In 1999 three carriages, whose average age was 100, were outshopped to wide acclaim. These are proving excellent crowd pullers in every sense. These restorations were done in the cramped conditions of the old carriage shed.
Left: The cladding and roof completed September 2000.
The Southern Railway style and colouring of the building, which is designed to match that of the rest of the station, has already received much praise. Since this photo was taken the windows have been glazed, a mammoth task in itself.
The generous assistance of The Bluebell Railway Trust in contributing half the cost of the cladding is acknowledged.
The project involved us in raising a total of £170,000 over a two-year period, which we have achieved, thanks to tremendous support from members.
During 2003-4 the last parts of this project fell into place, with the relocation of the paint shop to the south end of the old building, construction of a fire-break wall between the two halves of the shed, and partial re-cladding of the paint-shop area. Having achieved this, we move on to:
With this completed as seen in the photo taken in April 2004, over the winter of 2005/6 the railway decided that the remaining length of shed wall should be completed, and this was funded by the Bluebell Railway Trust, along with the long-standing "shed wall fund".
As outlined by the Carriage Fleet Overview I wrote for Bluebell News back in 1995 (available on this web site - click here) for the long term preservation of our carriage fleet, we need to get all our coaching stock under cover when not actually in use. In addition, many of our locomotives live outside, a particular problem due to the dangers of frost damage in the winter. We therefore also need to increase the shed space available for locomotives. To achieve these aims, it is proposed to construct two new buildings, one in the down yard at Horsted Keynes and one at Sheffield Park, and to complete the enlargement of the locomotive running shed, as well as finishing the loco shed wall. The opportunity arose to purchase land at Sheffield Park from part of the "Woodpax" site which has been crucial for the success of this part of the project, which is being part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The railway itself had no funds available to support the purchase of the land, so the Society undertook to raise the purchase price from the membership. To that end, pledges were initially solicited from working members and those we could contact rapidly over the Internet. This resulted in a massive kick-start to the fund-raising, with £126,000 promised within three days, confirming that the project was viable. The letter posted to the membership at large appealed for pledges for the remaining money for the land purchase, plus the ongoing fund-raising which will be required to achieve the Bluebell's contribution (at least 25%) to a possible HLF grant. The land purchase can be included in this 25%, so, with the project initially expected to cost several million pounds, to start with we set ourselves a target of £400,000. However, most importantly in the short term, we needed to reach £320,000 in just two months for the land purchase! The superb response ensured that we were able to secure the site in March 2003. A donation form is here.
We have built a carriage storage and display building at Sheffield Park, behind platform 2, able to hold the Pullman set, two other operational carriage sets and a major new Museum display. Rail access is through the use of the Pump-house siding as a headshunt. The scheme also includes a new loco washout pit, and new lavatories, and an extension to the canopy on platform 2 to restore the canopy to its original length. The shell of an above-workshop building for new loco staff facilities is included since the old ones were on the site required for the new pit. Details are here.
HLF funding: The Heritage Lottery Fund are providing about three-quarters of the project cost, with the remainder funded with the money raised to purchase the Woodpax land, other donations, the value of volunteer labour and materials committed to the project, and a grant from the Bluebell Railway Trust.
Construction was completed during 2010, with fitting out of the museum and the Carriage Shed completed during 2011. News of progress is available here.
At Horsted Keynes we are planning a 24-vehicle storage shed behind the existing shed/works in the Down Yard (Phase 4a). The limited length of the down-yard headshunt means that this shed would not be suitable as a running shed for 6-car rakes. It is therefore considered that this shed would be the home of the shorter vintage sets, plus those vehicles stored awaiting overhaul.
It would also include up to 6 coaches at any time on the maintenance/pit road, which it is also proposed to cover over. This would enable us to put virtually all the pre-Mk.I carriages under cover. It also includes a component storage shed to clear the unsightly shipping containers and open-air component storage.
Site surveys, preliminary designs and soil samples have shown the project to be feasible for a sensible cost, and having raised the funds to pay for more detailed design and planning permission, this was submitted and has now been granted.
More details and news of Operation Undercover Phase 4 are available here - the Carriage Shed Extension could well be part of a larger project at Horsted Keynes!
At Sheffield Park there is the possibility of replacing the existing small loco shed (dating from 1960) which has limited life left in it. This scheme might see a 2-road shed on the site, with storage for 6 locomotives, providing much improved frost protection for the locomotives used during the winter. An alternative (or addition) to this could be a roundhouse for the smaller pre-grouping locomotives, which would take space from the top car-park, or a southern extension of the main loco shed.
These plans are still evolving, and input from around the railway is constantly being canvassed as these plans develop over the years. It is clear that the long-term aim must be, somehow or other, to get our entire collection of historic stock (locos, carriages, vans and wagons) under cover.
A rolling stock museum/display building is also now being considered.
Funds are also being raised for this project by the Railway's Football Competitions, and also thanks to
Jon Bowers who is selling Railway
Drawings in aid of the project.
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