The Friends of Kingscote (FoK) in its current form exists to maintain the Station and its environs in good order, representing the early 1950's British Railways era.
The Friends were formed in the late 1980s as a fund raising group, enabling the restoration work started in 1985 to continue.
Whilst the rails were extended northwards in stages, prolonged hard work at the station had advanced restoration sufficiently to receive the first engineers train on 19 March 1994. The station then became the temporary terminus of the Bluebell Railway, whilst the Friends carried on their work to complete the second platform, canopy and signalbox.
Right: the quiet country station of Kingscote, June 2014 (Derek Hayward).
When the extension to East Grinstead opened in 2013, Kingscote reverted to the quiet country station it had always been, but with additional amenities and improvements.
The Friends now maintain two platforms with canopies and the usual facilities, a Goods Yard with two dock sidings, a picnic area with a kiosk serving summer refreshments, a kitchen garden, and flower beds along both platforms. In 2017, part of the picnic area was converted into a children's play area with swings and other features that have proved very popular.
Brian Lacey's photo on the left shows the E4 B473 between the canopies at Kingscote in September 2015.
Visitors are sometimes surprised to learn that maintaining Kingscote's appearance in the condition seen today keeps an average of 10 volunteer working members busy on a Tuesday, 4 on a Wednesday and 5 on Saturday, all year round. Those figures would ideally be greater.
Their activities continue to be funded by our supporters of which there are currently around 140. An informative 8 to 12 page annual newsletter explains what we accomplish with the members' £15pa subscription, and donations.
The FoK workforce consists of three teams, though volunteers will move between them according to priorities or diversity of interest.
- Fixtures and fittings: Constant upkeep, repairing and repainting of all the station buildings, sheds, fencing, paths etc
- Gardens: maintaining flower beds, forecourt, kitchen garden and grass cutting of the large lawn areas
- Lineside maintenance: scrub clearance, grass cutting, removing fallen trees, sundry infrastructure issues (responsible for 1½ miles of lineside north and south of the station)
Brian Lacey's photo on the right shows the H-class approaching Kingscote in August 2015, where 'Captain Baxter' is waiting to leave with the vintage goods train. Note the smartly presented linesides on this section, which are maintained by FoK volunteers.
We are delighted to welcome anybody either as a supporter or volunteer.
If you would like to join us for a taster day please just come to Kingscote on a Tuesday or Saturday at 9am and we can show you what we do. Alternatively for a wider introduction to volunteering on the Bluebell, join one of the Railway's "Find Out More" days. An ability to drink tea and/or consume cake is a considerable asset!
An application form to join the Friends of Kingscote is available to download/print out here.