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The Bluebell Railway's Extension:
Latest Progress towards East Grinstead

Archive 4 (2003)

Extension Project archives: 2012 through to re-opening - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2008 - 2006-7 - 2004-5 - 2003 - 2002 - April - Dec 2001 - Oct 2000 - Feb 2001 - April 2000

Latest News page

November 2003

Gate across extension A gate has been installed across the extension, to mark the limit of the headshunt and the start of the construction site (as seen in the photo taken, in pouring rain, by Dave Bowles). The track laid by the Friends of Kingscote team has now been fettled into shape by the Bluebell's volunteer P-way gang.

North of the tip the extension gang have completed the removal of undergrowth from around, on and out of the sides of the bridge at the north end of the tip. This is one of the largest over-bridges on the line! The photos below from Dave Clarke show the "before" and the final "after" view.

Before clearance north of tip After clearance north of tip

Track Gang - Barry Coward The Mayor of East Grinstead laid a panel of track over the East Grinstead - Turners Hill road bridge at the end of October, as a symbol of our determination to reach East Grinstead. Cllr Beverly Heasman is seen here joining the track gang in their work. More photos available from Barry Coward.

August - September 2003

underbridge on extension In September we had a visit from p-way volunteers from the Mid Hants Railway. This photo from Nick Beck shows them, with the Bluebell's P-way gang, taking a break to walk up the trackbed to survey the work done in preparing the trackbed for tracklaying North of Kingscote. This is a farm occupation bridge under the track. (Please note that the extension is a work-site, and is not open for the public or members, except with specific permission and under strict supervision).

During July and August the Northern Extension gang have continued to concentrate on clearance of the trackside between the viaduct and tip. Progress has slowed as we have approached the northern extremity of the tip as the banks become quite steep and the hot weather has not helped the volunteers either. The trackbed along this stretch has been sprayed with weedkiller in an attempt to slow the rapid growth which has resulted from the exceptionally warm weather.

The photos below from Dave Clarke show the "before" and "during work" views southwards towards the north end of the tip.

Before clearance north of tip during clearance north of tip

Survey of viaduct fill Apart from the clearance work some initial surveying work has been performed on the viaduct to determine the most economic method of draining rainwater from it. The evidence shows that the depth of fill increases gradually towards the southern arches. Here the fill comprises a layer of bitumen waterproofing, sand blinding, crushed brick, Brighton ballast contaminated with water borne particles and finally ballast. The results of the survey have not yet been completely analysed. The photo right shows the survey in progress.

In the meantime the Friends of Kingscote (FoK) have started tracklaying north from Kingscote. The following is their report on their activities:

We were given the task of preparing the trackbed and installing all the required infrastructure to enable track to be laid from Kingscote up to the south end of the tip.

FoK began work on 1/2/03 and so far we have: -

  • Cleared the trackbed and top of embankments to Ash Lea Farm of all intruding trees and vegetation including removal of all tree stumps.
  • Erected wooden barred fencing at foot of embankment of land acquired late last year immediately north and east of buffer stop
  • Erected chain linked fencing on concrete posts strung with wire along the whole length of the two sections where we only have single width trackbed
  • Dug out trenches from the hand operated run round point to the end of the second narrow section, inserted some 2,400 yards length of 4" diameter heavy duty plastic pipes (each with a draw rope inserted) and refilled the trenches to provide ducting for the signalling and telephone needs
  • Constructed 5 of the 10 manholes needed
  • Cleared deposited farm waste, reprofiled the cutting adjacent to Ash Lea Farm and scraped all of the trackbed back to the original up to Hazleden Farm crossing
  • Excavated and repaired a slippage on a narrow part of the embankment using the Geotex method
  • Similarly repaired a slip by a bridge (cattle creep) close to the tip
  • Surveyed the whole section and pegged out the track alignment and erected sighting boards to determine ground and ballast levels
  • Dug ditches on both sides of the cutting which includes the former lake and put in suitable drainage under and alongside the trackbed
  • Removed the buffer stop (permanently) and lifted the last two panels of rails (on 3 September)
  • Lowered the ground around 8" and replaced the panels on fresh ballast
  • Installed a catch point on the site of the old buffer stop and laid two panels of new track.
  • Ballasted trackbed at required level to lay at least two more panels.
Construction of the remaining manholes continues and further track will be laid as and when materials are provided.

newly laid track on extension This work has been carried out by FoK volunteers with help from contractors working under our direction where heavy plant and earth moving equipment is essential. Overall we work under the instruction of Chris White the Civil Engineering and FoK Trustee and all costs are agreed with him.

As can be seen in the photo on the right from Nick Beck, the tracklaying has progressed further since Eddie Fairman wrote the above report.

10 June 2003

Work continues with the clearance of vegetation between Hill Place viaduct and the north end of the tip and it is pleasing that a few new faces have joined the regulars. Discussions have taken place regarding the remaining remedial work to be carried out on the viaduct, however, before plans can be completed for the drainage the levels of the crowns of the arches must be checked to establish if they are of equal height. Once this has been done then a detailed plan can be prepared.

These pictures show the progress that has been made around Hill Place Farm, between the tip and the viaduct.

Clearance at Hill Place Farm, looking North Clearance at Hill Place Farm, looking South

7 April 2003

The Extension Team have now arrived at East Grinstead! Initial work has been to tidy up the compound that we previously occupied adjacent to Sainsbury's car park. Accumulated rubbish that has been dumped over the fence, waste from the building work on the viaduct and scrap track material will be removed by skip.

On Saturday 5th April we commenced clearance of the banks surrounding the cattle creep immediately south of the viaduct (see photographs). This will enable a full survey of required remedial work to the brickwork to be carried out. It is good to report that we have seen an increase in numbers both from new volunteers and past Team members - we would welcome even more help if you are interested.

Cattle creep immediately south of the viaduct After first day of scrub clearance

27 March 2003

The Extension Team have now completed their current work south of Imberhorne tip. Once the trackbed on this section has been completely scraped level up to the tip we will return to complete drainage work and make good one or two minor slips.

Meanwhile the Bluebell Railway Board has requested us to complete outstanding work north of the tip. This includes completion of remaining remedial work on the viaduct, repairs to a cattle creep and culvert, drainage work and lineside clearance of coppicing etc. that has grown since we last worked on this section. Once we have completed this work it will be ready for track to be laid.

If you would like to become involved in this work please contact Nigel Longdon -

The following news relates to the track-laying activities on the Extension being undertaken by the Friends of Kingscote, and is from a General Press Notice of 13th March.

Following the completion of preparatory works north of Kingscote Station (the current terminus of the Bluebell Railway), some 320 yards of track will be laid during the next five weeks. These tracks will bring the Bluebell over the Turners Hill Road Bridge. Motorists are asked not to take their eyes off the road at this point! This will bring the Bluebell Railway closer to its objective of reaching East Grinstead.

However Imberhorne cutting which was used as a landfill site in the sixties and early seventies remains an obstruction. Consultants have been engaged to offer the railway advice on the tip which will have to be moved before rails reach East Grinstead. Nicholas Pryor, Bluebell's Funding Director said "Test bores have shown the tip is inert, nothing toxic. There is about 300,000 tons of hardcore and other waste and could cost between four to five million pounds to remove".

Bluebell's Chairman Roy Watts added "The good news is that the top 8 feet of the tip is clay capping that can by recycled."

11 February 2003

Looking South from Imberhorne Cutting The picture shows the progress that the team have made at Imberhorne cutting. It was taken last Saturday from the Imberhorne Cutting tip looking South and shows the long straight stretch from Ash Lea Farm. By the end of the day the brushwood in the foreground had been cleared. We will continue working south toward Kingscote as the weather permits.

The following is adapted from a Bluebell Railway press notice, and is included here for completeness:

Following the Rail Regulator's refusal on 20 December to give consent to Railtrack for this disposal to Sainsbury's of land at East Grinstead earmarked for the Bluebell Railway, a meeting has been called to bring together all the parties interested in the site (local authorities, Railtrack, J. Sainsbury, Bluebell Railway and South Central Trains), to discuss the way forward.

The Bluebell Railway had in the words of the Rail Regulator:

"a clear and feasible plan with statements as to how funding is to be secured" which would protect the future enlargement of the railway network.
The Rail regulator also observed that "future growth of passenger capacity on the rail network would be reduced by frustrating the completion of the Bluebell Railway extension, particularly with regard to the creation of an improved multi-modal interchange system. "

It is interesting to note that the wider implications of joining the Bluebell Railway to the national network was spelt out in the Strategic Rail Authority's (SRA) objection to the proposed sale of land by Railtrack to J. Sainsbury. The SRA stated that it was aware that Bluebell Railway has a requirement for the land as it provides the only means of connecting its line to East Grinstead station and the connection would create a new passenger interchange there. The SRA further stated that whilst it recognised that it has no responsibility for the Bluebell Railway (being a heritage railway), the creation of a new interchange would bring benefits to the South Central franchise, through the increased traffic to and from London. The SRA's view was supported by submissions by train operators.

Clearly the Bluebell Railway has support from the Rail industry for its extension to East Grinstead.

20 January 2003

Looking North from Hazelden During the past seven weeks work has continued in clearing scrub from the banks of the cutting just south of the bridge at Imberhorn Lane, the results being shown in the picture. Work on the west bank is nearing completion and that on the east bank is about fifty percent complete. Once work in this area is finished we will move south continuing to clear the fresh vegetation until the weather improves sufficiently to enable us to recommence using earth-moving equipment.

Meanwhile the £175,000 contract to repair the parapet and outside walls of the viaduct just to the south of East Grinstead has now been completed. The next stage of work on the viaduct will be to undertake repairs to the inner walls and the re-waterproofing of the deck, work which can be done in-house by volunteers.

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