It is with sadness we record the passing (on 27 May 2019) of Douglas Harris, a true friend of the Bluebell who many members will know from Christmas and Steam Fair days when he could be found either outside Sheffield Park station with his vintage fairground ride or in one of the fields at Horsted Keynes.
For over 20 years, like a child, I always looked forward to the arrival of the fairground at the Bluebell. You knew Christmas had arrived when Dougie rolled up and every year we would spend time in his caravan discussing how the season had been both at the railway and on tour with Harris Brothers Fairground.
He always seemed delighted to see you and greeted you with a cheery smile, even when you met him away from the railway. Nothing was ever too much trouble for Dougie and he was always open minded to new ideas.
Dougie understood the importance of tradition and encouraged the younger members of the family, Sam and Harley, to get involved in developing our premium Victorian Christmas products, some of which continue today. The ability to see and understand the importance of teaching, passing on skills and encouraging the younger members to take an active lead is something many people fail to recognize.
Thanks to Douglas, the railways involvement with a Sussex institution, the Harris Family Fairground, will continue for many years and I am extremely grateful to him for his help and friendship for over 25 years.
Tim Baker (former Commercial Director)
His funeral was on Friday 21 June 2019 at Worthing Crematorium.
If you wish donations can be made to Diabetes UK or Fight for Sight (UK based charity for glaucoma).
The celebration of his amazing life included a substantial parade of vintage vehicles!
We are very sorry to report that we have only just found out that Peter Forrestier-Smith passed away two months ago. He had been moved from his care home to hospital. Whilst in the care home, he had been visited by some of his colleagues but he wasn't really aware of his surroundings, though he always talked enthusiastically about the Bluebell to the care home staff.
Based at Horsted Keynes, Peter was a very familiar sight around the railway, a dapper gentleman with a handlebar moustache, he was always smartly turned out with a flower in his buttonhole. He used to go through the train selling first day covers and railway stamps which he had produced, which would then be conveyed by our trains and stamped accordingly at the sending station. Latterly, he was an enthusiastic seller of Tenner for the Tip certificates, and also a member of Kingscote station staff.
We are very sorry to report the deaths of four Bluebell volunteers over the course of just a few days.
Alan Blackburn died on the morning of Wednesday 8 May 2019. Working on occasions at Horsted Keynes, most recently on the restoration of Southern Railway 20T engineers wagon No.62002, he also did some track design and work on an as-required basis, especially at Kingscote, but elsewhere as well. He was a professional railwayman, working latterly in the signalling engineers department at Croydon. His military career saw him at Longmoor Military Railway as a fireman. He was key to the setting up of the current IoW Steam Railway and was their chairman for a number of years. He was also a co-author of books on Southern wagons. His funeral was a private family affair, and there was a celebration of his life at the Woking Railway Sports Club on Weds 29 May.
John Griffith was a Station Master at Sheffield Park Station. He died peacefully at home on 5 May 2019. A funeral service of remembrance was held on
21 May at 2pm at St Martha's Catholic Church, Bexhill-on-Sea.
The photo on the left shows John Griffith on duty at Sheffield Park on 1 June 2013 (Derek Hayward).
Mike Gibbard was a former Volunteer Recruitment Officer and Travelling Ticket Inspector. Mike's funeral took place at Hailsham Cemetery on Wednesday 22 May 2019.
He is seen here in Colin Tyson's photo, whilst promoting the 'Tenner for the Tip' at Brighton Modelworld in 2009.
Lewis Norris was a stalwart of the Friends of Kingscote from its very early days through to 2004, and between roughly 1997 and 2011 worked in the Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes.
Paul writes: "My father, Lewis W Norris, was buried next to my mother Molly, formerly also a Bluebell life member, on the afternoon of 5 June 2019, at Sutton Cemetery.
In his later years Dad so enjoyed riding upon the trains. He was especially complimentary about the continued quality work carried out at Kingscote Station and its environs. Often tears would appear in his eyes, as he remembered such happy frenetic times preparing Kingscote for its opening in 1994. Lewis always had time to talk to visitors, being jovial and enjoying keeping the former Kingscote bus stop area tidy. He always waved to each train from Kingscote and from the Carriage shop at Horsted Keynes. Very much missed, Gone but not forgotten."
The photo on the left shows Lewis on board the GN saloon in June 2016 (Paul Norris).