News From the Bluebell Railway
Archive - June-Dec 1995

This is an Archive for News from the Bluebell. The news on this page pre-dates the web site, dating from the days when this news service was only available by e-mail. Please note that due to the historical nature of this page, some links may no longer work correctly.

News 1/6/95

The Q1 (No. C1) is available for traffic again after repairs.

The 9F (No.92240) is out of traffic with a firebox crack. The method of repair is being discussed.

Loco maintenance requirements are pushing back the date for the completion of the ex-Barry overhaul of No.73082 "Camelot". Autumn now seems likely for the return to steam of this sole surviving named BR standard class 5.

BR Mk.1 Kitchen Coach RKB 1566 has been sold to the VSOE. Now painted Green, it will become part of the Ocean Liner Express set.

Former travelling College Dormitary No.99161 (ex-Mk.1 SK 25871) has been stripped internally, and has replaced the SR Maunsell non-descript as the Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes.


News 21/6/95

Good news about the Bluebell's 9F. It ran sucessfully every day last week after minor firebox repairs. It should be in steam this weekend for the Spring Gala, but as spare loco, without any planned turns. All other loco's listed are planned to be operational, and the working timetable shows 5 light engines arriving at Horsted Keynes before the first train!

Guided tours of the Carriage Works at Horsted Keynes are planned for 12.30, 2.00 and 3.30 both days (24/25 June). An additional tour will probably take place at about 11am.

The 1897-built Great Northern Railway Directors' Saloon will be in service, for holders of first-class tickets. It is being revarnished this week (19-23 June).


News 31/7/95

Visit of 30777 Sir Lamiel
After a few last minute worries about transport arrangements it appears that Sir Lamiel will be arriving at Sheffield Park today or tomorrow. It is intended that it will operate every weekend in August. It will also be operating a special train on the evening of Saturday 5th August as part of the Railway's 35th anniversary celebrations.

Other loco news from Sheffield Park:

In the Works:
75027 (BR standard class 4, 4-6-0), being stripped for 10 year overhaul. Birch Grove 473 (LBSCR class E4, 0-6-2T), boiler work not restarted yet; air brake system being overhauled.
Camelot 73082 (BR standard class 5, 4-6-0), work continues. Springing to be adjusted & valves to be set. Piston valve rings and steam chest covers to be fitted. Quite a bit of plumbing left. Safety valves to be examined. Cab windows to be fitted. Grate fitted last week, but rocking mechanism still to be done. Brick arch to be installed. All cab pressure gauges and speedo to be fitted. Speedo generator and adjuster to be fitted.

Other locos:
Earl of Berkeley 3217 (GWR 4-4-0) being stripped for 10 year overhaul.
Fenchurch 72 (LBSCR Terrier 0-6-0T). New wheels are up North for pressing onto axles. Quotes sought for new tyres.... Donations Required! Brian Wilkie is trying to get drawings for the cylinder block as it looks like a new one may be required. This may turn out to be a joint venture with the KESR / IOW.
31638 (SR U-class 2-6-0) Work continues on the frames. Axleboxes in the works. Centre driving wheels are up North in company with the Fenchurch wheels for the fitting of a new driving crankpin. Maunsell Loco. Soc. hope to have the chassis re-wheeled by Xmas.
84030 (BR standard class 2 2-6-2T) Work continues on the frames, boiler and new parts for the trailing pony truck.

The following are available for service:
847 (SR S15 4-6-0) new loco brake blocks being fitted.
C1 (SR class Q1 0-6-0) blown superheater element(s) replaced. Now back in service.
92240 (BR 9F 2-10-0), 263 (SECR H-class 0-4-4T), 592 (SECR C-class 0-6-0), Port Line 35027 (SR Merchant Navy pacific), 96 (LSWR B4 0-4-0T), Bluebell 323 (SECR P-class 0-6-0T), Baxter 3 (Fletcher Jennings 0-4-0T).

WWW news: A Canadian's account of Clive Groome's Footplate Days and Ways course is to be found at:

(with thanks also to Martin Nichols and Malcolm Roe)


News 17/8/95

Well, Sir Lamiel finally arrived on the 5th August. The bad news is that it requires some minor boiler work, which may involve a BR inspection etc.

Port Line 35027 (SR Merchant Navy pacific) is failed with firebox and tube problems. Will be out of traffic for several weeks (at least).

LSWR B4 0-4-0T No 96 Normandy has been withdrawn (a few months early) for its 10 year overhaul with leaky tubes.

The GREAT NORTHERN Directors' saloon of 1897 will be operating over the Bank Holiday Weekend (26th-28th August). Travel in this is at normal first-class fares. Money raised on board this coach is used for the restoration work on the vehicle.

The BRPS Social Sub-Committee presents: THE BLUEBELL FORESTER.

A luxury coach excursion to the Dean Forest Railway. Sat 7th October.
Includes two return trips on private trains hauled by one of the two GWR tanks.
Fare: £30 for members, £33 for non-members. Refreshments not included.


News 30/8/95

Vintage September
Every weekend in September we are running one train specifically as a "Vintage Train". The locomotive will be Victorian or Edwardian. The carriages will be from the 1920s and 30s (probably 2 SECR non-corridor coaches and 2 SR Maunsells).

The other train will be made up of coaches of Southern Railway and BR origin from the 40s, 50s and early 60s.

Maunsell Open Third No.1309 has just received a full repaint, following 11 years in traffic. Bulleid Brake 4279 is in the paint-shop for a touch-up and re-varnish. BR Mk.1 TSO 4957 has been lifted for attention to a steam-heat leak. Mk.1 SK 25728 (nearing the end of its overhaul) underwent a steam-heating test on Monday. A successful Bank-holiday weekend of fund-raising on the GNR saloon now sees enough money in the bank to pay for the new teak panels which are on order.


News 13/9/95

GIANTS OF STEAM - Sunday 22nd October 1995 Special working timetable with full details of arrangements available after 1st October - £1 from: Bluebell Railway, Horsted Keynes Station, RH17 7BB
Enquiries - 01825 723 777 (office hours)

Nearer the date I will try to provide more info. - like whether Camelot will be running.

Another Ex-Travelling College dormitory coach has now left the line, going to Isfield. The Travelling College Brake has been sold to the Kent & East Sussex.

The foundations for the Signal Box are in, and concrete supporting structures are rising above ground level. It is hoped that two-train operation on the extension may commence next year.

Horsted Keynes:
The south end of the canopy on platforms 2 and 3 is receiving attention, with the replacement of all the rotten valence timber. The C&W Exhibition Coach in its new position on Platform 1 has been raising a much larger sum of money. This, together with record donations following guided tours of the carriage shed, are most encouraging for BASH, the group restoring the four turn-of-the-century Metropolitan Railway coaches.

On the Track
Steam Railway magazine carries a report that we are to close the extension during November to allow a quarter-mile section of track to be slewed to the other side of the embankment as part of the long-term remedial work following the land-slip in February. The East Grinstead-Kingscote Bus will be extended to maintain the link with trains at Horsted Keynes.

The following is the text of our Christmas Services Leaflet:


The magical world of Santa will come to life for you and your children on board the train this Christmas, as he greets you all with seasonal cheer and a gift for your little ones. Our programme of Christmas Special trains is designed to provide a treat for all the family.

Our Santa Specials will leave Sheffield Park and head for Kingscote, some nine miles away. Meandering gently through the delightful Sussex countryside, the journey will take you through a very atmospheric 1/2 mile tunnel to Kingscote.

At Kingscote there will be time to see the locomotive move from one end of the train to the other for the return journey to Sheffield Park. Your return trip with us will last about 90 minutes.

To make your visit enjoyable and unhurried we reserve seats for your journey at the time of booking with the traditional layout of "facing" or "back" to the engine. For this reason we ask you to book in advance.

The procedure is quite easy. Telephone us with your credit card number for an immediate confirmation of your reservation - further details are included below.

After Christmas we will be operating our normal train service on the 26th to the 31st of December, departing from Sheffield Park Station at 11.00a.m., 12.30p.m., 2.00p.m. and 3.30p.m.

All our Santa trains start from Sheffield Park station where we have the Bessemer Arms bar restaurant. Festive and other luncheon menus will be available. Our self-service restaurant - Puffers - will also be open, where you can enjoy anything from a cup of tea to a full meal, and no reservations are necessary.

To complete your visit, or just to find those last minute stocking fillers, our well stocked souvenir shop at Sheffield Park features a huge range of transport books and videos, together with possibly the largest range of Thomas the Tank Engine products you will ever find under one roof! Welcome to our Christmas programme - we are sure you will enjoy your time with us.

All trains on the Bluebell line are hauled by a steam engine.

Train departures from SHEFFIELD PARK STATION on Saturday 2, Sunday 3, Saturday 9, Wednesday 20, Thursday 21 and Friday 22 December:
11.00 a.m.       1.00 p.m.        3.00 p.m.
All trains convey Observation Car, First and Third Class carriages.

Train departures from SHEFFIELD PARK STATION on Sunday 10, Saturday 16, Sunday 17, Saturday 23, Sunday 24 December:
10.45 a.m.*       11.30 a.m.       12.45 p.m.*
 1.30 p.m.         2.45 p.m.*       3.30 p.m.
All trains convey First and Third Class carriages, and those marked * convey an Observation Car.
A beautifully restored vehicle built in 1913 with panoramic side and end windows affording the best possible view of the line. A popular Christmas choice - so book early!

That extra touch for Christmas with generous seating, some in six-seat compartments, some in 4 and 2 seat bays adjoining a central aisle.

More comfortable than the name implies! The pleasantly upholstered seating is mainly in 4-seat bays either side of a central aisle. This saloon style enhances the feeling of anticipation as Father Christmas approaches.

Sheffield Park Station is situated on the A275 main road mid-way between East Grinstead and Lewes, and the Railway is well signposted from the A22 and A23 trunk roads by brown Tourist Board signs.


Bookings open Monday 2 October 1995

Telephone: 01825 724114 between 10.00a.m. and 4.00p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and 11.00a.m. to 3.30p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Quote your Mastercard or Visa Card number together with the date of expiry for an immediate confirmed reservation. Your tickets will be posted to you.

By Post: Complete the booking form (available from: Santa Specials, Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL)

OBSERVATION CAR - Available only on the trains indicated
Adult at 11 UKP each, Child (3 to 13) at 8 UKP each

FIRST CLASS CARRIAGE - Available on all trains
Adult at 11 UKP each, Child (3 to 13) at 8 UKP each

THIRD CLASS CARRIAGE - Available on all trains
Adult at 7 UKP each, Child (3 to 13) at 5 UKP each

TODDLERS 1-3 years old in any class of accommodation at 3 UKP each

Our well established series of Santa Special trains inevitably fills quite quickly, particularly the two weekends prior to Christmas Day, so we advise you to book as early as possible with, where possible, alternative times and/or dates.

We will consider refunds on their merits if cancellations are made at least 7 days before the date of travel. Unfortunately refunds cannot be considered after this time (except in emergencies). Requests for refunds must be notified by telephone and immediately confirmed in writing.

Obviously every effort will be made to run the trains according to this timetable but unforeseen circumstances may entail alterations of cancellations. Bluebell Railway Operating Limited reserves the right to vary any of the provisions contained within this leaflet without prior notice.

Christmas Season 1995

The Bluebell Railway's Golden Arrow Pullman dining train is the perfect setting for a special Christmas evening with friends or an intimate evening for two. The train recreates the fabulous Golden Arrow which once linked London and Paris with the style and panache which made it one of the most glamorous and famous trains in the world. On board you will enjoy fine food and wine served to the standards of yesteryear.

Our Christmas Season trains really are special. There is a traditional Christmas menu served on the leisurely journey starting from Sheffield Park Station and travelling to our present terminus at Kingscote. Later in the evening the train calls at Horsted Keynes Station where there will be time to leave the festively decorated Cars and listen to the choir singing carols around the Christmas tree. Wallow in the nostalgia and elegance of Christmas past.

The Golden Arrow Christmas Specials will run on Saturdays December 2,9,16 and 23 leaving Sheffield Park at 8.00p.m. and returning by 11.00p.m.

To travel on these trains your ticket will be 18 UKP First Class or 16 UKP Third Class, payable on reservation. The Table d'hote menu is 23 UKP payable on the day.

Golden Arrow Christmas Specials also run on the following weekday evenings, departing Sheffield Park at 8.00p.m. and returning by 11.00p.m.; 1, 8, 15, 19-22 December.

To travel on these trains your ticket will be 16 UKP First Class or 14 UKP Third Class, payable on reservation. The Table d'hote menu is 23 UKP payable on the day.

An ideal car for those office parties, the New Century Lounge is a 1960's Carriage which holds a banqueting table for 24 people. The cost of this car is 300 UKP payable on reservation. The menu price for Saturdays is 23 UKP and for weekdays 22 UKP, payable on the evening. It is advisable to book early to avoid disappointment.

For reservations and further information please telephone between 10.00a.m. and 4.00p.m. Mondays to Fridays, and 11.00a.m. to 3.30p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. GOLDEN ARROW booking details.


News 3/10/95

Filming work for "Wind in the Willows" is taking place during the next fortnight. This will see the visit to the line of the K&ESR Victorian Train, which will be paired with our SECR C-Class 0-6-0. I am led to believe that the coaches arrive in the next few days, and that the train may be running (for the filming, and not for public use) this Saturday (7th Oct.). The low loader which brings the coaches will also be used to transfer the ex-Travelling College brake coach which has been sold to the K&ESR.

The filming includes the derailment down an embankment of the C-class. The film company are (I am glad to say) to use models for this part, although a full-scale mock-up has been made of the rear part of the C-class' tender.

The London & North Western Railway Observation coach is currently in the paint-shop at Horsted Keynes, having windows re-bedded, a defective panel replaced, and a full repaint. It is booked to be back in service for the first of the Santa trains in December.

On the loco side, I am led to believe that, following a minor spate of failures, the workshops are working hard to prepare sufficient large engines for the Giants of Steam on Sunday 22nd Oct. I hope to be able to post here which locos will be running at some stage in the week before.

Throughout our "Vintage September" the weekday trains, and one train at weekends, have been formed of an SECR engine, two SECR coaches and two pre-war SR Maunsell coaches. The only exception has been a brief period when a tea-party was booked on the train, and an RMB had to be added, in exchange for one of the SECR 100 seaters, to keep the train length down to the 4 coaches which the H-Class 0-4-4T can comfortably manage. "September", however, did not begin until after the end of the school holiday season!


News 16/10/95

Giants of Steam on Sunday 22nd Oct.

As of this Saturday it was not known what locos will be working next Sunday. Camelot has been re-united with its tender, and if all goes well this week, it could just be in steam for this weekend, but don't count on it!

There will be a three-train service, with the Golden Arrow Pullman conveying extra coaches for public use. The most likely locos are:
SECR H-class 0-4-4T No 263
SECR C-class 0-6-0 No 592
SR S15-class 4-6-0 No 847
SR Q1-class 0-6-0 No C1
but, as I said, it's all a bit uncertain at the present.

Treasure Hunt Sunday 29 Oct. '95
Join the BASH treasure hunt, to help us raise the money for re-tyring of one of the "Chesham" set of coaches. The hunt starts from Horsted Keynes Station at 10 am, and is open to all members and friends at £5 per car/team.

This £5 may be paid as cash, or alternatively, if you wish, a sponsorship form with a minimum of £5 on it will be accepted, and your car can go free! Of course the greater your sponsorship, the sooner we will have raised the estimated £8,500 needed to re-tyre this turn-of-the-century Metropolitan Railway coach, which is otherwise rapidly nearing the completion of its overhaul.

We look forward to seeing you on the 29th!

B.A.S.H. is a section of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society dedicated to the restoration of four Ashbury coaches built for the Metropolitan Railway in 1898

This week my computer has to go back for some repairs, so that's why I'm posting this now, rather than later in the week when I might know better what locos are to be used on Sunday.


News 30/11/95

Well, I've got my computer back from being repaired, and it's not broken again yet, so here goes with an update on news from the Bluebell.

Firstly the loco situation, with thanks to Martin Nichols:

Operational: 92240, 73082, C1 (some superheater elements replaced), 847, 263, 592, 323

In works: 75027, 96, 473 (boiler only). 96 has been almost totally stripped, and apart from needing a new smokebox, is in quite good order.

Outside with work in progress: 84030 (new parts for front frame stretcher just acquired), Fenchurch, Birch Grove, 3217, 34059 (boiler and new smokebox back at SP), 1638 (wheels due back this week - this also applies to Fenchurch), 31178.

Roster: 92240 and 73082 are scheduled to share most of the Santa Special services.

Good news about Sir Archibald Sinclair, and the Bluebell Battle Of Britain Loco Group, whose boiler, with new smokebox, has finally returned to Sheffield Park.

On Poppy Appeal Day, Dame Vera Lynn visited the line and laid a wreath on Camelot. She also rubbed its nameplate for good luck.

The engineering work on the slip on the extension has, I understand, been going well, thanks to the good weather, a good contractor, and the hard work of those members involved. The East Grinstead to Kingscote bus service has been extended to Horsted Keynes during this work, so at weekends those working in the carriage shed have had the pleasure of hearing the deep-throated note of an RF coming up the station drive to meet each train.

The Kingscote team report that it has been like old times, with paint-brushes and ladders all over the station platforms. The break in the service has been put to good use. The S&T have also had the opportunity to do some maintenance on pointwork north of Horsted, and at Kingscote the North-end point has been re-aligned.

After six continuous weeks of operation in September and October, the Vintage Coaching set of SR Maunsells and SE&CR hundred seaters are now taking a break for maintenance. No.971 is to have through lighting control fitted. The seats in No.1309 now continue being re-trimmed. No.6575 came into the shed last Sunday to receive some bodywork attention, which will be followed by a full repaint.

The LNWR Observation Coach has received some minor bodywork attention, had windows re-bedded, and received a full repaint, which should be finished in time for the first Santa Special this Saturday.

Also re-entering traffic for the Santa trains is Bulleid Brake 2515, which has received repairs to the roof canvas, and a complete roof repaint.

The BASH treasure hunt was enjoyed by those taking part, and raised a small, but useful, sum of money towards the restoration of the Ashbury Metropolitan Railway coaches. The event may well be repeated.

The first two weeks of October saw the Railway taken over by squirrels, footmen, and a crew of over 100, for filming for "Toad of Toad Hall". The SE&CR C-class locomotive was used, with a splendid train formed of three Victorian 4 and 6-wheeled coaches from the K&ESR, plus our GNR Directors' Saloon.

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Go to later News from the Bluebell Archives:
July-Dec 1998, Jan-June 1998
July-Dec 1997, Jan-June 1997
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