Bluebell Railway Blog:
Please be aware that due to the historical nature of this page, some of the
links on it may be out of date.
The Current What's New page contains
all the recent update information.
Also see the 2012, the 2011, the 2010, the 2009, the 2008, the 2007, the 2006, the 2005, the 2004, the 2003, the 2002, the 2001, the 2000, the 1999 and the 1997-8 "What was new" archive pages.
Blog and Web-site Update Archive 2013
- Mark Hemsley's photo shows the U class entering East Grinstead station on 27 March.
- The Bull's video coverage of the first public Bluebell steam trains at East Grinstead last Saturday (23rd) are worth having waited for.
- Daniel Gosling provides an excellent video from yesterday
- Ashley Smith has photos from Wednesday and Thursday.
- On 29 March 2013 the Mayor of Haywards Heath, Councillor John Sabin, accompanied by his wife, Mrs Margaret Sabin, launched the new 769 bus route (Sundays and Bank Holidays only) to Sheffield Park from Brighton, Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath. This compliments the 121 and 270 services running to the Railway on Saturdays.
The launch was also attended by Graham Flight, Chairman, Bluebell Railway PLC; Tim Baker, Commercial Director; Steve Walker, Manager, Sheffield Park National Trust Garden; Russell Pearce, Retail Director; Barry King, Compass Bus and Chris Chatfield, Managing Director, Compass Bus, who are seen below with the new bus in Haywards Heath.
Subsequently the Mayor opened the newly refurbished Birch Grove Suite at Sheffield Park Station (also seen below), and was later given a tour of the line.
Those who heard the speeches at Horsted Keynes on the arrival of the rail tour will understand why it is important to maintain good communication and relations with adjacent local authorities.
Further photos from Derek Hayward are available here.
- Martin Lawrence has a new gallery of photos from 21st to 28th March and a video from the 28th, the day of the incoming charter train.
- John Harwood has a video of the incoming special train on Thursday in the cutting.
Graham Court provides the photo below showing the special on arrival at Sheffield Park station.
- Nick Burgess provides a few photos from his visit to the Railway on Friday.
- Yesterday, Luke Bridges visited the Bluebell and took some videos: 1638 moving off shed in the morning, 1638 running round at East Grinstead, and 1638 leaving Sheffield Park for East Grinstead. Also
178 shunting the Wealden Ramber set.
- The last photo below, from David Chapman, shows the proud crew of U-class No.1638 with their engine on 26th March at East Grinstead.
- The incoming railtour from Victoria yesterday has generated (probably due to the better weather) rather more photos than the opening weekend. Tony Sullivan's photo on the right shows the pair of 73s arrive at Horsted Keynes after the quick turn-round at Sheffield Park.
- Matt Sampford's video is a very nice representation of the days activities.
- Ashley Smith has two videos, one from Wednesday and a second from Thursday.
- Chris Ward has photos from the visiting train yesterday, and this video.
- John Sandys provides videos of the Railtour arriving at Horsted Keynes, and the Naming of the Class 66, No.66739.
- Tom Waghorn has added 4 photos of yesterday's "Blue Belle" to his album "Bluebell 2013".
- Chris Livings' photos from yesterday.
- Below are two photos from Derek Hayward, one showing 66739 passing the Victorian train at Kingscote, and another showing GBRf's John Smith at the Naming Ceremony for the locomotive.
Two from Steve Lee show the pair of 73s looking as though they own Sheffield Park station (as they ran round they needed to keep 73119 inside, being the vacuum braked locomotive) and on departure from Sheffield Park, having dropped "Birch Grove" from the formation, since by this time the coaches were warm enough to dispense with steam heat for the short final run of the "Blue Belle" special up to Horsted Keynes.
Chris Ward's photo shows B473 "Birch Grove" hauling "The Pioneer", the first Bluebell service train out of East Grinstead last Saturday, through Imberhorne cutting in the snow. Paul Perton's photo shows the SECR locos with the Victorian set at Sheffield Park on the opening Sunday.
- The incoming railtour from Victoria is seen arriving at Horsted Keynes this morning in John Sandys' photo. John has a complete album from today, and also supplies further photos of today's events below:
73207 and 73119 "Borough of Eastleigh" are seen bringing up the rear of the train before being used to power a "Blue Belle Special" round-trip of the line.
66739 is seen being named at Horsted Keynes today.
Photos of the locomotive and a further nameplate were presented to the Bluebell.
- The next photo below is from Reuben Smith, and shows the two 73s, plus the E4 (providing steam heat) with the "Blue Belle Special".
- The East Grinstead Courier and Observer reports on the remaining activities for the Opening Festival, which runs until 7 April.
- A video from Philip Bull, from 17 March, featuring in particular the H-class, LSWR 488, and our oldest operational carriages.
- More photos from Saturday, the first day of the Opening Festival are below too:
- Steve Lee's photo shows B473 with the very first Bluebell service train from East Grinstead, at Vaux End.
- Nathan Gibson's photo shows 9F No.92212 as it heads North, passing Horsted House Farm foot crossing.
- Patrick Nairne's photo shows the same engine during the token exchange at Horsted Keynes.
- 80151 is seen as 80154, the locomotive which ran the final timetabled service over the line in 1958 (and the very last steam locomotive to have been built in Brighton Works), on display at Horsted Keynes in Steve Lee's photo.
- Apologies for the delay in updating this page - the last few days have been personally absolutely full, leaving no time to attend to this site. The opening, weather excepting, was a fantastic day, and the celebrations are continuing until 7th April. Many thanks to everyone who has sent links and contributions covering the festival so far - I hope I've captured them all, and they are listed below:
- John Sandys reports: "Such a lovely atmosphere all over the railway, (despite
the freezing weather!)" and has photos and a short video to catch some of the atmosphere of today at East Grinstead.
- Neal Ball's photos
- Ken Upton's view from the footplate: having signed on for duty in the Loco Department at 4:00am on Saturday, he was lucky enough to be on the E4 for the first train from East Grinstead, and managed to take a few photos.
Here are Dan Hill's pictures from the the Opening Day of the East Grinstead Opening Gala.
- Keith Duke spent quite a lot of time actually on the train on Saturday but did get some pictures, and came back for more on Monday.
- Here are some photos that Ben Gray took on the 23rd March.
- Photos from Mark Kehoe, Chief Photographer of the Sunday Express, which although not used in the printed edition are on the web edition and as this slide show.
- Keith Leppard has posted some pictures from Saturday.
- Photos from Alex Davies:the first train departing, B473 steaming in the snow, the U on the aproach and another of the U-boat.
- Alan Bedford's video available here. He comments: The carriage cleaning on carriage 6686 is so good, it almost looks like there is still no track under Hill Place and Imberhorne Lane Bridges, from the 4:30 train from East Grinstead, on Sunday.
- Ashley Smith reports he had a very good but very cold couple of days at the opening gala this weekend. "So good to finally see steam at East Grinstead! Some photos and two videos from when I braved the cold weather and got off the nice warm trains!!" Photos, and Video 1 and Video 2
- Dave Braley's photos from Saturday and Sunday's opening gala.
We are now open to East Grinstead!
Live on BBC Sussex today, and on the BBC website too.
The formal public opening of the railway line back into East Grinstead takes place tomorrow, 23 March 2013.
- We're currently front page news on the ITV Meridian website.
- The East Grinstead Courier and Observer has a feature on Russ, who will be driving the first train out of East Grinstead tomorrow. Another article is about the journey we've made to get to East Grinstead, and finally "Everything you need to know" about the opening day!
- Roy Watts has provided his last thoughts before tomorrow's opening, which are on the BRPS Members' Notices page, along with, rather belatedly due to other things taking precedence, notes from the February committeee meeting.
- Over the weekemd the Fenchurch Fund will be offering all manner of items on their stand at Sheffield Park, (as long as it is not too wet!). They will be offering Tea Cans, Tea Mugs and Tee Shirts, together with key rings and fridge magnets and cuddly dogs (we call them terriers!), and of course the non-award-winning preserves (orange marmalade and some chutneys).
- The Bulleid Society shop at Sheffield Park will open every day for the first ten days of the festival. Normal opening hours will be from 10.30 to 17.30 every day. They have a large selection of secondhand books, videos, DVD's, framed pictures, prints and general railway ephemera. So why not call in and see if you can find a bargain! They also expect to be open during the second week of the festival, however this will be subject to volunteer staff availability.
- There's a new webpage with the Signalling Diagram for East Grinstead, and a major update to that for Kingscote, and other updates on the signalling pages, including updated diagrams for Sheffield
Park, with thanks to Peter Richards and Adrian Lee.
- Also in honour of the opening is a revamp and update to the Location Map and Gradient Profile page.
- Visitors on Saturday can arrive at East Grinstead from London / East Croydon by train, of course, although due to engineering works there are no direct trains from London Victoria (so change at East Croydon). We had hoped that the Sunday would also be free of engineering work, but a late change has resulted in there being replacement buses between Purley and Hurst Green, although the alternative route via Three Bridges, with a bus to East Grinstead may be the best route. Please do check your travel plans in advance!
- Two great videos of today's crew training runs from John Harwood: The H-class with the Victorian coaches (now with correct link) and U-class with set B.
- John Sandys has captured a journey (in the GN saloon) behind the U-class on one of the crew training runs today, from Kingscote to East Grinstead and
back to Kingscote. His
photos from today are also available, and that on the right shows the H-class in the cutting on one of the training runs.
- Lest anyone think we're only focussed on the extension, Tony Sullivan took the photo below today at Sheffield Park, showing the pattern for the trailing pony truck frame for Standard 2 tank locomotive No.84030, which is being made by our two volunteer pattern makers, Roy Stirling and Syd Prentice.
- The web pages for BR Standard 4 tanks Nos.80100 and 80064 have been updated with the locomotives' BR shed allocations, with thanks to Nick Beck and Martin Skrzetuszewski.
- Tim Baker's photo shows the interior of the newly installed restaurant facilities at East Grinstead; the carriage, originally a Mk.I Brake second, was converted from Ashford Staff & Generator coach BDC 977166 by members of the Infrastructure department. The newly created interior, and the refurbished original Maunsell and Bulleid period restaurant chairs (of which just one remains to be installed), provide a most appropriate ambiance to welcome visitors while they await our train services. At the far end is a separate kitchen area, beyond the serving counter.
- Martin Lawrence provides a video showing 33103 working from Horsted Keynes to East Grinstead yesterday, together with some photos.
- Ben Gray took these photos on 23 February, featuring B473, the U-class and the class 33.
- Today, SR U-class No.1638 took a 7-coach test/training train up to East Grinstead, as seen in David Haggar's photo on the right.
- The 9F also took a crew/staff training train up the extension, as seen below in Yoshi Hashida's photo.
- Ashley Smith got this photo and
video this afternoon in the pouring rain of the U-class on another round test trip to East Grinstead today.
- Martin Lawrence's photo below of yesterday's training run, at Horsted Keynes on its way to East Grinstead and Victoria... If only! Presumably this board has been stored unused at Horsted Keynes for the last 55 years.
- Today was another momentous day on the extension, when, for crew/staff training purposes, the 9F ran three trips between Kingscote and East Grinstead with a train of Southern Railway coaches. Mike Hopps has produced this poster, since the NEP team held something of a celebration to mark the event! Mike hopes to have it available via the
Heritage Rail Poster - Amazon shop front soon. Others available now and new designs on the way for the opening.
- Timetables for the various days of the East Grinstead Opening Festival (23 March to 7 April) are now available.
- Steve Lee provides the three photos below, showing the train passing up through the cutting at about 3.35pm, the 9F at East Grinstead, and on its return journey today.
Once word got out today, Imberhorne Lane Bridge became a popular place, but we understand that the police may take measures to control crowds on what is quite a dangerous road bridge next weekend, during the start of our formal opening festival. So we'd please request that photographers exercise considerable care when in this area, since it's a narrow and busy road.
- John Sandys only had his pocket camera with him today, but none the less provides these photos and a video showing the train approaching Imberhorne Cutting, and this one of it returning through the cutting.
- David Haggar has uploaded an album of slide scans from the Goods Trains Galas we staged between 2005-08.
- There's a further extensive update to the Extension News Page, recording activites over the last week.
- Martin Lawrence's photo shows preparations under way for the opening festival, with stock to be displayed being formed up (Brighton-built No.80151, LSWR 1885-built No.488, and matching LSWR carriage) ready for transfer to Horsted Keynes. Martin also provides a video showing H class No.263 starting from Horsted Keynes, one showing 33103 with the East Grinstead buffet/shop coach and the U-class on Mothers' Day, some photos of 92212 undergoing its steam test, and a short video and some photos of the stock seen on the right being moved to Horsted by 08 No.13236.
- It is now apparent that, due to circumstances beyond our
control, "Britannia" will not be able to visit for the Opening Festival,
so as shown on the updated Loco Roster, the timetable on 23rd March will
be operated by the following 8 steam locomotives, namely the visiting 9F No.92212, and
our own Nos. 1638, B473, 263, 323, 178, 55 and 3. We have already
explored all other options for visiting engines, and it is understood
that nothing suitable is available at this very late stage. Although clearly the attraction is
the opening of the Bluebell's long-awaited extension to East Grinstead,
rather than a visiting engine, we are none the less disappointed to have
to relay this news.
- John Sandys provides the two photos below, showing the first stage of the canopy extension at Sheffield Park, and work to complete the inter-station path at East Grinstead. John has photos showing new arrivals in the shop today, photos from the extension, and a video of the Road-Railer ballast regulating today, plus a video showing the tamper in action yesterday, photos of the canopy work at Sheffield Park and finally yesterday's photos of the tamper in action.
- Update to the third page, and a new fourth page of the History of Kingscote Station thanks to Martin Skrzetuszewski and Nick Beck, using a photo from Terry Cole.
- The final photo below is another of Simon Lathwell's, showing the H with the Golden Arrow on 3rd March.
- Another significant occurence on the extension, photographed by John Sandys today. The Queen Mary brake van is the first item of the Bluebell's pre-war Southern stock to make it to East Grinstead. It is seen in the company of 33103 Swordfish, our three Dogfish ballast hoppers, and the tamper. John's photos below, also taken today, show the tamper at East Grinstead, and the travel centre, the refurbished restaurant/shop coach, and the toilet block in place.
- John Sandys has
further photos in this album. John Harwood provides this video taken at East Grinstead and Imberhorne yesterday. Today has seen more ballast laid, and much work continues on the cabling and signalling side.
- A Flutter to Fund the Future (from Roger Kelly, Funding Director)
In these exciting times, the Railway is ever more grateful for your long-term support. As part of the Funding for the Future Campaign, which will be launched after 28 March, the Railway has teamed up with Unity Lottery, which runs lotteries every Saturday on behalf of charities and good causes.
The top prize each week is £25,000, and other prizes range from £1,000 down to £5. Everyone has a 1 in 63 chance of winning something. Fifty pence of every entry goes towards specific Railway projects. Participants must be older than 16, but otherwise entry is open anyone, and you can place many entries.
Sign up at unitylottery.co.uk/Bluebell-Railway. Paper application forms will go out with Bluebell News next month.
- You have the option to pay by direct debit, card, or cheque.
- You must be 16 or older to enter and be resident in Great Britain.
- Once we receive your completed application form, we'll send a letter with your unique six-digit Unity Lottery game number.
- This game number is entered into the draw each week, provided your account has at least £1 in it.
- For those using direct debit, there is a 14-day cooling-off period; however, a letter will be sent with a game number in all instances.
- If you have queries, call the Unity Lottery hotline at 0870 050 9240.
- The highlights (for Southern fans) of Bachmann's plans for the next 18 months, announced on Sunday, are an 00 model of an LBSCR E4 0-6-2T, inluding one representing our own preserved No.B473, and a three-coach SECR Birdcage set - the only surviving 60-ft birdcage brake is also on the Bluebell. Further releases of SECR C-class locos are also announced. The Blog post from Graham 'Muz' covers the news of interest to followers of the Southern.
- Three major milestones towards the opening of the extension on 23rd March have occured. Firstly, the track was connected up, temporarily on Thursday, to enable 66712 to run through, light engine, from East Grinstead to Sheffield Park that evening on a hastily organised gauging run in preparation for the incoming charter on 28th March, as seen in Andrew Strongitharm's photo taken at Horsted Keynes, below.
The following day saw our version of the "Golden Spike" when Barbara Watkins, the power behind the tea that has fuelled the workers on the extension, fitted a celebratory pair of "White Fishplates" in a private "Thank You" ceremony for the extension volunteers. The Official Video of the event is now available, as are John Sandys' photos and videos, and this report on the BBC website. John's two photos below show Barbara tightenning the fishplate bolts, and the three cheers from the team for a job completed (if not of course totally finished yet...)
Thirdly, last night the temporary restaurant car was craned into position last night, as seen in Shane Drayton's video.
- The first rolling stock through was, however, the S&T departments Wickham trolley, which was the cause for a minor celebration as seen below in Alan Grove's photo. Just after 5 pm on Thursday 7th March 2013 members of the S&T Department pose in front on the Wickham Trolley at East Grinstead station, shortly after it had become the first rail vehicle to travel over the newly "joined up" extension. The trolley had spent most of the day parked south of Imberhorne Lane bridge whilst members of the department had carried out various tasks in and around the new cutting, including track bonding. Following the "joining up" at about 4.20 pm, the trolley had to travel to East Grinstead in order to allow the tamper to complete its journey from the south. As well as S&T members, the trolley also carried a large number of P-Way staff who had been involved in making the final connection. Shortly after this the tamper made its way North.
- Tim Baker's photo shows the other major event at East Grinstead, as the new National Rail/Southern station was officially opened. Chris White, Tim Baker and Customer Service Team members Caroline Collins and Lesley-Anne Liddell represented Bluebell at the ceremony. Seen cutting the ribbon in Tim Baker's photo is Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames, in the company of Cllr Liz Bennett, The Mayor of East Grinstead, Chris Burchell, Southern's MD and Mark Ruddy, Network Rail's Sussex Route Manager. Note the new sign pointing to the Bluebell Railway visible through the window!
- Also seen below is some of the Carriage & Wagon's "can you just" work, with Tom, Chris and Steve assembling a completely overhauled double sided Southern Railway seat, with all new timbers, for Horsted Keynes on Saturday. There's a similar one being prepared for East Grinstead, as well as a single-sided one, seen below being trial-assembled in undercoat, that was little more than a rotten pile of timbers and rusting metal just a week before.
- The Bulls have another video, showing the U-class in action on 24th February.
- Simon Lathwell's photo from Sunday shows 323 shunting the Maunsell stock into the carriage shed.
- There's an extensive update from earlier in the week on the Extension News Page.
The hot news is that the momentous and long awaited 'official joining up' moment (not a 'Golden Spike' since it would have to go into a concrete sleeper) will be held on Friday 8 March 2013 at Imberhorne Lane Bridge. This will be a relatively 'private' and low key affair for the guys who actually did the work to celebrate with a traditional cup of tea, although it will be filmed and a limited (because of space and access difficulties) number of press representatives invited. Roy Watts will be doing a few radio interviews too.
As for who is going to tighten up the final fishplate, this honour goes to Barbara Watkins who has done so much to support the teams working on the Northern Extension Project in so many ways. She has a specially cleaned and painted fishplate lined up for the job!
- Keith Duke has some pictures online from Saturday.
- As seen in his photo below, John Sandys has a set of photos from this morning at Sheffield Park, showing good progress on the Platform 1 canopy extension, where to start with one extra bay is currently being constructed, plus new stock arrived in the Shop. Please do support the canopy project with a donation since we need to raise the funds still required if it is to be completed this year.
- 92212 and 1638 are seen on shed below, as captured by 9F Club member Cameron Smith on Sunday 3 March.
- Great news from the Brighton Atlantic project (more photos and details on their News page). The completed leading and driving wheelsets have arrived as seen in Fred Bailey's photo taken yesterday morning.
Atlantic House will be open with a sales stand, and the chance to get a closer look and discuss progress, for several days over the extension opening week. The intended 'open' days are 23, 24, 28, 29, 30 & 31 March and 1 April.
- John Sandys' photo from today shows a great moment - the sub-base for the track is complete, and the last of the ballast is now being laid. John has further photos and a video from today, including more tracklaying, ballasting, and progress at East Grinstead to complete the water tower and the ramp to access the visitor facilities.
- An updated Loco Roster thanks to Lewis Nodes indicates current plans for loco usage for the first three weeks March.
- Martin Lawrence has a gallery of photos from 20 - 23 February, which include photos of the H-class (seen below leaving Horsted Keynes last Friday), and 33103 "Swordfish" on a driver training / gauging run last Saturday (as seen below with the Queen Mary brake van). A second gallery has photos from the track trek last Sunday and taken at Sheffield Park on Monday.
The canopy on Platform 1 at Sheffield Park is being extended back to its original length, to match that on Platform 2. Martin's third photo below shows some of the original canopy footings that have been uncovered below the platform surface. The work on the canopy is being done by the Friends of Sheffield Park, and there is a JustGiving page to help with the £18,800 which still needs to be raised to complete the project. We will shortly begin to erect some of the timber structure, and it is now vital we build up the funds needed to finish the project. Please do support this great project.
- During February 2013 there were 108,490 total hits on this page, from 55,995 unique visitors.
- The official Track Trek video is now available, reporting on our hugely successful fund-raising day on Sunday, with an estimated total of £40,000 pledged/received in sponsorship.
Many thanks to everyone who took part, who helped with the event, and who sponsored participants.
Check out their appearances in the video, and then, why not retrospectively sponsor one of the following three of our top fundraisers:
- Tony Sullivan's photo below shows some of the Track Trekkers in the depths of Imberhorne cutting last Sunday.
- John Harwood has a High speed video of the trek and an "outside" view of the event.
- John Sandys has photos showing work on the extension, including preparation of the trackbed, and work at East Grinstead from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today this week, as well as videos from Tuesday, Wednesday and today
John also provides photos of new stock in the Shop.
- In advance of the opening of the extension on 23 March, staff are receiving familiarisation training on the token and signalling to the north of Kingscote, by means of extending the normal short run-round onto the single line section, as seen in this video of the training from John Sandys.
- The photo on the right shows that U-class No.1638 is back in service again. It passed a steam test on Wednesday, and ran on Friday and Saturday as well as today, when it was photographed during its run-round, at Kingscote. Note also that the Friends of Kingscote are currently in the process of repainting the signal posts seen here partly in primer, at the South end of the station.
- Today was of course Track Trek day. The final reckoning is still to be done, but we believe pledges and donations, plus Gift Aid will be in the region of £40-50,000, well above our target, although there are some costs to be deducted. More detailed information should be available tomorrow. Many thanks to all the walkers and their sponsors, to the organisers (especially Nigel Longdon) and all the volunteer stewards and St John Ambulance, plus Megan, Margaret, and the catering team, who kept everyone supplied with bacon baps and tea. The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all participants, who appreciated the chance to see the state of the work close-up, and the opportunity to discuss progress with members of the extension team, even if it was rather colder than one would have liked. It all helps to pay for the remaining engineering work and ballast.
The photos below show (from John Sandys), setting off across the viaduct, and Roger Kelly presenting Mayor of East Grinstead, Cllr Liz Bennett, with her certificate and medal, (from Tony Sullivan) the walkers in the cutting and (from Richard Salmon) looking southwards at the ballasted section awaiting tracklaying beneath Imberhorne Lane Bridge.
John Sandys provides many more photos of the Track Trek.
- Ashley Smith also did the track trek today travelling via train from Horsted Keynes and got a couple of photos of the U-class on the way back.
- Keith Leppard has a gallery from Saturday.
- Derek Hayward's photo from last Sunday shows the two P-class locomotives with the Southern set at Kingscote.
- Today was the first real outing for 33103 "Swordfish", which ran for driver-training purposes. It was also good to see U-class No.1638 back in service after its boiler repairs, alongside Nos.B473 and 263.
- John Sandys has a series of photos and a video showing work on the extension today including the spreading of ballast North and South of Imberhorne Lane bridge.
- Fred Ivey's great film footage of the London Underground 150 steam train that ran with Met No. 1 steam locomotive, a milk van, coach 353 recently restored at the Ffestiniog Railway, the Blubell Railway's Chesham set of four "Ashbury" coaches and Met electric locomotive No. 12 "Sarah Siddons", starting with the delivery of the carriages by road, and including coverage of the December test run and January's public runs.
- Article about the completion of our extension in the Mid Sussex Times, and an article in the East Grinstead Courier and Observer about a local couple who lived at Kingscote station for 16 years, and rode on the last train before closure back in 1958.
- Jon Bowers' photo below shows the unloading of the ballast train on Thursday, taken from mid-way along the eastern bank of the cutting.
- Derek Hayward's photo below shows the LMS BGZ back in service after its repaint which has seen the pantry and brake coach, which had turned somewhat green in the sunlight, returned to Pullman colours.
- Tony Hayllar's photo shows that a second ballast train arrived today, and is seen here at East Grinstead. 66708 "Jayne" again providing the motive power.
- John Harwood took this video, yesterday showing progress in hand with the water tower, and the Ballast train being shunted and unloaded.
- John Sandys also has a video showing the arrival of yesterday's ballast train.
- The Track Trek is all set for Sunday, with over 750 people taking part in the walk over the extension trackbed. If anyone would like to help pay for the ballast now coming in, we do still need to raise around £100,000 so please sponsor Liz Bennett, the Mayor of East Grinstead, or one of our "Chit-Chat" team.
- Brian Kidman's two photos above show Class 66 66708 and its train of Falcon wagons loaded with ballast for Imberhorne Cutting, passing Hurst Green Junction at 2.20pm today, en-route to East Grinstead. Once the ballast is laid between the sleepers a tamper will come in to achieve the final line and level.
- Our man on the spot, John Sandys, has visited the extension this morning, and will be adding more photos to today's gallery following his second visit this afternoon - as seen below, his first two photos show the train arrived at Imberhorne, and the first half being unloaded. He also has some
photos from yesterday, showing the continued work to profile the eastern cutting side, and replacement of the temporary 30ft lengths of rail with 60ft lengths, plus progress on the Water Tower at East Grinstead.
- Steve Lee's photo from Saturday shows three of the weekend's four engines, at Horsted Keynes. The two P-class locomotives and the E4 were on the two service trains. The H-class was also in use, on the afternoon lounge Car train and Sunday's Golden Arrow luncheon train.
- Ashley Smith was also at the Railway on Saturday and has a few photos, and has added some clips of the extension to a video of the trains running.
- Some photos from Martin Lawrence from Friday and Saturday.
- Yesterday the last substantial quantity of the rubbish was lifted out of the cutting, and tracklaying is now progressing round the curve into the last section of the cutting, with drainage and communications ducting being dug in, and the formation with its clay capping being formed beyond.
John Sandys has been keeping us up-to-date with:
John Sandys' also provides
photos taken on Sunday at Horsted Keynes, showing three of the four locos running, in lovely sunny weather.
Please do sponsor John for Sunday's Track Trek, if you appreciate his updates.
- Derek Hayward provides the sequence of photos below, showing training taking place at Kingscote North signal box, and on the Northern Extension on Sunday - Derek's updated gallery.. This is the first operational use of the box, which will otherwise not be used for signalling for the first few years of operation of the extension. Eventually the North box will take over control of Kingscote from the temporary South box, once the final signalling system (planned to extend to cover operation of the entire layout at East Grinstead, with full track circuiting) comes into operation.
The token machine shown is connected with an identical machine in the South Box, such that only one of the single line tokens for the section to East Grinstead may be withdrawn at any one time. This enables the token for the section to be issued from either location, and returned to either location, hence the good supply of tokens (20 in all between the two machines) to ensure that any imbalance between the two machines does not affect operation. The token is fitted into the pouch, and is the driver's authoriity to take his engine onto the single line. Not normally required for running round the train within station limits, on this occasion, as part of the training, the locomotive did, again as part of the training exercise, venture northwards onto the extension beyond the down outer home signal. The addition of signal numbers to the posts has drawn some criticism from purists, but had been requested by the operations department.
- New official video presented by Nicholas Owen discussing current progress on the extension.
- Martin Lawrence provides photos taken on footplate of H-class No.263, and this photo showing the locomotive heading the Valentine's Day Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train through Horsted Keynes yesterday.
- Final details are now available for the Track Trek on Sunday 24 February, and we are in the process of sending information to all pre-registered participants. Please note that with over 750 participants, we have now closed to new participants, and institute a "one-way" system. If you wish to support us, and help to raise the final sum needed to complete the extension (we still need to buy quite a lot of ballast!), in addition to the Mayor of East Grinstead, you could also consider sponsoring members of "Team Chit Chat", members of our e-mail discussion group who have set up JustGiving pages for the trek.
- Further preparations of trackbed though the cutting, with trench work and pipe laying, and ballasting seen in John Sandys'
and video from Wednesday, and
photos from Thursday. John also provides photos of
new arrivals in the shop at Sheffield Park.
- John Sandys caught this evocative portrait of the H-class on Sunday, preparing to leave Horsted Keynes with the 12-noon ex-Kingscote service.
- There was an interview with Chairman Roy Watts on BBC Radio Sussex this morning, which is currently available on BBC iPlayer at 1.23.39 into the programme.
- Update now available on the overhaul of SECR P-class tank locomotive No.27.
- John Sandys provides photos and a short video of work on the extension today.
In addition here are some
recently arrived items now in stock in the Shop at Sheffield Park.
If you've appreciated his updates, why not sponsor him for the forthcoming Track Trek!
- Update to the web page for South Eastern Railway Drawing Room Car No.33 which was later Pullman Car "Constance".
- Updates to the web pages for our three remaining Dogfish hopper wagons, with thanks to Jon Elphick and Martin Skrzetuszewski:
DB 983103, DB 993217 and DB 993348
- Congratulations to our friends at the Swanage Railway in winning a £1.47 million grant to extend services to Wareham in 2015.
- The Bluebell was the subject of a very complimentary article on the inside back page of the January edition of Professional Engineering magazine (which is the journal of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers).
- David Haggar has just uploaded a couple of galleries from the Branch Line Weekend and 50th Anniversary Gala staged in 2010. These galleries were previously on the now defunct fotopic site.
- 33103 "Swordfish" arrived at Sheffield Park yesterday to start its period on hire for work on the extension (which will extend beyond the opening gala, since there will still be work for it to do tidying up the mound of clay capping afterwards. If you missed it, the notice explaining the reasons for the hire is on the Society Notices web page.
The photo below is one of Martin Lawrence's, from his gallery, and this video also covers its arrival and unloading.
John Sandys also has photos and a video of the arrival of the Crompton.
- Update on the Brighton Atlantic project, showing progress leading up to the successful pressure test of the cylinder and valve chest assemblies - a major milestone due to the novel techniques used in sealing the fabricated assemblies together through the frames.
- There was high demand this morning for tickets for the first trains for the Opening Festival of the Extension to East Grinstead - and staff worked through the phone calls as quickly as possible, but our apologies to those unable to get through immediately. Some trains (notably the Breakfast Pullman service) sold out immediately, but remember that, whilst we were taking bookings for the "first trains" of various descriptions, there is plenty of accommodation on trains throughout the entire fortnight.
- John Sandys provides
photos taken today, from both bridges on the extension at the cutting, where it looks as though we are very nearly through!
Also, photos and a video from yesterday, showing more digger work on the West Bank, further clearance of the remaining rubbish and track panel preparation, brickwork repairs on the occupation bridge, and, under the supervision of two members of the infrastructure/extension team, with permission from Roy Watts, some photos just North of Kingscote, including the new Kingscote Up Advance Starter signal seen here, which has replaced the previous "Stop" board. The post for this signal came from Shoreham Junction (Steyning Branch).
- We've had a lot of exposure on TV in the last couple of weeks.
Quite apart from Dan Snow's "Locomotion", we've also been seen extensively during "Dancing on the Edge" (largely using the Semi-Royal Saloon and Pullman Car Doris, with U-class No.1638 and the Birdcage Brake), and yesterday on BBC2 on The Genius of Invention - 3. Communication - link to iPlayer - although one would have thought they could have also showed the telegraph needles still in use in our signalling system as well!
- Update on the East Grinstead Extension - with a special report from Roy Watts on preparations for the opening.
The photo on the right is from Mike Hopps - sunset at East Grinstead.
The photo below is from Roy Watts, and like Mike's was taken on Tuesday this week.
- More from John Sandys, with work on the extension: Photos and video from Tuesday, and also photos and a video from yesterday.
- Nick Beck has updated more wagon pages with text provided by Martin Skrzetuszewski:
- An updated Loco Roster thanks to Lewis Nodes indicates plans for loco usage for February.
- Cameron Smith's photo below shows the E4 arriving at Horsted Keynes on 6 January. Of particular note is the SR-pattern elevated shunt signal controling the exit from the up sidings (which has been in place for some time now), which is seen in the context of the relevant tracks.
- Update on work on the East Grinstead Extension - Good weather enables work to progress well, and so March 23 has been announced as the start of our opening festival.
Many thanks to Martin Lawrence for providing the countdown above! Please note it assumes your computer is set to GMT.
A further update on our plans for the opening and subsequent operation of the Northern Extension should be available on Wednesday for subscribers to our e-mail newsletter, which you can sign up for here.
- The news of the forthcoming opening has been picked up by the ITV website, and apparently we were also mentioned on the BBC yesterday morning.
- Dave Clarke's photo shows the participants in Sunday's Volunteer Recruitment "Find Out More Day" at the Carriage & Wagon Department. Sign up now to join the tour next month.
Photos from today, and a video, of work on the extension from John Sandys, mainly showing the team assembling track panels at East Grinstead, but also of work to dig out the remaining material in the cutting.
- Another video from the Bulls, showing the H-class and P classes on the trains on Saturday.
We are pleased to be able to confirm that:
The Bluebell Railway's Extension to East Grinstead
will open to the public on Saturday 23rd March 2013.
We are launching our long awaited Northern Extension with a fortnight-long festival, including a visiting engine (the identity of which will be confirmed soon).
Further details, including links giving full information, and how to book for the various events (booking opens next Friday), are available via the events listing, here, and more information will be available tomorrow in our regular e-mail newsletter, which you can sign up for here.
Martin Lawrence's photo shows that the way North is becoming clear, as the H-class runs round its train this morning under the full control of the new signals installed at the north end of Kingscote. This was the very first time this newly commissioned signal had been used.
John Sandys' photos and video from the extension yesterday show the excellent progress being made, which has enabled us to confirm the opening date. The tracklaying from the South has almost reached Imberhorne Lane Bridge, and the diggers are doing well getting rid of the last mound of rubbish.
Work also continues on the parapet repairs to the occupation bridge at the north end of the cutting, and on the signalling and telecoms, at both Kingscote and East Grinstead. Even the Carriage & Wagon department volunteers are involved, repairing platform seats for East Grinstead, and Southern Railway dining chairs for the new restaurant car there, which is itself currently being refurbished in the P-way yard at Horsted Keynes by members of the infrastructure department.
- This photo from Ben French shows one of our four Metropolitan coaches, No.394, back at Sheffield Park last Saturday, after their starring role in the 150th Anniversary celebrations, where they carried the majority of the passengers. Congratulations also to our own Jon Bowers, whose photo of the overnight Underground test run on 10 January made the cover of Steam Railway magazine this week.
- More photo and video updates from John Sandys, showing work over the last week on the extension:
- Saturday 26th: Work continued on the West bank, despite the muddy conditions which weren't helped by the heavy overnight rain. .More geotextile material has been installed at the North end of the site.
Photos and video.
- Tuesday 29th: Good progress: the buffer stops have been removed at the north end of the cutting, and track laying has re-started south of Imberhorne Lane. The diggers have re-starting work in the cutting.
Photos and video.
- Thursday 31st: The first clip in the video shows work South of Imberhorne Lane bridge, laying track from the South into the
curve. The final clip shows work to remove what's left of the rubbish mound, using no less than 3 diggers plus two on the bank above!
The photos additionally show that track laying from the North has reached right up to the edge of the mound of capping material prepared for spreading on the cutting floor.
- Great video from the Bulls, showing the H-class on the service train on Saturday, and we also see P-class No.178 on the Wealden Rambler afternoon tea train, and the Metropolitan coaches being shunted after their return from London Underground.
- Nick Beck has updated some wagon pages with text provided by Martin Skrzetuszewski:
- Chris Jennings has just uploaded some more nocturnal Bluebell shots from the end of last year.
- The first photo below, from Andrew Shapland, shows the H-class emerging from the Tunnel with the service train on Saturday.
Steve Lee's photo shows the same event, 24 hours later, by which time the snow had melted!
The final photos show (upper), on Saturday, 394 on the low loader, having returned from London Underground thanks to Ben French, and (lower) the
departure of Mk.I BSK No.35448 on Sunday. This coach has been replaced in Bluebell service by the freshly overhauled No.34556, and is now going to the East Somerset Railway.
- During January 2013 there were 100,010 total hits on this page, from 54,528 unique visitors, which is both a record and a milestone!
- We are pleased to report that our Train services should be running normally this weekend.
- David King's photo from Saturday shows the E4 with the delayed first-train of the day. His photo below, taken on Sunday shows B473 back at Sheffield Park after its light-engine test run up the line.
- In view of possible snow tonight, but warmer weather tomorrow, do please check our weather update page before travelling to the Railway this weekend.
- Notice, now available via the BRPS Members' Information page, from Roy Watts (Chairman BRPS) about Northern Extension construction work.
- John Sandys provides photos of work on the extension, and this video from today, and photos, and a video from yesterday, with work on drainage and conduit for comms cables progressing in parallel with the earthmoving. More of the West side of the cutting has been covered in geotextile materials.
- Sarah Siddons is seen with the Bluebell's four Metropolitan Railway coaches at Edgware Road on Sunday, in Tim Easter's photo on the right. Here are a few more of Tim's photos from the Metropolitan 150 anniversary specials from this Sunday.
- Probably the best compilation of sequences so far seen of the recent steam running on the underground is to be found in this film, which really captures the atmosphere of this fantastic event. It was taken over both operating weekends by Sam Brown, Donna Lipowitz, Chris Eden-Green and Conor O'Connor.
- John Sandys provides photos of new stock in the Bluebell's shop, and also photos of work on the extension, and this video from yesterday, as the final clearance of the cutting gets ever closer.
- The third page about the history of Kingscote station has been updated to give a taste of life at the time of the station's closure, with thanks to Martin Skrzetuszewski and Nick Beck.
- Video from Gary and Philip Bull from Sunday showing Birch Grove's light engine run back from Horsted Keynes, and at Sheffield Park.
- Two photos below from David King, taken on Saturday, showing Birch Grove, and the brazier at Sheffield Park which stops the water crane from freezing.
- Volunteer, Mick Ralph, photographed the only thing moving on the Bluebell on Sunday, as the E4 approached Horsted Keynes on its return from the tunnel in the morning. Having decided that it would not be possible to run trains through the tunnel, the next task was to establish whether the loco could run round its train at Horsted Keynes. In Mick's photos below, we see the E4 leaving Horsted southwards, and Roy Watts and David Chappell discussing the frozen point which scuppered plans for public services that day.
- John Sandys provides further photos taken of work on the extension today, along with a video, and this video from yesterday.
- Those working members with long pedigrees will be saddened to learn that Phyl Blackburn (Mick Blackburn's Mum and "Aunty Phyl" to many) passed away on Sunday 20 January 2013, aged 97. Further details and funeral arrangements are on the BRPS Members' information page.
- David Chappell's photo below shows Horsted Keynes Signal Box in the snow on Sunday.
- The set of photos which complete today's update are from Derek Hayward, who has just completed a major overhaul of his Bluebell Railway People galleries:
Derek says that having typed about 325 captions there will inevitably be some mistakes, some please tell him of any you find. Similarly, if you feature in a picture and prefer not to be there, please let him know.
- We regret due to the weather conditions and frozen points, services on Sunday 20 January are suspended. Please check the Snow update page for an update on services next weekend.
- On Sunday 20 January a revised train service will operate, departing Sheffield Park at 11am and 2pm. Passengers are advised to start and finish their journey at Sheffield Park station to avoid problems on local roads in the Horsted Keynes and Kingscote areas. Please check the Snow update page for any subsequent updates tomorrow, before travelling to the Railway.
- This photo, taken today by Martin Lawrence, shows Sheffield Park Station House in the snow. It is from an album which also shows Birch Grove waiting for permission to pass through the tunnel, since an inspection is required in icy weather, as seen in the photo below. You will see from Martin's video that the train did indeed get the all clear to proceed to Kingscote.
Photos from Keith Duke taken today at the Railway.
- Video compilation in honour of the 150th anniversary of the Metropolitan Railway from Barry Coward.
- A great
video from John Harwood, from last Sunday morning at Kensington Olympia, shows our carriages to particularly good effect. John also has a video showing work on the extension, including on the water tower at East Grinstead, from Thursday.
- Photos of a snowy cutting today, from John Sandys, including one below, taken from the north end of the cutting looking southwards.
18 January - Please check the Snow update page before travelling to the Bluebell this weekend
- So to a small portion of the reports available on the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Metropolitan Railway, which saw steam-hauled passenger trains returning to the Edgware Road-Moorgate section of the line for the first time since 1907! Some services started from Kensington Olympia, running via Earl's Court and High Street Kensington, before gaining the original route at Edgware Road.
- The first two photos are from the test run on the night of 9th/10th January, when we left Earl's Court at 1.30am, for a slow run to Moorgate, with frequent stops to check the loco and stock. After taking water from two 1000 litre tanks, the steam heat could finally be applied, and Sarah Siddons hauled the return journey. The first photo shows some of our carriages, being admired by participants in the test run, at Edgware Road station, and the second shows the train about to depart from Earl's Court after disembarkation at 4.20am!
- The next two photos show the empty stock being drawn into Kensington Olympia on the Sunday morning, and the crowd of VIPs ready to board the train there.
- The final photo from Conor O'Connor showing our composite coach 412 passing through Baker Street Station on the Sunday evening.
- Please keep your eyes on the Snow update page on the bluebell-railway.com site.
Currently we are reporting: On Saturday 19 January we hope to operate our train services as planned, with steam trains departing from Sheffield Park at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.
Passengers are advised to start and finish their journey at Sheffield Park station to avoid problems on local roads in the Horsted Keynes and Kingscote areas.
- John Sandys' photo shows the Dukedog in the snow at Sheffield Park today.
This is from John's gallery of photos taken at Sheffield Park today.
Martin Lawrence also has photos of the snow at Sheffield Park, and
- 150 years ago today the world's first underground railway was opened, between Paddington to Farringdon, by the Metropolitan Railway Company. Rowan Millard's photo shows the Bluebell's four 1898/1900-built carriages, built to run behind steam locomotives and which were used initially on this very section of the Metropolitan Railway. They are seen at LUL's Depot in preparation for their runs behind steam on that same section of track over the next two Sundays, as part of the Tube150 celebrations.
There are still a very few tickets available for the trains.
- Below are three of John Sandys' photos showing lots of activity on the extension yesterday. Track laying is seen underway, with ballast arriving by train from our railhead at West Hoathly. The last section of the east side of the cutting face is being completed, with material brought over, which had been temporarily stored on the West side. At the south end of the West side, the two layers of material which are being used to cap off the remaining waste are being installed; the second layer is a woven fabric, to promote the growth of grasses on the embankment side. John's gallery of photos from yesterday (now with the correct link) provides more photos of the work in progress, and also this video.
- Cameron Smith's photo shows the E4 taking water from the tanker at Kingscote yesterday. The photo also shows the new loop platform up starting signal (the white cross indicates that it has yet to be brought into service), and in the siding beyond the loading gauge, erected as part of the Kingscote Goods Yard Project - whilst this would ideally be in the up yard, there is insufficient space for it to be positioned in an operationally sensible location there.
- Update on work on the East Grinstead Extension - progress is such that, whilst we cannot yet confirm a March opening date for the extension, neither can it be ruled out. It all depends on the weather over the next few weeks.
- Below are two of John Sandys' photos from the extension. The first shows that the signalling is very nearly completed for the extension, with power now being applied to the Down Home Repeater (and the down home nearer to Kingscote as well). The second, from Saturday, shows work in progress just north if Imberhorne Lane Bridge, on the western side of the cutting, where drainage is being provided to stabilise the top of the earthworks. Further into the cutting, the final profile of the cutting wall is being created, and the curve of the cutting edge set to the final geometry. John provides galleries of photos from Thursday (and also a video), from Saturday, and from today (showing the resumption of track laying).
- Bluebell Retro Posters, such as that seen below, are now available to order
on-line from Amazon. Each poster sold generates a £5 donation to Northern Extension Project funding. Many thanks to Michael Hopps for taking the initiative to produce these - they also now adorn the Bessemer Arms, and have provided an attractive range of products being sold in our Shop.
- Nathan Gibson provides the next photo below, showing the second of the four Met coaches, No.412, being loaded for transporting to London on Friday afternoon. Nathan has a set of photos from Friday, which are worth a look!
- We now have an entry on the Tube150 Partners page.
- Steve Lee's photos from Saturday show the last two Met coaches on Allely's low loaders, and Birch Grove with its train at Sheffield Park.
- Steve Lee's photo from New Year's day shows the 9F and the water crane, and that below, the H-class entering Horsted Keynes with the Edwardian set.
- Martin Lawrence provides a video of the 9F at Rock cutting and a small gallery of photos from 23rd December to 3rd January, which includes the photo below showing two of our four Metropolitan Railway carriages yesterday, ready to be shipped to London this weekend, to be prepared for operation as part of the Tube150 celebrations when they will be steam hauled between Kensington Olympia and Moorgate on the following two Sundays.
- Video compilation from Gary and Philip Bull, filmed on the Bluebell over the last 2 years: It's Full Steam Ahead!
- Update to the Volunteer Recruitment Find Out More Days page, with dates for behind the scenes tours of the Railway in 2013 - the first Sunday each month from February to November.
- Update to the Football Competition page, with the latest positions in this competition raising funds for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.
1 January 2013
- Happy New Year - 2013 is the year the Bluebell Railway will arrive in East Grinstead!
- Paul Pettitt provides two photos from today, that on the right showing the H-class No.263 climbing Freshfield Bank with the 12-noon train from Sheffield Park, and one below shows 9F No.92212 on Freshfield curve with the 1pm train.
- Daniel Green provides this video shot today.
- John Sandys' photos from today, covering East Grinstead, Kingscote, and Horsted Keynes, including the carriage works, as well as the 9F and H-class locos on the trains.
- Tim Gregson's photos from a visit on Sunday. It was not the best weather for photography, but they still capture the atmosphere.
- An updated Loco Roster indicates plans for loco usage for January. The Engineering trains shown are to transport ballast to support track laying on the Northern Extension towards East Grinstead.
- Steve Lee's two photos below show the 9F leaving Horsted Keynes today, and the H-class at Sheffield Park.
- During December 2012 there were 85,901 total hits on this page, from 48,578 unique visitors.
The Current What's New page contains
all the recent update information.
Also see the 2012, the 2011, the 2010, the 2009, the 2008, the 2007, the 2006, the 2005, the 2004, the 2003, the 2002, the 2001, the 2000, the 1999 and the 1997-8 "What was new" archive pages.
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