- STOP PRESS 1 Today's episode of the BBC's Bargain Hunt came from an Ardingly Antiques Fair, during which they visited the Bluebell to find out about Pullman Cars and luxury travel - you can view this clip about the Pullmans and the full programme on iPlayer (available in the UK only, for the next 11 months).
- STOP PRESS 2 Sadly the recently arrived ED E6040 is not quite ready for its public debut, so there's some rare haulage from our Class 09 D4106 which is covering the 73's planned turns this weekend. It will still be a great event so hope to see as many of you there as possible!
This weekend 10-11 June: Bluebell on Parade
The return of a spectacular event not staged for years, showcasing a huge variety of aspects of the Bluebell at its best!
- The June 2023 edition of Bluebell Times features:
- A move back to the Railway sees attendance at the BRPS AGM more than double from last year - report with all the results
- Nicholas Owen renames our namesake Class 73 Electro-diesel at Sheffield Park
- The Southern Railway Coach Group takes shape - and Maunsell carriage No. 3687 is revealed in all its glory as it nears entry into service
- Overhaul of 'Normandy' is agreed by the board - boosted by a donation of £500 from the Horsted Keynes Carriage shop
- We enter the solar age as electricity starts to flow from the roof of the Above Workshop Facility
- More progress at Horsted Keynes on both the fabric of the station and on Thumper 1305
... and much more.
- Atlantic Supporters' Weekend - Atlantic House Open Days - 10-11 June at Sheffield Park (as part of Bluebell on Parade).
Chairman's Address and update at 2.30pm on Sunday 11 June
Auction: On Sunday 11 June at 2.50pm at Atlantic House.
30 lots of Railwayana, Books, Photos, Paintings and Models.
Viewing from 11.00 am Saturday. Absentee bids may be left.
- 2 original paintings by Matthew Cousins of 32424.
- LNER Loco 'Weight Diagram' book 1945 containing projected class scrapings and much additional detail.
- Brand new Bachmann model of 32424.
- Original LBSCR 'Official photographs' of Atlantics including one of No.38 in full umber livery signed by D.Earle Marsh
...together with a number of other interesting items.
- John Sandys' photos and videos from Sunday featuring 'Wightwick Hall' and 80151 on the service trains and 65 on the Golden Arrow, and those from today, with Fenchurch and the O1 being warmed through in preparation for the weekend Bluebell on Parade event, 80151 on today's service trains, and the ED preparing for a test run.
- News of maintenance work on The Camelot Locomotive Society's CCT, thanks to the newly formed Bluebell Railway SR Coach Group.
See also their recent updates on the SR Maunsell Restaurant Car 7864, on Maunsell Hastings-line Brake 3687, and Maunsell Brake Composite 6575. There's also an earlier update on 7864.
In addition, Alex Morley has started a new gallery of photos covering the overhaul of Maunsell Restaurant Car 7864.
The photos below, by Keith Leppard and Rowan Millard, illustrate the prototype seat for the Maunsell Restaurant Car, and Hastings Brake 3687 nearing the end of its restoration, being shunted after swapping out its bogies.
- Three of David Cable's photos from Road meets Rail - on the right the SECR O1 with milk tanker and Bulleid carriages on Saturday 20 May, and below, taken on Sunday 21 May, 'Fenchurch' with its goods train, and 'Camelot' approaching Horsted Keynes.
- Starting with an apology for no Chairman's Update having been published last week, today's update covers this last week, and can be downloaded here (pdf).
- The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes station is open this weekend.
Saturday 3rd June 10am to 4pm
Sunday 4th June 9.30am to 3.30pm
- The Bulleid Society report: Wednesday 31 May was a great day at the Bluebell Railway, with 34059's boiler reaching 250psi for the first time since 2012. Having passed its hydraulic test a few days ago, it was good to get the pass from our boiler inspector for the out-of-frames steam test.
The boiler will now be painted with aluminium heat resistant paint and then mounted on the chassis with the work then centred on the pipe work and other fitting out to complete the project. Photos thanks to Andy Kelly. See more photos and a full report on the Bulleid Society's web site.
- Rapido's OO-scale models of the SECR 6-wheel goods brake vans have been delivered, and are in stock in the Bluebell Railway Goods Division's online shop - where a few remain available (at a good price - and even better if you're able to arrange to collect them from Horsted Keynes - they have a stand at the Members' Day on Saturday).
- The SR Coach Group has been formed to promote the restoration and maintenance of the railway's unique collection of Maunsell and Bulleid designed coaches. Follow this Facebook page for regular updates on our work (all updates are visible even if you are not a facebook user).
Current projects include Maunsell 'Hastings' BTK 3687 (nearly finished) and the sole surviving SR restaurant car, 7684 (just getting started). The Bulleid team will be starting a new project soon, once shed space is available. We are also progressing a heavy overhaul of BCK 6575, one of the railway's first two carriages, when time permits.
- Photos and videos from John Sandys' visit on Sunday, and again today when 'Wightwick Hall' and 80151 were hauling the service trains, and No. 65 was hauling the Pullmans for a wedding.
- Peter Edwards' photo below shows 'Wightwick Hall' approaching New Road Bridge with the 10.30am train from Sheffield Park on Monday 29 May.
- BRPS Members are reminded that this Saturday sees our combined Members' and AGM day.
If members require additional copies of all the AGM paperwork this is available to download at the entry for 20 May.
As described earlier, the many groups across the Railway are "opening their doors" from 10.00 am so please do support them in anyway you can.
At 12.00 noon, Journalist and TV presenter Nicholas Owen will rededicate E6040, 'The Bluebell Railway' at Sheffield Park station.
The Society AGM takes place in the Marquee at Horsted Keynes which will be followed by food and drink being available at the station.
There will be 3 evening trains hauled by 72 'Fenchurch' that will leave Sheffield Park at 5.30 and 6.45 returning at 6.25 and 7.35 (during the early part of the day Fenchurch will be shunting wagons at Horsted Keynes).
A final late train will leave Sheffield Park at 8.00pm calling at Horsted Keynes arriving at East Grinstead at 8.50 and arriving back at Sheffield Park at 9.50. The train timetable for the day is here.
Obviously car parking is available at Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes stations.
It is a pity that many members may have had their plans thwarted by the national train strike but it is hoped members will none the less be able to attend. In addition if coming from the Haywards Heath direction by car, note that it is Lindfield Village Day, and the centre of the village will be closed for a parade around 12.15 to 1.15pm.
Please do support your Railway.
We look forward to seeing you and hope you have an enjoyable day.
BRPS Vice President
Please note that the daytime trains and events, guided tours and project stands are open to all visitors to the railway during the day, so non-members are also most welcome to join in the fun (except of course for the AGM!)
- Keith Duke's photo shows what were widely acclaimed as the star trains of the "Road meets Rail" weekend - the Goods services hauled by 'Fenchurch', seen here on Saturday morning. The train includes the hard-wood planked Bulleid Wagon, outshopped this year after a bottom-up restoration/reconstruction, the SR Engineers' wagon, after its heavy intermediate overhaul, and two other wagons which have also been through the works for repaint/repairs, all at the hands of our "Goods Division".
- See also Keith's album from Saturday.
- The recent Chairman's Update is now available, as a pdf.
- The photos below are from the Sunday of Road meets Rail. The first, by Andy Ash, shows the goods train again, but now with an additional wagon, and with Jack Gregory's Fordson tractor loaded into the LMS-design Medfit, the repair and repaint of which was completed just a week before, and which has only received letters and numbers on one side so far.
- The second photo, thanks to Nick Gilliam, shows 'Camelot' with one of the two service trains running on Sunday (forming the 10.30 ex-Sheffield Park) and seen at the former West Hoathly station site. This train includes the RMB (buffet car) which has just returned to service after 4 weeks in the carriage works during which time it received bodywork repairs, a partial re-paint/revarnish, and work on its boiler.
- The following notice appears on the BRPS Members' Information page:
Horsted Keynes Station, Saturday 3rd June 2023 commencing at 2pm
The BRPS AGM documents are in the post but are published here as a backup and for the benefit of members, especially those overseas. Please note the Accounts booklet only contains the Society accounts as the Plc and abridged Trust accounts for 2022 were not finalised at the date we went to press. This version of the Society accounts includes, for comparative purposes only, the 2021 numbers for the former unincorporated Society.
Any member wishing to vote by proxy must do so by NOON on 31st May 2023. Scanned and signed proxy voting forms may be emailed to the address shown on the form and must include your membership number for validation purposes.
The PDF Downloads are available from the BRPS Members' Information page.
- David Cable's photo shows the SECR O1-class No. 65 approaching Horsted Keynes on Wednesday 10 May 2023. This economical locomotive powers most of our mid-week trains at present, which are carrying a lot of coach party traffic.
- Reminder that this weekend is our Road meets Rail event - with lots to see and do at Horsted Keynes on both days.
- Newsletter from the "Awake the Giant" project, including details of their 2023 Photographic Competition. This project is fundraising for the overhaul of our BR 9F-class heavy goods locomotive No. 92240.
- Gallery of photos by Dave Bowles from the 17 April photo charter with 'Wightwick Hall'
- David Cable's photo from yesterday shows the SECR O1 No. 65 with the recently overhauled Bulleid Composite carriage departing from Kingscote.
- The latest Chairman's Update may now be downloaded or viewed as a pdf.
- John Sandys' photos from Saturday and a trip on the GN saloon on Sunday.
- The "Blog@" email address hitherto used for submissions of photos and suggestions for these pages has been separated out into one for the Blog editor, and one for the PR team. Please do submit photos to both addresses - details here. These contributions are much appreciated by both the railway and those who read this page, so my personal and collective thanks also to all our contributors.
- Brian Dandridge's photo below show 'Wightwick Hall' with the GN Saloon at the south end of one of the two service sets, and the Class 09 D4106 with the SR Queen Mary Brake on Diesel Footplate Taster Experience duties, both taken at Horsted Keynes on Saturday.
- Below are a few of the engines you'll see working around Horsted Keynes station at our Road meets Rail event this coming weekend, Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 May.
Wood sawing, road building, thrashing... deliveries by steam wagon and pantechnicon... loads being lowered into wagons by steam crane... the sights of a bygone age being brought back to life at The Bluebell Railway!
The Event Guide is also now available as a PDF download.
- Another of David Cable's photos from yesterday shows 73082 'Camelot' with the lunchtime Pullman dining service at Kingscote.
- An update with the latest news on 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair's overhaul is available on the Bulleid Society's web site. The photos below, thanks to John Fry, show the original and new firebars, and rocking grate, along with the pattern from which the new firebars are cast.
- The May 2023 edition of Bluebell Times features:
- A successful start to the year for visitor numbers at events
- ... but more volunteer help is always needed if we are to continue that success
- Make a day of it on 3 June: see behind the scenes at the Members' Day - with the BRPS AGM in the afternoon and an evening hog roast
- More support for the Goods Division and the Horsted Keynes station fund from the Carriage Shop
- A child's view of the work of our Education team
- More progress on the Thumper
- ... and much more.
- This weekend, in addition to our busy service of steam (Timetable C), we also have something different: a Circus Skills workshops at Kingscote. Activities and skills include tight-wire walking, juggling, diabolo, poi, hula-hoop, flower stick, gymnastic ribbon, pedal-go, stilts walking and spinning plates. Lots to do and much fun for all the family! More details here.
- Atlantic House will next be open to the public during the Bluebell on Parade weekend 10-11 June (but NOT on 9th June).
These two days are also the Atlantic Supporters' Weekend, with the Chairman's Address and update at 2.30pm on Sunday 11 June followed by the Auction (with viewing earlier that weekend. Items for the auction can be left at Atlantic House on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or by arrangement. There are already some very interesting items donated for the Auction - which will be detailed here nearer the event.
The current expectation (and so potentially subject to change) is that the locomotive will be moved out of Atlantic House and into the Loco Maintenance Shed and/or Works to complete painting and commissioning this Autumn, with entry into service sometime before the Autumn of 2024.
The next project for the group will be announced in the next issue of "Atlantic News" which is sent by post to project supporters. It will not be a "new-build".
- John Sandys' photos above and below show the Atlantic on display at the recent Branch Line Gala.
- Road meets Rail - Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 May 2023
Road and rail based steam.
Goods trains in operation, with shunting demonstrations, and demonstrations of goods loading and unloading.
Timetable - full Event Details and advance booking.
A weekend of steam powered demonstrations and vintage fairground fun! Traction engines, road rollers, steam wagons, showman's engines, crane engines and more... bringing Horsted Keynes station to life with recreations of a bygone age.
See how road building, wood sawing, timber haulage and thrashing were carried out in the early 1900s. Watch as steam wagons and pantechnicons arrive with goods to be unloaded for onward rail transport and larger loads are craned into wagons. Experience vintage fairground rides, enjoy an ice cream and watch miniature steam displays in the paddock, with a fabulous view of the passenger trains passing by.
On the Saturday evening: live music, food and drink at Horsted Keynes. Everyone is welcome to this event so come along, wind down and enjoy the evening with us.
- James Green's photo from this morning shows a member of the footplate crew preparing an appropriate SECR Headcode on O1-class No. 65. The train is formed of four of our Southern Railway/Bulleid-designed carriages.
- Last week's Chairman's Update is now available to download as a pdf.
- Coronation Day was of course rather quieter than a normal Saturday, but the Railway still carried a good number of passengers. John Sandys provides some photos and videos.
- A great variety of photos from the Branch Line Gala from Christopher Ward, and also his video compilation.
- Some short videos taken at Horsted Keynes during the Branch Line Gala Weekend videos from Ron Fisher: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.
- Two more photos, below, from David Cable from the first day of the Branch Line Gala, 21 April, showing the SECR O1 at Three Arch Bridge, and the triple header in the morning, which brought the coaches for the evening's photo charter up in addition to the Birdcage set.
- Another of David Cable's evocative photos from the Friday of the Branch Line Gala, with 'Fenchurch' heading South at Three Arch Bridge.
- John Sandys' photos and videos from yesterday.
- The two photos below are from yesterday, thanks to Brian Lacey, showing the last two service trains of the day at West Hoathly station site, with BR Standard tank 80151 and the Bulleid coaches, and BR Standard 5 73082 'Camelot' with the Mk.1 set.
- The visiting L&Y 52322 approaches Horsted Keynes during the Branch Line Gala last Friday (Owen Hayward).
- The latest Chairman's Update may now be downloaded or viewed as a pdf.
- David Cable's photo is from the Friday evening photo charter, organised by Jon Bowers during the Branch Line Gala, with the visiting L&Y A-class locomotive, the Camelot Locomotive Society's CCT, and two Carmine Lake & Cream Mk.1 carriages.
- Reminder that we have a Toy & Rail Collectors' Fair on Sunday, and our intensive Timetable D will be in operation, with 14 steam-hauled services passing through Horsted Keynes Station, which hosts the collectors sales stalls during the course of the day. The event (of which we hold two each year) is always very popular, with lots of stalls at Horsted Keynes station.
- Videos now available by Terrier55Stepney and European Steam, covering lots of action from last weekend's Gala.
- Not only is 'Fenchurch' away on holiday (to the Isle of Wight) in June, but so will O1-class No. 65! This SECR locomotive will be making its way to the Spa Valley Railway, taking part in their Summer Steam Gala on 17-18 June and their Victorian Steam Weekend on 24-25 June.
- The installation of solar panels on the roof above the Loco Works at Sheffield Park started yesterday. Weather permitting, the work should take about three weeks. This should start making an impact on our £1,000-a-day electricity bills.
- Some more photos below from the Branch Line Gala last weekend:
The two L&Y Locos together at Horsted Keynes on the Sunday (Owen Hayward)
Fenchurch passes the freshly repainted North London Tank at Horsted Keynes on the Saturday (Owen Hayward). The 1880-built North London goods tank was repainted in just a week by our Goods Division volunteers, and lettered to match the visiting "Pug".
The visiting L&Y A-class locomotive with the pre-grouping non-corridor set near Three Arch Bridge on the Friday of the Gala (David Cable).
The visiting L&Y "Pug" with brake Van rides using our Queen Mary brake on the Friday of the Gala (David Cable).
Another photo from last Friday's evening photo charter, with the visiting L&Y A-class locomotive near Three Arch Bridge (David Cable).
The "Pug" sizes up to the 4MT tank 80151 at Horsted Keynes on the Friday of the Gala (David Cable).
The SECR O1-class No. 65 in the rain earlier on the Friday of the Gala (David Cable).
The "Pug" and the "Terrier" double heading at Three Arch Bridge (David Cable).
Hunslet 'Hastings' visiting from the Kent & East Sussex Railway on the Friday of the Gala (David Cable).
- Philip Hunt's photo on the right shows the L&Y duo setting off on the Saturday with the delayed 4.45 service from Horsted Keynes.
- During the Branch Line weekend our Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes station made donations to two very worthwhile causes on the Bluebell Railway.
£500 was donated to the Horsted Keynes station fund. This money was raised from sales of books, postcards, DVDs and souvenirs in the Kiosk on platform 4.
The Bluebell Railway Goods Division received a donation of £1,000 for the wagon repair fund. This was raised through sales in the main Carriage Shop on platform 1.
See information on the Carriage Shop including opening hours, here, and more information on the Bluebell Railway Goods Division, here. The photos below shows each of the groups being presented with their donation.
- Also below we see an important step forward in the overhaul of Bulleid Pacific locomotive 34059 'Sir Archibald Sinclair' as the first warming fire is lit in the brand new firebox, as preparations are made for the out-of-frames steam test. This follows a successful hydraulic boiler test a few weeks ago (photo thanks to Andy Kelly).
- The first sight of E6040 'The Bluebell Railway', the newly arrived Electro-diesel Locomotive, on Bluebell metals since 1992. It is in full working order, and is intended to be available as a thunderbird, to keep our service running in the event of high risk of lineside fires, to haul lighter early morning and late evening trains alongside the Oxted Diesel Unit (which has the same 600 hp diesel engine), and to cover shunting work if the 09 is not available.
You can find out more on the new web page and Facebook Group for this locomotive.
Known latterly as Class 73s, these were electric locomotives for the Southern Region's third-rail system, but incorporating a 600 hp diesel engine, similar to those used in the Southern Region's DEMUs, intended for use in sidings and other non-electrified areas. Six prototypes, the 'JA's, were designed and built at Eastleigh in 1962 using English Electric equipment. They were built to the narrow 'Hastings Gauge', giving universal track access across the region.
43 more Electro-diesel Locomotives were ordered from English Electric, built between 1965 and 1967, as part of the fleet to operate the newly electrified Waterloo-Southampton/Bournemouth line. Initially numbered E6007-E6049, they differed slightly from the prototypes, most notably having higher tractive effort and a 90mph maximum speed.
73133 was named 'The Bluebell Railway' in September 1990, and ran onto what is now Bluebell property two years later at the ceremony passing ownership of the viaduct to us.
The locomotive just escaped being scrapped in 2004, entered preservation, but returned to main-line use in 2013 and having been used as a shunter at Bournemouth Depot and more recently at Eastleigh Works, was privately purchased from there in December 2022 by a member of the Bluebell Railway's locomotive department. It was refurbished at his expense at Eastleigh Works over the first three months of this year, prior to moving to the Bluebell Railway, arriving this morning.
- We had a great gala over the last three days. Even before the last train had returned to Sheffield Park yesterday a filming company started arriving to set up for a filming job today!
- Three of Nick Gilliam's photos today to illustrate the gala - here's the 4.40pm departure from Horsted Keynes for East Grinstead on Friday, with the Pug and 'Hastings' hauling the four Bulleid coaches. Below are two more, from Saturday, with 'Fenchurch' and 80151 leaving Kingscote with the 6.30pm from East Grinstead, and 52322 passing Hazelden Farm with the 9.30am from Sheffield Park.
We'd love to see some more photos from the gala, if you'd like to send them to us for use here.
- Two more great photo galleries from the Gala - from Chris Ward and Matt Wickham.
- Next Sunday (30 April): Toy and Rail Collectors' Fair
Catering for everyone, from avid collectors and enthusiasts, to just about anyone who is interested in (or just curious about) collectable toys, model trains and vintage railway artefacts, there will be an extensive range of stalls on Horsted Keynes station platforms and in the car park. You'll find model railways (new and secondhand), die-cast models, collectables, railway books & emphemera, photographs & Preservation Societies.
Admission is free with any Bluebell Railway travel ticket valid for the day, or buy a Horsted Keynes station admission ticket for £5.00 per person on the day for admission to the fair only.
- Last week's Chairman's Update is now available to download as a pdf.
22 April - part 2
- This photo, from Matthew Cousins, shows the Pug and Terrier arriving at Horsted Keynes with the birdcage set on Friday.
- Two days down, one to go with our Branch Line Gala Weekend! Taking stock on Saturday evening, we've had two great days so far, so do join us for the last day tomorrow.
We've seen some fantastic photos of the event so far and we would love to see more, from everyone who's come to visit our railway over this gala weekend!
- Picture sets from today (Day 2 of our Branch-line Gala) are available with thanks to Neil Munro-Thomson and John Sandys
- In other news... We feature, along with the Swanage Railway, in this US PBS Newshour report.
- Right: Two Fordsons on display for the Branch Line Weekend - the Bluebell's own 1951 British Railways Fordson van hasn't been seen for a few years now, but has been brough out for this event, and is on display over the weekend on platform 5 at Horsted Keynes along with a Fordson tractor belonging to one of the members of the Bluebell Railway Goods Division (photo: Matt Lander).
- Below we see two photos taken by Brian Lacey at West Hoathly, showing the Lancashire & Yorkshire A-class with the 12.45 service from Sheffield Park, assisted in the rear by 'Hastings'.
- It's day 2 of our Branch Line Gala, and we hope you can join us this weekend!
Alongside our three home fleet locos of 65, 80151 and 'Fenchurch', visiting locos 52322, 'Hastings' & 11243 will also be in action today and throughout the weekend. An intensive timetable will be in operation and can be found here.
Come and join us for a weekend celebration of smaller locomotives and branch line steam!
Advance tickets and more information available here.
- Photos and videos from Friday, the first day of the Branch Line Weekend, published so far, from Keith Duke and John Sandys (who provides the photo on the right showing O1-class No. 65 with the Bulleid carriages at Horsted Keynes yesterday).
- You can see a lot more about what's going on in the last two entries below.
- Richard Salmon's photo below shows the second arrival at Horsted Keynes yesterday.
- All set & ready to go!
Come and join us at the Bluebell Railway over the next three days for a celebration of branch-line railways and smaller locomotives!
Tomorrow we kick off our 2023 Branch Line Gala Weekend. Visiting guest locos 11243 (Lancashire & Yorkshire "Pug"), 52322 (Lancashire & Yorkshire A Class) and No. 15 'Hastings' (Hunslet Tank Engine) will be working alongside resident locos 65 (SECR O1), 80151 (Riddles BR Standard 4MT Tank Engine) and 'Fenchurch' (LBSCR Stroudley A1 Terrier) from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 April. (As ever, all locos subject to fitness to run availability on each day.)
Catering details and opening hours for the weekend are available here (pdf).
For more information and advance tickets, see the 2023 Branch Line Gala web page.
This photo, taken on Wednesday evening, shows No. 72 'Fenchurch' outside Sheffield Park loco shed prior to the gala.
- The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes is open this weekend during the Branch Line Gala!
- Friday 21 April 9am to 5pm
- Saturday 22 April 9am to 5pm
- Sunday 23 April 9am to 4pm.
The shop will have a new selection of model railway items available and their bumper book sales continues with many titles at only £1.
The Carriage Shop is on platform 1 at Horsted Keynes station, and has been proudly raising money to support Bluebell Railway projects since 1989.
- The Bulleid Society shop (platform 2 at Sheffield Park) will be open all 3 days during the gala. What's more, all DVDs and most of their extensive range of books will be on sale with 50% off, so do come along and see us and pick up a bargain.
- The Goods Division will have a display and fundraising stand at Horsted Keynes, in the C&W works with a stall offering merchandise and Rapido products at very reasonable prices. A couple of vintage road vehicles will be on display, one of which hasn't made a public appearance for many years.
- The photo below, by Andy Kelly, shows the visiting locos lined up on shed with 'Fenchurch' this afternoon. 'Hastings' had been to Horsted Keynes earlier in the day and undertaken some shunting.
- Over the last week the Bluebell Railway Goods Division's volunteers have undertaken a rapid repaint of the North London Tank locomotive, which has been lettered into LMS livery to match the visiting "Pug" with Matthew Cousins providing the vinyl lettering (with thanks also to Lemonade Print in Burgess Hill).
- Our 2023 Branch Line Gala starts on Friday. An updated Gala Timetable is now available, although that could change again depending on whether the SECR O1-class locomotive is available to run. [No.65 was passed fit to run, so this timetable is the one in use.]
The carriage sets are (south to north):
Lots of trains will swap engines at Horsted Keynes, or terminate and re-start there. Brake Van rides will be on offer there, along with guided tours of the C&W Works on all three days. The freshly repainted North London Railway Tank locomotive will also be displayed there.
- Set A:- 21246-16210-4941-25728 (BR Mk.1, 1950s-60s)
- Set B:- 2526-1482-1464-5768 (SR Bulleid, 1940s-50s)
- Set C:- 7598-1098-3363 (LBSCR and SECR carriages, 1903-1923)
- Set D:- 6686-1309-1336 (SR Maunsell, 1930s)
At Sheffield Park the various loco groups will have access to view their projects, and display/sales stands, including both the Atlantic project and P-class 27.
- There's an update to the Project 27 BlogSpot, outlining some of the work that has been going on over the winter in less than ideal conditions to get 27 into a presentable condition for your inspection this weekend, with a sales stand just inside the door to Steamworks! (off Platform 1 at Sheffield Park) from Friday until Sunday, opening around 9am until people stop coming in! The restoration site will also be open, with members of the restoration team on hand to chat to you.
There's also a revised website for the Little Loco Group.
- On Monday Jon Bowers ran a photo-charter day with 'Wightwick Hall' and as seen in this photo taken during a break in the charter, the Bluebell's GWR "Dukedog" was also posed with it at Sheffield Park.
- Brian Dandridge was at the photo-charter, and provides an initial sample set of photos, as well as this video.
- Matthew Cousins' photo shows No. 6989 'Wightwick Hall' pulling in to Horsted Keynes with a public train on 6 April 2023.
- The latest Chairman's Update may now be downloaded or viewed as a pdf.
- Bluey & Bongo at the Bluebell Railway: please note the correct dates when we welcome the excitable sisters from Down Under to the Bluebell Railway are Sunday 7 & Monday 8 May. Come to see them at story time sessions, led by a narrator, at intervals on both days at Sheffield Park Station.
Our "Kids For A Quid" Travel Offer applies on those days too.
- The April 2023 edition of Bluebell Times features:
- Work on "The Jewel in the Crown" resumes after the winter
- A packed month of activity on our Thumper ...
- ... and Electro-Diesel E6040 is renamed 'The Bluebell Railway'
- 5 Minutes with Tony Astor, the Railway's new Infrastructure Director
- Summary of the recent volunteer workshop
- "Tender care" on our Giant No. 92240
- The Bluebell Railway Museum and the Great Western Trust jointly acquire the Edward Wallis photographic collection.
- We will be running steam trains throughout this weekend.
Departure times from Sheffield Park will be at 10:30, 11:45, 1:00, 2:15 and 3:30.
Departure times from East Grinstead will be at 11:30, 12:45, 2:00, 3:15 and 4:30.
We have our "Kids For A Quid" travel offer in place throughout, and Steamworks, our Bluebell Railway Museum, and much more, so there's plenty for all the family to enjoy this weekend at The Bluebell Railway!
Advance tickets can be purchased here, or you can pay on the day of your visit!
- 'Fenchurch' is to star at the Isle Of Wight Steam Railway Spring Gala!
Stroudley Terrier 'Fenchurch' will be making its way across the waters to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Their Gala celebrating 100 years of the Southern Railway takes place between Friday 23 and Sunday 25 June. With W11 'Newport' having visited us last year, we're delighted to see 'Fenchurch' head in the opposite direction for a visit.
- Newly restored Hunslet tank locomotive No. 15 'Hastings' is the third and final visitor to have arrived for our 2023 Branch Line Gala - 21-23 April, and is seen below with the visiting L&YR A-class locomotive which arrived yesterday.
- Matthew Cousins' photo below shows 'Camelot' on one of the two service trains running yesterday, approaching Horsted Keyens Station, where it will pass the Hall. BR Standard Tank No. 80151 is recessed into the currently truncated Ardingly spur, as it was out for a test run after maintenance.
- Tony Sullivan's photo, taken today, shows that Lancashire & Yorkshire A-class No. 52322 has also now arrived, from the East Lancs Railway, for our 21-23 April 2023 Branch Line Gala Weekend.
- Customer Notice: Due to unforeseen circumstances, we regret to announce that the Birds Of Prey will not be on display on Saturday 15 April. The Bluebell Railway apologises for any disappointment or inconvenience caused by this last-minute cancellation.
The railway, however, will still operate a Timetable C service at the weekend with our "Kids For A Quid" Travel Offer available. Train times for the weekend are:
Sheffield Park departures at 10:30, 11:45, 1:00, 2:15 & 3:30
East Grinstead departures at 11:30, 12:45, 2:00, 3:15 & 4:30.
- Bluey at the Bluebell Railway: Wackadoo!
We're delighted to welcome both Bluey & Bingo to the Bluebell Railway on Sunday 7 & Monday 8 May [Note: correction from previously shown Sat/Sun].
Have your chance to see the excitable sisters from Down Under during story time sessions, led by a narrator, at intervals on both days at Sheffield Park Station. Our "Kids For A Quid" Travel Offer applies that weekend too.
- A second photo (below) from Tony Sullivan today shows the GWR Dukedog 9017 'Earl of Berkeley' has been extracted from the Sheffield Park Carriage Shed, where it's been hidden away from public view for the last couple of years.
- Our first visitor for the 2023 Branch Line Gala Weekend, Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway "Pug" No. 11243, landed at Sheffield Park yesterday (photos, right). This loco will be in action during the gala weekend, Friday 21 to Sunday 23 April.
See more information and tickets for the gala, here.
- Last week's Chairman's Update is now available to download as a pdf.
- Brian Dandridge has put together this video record of his visit on Easter Sunday.
- John Sandys' photos and videos from a visit on Tuesday.
- Phil Laycock's photo below was taken yesterday whilst he was working with the Tuesday lineside gang, and shows 'Camelot' approaching Freshfield Bank with the SR-liveried set currently in use for our second train.
- Brian Lacey's photo from Tuesday 4 April shows 'Wightwick Hall' with the 1pm service ex-Sheffield Park at West Hoathly. This locomotive has been on the main service set each day since 1 April.
- E6040, the second of two Class 73s to be named 'The Bluebell Railway' (then as No. 73133) is now privately owned by a member of the Bluebell's Locomotive Department, and in advance of its arrival at the Railway has been overhauled at Eastleigh Works and painted in its as-built "Electric Blue" livery. The 'JB' was unveiled on Wednesday in a ceremony at Eastleigh, where the "renaming" was performed by Roy Watts, Bluebell Railway Preservation Society Vice Chairman, who had been instrumental in getting 'JA' No. 73004 so named back in 1987.
The photo above is thanks to Paul Auckland, and that on the right thanks to Neil Glaskin.
If you'd like to support the project, you can do so either by donating on CrowdFunder, or by joining the support group Paul is setting up. The date when it will arrive on the Bluebell, to start crew familiarisation and training, has yet to be finalised.
You can see more of Paul's photos and videos from Wednesday here.
The official Press Release is here.
- The arrival of the 'JB' (Class 73/1 Electro-diesel Locomotive) will further enhance the Bluebell Railway's modest collection of exclusively Southern Region modern traction, adding to the 09 Shunter, the KA-2B (Class 33) and the Oxted DEMU. If required to operate to our relatively tight timetable, the loads the JB will haul on diesel power are modest, however the locomotive gives us additional flexibility. It can cover for both the 09 and the KA as a thunderbird locomotive (vital should a late evening dining train be stranded), and cover for the 09 for shunting work. It can also cover for any non-availability of the DEMU on early morning and late evening services outside of the steam-heat season, and haul services at times of high fire risk. As such it provides us with the resilience we have up to now lacked in our limited modern traction fleet.
- Tony Sullivan's two photos below show 73004 on the day it was named at East Grinstead, painted "Bluebell Blue" in September 1987, and 73133 at Redhill in June 1997 when in "Mainline" livery.
- 'Camelot' and 'Wightwick Hall' were hauling the service trains yesterday, and should be today and tomorrow, with No. 80151 taking over from 'Camelot' for the remainder of the holiday period, when we're running our full two-train public service (Timetable C) daily until 16 April.
- Having passed its maintenance exams this week, the Great Northern Directors' Saloon was taken back to Sheffield Park yesterday, and attached to the larger service set ready for the weekend, as seen in the photo on the right.
On Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday the saloon is on the 10:30; 1pm and 3:30 from SP (11:30 2pm and 4:30 from EGR), offering onboard refreshments.
No reservation is required, but access is subject to available space. Please note that the crew on board are not able to take credit cards, so please bring cash.
- Keith Mahoney has been sorting through his late father's photographs, and found these which were taken in 1966, featuring SECR P-class No. 323 'Bluebell'. This photo, and the first below show it at Horsted Keynes, and the third photo was taken at Sheffield Park. The train that day was formed of SR rebuild of SER origins, No. 1050 and the LNWR Observation Car.
- The latest Chairman's Update may now be downloaded or viewed as a pdf.
- Great 1961 colour film of the Bluebell Railway, late in the year, including I think on the very day we first gained access to (initially just one platform of) Horsted Keynes station.
- In January this year the Bluebell's Standard 5 No. 73082 'Camelot' visited the GCR for their gala. A charter was organised with it and that yielded some fine results - see Dave Bowles' photos.
- Our extension to East Grinstead opened 10 years ago today!
This photo shows the first passenger train out of East Grinstead in the snowstorm on 23 March 2013. It was taken by Mike Hopps of our Infrastructure department, at a location barred to lineside photographers, just south of Imberhorne Lane.
You can still view the official video of the opening day here.
- This morning I gave interviews to Krys O'Brien at East Grinstead for BBC local radio stations, which you can listen online (available for the next 29 days) on BBC Surrey (1:42:40 into James Cannon's programme) and BBC Sussex (2:46:10 into Allison Ferns' programme).
- This coming weekend we are operating trains just between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes, but next weekend (1-2 April) we have steam trains running back to East Grinstead, and dinosaurs visiting the railway to entertain your children too!
- The photos below show LBSCR E4 'Birch Grove' at East Grinstead with the Pioneer train that morning ten years ago (Nathan Gibson), and at Horsted Keynes later in the day with P-class 'Bluebell' on the front (Patrick Nairne).
- Is this our youngest ever footplate crew? On Saturday Driver Charlie Ralph and Fireman Ben Gray became one of the youngest footplate crew to have worked on The Bluebell Railway. Their combined age is 44 years!
We may have had younger footplate crews in the early 1980s, since in those days people could start learning on the footplate at 14 whereas now it's 16. The progression though the grades from Cleaner to Driver remains as it always was.
- 7 - 9 April: We're delighted to welcome the team from South Brockwells Farm to The Bluebell Railway as they bring all the magic and fun of their "MOBILE FARM" to the Railway, at Kingscote station!
Come and see all the animals at Kingscote when you travel on our railway and explore the wonderful surroundings of the station. This event is free with your travel tickets (a donation is required to pet the animals) and the "Kids For A Quid" travel offer will be in place over the weekend the farm visits us!
- Booking is now open for both the Wealden Rambler and the Fish & Chips Supper Trains for May to July!
Book now for your chance to enjoy both of these very popular services at The Bluebell Railway!
- The latest Chairman's Update may now be downloaded or viewed as a pdf. [Link now corrected]
- Two superb portraits of Q-class No. 30541, contributed by Jemima White, taken on 27 December 2022, show the Southern Railway locomotive (with cables/lighting rigged for the Steamlights service), on one of its last days in service before withdrawal pending its next overhaul.
- Flying Scotsman at the Bluebell
The world's most famous steam locomotive will be returning to the Bluebell Railway this summer.
Flying Scotsman, which is celebrating its 100th Birthday this year, will be running non-stop return services between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead for seven days, 23 - 29 August. All seats must be pre-booked in advance.
Visitors will also be able to see the locomotive on static display at Sheffield Park during its visit, 30 August - 3 September. Tickets for footplate visits are available to book online, along with travel on our other trains on these days.
- Congratulations to our locomotive workshop team, who were awarded a Runners Up certificate of the Coiley Award for Steam Locomotive Engineering at the Heritage Railway Association's Annual Awards on Saturday, for the overhaul of LB&SCR Terrier No. 72 'Fenchurch', and to the Bluebell Railway Goods Division, for their Runners Up award for SR Bulleid Open Wagon No. 12058 in the Morgan Award for Rolling Stock Preservation. The two youthful Bluebell teams, celebrating together, and their projects, are seen below.
DINOSAURS AT THE BLUEBELL RAILWAY!
We are looking forward to welcoming Bronwen The Brontosaurus, Loki The Velociraptor and more of their dinosaur friends to The Bluebell Railway on April 1st & 2nd. It's not an April Fools and they are spectacular to see in person! You might even see some baby dinosaurs on the trains so keep a look out at our other stations too throughout that weekend!
The dinosaurs will be at the Railway during our "Kids For A Quid" travel offer over that weekend, so why not mix the power of steam and dinosaurs at The Bluebell Railway and come meet Bronwen, Loki and others in person!
You can book travel tickets in advance, complete with our Kids for a Quid special offer.
- The March 2023 edition of Bluebell Times includes:
- Working in partnership with "The Southern Six"
- What's it like to work on the Golden Arrow dining service?
- Progress on our multiple units - diesel and electric
- Our Bulleid carriages run on the mainline for the first time in forty years
- A decade of running to East Grinstead
- John Betjeman's Metro-land - 50 year's on
- New museum acquisitions - and photos
- And much, much more
- This week's Chairman's Update is now available to download as a pdf.
- A gallery of his photos featuring 'Fenchurch' on our half-term service trains is now available from David Cable.
4 March - further updates
- The latest Chairman's Weekly Update is available to download as a pdf.
- Over the course of the Goods Division's working week in February, in addition to nearly completing Bulleid Wagon 12058, and some work on the SR "Pillbox" brake van, SR 8-plank open wagon No. 37786 received planking repairs and a repaint.
The work on 37786 is reported in this news report (pdf download). [N.B. link now corrected]
- John Sandys has now created a flickr album with his photos from today.
- In 2021 an approach was made to the Railway, by an individual we have known a long time, to purchase the two body sections of SER Drawing Room Car 33 (later Pullman Car 'Constance'). The BRPS's Rolling Stock Sub-Committee having concluded that its restoration (in the very long term) to anything more than static use was most unlikely, the Society and plc agreed that the vehicle should be sold. The body sections, in storage at the Bluebell for over a quarter of a century, left the Bluebell last weekend, and the new owner plans to invest a significant sum of money in it to restore the body structure and its interior.
- Another weekend of Victorian locomotives - John Sandys' two photos, taken this morning, show 'Fenchurch' ready with the first train of the day from Sheffield Park, and the SECR O1-class in steam on shed in preparation for hauling the Golden Arrow Luncheon Train (tickets for which are now available to book for May, June and July).
- This weekend we are running trains between Sheffield Park & Horsted Keynes on both Saturday & Sunday.
Remember that any child between 3-15 years can travel for just £1 with any fare-paying adult on our services over the weekend, so why not bring the whole family down for a day of railway fun at The Bluebell Railway!
You can turn up on the day or book tickets in advance.
- Graham Parker's photo from 17 February shows 'Fenchurch' running round its train at Sheffield Park.
- Over 50 years ago the BBC filmed sections of John Betjeman's famous "Metroland" film at Horsted Keynes on the Bluebell Railway, and using our Metropolitan carriages,. It was shown again, on BBC4, on the 50th anniversary of its first transmission, and is now available on iPlayer in the UK for the next 27 days.
You can read more about the filming in this article discussing it with the director of the Metroland Film, Edward Mirzoeff.
- Our Model Railway Weekend will be back again on Saturday 1st & Sunday 2nd July.
Celebrating all things from the world of model railways, the Bluebell will play host to a number of layouts, stands and exhibitions at both Sheffield Park & Horsted Keynes. A busy timetable for our full-size trains will be in operation too, so join us for a fun weekend of all things miniature.
Find advance tickets and more information here.
- John Sandys' photo below shows 'Fenchurch' about to extract its carriage set from Sheffield Park Carriage Shed on Saturday morning.
- "The Southern Six" is the alliance of Southern preserved railways, and the photo below shows representatives of those railways who met at the Bluebell on Monday. The group spent the day working collectively on a number of areas of common interest. The group aims to meet every two months, to provide a strong and much-needed platform for discussion and support whilst meeting the current demands that our industry faces. You can read more about it in our Press Release.
- Our 2023 Road meets Rail event will be taking place 20 - 21 May at Horsted Keynes Station. Last year it was a fabulous event on our calendar, and we are really pleased to welcome it back.
Step back in time for a weekend of steam-powered demonstrations and vintage fairground fun! Traction engines, road rollers, steam wagons, showman's engines, crane engines and more... bringing Horsted Keynes station to life with recreations of a bygone age.
It's steam at its best; both on and off the rails!
Tickets are available now, so join us for this year's Road meets Rail event!
- A new Chairman's Weekly Update is available to download as a PDF.
- John Sandys provides a gallery of photos he took today, including that on the right, showing Fenchurch having just collected the stock for the first train of the day from the carriage shed at Sheffield Park.
- An update with the latest news on 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair's overhaul is available on the Bulleid Society's web site. The photos below, thanks to John Fry, show further work on the ashpan, and the tender, which is being worked on in the maintenance shed. There are further photos covering other recent aspects of the work in the update.
- On this day in 1923, No. 1472 (4472 and later 60103) subsequently named 'Flying Scotsman', entered passenger service, becoming a flagship loco of the London & North Eastern Railway.
100 years later, the world's most famous steam locomotive will be visiting the Bluebell Railway this summer, running non-stop return services between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead for seven days between 23 and 29 August. All seats must be pre-booked in advance, and will be on sale soon.
To celebrate the centenary the National Railway Museum have released a special episode of Curator with a Camera, in which Anthony Coulls explores this iconic engine's fascinating engineering secrets and finds out what it's like to drive.
- Paul Furlong's photo shows 'Flying Scotsman' climbing Freshfield Bank with the opening Breakfast Special of its 2017 visit to the Bluebell Railway.
- In the run-up to our Branch Line Gala in April, and the visit of 'Flying Scotsman', why not book your place on one of our half-day Lineside Photography Safety Courses, which are a pre-requisite if you wish to gain access to our lineside to take photographs away from the station platforms.
- Seen in the photo below taken on Wednesday, Stroudley Brake No. 949 has emerged gleaming in its first coat of varnish after a week in the paintshop, and now awaits lifting in the jacking area to complete work on the underside of the carriage.
- Whilst 949 was occupying the paintshop, Dave our painter has put the first topcoat on our "heritage" Mk.1 TSO No. 4754. Beyond it can be seen Metropolitan carriage No. 394 which is to have some repairs to a few split teak panels, and has had its doorlocks stripped off in preparation for fitting brand new locks.
- Two wagons left the workshop on Tuesday, after a successful working week for the The Bluebell Railway Goods Division - three wagons in a couple of weeks must be a record for outshoppings.
SR 8-plank No. 37786 has simply had a rapid 1-week repaint (and three rotten planks replaced with good plank sections salvaged after the re-planking of the SR Engineer's Wagon). The lettering would ideally have been re-done into the later SR style it would actually have carried, but the contract for a forthcoming filming assignment required it to remain as it was, and in any case there wasn't really enough time to re-letter it properly. The wagon will require a more major overhaul in some years time, so it can be dealt with then.
SR Bulleid 5-plank wagon No. 12058 still awaits the tare lettering, but is otherwise essentially now finished, after its long-running rebuild from a departmental shunting wagon conversion. In its "unpainted English hardwood" finish, as originally outshopped when new, it will turn a few heads!
- Maunsell Q-class No. 30541 has, 8 years into its 10-year boiler certificate, been removed from service with firebox problems. Having had its cylinders re-bored and steam pipes and piston rods replaced early in 2022, it is mechanically fairly sound, and consideration might be given to the possibility of a rapid boiler repair and new ticket, although it would also receive new tyres and a new tender tank, so available finance will determine what's possible.
- The first photo below, from Tony Sullivan, shows today's arrival - a ballast tamper to finish off the engineering work at Vaux End. There is also enough good reclaimed ballast from the Vaux End job to enable the relaying with improved drainage of a short "wet" section north of the tunnel, for which rails and sleepers are already to hand, but no ballast.
- The second photo shows that Pullman Car 54 has made it into the paint shop at Horsted Keynes, so the end of this expensive and painstakingly time-consuming project is also in sight. It will be worth it! There's still a month's work fitting out the remainder of the interior, and getting the doors and droplights to fit (now it's finally down on its bogies and the body can finally sit level), which will be done alongside the undercoating.
- Graham Parker's photo from Friday shows 'Fenchurch' crossing the River Ouse Bridge with its train.
- Steam trains will be running once again this coming weekend between Sheffield Park & Horsted Keynes, featuring No. 72 'Fenchurch'.
The public service trains will run to this timetable. In addition, the SECR O1-class will be hauling the lunchtime Pullman Dining Train.
Our fantastic "Kids For A Quid" travel offer will also be in place once again, children between 3-15 years can travel for just £1 with any fare-paying adult.
With the Bluebell Railway Museum, and Steamworks interactive locomotive exhibition also open, why not come and visit us this weekend! Buy your tickets on the day, or in advance.
- The overhaul of SECR H-class No. 263 started late last year. It is planned that it should receive a rapid turn-around in view of the generally good condition of the boiler, and recent significant mechanical work. It does require new crown girders and tubes, new tyres and new springs. It is also expected that we will need to fit a new cylinder block. The work is to be funded by a grant from the Bluebell Railway Trust, in part thanks to a bequest left by Ray Tanner specifically for work on this locomotive.
A new web page has been created to cover reports of the work on the locomotive as it progresses.
The photos below, from Tom James and Andy Kelly, show the chassis with the cab, tanks and boiler removed, and the boiler being prepared for its repair.
- David Cable's photo was taken yesterday under dark skies, and shows 'Fenchurch' with its train at Three Arch Bridge.
- The closing date for memberships for the 2023/24 500+ club is 28 February. This club is to support the restoration and maintenance of the Bluebell locomotive No. 34059 'Sir Archibald Sinclair', and you can also win prizes. Full details are on The Bulleid Society website.
- Work started on the overhaul of 9F 92240 under the auspices of the "Awake the Giant" project last Saturday (11 February). With a great turnout of 9 volunteers, the day started with a safety briefing from engineering lead Martin Payne, and progress was made preparing the tender for a full repaint. If you would like to help in the next working party please contact Andy Taylor via email or the Facebook Group.
The first photo below shows progress patching the tender with primer, and the second, shows that on Thursday Martin cut a safe-access hole into the water space from the coal space. This will be welded back in once work inside the water space is completed.
18 February - Further news updates
Our shop's latest exclusive model is this Turners of Lewes/Sheffield Park Sawmill Private Owner Wagon produced for us by Dapol. Turners timber yard and sawmill occupied the site behind our station, with sidings roughly where we now have our Carriage Shed. Albert Turner & Sons transferred their sawmill from Nutley to Sheffield Park in 1896. By 1904 the yard was putting out 50 trucks of timber each week, on 2-3 special trains! By 1914 the traffic had fallen, but was still the most valuable timber account on the LBSCR. Traffic increased again to ship out 8-10 wagons each day in the post-World War 1 period. After the 1926 General Strike, timber started to be moved more by road, and by the 1950s the condition of the sidings (maintenance of which was the responsibility of the Sheffield Park Estate) was such that traffic ended in March 1950 (when the daily Lewes-Kingscote goods service was also withdrawn). One of the very last consignments was a wagon-load of barrel staves, going to Burton-on-Trent to make beer barrels. Turners yard continued to operate alongside the newly preserved Bluebell Railway, and timber offcuts were readily provided for lighting up our locomotives. The Turners' logo, as reproduced on the wagon, featured in their advertising board behind our station platform.
- The early morning mist and the steam heat escaping from the carriages contributes to the atmosphere in Brian Dandridge's shot from yesterday morning.
- There's an update to the web page for Bulleid Brake Third No. 4035, the underframe of which is still on the Bluebell. Until the move on Tuesday of three of our Bulleid carriages (1464, 1482 and 2526, along with Mk.1 No. 1818) over the main line from Carnforth to Hull, research suggests that No. 4035 was probably the last such vehicle to have run over the national network, in the early 1980s, as part of a Chipmans Chemicals weedkiller train.
- In addition, the web page for LSWR/SR carriage No. 320 has been edited adding additional information, with thanks to Colin Watts and bloodandcustard.com.
- 73082 'Camelot' has returned from its visit to the Great Central Railway.
- For the remainder of Half Term week, we have four more days of our steam trains (an intensive service between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes - download timetable here), the fantastic Ice Skating in our locomotive shed, and our Kids for a Quid special offer, daily until Sunday.
- Later on yesterday the sun came out and it turned into a glorious day. The photos below are from Nick Gilliam ('Fenchurch' passes Town Place Farm with the 1.30 service from Horsted Keynes) and David Cable (near Monteswood).
- Brian Dandridge's photo was taken on Sunday, showing 'Fenchurch' with the three pre-grouping Southern-liveried carriages.
- Video from Saturday from TheSoutherner
- Fenchurch's return to service continues to go well, and it's planned to be hauling the trains all this week. This photo gallery from Keith Duke features 'Fenchurch' today. Keith also has this Facebook video of 'Fenchurch' attacking Freshfield Bank - you need to be a member of the Unofficial Bluebell Railway Fb group to view it. Bear in mind that the loco can't do much until it's out of the speed restriction at the foot of the bank where the track hasn't yet been replaced (note the piles of sleepers ready for that work at some point in the future).
- Overhauled Engineer's wagon outshopped
Just over 2 years separates the photos below. It seems a long time since work started in December 2020, although you might want to get your sunglasses out for this one!
The wagon gang's first contribution to 100 years of the Southern Railway, SR 20 Ton Engineer's Wagon ED 62002 is complete. The team are dead chuffed with the results, all the hours needle gunning, crawling on the floor and painting have been worth it as you can see comparing it to the pre-restoration image, with the faded paintwork dating back to its initial overhaul in 2002, and the floor that had rotted out 5 years previously. This time round we've used a very durable (and moderately expensive) hardwood floor!
Engineer's wagons were painted in this vivid "Orange Oxide" colour, which was carefully researched when Alan Blackburn and Gerry Bixley originally overhauled the wagon in 2002.
The Goods Division wish to thank you for all the support you've given throughout this project and long may that support continue in the future now their first full restoration has made it out of the door, today.
Both photos below by Jack Gregory - 13 February 2023 vs 5 December 2020.
- 'Fenchurch' and the SECR O1 No. 65 were running yesterday. This portrait of our oldest locomotive on its first day in public service since overhaul, is by Neil Munro-Thomson.
- Photos of the trains running yesterday, from Luke Govus, from Neil Munro-Thomson, and John Sandys, and this video from Dan Gosling.
- Don't forget that our steam trains (an intensive service between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes only due to engineering works north of Horsted Keynes), the Ice Skating and our Kids for a Quid special offer all continue every day until Sunday 19 February.
- The February 2023 edition of Bluebell Times, published yesterday, includes:
- Don't get an electric shock - the juice is costing us a fortune
- 'Fenchurch' and Bulleid wagon are both in line for top annual awards
- Three visitors announced for Branch Line Gala
- What happens when a train breaks down along the line
- The Bluebell and Southern Railways Archive is soon to open to the public for researchers to visit in person
- Progress on the line's diesels - and Sir Archie is reunited with its boiler
- Carriage shop donates to the Maunsell Restaurant Car and Horsted Keynes renovation
- And much, much more
- By chance yesterday Tom and I chose to use the same excellent photo by James Cummins of 'Camelot' on the GCR, so since I'm presenting Tom's Bluebell Times cover here, I've changed yesterday's photo to another of James' from the same photo charter.
- Our half-term services, featuring the public debut of LBSCR Stroudley Terrier No.72 72 'Fenchurch' following its recent overhaul and return to its original 1872 livery, start today, to this intensive timetable, running all half term week until Sunday 19th. If you're bringing young kids, don't forget they travel for just £1.
- The two photos below show recent progress in the carriage works. Dave Clarke's photo shows Mk.1 Brake Composite No. 21246, which has had just a couple of weeks in the paint shop for attention to some cracks in its filler, and patch painting, and as seen here, a coat of varnish on the affected section of the west side of the coach. The second photo shows that the lettering and lining of LBSCR Stroudley Brake No. 949 is progressing rapidly. This coach is about to move into the paint shop for a week for varnishing.
- James Cummins' photo shows our Standard 5, No. 73082 'Camelot', on 31 January at Rabbit Bridge on the Great Central Railway during a photo charter.
- Another week, and the second of Paul Churchman's weekly Chairman's Updates has been released.
- The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes station is open this weekend and additional days next week, since the railway is re-opening for Half Term services, and with trains terminating at Horsted Keynes, there should be plenty of visitors about:
It currently holds a wide selection of second-hand books, model railway items, Thomas the Tank Engine toys, bound magazines, old timetables, DVDs and many other railway and transport related items in stock. Sales for these items help support projects across the Bluebell Railway.
- Saturday 11th February 11am to 4pm
- Sunday 12th February 9.30am to 3.30pm
- Monday 13th February 10am to 4pm
- Tuesday 14th February 10am to 4pm
- Thursday 16th February 10am to 4pm
- Friday 17th February 10am to 4pm
- Saturday 18th February 11am to 4pm
- Sunday 12th February 9.30am to 3.30pm
- Our Ice Skating rink is open from Friday 10 to Sunday 19 February! Come down to Sheffield Park Station for a 45-minute skate session, with each session starting on the hour.
Our "Kids For A Quid" travel offer will also be running from 11 to 19 February, so why not combine the two and visit us this half term!
PLEASE NOTE: Trains will be operating between Sheffield Park & Horsted Keynes only during this event.
Reduced travel fares apply, and a special shuttle service using one of our oldest steam locomotives and Edwardian carriages will be running - download the special shuttle timetable.
You can book for the skating (choose a time slot), for train tickets (choose an all-day time-slot), or choose both if you'd like combined skating and train ride tickets - BOOK TICKETS HERE.
- We are pleased to report that we have been shortlisted in two categories in the Heritage Railway Association's Annual Awards:
The award winners will be announced on 11 March.
- LB&SCR Terrier No. 72 'Fenchurch' is one of four finalists for the Coiley Award for Steam Locomotive Engineering.
- SR Bulleid Open Wagon No. 12058 is one of just three Carriage & Wagon projects in contention for the Morgan Award for Rolling Stock Preservation.
- The 1305 Oxted Thumper Gang is now on Instagram (Thumpstagram!)
- Luke Arnold's photo of 'Fenchurch' with three SR-liveried pre-grouping carriages, taken when he was signalman at Horsted Keynes on Sunday, shows a crew-familiarisation run in preparation for our half-term services - yes, this is the superb train that awaits you if you come down for a ride! A newly overhauled 150-year-old locomotive and three centenarian carriages.
- We re-start our public train services over half-term week, 11-19 February, and then are running at weekends through to the end of March. Because of engineering works these services are only operating between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes.
Over half term we have our Kids for a Quid discount offer.
Between 10 and 19 February we have Ice Skating at Sheffield Park station. Enjoy the sights and sounds of steam whilst you skate upon the ice within our engine shed. Sessions can be booked throughout the day, with sessions lasting 45 minutes on the ice. See more information, timings and tickets.
- A major update, with new maps, has been made to the page showing the historic track layout, and how it evolved, at the former West Hoathly Station.
- This photo (I think from Tim Crump) illustrates the fantastic progress on the major embankment repair, drainage renewal and re-grading which has been taking place at Vaux End, a mile north of Horsted Keynes. All 520 yards of rebuilt formation has now got ballast back down, compacted, and as seen here, the curves are now being set out (the yellow line marking the sleeper ends). There will be a mammoth report to add to the infrastructure news pages soon!
- A couple of videos from the GCR Winter Steam Gala:
Ashley Smith's, and Daniel Gosling's video in which 'Camelot' features from 14 minutes in.
- We are looking for waiting staff to serve on our prestigious Steam-hauled 'Golden Arrow' Pullman dining trains.
Our Silver Service waiting team are an integral part of what makes our guests' luxury day special, and we are currently recruiting new team members. You will be well presented and a naturally courteous communicator.
For more information and to apply, visit our Job Vacancies page.
We also have other catering vacancies, and are also recruiting for senior engineering posts in our Locomotive Workshop.
- The Bluebell Railway Goods Division, having prepared a 5-year plan, have published their agreed Wagon Works Plan for 2023. To support this planned programme of work, please consider donating via the Trust - details here, buying something from the Goods Division Shop, or joining the gang as a volunteer - contact by messaging on Facebook or Instagram. SR Engineers' Wagon ED 62002, seen here, is almost ready to be outshopped, after a heavy-intermediate overhaul.
- BBC Radio Sussex broadcast an interview with Roy Watts about Oxted DEMU 1305 this evening at 5.43pm. You can catch it on BBC Sounds at 3:43:20 into the programme (available for the next 28 days).
- A further four days of Steam Footplate Tasters with SECR O1-class No. 65 on 5, 8, 9 & 10 February have been announced today.
- 'Camelot' on tour!
Nick Gilliam's photo shows 73082 'Camelot' at the GCR Gala this weekend, as it passes Kinchley Lane with the 11.40 minerals from Loughborough on Saturday.
Nick's photo below shows 73156 double heading with 73082 passing Woodthorpe with the 1.45 from Loughborough that day.
- See also a gallery of photos from the Great Central this weekend from Keith Duke.
- On 26 January the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society Chairman, Paul Churchman, announced some changes to the Bluebell Railway plc board and on 27 January released a statement from Geoff Mee.
- Pie & Mash Supper Trains - this March
A perfect way to keep warm in the colder months of the year - our Pie & Mash supper trains return on 3, 10, 17 & 31 March.
Tickets are available to Book now!
- If you have not already seen it in the January edition of Bluebell Times, the Rolling Stock Committee is currently consulting on the option of setting up a Southern Railway Coach Group through a survey, as a way of increasing interest in the restoration and maintenance in rolling stock designed by the Southern Railway and its constituent companies on the railway.
You can download/read the article here. The survey remains open until the 13th February and can be completed by following this link.
- The latest news update on the BR Standard 2MT project to construct No. 84030 is now available.
This photo shows the new right-hand side tank which has been constructed off-site.
- FIRE AND ICE
A day out with a difference at The Bluebell Railway this half term as Ice Skating returns to Sheffield Park station, from the 10th to the 19th of February.
Enjoy the sights and sounds of steam whilst you skate upon the ice within our engine shed. Sessions can be booked throughout the day, with sessions lasting 45 minutes on the ice.
See more information, timings and tickets.
Don't miss out and book today!
- Oxted DEMU 1305 ran up to Horsted Keynes today, as seen on the right in Laurie Anderson's photo of it at Rock Cutting where it stopped for a check that all was well.
Matthew Cousins' photo below shows it on arrival at Horsted Keynes, where it will receive a body overhaul over the next couple of years. Please do consider donating to this project.
- Two days of Steam Footplate Tasters with SECR O1-class No. 65 on 3 & 4 February have been announced today and are selling fast!
- The second photo below shows the Bluebell-owned main-line VEP unit 3417 was fitted with some original VEP curtains on Tuesday. These curtains had been rescued when stripped from the units when it was decided to dispense with curtains in the units many years ago. We came across them last week when clearing out old stores at the Bluebell, and couldn't think of a better use for them!
- An update with many other photos covering the latest news on 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair's overhaul is available on the Bulleid Society's web site.
The boiler is now moving rapidly towards completion, and has been rolled over to give access to the interior of the firebox and syphons to allow for more stays to be finished. The flue and smoke tubes are seen alongside, in John Fry's photo, and awaiting fitting, with the ends of the tubes being cleaned prior to insertion into the tubeplates.
Details of how you can support the restoration and maintenance of 34059, and win prizes, by joining the 500+ club are on The Bulleid Society website, since memberships for the 2023/24 club are now available.
- Oxted DEMU 1305 has been started and made some moves around the loco yard, as seen in Martin Lawrence's video, here.
- Tony Sullivan's photo shows 5MT No.73082 'Camelot' departing for the Great Central's Winter Steam Gala, as Oxted DEMU No. 1305 arrives at Sheffield Park this morning. The two low loaders, which brought the 2-car "Thumper" unit (latterly 207202 'Brighton Royal Pavilion') in to the Bluebell, later returned northwards with 'Camelot' and its tender.
- 1305 is now owned by the Bluebell Railway, and is mechanically in operational condition. The interior and bodywork require attention, which the newly formed 1305 Oxted Thumper Gang, which includes people with experience of maintaining such units in their main-line days, plan to undertake over the next couple of years without calling on the services of the Bluebell's C&W department. Over the coming days a full Bluebell Railway web page will be prepared for the unit, but there's now a new Multiple Unit stock list, covering the most important details and history of the two Bluebell-owned units. See also the Railway's Press Release (16 January 2023) about the project.
To donate towards the costs of getting this 1962-built unit up and running on the Bluebell, please use the link buttons here, and choose "Oxted DEMU 1305" from the drop-down menu.
As a unit which was designed for and operated on the lines through Oxted from London to East Grinstead, it is local to our area and an important part of the historical story of the railways of Mid-Sussex.
The intention is that the unit will provide an economical means to provide earlier morning and later evening services than is possible using steam locomotives, to enable people arriving via East Grinstead to have a longer day at the Railway.
- The photos below, by Tony Sullivan and James Cummings, show the two parts of the unit re-connected at Sheffield Park. Once it's been inspected and passed fit to travel on Bluebell metals, it will be transferred to Horsted Keynes up yard.
We're pleased to announce the new Bluebell Railway Trust web pages, to help keep Bluebell Members and supporters up to date with what's going on, provide information about projects and current fundraising, and useful resources such as the information about leaving Gifts in Wills to the Railway, via the Trust.
This latter initiative, launched in the Winter issue of Bluebell News and on the Trust's web pages, includes details of how, working with an online portal, LawEasier from local solicitors Mayo Wynne Baxter, Bluebell supporters can obtain a 25% discount on their online legal services.
To find out more, simply visit the new Gifts in Wills page.
- The January 2023 edition of Bluebell Times includes:
- Dates confirmed for the volunteer workshops - sign up now!
- Take 5 with the Railway's safety team
- Time for a Southern Railway Coach Group? Read the proposal from the Rolling Stock Committee and take their survey
- A round-up of the best pictures of the Railway in the snow
- News about our namesake locomotive No. 73133
- Farewell to the museum's long-standing curator
- And much, much more
- Nick Dearden's 2022 video, shot mainly at the Bluebell, with a few local main line steam trains as well.
- The final SteamLights services of the season ran on Sunday evening. This video shows the earlier of the two trains that evening, setting off from Horsted Keynes on the return trip behind the SR Q-class locomotive.
- The Winter Edition of our house journal, Bluebell News, should now be in the post to BRPS Members.
1 January 2023
- Happy New Year
2023 sees some important centenaries!
- The Southern Railway came into existence on 1 January 1923, with the "grouping" of the three main companies running trains to the South of London. Today's entry therefore showcases a number of significant events taking place this year which are relevant to the Centenary.
2023 will see the return to service after a thorough restoration of SR Maunsell "Hastings-line" brake third No. 3687 (as seen in Alex Morley's photo on the right).
The Bluebell Railway Goods Division are well advanced on the heavy intermediate overhaul and re-planking of SR Engineers' Wagon DS62002 (below left, Jack Gregory's photo) and the reconstruction from scrap condition of SR Bulleid-era 5-plank goods wagon No. 12058 (seen in the snow on 11 December 2022 in Laurie Anderson's photo). It is also hoped to do work during the year on a number of other "grouping" era wagons, and present a goods train of the era for special events.
- On the Locomotive side, the Southern Railway is currently represented by Maunsell Q-class No. 541, which with a bit of luck could see a return to SR livery in recognition of the centenary. It is seen in Tony Sullivan's photo on the left setting off from Sheffield Park Station with a Santa Special service on 22 December 2022.
Southern Railway Bulleid Pacific 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair" is hoped to re-enter service later this year too.
- 2023 is also the centenary of the K-type Pullman, a very long-lived design, and the first Pullman to feature a separate steel underframe - the Bluebell's Car 54, built by Claytons in Lincoln, was one of the first three of the type. It is coming to the end of a thorough overhaul in our workshops, and is seen there below left.
- Visiting the Bluebell later this year is the famous 1923-built locomotive "Flying Scotsman", which will be drawing the crowds to our line in August, on loan from the National Railway Museum. The photo below shows it on its previous visit, in April 2017 (photo by David Long).
- During the first three months of 2023 we are undertaking a major repair to the track formation at Vaux End, which has prevented us running short-wheelbase vehicles north of Horsted Keynes for some time. The work to stabilise the embankment there will correct faults dating back to Southern Railway days, but will mean that we can only operate trains between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes for that period. Our next public steam train service are daily in half-term week, from 11 February, and then at weekends until the end of March.