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26 May:
Q-class approaches Horsted Keytens with Bulleid carriages - Andrew Crampton - 18 May 2018
  • Andrew Crampton's photo shows the Q-class approaching Horsted Keytens 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 Brnach 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.

323 and 65 with 8 vintage carriages - Derek Hayward - 20 May 2018 813 at West Hoathly - Yoshi Hashida - 18 May 2018

19 May:
813 at East Grinstead with train run in memory of Dave Phillips - Brian Lacey - 18 May 2018
  • 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.

Q-class on departure from Sheffield Park - Derek Hayward - 18 May 2018 H-class approaches Horsted Keynes - Julian Clark - 18 May 2018

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17 May:
323 on test run with two Mets at Horsted Keynes - Reuben Smith - 15 May 2018 H-class at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 16 May 2018
  • 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.

323 and 813 at Sheffield Park - Reuben Smith - 15 May 2018

16 May:
813 at Sheffield Park - Reuben Smith - 15 May 2018
  • 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.

15 May:
Stock in F and G-roads of OP4, and new buffer stop - Barry Luck - 11 May 2018
  • 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.

  • News Update 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.


H-road laid in OP4 - Bruce Healey - 28 March 2018 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).

latest 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.

12 May:
323 'Bluebell' at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 12 May 2018
  • 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.

11 May:
Baxter at Didcot - Robert Else - 7 May 2018

4 May:
Q-class at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 1 May 2018

26 April:
H-class and line-side bluebells - Peter Edwards - 22 April 2018

Bluebells from the vintage train - John Horton - 21 April 2018 22 April:
  • 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.

O1 No.65 with the Wealden Rambler at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 21 April 2018 Q and H pass at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 21 April 2018

20 April:
Q-class carrying a wreath in memory of Dave Phillips - John Sandys - 19 April 2018
  • 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.

Canopy on Bessemer Arms - John Sandys - 17 April 2018 73082 'Camelot' carrying the headboard in memory of Simon Brown - Brian Lacey - 14 April 2018

16 April:
O1 and spring flowers - Brian Lacey - 14 April 2018
  • 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.

  • News Update 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.

30541 with vintage coaches plus lounge cars at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 14 April 2018 73082 'Camelot' carrying the headboard in memory of Simon Brown - Peter Edwards - 14 April 2018

12 April:
30541 with anniversary of closure special train - Martin Lawrence - 16 March 2018
  • 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.

11 April:
The late Dave Phillips, at the Vintage Transport Weekend at Horsted Keynes - Derek Hayward - 11 August 2013
  • 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.

65 with vintage coaches at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 10 April 2018 73082 'Camelot' at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 10 April 2018

9 April:
H-class with LSWR Brake 1520 at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 7 April 2018
  • 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.

  • News Update 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.

Last flue tube - Fred Bailey - 3 January 2018 Safety valves in place - Fred Bailey - 11 March 2018 Backhead - Fred Bailey - 25 February 2018

Model Railway weekend is 23-24 June 2018 - Mike Hoops' Poster 6 April:
  • 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.

65 delivers the goods - Ashley Smith - 2 April 2018 Q-class at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 5 April 2018

5 April:
Track Trek poster - Mike Hopps
  • 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

Camelot at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 31 March 2018 H-class arrives at Horsted Keynes with vintage set - Brian Lacey - 31 March 2018

1 April:
263 and 73082 as the service train pass at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 31  March 2018
  • 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.

Demonstration Goods Train Timetable for 2 April 2018 65 on the Wealden Rambler - Brian Lacey - 31 March 2018

Older updates are in the What's New Archive
or 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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