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14 July:
Bluebell Railway - Making Tracks (Overnight relaying - June 2017)

12 July:
34092 approaches New Road Bridge - Ashley Smith - 8 July 2017
  • Ashley Smith's photo shows No.34092 'City of Wells' approaching New Road Bridge on Saturday 8 July during our 'End of Southern Steam' weekend. The visiting 'West Country' class pacific will be running on the Bluebell, hauling some of our steam trains, each weekend until the end of July.

  • Ashley Smith's other photos, and this video cover the Friday and Saturday of the event, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the end of steam on the Southern Region.

  • There will be a Goods Train running on Saturday morning (15 July), to this timetable.

  • Our next Rail Ale Train, on 21 July, is now sold out, but tickets remain for the final one this year, on 22 September.

  • Our Autumn Tints run on 2, 3, 4, 10, 12, 17, 18 & 19 October. This year these services use the Observation Car (£1 supplement) and our Lounge Cars. Pre-booking is recommended.
    New for 2017: Autumn Tints in our Restaurant Car "At The Sign Of The White Horse" - enjoy a Bowl of Soup at lunchtime, or a Cream Tea, for which pre-booking is essential.

  • This year you can choose to start your journey on our Santa Specials from either Sheffield Park or East Grinstead. They run on 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, 23 & 24 December, and initially 3rd-class tickets can be booked online, from 17 July. First Class tickets and phone booking will be available at a later date.

  • From the End of Southern Steam event:

  • "Tim's Video Channel" has some great coverage of our Model Railway Weekend.

  • The two photos below show 'Camelot' at Horsted Keynes (Steve Lee, Friday) and 'Blackmoor Vale' and 'City of Wells' on shed (Mike Anton, Monday).

Camelot at Horsted Keynes - Steve Lee - 7 July 2017 'Blackmoor Vale' and 'City of Wells' on shed - Mike Anton - 10 July 2017

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6 July:
34092 on test run - Tony Sullivan - 6 July 2017
  • Tony Sullivan's photo catches No.34092 'City of Wells' on a test run today. The locomotive is visiting to help us mark the "End of Southern Steam" 50th Anniversary with a special event starting tomorrow (Friday), and running until Sunday. The timetable for the event is available to download as a pdf.

    This video shows 'City of Wells' at East Grinstead this afternoon on its test run, thanks to Samuel Murphy-Kelly.

  • Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for the remainder of July.

  • News Update Update to the Infrastructure News page with thanks to Jon Goff, illustrating work being done to prepare new points to connect up the new carriage storage shed at Horsted Keynes, the tidying up the exposed foundations of the old shed, and work on the walkways in the Sheffield Park Carriage Shed. Jon's photo below shows the planned line of the access to the shed at Horsted Keynes, coming off the Engineers siding, which itself will need slight re-alignment.

  • Entries are now open for our easy-to-enter Football Competition, where you try to predict the teams' positions in the Premier League and who might win the FA Cup next year. The competition is run to raise funds towards the restoration of Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.

  • Martin Lawrence has now completed his galleries for April, the Flying Scotsman Gala, for May, including the Branch-Line Weekend, and June. Martin's latest video is a compilation of clips taken at the Bluebell Railway between January and July 2017. It includes, ballasting at Horsted Keynes, the Diesel Gala, Branchline Weekend the vintage goods train and more.

  • John Sandys provides some photos from today, which saw Camelot take over from the Q-Class (which needed more work on its super heaters - we hope both locos will be running tomorrow), a large turnout of coach passengers plus more work on the 01 and City of Wells making its test run.

  • Brian Lacey's photo below shows the Q-class as it arrives at East Grinstead on Wednesday.

Proposed OP4 access rails - Jon Goff - June 2017 Q-class arrives at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 5 July 2017

1 July:
34092 unloaded at Sheffield Park - Tony Mallinson - 30 June 2017
  • Yesterday saw No.34092 'City of Wells' unloaded at Sheffield Park, as photographed by Tony Mallinson. The locomotive is visiting for our "End of Southern Steam" event, which starts on Friday 7th July. The timetable for the event is available via the PTI page.

  • Details are now available for August's Summer Fun - Sports, Games, Falconry, Children's farm & Entertainment.

  • Booking is now open for Christmas Dinner on the Golden Arrow Pullman train, on 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22 & 23 December.

  • Next Friday's Fish & Chip evening supper train is sold out. Book early to join us on future dates: 3, 10, 17, 18, 25 & 31 August, 1 & 8 September.

  • News Update The recent newsletter from the Standard Class 2 No.84030 project has now been published on this web site.
    This newsletter is sent to project supporters when produced, and only appears here a while after - if you would like to receive it when first published, why not Subscribe to it and support the project?

  • News Update From Project 27, covering the restoration of SECR P-class No.27.

  • Full coverage of the Bluebell's Model Railway weekend from Derek Hayward, and these photos and video from Ashley Smith

  • A huge album of photos from Carl Simmons, capturing the atmosphere around the railway on 29 June.

  • John Sandys provides photos from Tuesday 27 June - quite a rainy day, which saw Camelot on the one train service very busy with coach parties, also some views of the new play ground at Kingscote and the 01 being prepared for service - and Thursday 29 June, a much drier day with more coach parties enjoying the line, the 09 shunting at Sheffield Park, further work on the 01, and work to install walkways in the Sheffield Park carriage shed.

  • Update (with thanks to Jon Elphic) to the page for 09 shunter D4106, adding Martin Lawrence's photo of it newly repainted into its original livery.

  • During June 2017 there were 44,307 total hits on this page, from 25,746 unique visitors.

  • Brian Lacey's photos below show SECR P-class No.323 'Bluebell' arriving at Horsted Keyenes with the shuttle which provided additional services from Sheffield Park, topped and tailed with No.3 'Captain Baxter' over the Model Railway weekend, and No.65, the SER O1, in the yard at Sheffield Park where the last few things are being done to prepare the locomotive for test running.

Bluebell with Victorian coaches at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 24 June 2017 O1 in the loco yard - Brian Lacey - 24 June 2017

22 June:
Q-class at Horsted Keynes with the service train - Tony Sullivan - 21 June 2017
  • Filming was taking place at Horsted Keynes yesterday. No.263 was used with the stock in the photo below for filming purpose, running into and out of Horsted Keynes on numerous occasions.

    Due to the filming, the service trains were all run through platform 2. This shot on the right shows the 1.15pm Sheffield Park to East Grinstead service with No.30541 running into Horsted Keynes. For filming purpose the station had been renamed 'Plymouth Causeway'. Both photos with thanks to Tony Sullivan.

  • We regret that the Food and Crafts event, planned for the first weekend of July, has had to be cancelled. We apologise for any disappointment this may cause. We will still be open, running our normal steam trains, that weekend.

  • We hope you're looking forward as much as we are to our annual Model Railway Weekend this coming weekend. The enhanced three-train timetable is available here.

H-class with filming train - Tony Sullivan - 21 June 2017

21 June:
H-class No.263 north of Horsted Keynes - Phil Horscroft - 17 June 2017
  • Phil Horscroft's photo shows H-class No.263 north of Horsted Keynes with the 10am service to East Grinstead on Saturday 17 June. Below Q-class No.30541 is seen leaving Horstead Keynes with a north-bound goods train in another of Phil's photos taken the same day.

  • This coming weekend, 24-25 June is our Model Railway Weekend, featuring a fantastic array of model railways and trade stands in a large variety of scales running in our loco works at Sheffield Park, the carriage works at Horsted Keynes, and other locations at both stations. The basic timetable will be Service 2 , to which will be added a third public train.

  • We are currently operating our Service 1 timetable Monday-Friday, and Service 2 at weekends. There is no need to pre-book, but there are 'Bluebell Bonus' discounts if you do book at least 8 days in advance (phone 01825 720800).

  • We are advertising two volunteer positions as Competence Standards Managers. These posts could suit retired or partially retired trainers or assessors. More information here.

Q with goods train north of Horsted Keynes - Phil Horscroft - 17 June 2017

19 June:
Q-class arrives at Horsted Keynes with the goods train - Brian Lacey - 17 June 2017
  • Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday shows the Q-class with an unfitted goods train. At the head of the train are two wagons which have just returned to service after maintenance work to rectify faults, the SECR 2-plank Ballast Wagon, and the LBSCR Box Van. Unless plans change, the next goods trains are expected to run on 15 July and 19 August.

  • News Update From Project 27: Frames, Cylinders and LBSCR Railway Service Badges!

  • Derek Hayward has added photos to his 2017 collection, featuring service trains and a large amount of lineside work undertaken by the Friends of Kingscote, much of it unseen from the train. A huge area of embankment between Birch Farm Crossing and Birchstone Bridge has been cleared, and new fences, stiles, handrails and anti-trespass guards installed. Note the animal-friendly gap next to the stiles for dogs to pass through. Further south the main lineside team have been making great progress near Ingwersons clearing embankments that have been in an overgrown state for several years.

  • Neal Ball has loaded two albums onto Flickr: one from the last Rail Ale evening and one from last weekend.

  • Dave Clarke has updated some of his photo galleries with a few new photos:
    - The start of work on the ex-Bicester Military Railway Mk.1 TSO, which is generally in much better structural condition than most Mk.1s of that age.
    - A few photos from the new OP4 shed.
    - A photo of Mk.1 BCK 21246 which is coming towards the end of its time in the paint shop.
    - The roof boards have been repaired and, with the exception of a few of the outer narrow ones, refitted to the roof hoops of the Camelot Society's CCT. The northern ends doors have been removed for stripping and replacement of a couple of planks - the southern doors will probably need complete replacement as they took the brunt of the weather while stored at Kingscote.
    - The 'Elephant Van' has returned to the dock and is in the final throes of fitting out and should be opened to the public in the next few weeks.
    - The first of the overhauled brake doors is being trial fitted to the LBSCR brake third No.949.
    - Lino has been laid in the third class end of Bullied CK No.5768. Only the sliding doors, arm rests and viewframe pictures remain to be fitted to the third class compartments. The final first class compartment and the adjacent corridor ceilings haves been completed. Fitting out of the final compartment has begun. The third class lavatory is also nearing completion. Externally, attention is focussing on the passenger doors and cant rail strips. The latter so that they are ready for painting with the body side. The inner faces of the doors have been painted to top coat in readiness for the internal panelling to be trial fitted and then varnished. The outer faces have been prepped, filled and had the first coat of green undercoat applied.

  • On Friday 9th June, The Maunsell Society ran a special with the Q class on the Wealden Rambler set, as seen in Dave Bowles' picture.

  • Heritage Painting have been about at Sheffield Park quite a bit recently. First they painted the O1's tender, then the 09, D4106, and finally the SER O1 No.65 itself. The aim with the 09 (photo thanks to Tony Sullivan) is that it represents its original livery, and other work is in hand to return the locomotive to as appropriate a condition as feasible. The O1 (photo from Brian Lacey) has since been having its backhead fittings fitted, and should be in steam very soon.

Freshly painted O1 in the Loco Works - Brian Lacey - 17 June 2017 D4106 also newly painted - Tony Sullivan - 8 June 2017

16 June:
Baxter with Victorian carriages at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 13 May 2017
  • Brian Lacey's photo shows 'Captain Baxter' with Victorian carriages at East Grinstead during the Branch Line Weekend (13 May).

  • We are currently operating our Service 1 timetable Monday-Friday, and Service 2 at weekends.

    There is no need to book in advance, but there are 'Bluebell Bonus' discounts if you do book at least 8 days in advance (phone 01825 720800).

    Note that this Sunday, 18 June, is the London to Brighton Bike Ride; this will make access to Horsted Keynes station from the West very tricky, so visitors are advised to approach that station via Danehill or West Hoathly, or to join our trains at East Grinstead or Sheffield Park.

  • There are still tickets available for the next Rail Ale train on Friday 23 June - this evening all the beer is from Harvey's of Lewes. Call 01825 720800 to book.

  • Our next special event is:

  • News Update Infrastructure News update, covering mid-May to last week, with thanks to Jon Goff, covering OP4 and the next big track job.

    Not a third line to Ardingly - Jon Goff - May 2017 A third line to Ardingly? Or preparation for something else?

    Following the frenetic track laying season through the winter, the next job was another 200 yards on Freshfield bank at the end of the Temporary Speed Limit. IN ONE NIGHT!!!

    Ten 60 foot panels were laid successfully on the night of Monday 5 June without disrupting trains on either day. A lot of preparation was required with the ten panels built at Horsted in advance using new flat bottom rail and by using up all our stock of good condition second hand concrete sleepers.

    The track panels were moved from the Ardingly siding down to Freshfield Bank and placed beside the positions where they were going to be fitted early on the morning of Wednesday 24 May (as seen in the photos below) before the service trains started. All the other equipment, machinery and components were transported to site and placed in the correct positions ready for use, over the following weeks.

Last three panels leaving Horsted Keynes - Jon Goff - 24 May 2017 Unloading panels in the mist - Jon Goff - 24 May 2017

On the Monday evening, as soon as the last train had cleared the section, a track possession was taken and a convoy of roadrailers etc. made their way down to the work site - just as the rain started, one of the worst nights of rain of the year!

Track alignment - Dave Wilson - 5 June 2017 All the 200 yards of track was removed, the ballast bulldozed, and whacked smoothed and the 22 ton digger brought up ready to start lifting the new panels in. All this was done just as it was starting to get dark. All the new panels were laid, straightened, lightly ballasted and finished to the point where service trains could run safely at the 10mph temporary speed limit. Just after sunrise the rain stopped and everyone had left for home - very wet!

The following evening was spent fully ballasting, tamping and making final adjustments, all finished by midnight including moving the temporary speed limit signs to the bottom of Freshfield Bank at the end of the straight, significantly reducing the length of the restriction.

Several photos (including that on the right) were taken by Dave Wilson (of London Underground and 9F club fame) during the night. For more of these, and a full explanation of the whole job go to the Infrastructure News web page.

9 June:
LNWR Tank at West Hoathly - Julian Clark - 20 May 2017
  • Julian Clark's photo shows the LNWR Coal Tank on its second weekend with us, when it hauled the vintage set, seen here at West Hoathly, on Saturday 20 May.

  • Heritage Painting completed their work on SECR O1 No.65 yesterday, as seen in these photos on their facebook page. They had painted the tender a few weeks ago.

  • Are you interested in joining us as a volunteer? To help you find which department you'd like to try, you can join one of the 'Find out More' days; the next tour is this Sunday (June 11). The meeting time is 10.30am, at Sheffield Park Station, and the day should end around 4.30pm. Book your place on the tour by contacting the General Office on 01825 720800, or just turn up at Sheffield Park on the day.

  • Project 27 will be selling their limited edition reporductions of LBSCR First World War Service badges from Saturday 24th June, coinciding with our Model Railway Weekend.

  • News Update Infrastructure News update, covering April and May, with thanks to Bruce Healey. The two photos below show work underway on Operation Undercover Phase 4, the carriage shed extension at Horsted Keynes, where the gap around the raised section of roof has been being filled in, and second-hand ballast laid. This week our infrastructure team have been hard at work with our first ever overnight track-relaying sessions.

Roof_sides being installed - Bruce Healey - 10 May 2017 Second hand ballast levelled in OP4 shed - Bruce Healey - 10 May 2017

8 June:
S15 and H at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 1 June 2017
  • The S15 and H are seen passing at Horsted Keynes on 1 June in Brian Lacey's photo on the right.

  • We are currently operating our Service 1 timetable Monday-Friday, and Service 2 at weekends.

    There is no need to book in advance, but there are 'Bluebell Bonus' discounts if you do book at least 8 days in advance (phone 01825 720800).

  • Cycle Crawley have a free guided cycle ride to visit us on Sunday 11 June.

  • Heritage Painting are off home today after their fantastic work on the SECR O1. Hopefully we'll see this locomotive back in action in just a few weeks time.

  • Our next special events are:
    • 10 June: Mystery Tour - Fancy a trip to who knows where? Travel by vintage train to Horsted Keynes Station and then jump aboard a beautiful vintage coach for a journey to a mystery location.
    • 24-25 June: Model Railway Weekend.
    • 1-2 July: Craft & Food Festival at Horsted Keynes.

  • News Update Photos and news from Fred Bailey on our Brighton Atlantic project, some of which are also seen below; the Double Ramsbottom safety valves which are complete and ready for pressure testing, and the fitting of the hinges and other components to Atlantic smokebox door is under way.

Double Ramsbottom safety valves - Fred Bailey - 16 April 2017 Fitting the hinges to Atlantic smokebox door - Fred Bailey - 7 May 2017

6 June:
C-class with goods train - Steve Lee - 29 April 2017
  • Steve Lee's photo shows SECR C-class No.592 with a goods train on 29 April. This locomotive bowed out of service, a day early at the end of its boiler certificate, on 13 May after the first day of our Branch Line Weekend. It is hoped that, with a new cylinder block and tyres in hand, its overhaul will not be too far into the future; the biggest challenge being that both of the boilers we have for this locomotive require new copper inner fireboxes.

  • SECR O1 No.65 is in an advanced state of completion in the locomotive works, and Heritage Painting were on site last week and today to apply the finishing touches to the paint finish, as seen in these photos on their facebook page.

  • News Update From Project 27: news of the status of the new frames and cylinders, plus the restored steam reverser change over valve cover.

  • A major new web page has been created for our oldest locomotive, LBSCR Stroudley Terrier No.72 'Fenchurch' and as part of the preparations for a move of this web site to a new server, the pages and photos detailing this locomotive's last overhaul during which it was converted back to represent its original A1 rather than A1X form, have been relocated.

  • Updated web pages for our North London Railway Goods Tank No.27505, BR 20T "Flatrol SB" wagon B900036, BR 25T Well Trolley Wagon B900920, SR Pillbox Brake Van 55993 and LSWR (lengthenned by SR) third-class carriage 320 (as currently modelled by Hornby) with thanks to Jon Elphick and Martin Skrzetuszewski.

  • Note a change to Colin Tyson's email address, for editorial contributions to Bluebell News.

  • We are currently advertising vacancies to work on the restoration of Pullman Car 54, in addition to casual Catering staff, Silver Service waiting staff and kitchen porters, volunteers to help the commercial department, and the position of Fundraising Director.

  • The Premier League has now finished for the season, so the final positions are now available for our fund-raising Football Competition. Particular congratulations to Andrew Sinclair whose predictions for the teams' positions in the Premier League was closest to the actual results and who successfully predicted that Arsenal would lift the FA Cup.
    The total raised towards the restoration of Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864 from the 16/17 competition is £245; Many thanks to everyone who entered. Winners' cheques and entry forms for 17/18 will be issued shortly.

  • During April 2017 there were 58,779 total hits on this page, from 32,561 unique visitors.
    During May 2017 there were 51,375 total hits on this page, from 28,600 unique visitors.

  • The highlight of our Branch Line Weekend was the visit of the LNWR Coal Tank No.1054, which was paired with our LNWR Observation Car. The Obo brings up the rear of this train, seen in Brian Lacey's photo from the Sunday. The leading four carriages, dating from between 1880 and 1897, were also a good match for the 1888-built locomotive.

  • Julian Clark's photo shows the S15 with a combined Pullman train (for the wedding of a Bluebell volunteer) plus Afternoon Tea Wealden Rambler train on Saturday 20 May.

Visiting LNWR Coal Tank at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 14 May 2017 S15 with combined Arrow and Rambler sets - Julian Clark - 20 May 2017

28 April:
Sisters on 'Flying Scotsman' - Mike Hopps - 19 April 2017
  • Locomotive crew rostering brought three members of the same family to the footplate of 'Flying Scotsman' on the final day of our Gala Event, as seen in Mike Hopps' photo. Liz Groome was driving supported by her sisters Ruth and Rebecca (both Firemen), acting as Fireman and Cleaner respectively. Meanwhile their dad, Clive Groome, was driving our Southern Railway S15, No.847.

    Of the experience Liz said "The opportunity to drive 'Flying Scotsman' was one we didn't hesitate to accept. Being rostered with family doesn't happen very often and made the day even more enjoyable; an experience of which we now share fantastic memories. Such a great atmosphere across the railway for the duration of the event and the enthusiasm for the loco itself every time we drew into a station was a clear reminder of how lucky we were to be crewing it."

  • Catering Vacancies - we are urgently looking for casual Catering and Silver Service waiting staff.
    Goods Train Timetable for 29 April 2017
  • Tomorrow (Saturday 29th) we have our Toy & Rail Collectors' Fair, with Car Boot Sale at Horsted Keynes.
    The S15 will be hauling a Demonstration Goods Train in the morning to the timetable shown here.

  • A planned event which has yet to receive much publicity is our 7-9 July End of Southern Steam, with visiting Bulleid Pacific: 'City of Wells'.

  • Before then we have another visitor, the LNWR Coal Tank which will be running over the weekend of 13-14 May for our Branch Line Weekend, which will also feature all four operational SECR locomotives, 'Captain Baxter' and the SR Q-class.

  • News Update Project 27 Blog update following fund-raising and publicity stands at the recent gala event at the Bluebell and the Wealden Railway Group exhibition in Steyning. Also mentioned is the forthcoming limited edition replica LB&SCR 1st World War badge - a must for all of our LBSCR enthusiasts!
    Taster for 'Flying Scotsman' documentary
  • We are putting together an official documentary video to record the visit of 'Flying Scotsman', and here's a taster from the 5 hours of material which was shot which will be edited down to create the programme. Whether it will be released on DVD or on YouTube has yet to be decided.

  • Alan Bedford photos from Sunday

  • Ashley Smith's photos and video from Flying Scotsman's visit.

  • A pair of photos below from David Long. The Q and the S15 double-heading on the 9.10am service on 17 April, and 'Flying Scotsman' itself.

Q and the S15 double-heading - David Long - 17 April 2017 'Flying Scotsman' - David Long - 17 April 2017
Opposite ends of the line, on Easter day. Brian Lacey's photo below shows 'Flying Scotsman' setting off from East Grinstead with the GN saloon the first of 8 carriages in its train. Then the photo from Graeme & Melanie McAlpine shows the operation which ensued on arrival at Sheffield Park, with 'Flying Scotsman' uncoupled from its train, and moved across to platform 1 to take water and allow footplate visits, whilst the SECR C-class then shunted the GNR Directors' Saloon into the Milk Dock to clear the foot crossing of what would otherwise be an over-long train. The Saloon's next party of passengers would subsequently board the carriage in the Dock before being shunted back onto the train just prior to departure.

'Flying Scotsman' with the GN Saloon at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 16 April 2017 'Flying Scotsman' in Platform 1 at Sheffield Park - Graeme & Melanie McAlpine - 16 April 2017
John Goss' photo below shows 'Flying Scotsman' approaching Hazelden Place with 10am service from Sheffield Park on the 16th.

Roy Watts' photo shows the completion of the visit, as 'Flying Scotsman' departs from East Grinstead in the early hours of 20 April.

'Flying Scotsman' approaching Hazelden Place - John Goss - 16 April 2017 'Flying Scotsman' departs - Roy Watts - 20 April 2017

21 April: "Flying Scotsman - Flying South" Gala Report 1
'Flying Scotsman' on Breakfast Special - Paul Furlong - 13 April 2017
  • So the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' came to an end when it left Bluebell metals at around 5am yesterday morning - details summarising the visit are in this Press Release. 'Flying Scotsman' is seen climbing Freshfield Bank with the opening Breakfast Special, in Paul Furlong's photo on the right.

  • Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for the remainder of April.

  • Reminder that we have steam trains operating daily - See timetable calendar - Just turn up and ride - no need to book in advance.
    We also have several special events in the coming days and weeks: In addition, on the morning of Saturday 29 April we are running a demonstration goods train, hauled by the S15 locomotive. Times for this will be published here once known.
    'Flying Scotsman' at West Hoathly - Gordon Callander - 19 April 2017
  • The photo on the right from Gordon Callander shows 'Flying Scotsman' at the former West Hoathly station site on Wednesday, the last day of the Gala, with the 10am train from Sheffield Park.

  • Today I'll be mainly linking photo galleries (and when I get a chance, in the coming days, videos):

  • The next three photos below are:
    From Roy Watts, showing the opening Breakfast special arriving at East Grinstead;
    Peter Wilson's photo from Sunday shows the token exchange as 'Flying Scotsman' passes non-stop through Horsted Keynes station;
    Robin Willis' photo shows the reception at East Grinstead on Tuesday, with passengers from the train filling the platform, and onlookers on the walkway outside the buffet.

'Flying Scotsman' with the Breakfast Pullman - Roy Watts - 13 April 2017 Token Exchange at Horsted Keynes - Peter Wilson - 16 April 2017 'Flying Scotsman' at East Grinstead - Robin Willis - 18 April 2017
Next we have two from Mike Anton, from the opening day, showing that there was plenty of chance to view the visitor at close quarters, at Sheffield Park, and at the ever-popular foot crossing at the former West Hoathly Station site.

Platform 1 at Sheffield Park - Mike Anton - 13 April 2017 'Flying Scotsman' at West Hoathly - Mike Anton - 13 April 2017
Two photos from Andrew Crampton, also from the opening day, showing the Q-class giving brake van rides around Horsted Keynes (here at Leamland Bridge) and secondly 'Flying Scotsman' heading its 8-coach train away from Horsted House Bridge, with the Great Northern Directors' saloon (built at Doncaster, just like 'Flying Scotsman') bringing up the rear.

Q-class at Leamland Bridge - Andrew Crampton - 13 April 2017 'Flying Scotsman' heads away from Horsted House Bridge - Andrew Crampton - 13 April 2017
Finally for today, a photo of the two Maunsell locomotives, the Q-class double-heading with the S15 on the 9.10am departure from Sheffield Park on 16th April (Robert Else) and Tony Sullivan's photo showing the 10.25-inch gauge Flying Scotsman alongside the larger 15-inch gauge 'Typhoon' from the RH&DR.

Q and S15 - Robert Else - 16 April 2017 Smaller gauges - Tony Sullivan - 14 April 2017

13 April: "Flying Scotsman - Flying South" Gala is underway!
'Flying Scotsman' with pipers - Mike Anton - 13 April 2017
Mike Anton's photos show the first train to be hauled by 'Flying Scotsman' on the Bluebell, accompanied by Gatwick Caledonian pipers: this morning's Gala Pullman Breakfast Train.

Contrary to some reports, the Railway's "Flying Scotsman - Flying South" event is not completely sold out yet.

While the Railway has sold almost all tickets for the 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled services (just a few VIP tickets to travel on the GNR Directors' Saloon for a few trains on some days remain), we still have capacity left on trains hauled by the Bluebell Railway's own locomotives on every day of the event (13-19 April).

For these trains, you can purchase "walk-up" tickets for £25 per adult (50% discount for children between between 3 and 15 years old, inclusive). These tickets will cover travel ALL DAY on trains hauled by our resident locomotives. They also guarantee that you will see 'Scotsman', as platform tickets won't be sold at East Grinstead and might not be sold at our other stations, depending on visitor numbers.

If coming by the mainline rail network, East Grinstead will be the natural place to start your journey. For those travelling by car, and not booked on the 'Flying Scotsman' services, you are encouraged to start your journey at Horsted Keynes (RH17 7BB). Doing so will assist the Railway with car parking demand during this busy time.

Keep watching the Flying Scotsman - Flying South event webpage for the most up-to-date information.

See also the timetable for our trains during this 13-19 April Gala.

'Flying Scotsman' with the Breakfast Pullman - Mike Anton - 13 April 2017

'Flying Scotsman' on route from Keighley - Paul Berry - 11 April 2017 12 April:
  • Paul Berry's photo shows 'Flying Scotsman' on route from Keighley to Southall yesterday before heading down to the Bluebell in the early hours of this morning. It's seen on the right hauling its support coach, passing Hoghton Tower in Lancashire, between Blackburn and Preston.

  • This video from Jason Pollard shows 'Flying Scotsman' at Dormans and East Grinstead in the early hours of this morning, and Brian Seaman's video also covers its arrival at East Grinstead

    Flying Scotsman - Flying South: 13-19 April

  • Come and see everything we have to offer, watch Flying Scotsman at close quarters, and enjoy unlimited travel all day on our own trains for £25. Beat the queues and book e-tickets ahead.
    Children aged 3-15 years half price.
    • Driving: park your car at Horsted Keynes (RH17 7BB)
    • Come by train to East Grinstead (open to those intending to travel only)
    • Bus service from Haywards Heath: catch the specially arranged Compass Service 22
    Limited parking may also be available at Sheffield Park, where car parking is mainly intended for those holding tickets to ride behind Flying Scotsman.
    If you just want to look at the passing trains, admission to our stations at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes and Kingscote will be available on the day at £10 per station. Stay as long as you like.

    Food, drink and picnic areas are available. Visit our Museum, Atlantic House, and Loco Sheds at Sheffield Park.
    Brake Van rides behind 30541 at Horsted Keynes - these are free of charge, but a donation will be appreciated.
    Further information is available on the Flying Scotsman - Flying South web page.
    The timetable for our trains during the 13-19 April Gala.
    Typhoon at Sheffield Park - Mike Anton - 11 April 2017

  • Mike Anton's photo on the right shows that 'Typhoon', visiting from the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, has arrived for display at Sheffield Park, to be re-united with 'Flying Scotsman'. More details are available of the recreation tomorrow of the famous 1927 meeting in this Press Release from the RH&DR.

  • If you were lucky enough, a month or so back, to get some of the now sold-out tickets to ride on the trains behind 'Flying Scotsman' itself, you are welcome to spend the entire day with us - your tickets include unlimited travel on the trains hauled by our own locomotives as well.

  • Access to our lineside is restricted to Bluebell PTS passholders, who have received appropriate Bluebell-specific safety training. Visitors must not trespass on the lineside, and please also respect our neighbours' land and property. Parking restrictions are in force on local roads to keep the traffic flowing, and we ask visitors to respect these.

  • For the safety of our trains and visitors, drones or similar airborne photographic platforms must not be operated from Bluebell Railway property or within 50m of Bluebell Railway property, except where specific authority is given. Further information available here - this is based on CAA regulations.
  • News Update Finishing the job at Horsted.
    Nicely finished-off 2 and 3 roads at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 8 April 2017 This update on the Horsted Keynes track work, from Jon Goff, brings us up to date with the deadlines met to return the station to full working order in time for tomorrow!

    With 2-road connected at the end of the previous week during the diesel gala, all that was required to get platform 2 usable was some horizontal alignment and tamping the track up to the correct level. It was purposely laid slightly low because tampers can lift track but they cannot lower it. Ballast can get kicked up or dragged up slightly during the sleeper laying and rail insertion processes so it is bulldozed, levelled with the aid of a laser and vibrated 50mm low to allow for this.

    The tamper ran through three times, first with a partial lift mainly to fill the voids under the sleepers, secondly to bring it all up to the correct level and thirdly to remove any final dips and to add an extra 10mm to allow for settlement when traffic starts running over it. Brian Lacey's photo on the right from Saturday shows the nicely finished work, taken from the passing train.

    Prior to the tamper operation there had been a "manual alignment" when the rail was literally pushed horizontally until it was in the correct position by the roadrailer sitting on 3-road. The jib pushed or pulled with a small lift action while one person stood astride the rail directing the driver and checking for the correct measurements from the platform edge. Platform 3 has a quite straight edge but platform 2 varies nearly 100mm over its length with the southern end curved back very slightly. Presumably this is because the road 2 formation primarily went to Ardingly originally. Therefore a slight "by eye" curve was put in starting before the platform end so that the rail face stayed within the correct tolerances. (730mm, plus 15, minus 0) This is not yet perfect and some slight adjustments was intended to be made on Monday earlier this week, right from the existing track at the points at the north end through to the Ardingly points at the south end.

    The alignment and tamping was completed sufficiently on Tuesday evening to open the road for traffic again. Road 3 received another tamp on Wednesday but the last tamp to give the final correct line could not be carried out as the lining wire has not yet been replaced on the tamper. This will be done after Easter when the track has settled.

    The picture below taken from the centre of 3-road shows how good the alignment can be made by just pushing it around with the roadrailer and also show road 2 before being tamped with the hump over the subway being obvious. It shows the difference even an old tamper can make.

Comparison between the tamped 3-road and 2-road before tamping - Jon Goff - 4 April 2017 Camelot on a test run in Platform 2 - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017
Reinstated north end foot crossing - Barbara Watkins - 7 April 2017 The photo on the right by Barbara Watkins shows the reinstated foot crossing at the north end of the platforms completed last Friday. This can easily be lifted and replaced for maintenance unlike the previous one. It also now sports a very good glass fibre/resin/grit anti-slip surface, with which we intend to cover all wooden walkways as wood can be very slippery when wet.

Since the wires to the signal gantry at the south end of platforms 3 and 4 were reconnected there has been a slight problem with their operation. This was found to be due to the poor state of the timber platform to which the pulley wheels were attached. All the signals at Horsted are in a program to have their planking replaced but not many have yet received the new woodwork. The photo below shows Matt Crawford suitably adorned with the appropriate harness, hard hat, etc. on the gantry with one plank removed and on his phone (there is always someone trying to phone him) "trying to get a good signal!"

The middle photo is of one person very well known around the railway, being a driver and part of the infrastructure gang: John Padgham. He has a cold and nurse Barbara Watkins has given him inhalant in a bowl of hot water and a towel. A caption is still required for this picture...

The final photo shows the signalman's crossing at the south end, partially re-instated as of Monday, which should be completed by now.

Matt trying to get a good signal - Jon Goff - 7 April 2017 Caption required! - Jon Goff - 7 April 2017 Work in progress on Signalman's crossing - Jon Goff - 10 April 2017

S15 leaves Sheffield Park - Mike Anton - 7 April 2017 10 April:
  • Mike Anton's photo, taken using a pole, shows the S15 setting off from Sheffield Park with the 3pm Set B service on Friday.

  • An updated component sponsorship list for the Brighton Atlantic is now available.

  • In advance of the visit of the Flying Scotsman, the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust have provided a further Defibrillator for the Bluebell Railway. We think that the Bluebell is the only preserved railway with a Defibrillator at every station.
    The picture below show our GM, Gordon Owen MVO, receiving this vital life-saving kit from Tim Fellows of Secamb.

  • Martin Lawrence provides a photo below, showing David Chappell and Dave Clarke in the Carriage Works Yard, with a group of potential new recruits during the April Find Out More volunteer recruitment day.
    Martin has also completed his March Gallery.

Tim Fellows presents the railway with a Defibrillator for Kingscote - 7 April 2017 Find Out More Day tour at Horsted Keynes - Martin Lawrence - 9 April 2017
  • Finally below we see two photos from this Saturday, with the H-class hauling the SECR 100-seater and three Southern Railway Maunsell carriages near Lindfield Wood on the Set A service train (Derek Hayward), and the SECR C-class with the afternoon tea train (Wealden Rambler) the same day, passing though the newly re-opened 2-road at Horsted Keynes (Brian Lacey).
H-class in Lindfield Wood - Derek Hayward - 8 April 2017 C-class at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 8 April 2017

2 and 3 roads completed - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017 8 April: Infrastructure Report:

News Update Catching up, thanks to Bruce Healey, on the news as of Wednesday from the Horsted Keynes track work. Apparently the updates will get less interesting as the work on the platforms nears completion!

The final tamp of platform 3 road was completed on Wednesday and platform 2 has now also been released back into service (as seen in the photo on the right). However, this is some way from the end of the job, as there are still the inevitable tidying up and odd jobs to do.

Bruce's photos below show the H-class in Platform 3 and 'Camelot' on a test run in Platform 2, having just returned to service after winter boiler maintenance and the re-tyring of its tender wheels.

The H-class in Platform 3 - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017 Camelot on a test run in Platform 2 - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017

The triangle at Horsted Keynes has been used as a dumping ground during the work. With 4 inches of material removed from 3-road and 8 inches from 2-road, a large amount of spoil has been added to the triangle. This has now been graded to improve the appearance (as seen below).

Some lengths of rail and other oddments have been moved over to the Salt Yard. Just as soon as the area is being cleared, more is added. With the large dead tree at south end of the triangle felled and a lot more timber from felling work north of Horsted, a stockpile of logs is growing which needs to be dealt with, and Bruce's next photo shows timber being transported to the triangle. A number of such runs were made on Wednesday with many more still needed.

The graded spoil heap in the triangle - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017 Transporting timber - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017

Now the tamping has been completed, the crossings between platform 2 and 3 need reinstating. The reinstatement of the one at the north end was well under way by the end of Wednesday.

The first photo below shows a Panlock clip. This chair will be inaccessible under one of the foot crossings and rather than using 'normal' clips which can come loose, these lock in place and don't need maintenance. These clips do not grip the track quite as well as the 'normal' clips which is why they are not used everywhere.

The barrow crossing (below) seen being reinstated, obscuring the chair in the previous photo. The anti-slip material will be used right across. The far section is not yet in place, for which a structure is needed to support the boards whilst not interfering with the signal wires.

Panlock clip and chair - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017 North end barrow crossing reinstatement - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017

73082 'Camelot' is seen below at the north end of Platform 1 dropping off some wagons and vans. The locomotive also shunted a wagon into the Ardingly spur.

Barbara Watkins' photo from Tuesday shows the boards on the signal at the south end of platform 3/4 which are being replaced. Two more signals need to be similarly repaired.

Camelot shunting - Bruce Healey - 5 April 2017 Signal boards - Barbara Watkins - 4 April 2017

S15 arrives at Horsted Keynes to cross the H-class - Brian Lacey - 3 April 2017 7 April:
  • Brian Lacey's photo from Monday shows the S15 arriving at Horsted Keynes to cross the pre-war Southern set behind the SECR H-class in platform 3. The newly laid track in platform 2 had been ballasted but not tamped at that stage.

  • Flying Scotsman - Flying South: 13-19 April There are some VIP tickets available at £100 per person now available to travel in the Great Northern Directors' Saloon behind Flying Scotsman - upgrades to existing tickets are possible - give the office a ring on 01825 720800 to check availability and to book. Please be aware that phone lines are very busy at present, so if you don't get through you may need to try again a bit later.

    Other than this, we still have tickets available to travel on trains hauled by our own locomotives during Gala which surrounds the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' (13-19 April), with loads of other attractions around the railway as well as the opportunity to see 'Flying Scotsman' at close quarters.

  • In addition to the two service trains (running daily until 12 April), on Monday there was a third train running, for a party of 180 school children, which is seen below in Brian Lacey's photo leaving East Grinstead behind the Southern Q-class. Brian's second photo shows the S15 waiting to head the 1.30pm departure from Sheffield Park later the same day.

Q-class with school charter at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 3 April 2017 S15 waits to leave Sheffield Park - Brian Lacey - 3 April 2017

50049 with the 12-coach train - Julian Clark - 31 March 2017 6 April:
  • Although the photos in today's report are from last weekend's well-received Diesel Gala, on the railway itself we now have a 100% steam service running every single day right through to 1 October.

  • Julian Clark's photo from last Friday shows 50049 'Defiance' at the head of the evening's 12-coach train.

  • Keith Duke's photos from Monday, when we had three locomotives in steam. It also includes a sequence of photos of the operation to re-wheel Camelot's tender after its winter maintenance.

  • Video from John Harwood from Monday.

  • John Sandys' photos from Tuesday, plus photos and videos from today.

  • More information now available for the Bluebell Specials which run in addition to the normal services on 24-28 April, 2-5 & 8-10 May - Booking now open for these Observation Car Specials.

  • Weekly train running information is now available again with thanks to Gordon Dudman.

  • We are currently advertising vacancies for a Funding Director and a Locomotive Works Apprentice. The Director post is a voluntary position, and the Apprenticeship is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of our ASH project.

  • Diesel Gala Report:
    Except when one of the 20s went "pop" and stopped for a while on Sunday, everything ran smoothly at the diesel gala, and everyone seemed to enjoy what had turned into something of an "English Electric" event.

    The photos below show 73119 leading 73107 at Tremains on Friday afternoon (Julian Clark) and 09018 with Saturnday morning's brake van special at Rock Cutting (Steve Lee).

73119 leading 73107 at Tremains - Julian Clark - 31 March 2017 09018 with the morning brakevan special - Steve Lee - 1 April  2017

Class 20s with the 12-coach train - Andrew Crampton - 31 March 2017
The photo on the right from Andrew Crampton shows 20205 and 20189 with the 12-car formation departing Horsted House Bridge.

Videos from:

and photos from:

The photos below show 09018 on Friday afternoon with Brake Van, Observation Car and 100 seater (Andrew Crampton) and 50049 at Horsted House Farm Bridge with the 12-noon Sheffield Park to East Grinstead service on Saturday 1 April (Tony Sullivan).

09018 with Brake Van, Observation Car and 100 seater - Andrew Crampton - 31 March 2017 50049 at Horsted House Farm Bridge - Tony Sullivan - 1 April 2017

5 April: Infrastructure Report:

News Update A further update, from the end of last week, on the trackwork at Horsted Keynes, with thanks to Jon Goff, with photos by him and Barbara Watkins.

Platform 2 Road reconnected! After a very busy week and a good turn out from the infrastructure team, and with a big help from the Thursday gang, road 2 was connected right through on Friday evening at about 6:30 pm.

Wednesday had seen road 3 tamped level but it has not had its finally tamp as the final straight line was not tamped due to a small problem with the tamper (the line broke). However it was finished sufficiently to be safely released back to traffic as reported by Bruce on Wednesday. This is good as most trains in the diesel gala ran over the new formation, which has handily helped settle it before the final tamp this week.

Thursday saw the two rails put back over the subway and three more 56 foot panels were put in by the Thursday gang which is a tremendous effort for bullhead rail as it takes a lot longer to lay than flat bottom rail.

Finished subway covers and exposed water tower pipe - Jon Goff - 31 March 2017 Last two rails to close the gap - Jon Goff - 31 March 2017

Friday saw three more panels go in including the closing rails which had to be cut to a precise length in order to connect up with the existing track. Work was heavily inhibited but almost continuous use of road 3 for the diesel gala. The road-railer had to use road 3 for very short periods then disappear quickly before the next train was due.

It is seen above delivering the last two rails which are second hand rails from our small collection of spare rail.

Nearly there but too many trains in the way - Jon Goff - 31 March 2017 Connection right through, ready for ballast and tamping - Jon Goff - 31 March 2017

The final photo above shows the whole length of road 2 connected and tidied up for the weekend. It was then ballasted and ploughed on Saturday and will be tamped straight next week. There are still some details to be finished off on both roads over the subway. Road 2 is not yet fully screwed down and both roads still require the plastic membrane sealed against the sides of the concrete pads with a silicon sealant below the ballast level. The foot crossings at either end of the platforms still need to be reinstated.

Further pictures below from Barbara Watkins on Saturday show our very good L&W contract driver working on Saturday, having ballasted and ploughed road 2 and removing the digger used to dig out the track bed and drainage diches and place the sleepers. Note the stop board showing the road is not in normal use. Darren had to finish this off on Saturday as he is taking his family on holiday on Sunday for two weeks. We wish him a good break after the extensive very good quality work he has done over the last six months - as well as working on network rail at night!

Further pictures of Darren carrying out the work were taken by John Sandys on Saturday and are shown on his Flickr site.

Darren the L&W driver - Barbara Watkins - 1 April 2017 Removing the digger - Barbara Watkins - 1 April 2017 Ready for Tamping - Barbara Watkins - 1 April 2017

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