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Early Days of the Bluebell Railway

Part Three

1962 saw the arrival of GWR "Dukedog" 4-4-0 number 9017, Earl of Berkeley, an interesting class of loco re-built from the frames of the older "Bulldog" class with "Duke" class boilers.

Dukedog "Earl of Berkeley" bearing earlier number of 3217

This loco had been on the Bluebell's "hit-list" but was, in the event, preserved privately by the efforts of the late Tom Gomm who brought it to the Bluebell causing Southern Region much consternation during its journey as they were none too sure that its outside cranks wouldn't remove a few platform coping stones along the way! In the event it arrived safely.

Next newcomer was the NLR 0-6-0T number 58850 which had, after it's days on the North London line ended, seen out the remainder of its BR career on the Cromford and High Peak lines. She had ended normal service in 1958 but was kept on at Rowsley before being withdrawn to Derby where BR helpfully kept her in a corner until the Bluebell could scrape together the purchase price of £750. Whilst in the works there the staff gave her a thorough overhaul, changed her boiler and cast new LNWR-style tankside numberplates - all in their spare time.

North London Tank No. 58850 bearing British Railways livery at Sheffield Park

During 1964 this loco earned good revenue for the Bluebell through being hired out to the contractors demolishing the line north to East Grinstead, a task that should soon be reversed as the final push from Kingscote to East Grinstead is now under way.

LBSCR "E4" Class number 473 Birch Grove also arrived and, for several years was the most powerful loco on the Bluebell (TE 19,175 lb. compared with the "Dukedog's" 18,955 lb.) and was another success for the "restore Brighton" campaigners.

Birch Grove LBSCR No.473 Birch Grove.

Birch Grove also worked on the demolition of the line North. She has recently come to the end of extensive repairs and returned to traffic for her centenary on 20th June 1998.

A Pullman car was still very high on the "wanted list" and negotiations were held with a sympathetic Pullman company but came to nought in the end. (What would they have thought then if they could have looked 35 years forward to see a rake of four in regular service?)

Then an SECR birdcage brake, number 1061, was acquired in need of considerable restoration work after a period in departmental use with BR.


SECR Birdcage Brake No.1061, with Fenchurch

Click here to move to part four

Return to Bluebell Home Page, to the Timetable or to Special Events
History of the Bluebell:- L&EGR - Early Days 1 - Early Days 2 - Early Days 3 - Early Days 4 - Kingscote Station - Fenchurch
Personal Recollections of the Bluebell Line: Daniel Wilson - Martin J.N. Payne - Martin Ternouth - Early Bluebell Days: Mike South
Biography: Frederick Hutchings - 50 years with the LBSCR, SR & BR
Track Layouts through the years: Horsted Keynes - West Hoathly - Kingscote. More to come later!
Map showing how the line relates to other railways in the locality.
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This page updated 6 September 2005 by Richard Salmon.
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