Report on Bluebell 125
Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 August 2007
We celebrated the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Bluebell Line, part of the original Lewes & East Grinstead Railway.
Click on any of the photos for an enlargement
Manning Wardle tank loco 'Sir Berkeley' visited the Bluebell (for one weekend only), thanks to our friends The Vintage Carriage Trust and The Middleton Railway. It is seen here in the company of our own, older, Manning Wardle, 'Sharpthorn', one of the engines that built the line (Above left: Chris Ward)
Richard Thomas' photo (above right) shows the Dukedog with the mixed train, led by our two Victorian 4-wheel carriages.
The newly restored (and not yet fully operational) SECR C-class No.592 (photo right from Nick Beck) was in light steam at Sheffield Park, as was 'Sir Berkeley' at Horsted Keynes. Unfortunately both 'Sir Berkeley' and Met.1 suffered from hot axle-boxes (that on Met.1 was a repeat occurrence, since the offending box had been removed and re-metalled during the week following its hot box the previous Sunday).
Both the C-class and the Met Tank were on display at Sheffield Park, and are seen below in Nick Beck's photo, lined up with the O1. Metropolitan Railway E-class 0-4-4T No.1 is based at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre and owned by the Quainton Railway Society, to whom many thanks for agreeing the loan. The failure of the 1898-built Met tank robbed us of the chance of running it with the Bluebell's recently restored set of
four Metropolitan Railway carriages (of 1898-1900), so the re-launch gala for the Met carriages 2 weeks earlier, subsequent photo charter, and its operation on 4-5 August had to suffice. A full report on the Metropolitan event is available here.
The schedule for the Saturday was upset from the start following delays caused by fog, compounded by one train being slightly too long for the track circuit to clear, then difficulty getting brakes off one coach. A blockage in the water feed between tank and crane at Sheffield Park finally put paid to the planned timetable, and with larger crowds than expected, we reverted to a simple "run the most frequent service possible using those locos which had water in their tenders" for the rest of the day - it was still a very fine show!
The U-class 2-6-0 was one of several locos to get a chance hauling the goods train. (Andrew Strongitham)
Derek Hayward's photo on the right is one of the few I've received featuring LBSCR 'Birch Grove' (as BR No.32473, leading the SECR O1).
Above: 'Eddystone' is seen hauling its train into Kingscote Station (Ashley Smith), and 80151 is nicely caught by Matt Allen, heading a Victorian train back down the line, with the GN Directors' Saloon leading.
Up in the field at Horsted Keynes, the traction engines and vintage cars were a major attraction (as seen in Derek Hayward's photos above and below).
The "open house" in the carriage works, with visitors able to examine LSWR brake 3rd No.1520, and talk to members of the restoration team was a well-received additional attraction. Richard Salmon's photo shows a trial fitting of the seating in the first compartment.
Another two of Derek's photos, illustrating the more agricultural of the vehicles on display, and the vintage RML bus used to supplement the 473 servce between Kingscote and East Grinstead.
A revised timetable was hastily devised for the Sunday, which worked very well, although the need to run the scheduled Golden Arrow luncheon train (photographed here by Derek Hayward) did lead to unfortunate overcrowding on the following passenger train.
The combination of planned workings and some less expected loco changes produced some great combinations. Bryan Benn's photo shows the SR U-class 1638 with the 7-coach Victorian train, seen above emerging from the tunnel at West Hoathly.
With the exception of the visiting engines with hot boxes, the cavalcade at Horsted saw all the planned Bluebell engines together (with only 80151 missing, as planned, since it was busy hauling a train) - photo right from Derek Hayward.
In addition to all the above, we also managed to fit in:
- Stationary engines
- Punch and Judy shows
- Walking tours to Lywood tunnel on the Ardingly branch
- Tours of the Carriage & Wagon workshops
- Tours of the Loco Shed and yard
- Saturday morning City Limited Pullman breakfast train
- Coach tours of the closed section of line, south from Sheffield Park
- An inspection by the Earl of Sheffield and Joseph Fairbank, 125 years after they built the line
The double-headed Bulleid Pacific finale ran after the cavalcade, and is seen below, north of Horsted Keynes, in Bryan Benn's photo.
Photos from Bluebell 125 Gala are available from:
Many thanks to all the photographers whose work is featured on this page, for permission to use the photos.
Videos from the event:
Right: Friday's Land Cruise with 'Sir Berkeley' from Chris Dadson.
Return to BRPS Home Page,
to the Timetable or to Special
Visitor Info. -
What's New -
Carriages & Wagons -
Why not become a BRPS Member? -
Get more involved as a Volunteer
Your ideal Film/TV location?
Copyright: Photos © by each individual photographer - my thanks to them all! Text © Richard Salmon
Last updated by Richard Salmon, 28 January 2008 and 11 July 2020