This document defines the objectives, and details the aims and structure plan which the Society, and its Trustees, aspire to implement in the future development of the Bluebell Railway [The Railway]. It extends over the short (5 year), medium (10 year), and long (25 year) term.
This document contains a number of changes from previous versions and should be seen in the context of over 50 years of continuous development at the forefront of the Heritage Railway movement, and lays the foundations for the next 50 years of preservation, to take us to our centenary.
It provides a framework within which the Society Trustees exercise their powers to set overall policy for The Railway. Specifically it assists the Bluebell Railway PLC to develop its business plan so as to reflect the aims and objectives of the Society.
The Society Trustees will report on progress against the Plan at each Annual General Meeting of the Society and will next review the Plan in 2018.
It should be noted that the aims outlined in this document are not set out in any order of priority other than trying to identify short term targets. It is also important to emphasise that the aims and aspirations are just that, and that funding and outside influences could affect the future and the timing of projects that could be either advanced or delayed. An added emphasis has now been placed on care and maintenance, to ensure that which we have preserved is kept in good order, and which should naturally take precedence over new works as well as the preservation and reinstatement of the traditional environment.
It is evident that after 50 years collecting artefacts, that the Railway is in the fortunate position where some areas are "full". It is now time to take stock of our collections to decide whether we need to expand the Railway to house an ever increasing catalogue, or to reduce the stock to take account of the physical constraints of the railway's infrastructure, or a combination of both.
2. Objectives of the BRPS
The primary objectives of the Society are laid down in the rules (as amended in 2008); they are further expanded below.
The principal objective of the Society, as laid down by our founders, is the preservation of, and operation of, the Railway between Sheffield Park, East Sussex, and East Grinstead, in the county of West Sussex and any future extensions.
The Railway also aims, by various means, to recreate the three main periods of our railway's history in the south, namely:
1. Pre Grouping - London Brighton & South Coast Railway (up to 1923).
2. Grouping - Southern Railway (1923 to 1948).
3. Nationalisation - British Railways, Southern Region (1948 to mid 1960s).
This is generally achieved by presentation of the infrastructure and built environment from the 1880s at the south, to the mid 1960s at the north of the line. The trains running on the line will be representative of these three periods where possible.
It is accepted that over the first 50 years of preservation, items once perceived as "new" are now recognised as valuable heritage. With this in mind The Railway will focus on the preservation of rolling stock and other artefacts that complement our collection, and that existed in the period up to the mid 1960s (consistent with the formation of our railway) but that will not detract from our "steam only passenger train" aims; "Floreat Vapour".
The achievement of these objectives is through:
- The preservation of historic locomotives, rolling stock, railway infrastructure, buildings, and other items of railway interest, all of which shall generally be appropriate to one or more of the periods we seek to preserve.
- The operation of the Railway in a traditional and commercial manner by the carriage of passengers and goods.
- Provision, subject to agreement, for the housing and operation of preserved locomotives, rolling stock, and other railway artefacts belonging to private individuals and other preservation bodies.
- The encouragement of interest in, and study and enjoyment of railway history and operation, and all subjects related thereto.
- The encouragement of the use of the Railway as an education tool for individuals, schools and colleges.
- The education and training, of the skills required to run and maintain the railway in a traditional and safe manner.
- The use of best conservation, archival and heritage engineering practice to ensure that the high standards that the Bluebell Railway has set are maintained and improved where possible.
- Consideration will be given to land purchases that will support the aims of the railway, and to allowing rail connection to the "Freshfield Lane" and "West Hoathly" brickworks sites should these be required and where a commercial benefit can be obtained
The Society is the policy setting body for the Railway as a whole, and the Trustees have a duty under the rules to exercise a watching brief over the corporate governance of the Society and Company.
In pursuance of this duty the Society Trustees will, from time to time, review the management structure of the Railway as a whole, and its performance, to ensure fitness for purpose, and that all areas of management conform to the objects of the Society.
The Trustees will explore the options for the protection of its rolling stock and collections by transfer of ownership to charitable bodies, or other appropriate means, whilst ensuring their future use on the Railway.
The Trustees will keep BRPS members fully informed of news from the Railway and planned activities, through the regular publication of "Bluebell News" as well as through other media.
In an ever changing world, ethical, environmental and social issues are becoming increasingly complex as well as important. The Society should embrace change but devise initiatives to improve our performance in showing respect for the environment.
We should demonstrate good working practices within our operation, such as the purchase of sustainable materials and products.
The Railway also recognises an obligation to respect the natural environment in which it operates, and in particular will continue to provide sympathetic consideration to the flora and fauna that occupies the lineside and adjacent land.
4. Staffing Aims (Applicable to all departments of the Railway)
The Railway values its people as the most vital ingredient in its continued success, and development. It is recognised that since its formation, the Railway (in line with the heritage sector in general) has experienced a gradual wastage of the skill base that is required to ensure its long term survival. To arrest this trend, particular attention needs to be placed on volunteer recruitment, retention, and skill training and to support this; the aim will be to focus on the following key requirements:
Provision of welfare facilities to the highest standard.
Provision of overnight sleeping accommodation for volunteers, in the form of a hostel, together with overnight parking for working members.
Continuation and expansion of existing training initiatives, taking into account the existing skills of volunteers and the work undertaken. Consideration will be given to the development of training facilities. Priority will be given to those who undertake safety critical work and this will be achieved by a process of national accredited awards assessed against Rail Academy and best practice standards which have been adapted for heritage railway applications. Retention of, and expansion of, the skill base is essential for the Railway's future requirements.
5. Infrastructure Aims
The core aims of the Infrastructure Department and its constituents will be to maintain and develop the infrastructure of the Railway in accordance with the Society's aims.
Encouragement will be given to existing and new groups to maintain the lineside environment and the permanent way. (This will include the land for future extensions)
The line has a number of important architectural structures (specifically our viaduct, tunnel portals and over-bridges) but also some lesser ones such as gangers' huts and "dog kennel" location cabinets which all add to the heritage atmosphere of the Railway. Preservation, retention and repair for display of these should be given priority.
To safeguard these important areas the priority will be to maintain, and reinstate as appropriate, the historic fabric and heritage atmosphere of the Railway, and to support this aim each station shall have a "protected zone" within which no new structure shall be erected, or any modification to the existing infrastructure shall be made, without the agreement of the Preservation Standards sub-committee - see section 6 below.
All signage, notices and other artefacts within the zones are to be appropriate to the period.
Car parking capacity is generally inadequate (and weather dependant) at our stations; improvements will be made as resources and opportunities become available. Plans will be investigated for the provision of playgrounds for small children, near the car park areas.
Sheffield Park will remain in LB&SCR 1880s appearance and all works done will be sympathetic to that period. It will remain the headquarters of the Railway and the home of the Locomotive Department. All locomotive restoration and maintenance will be based at Sheffield Park.
In addition to a regular and thorough maintenance programme, the following projects are proposed for Sheffield Park:
Reinstatement of the canopy on platform 1 from the barrier to the gentlemen's toilet and provision of an additional disabled toilet (including a refurbishment of the brick fašade and platform sub structure) Eventual removal of all exposed pipes, cables and trunking and the removal of Southern and British Railways' features when opportunities arise will be an objective to regain a faithful LB&SCR appearance.
Construction of canopies over the front of the shop and buffet will enhance the comfort of our visitors.
To improve accessibility and construct an interpretation area within the locomotive running shed, and improved lighting within the shed with modern luminaries in period style fittings.
To continue improving the appearance of the station by achieving a uniform period style for platform surfacing and fencing.
Re-construction of the original LB&SCR footbridge to improve the visitor experience and to provide an all-weather crossing that will assist visitor circulation on busy days.
Construction of a Museum Archive and Research Centre building in LB&SCR style.
Re-styling the pedestrian approach to the station to revert to the 1880s period, but fit for future uses, by use of appropriate materials, infrastructure, and paint finishes.
To replace the signal box at Sheffield Park with a new building of the LB&CSR / Saxby & Farmer appearance, embodying a mechanical lever frame, with a sympathetically styled relay room and to re-signal the station with period appearance equipment, maximising the use of mechanical outdoor equipment where possible.
Extension of the platforms northward to allow longer trains.
To provide modern, high capacity, toilet facilities, with a heritage exterior appearance, for our passengers and visitors on the Down side or adjacent to the approach road.
To plan for the provision of dedicated machine and boiler shops for the locomotive works.
To replace the cladding on the existing machine shop and locomotive works.
To install weather proof doors on the running shed to complete the building.
Horsted Keynes will remain in Southern Railway mid 1930s appearance and all works done will be sympathetic to that period. It will remain the location for the Carriage and Wagon, Permanent Way, and Signalling & Telecom's departments. All carriage and wagon restoration and maintenance will be based at Horsted Keynes.
In addition to a regular and thorough maintenance programme, the following projects are proposed for Horsted Keynes:
Replacement of the roofing on the platform canopies in a like for like style, and refurbish the canopy support structures and improve the drainage.
Extend the undercover storage of carriages under "Operation Undercover" phase 4 on the east side of the site.
Explore the scope to construct a "Large Exhibits" exhibition hall for the storage and display of out of service locomotives and rolling stock under "Operation Undercover" phase 5 on the west side of the site.
Reinstatement of water supply facilities for locomotives, with re-activation of one or more platform water columns.
Construction of a turning facility for locomotives and carriages.
Restoration of the fabric and structure of the pump house and investigate reinstatement of the water tank.
Investigate installation of a demonstration steam powered water pumping system, and provide lighting and viewing facilities in the deep well, as a visitor attraction.
Provision of modern, high capacity, toilet facilities, with a heritage exterior, for our passengers and visitors arriving at the station.
The West Hoathly site will be reserved for an LB&SCR style station and buildings, presented in a 1940s Southern Railway appearance. Consideration will be given to establishing an initial "halt" to enable exploration of the commercial value of a full station, prior to major construction. The style of any new station should be sympathetic to the architectural appearance of other Bluebell stations.
The site could provide the opportunity to offer the local community a focal point, or a community facility, within the station complex, following consultation with residents on their requirements.
Kingscote will be presented as a typical British Railways Southern Region country station of the mid 1950s.
Consideration should be given to land acquisition in the area to allow expansion of the site to its historic boundaries to further the aims of the Society.
In addition to the ongoing maintenance programme, the following projects are proposed for Kingscote:
Resurface the forecourt in period style and improve drainage to give protection from flash flooding.
To establish, under the Museum Management Committee, a representative "Goods Yard" display in the yard with ancillary items on display in the goods shed and other suitable buildings, and with preserved wagons in the dock roads.
Re-erection of the restored SR loading gauge at the entrance to the yard.
Re-erection of an operational yard crane for demonstration purposes.
East Grinstead will be presented as a British Railways Southern Region station set in the early 1960s. This will be done in association with the national network operators and the East Grinstead town council.
The following projects are proposed for East Grinstead:
Provision of new covered passenger and staff accommodation with an external design typical from the Railway's history, presented in a suitable 1960s appearance. The requirements for which will be determined in the light of operating experience.
To support the East Grinstead Town Council with enhancements to the area to the benefit of our railway, and the town.
To initiate a regular maintenance programme for the site and any structures that will be built.
Following a period of consolidation and maintenance:-
In the medium to long term, the Railway has the opportunity to extend to Ardingly (and possibly beyond to the national network to the south west).
In the long term and beyond, the Railway may consider subsequent extension southwards to the county town of Lewes via Newick & Chailey and Barcombe.
Continue enabling works for the re-construction of the line from Horsted Keynes to Haywards Heath as finance and opportunities arise.
Maintain the drainage, fences, structures and trackbed to prevent further deterioration, and to perform an annual check of the boundary of our land, so as to prevent encroachment onto our land by third parties.
To encourage volunteer groups to maintain the trackside in a condition that will ease surveying, arrest deterioration, and help the eventual re-laying of the track.
Maintain a watching brief over proposed developments that might either compromise, or assist re-opening of the branch.
To make representations to the appropriate authorities to protect the right of way of the track bed, as and when necessary.
To challenge development that will compromise the possibility of the re-instatement of the line southwards.
6. Preservation Standards.
In order to support the aims and objectives of the Society, the Trustees will implement mandatory guidance on:
Colour schemes and painting specifications for buildings and structures.
The principal objective is to give guidance to staff and contractors on how the Railway is to be presented in order to give a consistent appearance to our visitors, to meet the Society objectives and assist the Bluebell Railway PLC in project delivery.
Materials and finishes to be used about the railway.
Uniforms for operating staff.
7. Departmental Aims
The core aims of the locomotive department are:
To provide working locomotives to satisfy the Railway's operating, commercial and heritage requirements.
To provide and maintain sufficient locomotives in sufficient numbers, incorporating an appropriate mix of types and sizes to enable authentic train operation, and to support departmental requirements for shunting. The aim is to maintain in service approximately 12 locomotives with the minimum in each category as follows:
Five "large" locomotives (class 3 and above) - ideally:
To provide the facility for suitable privately-owned locomotives to be based at, and operate on, the Railway, and to provide the facility for other locomotives of special interest to be based at the Railway.
One very large loco, WC, BB, or 9F.
The remainder class 3 to 5.
Ideally at least one to be a tank locomotive.
Four "Medium" locomotives (class 1 & 2) - ideally including at least one of these types:
Four-coupled passenger locomotive.
Six-coupled mixed-traffic locomotive.
Two "small" passenger locomotives (class 0)
One dedicated locomotive for C&W yard use.
To construct replicas of locomotives which are particularly appropriate to the collection, and to the operation of the Railway.
To provide and maintain other appropriate locomotive items for display, eg. a steam engineering/ breakdown crane and heavy lifting equipment.
To provide the opportunity for volunteer staff to restore, for operational use, locomotives which comply with the aims of the department and the Railway.
To provide secure covered accommodation for all locomotives.
To provide and maintain other locomotives of special interest.
To enhance the works and yard facilities to assist the repair and maintenance of locomotives.
To provide training, including apprenticeships, to ensure that the works maintains the skills necessary to undertake this work.
To provide facilities, where possible, for visitors to view the Department's work, and to view as many of the fleet as possible.
To permit the hire of locomotives to other approved heritage operators, where this is in the Railway's interest.
To plan, in conjunction with the carriage and wagon department and operating department for the best matching of locomotives and rolling stock.
Carriage & Wagon Department.
The core aims of the C&W department are:
To provide operating carriages to satisfy the Railway's operating, commercial and heritage requirements.
To provide and maintain appropriate sets of coaches in sufficient numbers, incorporating an appropriate mix of 1st and 3rd class provision, together with disabled friendly, and catering vehicles, to enable authentic and profitable train operation.
Whilst acknowledging that sets that include a mixture of types such as Bulleid and Mark 1 are both prototypical and inevitable, the aim is to create the following representative passenger carriage sets, for each of which a strategy document will specify the detailed policy:
BR Standard Mark 1 Steam Stock.
Southern Railway non-corridor stock of pre-grouping origin.
Metropolitan Railway "Ashbury" stock.
LB&SCR stock from the Stroudley and Craven eras.
SECR non-bogie stock from the LCDR and SER companies.
LSWR mixed types of vehicles as are available.
SECR "Birdcage" set.
All-Pullman train of 1920s and 1950s cars.
A train of mainly BR Mk1 specifically for catering purposes.
A train of vans.
To provide and maintain special saloons and other vehicles of special interest and in operational use, as are available, such as the observation car, directors' saloons, passenger- rated vans, and including a specimen engineers' mess & tool van. If suitable vehicles can be identified and obtained, a Southern "Pull-Push" set should be formed to demonstrate this type of carriage set.
To provide the facility for access by wheelchair users on all principal trains, and secure additional suitable vehicles for conversion as become available.
To provide the facility for suitable privately-owned vehicles to be based at, and to operate on, the Railway.
To provide and maintain operational sets of goods vehicles in sufficient numbers, incorporating an appropriate mix of provision to support the Infrastructure Dep't work, and to enable authentic heritage goods train operation.
The aim is to create the following representative goods vehicle sets, for each of which a strategy document will specify the detailed policy:
Goods brake vans, some vacuum-fitted.
Engineers' vehicles for service purposes.
Pre-grouping goods vehicles.
Grouping-era goods vehicles.
BR-era goods vehicles.
To maintain, for operation, hand crane 1748S.
To provide training, including apprenticeships, to ensure that the works maintains and develops the skills necessary to undertake its work.
To provide the opportunity for volunteer staff to be trained, and to restore, for operational use, carriages and wagons which comply with the aims of the department and the Railway.
To restore the "Brighton Directors Saloon" to original condition.
To continue to seek out, for preservation, any carriage, carriage body, components, or goods vehicle bodies to augment the incomplete carriage sets as defined in the relevant strategy documents.
To provide a facility for conserving historic vehicles relevant to the Railway to be preserved as exhibits, with the opportunity to construct operating replicas of such vehicles where this fits with the aims.
To plan, in conjunction with the locomotive works and the operating department for the best matching trains of locomotives and rolling stock.
To provide facilities where possible for visitors to view the department's work.
To review the rolling stock fleet in each plan period to provide a record
of assets and their condition.
To provide an improved carriage washing facility under the direct supervision of the department, to remove the necessity of carriage washing in station platforms.
Signal and Telecommunications Department
It is recognised that the safety critical nature of signalling shall remain of paramount importance. However, the preservation, operation, and demonstration of the historic systems used on the railway during its lifetime is the aim of the Society.
The S&T department will aim:
To maintain the signalling and telecommunications systems so that operational performance of the Railway can be maximised.
To complete the re-signalling of Horsted Keynes, retaining as much mechanical equipment as possible from the SR period.
To complete the signalling of Kingscote and the extension to East Grinstead with equipment typical of the 1950s and 60s.
To establish workshop and storage facilities in permanent buildings so allowing a number of vans to be released for restoration and use in traffic.
To provide internal departmental training of this safety critical work, to ensure the skill and knowledge base is maintained for the future operation of the Railway.
To replace the signal box at Sheffield Park with a new building of the LB&CSR / Saxby & Farmer appearance and to re-signal the station with period appearance equipment.
Permanent Way Department.
It is recognised that sections of the permanent way of the line are nearing life expired condition. Within station limits and in public view, traditional materials will be used. In areas of the main line where the public do not have general access, modern materials will be acceptable; however continuous welding will be discouraged.
The permanent way department will aim:
To maintain the line so that passengers get the best ride possible and that there is no need to implement speed restrictions (except in emergency)
To carry out a major programme of renewals in those areas / cases where maintenance is no longer a cost effective option.
To install additional track-work, as required, for the continued development of the Railway.
To encourage the use of the line as a training facility for main line equipment suppliers and operators, where that will be of benefit to the Railway.
The infrastructure department will:
In conjunction with local groups at each station, develop and implement plans to maintain thoroughly and regularly, the fabric and buildings at every station on the line.
Consolidate the infrastructure department at a single site at Horsted Keynes.
Implement, or assist with, projects as indicated in the Infrastructure Aims (above)
With volunteer groups already established, continue to maintain the vegetation and natural environment of the line side, extensions, and peripheral estates in a traditional manner.
Museums and Archives.
The Museum Management Committee will aim:
To maintain accreditation status with the appropriate body, in a programme of the continual improvement of display, interpretation, care of, and access to the collections.
To provide a research centre to enable exploration of the collection. And to ensure that it is fully accessible by people of all ages and abilities. Construction of an accessible archive, research centre and artefact store is anticipated to enable this aim.
To assist other departments to illustrate their work, methods, history and development.
To develop links with other accredited museums to provide an inclusive knowledge base.
To liaise with government bodies, the National Railway Museum and the Science Museum to ensure appropriate items relevant to the Railway's history are noted and added to the collection.
To erect (with the assistance of others) a demonstration pole route of overhead telephone wires.
8. Planned and anticipated projects.
In addition to the day to day running of the Railway, and its maintenance, the following projects are listed as part of the physical and management development of our railway:
Planned projects scheduled for the 5 years to 2018.
Construction of the Carriage Shed extension at Horsted Keynes ("Operation Undercover" phase 4).
Re-construction of platform 1 at Horsted Keynes to operational condition.
Repair and re-construction of the canopy and building facade on platform 1 at Sheffield Park, to match platform 2.
Provision of a training school or facility.
Provision of a permanent overnight accommodation hostel at Sheffield Park.
Acquisition and installation of a locomotive turntable.
Development of the 4 wheel Victorian train sets.
Development of Kingscote goods yard as an interpretation centre of a country station.
Provision of an accessible research and archive building at Sheffield Park.
Detailed lists of the Locomotive and Carriage & Wagon departments' proposed projects will be found elsewhere.
Planned projects anticipated for the 10 year period to 2023.
Provision of a large exhibits museum hall for out of service stock and large museum exhibits. (Operation Undercover phase 5).
Re-building West Hoathly station complex.
Work toward the commencement of the extension westwards to Ardingly.
Commence construction of a replica LB&SCR "Craven era" locomotive.
Development of a historic "Craven era" carriage set.
Projects aspired to for the 25 year period to 2038.
Investigate the possible future electrification of the Ardingly branch.
Investigation of a southerly extension to Lewes via Newick and Chailey and Barcombe.
9. Completed projects for the period 2007 to 2013.
In addition to the operation of the railway and maintenance projects, considerable progress and development has occurred in this period; so only the larger projects that have been completed since the launch of the 2007 Plan are detailed below:
"Friends of Sheffield Park" group formed and maintenance of the Station re-commenced.
Completion of the restoration of platform 2.
Completion of the carriage storage and Pullman servicing building (The Woodpax project)
Completion of the new museum.
Re-erection of Withyham signal box.
Construction of the Above Workshop Facility.
Construction of new washout pit, drainage, & pipe work.
Upper car park completed for coach traffic.
Formation of the "events field"
Opening of the Memorial Garden.
Restoration of the station porch.
Preliminary planning and investigation works for "Operation Undercover Phase 4"
Erection and commissioning of north end signals.
A demonstration cattle dock pen erected
Re-laying the track work north of the platforms for through running.
Clearance of the goods yard.
Acquisition of a yard crane.
Construction of the station platform, track work for our terminus, and a main line connection.
Installation of temporary buildings and structures to provide staff and passenger accommodation.
Loco watering facilitity.
Excavation of the Imberhorne cutting, re-profiling the gradients, drainage, duct installation.
Restoration and waterproofing of Hill Place viaduct
Repair of occupation over bridge and cattle creeps.
Signalling and communication links.
Extension of the embankment toward Ardingly.
Protection of a route through the Ardingly stone depot
Reserved site claimed for a terminus at Haywards Heath.
Out shopping; 34059, B473, 323, 178, 263, 55, 592, 3.
Security fencing and improved safe walking routes
Carriage & Wagon works.
Formation of flat concrete base and carriage jacking facility.
Steam heating test plant, and dynamo and regulator test rigs.
Formation of interactive public viewing gallery.
Outshopping; 3064, 4824, 4941, 3363, 3360, 1336, 1520, 1674, 2526, 480222, 474558, 32975, SECR 567, 904134, Conversion of 32975 for Pullman use, Queen Mary brake.
Formation of the lounge car set
Acquisition of a Sentinel yard shunter.
Relaying of part of Freshfield bank.
Relaying Sharpthorne tunnel.
Sheffield Park down platform track re-laid
Signals and Telegraph.
Revised lever frame at Horsted Keynes commissioned.
Kingscote signalling extended to include East Grinstead working.
New signalling for Sheffield Park carriage storage shed.
Acquisition of 4VEP "Gordon Pettitt".
Formation of the "Fund raising committee"
Action on-going to protect our interest in the Ardingly and Haywards Heath extension.
Bluebell News changed to A4 format.
Celebration of our 50th anniversary.
Agreed at the AGM of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society
18 May 2013