22 December 2016:
£1.1million grant awarded, which will revitalise the way the Bluebell Railway exhibits its locomotives.
The Bluebell Railway is delighted to announce that its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the ASH (Accessible Steam Heritage) project has been successful. The full text of the press release is available to download here.
Thanks to National Lottery players, the project will see substantial repairs to the Running Shed, which will be partly converted and also extended at the side to create a new exhibition hall. This space will feature an exciting new exhibition of how steam engines work, plus footplate access by both pedestrians and wheelchair users to static locomotives. Visitors will also be able to take part in a footplate driving experience based on a mock-up of locomotive 55 Stepney, alongside the original engine which was built in 1875.
These exciting developments will also mean more space in the Running Shed for routine locomotive maintenance, and a new maintenance facility over the wash-out pit and adjacent siding in the locomotive yard. This will enhance the Railways' ability to maintain its locomotive fleet and also provide a better working environment for volunteers.
In addition to the HLF award, the Bluebell Railway will contribute £388,000 (including £214,000 raised from the Ash Appeal) in cash plus a substantial amount of "effort in kind" to be put in by many members of its 700 strong volunteer workforce. The project will see the exhibition opening in Spring 2018 after which it will run for a further two years with extensive plans to utilise the exhibition to engage the public and support the growth of visitor numbers.
The project also aims to increase the Bluebell's capacity to work with schools in developing their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) curriculum, with a target of increasing school visits by 150% by 2020. An Interpretation and Education Development Manager will be employed for an initial three year period and applications are already being sought to fill this post, alongside the post of Project Manager, also now being advertised.
- Derek Hayward's photo shows the SECR C-class heading Santa Special set Z on Sunday. This working, with 'Camelot' on the rear, is an alternative way to get the Reindeer Special engine (the C-class) to Horsted compared to the photo shown on the previous entry from the previous week. Derek also supplies the photo below showing Santa roasting by an open fire in a waiting room at Horsted Keynes. He finds this much more cosy than last year's log-cabin! Many more of Derek's December 2016 photos are available here.
- All services operating until 24 December are pre-booked only.
- Public trains operate daily 26 December to 2 January to a revised timetable.
Just turn up and ride - no need to book in advance
- Tickets went on sale yesterday for the 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled Golden Arrow Dining trains, and are almost sold out already. Details of the other events and ticket sales for the visit are not yet available.
- Video of SECR 323 'Bluebell' setting off from Horsted Keynes with the Victorian train on Sunday from @_EndOfTheLine.
- Keith Duke's photo below shows 'Camelot' ready to come off shed, on the busiest morning of the Santa season, which saw all five of our largest locomotives in steam. Further photos by Keith from an atmospheric Saturday are available here.
16 December: All services operating until 24 December are pre-booked only.
- Peter Edwards' photo from last Sunday shows the unusual working whereby the C-class is tucked in behind 'Camelot' on the second of the day's Santa Specials, to transfer it to Horsted Keynes from where it takes its Edwardian carriages up to East Grinstead for the Reindeer Specials.
- Also from last Sunday is this video of the Santa Specials at Horsted Keynes from Mike Anton.
- Richard Long's book covering the history of our line is available from our on-line shop.
- This video from John Harwood shows the H-class with 5 pre-grouping carriages, forming the 11am Festive Feast Special from East Grinstead to Sheffield Park (for lunch in the restaurant) last Monday. What would otherwise be an empty-coaching-stock move had instead provided a £5 Christmas Shopping special service from Sheffield Park (10am) and Horsted Keynes to East Grinstead. There is one more day of operation of these particular services, on Monday 19 December; phone 01825 720800 to book.
- We have been notified of the sad death of Ian Lewis, a former member of the Horsted Keynes station staff.
- Derek Hayward has added photos showing the completed trackwork at Leamland Junction to his existing album covering the project.
- Our oldest operational carriage, LBSCR Stroudley First No.661, has been back in service for over 12 years now and was due a repaint. Stuart Pay's photo below shows that it was outshopped on Wednesday after the full paint-shop job, ready for this weekend's sold-out Victorian Christmas Specials.
- Steve Lee's photo shows 21C123 'Blackmoor Vale' in the sun last Sunday. It is one of several locomotives which have been temporarily moved out of the locomotive shed to enable the 6 locos in use on our various special trains throughout December to be stored in the shed in case of frost.
- If you are interested in being kept up to date with the visit of 'Flying Scotsman' in April, please e-mail us and we will add you to our contact list and send information as soon as it is available.
- David King's photo shows the S15 approaching Three Arch Bridge with the Golden Arrow Luncheon Train yesterday.
The last edition for 2016 of our e-Newsletter includes a roundup of the past year. Our thanks to John and Martin Walls for putting this newsletter together every fortnight throughout the year.
- A great gallery of Santa Special photos from Saturday by Nick Burgess.
- Maunsell Q-class No.30541 is seen on Freshfield Bank on our Santa Special "Set X" in Steve Lee's photo below.
- Your welcome to the Bluebell Railway at East Grinstead (photo by Derek Hayward, taken yesterday). See more of Derek's photos of the Santa and Reindeer Specials here - the gallery will grow somewhat over the coming weeks.
- Martin Lawrence has completed his November gallery and started that for December, which includes the great shot on the right, taken at Horsted Keynes last Saturday as the S15 draws its stock forward prior to running round via the loop line (thus avoiding the locomotive passing through platform 2 where the passengers from the train were enjoying the Victorian amusements).
- Dates for 2017 Golden Arrow, Lounge Car, Fish & Chips and other supper trains, and Real Ale trains are now available.
- 2017 dates now available for PTS courses which are required for Bluebell Lineside photographic passes.
- On Wednesday we had a successful evening at the National Railway Heritage Awards Ceremony in London, winning the Siemens Signalling Award for Kingscote Signal Box and Signalling. Paul Maynard MP, Rail Minister, presented the Award to Brian Hymas, Chris Bassett and Chris Chambers who were representing the Bluebell S&T, as seen in the photo below from Robert Hayward.
The commentary referred to "... a first rate project. Well thought through, designed and executed to a very high standard". The "recreation and preservation of a full working example of an historically important type of lever frame and associated signalling practice as used extensively by the Southern Railway and Southern Region". Also, the recreation "of signalling for a country station as it might have been in the 1950s, following Southern Railway and Southern Region practice".
Mention was made of the 1950's rail-built and lattice signal posts and a particular comment about the design of the up home signals, using a single post with two arms as an "interesting recreation and demonstration of an old practice ... giving added interest and historic value".
The runners up for the Siemens Signalling Award were Carnforth Junction Signal Box (Network Rail) and Midsomer Norton Signal Box (Somerset & Dorset Railway Heritage Trust).
- Major news update from the Brighton Atlantic project with thanks to Fred Bailey. His photo below shows the front section of the cab roof (which has 315 rivets in it!) temporarily in place.
3 December: All services operating until 24 December are pre-booked only.
- Nick Dearden provides this great video compilation (right) of Steam on the Bluebell this Autumn.
- Our Santa Specials get under way today. These specials, running up to Christmas Eve, are booking up even faster than last year - to grab some of the last remaining tickets phone 01825 720806.
- This evening is our Annual Carol Service at Horsted Keynes Station. The service is led by our Chaplain, Father John, the Rector of Horsted Keynes, with music led by The Bluebell Railway Band. Admission is free, and the station refreshment room is open from 6pm with hot snacks and mulled wine available, prior to the service which starts at 7.30pm.
- Also today we have Felbridge WI's stall at East Grinstead Station Buffet from 10am
- Three clips of the S15 on the service trains last weekend from Mike Anton. Mike also has a recent gallery, including photos from the Track Trek, with some 360-degree views such as this one inside the tunnel.
- Dates for various 2017 Special Events are now available, including those for the Diesel Gala, which has its own Facebook entry.
- Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with expected locomotive use for December.
- Bulleid Society News update with the latest news on the overhaul their carriage, No.5768, at Horsted Keynes.
- Update with the current positions in the new season's Football Competition which is raising funds for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.
- During November 2016 there were 48,817 total hits on this page, from 29,738 unique visitors.
25 November: 'Flying Scotsman' is visiting us in April
- Jonathan Hughes' superb autumnal photograph taken last Saturday shows our Southern Railway Q-class No.30541. Don't forget we have our Kids for a Quid special offer over this weekend, and trains run to a revised timetable.
Just turn up and ride - no need to book in advance.
- The Q-class will be visiting the Great Central Railway for its Winter Gala, Friday 27 to Sunday 29 January. Of course GCR-based 8F No.48624 visited us recently for Giants of Steam.
- A reminder that next Saturday, 3 December, we have our Annual Carol Service at Horsted Keynes Station. The service is led by our Chaplain, Father John, the Rector of Horsted Keynes, with music led by The Bluebell Railway Band. Admission is free, and the station refreshment room is open from 6pm with hot snacks and mulled wine available, prior to the service which starts at 7.30pm.
- Give Back Friday... You can support the Bluebell if you buy online; click through to EasyFundraising ... and choose "Bluebell Railway" as your cause to support. We simply receive a small percentage as a donation from the retailer from whom you purchase; it costs you nothing, and has raised significant sums for us so far!
- There are just a few tickets remaining for the Reindeer Special on 4 December; otherwise these are Sold Out.
- Our Victorian Christmas specials are now Sold Out.
- We are currently advertising a vacancy for a Machinist in the Locomotive Department.
24 November: Note: Temporary timetable 26 & 27 Nov.
- Many thanks to Phil Brown for supplying this photo, showing 'Flying Scotsman' at the NRM in April this year, to illustrate its forthcoming visit to the Bluebell. As announced yesterday, the iconic locomotive will be running on our line 13-19 April 2017.
Please note that we do not know yet what the detailed arrangements for the visit, ticketing etc, will be. Please keep an eye on our web site, and we'll be updating it with further details when they are available, or subscribe to our e-Newsletter.
'Flying Scotsman' was built in Doncaster becoming the first locomotive of the newly formed London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). It left the works on 24 February 1923 as number 1472. It was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley as part of the A1 class - the most powerful locomotives used by the LNER at that time.
By 1924, when it was selected to appear at the British Empire Exhibition in London, the loco had been renumbered 4472 - and had been given the name 'Flying Scotsman' after the London to Edinburgh rail service which started daily at 10am in 1862.
In 1934, Scotsman was clocked at 100mph on a special test run - officially the first locomotive in the UK to have reached that speed. It now carries its British Railways number 60103, and the livery it carried at the time of its withdrawal from normal service in 1963.
- In December there are a number of additional attractions taking place in our Grinsteade Buffet Carriage at East Grinstead Station:
- Our workforce engaged on replacing the Leamland point a couple of weeks back received some additional help. Through Community Investment work with the Princes Trust, the Charity which assists getting un-employed 18-25 year olds into paid work, Costain have been helping 5 candidates work towards attaining PTS accreditation for use on the National Rail Network. What better way to help in this undertaking than giving some hands on experience at the Bluebell when they, together with 2 Costain Engineers, visited the railway on Friday 11 November. A confidence boost for the candidates, and an opportunity to improve social skills and provide a constructive contribution to another volunteer led organisation. Ben Coughlan's photo below shows them at Horsted Keynes.
- Until it was overtaken by the 'Flying Scotsman' announcement, Tom James' photo below, of a robin helping with the preparation of locomotives over the pit on Saturday morning, had proved our biggest hit on our facebook page for a long time!
16 November: Note: Temporary timetable 19/20 & 26/27 Nov.
- Stuart Pay's photo shows our Sentinel shunter with the ballast hoppers during a ballast drop on the relaid trackwork to the north of Horsted Keynes today. The line will be open again next weekend, but we are still running to our temporary timetable. The last Wealden Rambler afternoon Tea train of the year also runs on Saturday.
- If you live locally and fancy using a steam train as transport to do your Christmas shopping, then our £5 Christmas shopping trains could be just the thing! They run on Monday 5 & 12, Tuesday 6 & 13 and Wednesday 14 December. Details here.
- Several recent Blog posts have featured the Bluebell:
- The Sunday Permanent Way gang worked on the relaid trackwork on Saturday, clipping up the new rails and the S&T were to be found working, in slightly better weather conditions, on Sunday on the new point. As of Sunday, as seen in David Chappell's photos below, there were still some track panels to lay to reconnected the line, ballast to drop, and lots of other little jobs just to finish. Note the signal wire running though the base of the relocated S&T location cabinets.
14 November: Note: Temporary timetable 19, 20, 26 & 27 Nov.
- Mike Anton's photo here shows the Track Trek on Satuday, passing through the suitably illuminated tunnel. The drip-shields installed a few years ago, which prevent the formation of icicles in the winter, can clearly be seen.
- There is a full report on Saturday's Track Trek in yesterday's eNewsletter. The headlines are that 225 walkers braved the rain and actually participated, and with money still coming in, they have collectively raised over £11,000 towards the ASH and CfC appeals. A few photos taken in the gloom by Tom James, and Martin Lawrence has added some to his November gallery.
The event was able to take place because the line was severed by engineering work near Leamland Bridge, and closed to trains for the weekend.
Many thanks to all the participants, and their sponsors. If these photos of our valiant walkers impress you, please do make a donation to one of the online pages they have created.
- There are some remarkable old pictures of the Bluebell Railway (and other Sussex locations) included accross the four pages of the Blue Pelican Railways collection.
- Another of Mike Anton's photos, below, shows the Track Trekers setting off from East Grinstead. Peter Edwards' photo from Giants of Steam shows 'Camelot' approaching Rock Cutting with the 3.25pm from Sheffield Park, substituting for the B12 on that trip, on 29 October.
11 November: Note: No trains 12-13 Nov. - Temporary timetable 19, 20, 26 & 27 Nov.
- Steve Lee's photo shows the visiting 8F from the Great Central with a nicely matching rake of carriages at West Hoathly on the Sunday of the Giants of Steam gala.
- A final reminder that there are no trains operating on the Bluebell this weekend due to planned engineering work. Our stations, including the locomotive shed, museum, shop and restaurant at Sheffield Park, remain open this weekend.
- We have over 270 people registered to take part in Saturday's Track Trek, which takes advantage of the absence of trains on the line. If you'd like to support our appeals, please sponsor our chairmen, or other walkers
- We have now raised over £20,000 through EasyFundraising.
400 of the Bluebell's supporters, to whom many thanks are due, take part in this scheme, so it would be great to increase that number - it works by giving us a donation when you click through to purchase stuff online, so if you shop at Amazon, eBay, book Hotels, or compare/buy energy, insurance or DIY items, you could be raising money for us at no cost to yourself except one extra mouse click!
- Blog post: Pete's Favourite Things with photos and videos of the B12 at Giants.
- Derek Hayward's photo below shows the B12, No.8572, visiting from the North Norfolk Railway, north of Sloop Bridge on the Friday of Giants.
- The atmosphere of the steam shunt captured in another of Stuart Pay's photos from last week.
10 November: Note: No trains 12-13 Nov. - Temporary timetable 19, 20, 26 & 27 Nov.
- Stuart Pay's photo shows the Q-class shunting ballast wagons at Horsted Keynes last Thursday, alongside the new "No.5" point which was pre-assembled adjacent to the Ardingly Spur. During the course of the current two weeks of engineering work, this is being installed at the north end of Horsted Keynes, beyond Leamland Bridge, at what is known colloquially as "Leamland Junction".
- John Harwood's video is a brief tour around East Grinstead Station, which is open daily, even when trains aren't running. Free admission to travel centre, shop, buffet and toilets! Why not drop in for a cup of coffee whilst visiting Sainsbury's?
- Derek Hayward's photos below show:
- Visiting 8F No.48624 on the Friday of Giants, to the north of Sloop Bridge, with the SR-liveried set. These coaches should have been behind the S15, but a blown cylinder gland packing on the 8F meant that it dropped back one train, swapping with the S15, to allow time for the problem to be fixed.
- No.73082 "Camelot" is seen on the same day passing Horsted Keynes up 2nd advanced starting signal, getting ready to attack the 2 miles of 1-in-75, but at this point still observing the 5mph slack due to the ongoing (but temporarily paused) track-relaying exercise.
7 November: Note: No trains 12-13 Nov. - Temporary timetable 19, 20, 26 & 27 Nov.
- Due to a combination of factors, including planned engineering works to renew life expired permanent way at Horsted Keynes, and some other unexpected complications, the advertised service for November has been reduced. This is because we will be unable to satisfactorily accommodate all our trains there, pending completion of these works.
During that period trains will run to a modified Service 1 as on the right, providing a one train service.
For further information contact the Customer Service team on 01825 720800.
- As has always been planned, we are not operating trains on the weekend of 12/13 November.
This has enabled us to organise our Track Trek sponsored walk over the line on Sat 12 November. It's not too late to sign up, but please do so as soon as possible.
- Update with the current positions in the new season's Football Competition which is raising funds for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864.
- Update on the Project 27 Blogspot, where original SECR paint has been uncovered.
- There is an updated Component Sponsorship List for the Brighton Atlantic Project. Do take a look if you fancy sponsoring part of our new locomotive. Gift Aid can be claimed on such sponsorship.
- Needless to say there is no shortage of photos and videos from last weekend's Giants of Steam gala with visiting engines the LNER B12 from the North Norfolk Railway and the 8F from the Great Central Railway, which went off extremely will, in spite of a couple of minor glitches, one with each of the visiting locomotives.
Photos and videos are available from:
- During October 2016 there were 53,476 total hits on this page, from 32,195 unique visitors.
- The choice of photos of Giants of Steam to feature is vast, so here's an initial selection.
The first, from Peter Edwards, shows the B12 leaving Ardingly branch with a goods working, the very first train of the event on Friday 28 October.
Derek Hayward's photo shows the S15 on Freshfield Bank the same day.
- Steve Lee's photo shows some of the vintage buses which provided a free service from Brighton to Sheffield Park on Sunday 30 October. 1966-built Eastbourne Corporation Leyland Titan PD2A No.72 is seen alongside 1962-built Brighton Corporation No.23, a Leyland Titan PD2 with Weymann Orion forward entrance/front staircase bodywork.
- The final photo for now is the 8F leaving the tunnel, by Andrew Crampton on Friday 28 October.
3rd November: Planned Power Cut - UK Power Networks plan to cut power at Sheffield Park from 8.30 to 4.30pm. However they hope to be quick and cause as little inconvenience as possible. It means the phone lines may not be operating for a time, and there will be no catering facilities, as the Bessemer Arms will not be open either.
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