Update 26th July 2003
The photo on the right, thanks to Jon Bowers, shows the repainted War Department "USA" shunter at the recent 1940s' weekend.
The Country Music weekend was the best ever, with Lindisfarne drawing a capacity crowd on the Saturday, and the Yetties again proving a solid attraction, even though moved to the Sunday evening. The Bluebell Railway Band and troupes of Morris Dancers kept the theme going over the whole weekend.
Last weekend's Collectors' Fair seemed to go off with its usual sense of "Busyness", and a stall in the Carriage Works on the Sunday raised a considerable amount for Operation Undercover thanks to selling old model railway and other items donated by members of the C&W department, together with some surplus metal signal arms which would otherwise have gone in the skip!
"A Day Out with Thomas" events again drew record crowds, just a few up on last year. Thomas and Percy behaved themselves better this year, although Percy scared "Blackmoor Vale" to the extent that she missed half a day. Other than that, we had ten locos in steam and running about all the time over the two weekends, and a good time was had by all.
This weekend sees the Emergency Services Weekend, with displays of emergency vehicles old and new, with a Classic American Car Show at Sheffield Park, and a live band on the Saturday evening.
We are already looking forward to October's Giants of Steam, with the prospect of the NRM's "Green Arrow" to add to the re-naming of "Blackmoor Vale" into its one-time alter-ego as "O.V.S.Bulleid"
The U-class now has a full set of motion erected, and the boiler is also now in the works along with the chassis. Stowe's almost new tender comes on splendidly, and re-wheeling is keenly anticipated.
Baxter is coming on more slowly. Stuart Marks has finished grinding flat the rear hornplates, allowing Derek Barlow to start machining the new axleboxes. Many parts have been overhauled and painted. The last of the old stays have been drilled out where the bottom of the throatplate has been cut away, but there is still quite a bit to do on the boiler. The bunker floor repairs have been completed.
"Camelot" has passed its annual boiler exam, and is thus available for at least an extra 12 months beyond what had been expected, thanks to a change in the "10 year" boiler insurance rules, going back to the old system of 10 years from first steaming rather than "first boiler test" which had been in force for a few years. However, another potential defect with the loco is being watched carefully, so it's definitely on borrowed time.
"Birch Grove" has arrived on the Isle of Wight for its summer holiday, as is seen in the photo by Genea Corney, courtesy of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, and will also visit the Mid Hants on its way back in the Autumn. It only took Birch Grove half an hour on the frequent ferry from Portsmouth, which shows that the island is closer than many think. With its services operated entirely by pre-grouping rolling stock, Birch Grove fits in perfectly, and is there to help out with the heavy summer trains. Birch Grove will begin her duties on the IW Steam Railway on 29th July and will be in action at the August Bank Holiday Steam Show and on many other days as well.
CARRIAGE & WAGON NEWS
The main news is that the Mk.1 TSO which has had a major structural overhaul in the last six months made it into service, fully painted, just in time for the first "Day out with Thomas". LBSCR 661 looks stunning now its painted and lined and lettered, although it's still several months from completion. The fourth Met coach now has a roof, and mouldings are going on the outside.
Pullman Car No.54 has entered the works for an assessment of its condition, with a view to placing a contract for overhauling either it or Car 64. This will not be cheap, so we wait to see if the railway decides it can afford to do this. The photo shows the coach in the works for this assessment.
The GNR Directors' Saloon has headed north today to represent the Bluebell at "The Plant 150" event at Doncaster this weekend. It will be in pride of place at the head of a rake of teak carriages behind the GNR Stirling Single loco.
The photos show: 1. The trackbed north from the buffer stops; the line of yellow painted marking posts on the west-side provide references for the new track geometry;
Towards East Grinstead the main extension gang are preparing for the last of the refurbishment work on the viaduct, which will involve stripping the infill from above the arches to sort out the drainage.
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Doncaster Report - 31st July 2003
LNER V2 2-6-2 No.60800 "Green Arrow" was there, again visiting from the National Railway Museum. Unlike the Stirling Single above, "Green Arrow" is in full working order, and will be visiting the Bluebell for our October 25 - 26 "Giants of Steam" gala weekend.
Football Competition A quick reminder that with just over 2 weeks to go until the new football season starts, you haven't got that long left to enter this years competition, which is raising funds for Operation Undercover. Full details of the simple-to-enter competition are available here.
Update 26th September 2003
"Birch Grove" has now arrived on the Mid Hants Railway. It is seen here, in this photo by Jon Bowers taken this morning, on Ropley MPD, prior to working passenger and goods services on the first day of the Mid Hants three-day Gala, which saw five locos in service today, only one of them being a Mid-Hants based engine!
Track Laying North of Kingscote
Much activity on the extension, with the long-established extension gang working hard north of the tip, and the Friends of Kingscote finishing off the trackbed preparation, and laying track and ballast northwards from Kingscote, using timbers prepared by the volunteer P-way gang. More details and photos here.
A catch point, removed by the volunteer P-way gang from the yard at Horsted Keynes (after being rendered surplus by last year's changes to the shed/paint-shop), has been installed at the north end at Kingscote, such that the extension work site becomes an engineer's siding for the duration of the construction work. Please note that due to the nature of the work in hand, the trackbed is classed as a construction site and is out of bounds to visitors and society members alike.
LBSCR building from Hove planned for Sheffield Park entrance
A former LBSC booking office from Hove Station, located on the Up side at bottom of footbridge (Photo, right), had been offered to railway free of change and transportation costs. The plan is to locate it at Sheffield Park for use as an information office, and a planning application for this, and other remodelling of the station entrance has been lodged.
Unique reward offered for information on lost clocks
The two Victorian station clock faces and mechanisms were stolen from Horsted Keynes Station on Saturday 6th September. The railway is offering free tickets on the Golden Arrow Pullman dining train to anyone who provides information that leads to the recovery of the clocks.
The thieves removed the clock mechanisms and faces from their oak cases, which is strange as their value is considerably reduced by so doing. The clock faces and mechanisms are stamped with the numbers 166B and 652B. Anyone with information should contact the Sussex Police on 0845 60 70 999 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Clock 652B was supplied new to Horsted Keynes station by
Grimshaw and Baxter in 1889 at a cost of £12. The clock face that was
was stolen is not the original.
Gearing up for Giants of Steam Gala
Nick Beck's photo shows the temporarilly re-named "Blackmore Vale".
To commemorate the birthday of the locomotive's designer, the Bulleid Society has renamed 21C123 as "O.V.S. Bulleid", who was born on 19th September 1882. This name will be carried by the locomotive each year from 19th September until the end of October.
In 1963, the Assistant Works Manager at Eastleigh chose 34023 "Blackmoor Vale" when he paid his own tribute to the Southern's last CME. He attached a wooden pattern West Country nameplate "O.V. Bulleid" to one side to make a photographic record.
Further details of the Giants of Steam event, featuring visiting engine "Green Arrow", to be held over the weekend of October 25 - 26 are to be found here
Dukedog set to return on 1st November
GWR 4-4-0 locomotive No.9017 will be launched back into public service after its long-running overhaul over the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of November. A ceremony will take place at Horsted Keynes during the morning on the Saturday. After briefly hauling the Golden Arrow Pullman train it will spend the rest of the weekend on public service trains, hauling the 1pm, 3pm and 4.47 departures from Sheffield Park.
The loco is likely to be a popular choice on our Vintage Branch-line trains, which feature on more days in the 2004 timetable then they have done previously.
New shop well under way at Sheffield Park
This photo shows the progress with foundations for the new shop at Sheffield Park. As planned, work stopped for the summer to limit the disruption for our visitors. It is planned to take the opportunity of the opening of the new shop, along with the possibility of a shop opening to give the Bluebell a public face in East Grinstead, to consider the future organisation and staffing of the shop.
Bluebell Railway Gift Vouchers now on offer
We have found over the years that people often ask if they can buy tickets or membership for someone else as a present, so we have now introduced Bluebell Railway gift vouchers.
They are available in £5 denominations, and can be used in the shop, for Pullman bookings, in the buffet, for membership subscriptions or for travel tickets.
They are available from all Bluebell Railway Booking Offices or by telephone/post
Telephone 01825 720813
Santa Specials nearly upon us
October 1st sees the start of the booking period for the Bluebell's Santa Special operation. It follows a tried and tested format of a pre-booked seat with drinks, mince pies, and Santa (bringing presents for the children) all coming to your seat on the train. This year for the first time the Bluebell is to run three Santa special trains (in the past we have had only one or two trains running each day) in order to meet the ever growing demand for this popular Christmas treat.
Booking forms are available along with full details on the Santa Special web page.
Three significant events have ocurred in the last couple of months. Firstly, our midweek volunteer team have added the wheels, springs and axle boxes to the almost completely new timber underframe for the LBSCR Box Van, as seen in this photo, left.
Secondly, largely the same team have been responsible for the recovery of the body of London Chatham and Dover brake second No.51, as seen on the right, in this photo from Malcolm Saker. There is a complete web page covering details of the carriage and its recovery.
During the Carriage and Wagon working week, the seats and other items stored in 1924-rebuilt SER/SECR/SR carriage 5546 (often known by its later number, as No.1050) were removed to new homes. This revealed a carriage in really quite good condition, and, we hope, capable of a fairly rapid overhaul. This project will follow on from the last of the four Metropolitan carriages, which the BASH team hope will be completed in the spring.
Horsted Keynes Platform 1/2
The second section of the building under the new canopy is coming on well, with some windows glazed, and external timbers painted to topcoat. The Society Trustees have agreed that the third section of the building will be completed as originally planned, even though the railway has, since the construction of the canopy, found the large covered area beneath it to be very useful on some special event days. Hopefully the building will in turn be recognised as even more useful! The northern section of the building, which has been completed, is now used to mount photographic exhibitions, and these are well worth looking at when you visit the station.
The preserved B17 Flying Fortress "Sally B" will carry the name "Bluebell Railway" on its 'roll of honour' panel for a 2 year period as a result of a generous offer from a Society Member.
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Compiled by Richard Salmon.