstly rolling out the Terram in 2-road. Where track has already been laid, S&T need to ensure that track circuits operate and that cable operated signal are still functional. Here, the bond wires across a track joint are being fitted on 3-road.
The track chairs over the subway in 2-road are being readied. The concrete pads have been cast. Rubber pads are located between the chairs and the concrete. This task was completed by the end of the day.
Next we see a close-up of the tamper in operation on Platform 3 road. Note the track lifter to the right and the pair of tines either side of the rail. The ballast is only compacted under the rails.
The ballast is levelled using a laser and receiver on a staff. The new track in 2-road will be 8 inches lower than the old and the difference needs to be graded in. The laser has a gradient function simplifying this task.
Platform 3 has been released to traffic. The final photo shows the first use of it, as it is gauged for the three visiting locomotives.
- S15 No.847 is seen in Peter Edwards' photo at Three Arch Bridge with the combined Wealden Rambler and Golden Arrow on Mothering Sunday.
- Diesel Gala: 31 March to 2 April
Sadly 50035 has been withdrawn due to a brake problem, notwithstanding sterling efforts to get it working overnight, but 50049 'Defiance' and the Class 20s have now arrived at East Grinstead. Stepping in to the breach, we say a huge "thank you" to our friends at GBRf who will be supplying us with two Class 73s in the shape of 73107 and 73119, which will join our resident 09018 (on a brake-van turn) and Sentinel shunter 'Skippy' for "Driver for a Fiver" experiences (Saturday and Sunday only) at Horsted Keynes. To be able to obtain replacement locomotives, albeit ones which have visited us before, at such short notice, is a fantastic achievement.
You can follow the event on Facebook.
The timetable will remain as published but with the 20s replacing D6700 and the 73s replacing 50035, except for the final 12-coach double-header which will now be re-jigged.
- Steam-hauled trains between Sheffield Park & East Grinstead run daily 3-12 April to our Service 2 Timetable.
See Timetable Calendar and Special Events & Offers
No need to book in advance, but if you book at least 8 days in advance you can save money with our Bluebell Bonus tickets.
- Last Saturday, Vice President Roy Watts had afternoon tea with Dame Vera Lynn and members of her family and presented her with a card signed by Bluebell Directors, Officers, Trustees and members of the Holden Family to mark her 100th Birthday.
Dame Vera was a very close friend of our late President, Bernard Holden, actively supporting him and the Bluebell, most recently at the launch of our 50th anniversary appeal.
The house was full of so many flowers and naturally there were hundreds of cards, including many from the Royal Family and well known stars from the world of show business. Amongst them was a model of the WD 2-10-0 carrying her name from the owning group. This loco is now subject to an appeal for its restoration.
You will be pleased to learn our card - thanks to Derek Hayward for his kind assistance - took its place amongst the good and the great! The Society will also make a donation to her children's charity.
- Mike Anton has experimented with producing a time-lapse video of the preparation of the Q-class shot on Saturday morning.
- Video shot on Saturday 18 March by Ted Polet from the Netherlands, featuring a journey behind the Q-class and also shots of the C-class.
- An update covering more of last week's work on the trackwork though platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes, with thanks to Jon Goff.
More atrocious weather demonstrated the need (first photo below, on Wednesday) to install the drainage under the tracks when everybody just wanted to go home and dry out. So lunch break was forfeited in order to reach the day's target and go home early. However the afternoon brightened up and we ended up staying later than normal, achieving reconnection of road 3 (second photo below) and putting in the drainage under road 2 north of the subway and ballasting it ready for the next panel to go back.
Work then concentrated on the shuttering and the reinforcement for the concrete over the subway. This proved to be quite intense but with help from "the little people" this was completed on Thursday together with dropping all the studs (316 stainless) to be set into the concrete for the rail chairs. To do this the rails were supported slightly higher than the finished height so that an extra nut could be fixed under the chair to stop the studs wobbling around during the concrete pour.
While this was going on further digging out, levelling, drainage and ballasting on a waterproof membrane was carried out on road 2 with two-thirds now done.
Friday was the critical day as the concrete had to be laid then to give it a long enough hardening time before trains can use it over Easter. After some final gauge and position checks (to the millimetre) the concrete was poured and allowed to settle before being given a final float finish by Matt and Mark in the evening, as seen in Jon's photo on the right.
The foot crossing at the platform end was also reistated as it was required for wheelchair access the following day. It has been redesigned so that it can now be removed easily for tamping and other track maintenance.
- So it's Choppers and Hoovers at our 3-day Diesel Gala which starts on Friday 31 March.
We are pleased to announce that, subject to final sign-off, we plan to replace D6700 with not one, but two locomotives: 20205 and 20189 are joining 50035 'Ark Royal' and 50049 'Defiance'.
Real Ale beer tent at Kingscote Station and Real Ale bar "At the sign of the White Horse" on coaching set B.
Special 'latecomers' tickets are priced at just £8.50 per adult for those arriving after 4pm each day.
Details of the catering arrangements for the weekend are also available, as is the Timetable (in which the pair of 20s replace the workings allocated to D6700).
Many thanks to Robert C Jones for the photo, showing the pair of 20s last year at Small Heath, Birmingham.
- Brian Lacey's photos below show two Southern Railway Maunsell locomotives working yesterday: S15 No.847 pauses at Horsted Keynes for wedding guests to board the Pullman Special, and Q-class No.30541 has just arrived at East Grinstead with its third trip of the day on the service train.
- Mike Anton's photo from yesterday afternoon shows the Q and S15 basking in the spring sunshine at Sheffield Park
- Steam-hauled trains between Sheffield Park & East Grinstead run this weekend to this Modified Timetable and
daily 3-12 April to our revised 2017 Service 2 Timetable.
Tickets may be obtained on arrival - Book at least 8 days in advance for Bluebell Bonus discount
- Next weekend (starting on Friday) is our Diesel Gala: 31 March to 2 April.
- The countdown to the arrival of 'Flying Scotsman' has started.
Flying Scotsman - Flying South takes place 13 to 19 April 2017
Flying Scotsman - Flying South
13 to 19 April 2017
Come and see everything we have to offer, watch Flying Scotsman at close quarters, and enjoy unlimited travel all day on our own trains for £25. Beat the queues and book ahead.
Children aged 3-15 years half price.
Limited parking may also be available at Sheffield Park, where car parking is mainly intended for those holding tickets to ride behind Flying Scotsman.
- Driving: park your car at Horsted Keynes (RH17 7BB)
- Come by train to East Grinstead (open to those intending to travel only)
- Bus service from Haywards Heath: catch the specially arranged Compass Service 22
If you just want to look at the passing trains, admission to our stations at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes and Kingscote will be available on the day at £10 per station. Stay as long as you like.
Additional attractions include visit of the miniature 'Typhoon' from the RH&DR to recreate the famous 1927 photo of the two locomotives together.
Food, drink and picnic areas are available. Visit our Museum and Loco Sheds at Sheffield Park.
Further information is available on the Flying Scotsman - Flying South web page.
Photo above: 60103 'Flying Scotsman' at York - 25 February 2016, with grateful thanks to Michael J Alderdice.
23 March: We opened our extension to East Grinstead 4 years ago
- With the visit of the miniature Pacific 'Typhoon' from the RH&DR whilst 'Flying Scotsman' is with us, we will be able to recreate the iconic 1927 photo of the two locomotives together.
The photo by Richard Salmon shows Typhoon on a previous visit to the Bluebell, at Horsted Keynes in August 2010 for our 50th Anniversary Gala. On this occasion, the 15-inch gauge locomotive will be on display at Sheffield Park Station.
- The Bulleid Society have recently updated their web site News Page with pictures covering Sir Archibald Sinclair's boiler repair and some of progress on Coach No.5768.
- New video covering Winter steam on the Bluebell Railway from Nick Dearden.
- Cathedrals Express visits The Bluebell Railway - Thursday 13 July - Book via Steam Dreams.
- Full Steam Ahead Driving Experience - 12, 17 May, 13, 22 Sept - Come along and experience firing and driving one the Bluebell's fleet of historic steam engines, BR 5MT No.73082 'Camelot'.
- Join our Mystery Tour on a luxury newly renovated 1960s Vintage Bus on 10 June.
- Unfortunately we have learned that the NRM's class 37 will not now be available for the 31 March - 2 April Diesel Gala due to some issues with its braking system.
Obviously this is disappointing news but we are working hard to try to secure an alternative visitor, to work alongside 50035 'Ark Royal' and 50049 'Defiance'.
- Update with the positions in the Football Competition as of 16 March. This is a fund-raiser for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.
- A further update with progress on Monday and Tuesday on the trackwork at Horsted Keynes, with thanks to Jon Goff.
Despite the atrocious weather on Monday, 3-Road had all the levelling compound poured in place for each of the rail chairs on the east rail. Scared of it being washed away, the west rail levelling was left until Tuesday and work moved over to 2-Road. The rails had their ends trimmed and drilled at the south end and the first rails to the north of the subway removed. The subway reinforcement was finished and is now waiting for the rails to be supported over the top so that the stainless steel studding can be hung in place, all of which has now been cut and made ready.
The first photo shows the state of play at the end of Monday, and the second shows a rail being trimmed to length. The cutter clips onto the rail and pivots down to cut the end square.
The next photo below shows the application of levelling compound completed for the west rail in 3-Road and, with the east rail compound set, rubber pads were cut out and put in place and the chairs fitted ready for the rail to be inserted. Some final tightening of the nuts and a bit of juggling with some of the ferrules is all that is required.
By the end of Tuesday, all the track panels up to a few feet from the subway in 2-Road had been completed giving access to the Ardingly siding again. The next two panels north of the subway have been removed, dug out and levelled, as seen in the last of Jon's photos below, ready for the drainage ditch to be dug under the middle of the four foot.
- Brian Lacey's photos from a slightly overcast day this Saturday show, on the right, the Q-class with the Great Northern Directors' Saloon, which usually runs in public service (for first-class ticket holders, or on payment of a supplement) on the third weekend of each month. Check the saloon's page for confirmation of dates and to reserve a table (although reservations are not usually necessary). That below shows the H-class (which would be hauling the Wealden Rambler afternoon tea train) being prepared for service on Saturday 18 March.
- Report and photos on current work on The 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society's van.
- Martin Lawrence has added some photos from recent weekends to his March Gallery including that below, showing Jim describing working in the locomotive department during the March Find Out More volunteer recruitment day.
We catch up with last week's Infrastructure News with thanks to Bruce Healey, Barbara Watkins and Jon Goff. The week saw much better progress than the previous one where other infrastructure distractions, such as the main road-railer failing and trying to catch fire half way down Freshfield bank, had taken work away from the main project!
The first photo from Bruce Healey shows the situation in platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes at the start of play on Wednesday last week (15 March), with the track
taken up over the Platform 2 underpass and enough old concrete
removed to allow the metal spreader plates to be located (as on 3-road). Looking now at platform 3 road, the rail over the subway has been taken up to allow the
trackbed either side to be lowered (it had been deliberately left too high to
allow the concrete to be poured).
During the course of Wednesday, the track bed through platform 3 was lowered either side of the subway, and the remaining sleepers laid. The shuttering from Platform
3 was usable for Platform 2 with only slight modification - this is now
in place as is the waterproof membrane (see photo below). We still have
a lot to do before concrete can be poured, including completing the reinforcing structure and lay track over the subway
(again one inch too high to clear the concrete), attach the chairs,
locate the chair studs and bolt them to the reinforcing etc.
The second photo below shows the stripping and levelling of the trackbed at
the south end of Platform 2. We also did some fettling of the track on Platform 3. When joining used
track, we often find the track at different levels at the join owing to
different wear. To overcome this, we use special fishplates with a step
in them. We have a stock with differing steps in sixteenths of an inch
increments. To get down to a thirty-second of an inch difference,
specially made shims are used. Two pairs of track joints needed these
step plates. This is standard railway practise.
By Friday evening, the reinforcing cage over the subway on the platform 2 side had
been completed, as seen in the photo below taken from the cab of the
road-railer. The south end of Platform 2 has had the centre drain dug,
the terram (fibreglass) - polythene - terram sandwich laid, the drain pipe
put in place and the section ballasted and compacted as seen in the second photo, prior to track
laying. Both these photos were taken by Barbara Watkins.
Jon Goff now brings us up to date as of the end of last week.
The concrete over the subway for road 3 is still being allowed to continue to harden before any major weight is put on it. However it has already reached a very hard state due to being a very strong mix and being well vibrated into place, so the final levelling compound can be put in place. As we want to get the rails levelled very accurately, a 5-10mm depression has been gunned into the concrete surface around the area where the rail chairs will sit and a screw plugged into the centre of each of the chair positions. Using the laser level set up at the reference datum point on the platform, each screw has been adjusted to exactly the same height to within less than 1mm! These then form a local datum for the levelling compound, pored and trowelled in place. The process is seen in Jon's two photos below. This should all be completed for all 16 chair positions on Monday.
There will be a rubber pad placed on top of the (fast-setting) compound and the rail chair placed on top of that.
All the original rails from 3-road have had the end 650mm cut off, re-drilled and replaced as the rails were in basically good condition with good heads and running on them. Similarly the majority of the hardwood sleepers were in good condition so they have been put back with only 40 replacements needed to be found and drilled. They are all in position with all the rail replaced and roughly aligned ready for the tamper, except for 4 sleepers by the north end drainage pit and the rail over the subway. Full connection right through and the ability to pass traffic through under caution should be possible by the end of next week. Additionally the approach into road 3 has been realigned to give a much smoother curve between the points and the platform.
Turning to 2-road in earnest, the first action was to remove the pair of rails over the subway and start to repeat the work as carried out on 3-road, as described above. In three days as much work has been completed here as in the previous three weeks on 3-road as the job in hand is now well defined. The excavation is complete, the metal plates are bedded down in place, shuttering complete and most of the reinforcement in place, as in the 3-road reports on 2nd, 3rd and 6th March. The concrete should be poured around the middle of this week.
While the work around the subway was being done, the rest of the south end of 2-road was lifted, fully dug out, drainage installed, waterproof membrane installed (Teram - plastic - Teram sandwich) ballasted and the first panel relayed. This panel is critical as it is required to regain access to the Ardingly siding and the ballast pile.
Completion of the bottom half of 3-road this week has enabled the road-railer access to work on 2-road. Jon's photo above/left shows 3-road reconnected and 2-road being relayed 8 inches lower than before.
Other work continues to clear up the yard after the Holywell relay. Many chairs have been removed from the life expired sleepers and the sleepers disposed of with the worst of them being burnt. Scrap has been collected together with some being exchanged for more good sleepers. Matt Crawford has arranged many such deals which has save the railway many thousands of pounds over time.
Finally some security lighting is been put in over the new access gate and infrastructure lobby although that is not yet complete. Some time is required to put our own infrastructure area in order after the road 2 and 3 project is finished as this is the current state of our "office"! It is not a pretty sight from the train and the team have to walk right through it carrying tools several times every day.
- Maunsell Q-class No.30541 is seen running round its train at Sheffield Park in Brian Lacey's photos from Saturday.
- We are running public steam trains each weekend in March, to this Timetable. Tickets can be purchased on arrival, but if you do book at least 8 days in advance, you can take advantage of our Bluebell Bonus discount.
- The Curry Evening supper train planned for 18 March has now been rescheduled to 28 April and a choice of Curry or Fish and Chips can be selected at the time of reservation - phone 01825 720800 to book.
- We have a further report on the work in Platform 3 at Horsted Keynes, as of Wednesday, with thanks to Bruce Healey.
With the concrete raft over the subway now setting, we have now laid out the sleepers (except either side of the subway) and some of the remaining rails for Platform 3; some of the replacement sleepers are awaiting their chairs.
The rail across the subway will have to be taken up to remove the shuttering around the concrete and to put pads under the rail chairs which bolt down on the concrete. The concrete will be allowed to harden until the end of the month before trains pass over it. Bearing in mind that the track over the subway has still to be lowered by an inch, the difference between the new level of the rail in platform 3 to the current level in platform 2 can be clearly seen.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the now externally complete BR(S) scenery van, which was modified on BR for the carriage of elephants, and which has now been totally refurbished with the help of an Arts Council England Resiliance Fund grant. Most recently it has been lifted using the new second set of carriage jacks inside the new OP4 shed to have the heating/air-conditioning units fitted. Work is now focused on fitting out the interior to act as a children's play area.
- Diesel Gala - 31 March to 2 April: Tickets are now available - ring 01825 720800 with any queries and to book. The timetable is available to download here.
Visiting locomotives are 50035 'Ark Royal' and 50049 'Defiance', plus the BR Type 3 class-pioneer, D6700 (later numbered 37119 and 37350).
Early morning full line brake van rides behind 09018 will depart Sheffield Park at 8.10am, and include a trip down the Ardingly Siding on the return leg. Tickets for this trip (which includes travel for the rest of the day) are £30pp and are very limited and must be pre-booked. Price will also include a drink and breakfast roll. Ring 01825 720800 to book your space.
Driver for a fiver at Horsted Keynes station will be running on the Saturday and Sunday only, using our Sentinel Diesel shunter.
Update to the Infrastructure News page with thanks to Bruce Healey, collating reports in this Blog about the relaying of track at Holywell, which was completed a month ago.
- On Sunday 5th March 2017 our Carriage Shop proudly donated £1,500 to the Bluebell Railway Museum to fund the acquisition of an original London, Brighton & South Coast Railway artefact (below) which is now on display in the Museum at Sheffield Park Station. Chris Wilson's photo shows Peter Allibone, a long-standing Carriage Shop volunteer, presenting the donation cheque to Tony Hillman Assistant Curator of the museum.
This large, 28" diameter, cast iron LBSCR Coat of Arms would have been attached to a bridge or some other structure during the building of a part of the railway in 1865. The original location of this item is unknown though two exist on the bridge which carries the Battersea Park to Clapham Junction line over Battersea Park Road by the entrance to the station.
The Carriage Shop would like to thank all those that have purchased books, models or other items from the shop at Horsted Keynes, which has made this donation possible. For more information, and to confirm opening times, visit The Carriage Shop's facebook page.
- Two more of Brian Lacey's photos from Saturday. On the right the Q-class brings its train into East Grinstead, and below the H-class sets off from Sheffield Park with the Wealden Rambler afternoon tea train.
- Bruce Healey provides another report and photos as of yesterday on work in platform 3 at Horsted Keynes.
The status at first thing Monday morning was that the Platform 3 track had been laid from the north down as far as the subway (as seen in the photos in yesterday's report, below). Many thanks to the 9F Club, who on Saturday did their usual enthusiastic and effective job of clipping up the track. The reinforcing for the concrete over and beside the subway was also complete, as seen in the first photo below.
Over the course of Monday, we laid the track over the subway and clipped the chairs to the track, as seen in the final photo below. It is necessary to do this before the concrete is laid for 2 reasons. Firstly, it allows us to pour the concrete to the correct level (note that the track is deliberately one inch higher than necessary, this will be adjusted when the concrete is fully set). Secondly, the studs for the chairs must be clear of any reinforcing rods (which requires some angle grinding) and the studs need to be bolted to the reinforcing. By close of play on Monday, about 50% of the work to locate the studs was complete. This should be finished and the concrete poured on Tuesday. We should also complete the track laying by Tuesday; as of the end of play on Monday about a third of the remaining sleepers had already been laid.
- This weekend saw the SR Q-class back in service on the Bluebell, seen here as it enters Horsted Keynes in Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday.
- Update on Schools-class 'Stowe': boiler work and arrival of the remaining sections of ashpan.
- Update from The 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society on Sunday's winter maintenance work on their locomotive at Sheffield Park.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for March.
- Bright Bricks-Build It! Tickets are now on sale for this special weekend, 27-28 May.
Steam trains and Lego; who could ask for anything more? Enjoy a day at the Bluebell Railway and join in the fun building a mosaic, playing with the Lego or 'Make and Take' a model engine. Fun for all ages.
- Project 27 Blog update showing cleaning up the wheels and overhauling the cylinder drain cocks.
- Video compilation from John Harwood of Q-class No.541 on the service train on Saturday.
- Martin Lawrence has completed his February gallery and started on that for March.
- Jon Goff's photo below shows the reinforcing in place for the concrete raft over the subway in 3-road at Horsted Keynes. Brian Lacey's photo shows the track now laid (but awaiting final ballasting and tamping) in the northern part of that platform road.
- We are running public steam trains each weekend in March, to this Timetable. Tickets can be purchased on arrival, but if you do book at least 8 days in advance, you can take advantage of our Bluebell Bonus discount.
- The bus times between Haywards Heath and Sheffield Park have now been confirmed by Compass Travel during the visit of Flying Scotsman, 13-19 April.
Our train timetable for each day is also available.
- Barbara Watkins supplies photos updating us on progress with the work in platform 3 at Horsted Keynes, as of yesterday.
As seen on the right, track laying has started in platform 3 road. This track is being laid 4 inches lower than previously, and that in platform 2 will be 8 inches lower than at present. This will bring both roads down to the same level, and significantly reduce the step down from the carriages to the platforms, which may see us making greater use of platform 2.
The first photo below shows the top of the subway with the waterproof membrane in place.
Next we see the reinforcing being constructed for one of the side beams next to the subway.
Barbara's final photo shows the shuttering adjacent to the water-crane supply pipe, as it rises over the subway.
- Jordan Shingler provides this short Facebook video of our P-class No.323 on its visit to the Churnet Valley Railway for their Winter Gala last weekend.
- Bruce Healey provides a further report and photos as of yesterday on relaying the track in platform 3 at Horsted Keynes.
The ballast for Platform 3 has been levelled and compacted. The very south end of the platform and over the subway are still to be ballasted. This photo shows the small laser 'dozer levelling the ballast. The 'dozer we usually use was too large for the platform area.
The solution for laying the lowered tacks over the subway is to have 3 steel plates over the apex of the subway to spread the load. These have been concreted in place, as seen in the photos below. The next tasks will be to put down plastic over the whole area to waterproof it, cast 2 reinforced concrete beams at either side and make a reinforced concrete raft over the subway. The track chairs will be bolted directly into the concrete. Platform 2 road will be identically treated.
Two of the three catch pits have been removed as they were not required. The drain for the south end of platform 3 road was connected to the drain put in when 22 point was changed in 2015. There is provision for platform 2 road drain to be similarly connected.
- John Harwood provides two videos - Half-term with the S15 and from this week, the new OP4 shed, and shunting at Horsted Keynes.
- During February 2017 there were 50,672 total hits on this page, from 29,733 unique visitors.
- The photos below, from Bruce Healey, show the feed pipe for the water columns at the north end of platform 2 and 3/4 rising over the subway at Horsted Keynes, and the steel plates being concreted in place over the crown of the subway. Note that the eyes on the steel plates are temporary and will be taken off with an angle grinder.
- The final photo below shows the finishing touches being applied. The compactor can be seen in the background. The shuttering round the area shows the extent of the side concrete beams and the raft over the top of the subway. All of this will be on top of a waterproof layer.
- Tickets to travel on general service trains behind our own locomotives during the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' (13-19 April) are on sale from 11am on Monday 27 February via TicketSource.
These tickets cover an entire day on the railway, allowing travel on any of the eight trains running behind two of our own larger locomotives, but do not guarantee seats on a specific timed train. Parking at Horsted Keynes is advised for these trains, or join us via a special bus link from Haywards Heath to Sheffield Park, or by train via East Grinstead.
Terms and conditions for these tickets are available here.
The timetable for the trains is available to download here.
These tickets are shown as '9am' since they are valid all day, from 9am.
They are priced at £25 for adults and £12.50 for children, with no concessions or discounts available.
- Steve Lee's photo on the right shows the SECR H-class with yesterday's Pullman Luncheon Train approaching Horsted Keynes. Tickets for this train, which offer fine dining in beautifully restored 1920s Pullman Cars, tend to book up well in advance! Details of the dates of operation available here. Because of the current engineering work at Horsted Keynes, the lunchtime dining trains are currently doing two complete round trips of the line, rather than the normal one and a half.
- Two photos below from Brian Lacey:
- The S15 is framed by the two new platform starters at Sheffield Park. The existing LBSCR-pattern signals were rotten at their bases, and as part of their renewal, have been moved about 30 yards north, allowing for the planned platform extensions to permit regular 7-coach operation (all our other stations already have 7-coach length platforms).
- The second photo shows the S15 entering platforms 4/5 at Horsted Keynes with the service train on 14 February. This is currently the only platform open for traffic at the station.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the S15 on service train at West Hoathly yesterday. Our trains run this weekend, with the Kids for a Quid Special Offer, to this Timetable.
- Join us on Saturday 18 March for a Curry Evening, one of our popular evening supper trains. Departing from Sheffield Park Station at 6.30pm for the return journey to East Grinstead, enjoy a main course and a dessert on board one of our historic steam-hauled trains. Booking is essential on 01825 720800 due to limited seating capacity. A selection of drinks are available for purchase on the day.
- Some members report not receiving their AGM 2017 Notice; it's now also available for download on the BRPS Notices page.
- Early morning full line brake van rides during the Diesel Gala - 31 March to 2 April, behind our class 09, will depart Sheffield Park at 8.10am and include a trip down the Ardingly Siding on the return leg. Tickets include a drink and breakfast roll. Ring 01825 720800 to book your space.
"Driver for a fiver" will be available on our Sentinel Shunter at Horsted Keynes station (on the Saturday and Sunday only).
Trade stand enquiries are welcome. There will be a pitch fee. Please contact our Sales Office on 01825 720800 for more information.
The Diesel Gala timetable is now available to download.
- Then and Now around Sheffield Park Station, with photos from Mike Anton and Ian Nolan.
- Martin Lawrence's February gallery
features a couple of shots of the "Find Out More" day on their tour through the C&W department, including that below which shows the group being shown the Arts Council England funded restoration of the SR-designed Elephant Van, which is being fitted out internally as a children's play area.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the recently replaced arm (the one with the horizontal stripe) on the calling on signal which permits exit from Platform 2 at Horsted Keynes onto the Ardingly spur.
- After a week's break, engineering work has restarted, focused now on relaying the track in platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes. Our thanks to Bruce Healey, Stewart Moon and Matt Crawford for the update below.
Stewart Moon's photo taken last Saturday shows track lifted in No.3 road as the S15 departs in stormy conditions from platform 4/5.
By Wednesday evening, the track base for Horsted Platform 3 had been lowered by the required 4 inches with only a small amount of spoil yet to be removed. As the feed pipe for the water columns at the north end of the station and the original drain occupied the space between Nos.2 and 3 roads, a new centre drain was not an option. Instead, a smaller drain will run under the track of both platforms 2 and 3.
Much of the feed pipe for the water columns has been uncovered and so far looks in good condition. The feed is far from level as it wends its way over the underpass and round 3 catch pits.
The drain under 3 road has been started with the very northern end having the terram/polythene/terram sandwich laid, the drain pipe in and (so far unlevelled) ballast down.
The opportunity has been taken to renew the wooden walkways on the platform 1/2 up starting signal, with Matt "Tarzan" Crawford doing the difficult bits. The walkways on the up signal on platform3/4 will be similarly renewed in the next few weeks.
- The photos below, from Bruce Healey, show some of the sleepers recovered from the Holywell track renewal, and Matt Crawford renewing timbers on the bracket signal.
- The next photo below, from Stewart Moon, shows the chalk infill covering the drain. Further along it also covers the water column feed pipes. The feed crosses 3 road at right angles which can just be seen in this photo.
- Whilst most of the digging has been done by mechanical means, that along the platform edge, around catch pits and the water-crane pipe has been done by hand, as seen in Bruce Healey's next photo. His final photo shows the platform 3 drain going under the feed pipe for the platform 3/4 water column.
- Steve Lee's photo shows the S15 with the service train on Saturday, traversing the newly relaid track near Holywell. Our trains are running every day this week, with the Kids for a Quid Special Offer, to this Timetable.
- Virtually every single one of the 8000 tickets for the trains to be hauled by 'Flying Scotsman' are now sold out.
Tickets to travel on our other steam-hauled trains behind our own locomotives over the week of Flying Scotsman's visit, go on sale on 27 February. Tickets already purchased to ride behind 'Flying Scotsman' have travel on these further trains included (subject to space being available).
- BRPS Members' concessions, as described in the letter posted earlier this month, are available for the trains operated by our own locomotives only, during the period of the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' (13-19 April), and only on sale until Friday, 24 February. Please note you will need to show the ticket and your membership card when arriving at the Railway to travel.
- Calling all holders of Bluebell PTS certificates to support our volunteer lineside stewards by signing up as a PTS 'Gala-maker' in helping keep our lineside safe during the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' (see pdf download). At the same time, we'd like to remind everyone that it is a mandatory requirement to hold a current Bluebell Railway PTS photographic pass or workers' PTS pass, which confirms that the holder has received Bluebell-specific lineside safety training, to access the lineside area within our boundary fence. Anyone without such certification will be removed from the Bluebell lineside by our stewards. Similarly, we should remind visitors wishing to view 'Flying Scotsman' that the fields alongside the railway are private property, and we ask visitors to remain on public footpaths and to respect the private nature of our neighbours' land.
- Martin Lawrence has completed his January album and started on that for February
- Mike Anton provides a look at "Ardingly Station, then and now", comparing 1962 photos from Ian Nolan with the equivalent modern view.
- Photos from the overhaul of Stowe showing the new boiler backhead, preparations for lifting the frames, and components for fabricating the new ashpan.
- Brian Lacey's photo below show the H-class arriving at Horsted Keynes with the afternoon tea train on Tuesday last week (note the stockpile of ballast which was used on the trackwork at Holywell, and which will also be used in the current work to re-lay platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes).
- Fancy a great day out for the family over Half Term?
We are currently running our Kids for a Quid Special Offer. Steam Trains operatate every day for two weeks, until Sunday 26 February, to this timetable. No need to book in advance (but adult tickets qualify for our Bluebell Bonus discount if you are able to book at least 8 days in advance).
- During the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' (13 to 19 April) we are pleased to confirm that bus links will be in place between Haywards Heath and Sheffield Park, the details for which are currently being finalised.
Tickets are still available for most of the trains which the iconic locomotive will be hauling, but several are now very nearly sold out.
- BritishRailways.tv's video of the Bluebell in 2016 provides 10 minutes of the best of Bluebell from last year!
- An additional attraction at the Spring Diesel Gala, 31 March to 2 April, will be early morning full line brake van rides behind our class 09. These will depart Sheffield Park at 8.10am including a trip down the Ardingly Siding on the return leg. Tickets for this ride are limited and must be pre-booked. Ticket cost TBA, with a drink and breakfast roll included.
- The Bluebell Railway is seeking expressions of interest for the provision of additional catering concessions during the visit of Flying Scotsman. Concessions will be awarded by competitive tender. Catering outlets will be required to operate daily between 13th and 19th April 2017, opening hours will be detailed in the tender document. During the visit the Bluebell Railway anticipates welcoming up to 6,000 visitors per day. To express your interest or for further details and receive a tender document please send an e-mail to Neil Glaskin, Retail Director. Tenders will need to be submitted by 1st March 2017.
13 February - 7pm: Stop Press
'Flying Scotsman' Flying South - 13 to 19 April 2017 - 50% of Tickets sold
'Flying Scotsman' Flying South - 13 to 19 April 2017 - Tickets on sale today
11 February: The news you have all been waiting for - 'Flying Scotsman' tickets on sale Monday at 11am
- Tickets (with seat reservation for a specific time on a specific day) to travel behind 'Flying Scotsman' will be on sale online on Monday 13th February at 11am. These tickets will also allow travel on trains hauled by other locomotives during the day (subject to space being available on those trains).
Scotsman runs each day 13-19 April.
Adult Ticket £35.00 per person.
Child (3-15yrs) Ticket £17.50
No other discounts or concessions.
Ticket terms and conditions (pdf).
Tickets (at lower cost) for services hauled by our own steam engines during the visit will be on sale from 27th February but these will not guarantee seats on a specific timed train, nor will they be valid for the trains hauled by Flying Scotsman.
To get information on the release of, and how to purchase, each ticket type (Flying Scotsman, other trains hauled by our own engines, and platform tickets): subscribe here for our email updates, or check back with this Blog, on the Flying Scotsman page on our web site, or on Facebook.
Update to the Infrastructure News page with thanks to Bruce Healey, collating reports from November's relaying of the Horsted Keynes No.5 Point at Leamland Junction.
- Many thanks to Phil Brown for supplying this photo, showing 'Flying Scotsman' at the NRM in April last year.
- Kids for a Quid Special Offer for Half Term. Steam Trains operatate every day from this Saturday for 2 weeks, to this Timetable.
- Join us on Saturday 18 February for one of our popular evening supper trains. Departing from Sheffield Park Station at 6.30pm for the return journey to East Grinstead, enjoy Sausage and Mash and a dessert on board one of our historic steam hauled trains. Booking is essential on 01825 720800 due to limited seating capacity. A selection of drinks are available for purchase on the day.
- Winter maintenance on No.73082 'Camelot' has been largely focused on the tender, plus a little work in the firebox. Having run 12,994 miles since returning to traffic in late 2015, the tender wheelsets have been sent to the South Devon Railway for re-tyring, and these photos show associated work on the tender.
- We are part-way through a transition from JustGiving and PayPal Giving Fund to using BT MyDonate, because of the latter's much lower deductions from donations received. We are pleased to announce that a new MyDonate page has been created for on-line donations to the ASH appeal (Accessible Steam Heritage) for which we've been awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The appeal is still open, since we need to raise a bit more for our own match funding for what is now a slightly larger project than when first proposed.
- Dave Bowles' photos of our Q-class with a train of box vans, with a train of mineral wagons and posed in platform 1 at Loughborough on photo charters at the Great Central last week.
- A final update on the six weeks of track-work undertaken during the engineering occupation which has just ended, with thanks to Bruce Healey and Matt Crawford.
By the beginning of this week, the new track at Holywell had been aligned, ballasted and tamped. The track now has the correct cant for 25mph operation. This week we have been removing the replaced track panels and completing clearance of the site. The photos above and below show the restored track, looking in either direction.
The work on Platform 3 at Horsted Keynes continues. The top of the subway has been exposed for inspection, as seen in the second photo below; drainage in this area is a particular concern. Track through Platform 2 will not be lifted just yet.
One of the Infrastructure tasks which is particularly time-consuming is providing underground conduits for cables currently on the surface or in concrete trunking. The work at the south end of the platforms has given us the opportunity to bury some cables by the foot crossing. This unearthed the feed pipe from the water tower to the water column on platform 2. The third photo below shows the south end of Platform 2. Under the S&T cables, the feed pipe to the Platform 2 water column can be seen running diagonally towards the near right corner of the manhole. This was only visible for a few hours and with the conduits now in place, has been ballasted over.
Although the work remains ahead of schedule, the formation between the platforms might need somewhat more work than anticipated.
- Stewart Moon provides the final photo below, showing the Platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes, as of last Sunday.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for February.
- A further update on current track-relaying, with thanks to Matt Crawford and Bruce Healey.
As of yesterday evening, the new track was being tamped at Holywell. There have been 10 ballast drops already and another 2 will be required.
If the relaying of a third of a mile of track does not sound a lot, the following items were used:
- 29 track panels each 60 feet in length
- 795 concrete sleepers
- 17 wooden sleepers
- 1590 insulating pads
- 3180 'biscuits' (which go between a pandrol clip and a concrete sleeper)
- 3200 pandrols clips
- 240 holes drilled for fishplate bolts
- 62 fishplates sets
- 248 bolts
- 28 bullhead keys
As the Holywell work is well ahead of schedule, the opportunity has been taken to start lifting track and sleepers in Horsted Keynes Platform 3, as seen in Bruce's two photos here, taken in less than ideal weather for photography.
- Services are due to resume on Saturday 11 February: steam-hauled services will run, with our Kids for a Quid Special Offer for Half Term, every day until February 26 to this Modified Timetable.
- Update on the SETG website: a working day at Strawberry Hill depot, restoring our VEP unit to working order.
- Lee Andrew Davies provides the photo below, showing our Maunsell Q-class in action at the GCR Winter Gala over the weekend. You can see more in his video and photo gallery.
In addition, Mat Yardley has some great photos.
- 2017 Spring Diesel Gala - 31 March to 2 April
We are now able to announce a further locomotive for the line up at this event. Joining the two Class 50s already confirmed, 'Ark Royal' and 'Defiance', will be the BR Type 3 class-pioneer, D6700 (later numbered 37119 and 37350). Now part of the National Railway Museum's collection this locomotive will arrive at the Bluebell via our connection with Network Rail at East Grinstead.
Built in 1960 by the English Electric Company at their Vulcan Foundry this was the first of the 309 Class 37s produced. Currently carrying BR Green livery it is anticipated that D6700's duties will include the hauling of the Beer EX evening special planned for Saturday April 1st. There is more information about D6700 available in this article by Catherine Farrel of the National Railway Museum.
Timetabling for the event is still at the planning stages - keep an eye on the web page and facebook page for more information.
The photo of D6700 is courtesy of Doc Brown's Travel Pictures.
- Further details of most of our 2017 Special Events now available.
- Engineering update from the Project 27 team. It looks likely that the most economic long-term option will be to make completely new frames for this 1910-built SECR locomotive. If you'd like to contribute towards the project, all donations are much appreciated.
- For his Fifth Anniversary edition of Steam Locos in Profile, Chris Eden-Green has chosen the BR Std 5MTs, and naturally enough 'Camelot' features prominently.
- Hornby provide further details of their forthcoming models of the SECR H-class. These can be pre-ordered through our Shop - BRPS members receive a discount.
- Kevin McElhone's photos below show our Q-class No.30541 and 777 at the Winter Gala on the Great Central Railway on 28 January. The following provide photos and videos from the same event.
- Shareholders' Weekend moved to October
As announced at the Bluebell Railway PLC AGM last year, our intention was again to hold a Shareholders' Weekend in 2017, and the dates had been set for April 22/23. April not only sees a Diesel Gala and the Easter break, but we also now have the 7-day visit of 'Flying Scotsman'. So we have decided it best to move the Shareholders' Weekend to later in the year, and it will now be held on October 14/15. This will then give an opportunity to provide, amongst other things, updates on progress with ASH, OP4 and Car 54, as well as a summary of the Railway's summer season. Full details of the October event will be sent to all shareholders in late summer.
- During January 2017 there were 50,267 total hits on this page, from 30,958 unique visitors.
Matt Crawford and Bruce Healey again provide an update with some more photos of the Holywell track work.
At close of play on Tuesday evening the new rail was almost all in. Of the 29 track panels, 28 were in and the last one, the transition panel was half in. The transition panel consists of a half panel of flat bottomed rail laid on 11 concrete sleepers and 3 wooden ones which connects to a half panel of bullhead all laid on wooden sleepers.
This last northern part of the relaying has always suffered from the embankment bellying out on the west side. The side of the embankment has been excavated and successive layers of plastic mesh and compacted soil put down to stabilise the formation.
While it might look like the work is almost complete, there is still a lot more to do. The track needs slewing to its final position, about a third needs clipping up. The whole section will then be ballasted and tamped. Then there is the breaking down and removal of the old track panels, clearing the site and finally scraping out the existing ditch on the east side. We are well ahead of schedule and confident of an early completion.
We would like to thank the Saturday and Sunday gangs for their help and in particular the 9F club who energetically and competently assist in clipping up the track.
The photos show:
- Above right: The mesh for the embankment stabilisation is being cut while the digger is collecting soil to ready for compacting.
- Below: New unballasted track with the orange insulators and pandrol clips which locate the track on the sleepers laid out ready.
- Sleepers being moved into position. Some of the replaced bullhead track can be seen in the background. The yellow marks indicate the correct positions for the sleeper ends.
- The end of the flat bottomed part of the transition panel is in the foreground and sleepers are being laid for the bullhead part. The track in the background under the digger is not being replaced.
Services are due to resume on Saturday 11 February, with steam-hauled services running daily from then until 26 February, during which time we are offering our Kids for a Quid Special Offer.
- Standard Class 4 tank locomotive No.80151, currently under overhaul at Sheffield Park, is 60 years old today. Built at Brighton Works, it was released into traffic on 18th. January 1957. Initially allocated to Brighton shed, in January 1964 No.80151 was transferred to Redhill and, subsequently, Salisbury and Eastleigh, from where it was withdrawn in May 1967.
The photo from Martin Lawrence shows it arriving at Horsted Keynes on 17 July 2010.
- An atmospheric set of photos from Peter Wilson, taken in the rain on Sunday. He reports that the lamb stew and dumplings served in the Bessemer Arms, followed by the chocolate mousse, was amazing and very welcome on a wet and cold day.
- Updates to some of the dates in the Special Events list (the April week of the planned Bluebell Specials dropped - the May dates remain, and the Seaside Weekend added in August) as well as the addition of the 6-8 October Deltic Gala for the 40th Anniversary of the DPS which was announced on Sunday.
- With 4 sold-out Pullman Dining trains under our belt, we are now advertising the availability of the GN Directors' Saloon for private or corporate hire on 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled services. Details of public services will be publicised here when released.
Matt Crawford and Bruce Healey provide this update and photos of the work at Holywell.
The work is being done in 3 phases with Phases 1 and 3 being a straight replacement of track on embankment. Phase 1 is complete except for ballasting and tamping. Phase 2 is mostly in a cutting and requires drainage to be put in on the west side. The photos below show the work on the drainage ditch. A polythene sheet sandwiched between terram (fibreglass matting) goes under a perforated pipe. Used ballast covers this ensemble. A similar sandwich will go under the track and be lapped into the sandwich shown ensuring that any water falling on the formation is properly diverted. The work is presently on schedule and Matt expects the work to be completed in good time.
- Tickets are now on sale for a fourth 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled Gala Pullman Dining Train, on 18 April, the other three already having sold out!
- We are very pleased to announce that, as part of The Deltic Preservation Society's 40th Anniversary celebrations, we have been selected by them to host an all-Deltic gala on Friday-Sunday 6,7 & 8 October.
The event will feature 4 working Deltics, D9002, D9009, 55019 and 55022 and possibly a surprise visitor. The event is at the early planning stages at the moment but some of the ideas include at least one dining train on the Bluebell and if possible another on the Network organised by AVOCET Travel Management, as well as an evening event on the Friday.
We hosted two Deltics in April 2015, at what proved to be a hugely popular event. Tony Sullivan's photo on the right shows the Deltics on shed at Sheffield Park on 16 April 2015. Jordi Blumberg's photo below shows 55019 "Royal Highland Fusilier" at Horsted Keynes on the Saturday, and D9009 "Alycidon" is seen on the Friday at Leamland Bridge in Andrew Crampton's photo.
Further details available to download in this press release from the DPS.
- See below for details of the Spring Diesel Gala, running from 31 March to 2 April.
- First Class 50s to visit the Bluebell
The Bluebell Railway's Spring Diesel Gala, taking place from Friday 31 March to Sunday 2 April, is beginning to take shape. Whilst timetables and details of other visiting motive power are still being firmed up, we can announce that the event will include two Class 50 locomotives, 50035 'Ark Royal' and 50049 'Defiance'.
The two Class 50s (there were 50 such locomotives built by English Electric in 1967/8 as 'Type 4' diesels) are owned by the Class 50 Alliance Ltd and normally resident at the Severn Valley Railway. The '50' theme continues with 2017 representing 50 years since the first of this class was built.
The Class 50s did not originally carry names, but in the late 1970s BR agreed to their being named after Royal Navy vessels with notable records in the First and Second World Wars. 50035 'Ark Royal' was the first of its class to be preserved, and 50049 'Defiance' was the last passenger diesel powered locomotive built for British Rail. They were withdrawn from service in 1990 and 1991 respectively. No Class 50 has previously visited the Bluebell.
The photo above shows 50049 'Defiance' on 16 April 2016, on the occasion of its return to service. The photo is supplied via SVR Wiki.
Since acquisition in 1991, 50035 has been a regular performer on the SVR. In recent years it has been running in a fictitious Load Haul livery (see photo below), but in 2015 it was repainted into BR blue livery, as seen in the second photo below, showing the two together.
The full text of the press release is available to download here.
- Bluebell Railway PLC invites applications for the posts of Operations Director and Infrastructure Director.
- The Churnet Valley Railway are hosting a visit by P-class No.323 'Bluebell' for their Winter Steam Gala on 25-26 February.
The first photo shows 50135 'Ark Royal' at Kidderminster by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK - 50135 Ark Royal 2. Licenced under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. In 2015 this locomotive was repainted as shown in the second photo (courtesy Tony Middleton).
- Matt Crawford wishes to keep everyone updated with the major track relaying project at Holywell, so Mike Hopps provides the four photos here. The Infrastructure gang has been out in force and at close of play yesterday (Tuesday 10 January), 10 new panels had been laid, as seen on the right. The job is going well so far and is on target time-wise. The photos below show the old track being lifted out, new sleepers laid on the re-graded trackbed, and rails being installed.
- Monday 2 January saw the last service trains until 11 February. Dave Bowles has uploaded a
few shots on his flickr site, starting with this photo.
On Tuesday 3rd, a photo charter was run by Jon Bowers, with No.30541 hauling a goods train. A perfect morning for photography with a heavy frost and a bright sunrise, and at the end of the day a fine evening for some atmospheric shots in the platforms at Kingscote. Dave provides a great selection of photos from the day.
- Mike Anton's video from Tuesday's goods train charter with Maunsell Q-class No.30541.
- Brief update for the New Year on the Project 27 BlogSpot.
- Volunteer recruitment - Find Out More days take place on the 2nd Sunday of each month from February to November. They provide the opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at the Bluebell, with no commitment unless/until you are ready to start volunteering.
- Update with the positions in the Football Competition as of 9 January. This is a fund-raiser for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.
- Martin Lawrence has been filling some gaps in his photo galleries, with photos added recently for
January 2009 and February 2009.
- Update to the details for the 2017 Murder Mystery evenings on the Golden Arrow due to a change of date in July, with that planned for 14th now changed to 7 July.
- Peter Edwards' photo shows S15 No.847 climbing Freshfield bank with the 11am service from Sheffield Park on Monday 2 January.
- Work started yesterday to replace 1/3 mile of track on our line. We thus have no trains running at present, until services resume on 11 February.
The Grinsteade Buffet Carriage at our East Grinstead station, and our Restaurant, Shop and Locomotive Sheds at Sheffield Park station are open daily, even on days when no trains are running.
- Great photo on Facebook from Jonathan Hughes of the last service of the Christmas/New Year period, on Monday.
- Video by John Harwood of the train at Kingscote and on the viaduct on Monday. The drone shots comply with our policy.
- This is a fun short video of a family enjoying their trip on one of our Santa Specials.
- Photos and news from Fred Bailey on the Brighton Atlantic project, as also seen in the photo below; the cab roof is now completed, and otherwise work concentrates on the boiler, with the welding in of the new sections around the mud-holes, and the delivery of the superheater flue tubes. In addition David Jones has just provided an updated component sponsorship list, since we're pleased to say that quite a few items have found sponsors in the last few weeks.
- Hornby have just announced that they are doing one of the Bluebell's first two coaches: ex-LSWR full third No.320, in Southern Malachite with Sunshine lettering.
Worth a reminder that Hornby and other models can be pre-ordered through the Bluebell's Shop, with BRPS members receiving a discount.
1 January 2017:
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