News From the Bluebell Railway
Archive - Jan-June 1998

This is an Archive for the main News from the Bluebell page. Please note that due to the historical nature of this page, some links may no longer work correctly.

Update 25/6/98

LBSCR Terrier "Stepney" successfully completed a test run on Tuesday, and will be running this coming weekend for our Thomas the Tank Engine event.

Following Birch Grove's launch into service last weekend, LBSCR motive power will be to the fore this summer, and it is intended that one of the two trains throughout August will powered by these two locos double-heading.

Update 22/6/98

LBSCR centenarian loco, E4 class "Birch Grove" was successfully launched into service on Saturday 20th June. The name on the tank sides was unveiled by our President, Bernard Holden, and the Mayor of Brighton and Hove. Guests at the event included 5 members of the Billinton family. Also making its first appearance was the LBSCR Billinton Bogie First, SR No.7598, following a test run on Friday evening. Only one compartment was complete, and it will be a few more months before the seating is completed in the rest of the coach, and the lettering and lining finished.

Extension News:

A further sum of money has now been received in the form of Landfill Tax Credits, and this will enable contracts to be let for the refurbishment of the viaduct and the laying of track from East Grinstead across the viaduct to the tip site, in preparation for the excavation of the rubbish tip occupying the cutting at Imberhorn Lane.

Bluebell to Visit Holland

SECR Loco No.323 "Bluebell" is to visit the Stoomtram Hoorn-Medemblik for their 30th Anniversary, this coming weekend, 27-28 June. Bluebell is expected to make a full trip along the 12-mile line, double-heading with a Dutch engine (which will provide the air braking) as well as hauling an un-fitted train along part of the line.

Over the last few years links between the Bluebell and the SHM have been strengthened by working visits by groups of members to each others' railways.

Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages - Signals - History - Other - Links - Index
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

Update 17/6/98

Loco Update from Martin Nichols

Birch Grove. All now OK. Lewis Nodes adding the name to the paintwork this week.
Official launch next weekend, as outlined in earlier news reports.

Stepney. Warmed through Sunday for steam test Monday (15-6-98). Alan Elliott and Tony Funnell will be re-painting, lining and lettering the loco within the next two weeks.

3217. The boiler was removed from the chassis Sunday using the overhead cranes in the workshop.

C1. Machining work continues on the new piston valve liners.

See the Loco Photo News pages for more on all of these.


27th & 28th June 1998, "Thomas" will be at the Bluebell Railway.

For further details, see the Friends of Thomas web page.

Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages - Signals - History - Other - Links - Index
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

Update 26/5/98

The Centenary of Locomotive "Birch Grove" 1898-1998

LBSCR Radial Tank Locomotive 473 "Birch Grove" will return to passenger service on Saturday 20 June 1998.

A naming ceremony will take place at Horsted Keynes Station at Mid-day, followed by a special train for invited guests.

Additional Vintage Branch Line Trains will operate at the following times:

Sheffield Park Depart:  2.31   4.30
Horsted Keynes Depart:  2.46   4.46
Kingscote Arrive:       2.59   4.59

Kingscote Depart:       3.33   5.33
Horsted Keynes Depart:  3.47   5.55
Sheffield Park Arrive:  4.01   6.10
Further News of Birch Grove:
After further work, following the first test steaming, Birch Grove hauled the Observation Coach up the line last Thursday, and it is reported that the teething problems are being rapidly overcome.

The current edition of Locomotives Illustrated features, with impeccable timing, the LBSCR Radial Tank Locos.

It is likely that Birch Grove will haul demonstration goods trains on the Saturday preceding its return to passenger service.

Bernard Holden MBE

The June issue of Railway World features a three-page article about Bernard's first 90-years of association with the Bluebell.

Stroudley Coaches arrive at the Bluebell

Many of you may have seen or heard publicity in the media concerning the arrival of the bodies of two LBSCR Stroudley brake coaches. They are both 4-wheel, three compartment brake thirds, No 676 (built 1876) and No 949 (1881). They have been used for some years as hen-houses in a farm yard. Their condition can be imagined (they are in no-where near as good condition as the Stroudley first No 667 currently under restoration). Whilst they will require new doors and much new structural timber, they are none-the-less restorable and essentially complete. With No 667 (which we had previously thought to be numbered 661) they will eventually form a good representation of an 1880s' LBSCR train. Ideally we need a five-compartment second or third class coach to complete the set (like the one recently and magnificently restored to traffic on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway). Underframes for both coaches are available, and will be shortened to the correct length.

New Web Page to promote the Bluebell's Credit Card

A new web page has details of the Bluebell's Affinity Card. This is a Visa card issued by the MBNA International Bank Ltd which helps us to raise funds. You get a credit card with no annual fee, and a picture of a Bluebell Railway loco on the card. The railway receives annual donations from the bank for each card issued, and a small percentage of every pound you spend on the card.
Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages - Signals - History - Other - Links - Index
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

Update 19/5/98

Loco News from Martin Nichols

In the Workshop:
473 Birch Grove. Loco is virtually complete, painted and lined out. Passed its steam test on Wednesday and has been up the line with a brake van. It is now back in the workshop for attention to minor defects and adjustment of the valve settings. The test run was hampered by priming... this usually happens when a boiler has had a lot of work done on it and is due to the residue of the cutting oils used when drilling and tapping for new stays. The water in the boiler will be changed before the next trial runs. The latest photos are on Lewis Nodes' photo news page.

55 Stepney. The boiler for Stepney has been turned onto its side to allow work to continue in the firebox. A number of patch screws have been replaced in the lap seams. The tubes have been expanded into the boiler and beaded over. It is hoped to have 'Stepney' back in traffic by mid to late June.

C1. It has been found that the piston valve liners are badly worn, and cannot be re-bored further as they are already at the maximum permissible size. Thus they have been removed and will be replaced with new ones, the raw cast iron tube for which has arrived.

3217. The new injector passed its hydraulic test and has been assembled ready to go onto the loco when the time comes. I hope to have some photographs of the injector and its cones put onto the web site soon. The existing old injector has been removed and stripped for examination. All the new parts for the superheater elements are ready, but these will not be assembled until they are required (saves storage space). The vacuum pump has been stripped and found to need new piston rings and a replacement gland assembly. The combined ejector and brake valve has also been stripped for examination.

34023. Dismantling/cleaning continues.

92240, 73082, 75027, 592, 323, 96, 3.

80080. This loco is due to return to Butterley today (19th May), following a very successful visit.

Carriage News

LBSCR Bogie First 7598 has, contrary to my last report, remained in the main work area, to help speed its completion, and so the start of work on Maunsell Droplight Open Third 1336 is being delayed.

Because of this, labour is being diverted mid-week onto the disabled conversion which is coming on apace.

The main news is however on the building front. The Railway's board has approved the carriage shed extension as the current year's major capital project, although some of the funding will have to be raised separately. The extension will provide a decent working area, with access all around every coach (there will be space for five vehicles in the working area), and will also allow half of the existing shed to revert to storage for the more vintage stock. In support of this project, Peter Richards is running the following competition, which I hope many of you may support!

Carriage Shed Fund: World Cup Football Competition

This Fund is aiming to extend our existing Carriage shed, and so enable us to keep more of our unique collection of vintage carriages in dry and secure accommodation. Coaches which will benefit include the four Victorian Metropolitan Railway coaches, and our London Brighton and South Coast Railway coaches which are currently under restoration, but which will have to stand outside when they are restored unless this shed extension can be built.

Entries for the World Cup football competition must be in before the first match starts on 10th June. Further information and an entry form is available.

You do not need to know much about Football to enter!

The final results of the current (Premier League and FA Cup) competitions are also now available.

AGM Report

At the Society AGM a week ago on Saturday there was only one controversial motion, concerning the re-signalling of Horsted Keynes.

A rather less controversial motion was to appoint Geoffrey Cope, our P-Way expert, as an Honorary Vice-President.

The accounts showed a healthy move from deficit into surplus, and much of this surplus, along with donations to the Ardingly and the Land Purchase Fund has been applied to land purchases, not just of trackbed in the East Grinstead and Ardingly directions, but also small packets of useful land at Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park.

In the elections for BRPS Trustees, Jim Turtle, Charles Hudson, Chris Cooper and Vanessa Churchman were elected, and Richard Salmon and Eric Earnshaw were elected as Society Representatives to the Bluebell Railway Trust.

Some initial plans were on display to provoke discussion as to the form of the station building to be constructed at East Grinstead. One was a single storey building to go along-side the platform, and the other a two-storey one, which could be sited at the north end of the platform. Both were based very closely on LBSCR buildings formerly at East Grinstead, although with revised interior layouts to suit our needs.

BASH again provided interval refreshments as a fund-raising exercise, and this, along with a retiring collection, raised over £300 towards the restoration of the Bluebell's Met coaches. If anyone is at Steam on the Met next weekend, you'll find our stall at Rickmansworth.

The Bluebell Web Pages

New pages have been added for:
The launch of our World Cup Football Competition.
The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes.
An entire new section by Peter Richards about the Early History of the Preservation of the Bluebell Line.
The 9F Club (for young volunteers aged 9 to 15).
Volunteering in the Loco Department.

Photos added of: 75027 with a goods train at the 40th Anniversary of closure weekend, SR "Pillbox" Brake Van 55993, GWR Tool Van No. 92 and Kingscote Track Layout looking Northwards.

Links added to the Norbury & South London Transport Club, and Viktor Schiffer's Links for Wagon Enthusiasts.

These (and other minor) changes are linked from the "What's New?" page.

Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages - Signals - History - Other - Links - Index
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

Update 7/4/98

Extension Trackbed Clearance

Trackbed clearance from the viaduct down to the tip is progressing well. A good-sized team has been working to good effect, such that the trackbed itself is now clear, and work is progressing on the embankment and cutting sides. The fence-line here is reportedly in relatively good order, being of iron railing. The target of having this half-mile section of trackbed clear by May should be met. Jim Turtle, who leads this work, however, makes the point that we'll have to maintain this level of effort over the coming three years if we are to get this final section of our extension completed in the allotted time.


This is the first year that we will run three simultaneous normal timetabled trains. This will occur on all four days over Easter, the third train being a Vintage Branch-line Train. The 101-year-old Great Northern Directors' Saloon will also be running, carrying first-class ticket holders on a first-come first-served basis.

Trains are also running every day this week and next week, plus the remaining weekends of April (with the vintage branch-line train on Saturdays).

Vintage Bus Day - Sunday 26th April 1998

On this day we are operating FREE OF CHARGE the former routes of London Transport/ London Country to the Bus Station in King Street, East Grinstead from West Croydon, Edenbridge, Reigate, Oxted and former 'Greenline' 708 from Hemel Hempstead via Victoria.

Our own Route 473 will operate every 15 minutes from Kingscote Stn. to the former Bus Station at King Street, East Grinstead where there will be a display of vintage vehicles, and where all routes will terminate. Full details are on the web page for this event.

Last weekend: S&D Theme Weekend and Volunteers' Weekend

One visitor was reportedly heard to comment that we were lucky having two BR Standard 5s on site (Camelot and Linette), which only goes to emphasise how good a job the Camelot Loco Society made of the transformation of their loco into its sister, which was a regular summer performer on the Somerset and Dorset line, along with our own 75027. The Pines Express headboard was carried on the sometimes double-headed train. On the Saturday, the visiting Standard 4 tank, 80080, ran with the Vintage Branch-line Train, consisting of the three SR Maunsell coaches. This set was augmented on the Sunday by two SR Bulleids and the green RMB (buffet) coach.

As far as the new volunteers went, I think this year's crowd were the keenest we've yet had. We had six each day in the Carriage and Wagon, and most of the work put in was on the Metropolitan coaches, together with some valuable assistance to the team working on the conversion of the former Travelling College dormitory into a multi-purpose vehicle.

Loco News from Martin Nichols

(Martin actually sent me this last week).

C1. (SR Bulleid class Q1 0-6-0). This was withdrawn part-way through the closure anniversary weekend due to valve problems.
The two piston valves have now been withdrawn after a considerable struggle due to carbon build up in and around the ring grooves. New rings arrived today (30/3) and work has started on machining new valve heads.

Additionally an annoying, but difficult to get at, leak in the ejector exhaust pipe (under the boiler cladding sheets) will be repaired.

75027 (BR Standard 4 4-6-0). In service last weekend but now due for washout.

80080 (BR Standard 4 2-6-4T). In service last weekend.

In the works:

92240 (BR Standard 9 2-10-0). Work has started on the repair to the firebox leak.

34023 "Blackmore Vale". Work continues.

3217 "Earl of Berkeley". The ashpan has been removed. The new parts for the superheater are nearing completion. The new injector is now ready for pressure test and assembly.

473 "Birch Grove". The boiler has now been replaced in the frames. The new smokebox has been fitted. New boiler cladding sheets have been made, fitted and painted. The spectacle plate and cab roof have been fitted. The tanks have been repaired and fitted. The tank cladding sheets (these seem to be peculiar to LBSCR locos), are currently being repaired. The cab fittings are being replaced. The air brake system is being updated to a two pipe system and refitted. New tank balance pipes to the bunker tank are being made to replace the badly damaged cast iron originals.

55 "Stepney". Work continues on the boiler.

Carriage News

LBSCR Bogie First 7598. All the work on the roof has been completed, and the final mouldings have been applied to the outside of the vehicle. Final painting has commenced.

The first of the overhauled bogies for Metropolitan Third 394 is coming together well, complete with its re-tyred wheel-sets. The horn-guides for the other bogie have been built up with weld, and are now being machined. The varnishing of the Metropolitan brake, 387, was started last week, and the second side of the vehicle is also nearly ready for the varnish brush.

The Bluebell Web Pages

New pages have been provided by Peter Richards with the Sheffield Park Signal Box Diagram and an explanation of all the different Bell Codes used by the signalmen.

Details of the Toy and Collectors' Fair on 18/19 July are available thanks to Tony Hillman's Railway Memorabilia Collectors Events Diary.

These (and other minor) changes are linked from the "What's New?" page.

Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages - Signals - History - Other - Links - Index
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

Update 26/3/98

The Bluebell Railway and the Camelot Society present:

"Memories of the Somerset & Dorset Line"

4th & 5th April 1998

Not a gala as such but 73082 "Camelot" will be running for the weekend as sister loco 73087 "Linette", which was loaned to the Somerset & Dorset every summer between 1956 and 1960. On the Saturday some trains will be double headed by this loco and 75027, which was allocated to Templecombe shed for a 2 year period of work on the S&D. The "Pines Express" will thus be re-created, using maroon coaches and an appropriate headboard.

Also in steam over the weekend will be the visiting Standard 4 tank, 80080, owned by the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust based at the Midland Railway Centre, Butterley. On the Saturday this loco will be hauling our Vintage Branch-line Train of two SECR coaches and an SR 4-wheeled Van C (BY) brake van.

On the Sunday "Linette" will again be at the head of the "Pines Express", with 75027 on the Golden Arrow lunch-time Pullman dining train and 80080 will be hauling the 6-coach green SR Bulleid and BR Set.

We hope that Peter Smith (Camelot Loco Society President and ex-S&D fireman) will be around on one of the days.

Fares will be as normal for this weekend, as will the timetable, and the bus link from East Grinstead to Kingscote. Details in our Timetable.

An event programme is available priced £1 in advance from Horsted Keynes Station, or on the day. For enquiries please ring.

Birch Grove Centenary Weekend

To avoid clashing with the South of England Show at Ardingly, this weekend has been put back to 20-21 June. Please ring for confirmation of Birch Grove's availability nearer to the event.

Although it may not be completed internally, we hope to turn out the LBSCR bogie coach which is coming to the end of its rebuild in the carriage works for this weekend.

Volunteers' Weekend 4th and 5th April 1998

Full details of activities this weekend for potential new volunteers are now available on the web site.

CHILDREN'S FUN WEEKEND - Sat 28th & Sun 29th March 1998

Just a reminder. Full details on the web site.

Extension - Tip Removal

The trial excavations of material from the tip has revealed track ballast, water tanks, a metal bath, a porcelain toilet, various car parts, a washing machine, a newspaper dated 1969 and a milk churn, and a general composition, below the 2.5m thick clay cap of 40 per cent plastic, 15 per cent fabric, 15 per cent paper and card, 5 percent each of glass and metal, in a silt/clay mix. The rumour of a large dump of ex-army vehicles has not been substantiated! This is all good news, since it reveals no great problems and allows planning for the excavation to proceed. It is expected to take 18 months to remove the material by rail to another waste disposal site.

Permanent Way work at Horsted Keynes

Last week the trackbed to the north of the platforms at Horsted Keynes was excavated to enable the replacement of long-defunct drainage. This work will be completed in October, when the new crossover between 2 and 1 roads is installed as part of the long-term plan to remodel the layout and signalling at Horsted Keynes.

Relay room at Kingscote

As at Horsted Keynes, it has been necessary to build an electrical equipment room behind the signal box. This has been constructed to mirror the architectural style of the Pump House at Horsted Keynes, right down to the bond pattern of the bricks (using half-bricks since the new structure has a cavity wall) and the colour of the arches over the windows (which are in yellow brick). The window frames came from the base of the Brighton Upper Goods box, the cabin of which now forms the North Signal Box at Kingscote.

The windows are in fact purely decorative, not penetrating the inner shell, thus giving the signal engineers the dark interior they require. The building is built at a lower level than, and some distance from, the Signal Box so as not to detract from the station site.

The Bluebell Web Pages

There are new pages for: A new section has been added to the Links page for Suppliers of Railway Books and Videos, with links to Beulah (Historical Transport Films issued on Video) and Stanley Fish & Co. (second- hand and new railway books).

These (and other minor) changes are linked from the "What's New?" page.

Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages - Signals - History - Other - Links - Index
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

Update 17/3/98

Sat 28th & Sun 29th March 1998

A day out with a difference for families with young children. Combines the nostalgia of vintage steam trains with the fun and excitement of rides, games and entertainments for youngsters.

See details on the web page for this event.

Visit of 80080 for the Anniversary weekend

80080 finally arrived from the Midland Railway Centre last Thursday, just in time to appear as 80154 to haul the recreation of the last train of 1958, complete with wilting bluebell headboard and detonators for the departures from Sheffield Park and Horsted.

It is expected to remain on the Bluebell for several weeks, and may make appearances hauling the "Branch Line Train" over Easter and on Saturdays in April.

The weekend went off very well, with hardly a hitch. The only problem was with the Q1, which suffered a mechanical problem. After the first train on the Saturday it was assisted by the C-class, although it managed the evening freight unaided. Camelot substituted for it on the Sunday.

Extension News

The latest news is that the contract has been let for the refurbishment of Imberhorn Viaduct. Since this is required for the running of the trains which will remove the material to be excavated from the tip, the cost is covered by the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme. It involves the re-pointing and repair of brickwork, re-waterproofing of the structure and the replacement of the coping stones on the viaduct where these have been dislodged by vandals in the past. Many of the coping stones for this have been recovered from our land beneath the viaduct.

Volunteer input to the project has been focusing on the clearance of the trackbed south from the viaduct towards the tip, prior to the laying of double track for the tip removal trains. The same team has also, in the last few months, cleared a considerable section of the Ardingly branch trackbed.

Volunteers' Weekend 4th and 5th April 1998

Have you ever wondered what was involved in running a preserved railway? Why not come and see how we do it on the Bluebell. Non-members and prospective members, as well as existing members, are welcome on either or both days. The weekend will give the opportunity to see behind the scenes on the railway, and, if you wish, actually try your hand in one of the many areas of volunteer work, on the stations or with restoration work. Anyone intending to work will need appropriate clothing and a packed lunch, and you will also need to be a member of the railway for insurance purposes (instant membership is available on the day). However, for the general tour behind the scenes you do not even need to be a member, although of course we hope you will be sufficiently impressed to want to join us!

For further details, see this web page, or contact Roger Price, BRPS Secretary, 6 Rural Way, Redhill RH1 4BT.

473 "Birch Grove"

A major step forward has taken place with the replacement of the boiler, complete with the new smokebox, in the frames. The smokebox saddle is also newly fabricated to replace the existing broken casting.

Further details and photos are to be found on Lewis Nodes' photo news pages.


The second Bulleid Brake, No.2515, has been turned out with Southern Railway sunshine lettering to match 4279, and these two coaches topped and tailed one of the sets for the Anniversary weekend. Coaches operated during the weekend were: 3 pre-grouping, 3 Southern Railway Maunsells and 4 Bulleids, 4 pre-war Pullmans and 4 of BR Standard Steam stock (Mk.1s).

To re-create the "Last Train" properly it should have been formed of 9 Maunsell coaches, which is, by coincidence, how many I consider we might be able to restore (eventually!).

The Bluebell Web Pages

There is a new page for the Land Purchase Fund.

The latest positions in the Horsted Keynes Signalling Fund's Football Competition are updated every two weeks at present.

These (and other minor) changes are linked from the "What's New?" page.

Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages - Signals - History - Other - Links - Index
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

Update 4/3/98

Anniversary of Closure Weekend:14th & 15th March 1998

Full details including a rough sketch of the timetable are available here.

Extension News

The latest edition of Steam Railway reports (which news had not reached me by the usual grapevine!) that trackbed clearance work has started on the half-mile section of trackbed south from Imberhorn Viaduct to the tip, which will then be laid with track to enable the 135,000 tons of waste to be removed by rail.

Loco News

Martin Nichols reports:

In Works:

34023 "Blackmoor Vale". Dismantling continues. Various studs being removed from the boiler.

3217 "Earl of Berkeley". Progress is being made on the new parts for the superheater. Ditto the new injector. The ashpan has been loosened in readiness for the boiler lift.

473 "Birch Grove". The big news is that the boiler has passed its hydraulic test, and (out of the frames) steam test. The steam test was last Thursday. There are a few minor weeps to sort out, and then the boiler and smokebox will be replaced in the frames. It is anticipated that a road crane will be hired for this, and there are several other jobs that will be carried out whilst the crane is on site.

55 "Stepney" (boiler only in the works). The new tubes have been put into the boiler, but not expanded or beaded yet. Work continues in the firebox with the patch-screws.

Outside the Works

The rebuilding of the tender chassis for U-class 1638 is going well, and the riveting team were in action today (Sunday 1/3/98). It is hoped that the tender frame will be re-wheeled when the road crane is on site to replace Birch Grove's boiler.

The other half of the Maunsell gang have been removing the (life expired) superheater elements from S15 No.847.

Roller shutter doors are being fitted to the old shed. [This is to help keep frost off the service locos in the winter.]

On Sunday C1 and 75027 were the service engines.

Visiting Loco

80080 from The Midland Railway Centre is due to visit soon. It is expected to arrive on Monday 9th March, following completion of some repairs. To allow for a realistic re-creation of the "last train" of 1958 at the 40th Anniversary of Closure Weekend, it will face south.

Carriage News

The LBSCR Bogie First has spent all last month in the main work area. This has enabled great strides to be made in the roof, which is now nearly completed. Graham Ward has also been making a start on preparations for the final coats of paint on the side of the vehicle which has been inaccessible in the shed for the last year. In the paint shop, Bulleid Brake 2515 is coming to the end of it's full repaint. The pace of work on the Chesham Set has picked up, with the reassembly of the first of the bogies for Full Third 394. The exterior of Brake Third 387 is almost ready for Graham Ward's varnish brush.

The Web Pages

Our web pages have now joined the "TravelRing". Recent new and updated pages include: All these changes and more are listed with links from the "What's New?" page.
Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages - Signals - History - Other - Links - Index
Why not become a BRPS Member? - Get more involved as a Volunteer

Update 29/1/98

BRANCH LINE WEEKEND 14th & 15th February 1998

Full details are now on the web page for this event.

The Latest Edition of Steam Railway Magazine

This is worth a look, since it features an in depth article on the various extensions to the Bluebell, and was a result of an interview with Extension Director Peter Thomas just days before his sudden death at the beginning of the month.

There is also an obituary for Tom Gomm, proprietor of the firm which has made enamelled badges for many years and leading light behind the rescue for preservation of our GWR "Dukedog" locomotive.

Loco News

Martin Nichols reports:

473 "Birch Grove"

The boiler has been re-tubed and is now about 3/4 full of water. The new gunmetal pads for the upper washout plugs have been delivered from the foundry and are being machined. These pads fit on the outer boiler wrapper, over the top of the firebox. As Birch Grove has a round top firebox, the pads have to be machined to suit the boiler radius. This is just over 2 feet, and has caused some head scratching as to how we can machine them. Well a solution was found and the first pad is almost ready for fitting. In the meantime all the studs have been replaced, and blanking plates fitted to all the other openings in readiness for a hydraulic test.

On the loco chassis, work is in progress on setting the valves, and repairing and re-fitting the sanding gear.

The cab and bunker are now in topcoat and lining out continues..

55 "Stepney"

The new smokebox tubeplate has been finished and riveted in to the boiler. The riveting of the foundation ring and firehole door ring has halted as we have had a problem with the hydraulic riveter. In the meantime the inner firebox is having numerous patch screws fitted where the heads of the old ones (or rivets) have wasted away. The chassis is no longer in the works.


The 'C' class has been brought into the works (loco only) to investigate and repair the problems with the left hand piston rod gland.

34023 "Blackmore Vale"

The boiler inspector has now had a thorough look at the boiler, and to our relief can hardly find anything wrong. So the boiler will not be lifted from the loco. Various volunteers have been needle gunning and painting the outer wrapper.

3217 "Earl of Berkeley"

Work continues on the machining of the new injector casting (see photo news pages). Fred Bailey has started machining the new steel castings for the superheater element joints.

Carriage News

Maunsell Open Third 1336 has now entered the works for its restoration from departmental condition. So far the underframe has been stripped of the various appendages, grit-blasted and painted. The LBSCR Bogie First has moved temporarily into the main work area, and last night a start was made on fitting the roofing material.
Return to Bluebell Home Page, or to the UK Heritage Railways News Page
See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
Visitor Info. - Catering - Contacts - News - Locos - Carriages - Signals - History - Other - Links - Index
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Update 5/1/98

Extension News

With the first £100,000 already received from the landfill tax credit scheme, test results are now awaited into the composition of the rubbish tip on the route of the extension. The planned time-scale for its removal, and subsequent rebuilding of the line from Kingscote to East Grinstead, is aimed to allow for re-opening of this final phase of our northern extension at Easter 2001. This is all still dependant on a share issue to raise between £600,000 and £700,000, together with the successful purchase of sections of trackbed still under negotiation.

The appeal for funds to purchase the trackbed from Horsted Keynes to Ardingly has exceeded expectations, now standing at over £22,000. Whilst this is a very long term possibility for a further extension, we are already exploring ways of replacing Sherriff Mill Viaduct, and it is planned to carry out various care and maintenance tasks to conserve the trackbed for the future.

Loco News:

1998 should see the return to steam of two LBSCR locos, "Stepney" in the spring, and "Birch Grove" in time for its centenary. It's just possible that they will be joined by "Fenchurch", in A1 rather than A1X external appearance, by the end of the year. All of this is rather dependant on the amount of work required on the maintenance of the service locos.

Two of our industrial locos are on the move. "The Blue Circle", our unusual Aveling & Porter rail locomotive, on long-term loan to the Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway Trust will move to the Bucks Railway Centre at Quainton Road in 1998, whilst the trackwork at Hunsbury Hill, Northamptonshire, is replaced. The 0-6-0ST, No.24, "Stamford", which has been at the Bluebell since 1969, but never used, is to go on long term loan to the Rutland Railway Museum at Cottesmore, close to the Stewarts & Lloyds Pilton quarry where it formerly worked.

Martin Nichols reports:
92240, BR 9F. The re-caulking in the firebox was not successful, so the loco is waiting to go into the works for new patch screws to be put into the doorplate.

73082, "Camelot". New 'brick arch' installed, and now available for traffic again. We don't use firebricks for our brick arches, but instead we cast fire cement over wooden formers in the firebox. When set the formers are removed leaving a one piece concrete arch.

75027, BR 4MT 4-6-0. Operational

C1, SR Q1. Waiting to go into works for minor attention.

592, SECR C-class. Ditto. This loco seems to blow out its piston rod packing on the left side. May need a new piston or some re-alignment of crosshead and cylinder.

323, "Bluebell". Operational.

96, "Normandy". Operational.

The following are in the works:
55, "Stepney". New smokebox tubeplate drilled for tubes etc and now ready for fitting. All tubes removed from the boiler. Boiler barrel needle gunning and painting in progress. Firehole door ring, and foundation ring rivets are being replaced. The loco chassis has had the motion removed, re-bushed as required and replaced.

473, "Birch Grove". The motion is being replaced on the chassis. The cabsides and bunker are now in topcoat, and Lewis Nodes has started on the lining of these parts. The brake gear has been receiving attention. The boiler is now the right way up, and on the boiler trolley. New washout plug pads are on order from the foundry (these are gunmetal castings), and in the meantime the studs that hold these to the boiler are being replaced. Most of the other pads have been blanked off in readiness for the hydraulic test. All the noisy riveting has been completed, and the new tubes will be fitted shortly. The safety valves have been overhauled and the regulator stuffing box has been repaired.

34023, "Blackmore Vale". Now that all the outer casing, and supporting framework has been removed, attention has been directed at removing the boiler fittings.

3217, "Earl of Berkeley". The overhaul of the superheater header has been completed. I have started machining a new 10X GWR pattern injector (the 10 denotes the size of the small end of the delivery cone in ....milli-metres. The larger this is the higher the delivery rate of the injector..... metric dimensions because the early work on injectors was done in metric by a Frenchman, Giffard circa 1858). The boiler has been loosend at the smokebox end, and the ashpan will be detached next, so as to be ready for lifting as soon as Birch Grove's boiler is returned to the loco.

Santa Specials

These have seen a 3 per-cent increase in passengers compared to the previous year, which reflects the trend in the traffic figures for the entire year. Record ticket revenue from the Santa trains is especially welcome at this time of year when there is otherwise far more expenditure on maintenance work than there is income. The turnover on the volunteer-run catering service on the Santa trains is also a record. The profit on this is allocated specifically to volunteer-led projects which cannot be funded out of the railway's normal income.


Thanks to the inclement weather, the line north of Horsted Keynes was closed on 4th Jan 1998 due to slips at Black hut and just north of Leamland junction, both areas which have caused problems in recent years. [Subsequently, monitoring of these areas has shown the movement to be minor settlement rather than anything more serious.]

Carriage News

Bulleid Brake 4279 has been turned out from the paintshop in "Southern" lettered malachite green, and looks very fine. The other brake, 2515, is being fitted with a synthetic roof covering to allow a long term comparison with the traditional canvas just fitted to 4279.

On Bulleid Open Third 1482, work has moved, at last, to the second half of the coach, with the stripping of the interior and the old exterior panelling now under way.

The Metropolitan Railway Brake is progressing rapidly, with the last of the external mouldings made, the roof covering being fixed down, and the doors going on to the brake van.

Pullman Car "Fingall" is being re-varnished externally in preparation for a visit to a catering/corporate entertainment event at Earls Court.

The first of the recently arrived SR Passenger Luggage Vans is being cut up. The underframe will be shortened to provide running gear for the LCDR 4-wheel coach. The doors may be used to rebuild the GBL (Gangwayed Bogie Luggage Van) back to its original SR condition (it had wider doors fitted during its time as an ambulance coach), and the ventilators at the end will replace corroded ones on other vehicles. The door hinges are of use in the reconstruction of ex-Bristol Docks wagons. The body, being reasonably sound, will be used for storage at Sheffield Park.

Volunteers Weekend, 4-5 April

Make a note of this in your diary now. New volunteers are sought for all departments, and this is your chance to meet us, and try your hand at something new, or just see what we do. More details later, or see the web page on volunteering.

More Land Purchased

The freehold of the old council "Salt Depot", adjoining the carriage yard at Horsted Keynes has been purchased. Use as a permanent way depot seems likely, although it might alternatively find use by the S&T or C&W departments.

At Kingscote:

Construction work is progressing rapidly with the new signalling relay room behind the signal box. As an essential operational railway structure, planning permission was not required, but the local council are fully informed as building regulations approval still has to be followed.

The re-location of the Goods Shed from Horsted Keynes to Kingscote does, however, require planning permission, and this is currently being sought.

Web Site Update:

This information is available on a separate web page, featuring the latest changes on the web site. Suffice it to say that I have not been idle over the Christmas/New Year break. In particular, please note the details of the "Friends of Thomas the Tank Engine" Weekend, and the two early spring events, the Branch Line Weekend and the 40th Anniversary of the Line Closure event, which will feature a visiting loco, hopefully a Standard Class 4 tank, to re-enact the last train of 1958.
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See also Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
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