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Bluebell Railway Blog:
Archive 2017


Please be aware that due to the historical nature of this page, some of the links on it may be out of date.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 2016, the 2015, the 2014, the 2013, 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 2017

Preparing for embankment stabilisation - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017 25 January:
News Update 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.


New track laid - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017 Sleepers being moved - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017 Transition panel - Bruce Healey - 24 January 2017
East Grinstead Concert Band - Charity Fundraising Concert - 25 February 24 January:


19 January:
  • 'Flying Scotsman' will be with us 13 to 19 April 2017 - Will You?

    60103 'Flying Scotsman' at York - Michael J Alderdice - 25 February 2016

  • Tickets to travel on general service trains behind 'Flying Scotsman' will be on sale in early February. These tickets will be for a specific time on a specific day and entitle people to travel for one round trip (Sheffield Park to East Grinstead and return), will also cover travel on trains hauled by other locomotives during the day, subject to space being available.

  • Tickets for services hauled by our own steam engines during the visit will be available but these will not guarantee seats on a specific timed train.

  • Admission only tickets (Platform tickets) will also be on sale. These will be individual tickets for specific stations, issued subject to space being available at the stations. Unfortunately these will not be available for East Grinstead Station due to the restricted space on that platform.

  • Details of ticket pricing and on-sale dates will be advised via email (join the mailing list here), or keep an eye on our web page or on our Facebook page. Please bear with us, since our phone lines are extremely busy!

  • At 10am tomorrow morning tickets go on sale for a second 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled Breakfast Train, to run on Thursday 13 April. The other four dining trains hauled by 'Flying Scotsman' have already sold out, so you are advised to book early!
    Update: 11am on Friday 20th: The Breakfast Train on 13th April, for which tickets went on sale this morning, sold out in 35 minutes... sorry to those who failed to get through.

  • To help man the phones, please see this advert for volunteers to help staff our sales and information office.

  • You can hire our 1897-built GNR Directors' Saloon for private or corporate parties on 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled services.

    Photo: 60103 'Flying Scotsman' at York - 25 February 2016, with grateful thanks to Michael J Alderdice.



80151 arrives at HK - Martin Lawrence - 17 July 2010 18 January:
  • 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.

  • News Update 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.

Phase 2 of re-laying - Bruce Healey - 16 January 2017 Phase 2 of re-laying - Bruce Healey - 16 January 2017
15 January:
  • 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.

    Deltics on shed at Sheffield Park - Tony Sullivan - 16 April 2015 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.
55019 leaves Horsted Keynes - Jordi Blumberg - 18 April 2015 D9009 at Leamland Bridge - Andrew Crampton - 17 April 2015

50049 'Defiance' on its return to service, 16 April 2016 14 January:
  • 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.
50135 Ark Royal at Kidderminster - Tony Hisgett 50035 and 50049 - Tony Middleton

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).

Relaid track near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017 11 January:
  • News Update 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.

  • News Update 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.
Old track being lifted out near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017 Sleepers laid near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017 New rails being fitted near Holywell - Mike Hopps - 10 January 2017

847 climbing Freshfield bank - Peter Edwards - 2 January 2017 5 January:
  • 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.

  • News Update 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.
Top of cab roof - Fred Bailey - 22 December 2016 847 at East Grinstead - Geoff Course - 1 January 2017

847 brings the first train of the New Year into East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 1 January 2017 1 January 2017:
  • Wishing all our supporters, members and passengers a very Happy New Year.

  • Brian Lacey's photo shows the S15 bringing the first train of the New Year into East Grinstead this morning.

  • Two specials on our Golden Arrow dining train are selling fast:

  • Trains are running tomorrow, 2 January to this timetable, but then not until 11 February. During the intervening period we will be re-laying 1/3 of a mile of track between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes.

    Steam trains will run daily from 11 to 26 February, and on weekends in March.

  • Nick Burgess' photos 17th December

  • Mike Anton's video of SECR 323 'Bluebell' at Sheffield Park with the Victorian Christmas Special on 22 December, and one of loco movements and the first train at the start of the day on 23 December.

  • Dave Bowles' photos from 22 December, including SECR P-class No.323 'Bluebell' out with the Victorian train, and more from the Santa Specials.

  • Jon Barnes provides an album from 23 December featuring Camelot, the Q class and the S15 on Santa Specials, with the H class as Sheffield Park station pilot.

  • Keith Duke has posted pictures from the early part of Christmas Eve at Sheffield Park.

  • During December 2016 there were 43,337 total hits on this page, from 26,428 unique visitors.

  • Steve Lee's photos below, also from today, show the S15 setting off from Sheffield Park, and the Q-class with the lunchtime Golden Arrow Pullman train at West Hoathly. The first photo also shows one of the two replacement LBSCR-pattern starting signals at Sheffield Park, awaiting commissioning. Since new timber posts were required, the opportunity has been taken to relocate the signals slightly further North, to enable the eventual lengthening of the platforms.
847 setting off from Sheffield Park - Steve Lee - 1 January 2017 541 with the lunchtime Golden Arrow at West Hoathly - Steve Lee - 1 January 2017
Please do let me (Richard Salmon) know what you think of this new format.

The Current What's New page contains all the recent update information.

Also see the 2016, the 2015, the 2014, the 2013, 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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