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News From the Bluebell Railway
Archive - July to September 2003

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 26th July 2003

USA tank and uniformed staff and visitors 2003 is looking like a good year, so far, with ordinary ticket revenue 10% up compared to the first half of last year. Work is now well under way on the new shop at Sheffield Park, and Locomotive Sharpthorn has been re-railed, and will be displayed (possibly along with the newly re-painted Yankee Tank) in Platform 1 at Horsted, where it may be possible to provide footplate access.

The photo on the right, thanks to Jon Bowers, shows the repainted War Department "USA" shunter at the recent 1940s' weekend.
The "Don't Mention the War" event, as it became known around the railway, was a fantastic success. Photos a-plenty elsewhere on the web site from Jon Horrocks and Jon Bowers.

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!

Thomas at Sheffield Park Thomas and young visitors at Kingscote

"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.
Photos: Left Thomas runs round to take the 6:00 pm `Thomas' Bedtime Train on 20th June 2003 (Les Anstey)
Right Young visitors admire Thomas and the Standard Tank at Kingscote (David Harp).

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"

GWR Dukedog No.3217 has passed its steam test, and is rapidly coming back together. There is talk of whether the most appropriate launch event for the loco might be Branch-line weekend next year.

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.

Birch Grove arrives on the ferry "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.

The pages for the Carriage & Wagon Works News with Photos have been updated recently, and include much more detail on this topic.

Pullman Car 54 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 track bed is being prepared northwards from Kingscote for track laying. Ballast has been arriving in large quantities, and is stockpiled at Horsted Keynes, West Hoathly, and Kingscote. The S&T have been progressing with trenches for signals, and Kingscote gang have done more fencing. The following photos from Jon Bowers summarise recent progress north of Kingscote.

North from buffer stops Round the curve at Turners Road Bridge North towards the tip South from the top of the cutting

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;
2. Looking North round the curve at Turners Hill Road Bridge, where we only own half the width of the double-track formation;
3. Looking towards the tip from the cattle-creep. This might become an occupation/farm crossing, although it may not actually be required in the longer term;
4. Looking south from the top of the cutting, roughly at the site of the former trout farm dam. Ash Lea farm is just out of site on the right.

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.

Resolutions at the forthcoming Bluebell Railway plc AGM should put in place the structure required for us to become formally a "Not for profit" organisation, and so clear the way for applying for Heritage Lottery Fund grants for many projects, starting with the Woodpax building.

Brian Wilkie
Brian, who was to a large extent the driving force behind setting up a pattern shop at SP, passed away recently. He made the wheel pattern for Fenchurch and (with help from others) the pattern for the new Terrier cylinders. We now have two cylinder castings for one side and the pattern has been changed to make the other side and gone back to the foundry. Our condolences to his family.

Return to Bluebell Railway Home Page,
or to Mark Dewell's UK Heritage Railways or the Heritage Railway Association
See also Operation Undercover News, Extension Progress, C&W Works News, Lewis Nodes' Loco Works News Photos and News from the Maunsell Locomotive Society.
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Doncaster Report - 31st July 2003

GNR loco and coaches The "Plant 150" weekend at Wabtec's Doncaster workshops featured many Doncaster built locos and carriages. The photo right (thanks to Tim Baker) shows GNR Loco No.1 from the NRM heading a train of GNR and ECJS carriages. The 1897-built GNR Directors' Saloon from the Bluebell Railway is the carriage immedately behind the engine.

Green Arrow 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 at Ropley Hot news:
"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!

This follows a two-month stay on the Isle of Wight steam railway. Two photographic reports are available: 4th August and 1st September on the Isle of Wight web site.

Track Laying North of Kingscote
newly laid track on extension 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
LBSCR building at Hove 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

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
21C123 as OVSBulleid 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
Foundations going in 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 from:
    Caroline Collins
    Customer Services, The General Office
    Sheffield Park Station
    East Sussex TN22 3QL

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.

Carriage News
Box Van Underframe 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.

LCDR Coach body 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.

SECR Composite 5546 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.

Flying Bluebell
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.

splash The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
Return to BRPS Home Page, to the Timetable or to Special Events
News from the Bluebell Archives:
2006: Jan-Dec
2005: Jan-June, July-Dec
2004: Jan-April, May-July, Aug-Dec
2003: Jan-March, April-June, July-Sept, Oct-Dec
2002: Jan-March, April-June, July-Sept, Oct-Dec
2001: Jan-March, April-July, Aug-Dec
2000: Jan-April, May-Aug, Sept-Dec
1999: Jan-April, May-Aug, Sept-Dec
1998: Jan-June, July-Dec
1997: Jan-June, July-Dec
1996: Jan-July, Aug-Dec
1995: June-Dec

Other archives of online news and newsletters:

Bluebell Times (March 2020 - Present) on the Bluebell's main site

Archive of e-Newsletters (November 2011-August 2020) maintained by the Bluebell's Museum and Archive team.

Archive of "What's New/Blog" (1997 - Present) on this server

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