Bluebell Railway Blog:
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Blog and Web-site Update Archive 2019
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the SECR H-class with the Victorian varnished teak set of carriages at West Hoathly on Saturday 27 April.
- Starting tomorrow: 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 & 10 May - Bluebell Specials for the best view of this year's superb displays of lineside bluebells, from our 1913-built Observation Carriage.
- HAVE YOU VOLUNTEERED AT THE RAILWAY FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS?
Details of the new BRPS 10-year volunteer awards now available.
- Project 27 Blog features further updates on the riveting of the new main frame plates and the new cylinder block for SECR P-class No.27.
- Updated web pages with improved and/or additional photos for LSWR carriage No.1520, SECR carriage No.971, and SR Bulleid carriages No.5768 and No.1464.
- On 15-16 June we have our Road meets Rail event, with traction engines, steam trains and a Sussex Ales Beer Festival. Note this event is now taking place only over 2 days.
- Update to the Loco Roster, covering May, showing what locomotives we currently expect to have in service each day.
- We are currently recruiting for a Marketing & Event Coordinator to work in our Marketing Department.
- Two more of Brian Lacey's photos below from Saturday 27 April. SECR O1-class No.65 is being prepared for its duty on the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea service; in the background the new locomotive maintenance shed can be seen, with the external cladding now pretty much finished. The Q-class arrives at Horsted Keynes with a 5-coach train formed entirely of SR-designed Maunsell and Bulleid carriages, including the Bulleid Society's newly overhauled No.5768.
- This comprehensive Photo Report covers the visit of LNER B1 No.61306 'Mayflower' on 23rd March's Steam Dreams Railtour. The report features a huge selection of great photos! Steve Lee's photo here shows Mayflower heading the Bluebell portion of the tour at Vaux End, climbing towards the tunnel.
- We are running our peak Service Three Timetable every day through to Easter Monday, 22 April, with two or three locomotives in steam every day. Buy your tickets in advance for a discount, or turn up on the day and purchase them at any of our stations on arrival.
- More on Mayflower's visit:
- The Great Northern Railway Directors' Saloon is running this weekend, for private parties, but is in public service over the four days of the Easter weekend. This News Update also includes an appeal for new volunteers to join in helping to crew the saloon.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows the Q and S15 passing at Horsted Keynes on Saturday 6 April. The "A" set of carriages was formed of our four Victorian Metropolitan Railway carriages, strengthened if required with the Observation Car. The "B" set was formed of Bulleid and Mk.1 carriages.
- Videos from Branch Line Weekend:
- Nick Dearden,
- J R Railway Videos,
- Dan Gosling,
- George's Railway Videos,
- Ashley Smith;
- Glen Mears,
- Ashley Smith,
- Keith Duke on the Friday and the Saturday,
- Dave Bowles' photos from the Friday night-shoot, the Saturday, the Sunday, and the Photo Charter on the Monday,
- John Sandys, from the Friday and the Sunday.
- Derek Hayward has upgraded his album for BR Standard 5MT No.73082 'Camelot'.
- During the course of the last week, not everything went to plan, with the H-class taking the Q's duty on Wednesday, and the Q on the S15's turn for the day, whilst for two days, as seen in John Sandys' photo below, the "A" set was formed of the Edwardian Stock. Today everything was back to the original plan, with the addition of LCDR 1889-built brake carriage 114 added to the Mets, as seen in John's second photo (more of his photos from today are here). With the GN Saloon on this set over the weekend, we will have a 6-coach varnished teak set running!
- Andrew Crampton's photo shows the departure from Horsted Keynes of the visiting LNER B1 No.61306 'Mayflower', during the return leg of the Bluebell section of Steam Dreams' Railtour on 23 March. This particular train was formed of the locomotive's support carriage plus our 7 Southern Railway corridor carriages, with 847 on the rear, which would return the Bluebell stock once 'Mayflower' and the passengers transferred to the railtour stock, at Kingscote.
A full photo report of the visit should be available here soon.
- 19-22 April - Easter Weekend - Easter Treasure Hunt with small prizes for children who complete the trail - Free entry with an all-day rover ticket - buy your tickets in advance for a discount! (Note this event is now not being run on 18 April).
- Update to the Loco Roster, covering April, showing what locomotives we currently expect to have in service each day.
- The Railway needs your help - we're looking for Volunteer Car park attendants for special events.
- The new cylinders for P-class No.27 have returned from being machined - see the report on the Project 27 BlogSpot.
- An updated version of the Photo Report from the Branch Line Weekend has been created, with apologies to Andrew Crampton for including the wrong image under his name in the origial version, and adding an additional photo of the visiting locomotives by Steve Lee plus the event summary by our Communications Director, Roger Garman, which reveals that ticket sales were up 30% compared to the same event last year.
- Infrastructure update, with news of work on the carriage shed extension at Horsted Keynes (OP4), work on a set of points at East Grinstead, and a great example of "upcycling" evident outside the infrastructure lobby at Horsted Keynes, as also shown in Bruce Healey's photo below.
- John Sandys' photo below shows the Q-class expelling condensate from its cylinders in preparation for the first train of they day yesterday, which launched our main midweek running season. John has more photos and videos from the day here.
- During March 2019 there were 47,001 total hits on this page, from 25,544 unique visitors.
- Our three-day Branch Line Weekend got off to a fantastic start yesterday. Julian Clark's photo shows the cavalcade of four ex-LSWR locomotives passing Nobles Bridge on its way to Horsted Keynes. Our resident Adams Radial, No.30583, and B4 No.30096 'Normandy' will be posed for photos at Horsted Keynes for the remaining two days of the weekend. Today and tomorrow we have six locos in action, and a greater variety of trains and loco combinations thereon.
- Check out the intensive timetable, this key to the carriage sets being used, catering details, and full details of the weekend.
- In addition to the many attractions at Horsted Keynes, we have, at Sheffield Park, Atlantic House open - view work on the reconstruction of 32424 'Beachy Head', an information stand for Project 27, the Bulleid Society Shop, our Museum, and the SteamWorks! exhibition. Author James Baldwin will be at the shop there today signing copies of his books on the Brighton Atlantics and the Great Northern Atlantics.
- Photos and videos from yesterday include:
Photos from Neil Munro-Thomson,
Photos from Keith Duke,
Video from The Southerner,
Photos and a couple of videos, showing the visiting engines at Sheffield Park, and getting away from Horsted Keynes, from John Sandys.
- Julian Clark's photo below shows the visiting ex-LSWR engines W24 and 30587 approach New Road Bridge near Horsted Keynes yesterday, with the 09.30 service from Sheffield Park.
Jonathan Hughes' photo is from yesterday's evening photo shoot with the two visitors, joined by our newly repainted Adams Radial Tank.
- John Sandys' photo catches the Isle of Wight O2-class W24 'Calbourne' and Beattie Well Tank No.30587 as they leave Horsted Keynes with the first train of the day today, launching our Branch Line Weekend.
- 60 years ago today, on Sunday 15 March 1959, a meeting was convened in Haywards Heath by four students, who invited Mr Bernard Holden to take the chair. It was his 50th birthday. The meeting concluded that an attempt should be made to save the line and run a train service upon it. A committee was elected, and the first members of our Society were duly signed up.
Tonight a Diamond Anniversary Dinner for BRPS members to celebrate the event was held in East Grinstead. Our guest speaker was Sir Peter Hendy, CBE, chairman of Network Rail, and we also welcomed Cllr Rex Whittaker, East Grinstead Town Mayor.
Present tonight, as they had been 50 years ago, were Chris Campbell, one of the students who had called that first meeting, Charles Hudson (who had arrived late, and was thus in position to sign up at the table at the back at the end of the meeting as our first member), and Malcolm Saker who had been sitting towards the front and who, like Charles, is still an active volunteer 60 years on.
- Martin Lawrence's photo shows both the visiting ex-LSWR engines, W24 'Calbourne' and Beattie Well Tank No.30587, ready for our Branch Line Weekend which starts tomorrow (Friday).
Take a look at the timetable - Catering details.
On Saturday and Sunday, with many trains terminating and starting at Horsted Keynes, our former junction will be a hive of activity, with brake van rides, guided tours of the Carriage Workshop, children's play carriage, cinema room, model railway, and extended opening at The Carriage Shop (9am to 6pm all three days).
- Martin Lawrence's second photo, taken today, shows Bulleid Composite Carriage No.5768, which enters service tomorrow as part of a 4-coach Bulleid set, following its complete rebuild. Its previous period of service on the Bluebell was from 1976 to 1993.
- We are currently recruiting for a Digital Co-ordinator to work in marketing and business development, and the Catering Department is seeking seasonal staff.
- Rails into the new loco maintenance shed
The infrastructure team have been laying yet more track, but this time only a very short section into the new loco maintenance shed at Sheffield Park. The frame of the shed is complete and the cladding now in place on both the east and west walls. The request to infrastructure turned out to be a little premature as not all of the track bed was ready for track although the team did manage to get about 2/3 of the required track laid last Friday. It will be finished ASAP though so that the contractor can concrete the track in place.
Unfortunately, due to the position and alignment of the west wall, the new track position will not enable reconnection to the tram road leading out to the top carpark without breaking out a lot of concrete and relaying the curve from a long way back. This is too big a job and expensive for now.
The photos below from Jon Goff show the new track progressing through the new loco maintenance shed, yet to be finally aligned.
- Both of the visiting ex-LSWR locomotives have now arrived, ready for the three-day Branch Line event next weekend. Martin Lawrence's photo shows the NRM's Beattie Well Tank at Sheffield Park yesterday. The O2 from the Isle of Wight arrived today.
- 15-17 March - Branch Line Weekend
Visiting LSWR engines W24 'Calbourne' and Beattie Well Tank No.30587
- Intensive timetable (updated)
- Buy tickets in advance
- Up to six locos in steam
- Showcase of the BR-era in the South West
- Adams Radial Tank 30583 and B4 30096 'Normandy' both specially re-liveried for the event to match the two visitors
- Cavalcade with all four ex-LSWR locomotives (Friday) and photo opportunities.
- Relaunch of SR Bulleid Composite Carriage No.5768
- 8 Victorian carriages including all four Metropolitan Railway carriages
- Carriage sets
- Brake Van Rides at Horsted Keynes on the Saturday and Sunday.
- Our South Eastern & Chatham Railway P-Class locomotive No.323 'Bluebell' has sadly been withdrawn from service with immediate effect. For an engine of her size she has worked extremely hard since returning to service in 2011 and now requires a full overhaul before she can steam again. Proving popular amongst our visitors, she has also flown the 'Bluebell' flag, spending time away at other railways too. This does also mean 'Bluebell' will not be appearing at our upcoming Branch Line Weekend as originally planned and we've therefore release an updated Branch Line Weekend timetable. With just two years remaining of its maximum 10-year certificate, its annual boiler examination revealed the need for major boiler work. Having now run 87,000 miles on the Bluebell it will also require major mechanical work before it next returns to service. In the interim it will normally be on display at Sheffield Park.
- Derek Hayward's upgrades to his locomotive photographic collections continue. The latest include S15 No.847, a timely update for that for P-class 323 'Bluebell' and SECR H-class No.263.
- The work on the 7B points at Sheffield Park described in the last update has continued this week, and Jon Goff's report, here, as of mid-week, shows the excavation and then relayed track, including the discovery of why the formation was getting waterlogged. His photo on the right shows everything connected up, with the new crossing timbers (and unseen beneath, new drainage and waterproof layer), but yet to be fully ballasted, as of Wednesday evening.
- Our Accessibility information is now presented formally in one place.
- John Sandys provides photos from today at Sheffield Park, and also from Wednesday. Wednesday's include distant photos of Mk.1 Open First (FO) No.3069, which has arrived on loan to us after receiving a comprehensive overhaul. It now awaits commissioning into service. In recent years we have used an FO (3064 Ashdown) in both the Wealden Rambler train and to provide additional seating in the Pullman train, which has involved a lot of shunting and general inconvenience, particularly when both trains run on the same day. Until such point as we have sufficient operational Pullmans to run an all-Pullman dining train, this second FO has been made available to us to prevent those issues, and has been painted in a BR(W) scheme to fit in with the Pullman set. Like 3064, it was built in 1955 for the Southern Region's Ocean Liner Express service.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows H-class No.263 arriving at Horsted Keynes with the Wealden Rambler set, which was forming the train for a wedding reception on Saturday, as the S15, No.847 waits patiently for the chance to depart with the 2:55 to Sheffield Park.
- More dates added, in May, for our sell-out Footplate Tasters.
- The Spa Valley Railway, Tunbridge Wells, Kent will run a special train named "The Roy Belle" on Tuesday the 30 April 2019 in memory of Roy Bell MBE who sadly died on 18 October 2018. A very respected career railwayman who held senior positions on the Southern and London Midland, in addition to his involvement on the Spa Valley, he was also a Bluebell member and provided financial support for Kingscote Signal Box. See details here for the Spa Valley's Special Train.
- During February 2019 there were 38,374 total hits on this page, from 21,921 unique visitors.
- Jon Goff reports on work started today on Sheffield Park 7B points:
In November, due to time restrictions, only the centre section of 7B points had its timbers replaced as seen on the Infrastructure News reports for 24 & 29 November 2018.
The old softwood timbers were life expired and so are the timbers under the crossing nose. Therefore we are correcting this before the full weekday running season begins. In addition we are lifting and putting in drainage for the 60' panel from road 1 which has been slowly sinking into the mud.
The pictures below show the progress at the end of the first day with the rails pulled out and the base under the crossing nose almost dug out. The first picture was taken standing on the section renewed in November. Unfortunately an old monument had to come out as two 20' long timbers that need to be replaced were sitting one on either side of it.
In addition, Jon Goff provides a full report on this winter's track relaying projects (available to view/download as a PDF). This is an enalarged and updated version compared to that provided on 14 January.
- For a number of years the Wednesday Gang (lineside management) has been split into 2 teams. WG(South) is currently working in the Lindfield Wood area, while, in recent weeks, WG(North) has been working between Black Hut and the south entrance to the tunnel. Brian Kidman's photo, taken on Wednesday of last week, shows the 12.30 train from East Grinstead passing the gang as it exits the tunnel.
- 23 March: Due to the incoming Steam Dreams Railtour, expected to be hauled by London & North Eastern Railway B1-class locomotive No.61306 Mayflower, a special timetable will operate on this day, to accomodate both the incoming train's timings, and offer its participants their own reserved Bluebell Railway train.
- As of earlier this week, there were four places available (due to cancellations) at the Society's 60th Anniversary Dinner (details here). Anyone interested should email robert(dot)hayward(a)bluebell-railway.co.uk asap.
- Another update on the Brighton Atlantic project, with thanks to Fred Bailey. His photo here shows the boiler with the smokebox initially supported on one of the lifting frames, which were originally made to lift the loco chassis, whilst the holes are drilled to fix these two components.
- Updates, thanks to additional historic photos from Ian Nolan, to the main web page for the Adams Radial Tank, and also the pages for Maunsell Nondescript Brakes 4441 and 4444. The Adams Radial Tank features heavily in the latest issue of Steam Railway magazine, including the front cover, editorial, as well as a further 9 pages inside, and is considered one of the stars of the forthcoming 15-17 March Branch Line Weekend.
- A small update, with photos below, thanks to Bruce Healey and Matt Crawford. Infrastructure have been working on the west side of Tremains crossing this week. At close of play yesterday (Wednesday) the work is nearly complete with only a few more fence wires to put in which was expected to happen today. There will have to be a later visit to retension the fence wires.
The following report is by Julian Heinemann of the 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society, who visited Horsted Keynes last Saturday to view progress on the Society's CCT (Covered Carriage Truck) No.2531 and took the accompanying photos.
Rapid progress towards completion is being made by the team restoring the Society's van at Horsted Keynes. The most noticeable external difference, has been the re-fitting of the restored large north and south end opening doors. Almost all the new plywood side sheets have been trial fitted, taken down for painting, and then re-attached permanently. As of 16th February only the 'bays' between the side doors and the corner posts were still to fitted.
With the Society's desire to see this 1955 built van restored as authentically as possible, the interior is now painted in brown. Consequently it will be much gloomier inside, compared to the BR light grey painted walls that it had when we acquired it from BR!
New long interior wooden side rails, which protect the windows from being damaged have been made up. Work was also progressing on new wooden bases for the externally mounted oval chalk boards. Simultaneously, a multitude of fittings from all around the van are starting to go back on. On the chassis three replacement step brackets and step-boards are now in place, BR having removed them at some point.
Whilst work has been heavily focused on the body, one should not forget that there is still the need to deal with the mechanicals, which is usually done at the end of the restoration programme. This work will include lifting the CCT on the jacks to drop out the two wheelsets for attention, overhauling the axle-boxes, brake testing, checking the suspension/buffing gear, adjusting the ride height, and completing a fitness to run exam - so there's still a little way to go before it's a 'runner'!
As ever, the 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society extends its grateful thanks to all those involved, for their dedication and skills.
- Brian Lacey's photo from today shows the S15 departing from Horsted Keynes with the 1.47 service to East Grinstead.
- Special weekend dining offer! Treat yourself or a loved one on this Saturday's Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea Service for just £39* per person. Served in our vintage 1950s lounge car service will be a superb range of exquisite sandwiches, mouthwatering cakes and pastries, delicious warm scones and your choice of unlimited coffee or tea from our extensive selection. The services departs from Sheffield Park Station at 14.45 and takes in the beautiful rolling Sussex countryside on its leisurely 1 & 3/4 hour journey. Book now.
* Special price for Sat 23 Feb only and must be booked by 23.59 on Fri 22 Feb 2019.
Tickets allow travel on other Bluebell trains that day too.
- John Sandys' album from today, a lovely Spring day, with lots of happy faces from the half-term holidaymakers.
- Peter Edwards' photo shows Southern S15 No.847 climbing Freshfield bank with the 11.30am train from Sheffield Park on Sunday 17 February.
- Half term steam: Our new Service Two timetable will be operating every day until Sunday 24th February, with 4 return trains from Sheffield Park each day at 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm & 3.30pm. Trains depart from East Grinstead at 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm & 4:30pm. £5 discount on online purchase of Family Tickets for Half Term.
- We're running free challenges and games in our SteamWorks! exhibition on platform one at Sheffield Park every day this week. Pick up a museum trail sheet as you enter SteamWorks! and hand in to a SteamWorks! explainer to claim your prize.
- Access to Horsted Keynes Station, Thursday 21 February: Station Approach will be closed for road repairs between the junction with Cinder Hill Lane and the entrance to the station. Therefore the only access to the station will be from the Ardingly to Haywards Heath road via Hammingden Lane and under the low bridge to the south of the station. Signs warning of these roadworks were only put out along the road yesterday. Visitors approaching from the east may therefore find it more convenient to drive to Sheffield Park rather than Horsted Keynes.
Note also that Lindfield High Street is closed for resurfacing until 1st March.
- The timetables are now available for our 15-17 March Branch Line Weekend featuring visiting London & South Western Railway engines W24 'Calbourne' and Beattie Well Tank 30587.
Brake Van Rides at Horsted Keynes on the Saturday and Sunday.
Showcase of the BR-era in the South West, with our own Adams Radial Tank 30583 and B4 30096 'Normandy' both specially re-liveried for the event to match the two visitors.
- Update to the Loco Roster, covering February and March, which also includes details of the three visiting engines during March.
- John Sandys' photo album from Saturday, and a few photos and 2 videos from last Wednesday's shunt.
- Derek Hayward has upgraded more of his photo galleries, featuring Q-class 30541, mainly taken since it re-entered service in 2015, and O1-class No.65.
- The first photo below, by Brian Lacey, shows the H-class with Saturday's Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train at Horsted Keynes.
- Ian Nolan's photo shows the Adams Radial Tank as it was on 11 Februray 1962, rubbed down ready for repainting, revealing the remains of the BR livery which had been hastily over-painted immediately upon the locomotive's arrival the previous summer. More of Ian's photos of 488 are available here.
- Steve Lee's photo from New Year's Day shows Standard 5 No.73082 'Camelot' climbing away from Sheffield Park.
- Half term Steam: Trains run daily 16-24 February, and every weekend in March to our new Service Two timetable. Pre-book for all-day rover tickets with a £5 per family discount for half term, or turn up and buy a ticket on arrival.
- Following the great success of this new service launched last year (when all the trains sold out), we are expanding our 'Sussex Belle' Luncheon train programme with 6 dates throughout this year - enjoy a delicious 2-course meal while travelling in one of our three comfortable 1950/60's lounge and restaurant carriages.
- Update on the winter's activities on the Project 27 Blogspot covering the restoration of SECR P-class No.27.
- Ticket booking now available online for our popular Rail Ale evening trains from East Grinstead, on 24 May, 19 July, 23 August and 27 September.
- Our latest News from the Bluebell Railway E-newsletter was published on Sunday - you can subscribe here to receive this fortnightly publication - and via the same link access the archive of past newsletters.
- Note a change of date, to 11 May, for the first of our two Toy & Rail Collectors' Fairs at Horsted Keynes.
- Update to our Infrastructure News page, collating all the recent news reports which have appeared on this Blog.
- Update to the Who's Who page, following the appointment of Billie-Jo Maynard as our new Marketing and Business Development Manager.
- John Sandys' photos below show the structural framework for our new locomotive running maintenance shed being built as part of the ASH project at Sheffield Park. Outside "Atlantic House" you can see the boiler for LBSCR H2 Atlantic No.32424 'Beachy Head'. Before the boiler is pressure tested, the cladding and ash pan are being made for it. The smokebox is nearly ready to be fitted. See more about the Atlantic in the E-newsletter.
- The second visiting locomotive for our 15-17 March Branch Line Weekend is London & South Western Railway Beattie Well Tank No.30587, which is visiting us courtesy of the National Railway Museum. It is seen here on a photo charter back in 2006.
The timetable for this event will be different each day, and will be available soon. On the Friday we will be operating an increased frequency timetable between East Grinstead and Sheffield Park, featuring shorter trains hauled by a selection of locomotives.
On both the Saturday and Sunday it will be a case of "All Change at Horsted Keynes" with an intensive timetable of trains between there and both Sheffield Park and East Grinstead and with frequent changes of locomotives. There will also be brake van rides available at Horsted Keynes.
- Track relaying north of Caseford Bridge - Bruce Healey and Jon Goff provide the three photos below, taken yesterday, showing the additional section of relaying which we have been able to undertake, started on Monday morning, thanks both to the main winter relaying having been finished in good time, and it having come in under budget, allowing the funding (from The Bluebell Railway Trust) to stretch further too.
The first photo above shows the state of play on Wednesday 6 February before 9am in the early morning gloom. The second was taken at about 4.30pm, in the failing light, and shows the line nearly joined up again.
Jon Goff's photo on the right shows Andy Palmer cutting in the closing section of old bullhead rail, as it was starting to get dark. After the last photos were taken, and in near darkness, the track was joined.
So in all, over just three days, the old track had been removed, plastic and Terram laid in the cutting section, ballast dozed even and wacked down smooth, all 13 panels of new flat bottom rail laid and a closing half panel of bullhead cut in. Despite the last joint being only fly-plated, and there still being some clipping up to do, the diesel, the ballast train, and the tamper can now run over the job, and ballasting will start on Thursday morning (i.e. today). This renewed section extends northwards from the Waterworks section which was laid in the snow last winter.
- As we start to look forward to our London & South Western Railway (LSWR) themed Branch Line Weekend on 15-17 March, we see here LSWR O2 Class W24 'Calbourne', taken on 19 August 2015 by Tim White, which is visiting us courtesy of the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Built in 1891, 'Calbourne' was the first locomotive to be acquired by the IoWSR and is the last survivor of its class.
The event features visiting LSWR engines W24 'Calbourne' and Beattie Well Tank No.30587, and will have our resident pair of Adams locomotives on display, both specially re-liveried for the event to match the two visitors. The pre-grouping image at the gala is upheld by our four operational South Eastern & Chatham Railway locomotives!
This photo is reproduced, having been adapted to appropriate sizes, under Creative Commons Licence BY-NC-SA 2.0.
- It is with great sadness that we report the sudden death of Derek Robinson, Membership Secretary of, and weekly volunteer with, the Friends of Sheffield Park. Details of the funeral arrangements are available here.
- The death of Roy Matthews last October is also now recorded on the BRPS Members' page. Roy had dedicated his retirement to the restoration of the Bluebell Railway's Metropolitan Railway carriages.
Stop Press - 5 February:
On 15 March 2019 we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the BRPS with a dinner. If you've mislaid the booking form from Bluebell News, it's available online here.
Although the original booking deadline has passed, there are still some places left - if any member would like to attend please respond ASAP.
- Steve Lee's photo from New Year's Day shows the O1 at West Hoathly station site, the last day of services until Half Term, when we have trains running every day from 16 to 24 February.
- Update on the current track renewal work, with thanks to Jon Goff.
Following the completion of the track replacement between Sloop Bridge and Monteswood Lane Bridge we were fortunate to have the use of a big main line tamper (photop below) while the tamper we normally use was undergoing maintenance. Balfour Beatty occasionally carries out operator training at the Bluebell, and in return we get some tamping done for free; a good arrangement for both parties. The tamper has on board computers which calculate the best position for the rails after measuring their existing positions and then lifts, push sideways, cants and tamps them accordingly. There is a tiny bit left to finish on the south side of Sloop Bridge, but all the rest of the half-mile stretch relayed over the last month is completely finished.
The next job, starting immediately, is 13 panels north of Caseford Bridge which almost gets us on to the straight up to Three Arch Bridge. It is pegged and has materials positioned ready and waiting, as seen in Jon's second photo below.
- During January 2019 there were estimated 40,774 total hits on this page, from 23,389 unique visitors.
- Brian Lacey's photo shows No.323 'Bluebell' on a Footplate Taster course on Saturday morning.
- The Catering Department is seeking volunteers.
- Catering opening hours for the facilities at all four of our stations, through to November 2919, are available here. Opening hours on Special Event days will be made available on the pages for individual events.
- Derek Hayward has continued implementing major upgrades to his photo galleries, adding new and higher resolution images. Recent updates have included:
- The photo below, also by Brian Lacey, shows Sheffield Park loco yard last Saturday, with the developing structure (the blue steel columns) of the new locomotive running maintenance shed being built as part of the HLF-funded ASH project. The new shed covers the site of our first 1960-built locomotive shed (which lasted 53 years) and the washout pit. "Atlantic House", where we are reconstructing LBSCR H2 Atlantic No.32424 'Beachy Head' is the green building to the left, behind SR U-class No.31618. The boiler of SR Schools-class No.928 'Stowe' is on the boiler trolley.
- The artist's impression on the left shows roughly what the new locomotive maintenance shed should look like once completed.
- Update to the web page for our Scenery Van No.4601, now used as a children's play carriage at Horsted Keynes, with updated details of its use carrying elephants in Billy Smart's Circus train.
- The Railway Heritage database, covering surviving heritage carriages, wagons, EMUs, turntables, trams, horse-drawn railway vehicles and locomotive tenders, is now moving from the Vintage Carriages Trust web site to a dedicated site provided by the Railway Heritage Register Partnership.
- Blog update from SETG, who are restoring our 4VEP unit, No. 3417 'Gordon Pettitt', at Strawberry Hill.
Jon Goff's photo shows the position at the end of play on Friday 18 January, when there was less than 30 feet to go to connect the newly relayed track to that relaid a year ago at Monteswood Bridge. The sun was getting too low in the sky to get the last pair of rails in before the weekend. The last pair of rails always take a little extra time and fiddle to get right with precise measurements and cutting of the rails, and there is always a bit of extra fiddling with the ballast as the last few feet can't be bulldozed and wacked like the rest. However the clear up has started with some of the plant already transported back to Horsted.
- Steve Lee's photo shows 73082 'Camelot' approaching Poleay Bridge with first train of 2019.
- Tickets are now on sale for our 15-17 March Branch Line Weekend. There will be a distinctly pre-grouping flavour with a busy timetable (available soon), featuring visiting LSWR engines W24 'Calbourne' and Beattie Well Tank No.30587 plus our four operational SECR locomotives. With our LSWR Radial tank and B4 'Normandy' on static display, it will be one of the largest gatherings of ex-LSWR locomotives in recent years.
- Details of Phillip Cooper's funeral are now available on the Society's Notices page.
- Track relaying - so close:
We had two 30-foot rails left over from the Waterworks relay last year which mean we didn't have to cut into new 60 foot rails. This completes half a mile, which was laid in approximately 80 hours with an average of 8-9 people each day. Much of it has been funded from bequests left to The Bluebell Railway Trust by generous late members.
- Jon Goff provides a detailed report on the current track relaying project (available to view/download as a PDF). The photo was taken at close of play on Tuesday 8 January, and shows a bit of all the activities. Sleepers in stacks (on old wooden sleepers) at the correct intervals within reach of the jib of the digger used to lift them, rails also ready to be lifted into position, the digger parked up for the evening, jokingly renamed "Norman" after one of the team, the smooth track bed with the line marked, the last group of four sleepers laid with the spacing former in position, the old track panels lifted out to the side, the white reference posts, the old occupation bridge at the half way point and most important of all, the blue mobile mess room where Barbara makes tea and bacon butties and to where the team are heading.
- Derek Hayward has updated his Sheffield Park Signal Box collection to reflect the work done on the LBSCR signals north of the station and the recent 2018 Siemens Award given to S&T. There are now 50 images available covering about the last 15 years:
- The Bachmann and Graham Farish 2019 catalogues were launched today, and Graham Muspratt provides a round up from an SR / BR(S) perspective, as he did last week for the 2019 Hornby anouncement. Both include items of relevance to the Bluebell; Terriers, SECR C-class and H-class, and Birdcage brakes in the later SECR plain brown, more Maunsell Restaurant Cars, and SR Pill Box brake vans.
They can all be pre-ordered through the Bluebell Railway Shop (and BRPS members get a discount).
- Brian Lacey's photo from New Years' Eve, shows O1 No.65 passing C-class No,592 at Horsted Keynes. Over the New Year period, the Southern Railway luggage van which is used as an Art Exhibition, was accommodated in the Carriage Works, where Matthew Cousins, with help from other volunteers, replaced some planks, and with Dave Clarke, gave it a full repaint of those areas which can't be accessed whilst it's in the Dock. The placing of the C-class in its place in the Dock proved very popular with our visitors over the post-Christmas period!
- Derek Hayward's gallery covering Sheffield Park Station has recently been updated, and features just over 300 images of the station covering the period 1998 - 2018.
- The Regulations under which the Bluebell Railway Trust operates are now available as a PDF file for those interested.
Bruce Healey provides this update on the track relaying currently taking place.
During the January closedown, our infrastructure team are relaying roughly half a mile of track between Sloop Bridge and Monteswood Lane Bridge. Around 44 sixty-foot track panels are being replaced. By close of play on Wednesday 9 January, the new track reached the half way point. We have been greatly helped by the young volunteers of our 9F Club and Network Rail people on "away days". Ballasting and tamping will take place when all of the new track is in place. The unseasonally warm weather and lack of rain have made our task a little easier.
The three photos, all taken yesterday, show:
1) the scrap track panels, cut into 30 foot lengths ready for transfer to Horsted Keynes, moved to the trackside. They will be dismantled there when the track relaying has been completed; this reduces the workload during the closedown period.
2) early in the day, the day's work area with new track can be seen looking south. The long-demolished Town House Farm occupation bridge is just behind the camera position.
3) later in the day, this is a similar shot with the abutment of the former bridge in view and the day's progress is evident.
3 January 2019:
- Steve Lee's photo shows No.65 on the embankment at Nobles on New Year's Day, with the 11.15 service from Sheffield Park. This was our last day of running trains for 6 and a half weeks, as we enter our winter maintenance period.
- Trains next run 16-24 February, and then at weekends in March to our new
Service Two timetable.
Tickets are available in advance or on arrival.
Until 15 February however, some stations are open for visitors and there will be steam, on our sold-out Footplate Taster courses, at Sheffield Park.
- Our first event of 2019 is our Branch Line Weekend on 15-17 March.
See our preliminary list of 2019 Special Events & Offers here.
- Dates are now available for our 2019 Fish & Chip evening supper trains - Book tickets here.
- The dates for our Rail Ale evening trains from East Grinstead are 24 May, 19 July, 23 August & 27 September
- Update to the web page for our Elephant Van, the restoration of which was completed in 2017. It is fitted out internally as a children's play carriage, and can be found at the South end of Platform 5 at Horsted Keynes.
- During December 2018 there were 40,340 total hits on this page, from 23,162 unique visitors. This page received its 10 Millionth hit on or around 25 November 2018, and having started as a web log on 27 October 1997 is one of the longest running continuously updated such pages on the entire Internet.
- Peter Edwards provides the photo below showing our very last train prior to the winter maintenance closedown: 73082 'Camelot' at Town House bridge with the 2.45pm train from Sheffield Park on New Year's Day. The materials for the forthcoming track relaying are seen stacked at the lineside.
- Next below is the north end of Pullman Car 54 in the carriage works at Horsted Keynes, where the new end timbers are taking shape very nicely. All the timber is being prepared in-house.
- The final photo, from John Sandys, shows Dennis of the Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) getting stuck into some maintenance work on a window sill on the Bessemer Arms yesterday, the first day of our winter maintenance period.
The Current What's New page contains
all the recent update information.
Also see the 2018, the 2017, the 2016, the 2015, the 2014, the 2013, the 2012, the 2011, the 2010, the 2009, the 2008, the 2007, the 2006, the 2005, the 2004, the 2003, the 2002, the 2001, the 2000, the 1999 and the 1997-8 "What was new" archive pages.
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