Bluebell Railway Blog:
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links on it may be out of date.
The Current What's New page contains
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Blog and Web-site Update Archive 2018
- Mike Anton's photo shows a view of some of the locomotives displayed in the newly opened SteamWorks! interactive exhibition at Sheffield Park. This new attraction is still developing, and footplate access to No.75027 will be available at some point in the future. Opening hours are also developing at present, with more volunteer guides being trained to host visitors. Access to the new exhibition, just like our Museum on Platform 2, is available for no extra charge.
- We are running a two-train service (Service 2 timetable) for Half Term. Note that this Saturday there is a late change to the previously advertised timetable, and there will NOT be a 5.15 departure from Sheffield Park.
- After Sunday we have no normal timetabled trains running until after Christmas, with all December services before Christmas being pre-booked.
- Details of November opening hours for the Bessemer Arms (our Bar/restaurant at Sheffield Park) are available here.
- We are currently advertising a vacancies for a Marketing & Business Development Manager and a Marketing & Event Coordinator.
- Two photos below illustrating the running shed atmosphere maintained at the south end of the running shed, now open again to visitors, and the bright new display available to visitors in the SteamWorks! exhibition at the north end. These photos from John Sandys come from his album from yesterday when the S15 and O1 were in charge of the trains.
- Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday shows S15 No.847 arriving at Horsted Keynes with the 12:15 from Sheffield Park.
- Our new innovative, interactive exhibition 'SteamWorks!' is now open! Situated in the locomotive shed at Sheffield Park, Steamworks! uses touchscreen displays, information boards and interactives to the bring the science and mechanics of steam to life! The star of the show is an interactive model of a locomotive! Based on our very own Terrier class locomotive 'Stepney' (as featured in the Thomas the Tank Engine books), this special "engine" features a display showing how the engine's boiler works, and, as an added bonus, a special driving experience simulator in the cab will enable you to experience what it's like to drive Stepney on the Bluebell Railway!
Our locomotive running shed has also reopened, with improved lighting and walkways, so you'll be able to get up close to some of our beautiful locomotives on display and marvel at the engineering involved.
- Mike Anton provides seven 360-degree views of the new SteamWorks! exhibition. These were shot before the opening ceremony on Saturday and shows how much nicer the space now is compared to the previous cramped and dingy presentation of our stored locomotives.
- We are running a two-train service (Service 2 timetable) for Half Term. In addition, we have a Kids for a Quid promotion, this week. After Sunday we have no normal timetabled trains running until after Christmas. During November we are relaying a quarter-mile section of track north of Sloop Bridge (Freshfield Lane), with the work funded through The Bluebell Railway Trust.
- We are currently advertising a vacancy for a Part-time Handyperson.
- Derek Hayward's photos from Giants of Steam 2018 are now available.
- John Sandys' photos from Thursday, 18 October, feature activities around Sheffield Park and the last Autumn Tints Special of the year. He also took a photo of a young peregrine falcon in East Grinstead.
- The Steam Dreams mainline railtour to Oxford and Worcester which was due to start from Sheffield Park on Saturday 27 October has been postponed due to the lack of any mainline-registered locomotive available to haul it. The revised date for the tour is Saturday 5 October 2019, potentially to be hauled by 46233 'Duchess of Sutherland'. This train is promoted by Steam Dreams, to whom all enquiries should be addressed.
- We regret that the Hallowe'en experience, "Dystopia Station", due to run in the evenings of 29-31 October has been cancelled. Anyone who has booked for it should by now have been contacted by our office.
- Two more photos below from Brian Lacey, from Saturday, showing Camelot waiting for the S15 to bring its train into Horsted Keynes, and the SECR O1 No.65 with the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea Train.
- Brian Lacey timed his arrival at Sainsburys for a spot of shopping perfectly, just as S15 No.847 pulled into East Grinstead with one of Wednesday's Autumn Tints specials, as seen in this photo.
- Timings are now available for Saturday evening's 'Captain Baxter' special to mark Baxter's last day in traffic on its current boiler certificate. The bar & restaurant will be open at Sheffield Park in the evening, so this will event has become an impromptu BRPS members' social.
- Reminder that it's our annual Vintage Bus Running Day on Sunday, with free bus services running on a variety of routes from our stations. Sadly we have just been advised that the Service 409 journeys (Godstone/Lingfield - East Grinstead - Forest Row) are unlikely to operate due to the booked driver having sustained an injury. At this stage, it is not practical to source alternative cover.
Updated bus timetable information is available here, and we are running steam trains to our Service 2 timetable.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with plans for locomotive usage through October and November.
- Video of 'Camelot' behing hauled through Clapham Junction by WCR's 37669 on Monday on its way back from the West Somerset Railway, posted by TheModster. It's unable to travel on the main line on its own because it does not have all the various items of modern in-cab electronics required to run on the main line these days, but was in light steam for lubrication.
- This photo from Brian Lacey, taken yesterday, shows the S15 on the first day of this year's Autumn Tints. These offer four options for viewing the autumnal colours. Advanced booking for these trains is strongly advised owing to limited seating, and is essential for Souper Steam and Steam & Cream options.
- We have launched our Double Donations Dash for the Cash for Cover Appeal, to enable us to build the shed walls and the Heritage Skills Centre as part of the OP4 carriage shed extension at Horsted Keynes.
To construct the walls around the shed, and progress work on the Heritage Skills Centre (the structure and roof of which are now complete - see details here), we now need to spend a further £250,000 - however a benefactor is offering matching funding for the first £100,000 donated to this Appeal, if the donations are made by midnight on 30 November.
The Appeal is thus a A Double Donations Dash which will run until 30 November. Therefore we only need to raise £150,000 from public donations to add to the matching funding. If this can be achieved by the end of November, work should start in the spring of 2019. Please be generous and help us push this project forward in a really meaningful way.
- An update to the Track Layout at Horsted Keynes page (thanks to Jon Goff) shows detail of what is currently planned to be the new track layout in the OP4 yard, giving access to the existing shed and workshop, and the newly covered maintenance road (E-road) plus the four new roads in the OP4 storage shed. Thanks to recovery of surplus pointwork from a couple of main-line redevelopment schemes, we are achieving this track work at minimal cost, leaving all the funds raised by the A Double Donations Dash appeal to progress the construction work on the shed itself, as described above.
- We are very sorry to have to announce that B1 'Mayflower' will no longer be visiting us for our 'Giants of Steam' Autumn Gala. 60009 'Union of South Africa' is still coming and all other events over the weekend will go ahead as planned.
- The Carriage Workshop Tours at Horsted Keynes have proved very popular, and are therefore extended though October. These free tours start at 2pm, each Saturday until the end of October. In addition there will be the usual tours on the Saturday and Sunday (13-14 October) of the Giants of Steam Gala.
- This photo shows No.73082 'Camelot' near Yard Bridge on 27 September during its visit to the West Somerset Railway for their 4-day Autumn Steam Gala. The photograph, © Bob Woodland, is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.
- Dan Gosling provides a video of action on the WSR, including coverage of 'Camelot', and similarly there is coverage in 82A Studios' video.
- John Sandys' gallery from yesterday shows the locomotive safely back at Sheffield Park, along with more photos from the first day of the Autumn Tints.
- On Saturday evening (6 October) there will be a 'Captain Baxter' special to mark Baxter's last day in traffic. Baxter will be covering a trip to East Grinstead and a half trip to Horsted Keynes with the Victorian 4-wheelers (availability permitting) so come and enjoy this loco's last day before withdrawal. The bar will be open at Sheffield Park in the evening.
- We are now advertising one day (3rd November) of Footplate Extra - an intermediate Loco Driving & Firing Experience.
- Mike Anton provides some new 360-degree shots at Kingscote from 31 August, when the first up-service of the day was passing through, driven by Driver Wright:
- Video about our very own line, from Roll Along Thomas, discussing and introducing Stepney's home.
- Update to the Who's Who page, with the appointment of Chris Hunford as Deputy Chairman of Bluebell Railway plc, in addition to his existing role as Locomotive Director.
- New link added to the Career Boss page on How to become a Train Driver.
- During September 2018 there were 38,655 total hits on this page, from 22,510 unique visitors.
- Three more photos by Brian Lacey from Saturday, showing the three locos running that day, in the rain.
To the right, the Maunsell Q-class arrives at Horsted Keynes with the 12.15 train from Sheffield Park, formed of the four Victorian 4-wheelers and the SR Maunsell stock.
Below we see the guard giving the right away to the S15 at the head of the 3.04pm departure from Horsted Keynes.
The SECR O1-class No.65 was back in action this weekend, seen here with Saturday's Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train.
- In contrast Jonathan Hughes struck it lucky after the rain went and the sun came out, as witnessed in this photo of S15 No.847 as it rounds Freshfield Curve with the 4.10 service the following day.
- Saturday was notable for its rain... for John S Horton this was an opportunity for some atmospheric photos, and in the first on the right the guard is seen sheltering in the brake van, and in the second, the tarpaulin gives a modicum of protection to the crew of the S15.
- Work on OP4 continues - onward, and upward - Barry Luck, OP4 Project Manager (Infrastructure)
Stevenson's have now completed the Heritage Skills Centre framework, and as shown in photo below the roof is now on. There is a little bit of tidying up to be done, but apart from that, this phase of the work is now complete. We are continuing to raise funds for the next stage, which will enable us to complete the walls around the Skill Centre and this side of the shed.
In the meantime, the Infrastructure team have been working in the yard, laying trackwork into the shed. Two roads, F and G are complete as seen below, and work has started at the southern end of the salt yard on the next turnout which will lead into roads H and J. Nature is also helping out, with the beginnings plant life showing on the embankment face.
Don't forget the Cash for Cover donation page.
- The first train through the cutting into East Grinstead on Thursday this week, photographed by John Sandys from Hill Place Farm Bridge. It shows that 5 years on from the re-opening, the re-excavated cutting is greening up nicely. In fact in that time it has twice received attention to cut back the prolific new growth!
See John's photos from Thursday here.
- 'Captain Baxter' returned to the railway on Thursday following its very successful and well received working visit to Didcot. We will be arranging and publicising one or two final steamings on the Bluebell before the expiry of its boiler certificate, and it will then enter the 'Steamworks!' exhibition pending its next overhaul.
- Video of Josh's visit to the Bluebell in February this year.
- We are now able to publish a video preview of the new SteamWorks! locomotive display and interactive exhibition at Sheffield Park station. [An updated version is now available here]. Narrated by Bluebell volunteer Nicholas Owen, the video explores some of the features of this new attraction, which opens this Autumn.
The re-roofing of the shed and construction of the exhibition has been funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Bluebell Railway Trust, and generous donations from our supporters and members.
- A story by Chris Larcombe added to the page dedicated to our memories of the late Dave Phillips.
- Bruce Healey provides the photos below, which show F and G roads of the new carriage storage shed at Horsted Keynes (OP4) now permanently connected to the new headshunt. The old sidings on the left of the photo are life expired and will be replaced. The second photo is taken from the additional headshunt for H and J roads. The point connects to the F and G road headshunt on the left and the straight-on line will divide again near OP4 for H and J roads.
- Julian Heinemann's photo shows No.73082 'Camelot' during a brief stop at Reading Station, during its trip to the West Somerset Railway yesterday, hauled by WCR's No.37668. It will be staying on the WSR for a couple of weeks, for their Autumn Steam Gala, 27-30 September.
- This is the first time that 'Camelot' has left the Bluebell since it arrived from Barry scrapyard. A couple of videos of the trip here: at Bridgwater, from "Somerset Trains", and from "Trains In The South West" showing them arriving off the Mainline at Norton Fitzwarren and then at Bishops Lydeard.
- Two further photos below: Brian Lacey's photo shows them just after leaving Bluebell metals at East Grinstead, and another from Julian Heinemann, at Clapham Junction.
The transfer by rail is more expensive than by road, but is considered preferable due to causing less stress to the locomotive. The 73082 'Camelot' Locomotive Society wish to thank the Bluebell's Locomotive Director, Chris Hunford, who did most of the spadework/liaison to facilitate this trip.
- The SECR H-class leaves Horsted Keynes with the vintage set, as the Maunsell Q-class lays over with its goods train on Saturday, as seen in John Sandys' photo.
- TheSoutherner's video of Saturday's Demonstration Goods Train.
- Due to a last minute cancellation there is one place left for the Footplate Experience Day on 25th September.
This experience gives the opportunity to both drive and fire the engine! Breakfast is served on arrival at the Bessemer Arms and a buffet lunch on board.
The day costs £650.00.
To book call 01825 720800. More details can be found here.
- The first photo below, taken on Saturday by Brian Lacey, shows the S15 arriving in platform 3, passing the Q-class in Platform 2. The H-class with its train is just visible in platforms 4/5.
- John Sandys' photo below also shows the Q-class, with its goods train, at Horsted Keynes, and is one of the photos in his gallery from Saturday. He also has a gallery from today, which includes photops of the WCR Class 37 which arrived today and will be leaving tomorrow morning hauling 'Camelot' off to the West Somerset Railway for their Autumn Gala.
- The Maunsell Q-class is seen as it departs from Horsted Keynes with the first train of the day yesterday, in John Sandys' photo on the right, taken from his latest photo gallery.
- We have a Demonstration Goods Train running tomorrow morning, to the same timetable as shown here.
- We are currently running steam trains to our Service 1 Mondays to Fridays and to Service 2 at weekends. The timetables are here.
- John's next photo, below, shows the same locomotive arriving at Kingscote last Thursday.
- The second photo below, taken on Saturday by Brian Lacey, shows the SECR H-class at Horsted Keynes with the vintage set.
- Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday shows the SECR H-class heading for Platforms 4/5 at Horsted Keynes as No.73082 'Camelot' stands in Platform 3 with the up train. 'Camelot' is all set to visit the West Somerset Railway for their 27-30 September Autumn Steam Gala, and will be travelling there in light steam, diesel hauled, over the main line, on what will be its first visit away from the Bluebell.
- The latest on the overhaul of Bulleid Carriage, No.5768 and the boiler of 34059 'Sir Archibald Sinclair' on the Bulleid Society web site.
Pleased to report that our Macmillan Coffee Morning on 28 September is already fully booked! Apologies if you've missed out.
- Bookings are now open for:
- Autumn Tints - 2-4, 9-11, 16-18 October - four options for viewing the autumnal colours - Advanced booking for the Autumn Tints trains is strongly advised owing to limited seating, and is essential for Souper Steam and Steam & Cream
- Hallowe'en Scream Train - 24-28 October - Children, and Adults, are welcome to attend in costume! Booking is essential for the specially reserved carriages - our full public timetabled services also operate.
- Hallowe'en experience - Dystopia Station - 29-31 October (evenings) - A perfectly preserved attraction in the middle of nowhere - visit if you dare...
- A Horsted Christmas on Friday 21 December - New for 2018! Your own private compartment in a train from either Sheffield Park or East Grinstead Stations for all the fun of our Victorian Christmas Fair at Horsted Keynes.
- John Sandys' photo below, taken today, shows the Q-class preparing for the first train of the day, bearing a headboard paying tribute to the late John Jesson. The second photo, taken at West Hoathly by Brian Lacey, shows the 09 hauling the 09.09 service from East Grinstead on Saturday morning, a special early service added to the timetable to allow an earlier start for anyone visiting the railway last weekend.
- Latest news on the Brighton Atlantic project, including work re-starting on the tender, and, as seen in Fred Bailey's photo, the repaired and re-tubed boiler being moved outside the shed in preparation for completion and testing.
The component sponsorship list has also been updated.
- This weekend we are running trains to our Service 2 timetable, with the addition of an early train out of East Grinstead. It will be hauled by our resident 09 Diesel Shunter D4106 and timings will be as follows:
|Depart - East Grinstead
|Depart - Horsted Keynes
|Arrive - Sheffield Park
- This weekend is also our Shareholders' Weekend, and shareholders will have been sent details of talks and tours happening in conjunction with this. In addition Dave Middleton, Station Master at Sheffield Park, will be doing station tours on Sunday, each hour from 11.00 until 3.00. Each tour lasts about 30 minutes and will show something of the architecture an explain some of the history of the station and a few of the people who worked there. Please be aware that should urgent railway duties prevent David leading these tours, they may be subject to last-minute cancellation.
- We are currently advertising for a volunteer IT Coordinator.
- Great video by "TheSoutherner" from last Sunday featuring the three locomotives in steam that day. Shame about the weather...
- Photo galleries from John Sandys, from Tuesday and Thursday.
- Press release (pdf download) regarding recent regrettable attacks on our trains and on some of our volunteers.
- We are very sorry to have to report the recent deaths of John Jesson, who was engineering lead on the BR Standard 2MT project, Alan Sturt, one of the four students who founded our Preservation Society, and Joyce Vigor, who amongst other things ran the Buffet at Horsted Keynes Station many years back.
Further details of each available on the BRPS Members' Information page.
- During August 2018 there were 39,915 total hits on this page, from 23,249 unique visitors.
- The H-class was back in action yesterday, hauling the vintage set, and is seen here, under threatening skies, approaching Horsted Keynes.
- Full details of Chris Pyle's funeral are now available. In place of flowers, Donations are requested towards the work of the Bluebell Railway's Carriage & Wagon Department, of which Chris had been an active member for 45 years.
- John Sandys' photo shows the Maunsell Q-class arriving at East Grinstead on Thursday with the third train of the day. The locomotive was standing in for the SECR H-class, as did SECR No.323 'Bluebell' on Tuesday as seen below in Brian Lacey's photo. No.73082 'Camelot' and the H-class have also been in steam this week.
- Very sadly we have to report that Chris Pyle passed away on Tuesday afternoon, after a mercifully short battle with cancer. Chris had been a member of the Carriage & Wagon Department for over four decades, and was particularly noted for painting the carriage internal ceilings, where his considerable height was used to advantage, as well as varnishing many interior components. He was well known around the railway as a quiet but loyal supporter of many schemes and projects. Details of the funeral arrangements will be available soon.
- Barry Luck, OP4 project manager, provides this update and the photos below.
The Infrastructure team have been working hard on the Horsted Keynes carriage shed extension over the past few weeks. The first photo shows the trackwork leading towards the shed - the right-hand to road F, and the left to G. Roads H and J will be served by a parallel road to the left, and road E (the maintenance road) will connect to the pointwork in the middle distance on the right.
The dwarf wall on the eastern side of the shed seen in the next photo is complete as far as we can go for the present, until the Skills Centre framework is complete. The wall above the brickwork will be clad in the same cream and green style as the main existing building.
Stevenson's started work on 30 July on the Skills Centre framework. The final concrete pour at the southern end of the ring-beam was completed on 22 August as seen in the next photo, whilst erection of the steelwork started at the northern end a couple of days earlier on 20 August. The final photo shows progress as at 3pm on 23 August with four sections in place. Just one and a half hours later seven columns and roof joists had been erected.
As soon as the framework is finished, the infrastructure team will move in to reduce the ground level inside the building to its final level. We will then be able to start work on the ground floor, and continue with the dwarf wall around the building.
In the meantime we are continuing to raise funds for cladding along the eastern/northern side of the shed and around the Skill Centre. If you would like to contribute please visit the Cash for Cover donation page.
- No.73082 'Camelot' back in service. Brian Lacey provides today's four photos, and that on the right shows 'Camelot' hauling its first train (the 11.10am service from Sheffield Park on Sunday) after four months under repair.
Our latest e-Newsletter (19 August) includes an update on current locomotive overhauls, including the return of the boiler for 'Sir Archibald Sinclair' after the fitting of its brand new inner firebox. There's still a lot of work to do to get it back into service, but this is a major step forwards!
- Two interim reports on the Network Rail Volunteer Days, last week, working on Project 27:
Wednesday 15th, and Thursday 16th.
- Brian's other photos from yesterday show the S15 arriving at Horsted Keynes with the second trip of the Lunchtime Golden Arrow dining train, the first of two groups of the Red Arrows, who were in transit towards Eastbourne, and the H-class departing from Horsted Keynes with the 3.02 pm train towards East Grinstead, showing well the leading carriage in its train, our London, Chatham & Dover Railway brake third No.114, of 1889.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the S15 arriving at East Grinstead yesterday. We have a two-train service running through August (Service 2 timetable), and the other train is formed of Victorian and Edwardian carriages.
- Video of 73082 'Camelot' on a test run yesterday, from George Timperley. It returns to service after 4-months of repairs this coming Sunday.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with plans for locomotive usage for the remainder of August (changed due to completion of repairs to 'Camelot'), and through September, although as always plans may be subject to change.
- The event guide and timetable is now available for our October 12-14 'Giants of Steam' Autumn Gala, which has a four train service with 5 or 6 locomotives in use, including the two LNER visitors. The trains hauled by 60009 'Union of South Africa' will run non-stop, as named express services. Tickets for the gala can be pre-booked here, or for an extra £1, tickets including a seat reservation in two of the carriages in trains hauled by 'Union of South Africa'.
- The latest 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?
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the S15 departing from Horsted Keynes, passing 21C123 'Blackmoor Vale', during our busy Steam through the Ages event on Saturday.
His photo below shows the Spitfire, which was on display as part of the wartime theme at that station. This unique handbuilt replica of a Spitfire MK.IX took over 25 years to complete and has been built using copies of the original Spitfire drawings and incorporates many original parts - find out all about it on Simply Spitfire's website.
- Derek Hayward also has 85 images taken at the Steam through the Ages event.
- We are currently advertising for a volunteer Buildings Maintenance Person.
- Not one, but two updates on Project 27's Blog:
New frames drilled, old frames dismantled, and
Preparing for conservation work on the cab.
- During our Shareholders' Weekend, on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 of September, in addition to our public Service 2 timetable we will be running an early train out of East Grinstead which we will also be available as a public service. Running just for those two days, it will be hauled by our resident 09 Diesel Shunter D4106 and timings will be as follows:
So if you fancy an earlier start and a longer day at the Bluebell Railway that weekend then the 09 Special is for you.
|Depart - East Grinstead
|Depart - Horsted Keynes
|Arrive - Sheffield Park
On the Sunday of course it will be the 09 hauling the 09.09 train on the 09/09 (of 2018)!
- Bluebell Museum: Every year over 45,000 members of the public cross over to Platform 2 at Sheffield Park to visit our museum.
Two years ago we launched two quizzes for children (and hid three mice for them to find in the display cases). Our quizzes have been so popular that we have just reprinted the one for younger children (see photo below). Every child who completes the quiz is awarded a badge.
The museum is open when we are running timetabled services. Once you are on the station either to catch a train, or holding a platform ticket, you can visit the museum at no extra charge.
- Huw Lloyd is making his annual working visit to the C&W department, and provides this photo of the SECR H-class arriving at Horsted Keynes on Monday with the vintage set.
- Lots going on this weekend across the railway, with our Steam through the Ages - Travel through 100 years of history in one day!
The Victorian era is portrayed at Sheffield Park, with:
At Horsted Keynes, the Second World War is at full swing:
- Live Music from The Daisy Belles
- Steam-powered transport
- Victorian re-enactment and memorabilia
- Victorian Tea Rooms in the Birch Grove Suite - with Magic Lantern Shows
- Bluebell Railway Museum
- Bessemer Arms Bar & Restaurant
- Gift shop
At Kingscote we recreate a 1960s seaside holiday:
- The Spitfire has landed
- Alpha & Home Front Bus - an interactive museum depicting life during WW2, housed in a vintage bus
- Children's Craft Activities
- Street market traders
- Vehicle and Military displays
- Live Music on Saturday from the Perdido Players
- Vinyl DJ - Jivin' Jim Dandy
- King George V Buffet - serving authentic wartime menus
- Carriage and Wagon Workshop will be open all weekend with free 'Behind the Scenes' tours on Saturday at 2pm
Discount tickets available online now.
- Donkey Rides with Mike's Donkeys
- Face painting
- Punch & Judy and Circus Skills with Crazee Hazee
- Giant Games
- Children's playground
- Vintage Bus rides from Kingscote to East Grinstead
- Live Music from the Bluebell Band
- Fish & Chips and Ice-creams available at The Wellhouse kiosk
Event Guide booklet available to download.
- Ashley Smith had a free day last Friday so came along and filmed the trains running that day, resulting in a short video and some photos.
- A reminder (or encouragement) for those who need it - anyone intending
to enter this year's football competition needs to make sure that their
entry is either emailed through, or at Horsted Keynes, by tomorrow.
Details and entry form are available here.
You don't need to know much about football or railways in either
competition. Competition 1 is to predict the final positions for all of
the teams in the Premier League, and Competition 2 is to predict who you
think will lift the FA Cup next May. You can enter each competition as
many times as you like.
Half of all entry fees are shared among the winners, and the remaining
half will go towards the restoration of Southern Railway Kitchen/Dining Saloon No.7864.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows SECR No.65 passing through Horsted Keynes with the Wealden Rambler afternoon tea train on Saturday.
- Short video study of BR No.73082 'Camelot' shot last December, from Philip Bull.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with plans for locomotive usage through August, although as ever, this may be subject to change.
- During July 2018 there were 40,755 total hits on this page, from 23,658 unique visitors.
Standard Class 2 Tank Locomotive No.84030 - John Jesson has provided the following report and photos, taken during and after the lift of 84030's frames onto its coupled wheels on 26 July.
On one of the hottest days of the year a 120-tonne crane arrived in the Sheffield Park yard to carry out a number of lifts, including the re-wheeling of the Standard Class 2 Tank.
The team rebuilding 84030 have been working towards this day for over 2 years so it gave us all a great feeling of achievement seeing the engine now a rolling chassis and housed in the newly erected poly-shed.
Now that we have the engine on its driving wheels and a covered working environment we will be able to press on with the many other jobs in hand including front and rear pony trucks, lubrication pipework, the driving motion, side tanks, bunker... the list goes on.
If you would like to help us in this project to rebuild 84030 please come along to one of the Bluebell volunteer open days or if you are at the railway on a Thursday (our normal working day) just ask for one of us. If you are unable to join the working team but would still like to be involved with 84030, why not join our Project Support Group, an application form can be downloaded here.
- Another of Brian Lacey's photos from Saturday shows Southern Railway Maunsell Q-class No.30541 arriving at Horsted Keynes, with the 12.15 train from Sheffield Park. The carriages are SECR hundred-seater No.1098 and Maunsells 1309, 1336 and 6686.
OP4 News update from Barry Luck, project manager for the Horsted Keynes Carriage Shed extension project:
Taking advantage of the continuing dry weather last week we have now been able to start work on the dwarf wall around the eastern side of the shed. We are very fortunate in having skilled and willing bricklayers in our midst. The first photo below shows the early preparatory work, and the first block in place. The second shows the work a few days later, with good progress on the first two panels. The walls here will match the rest of the carriage works - SR green and cream cladding, with a dwarf wall below, and windows comparable with the existing shed.
The pointwork is also being progressed as and when time and materials are available. The photos below show the next set of switch blades being positioned, leading towards the new shed. The trackwork to the left of the second photo, leading towards the station, will all be relayed in due course.
The erection of the steel framework and roof of the Skills Centre is planned to have commenced yesterday. In the meantime we are continuing to raise funds for cladding along this side of the shed. If you would like to contribute please visit the 'Cash for Cover' donation page.
- S15-class No.847 approaches Horsted Keynes with the 4.05pm train from Sheffield Park on Saturday, ready for the token exchange, and above, the Toy and Rail Collectors' Fair in full swing at Horsted Keynes - both photos thanks to Brian Lacey.
- We are now running steam trains daily, right through the summer, to our Full (Service Two) Timetable.
- Thomas Downing's photo from earlier this month is a great portrait of SECR H-class No.263.
- Our Santa Specials run on 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 December, and on 24 December we have Twas the train before Christmas, our new Christmas Eve service.
Tickets are now on sale for these hugely popular services.
- Join our Coffee Morning on 28 September in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
Bring along your cakes and for a donation of £10 we will provide a cup of tea or coffee while you travel to East Grinstead and back on our stylish Wealden Rambler carriage set. Your donated cakes will be sold on the train for this good cause.
Booking is essential - please contact Ruth Rowatt on 01825 720800 or by e-mail.
- Have you ever wondered how to become a volunteer and what it entails?
Our next "Find out More Day" is on 12 August. Martin Lawrence's photo below shows David Chappell with the Find out More tour on 8 July.
- Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday shows the SECR O1-class and the Southern Q-class locomotives hauling the two service trains, which are currently formed of one SECR carriage, three SR Maunsells, two SR Bulleid-designed and three BR carriages.
These two locomotives will also hauling our trains this coming week; steam trains run to our Full (Service 2) Timetable daily now through to 2 September.
You can purchase tickets on arrival at our stations, or in advance at a discount.
A whole-line return ticket allows unlimited travel for the day, and you can break your journey wherever you please.
- This coming Saturday, 28 July, we have our Toy & Rail Collectors' Fair with a huge variety of stalls at Horsted Keynes Station, 10 am - 4 pm.
- Update to the Who's Who page, adding James Funnell and Mike Priestley as new BRPS Trustees, appointed after advertising for applicants and subsequent interviews, and The Revd David Howland, who holds the position of Chaplain to the Bluebell Railway.
News from our Stroudley Carriage Group:
Great progress is being made on the Stroudley 5-compt 3rd No.328. The interior is being painted, and has so far received two coats of undercoat, as show in the first photo below. The second photo shows the east side of the carriage, with about half of the exterior panelling completed, and a trial fit of one the doors. The timber for the roof has been delivered so this will be the next major piece of work.
- Peter Edwards' photo from last Saturday shows the SR Maunsell S15 at New Road Bridge, approaching Horsted Keynes.
- Two carriages on each of the trains hauled by 60009 'Union of South Africa' during our October 12-14 'Giants of Steam' Autumn Gala will be reserved for pre-purchased ticket holders, at a charge of just £1 extra. This is to enable those who wish to guarantee travel behind this Gresley A4 pacific as it approaches the end of its time in operation, before retiring to a museum, to be assured of a seat. The other carriages on its trains will be unreserved as normal.
OP4 News update from Barry Luck, project manager for the Horsted Keynes Carriage Shed extension project:
Now that the earthworks to complete the embankment around the edge of the new shed are all but complete, we can turn our minds to the next task - relaying the down yard. The first photo shows one of the turnouts in its final position.
The next photo, below, shows another turnout laid out in the Ardingly triangle. This will be broken down into several component parts before being moved across the line to its final place. Relaying the downyard will cause a degree of disruption to the workings of the C&W maintenance routine, so will require careful planning between C&W and Infrastructure.
The last photo shows the Ardingly triangle being tidied and levelled after the removal of the spoil heap, which has been used to fill the embankment.
- SECR O1 No.65 is seen with the vintage set at Horsted Keynes, passing Bulleid Pacific 'Blackmoor Vale' and LSWR carriage No.1520 (Brian Lacey - 7 July).
- Tickets are now on sale for the New Year's Eve Gala Golden Arrow Pullman.
- Part two of Nick Dearden's video compilation, Best of Bluebell Steam 2007-2017, Visiting Locomotives.
- The first photo below, from new contributor, Thomas Downing, shows detail at the front of the SECR H-class.
- Martin Lawrence has now completed his June photo gallery and started on that for July should you care to view them.
The second photo below, taken by Martin, shows the start of the Track Trek, as Roger Garman gives participants a safety briefing. The trek has so far raised over £5,000 towards the cost of relaying two quarter-mile sections of track over the coming winter. Further donations to the Track Trek TrAction Appeal may be made here.
- We are running one of our regular Demonstration Goods Trains on Saturday morning, expected to be hauled by the SR Maunsell Q-class locomotive No.30541. The timings for the Goods Train are as shown here.
Passenger trains this weekend will be running to our Full (Service 2) timetable. You can purchase tickets on arrival at our stations, or in advance at a discount. A whole-line return ticket allows unlimited travel for the day, and you can break your journey wherever you please.
From Monday to Friday this week, trains run to our Light Service (Service One) timetable.
- Two more photos below, taken by Brian Lacey on Sunday 8 July, show 'Camelot' outside the loco works - its new piston heads are being machined, and its cylinder bores are being examined, prior to fitting the new cylinder heads. All being well the locomotive will be back in service in August.
In front of 'Camelot' can be seen the extended frames of our new-build/conversion 2MT Tank No.84030. The second photo shows the Poly-shed, relocated from Horsted Keynes, with the wheelsets for the locomotive; it's planned to re-wheel the locomotive shortly.
- A group of mallards have taken possession of Sheffield Park's platforms this year. Pauline Lacey's photo shows them, and some of our visitors, relaxing there on 18 June.
- The annual Bluebell Atlantic Open Weekend is on July 7th and 8th. It gives the
opportunity for supporters and visitors to see the latest progress with the
construction of 'Beachy Head'. Atlantic House at Sheffield Park will be open
from 10 am to 5pm both days.
There will be a small auction of Railwayana, Pictures, Models etc on
Sunday afternoon at 2.45pm. Viewing will be from Saturday morning.
Commission Bids can be left if you can't attend on Sunday afternoon.
There will be a progress report and presentation before the Auction on Sunday, at 2.30pm.
- A BR Firing Shovel.
- A S.M.J. 'Beware of Trains' cast iron Notice.
- An original Matthew Cousins Painting
- Hornby and Bachmann Locomotives
- ...and other items.
- Updated web pages for SECR P-class No.323 'Bluebell', SECR O1-class No.65, and Manning Wardle No.4 Sharpthorn, an 0-6-0ST built in 1877, which was one of the contractor's locomotives used to build our line.
- Update to the web page for Daniel Wilson's Memory of the Bluebell Line: A 1956 visit to the sawmill at Sheffield Park, adding a photo from the Bluebell archives.
- Entry forms for the 2018-19 Foootball Competitions, raising funds for the forthcoming overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864, are now available. Both are simple to enter and require no
knowledge of either football or railways, so if you don't know the difference between a red card
and a red signal, fear not!
In the 22 years the competitions have been running, they have raised funds of over £9,100 for various projects around the railway.
- Derek Hayward has a comprehensive gallery of photos covering the recent Model Railway Weekend.
- John Sandys' photos from 3 July, featuring the S15 on the service train, and the completed exterior of the Locomotive shed, expected to re-open to the public later this summer, when it will include the new 'Steam Works' exhibition at the north end alongside the traditional running shed in the southern half.
- Video compilation from Nick Dearden, The Best of Bluebell Steam 2007-2017, part 1.
- With the run of Footplate Tasters in November now Sold out, we are now taking bookings for Jan/Feb 2019.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with plans for locomotive usage through July. It shows that, this coming Saturday, we will unusually, for a normal day, have four locomotives in steam.
- Film by Ken Shaw of a 1981 visit to Barry Scrapyard in South Wales. Fascinating to see the vast number of rusting hulks. Amazing to think that every single loco in there has now been rescued for preservation (even if the last handful to leave were only feasible as donors for the various new-build projects now under way). The Maunsell Locomotive Society's S15 No.30847, restored at, and now running at the Bluebell, looks to be the one loco which was cared for! BR 4MT Tank No.80100, "Reserved for Bluebell Railway", is the only one of the 11 ex-Barry locos now resident at the Bluebell which has yet to have its restoration started, although lots of spare parts have been gathered or made ready for that day.
Barry Luck, the project manager, provides three more photos of the OP4 earthworks.
On the right we see the east side of the carriage shed with the pile tops partly exposed, where the Heritage Skills Centre will be constructed. The dimples in the soil in the foreground are made by the heavy "sheep's foot" roller used to compact the soil.
The next stage here is to excavate a trench along the line of the piles, and to cast the ring-beam around the perimeter of the Skills Centre, ready for the steel framework to be erected.
The reconstruction and stabilisation of the embankment east of the carriage shed into so-called 'Dingley Dell' is now complete, bar a little bit of tidying up, and filling and re-grading of the top few inches, which will use excavated material from the Skills Centre footings. The first photo below shows the area immediately south of the carriage shed levelled and compacted ready for track laying into the eastern two roads, H & J. The second photo shows the view from the south.
- During June 2018 there were 41,058 total hits on this page, from 23,335 unique visitors.
Barry's third photo, on the left, shows the beginning of the excavation in preparation for the erection of the Heritage Skills Centre. The ground here has been lowered by approximately one metre, which gives sufficient height to roof level to accommodate a two-storey structure. The erection of the steelwork is due to start in mid-July.
- David Long's photo shows the SR Maunsell Q-class with Sunday's goods train. The next demonstration goods train is planned for the morning of Saturday 14 July.
- We're looking forward to our big annual Model Railway Event this weekend. This year we have even more attractions, with Kingscote hosting a 71/4 inch miniature steam railway! We are running an intensive 3-train service to enable you to transfer between the stations. The timetable can be downloaded here. Tickets available in advance (with discount), or on arrival.
- The appointment of Julie Jones to the position of General Manager has been confirmed by Dick Fearn, the Chairman of Bluebell Railway Plc. The post, which was initially created over two years ago, is a key part of the Railway's organisational structure, leading the management team and supporting our ever-expanding railway heritage activities. The full press release is available to download here.
- Nice to see our restoration of LCDR Carriage 3188, which was rescued from Devon in 2005 from a demolished bungalow, being reflected on the Yarcombe Message Board.
- Booking is now open for our Christmas Festive Feast trains - take a steam train ride from East Grinstead and enjoy Christmas Lunch in the Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park on 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 or 12 December.
- Peter Skuce's photos from Branch Line Weekend in May.
- SECR P-class No.178 has returned from a prolonged stay at the National Railway Museum, which it was a great hit with the public, hauling their regular brake-van rides. It is now due its annual boiler exam.
- Details have now been announced for our 'Giants of Steam' Autumn Gala on 12-14 October. Visiting locomotives are:
- Gresley A4 Pacific No.60009 'Union of South Africa' (courtesy of the Cameron Trust)
- LNER Thompson Class B1 No.61306 'Mayflower' (courtesy of David Buck)
Below we see:
60009 'Union of South Africa' passing Condover, Shropshire on 1 June 2013 - photo cropped and scaled from the original by CrossHouses, reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
61306 'Mayflower' about to call at Chepstow Station on 1 March 2015 - photo cropped and scaled from the original - © Ruth Sharville under cc-by-sa/2.0
- We are running one of our regular Demonstration Goods Trains tomorrow morning, expected to be hauled by the SR Maunsell Q-class locomotive No.30541. The timings for the Goods Train are as shown here.
Passenger trains will be running to our Service 2 timetable. You can purchase tickets on arrival at our stations. A whole-line return ticket allows unlimited travel for the day, and you can break your journey wherever you please.
- Fathers' Day special offer: Sunday 17th June - Dads visiting the Railway can travel throughout the day for just £5 when accompanied by at least one full-fare-paying child.
- Earn triple donations from 15 to 29 June: To celebrate the successful launch of AmazonSmile UK just six months ago, Amazon is tripling donations from 15 - 29 June on all qualifying purchases. Simply access Amazon through this Bluebell Railway Trust link.
- Hattons are bringing out four new versions of their OO-scale model P-class. Two of them are livery variations on our own No.27! Firstly in pre grouping full SECR livery (with bottle buffers and polished brass) and also in ROD green livery as 5027.
- Final positions in the 2017-18 Foootball Competition, raising funds for the forthcoming overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864, are now available. Particular congratulations to David Pegg who not only cleaned up in competition 1 but successfully predicted a Chelsea v Manchester United FA Cup final.
The biggest winner is 7864, as the competition added £247.50 to the restoration fund. Many thanks to everyone who entered. Winners' cheques and entry forms for 18/19 will be issued shortly.
- Brian Lacey's photos below show 847 and 263 at Horsted Keynes today, and the Q-class passing through the station with the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the S15 No.847 arriving at East Grinstead with the second train of the day today. Presumably it was decided to give it a test run before its expected appearance in service this coming weekend, to check that recent maintenance work was all OK.
- We are currently advertising a vacancy for a Locomotive Works Fitter.
- Martin Lawrence now has a gallery of photos from the East Grinstead Bus Running Day back in April.
- Reminder to sign up for our annual sponsored Track Trek, which takes place in the evening on Saturday 30 June. If you've already signed up, then you can set up an online BT MyDonate fundraising page for your trek.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows SECR O1 No.65 arriving at Horsted Keynes with the Wealden Rambler afternoon tea service on Saturday.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with plans for locomotive usage through June. It shows that the Q-class will be hauling a Demonstration Goods Train on the morning of Sunday 17 June.
- Over the Model Railway Weekend, 23-24 June, we are running an intensive 3-train service (with Locos 65, 263 and 847 planned to be used). The timetable is now available to download.
- Update from Project 27, with photos (including that below) showing the marking out of the replacement main frame plates for this SECR P-class, and more.
- John Sandys' photos from today.
- Video from John Harwood taken today, showing a trip behind the Maunsell Q-class from Horsted Keynes to Sheffield Park and back, plus a detailed look at 1881-built LBSCR Stroudley brake third carriage No.949 currently under restoration. The annual visit by a weedkilling spray vehicle is also seen.
- Martin Lawrence has now completed his April and May photo albums and started on that for June. It includes the photo below, showing the addition to the locomotive shed, to act as the entrance area for the 'Steam Works' exhibition.
- Another OO-gauge model LBSCR locomotive has been announced - Rapido Trains are to produce models of the Stroudley E1 0-6-0T for Model Rail Magazine - see Graham Muz's blog for details.
- Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday shows the H-class arriving at Horsted Keynes, as the Q-class waits to head South.
- For the rest of this month we are running our Service 1 timetable Monday to Friday, and Service 2 each day at the weekends (except for 23-24 June, the Model Railway Weekend). Timetables are here.
Updated news of our "Brighton Atlantic" project, with some of the complex sheet metal components for the boiler clothing being delivered.
- Derek Hayward has added 11 additional images showing progress with the OP4 Shed Project at Horsted Keynes, taken a week ago.
- The Southern Electric Traction Group (custodians of 4Vep No.3417) have an illustrated update on their website showing work on fitting out the shed at Strawberry Hill to accommodate the trim and spares required for the future running of the unit.
- Matt Wickham's video review of Dapol's new LSWR B4 shunter 'Normandy'.
- The tee-shirt to be seen in this year.
- Greg Wales' photos below, taken on the footplate of the H-class on Saturday during his "third man" turn, show Russell, the driver, and Nick, firing.
- During May 2018 there were 42,542 total hits on this page, from 24,698 unique visitors.
- Greg Wales' photo shows the Q and H at Sheffield Park yesterday.
- For the remainder of Half Term week, daily until 3 June, we are running our peak Service 2 Timetable.
- Video from yesterday by John Harwood, featuring 813, and the Q and the H.
- Details of Bob Bamberough's funeral arrangements are available on the BRPS Members' notices page.
- Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday shows the visiting GWR Saddle Tank No.813 (which is running each day until Tuesday - see revised special timetables here) taking water at East Grinstead.
- The latest e-newsletter, including news of loco overhauls and maintenance, work on two Southern Railway luggage vans and how the new General Data Protection Regulations are being applied at the Bluebell.
- Nicely edited video from Branch Line weekend, from Derek Spicer.
- There will be a few changes to the annual sponsored Track Trek at the Bluebell Railway this year.
The event has been moved from November to mid-summer, and it will now be held on the evening of 30 June, 2018. Organisers are hoping that this will bring brighter, warmer, and drier weather. Also, instead of the whole line, the walk this year will start at Horsted Keynes at 6 p.m. and cover the five miles to Sheffield Park. Arrangements are being made for free transport of all walkers, by train, back to their original arrival point at the Railway.
Money raised will go towards track replacement work on the Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes section. More details here.
A couple of photos from OP4 Project Manager, Barry Luck, from earlier this week, showing progress on the earthworks at Horsted Keynes. We have dug out the loose uncompacted material in the embankment down to the original ground level, and we are now rebuilding the embankment layer by layer, interleaved with geo-tech mesh, compacting each layer before placing the next.
- Andrew Crampton's photo shows the Q-class approaching Horsted Keynes with the set of Bulleid carriages on Friday 18 May.
- The visit of GWR Saddle Tank No.813 (an ex-Port Talbot Railway 0-6-0ST of 1901), from the Severn Valley Railway, has been extended, and it will be running from Saturday through to Tuesday. We are very grateful to the SVR and the GWR 813 Preservation Fund for this last-minute arrangement.
- Each day until Tuesday 29 May, a special timetable will operate: Download here.
- SR Q-class 30541 and visiting GWR 813 are in steam today, and will be joined by further locos on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday!
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with plans for locomotive usage through the remainder of May. The work on the S15 has taken longer than planned, but good to say that the Q-class is running again after suffering from injector problems on Wednesday.
- Very nicely made video from David Wadley from Friday of the Branch Line weekend,
and one he made earlier, from 1990 or early 1991.
- Some photos and a video by Chris Ward from the Branch Line Weekend.
- A gallery containing 70 images from the Branch Line gala by Derek Hayward, including the photo below of 323 and 65 at the head of 8 pre-grouping carriages in the cutting approaching Three Arch Bridge from last Sunday.
- On 17 June, for Father's Day we have a special Fathers for a Fiver Offer.
- We are now a Blue Peter Badge Attraction.
- As a new initiative this year, the volunteers of the Carriage & Wagon Department will be running Behind the Scenes Tours of the workshop at 2pm every Saturday from now until the end of September (except on Model Railway Weekend - 23rd June). The tours are free - although donations to the Maunsell Restaurant Car Project are always very welcome. It's not just a chance to see behind the scenes with progress on many different restoration projects, but also to catch up on how the OP4 carriage shed extension project is progressing.
- Yoshi Hashida's panned photo below captured the visiting 813 at West Hoathly on 18 May.
- GWR Saddle Tank No.813 hauled a packed special train last night run in memory of Dave Phillips - see some of the tributes paid to him here. Brian Lacey's photo shows it on arrival at East Grinstead. With representatives from our twin line, Museumstoomtram Hoorn-Medemblik, joining us, the Anglo-Dutch flag combination was appropriate.
- 813 had impressed staff and visitors alike on the first day of our Branch Line Gala, which continues today and tomorrow.
- Tornado latest: We are very sorry to say that 60163 'Tornado' will not be able to visit us in August as we had hoped.
All customers with bookings for the original 60163 'Tornado' visit dates in May and any that had transferred to the proposed alternative dates in August will be contacted by our Customer Service Team as soon as possible.
Paddington will still be visiting on the 28th & 29th May and our Teddy Bears' Picnics will still be running on the 26th, 28th & 29th May, with own locomotives heading the trains.
We do still have some availability on the Teddy Bears' picnic trains, and also on other trains running on the 25th - 29th May. If you would like to come along to one of these please call our Customer Service Team on 01825 720800.
Tickets for a special timetable of trains (hauled by our own magnificent locomotives) on 25th - 29th May are also now available to purchase online.
- The Q-class running with the Bulleid carriages, seen in Derek Hayward's photo below crossing the River Ouse bridge, and the H-class, No.263, caught by Julian Clark approaching Horsted Keynes, completed the line-up yesterday. They are joined by two more SECR locomotives, Nos.65 and 323, today.
- The Branch Line Gala starts tomorrow, with three locomotives on 3 coaching sets, and with two of our Metropolitan coaches having been for a test run on Tuesday (as seen in Reuben Smith's photo above), we have a fourth coaching set running over the weekend with 5 different locomotives. There's not a Mk.1 carriage in use (except for the Lounge Car attached to the Pullman train on Saturday evening), with two pre-grouping sets, a Southern Maunsell set and a Southern Bulleid set. So of 19 locomotives and carriages in use on the public trains over the Gala weekend, 12 date back to pre-grouping days!
- Brian Lacey's photo above, taken yesterday, shows the H-class at West Hoathly.
- There will be guided tours of the Carriage Works at Horsted Keynes over this weekend, starting at 11.20, 12.20, 13.20 & 14.20 on Saturday, and 11.00, 11.45 & 14.00 on Sunday.
- The Metropolitan carriages return to service after a period of maintenance, which has seen split panels on the brake coach removed and repaired, work on the electrical systems, renewal of worn components in the door locks, and considerable work on brake cylinders which had recently been causing some concern. These two carriages, dating from 1898 and 1900, originally returned to Bluebell service after major overhaul 19 years ago. The third and fourth of these carriages (the composites) will now be attended to, to return the set to its former strength.
- Update to the page for the OP4 Carriage Shed Project, adding in recent news reports which have featured on this Blog.
- Sad news to share today - Bob Bamberough, former Station Master at Sheffield Park and Guard from the 1970s to 1990s passed away on Tuesday evening after being diagnosed with leukaemia. Once we have details of the funeral we will let members know.
- Reuben Smith's photo below from Tuesday shows Bluebell attached to the visiting Ex-Port Talbot Railway 0-6-0ST, GWR No.813 of 1901.
- GWR Saddle Tank No.813, visiting from the Severn Valley Railway, has arrived for the Branch Line Gala, as seen in Reuben Smith's photo taken at Sheffield Park yesterday.
- Starting this Friday (18 May) and continuing over the weekend, is our Branch Line Gala featuring 5 locomotives and an array of our vintage carriages, on a very interesting timetable which is available to download.
- On Friday evening there is a special private train for Bluebell Members and staff to remember the life of the late Dave Phillips - details on the BRPS Members' notices page.
- Barry Luck's photo shows LBSCR No.60 and LBSCR No.676 (under a tarpaulin) at the north end of F and G-roads in the OP4 shed. The Buffer stops in F-road are required, since it's envisaged that the southern end of this road will be shunted quite regularly once the shed is permanently connected to track in the yard, a couple of the spaces being used for short-term rather than long term storage. A report on the current position with respect to this project follows below.
- Update to the web page for LBSCR Stroudley Brake No.676 with a new photo included.
- We regret to have to report that the Trackfest Music festival scheduled for 16 June has been Cancelled.
OP4 Progress Report
Barry Luck, OP4 Project Manager, updates us on progress with the new Carriage maintenance and storage sheds at Horsted Keynes.
After an extremely wet spring we have at last had a period of (mostly) dry weather that has dried out the ground and enabled Matt Crawford and his hard-working team to make significant progress on stabilising the embankment.
The most obvious outcome is that the spoil heap south of the shed has now gone, and the embankment at the south end of so-called "Dingley Dell" has been rebuilt, extending the space available in the yard.
The ground south of the shed is "made ground"; that is to say, it is not virgin soil, but it has been built up over many decades by the tipping of loose material. This ground is therefore un-compacted and inherently unstable, slowly slipping into the valley. The removal of the spoil heap has reduced over-burden on the embankment, minimising the risk of further slippage.
To stabilise the embankment, material at the bottom has first to be dug out and then replaced in shallow compacted layers, with reinforced Geotech mesh placed between layers to provide additional stability. Before this work can proceed much further, some small-scale piling is required along the edge of the stream to secure the toe of the embankment. This job is likely to commence within the next week, given continued dry weather.
7 more vehicles under cover
On 29 March, the temporary connection was slewed across to G-road, and further vehicles were shunted into the shed. The vehicles currently stored in the new shed are:
- No.33, SER/Pullman kitchen car "Constance"
- No.60, LBSCR Directors' Saloon
- No.320, LSWR Lavatory 3rd
- No.494, LSWR Corridor 3rd
- No.676, LBSC 4-wheel Brake 3rd
- No.1050, SER/SR Composite
- No.1061, SECR Birdcage Brake 2nd/3rd
- No.2515, SR Bulleid Saloon Brake 3rd
- No.2773, LSWR Van
- No.4279, SR Bulleid Saloon Brake 3rd
- No.5498, LSWR Ventilated Luggage Van
- No.6575, SR Maunsell Corridor Brake Composite
The final disposition of vehicles in the new shed may change later, once the shed and its access roads are completed.
Heritage Skills Centre
The materials for the framework of the Heritage Skills Centre (HSC) have been on site since the erection of the main shed, but no progress has been possible until the ground in this area has been reduced to finished levels.
With the work on the embankment progressing well, it is anticipated that excavation can start before the end of the month, with the spoil being used in the embankment works. Discussions are underway about starting the erection of the framework during June.
The detailed design of the HSC is progressing well, and we are currently awaiting Building Regulations approval before proceeding further. Completion of the design will provide details of finished ground levels to the east of the building, and crucially enable the northern and eastern wall cladding to be specified and detailed.
Work to relay track in the down yard is not strictly part of OP4. Plans are being prepared and components assembled for a new layout that will provide significant improvements in the yard's operational efficiency and also facilitate the shunting of stock into the new shed.
However, until a significant proportion of the embankment work has been completed, and the ground stabilised, we can't shunt further carriages into the remaining two roads (H and J).
This project is entirely funded by donations, and a further £150,000 is required to complete the brickwork and cladding of the northern and eastern wall, which will provide additional weather proofing for the carriages and provide extra security, screening the vehicles from the road. If you can support this much-needed project, please visit the "Cash for Cover" donation page.
Bruce Healey's photo on the left above shows the almost complete track laid into H-road, taken the day before stock was shunted into G-road.
- Visit of 60163 'Tornado' postponed: Due to the ongoing repairs to 'Tornado' (see the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust web site for details), sadly this locomotive will not be visiting us as had been planned for 25-29 May. However, we are pleased to announce that Tornado's visit is being rescheduled
for 3-7 August 2018. [Please see update, 19 May, above.]
We are just finalising the details of the new visit and will be announcing them shortly. All customers with bookings for the event in May will be contacted by our Customer Services Department as soon as possible.
However, we are pleased to confirm that Paddington™ will still be visiting us on 28 and 29 May, and that the sold-out Teddy Bears' Picnics will still go ahead on 26, 28 and 29 May, with one of our own locomotives heading the trains.
- Brian Lacey's photo from today shows SECR P-class No.323 'Bluebell' with the vintage set; guests attending a wedding celebration were travelling on this train, and hence the unusual additional decoration on the SECR hundred-seater behind the locomotive. It was a distinctly SECR day today, with the O1-class on the other service train, and the H-class hauling a Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train.
- Peter Edwards' photo from Sunday shows the H-class with the 2.45pm train from Sheffield Park as it passed the bluebells on the lineside at Town House Bridge.
- This coming weekend we are running to our Peak service 2 timetable. You can buy tickets online up to a day in advance, or on arrival on the day at our stations.
Saturday is our Toy & Rail Collectors' Fair. We are running free 'Behind the Scenes' tours of the C&W department at Horsted Keynes that day, starting at 11.40, 12.40, 1.55 and 3.10.
- Mike Anton has a new gallery of detailed photos under and around SECR P-class No.323 "Bluebell".
- John Sandys' photos from today, with the Q-class on the service train, the last stanchion now in place on the new canopy at Sheffield Park, a look inside the OP shed, and work to stabilise the embankment approaching it.
- An updated component sponsorship list for the Brighton Atlantic is now available.
- Update to the web page, with new photo, for Maunsell Open Third No.1309.
- John Horton's photo, taken from the vintage train yesterday shows that there's a good display of bluebells starting to bloom on the lineside.
- To see the best of those lineside bluebells we currently have our Bluebell Specials running on most weekdays to our off-peak Timetable service 1.
For an all-round view of the lineside, ride in our panoramic LNWR Observation Car, in which you can reserve a seat, for a very small supplement.
You can still turn up on the day as normal to ride in our ordinary carriages on the rest of the train.
- Reminder that next Saturday, 28 April, is the first of our two annual Toy & Rail Collectors' Fairs.
- We are looking forward to our next two major events, the Southern Classic Car Show on 13 May, with a feast of classic cars at Horsted Keynes, and our Branch Line Gala with visiting engine Ex-Port Talbot Railway 0-6-0ST, GWR No.813 of 1901 on 18-20 May, for which we plan an intensive and unusual timetable, featuring also Nos.65, 263, 323 and 30541 from our home fleet, and a wide variety of carriage stock.
- Brian Lacey's photos below from yesterday were both taken at Horsted Keynes. In the first, the SECR O1-class passes through with the afternoon tea service, the Wealden Rambler. The second photo shows the crew of the H-class with one service train taking a break on Platform 4 (whilst the fireman damps down the coal in the bunker to stop the dust flying about) whilst the Q-class brings the other service train in to Platform 3.
- John Sandys' photo from yesterday shows the Q-class during its run-round at Sheffield Park, carrying a wreath in memory of Dave Phillips. It also shows the now pretty-much completed re-roofing of our 1979-built locomotive shed, funded as part of the ASH (Accessible Steam Heritage) project. John has further photos from Thursday, and also
from Tuesday, when Camelot was in charge of the service train. This week the Observation Car was attached to the service trains for pre-booked Bluebell Special ticket-holders.
- The SECR H and O1, plus the Maunsell Q-class, are running this weekend. We have our Peak service 2 timetable. You can buy tickets online up to a day in advance, or on arrival on the day at our stations.
- Coming up on Sunday is East Grinstead Bus Running Day - it's not a Bluebell event, but it gives some added interest in East Grinstead, and provides interesting options to visit us from further afield by vintage bus.
- We are running free 'Behind the Scenes' tours of the C&W department at Horsted Keynes on 28th April (the day of our Toy & Rail Collectors' Fair), starting at 11.40, 12.40, 1.55 and 3.10.
- Update with the latest positions in the Football Competition. This is a fund-raiser for the forthcoming overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Restaurant/Dining First No.7864. And talking of the Restaurant Car, Hornby have just released the first photos of decoration samples of their new OO-gauge versions, expected to be delivered in September.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for remainder of April, and current plans for May.
- John Sandys' photo from Tuesday shows that most of the work on the splendid new canopy around the Bessemer Arms, which had been included in the plans when the building was constructed in the 1980s, has been completed.
The project is yet another tribute to the outstanding achievements of the FoSP (Friends of Sheffield Park) project volunteers, who have made a real difference to the appearance and amenity of our headquarters station over recent years.
- Brian Lacey's photo from last Saturday shows 73082 'Camelot' carrying the headboard in memory of Simon Brown.
- Brian Lacey's photo on the right shows the spring flowers at Horsted Keynes, as SECR O1 No.65 waits for the Wedding Party to board the Pullman train on Saturday. On the lineside however it's the primroses which form the main display at present; the bluebells will take over soon.
- An update on the overhaul of Bulleid Carriage, No.5768 on the Bulleid Society web site.
- Jon Barnes' video compilation featuring the Maunsell Q-class on Saturday, when it hauled the lightweight vintage set in the morning, to which was added the Wealden Rambler Lounge Cars for the Afternoon Tea service.
- Brian Lacey's photo below from Saturday, a gloriously sunny day, shows Q-class No.30541 with its unusual 8-coach train at Horsted Keynes.
- Peter Edwards' photo shows No.73082 'Camelot' at Vaux End carrying the headboard in memory of Simon Brown on his birthday.
- Martin Larence's photo takes us back a few weeks to the special train run on the actual day of the 60th anniversary of the second line closure; amongst the invited guests that day were some who had travelled on the train on 16 March 1958. A full-colour version of the photo is here.
- It's the last few days of the Easter Holidays. Tomorrow, and over the weekend, we are running our peak Service 2 Timetable, with one of the trains formed of our vintage LBSCR, LCDR/SECR and LSWR carriages. Tickets can be purchased in advance at a discount, or on arrival on the day. A full-line return gives unlimited travel on the day.
- On Monday we start our Bluebell Specials - these trains run on most weekdays to our off-peak Timetable service 1; for the best view of the lineside you can reserve a seat, for a very small supplement, in our 1913-built LNWR Observation Car. Weekend trains continue to our peak Service 2 timetable.
- Derek Hayward's photo gallery for Kingscote Signal Box has had a major revision. It now includes 150 images of the box and the associated signals, covering the period 1998 -2018.
- It is with great sadness that we have to report that Bluebell volunteer Dave Phillips passed away on Monday night after a spell in hospital. Derek Hayward's photo shows him during the 2013 Vintage Transport Weekend, at which he was one of the judges. Dave did a lot of hard work for the railway, especially in the background on the day to day running of railway. He will be greatly missed by all.
- John Sandys provides photos from around Sheffield Park yesterday , a gorgeous Spring day which saw Camelot looking magnificent in the sunshine, plus photos of the ASH Project.
- Daniel Green provides a gallery from Saturday, with 'Camelot', 263 & 65.
- Bluebell features with our own entry on the National Rail web site. Visitors might find it useful to follow link to their new page "Trains to Brighton", the spiritual home of the LBSCR.
- Just to prove that the loco roster can only be a snapshot of our intended locomotive useage, always subject to last minute changes, yesterday instead of the H-class and the Q, we steamed the O1 and 'Camelot', as seen in Brian Lacey's photos below, taken at East Grinstead.
- Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday shows the SECR H-class on departure from Horsted Keynes with LSWR Brake 1520 at the south end of the Vintage set, which is in public service all this week. In the background is BR Mk.1 Brake Composite No.21246, which is approaching the end of its overhaul, with just a little interior work to complete, plus the overhaul of a pair of bogies for it.
- Martin Lawrence has completed his his March gallery and begun that for April.
- Photos by Peter Skuce of his visit on Easter Monday, and also an updgraded of his Vintage Trains Weekend album from Saturday 5 November 2011.
- A significant update on the page for news of our project to re-construct a "Brighton Atlantic", with the headline being that all the tubes and flues are now in the boiler and have been expanded.
The photos below show the last flue tube being inserted, the safety valves in place, and the backhead, with all orifices blanked off in preparation for the hydraulic test. The full update is available here.
- Our annual Model Railway Weekend is on 23-24 June. You can download the full size PDF version of Mike Hopps' poster here.
- Reminder that we are running a 2-train service (Timetable service 2) this week and next, with one of the trains formed of our vintage LBSCR, LCDR/SECR and LSWR carriages. Tickets can be purchased in advance at a discount, or on arrival on the day. A full-line return gives unlimited travel on the day.
- Some of our Fish & Chip evening supper trains are already sold out, but we still have tickets for the first of the year, on 13 April, or later in the summer - Buy tickets here.
- John Sandys provides photos from yesterday featuring the two-train service, the canopy around the Bessemer Arms and progress on the ASH project.
- Ashley Smith supplies the photo below of the demonstration goods train behind the O1 from Easter Monday, and some further photos and a video.
- The sun shone yesterday, and Brian Lacey's photo shows the Q-class ready to leave East Grinstead with one of the two service trains.
- Join us for Track Trek 2018 on Saturday 30 June.
Again this year the Trek is raising money for the Tr(ack) Action Appeal, which is an appeal set up to raise £250,000 for the renewal of track along parts of the Railway. The Track Trek will start from Horsted Keynes station with registration and safety briefings taking place between 5:00pm and 6:00pm with the walk starting at 6:00pm. The last walkers will need to leave Horsted Keynes by 6:20pm. Full details of how to participate or support the Trek are available here.
- A couple of new offers:
- Bessemer Specials on selected Mondays - steam train ride from East Grinstead and 2-course lunch in the Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park.
- Steam and Vine in conjunction with Bluebell Vineyard.
- Paul Simpson's photos from Jon Bowers' photo charter with 847 and the goods train last week.
- Derek Hayward has made major updates to his photographic galleries for Horsted Keynes (covering the years 1998-2018), Kingscote, and East Grinstead (covering the same period, following the development of the site as our new terminus over the years).
- Brian lacey's photos below from Saturday show 73082 'Camelot' as it prepares to couple to the Observation Car at East Grinstead, and the H-class ariving at Horsted Keynes with vintage set
- Yesterday, Nos.263 and 73082 are seen on the two service trains as they pass at Horsted Keynes (Brian Lacey).
- In addition to our two-train passenger service, and a Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train, we are also running a Demonstration Goods Train tomorrow, to the timetable shown below.
- Photos by Dave Bowles from a photo charter with the S15 last week.
- A second photo below, also from Brian Lacey, shows No.65 on the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train yesterday.
- During March 2018 there were 44,433 total hits on this page, from 25,574 unique visitors.
- Last weekend's Diesel Gala saw unexpected and extensive use of our Thunderbird! Brian Lacey's photo shows D4106 (substituting for D182 on the Saturday) arriving at Horsted Keynes with the 12.00 from Sheffield Park while 45041's crew looks on (45041 was working the 11.45 from East Grinstead).
- Steam-hauled trains run daily until Sunday 15 April to our Service 2 Timetable - no pre-booking required, but Bluebell Bonus discount available if you do book ahead.
- Over Easter - 30 March to 2 April we have our big Mad Hatter's Tea Party at Kingscote Station. If you want to join in the Tea then tickets must be pre-booked, but the party fun is open to all for a small charge on top of a travel ticket, payable on entry to the Paddock at Kingscote.
- Our normal steam hauled services also run over Easter - no pre-booking required
- Free guided tours of the Carriage & Wagon workshop at Horsted Keynes take place daily from Good Friday to Easter Monday, at 11.40am, 12.40 and 1.55pm.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for April.
- Andrew Crampton's photo below shows D4106 at Holywell, standing in for 45041 on Friday. This Peak was repaired that evening, and ran for the remainder of the weekend. Julian Clark's photo shows our C&W works Sentinel shunter which took over the scheduled brake van rides at Horsted Keynes on the Friday whilst the 09 was employed on thunderbird duties.
- Next we have two photos provided by Steve Lee. Peak D182 is seen at Town Place on Saturday, on what sadly proved to be its final northbound journey of the weekend. On the Sunday two different 31xxx locomotives came together!
- Update for March with the positions in the Football Competition. This is a fund-raiser for the forthcoming overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.
- The latest 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?
The photo below shows the ever-more complete front of the locomotive. Most of the work in recent months has however been associated with constructing a base for the cover over the locomotive, and the track upon which 84030 will sit.
- We end with the completely reliable visiting 31271, seen at West Hoathly last Friday in David Long's photo.
- Peak D182 and 31271 await their turns of service this morning, as our Diesel Gala kicks off (photo by Mike Anton). Details of the event are included in yesterday's blog entry.
- Jon Sandys' photos from yesterday, with 'Camelot' out for a test run after winter maintenance, and further work progressing on the ASH project and the Bessemer Arms Canopy.
- Update to the Project 27 Blog with a couple of months' news of work on SECR P-class No.A27.
The plan for the next year as set out in the report is ambitious, and really relies on a flow of donations - please do consider supporting the volunteer team's work via the project's BT MyDonate page.
- We are now registered on Amazon Smile and, if you so wish, you can nominate the Bluebell Railway Trust as your chosen charity.
- Martin Malins was eligible for the offer to travel last weekend for the 1958 fare of 4/- so here's a photo of the 4 coins, which the ticket office were of course unable to accept, so he paid contactless! The ticket is an interesting one, being routed over two other now-closed lines, but not via Bluebell, which must have already closed at the time.
- Julian Clark's photo from last Saturday shows the Q-class on the commemoration of the last BR service over our line.
- As we conclude the first event in our "Steaming towards 60" programme, Peter Edwards' photo from Sunday shows Q-class No.30541, carrying a replica of the headboard used on the last BR train sixty years ago, at Three Arch Bridge with the 11.30am train from Sheffield Park.
- In preparation for our 23-25 March Diesel Gala, the three visiting locomotives (two Peaks - Class 45 No.45041 'Royal Tank Regiment' and Class 46 D182, and Class 31 No.31271 'Stratford 1840-2001') arrived on Monday.
Roy Watts' photo shows them hauled onto Bluebell metals by 47813, with D4106 waiting in the loop to take them onwards to Sheffield Park.
Video from Mike Anton of the diesels' gauging run at Horsted Keynes, showing them hauled by the 09, on Monday, along with the photo below.
Tickets for the event can be purchased online, or at our booking offices on arrival. BRPS Members' discounted tickets can be obtained on arrival.
The timetable for the gala, which starts tomorrow, is available as a PDF Download.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the Maunsell Q-class No.541 bursting out of the tunnel, with one of yesterday's School Specials. It and the S15 will be taking turns to haul the services over the weekend.
- This weekend is the 60th Anniversary of the line closure commemorative event.
- Yesterday's commemoration and the anniversary featured extensively on the BBC South East Evening News.
- Album of photos covering the trains running for the anniversary of closure commemoration yesterday taken at Horsted Keynes by Neil Munro-Thomson.
- Steve Lee's photo below shows P-class No.323 carrying the Bluebell's name to the Spa Valley Railway, seen on its first day of operation there, 24 February, approaching Poke Farm Crossing.
- Brian Lacey's photo is of No.847 with a lightweight load of just the LNWR Observation Car at West Hoathly yesterday.
60th Anniversary of Bluebell Line Closure
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the final services run over the Bluebell Line by British Railways.
This is a very significant occasion in the history of the Bluebell Line, marking the end of one era and, significantly, the beginning of a new one, with glorious rebirth as the Bluebell Railway, the first ex-mainline standard gauge railway to run passenger trains.
Today the Railway will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the last train service from East Grinstead to Lewes. We are working with schools on a local history project and recreating the historic journey of that last train. Trains being run today are not open to the public, although the stations are open for anyone wanting to watch.
This weekend, 17 and 18 March we will be turning the clocks back with various themed attractions and displays of interest to all ages. We will be inviting the public to experience elements of 1958 and explore what that year means to the Railway. A visit to the Railway this weekend will include opportunities to take tea in '50s style, take mini guided tours in areas not usually open to the public, and, if you were born in 1958, travel at 1958 prices: 4s, equivalent to 20p per ticket, but shillings are not required!
Further details of this event are available here.
Mike Esau's photo shows 80154 with the last train, as crowds look on at East Grinstead, on 16 March 1958.
- David Long's photo shows the SECR O1-class No.65 with the demonstration goods train, at West Hoathly last Saturday.
- Trains run this weekend, to the 60th-anniversary "Sulky Service" timetable whilst we commemorate the Diamond Anniversary of the 1958 closure of the line. On the Saturday trains will run over the stub of the line to Newick and Lewes (just a couple of hundred yards south from Sheffield Park).
- On the Saturday only, there are brake van rides at Sheffield Park (first-come first-served) behind both the Q-class and the S15, which alternate on the brake van and on the service trains.
- Special screenings of 'The Titfield Thunderbolt' at Horsted Keynes Station in the Cinema room at 12-noon and 2pm, included in your travel ticket.
- Guided tours of the Carriage & Wagon Workshop at Horsted Keynes, allowing an opportunity to see behind the scenes with the restoration work on the carriages.
- Kingscote Signal Box will be open for visitors, limited spaces available on a first-come first-served basis.
- John Sandys' photos from Tuesday show, amongst other things, the nearly complete new canopy around the Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park.
- Locomotive No.3, 'Captain Baxter', is currently on a visit to the Great Western Society at Didcot.
- Brian Lacey's photo below shows the O1-class on the lunchtime Pullman dining train last Sunday, seen passing Bulleid Pacific 21C123 'Blackmoor Vale' which is currently on display in Platform 1 at Horsted Keynes.
- Steve Lee's photo shows the S15 arriving at Horsted Keynes on last Saturday's sulky service.
- Martin Lawrence's photo from today shows the brickwork on the new entrance to the Loco Shed being constructed as part of the ASH Project.
- Trains running again this weekend, to the 60th-anniversary "Sulky Service" commemorative timetable.
- The SECR O1 will be hauling a demonstration goods train on Saturday, to the timetable here.
- Tickets are now on sale for our Bluebell Specials which run on midweek dates between the middle of April and the middle of May. Travel through the Sussex countryside between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead in our unique 1913-built 'Observation Car' at Bluebell time and see how the Railway got its name!
- Update to the Infrastructure (P-Way and Civil Engineering) page.
Project 27. Undeterred by the weather, last Friday the cylinder block castings for SECR P-class No.A27 were driven up to Statfold Engineering Ltd for machining. The photo below shows them loaded up ready for the journey. The second photo shows progress at Sheffield Park, with the new rear buffer beam and rear drag-box plate drilled, and the front buffer beam brought in to the Villa for the same treatment. The drag-box plate (closest to the camera) is now ready for the reinforcing plate to be riveted on. For those on Facebook, there are more photos on the project's page.
All this fantastic progress costs money... so please do support this volunteer team with donations to enable the work to continue at the present rate.
- Martin Lawrence's photo from yesterday shows the second half of the loco shed roof has been removed for replacement, as part of the HLF-funded ASH project. The photo is from Martin's March album. He has also completed that for February.
- After the disruption caused by the snow and icicles in the tunnel last weekend, our steam-hauled and steam-heated services resume on Saturday with 4 departures each day this weekend, to the 60th-anniversary "Sulky Service" commemorative timetable.
The actual anniversary of the 1958 closure is commemorated over the weekend of 17-18 March.
- The SECR O1 will be hauling a demonstration goods train on Saturday. Timings will hopefully be provided here when available.
- Update to the 9F Club web page. This is our club for young people aged 9 - 16
- Put Saturday 30 June in your diaries for the 2018 Track Trek, an evening sponsored walk down the line from Horsted Keynes to Sheffield Park, with connecting trains from Sheffield Park and East Grinstead before and after the walk.
- Some great 1997 footage of the Bluebell, featuring the Q1-class No.C1, 'Camelot' and the C-class, by Trevor Ledgeway.
- Some recent videos from Mike Anton: 323 at the Spa Valley Railway on Sunday. S15 No.847 shot over the last three days of the 2018 February Half term holiday, and
a footplate trip on the Q-class on a Santa train.
- John Sandys' photos from today including progress on the locomotive shed (ASH Project) and the Bessemer Arms canopy.
- Dan Gosling's video: "The Best of... No.73082 'Camelot'" has proved very popular.
- Video from the Timeline Charter with O1-class No.65, by Tom's Steam Videos.
Trackwork update thanks to Bruce Healey.
With the long Tremains relay completed in early February, and with spare time before the weekday trains restart at Easter, the opportunity was taken for a further possession to do a bit more track replacement. The plan was to continue the track relay carried out at Holywell early in 2017, continuing further north over Keysford Bridge up to just beyond Caseford Bridge, in a 5-day window. As of yesterday evening, this relay of just over 1/8 mile was nearing completion, the plan having been modified by the weather. All panels of rail are in and connected up with ballasting and tamping due today and Friday, plus a lot of tidying up.
The clearance under Caseford Bridge was a bit tight. During this relay, we have been using the technique of putting new ballast over the old to give us an even firmer trackbed. As this would have compromised clearance even more, the opportunity was taken to lower the trackbed by 4 inches.
The work was due to finish last week but the 'Beast from the East' meant we had to stop where we were on the Tuesday and reconnect the track to ensure it was ready for the weekend service (which as it turned out was cancelled, also due to the weather). An attempt at ballasting on Thursday 1st had to be abandoned because the ballast was too frozen to lay. We started again on Monday 5th to complete the work.
The section now replaced had some particularly worn track, badly dipped joints, a life expired Insulated Block Joint and the alignment of the curved track south of Keysford Bridge was poor.
Laying track on 27 February (Jon Goff)
Caseford Bridge (Bruce Healey)
3 March - STOP PRESS:
- No trains running tomorrow Sunday 4 March.
Due to the current weather conditions in the locality of the Bluebell Railway we have taken the difficult decision to cancel all train services on Sunday 4th March.
This decision has been made as the safety of our customers and staff is paramount. We are sorry if this causes any disappointment and people with existing bookings for the 4th March will be contacted directly.
The Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park station will be open though, so if you fancy something to eat, do pop along. It will be open 8.30am - 4pm for drinks, snacks, cooked breakfast & lunch. Our shop at Sheffield Park will also be open.
- The two photos below taken by Mark Duhig during an inspection this morning show that, despite the shielding put in place to divert the worst of the water which flows continuously from the tunnel roof, the icicles elsewhere within the Sharpthorne Tunnel are spectacular. Mark reports that the largest are 10 feet long and up to 5 inches in diameter.
- No trains running today Saturday 3 March.
To repeat and expand the message we put out on Thursday:
Due to the current weather conditions in the locality of the Bluebell Railway we have taken the difficult decision to cancel all train services on Saturday 3rd March.
This decision has been made as the safety of our customers and staff is paramount. We are sorry if this causes any disappointment and people with existing bookings for the 3rd March will be contacted directly.
The Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park station and Grinsteade Buffet at East Grinstead station will be open though, so if you fancy something to eat, do pop along:
Bessemer Arms - open 8.30am - 4pm for drinks, snacks, cooked breakfast & lunch.
Grinsteade Buffet - open 10am - 3pm for drinks, snacks and homemade cakes
Photo (taken on Tuesday) is by John Sandys.
- Additional date, 29 May, for the Teddy Bear's Picnic in a buffet car travelling behind Paddington 2 locomotive 'Tornado'.
During the visit of 60163 'Tornado', the remainder of the train is available for passengers booking ordinary tickets, which include reserved seats on one round trip behind 'Tornado' and unlimited travel on our other services on the day of your visit. This applies on 25, 26, 28 & 29 May. Book in advance to guarantee seats!
On 27 May you can also visit and ride our trains, and can watch 60163 'Tornado' hauling Morning brunch, Golden Arrow Dining and Afternoon Tea services; if you wish to book to travel on these special catering services on Sunday 27 May (or the evening Pullman train on Saturday 26), please ring 01825 720800.
- Brian Lacey's photo below from Saturday 24 February shows the SECR O1 waiting at Horsted Keynes with the Afternoon Tea "Wealden Rambler" service whilst the S15 arrives with the down service train.
- Also below is another of Steve Lee's photos from Jon Bowers' 20 February photo charter, this time with the hand crane behind No.65, at Three Arch Bridge.
- No trains running on Saturday 3 March.
Due to the current weather conditions in the locality of the Bluebell Railway we have taken the difficult decision to cancel all train services on Saturday 3 March. This decision has been made as the safety of our customers and staff is paramount. We are sorry if this causes any disappointment.
- John Sandys' photo shows the snow at Sheffield Park on Tuesday. There are more great snow shots in John's album of photos from that day.
- Details now available for the Southern Classic Car Show at Horsted Keynes on 13 May.
- No.323 'Bluebell' is hauling services on the Spa Valley Railway at weekends, returning to the Bluebell just before Easter. Roger Carpenter provides a few shots taken there last Sunday.
- Brian Lacey's photo below shows the S15 at West Hoathly station site last Sunday. What a contrast weather-wise.
- Last year over 45,000 visitors came over to Platform 2 at Sheffield Park, and visited the Bluebell Railway Museum. One of our most popular exhibits is the former Withyham signal box which can be found at the North end of the museum. This is a restored Victorian box. It entered service in 1866 and was originally located on the East Grinstead to Tunbridge Wells line, where it saw 100 years' service. We have recently installed an operating signal directly outside the box (as seen in the photo below). The signal post is from a former signal on Platform 2 at Sheffield Park, and most of the components are originally from the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway.
Visitors may operate the signal under supervision. Our museum stewards also offer them the opportunity to undertake a full signalling sequence for a through train from East Grinstead - it's both instructive and entertaining and something enjoyed by our visitors of all ages, including those for whom English is not their first language! The museum is open when we are running timetabled trains.
- During February 2018 there were 45,176 total hits on this page, from 25,633 unique visitors.
- Peter Edwards' photo shows S15 No847 approaching Town House bridge with the 1.30pm Sulky Service train from Sheffield Park on Sunday 11th Feb 2018.
More pictures, taken by John Fry, of the firebox for 35059 currently under construction, have been uploaded to the Bulleid Society's web site.
- Applications are invited for the volunteer post of Buildings Manager, and two paid positions, Safety Systems Project Manager and H&S Compliance Officer.
News release from the Bluebell Railway Trust, announcing the appointment of Daniel Brookbank to coordinate fund-raising activities across the Railway.
- We have some additional events, and more details on other events coming up in the next few months:
- Martin Lawrence has completed his January gallery and begun that for February, providing coverage, amongst other things, of work on the Bessemer Arms Canopy and the ASH Project.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for February and March.
- Steve Lee's photo below shows the S15 at Horsted Keynes on Tuesday in the rain, and Brian Lacey's photo shows LSWR No.96 'Normandy', one of the locomotives temporarily on display at Horsted Keynes whilst the locomotive shed at Sheffield Park is being re-roofed.
- John Sandys' album from today includes this photo showing progress on the new canopy around the Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park.
- Our steam-hauled and steam-heated services resume on Saturday 10 February, and we're running every day for Half Term, until Sunday 18 February, and then at weekends through to Easter. Up to and including the commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the line closure (over the weekend of 17-18 March), we are running 4 trains per day, to the "Sulky Service" commemorative timetable.
Then over three days, 23-25 March, we have our annual Diesel Gala, running an intensive service with two 'Peaks' and a class 31.
- Save money with our Kids for a Quid special offer each day over Half Term, 10-18 February. Buy tickets online in advance (with an advance-purchase discount on the adult tickets too), or turn up on the day and buy tickets on arrival.
- The Footplate Taster sessions have been so popular that those for January and February quickly sold out. We are now taking bookings for November: book online.
Very old rail - Infrastructure update, thanks again to Jon Goff:
During the rail relay, the old rail to which we were going to connect at the north end of the job turned out to be so worn that we did not have a step plate big enough to lift the head of the rail up high enough to match up with the new rail. Therefore we had to remove it and replace it with a less worn rail and put a step plate either end to make up the step in two goes.
A step plate is a fish plate with a joggle in the middle so that it lifts one rail higher than the other so that the top surface of the two rails match up and there is no "clunk" when a wheel passes over it. They normally come in 1/16" steps up to about 3/8" although we don't have any that big (and you have not been able to buy them for 96-pound rail for many decades).
The two step-plate solution resolved the problem very well and attention turned to the rail that we took out. It turns out that it was probably one of the original 96-pound rails put in when the line was re-railed from 70-pound to 96-pound near the beginning of the last century. The rail was made in 1903, 115 years ago! Is this the oldest we have still in use?
The picture above of the rail shows the age with the rolled notation of "DOWLAIS STEEL - IX-1903 LB&SCRy", which was also found elsewhere on the rail. It has now been used for some of the new fence posts (seen in the 30 January update) protecting the Tremains foot crossing just north of Rock Cutting, with the writing still visible.
The last of the ballast has now been dropped and ploughed ready for the tamper to start (hopefully yesterday). A very wide bucket with miniature rail wheels is a new form of plough that we have not used before and has proved to be a very quick way of smoothing out the ballast, as seen in Jon's second photo.
- During December 2017 and January 2018 there were 97,218 total hits on this page (or approximately 48,609 each month), from 55,321 unique visitors.
- The Bluebell Railway Museum has acquired (at auction) a London, Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) bridge parapet plaque from the East Dulwich-to-Tulse Hill railway line in South East London.
It features on the left the coat of arms of the LB&SCR and on the right that of Edward Alleyn, born in 1566, who was a very successful Shakespearian actor. He started buying land in Dulwich in 1605, which became known as the Dulwich Estate. The initials A and C refer to Alleyn's College, which subsequently became Dulwich College. 1866 is the date the bridge was constructed.
Many of the bridge plaques are still in situ on various bridges around Dulwich. The top picture shows crests on the over bridge outside North Dulwich station. A couple of years ago Network Rail replaced the parapets on two such bridges with sympathetic replicas, re-using the plaques after rebuilding the brickwork. In previous rebuilds the decorative iron work was not retained and our plate is, we assume, one of those. [Update 1 March 2018: We now believe this had been acquired by the previous owner from the Clapham Museum when it closed and most items moved to York.]
The Bluebell Museum is located on Platform 2 at Sheffield Park. It is open when we are running timetabled trains.
- Following the resignation for personal reasons of Gordon Owen MVO, we are now advertising the vacant post of General Manager. The closing date for applications is Friday 9 March 2018.
- Martin Lawrence provides a video showing one of our 'Footplate Taster' sessions, using locomotive 323 'Bluebell'. Every single Footplate Taster session in January and February was sold out. We also have our Full Steam Ahead Firing and Driving Experience days, and we expect to run more taster sessions at some point too.
- John Harwood has produced a fascinating video covering the construction of the OP4 shed at Horsted Keynes from the cleared site through to the first carriages stored within it.
The big track relay project reconnected and first train through
With the reconnection of the track after the laying of 5/8 mile of new track through rock cutting, the first train through literally waited at the south end for the final screw to be put in of Thursday 25th January. It was the diesel shunter pulling the Dukedog and one carriage, taking them to Horsted Keynes and returning with the first ballast train.
Cutting in the last rail (Jon Goff)
First train (Tim Crump)
Something in the order of 1000 Tons of ballast needs to be dropped and ploughed into the new track before it can be tamped and with only 20 tons per hopper, that is a lot of train loads.
In addition, as part of the relaying task, the foot crossing at Tremains needs to be replaced and as part of the task, the path from the boundary to the crossing has to be fenced. This path is in a very poor state and so a new one is being cut into the embankment with much bigger and better steps.
First ballast hopper train (Jon Goff)
New Tremaines foot crossing fence (Jon Goff)
- This photo, from John Sandys' album from today, shows progress creating the new entrance lobby to the Locomotive Shed. The concrete base has now been poured within a blockwork shell, which will be faced with brick. This is the most visible part of the ASH project currently under way.
- Details now available for the 23-25 March Diesel Gala.
Three locomotives have been confirmed:-
Tickets for the event can be purchased online.
- Class 45 45041 owned by Peak Locomotive Company Ltd
- Class 46 D182 also owned by Peak Locomotive Company Ltd
- Class 31 31271 owned by A1A Locomotives Ltd
- We have job vacancies currently advertised for a variety of roles in our Catering Department.
- Travel information if visiting between 16 January and 3 March.
- Update to the Project 27 Blog with this weekend's riveting of the rear drag-box plate of SECR P-class No.A27. An entry from earlier in the month shows preparations for this, with the machining of some of the angle sections which were riveted on this weekend.
Please remember that this work can only continue with the donations, support and interest that is forthcoming from all of the project's supporters.
If you would like to help the team to continue this work with a donation, please go to the project's BT MyDonate page.
- Update with the positions in the Football Competition as of 22 January. This is a fund-raiser for the forthcoming overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.
- 813 to visit for our Branch Line Event
We are pleased to confirm that plans are at an advanced stage for Ex-Port Talbot Railway 0-6-0ST No. 813 to be amongst the line-up for our Branch Line Event to be held on 18/19/20 May. Built by Hudswell Clark in June 1901, this locomotive is now owned by the GWR 813 Preservation Fund and based at the Severn Valley Railway. Taken out of service in 2009 for heavy boiler repairs, 813 re-entered service in late 2016.
The locomotive will be transported to and from the Bluebell Railway by road. More details to follow.
Photo Courtesy SVR/Keith Wilkinson
- Two photos below from Bruce Healey, from last Wednesday, showing progress relaying half a mile of track through Rock Cutting, roughly midway between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes. The first shows the view looking north towards Tremains. The tracklaying had reached there by the end of the day. Our youth group, the 9F Club, are helping with the clipping up.
The second photo shows the process of laying the sleepers. Specially constructed wooden spacers are used to ease the task of getting the sleepers in the correct position as they are lifted into place by the digger.
By the end of Wednesday about half the remaining distance from Tremains to the end of the section had been cleared, levelled and "whacked" ready to have sleepers put down on Thursday. There's some drainage to lay, in the form of a French drain (stone filled invisible ditch) on one side through a small cutting, and then, once the rails are rejoined, hopefully this week, we have to drop lots of ballast, adjust the track alignment and tamp it smooth, carry out any snagging, relay the foot crossing and add some fencing and then clear up. Still lots to do but the project is pretty well on schedule.
14 January: Track relaying reaches Rock Cutting
During the six-week closedown, until services resume on 10 February, we are re-laying half a mile of track on either side of Rock Cutting, as seen in Paul Booth's panoramic shot taken yesterday, segments of which are presented here.
The work is funded in part by donations through the Tr(ack) Action Appeal. Further donations are urgently required, since further funds raised will in practice enable more track-work to take place over the coming few months since it really does add to the finite pot of money currently available.
- Details of our 2018 "Find out More Days" are now available. These days are a tour behind the scenes, which will show the variety of roles for which we are looking for new volunteers across the various departments of the Railway, or to discuss what you might be interested in doing if you might already have an idea of what you're interested in.
- Stop Press: Tornado to visit. Plans are at an advanced stage for the Bluebell Railway to again host a visit by new-build locomotive 60163 'Tornado' over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, with five days of operation: Friday 25 to Tuesday 29 May inclusive. Further details will be available once the plans for events surrounding the visit are developed.
The news release is available here.
- Update from the Bulleid Society with the latest on both of the Bulleid Pacifics and their SR Composite carriage 5768.
- On 19 December Roger Kelly retired from the board as director responsible for fundraising, after a decade during which he raised an estimated £5 Million for a huge variety of projects around the Railway. The full news release is available here.
- Every train during the Santa Season was essentially sold out, and operating on an additional weekend resulting in 10140 adult passengers and 4276 children being carried, which is over 30% up on last year. Running an additional Victorian Train, to cater for additional demand, was an indication that the additional services (Reindeer, Victorian, Festive Feast, Santas for Schools, Pullman Dining) also delivered their share of increased numbers on top of those above.
- Video from PSOV of our LSWR B4 0-4-0T No 96 'Normandy' in June 1994 back at Southampton Docks.
- Dave Clarke has updated his Flickr site with the latest progress in the Carriage & Wagon department:
Pullman Car 54
The Pullman has been shunted into the northern end of the maintenance road where the body has been lifted off the underframe. A start has been made on replacing the life expired transverse beams at the northern, or lavatory end. The lowest layer of floorboards have been removed and the old horsehair replaced with modern insulation board and new softwood timbers. Bracket and bolt corrosion is being tackled. Some new steel plate is being riveted onto the underframe and the majority of the cleaned are is being painted up to black gloss. The bogies will be treated later.
SR Bulleid CK 5768
The third class half of the coach is almost complete. The sliding doors have been hung, lino laid in the centre and southern vestibules. The lavatory is virtually complete and the window bars have been fitted in the corridor.
In the first class half of the coach work has started on the end vestibule and the door fitted to the lavatory which will become a table store. The quarter pads have been trimmed and fitted, together with the armrests, where the six seat backs have been installed. Once the last two backs have been returned from the trimmers the rest will be fitted. The sliding doors have been revarnished and their droplights installed.
The six exterior doors have received their interior trim and a start made on fitting the mouldings to the surrounding door frames. The first class lavatory water tank has been installed and canvassed. This has allowed the end hand rails/filler pipes to be fitted. Once the canvas receives its final gloss coats the ends can be finished.
The coach has received three coats of brushing filler to smooth out the imperfections. This has been flattened back and two further coats of green undercoat applied to all but the east side of the third class compartments. Two further coats will be applied before we turn to gloss.
BR CCT 2531
The Camelot Society's van was shunted into the down yard at the same time as Car 54. The frames and the majority of underframe have been gritblasted and a start made on priming and painting the cleaned up frames. The two drop-down flaps and both doors from the north end have been overhauled and painted up to undercoat. The two southern ones will be largely replaced with only some of the inner, horizontal boards being reusable. The SW door has been rebuilt and a start wil be made shortly on the second one.
LBSCR Stroudley Third 328
The end panels have been cut to shape and test fitted. Once the lamp brackets and steps have been trial fitted, the panels will be removed for priming and sealing of the sides and ends.
LBSCR Stroudley Brake Third 949
The seat bases have been installed and the structural repairs to the second brake door are almost complete. The west side and brake end mouldings have received more coats of undercoat primer.
SR 10-ton Box van 44611
The vehicle was brought in for some TLC before it deteriorated further and required a full rebuild. Most of the boards have been removed from the southern end and replaced. Corrosion has been tackled and the whole body treated to a repaint.
No.387, the Met brake, has taken the space vacated by Pullman Car 54 for split panels to be repaired and the first of the refurbished door locks to be test fitted
SR Maunsell Third open 1309
The retrimming of the coach is ongoing.
BR Mk.I TSO 4754
The asbestos has been stripped from under the seats and the lowest section of sheeting has been removed from the southern end to see how bad the corrosion of the corner and end pillars is.
SR Milk tanker 4430
During routine maintenance, the buffer patrices, which were known to be rotten, have been replaced.
Just before Christmas, these two SER coaches were recovered from a site in Pagham, as has been reported below. Dave took a number of photos of them on arrival at Horsted Keynes. They have been placed on two underframes and are now under tarpaulins. They will be stored until such time as their restoration is undertaken. Individual web pages for the two carrriages are in now available:
- A few pictures from Keith Duke, below, taken at Sheffield Park yesterday morning with Bluebell on Footplate Taster duty and the ongoing works on the station. More photos are available in Keith's album.
5 January 2018:
- Happy New Year!
2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the second closure of the Lewes to East Grinstead line by British Railways, leading to its eventual and glorious rebirth as the Bluebell Railway, the first ex-mainline standard gauge railway to run passenger trains in the preservation era.
This is a very significant occasion in the history of the Bluebell Line, marking the end of one era and, significantly, the beginning of a new one. In recognition, a special "Sulky Service" timetable will be running for part of February and March, culminating in line closure-themed events over the weekend of 17 and 18 March.
- Steve Lee's two photos from New Year's Day show the S15 on the service train and (below) the H-class on the Golden Arrow luncheon train. The two locomotives had hauled these services over all three days from Saturday to Monday, and the Saturday had been the first day the H-class had run since its repaint, and a subsequent repair to its steam pipe.
- We are next running trains on 10 February, when the 60th Anniversary "Sulky Service" timetable will be used. In the interim we are re-laying half a mile of track through Rock Cutting, and donations towards this work, being funded by the Tr(ack) Action Appeal, are urgently required.
- Report from the Infrastructure team on reconstructing the embankment ends and much more at Poleay bridge, completed back in November.
- Atmospheric set of photos by Tony Naunton - steam mixed with Santa on 17 December.
- Keith Duke's photos from 16 December and 21 December.
- This video of the Victorian and Edwardian Santa trains.
- Neil Munro-Thomson's pictures taken at Horsted Keynes on 16 December whilst working there as a Christmas volunteer.
- Multi-view video from Mike Anton of a footplate ride on the S15 on 8 December from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes.
- Jon Barnes' video of the H-class on the Golden Arrow last Saturday.
- John Sandys' photos of the Victorian and Edwardian Santa trains on 21 December, 'Camelot' on the post-Christmas trains on Boxing Day and 28 December, the S15 and H on New Year's Day, plus the 09 shunting on Tuesday, and the subsequent start of work on ASH and the Bessemer Arms Canopy
- Martin Lawrence has completed his December gallery and begun that for January 2018.
- A photoshoot at Horsted Keynes in October has provided the front cover of the current issue of "BN5".
- Advanced notice that the Model Railway weekend is on 23-24 June.
- Details of Frank Ferris's funeral are now available on the BRPS Members' Information page.
- The Horsted Keynes Carriage Shed (OP4) Appeal has been relaunched to raise a further £125,000 for the completion of the walls on the eastern side of the shed, incorporating those for the Heritage Skills centre. The principal focus of the appeal has moved from JustGiving to BT MyDonate, as part of a general migration of the Trust's appeals to MyDonate, due to much lower charges on the latter platform.
- Video reviews of the year from Nick Dearden (mostly of main line steam in and around the Southern Region, with a bit of Bluebell thrown in), The Southerner (Diesel and Steam action on preserved lines in the South), Daniel Gosling (including Flying Scotsman's and the Coal Tank's visits) - and Part 2 (featuring City of Wells' visit, and 323 and 541 elsewhere) and Lee Andrew Davies (featuring Bluebell locos on tour, and 813, which will be visiting us later this Spring).
- In addition to Steve Lee's photo of the H-class, the second photo below is from Brian Lacey, taken on 28 December as 'Camelot' approaches East Grinstead.
The Current What's New page contains
all the recent update information.
Also see the 2017, 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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