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Bluebell Railway Blog:
Archive 2020

Please be aware that due to the historical nature of this page, some of the links on it may be out of date.

Archive of the Blog/What's New pages

latestlatestMost recent updates
Older updates are in the What's New Archive
or the 2019, 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.

30 January: 41312 at Sheffield Park - Brian Lacey - 18 August 2005
  • We can now confirm the full line-up for our 3-5 April Branch Line Weekend.

    Ivatt Class 2 Tank Locomotive No. 41312 will be making a return visit, joining previously announced Taff Vale Railway Tank No. 85.

    The following Bluebell engines will also be running: SECR H-class No. 263, O1-class No. 65, P-class No. 178, SR Q-class No. 30541 and BR 4MT tank No. 80151.

    Pre-book your tickets now for an advance discount. Timetables will be available nearer the event.

    Brian Lacey's photos right and below show the Ivatt tank, which is based at the Mid Hants Railway, on its last visit to the Bluebell, when it was hired during 2005-6 principally to undertake steam-worked spoil trains on the extension, at Sheffield Park on 18 August 2005.

    Jonathan Horrocks' photo below shows TVR No. 85 on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway last June, hauling an array of vintage stock, led by three Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway carriages.

  • The first three of this year's Murder Mystery Evening Pullman trains have already Sold Out, so if you're thinking of booking for later in the year, don't delay and take a look at the details now.

41312 at Sheffield Park - Brian Lacey - 18 August 2005 85 at K&WR - Jonathan Horrocks - 23 June 2019

24 January:

178 at Sheffield Park - Brian Lacey - 18 January 2020
  • Another of Brian Lacey's photo from last Saturday, with P-class 178 in use on the Footplate Tasters.

  • Two further photos below from Brian Lacey. Firstly another of 178 from last Saturday, plus another from New Year's Eve, with No. 80151 passing though the former West Hoathly Station site.

178 at Sheffield Park - Brian Lacey - 18 January 2020 80151 at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 31 December 2019

23 January: The new rail extends well beyond 3 Arch Bridge - Bruce Healey - 22 January 2020

News Update Infrastructure News - Midweek update from Bruce Healey and Brian Kidman reporting great progress with the track relaying at Three Arch Bridge, yesterday.

Bruce Healey's photo on the right was taken early on Wednesday morning. The new rail extends well beyond 3 Arch Bridge. By the bridge, our Signals & Telecoms (S&T) volunteers are working at a lineside cabinet. The S&T involvement is because this area is covered by track circuits connected to the Horsted Keynes signalbox, and the phone post at the bridge also needed to be moved.

The photo below, from Brian Kidman, shows a general view of the cutting looking south, with members of the Wednesday Gang (North) which has been working alongside Matt Crawford's track team for some weeks.

Wednesday Gang (North) in 3 Arch Cutting - Brian Kidman - 22 January 2020

Terry Jones as Toad, on the C-class
  • We were saddened to hear of the death of Terry Jones, who played 'Toad' in Wind in the Willows, filmed on the Bluebell in October 1995. Many volunteers have fond memories of working alongside him (and other "Pythons") as he stole the C-class locomotive, and "crashed" it.

  • We are also sorry to report that Jean Cook, ex-wife of Barry Cook, a former loco driver and pub owner (Fireman's Arms at Five Ash Down, now the Pig & Butcher), passed away last week. Jean was very much part of the railway life in the early days, especially when they lived in Newick and she was involved in the Social sub-committee. Funeral details are available on the BRPS Member's Notices page.

21 January: Preparations north of Three Arch Bridge - Jon Goff - 16 January 2020
  • News Update Three Arch relay:  End of the second week.
    Jon Goff's report covers the period 11-17 January 2020, the second week of the track relaying project through the very wet cutting at Three Arch (Nobles) Bridge.

    Three Arch relay - Week 2 - Report 17 January 2020 (PDF)

    The photo on the right taken from the top the bridge shows the preparation of the track bed north of Three Arch Bridge at the end of the second week. The northern end of the job is to be just before the piles of removed track panels in the distance. The bulldozer is pushing back some of the reusable ballast and is almost up to the point where the membrane will finish. The new second ditch is complete and ready for the drainage pipe. The laser is set up on the tripod to the right and angled to the correct gradient of the line. The two laser receivers on the dozer can be seen sitting on top of the masts at the front. The other important item in the photo is the blue cabin; our temporary lobby where the kettle resides!

    On the other side of the bridge the track has been laid just past the half way point, with 16 of the 29 panels put down and most of the sleepers put out for the 17th panel. More details are in the full report (PDF). The straightness with which we've been able to lay the track was due to the use of our new (gifted) theodolite which we are very pleased with, and the smoothness is due to the use of our laser with the laser bulldozer. This makes tamping a lot easier as it is as good as main line standards.

  • A video clip of the work carried out was filmed early last week by John Harwood using his drone in compliance with CAA and Bluebell regulations

  • Steve Lee's photo below shows 80151 departing from Kingscote on New Year's Day.

  • The second photo below is another of Brian Lacey's from this Saturday, with 178 on one of the Footplate Tasters.

80151 departs from Kingscote - Steve Lee - 1 January 2020 178 on Footplate Taster - Brian Lacey - 18 January 2020

20 January:
178 at Sheffield Park - Brian Lacey - 18 January 2020 178 and fire devil at Sheffield Park - Brian Lacey - 18 January 2020
  • Brian Lacey visited Sheffield Park on Saturday to see P-class 178 in action on the Footplate Taster specials. The sunshine made a pleasant change, but the low angle of the sun wasn't so helpful when taking photographs! None the less, Brian took some nice shots which we'll also be using over the next few days. Right, as is traditional, the fire devil is in use to prevent the water column from freezing.

  • News Update The latest edition of our e-Newsletter was published yesterday.
    HSC rear wall from inside the carriage shed - Barry Luck - 17 January 2020
  • News Update Mid-January OP4 Progress Report from Project Manager Barry Luck. His photo on the right, taken from that report, shows the almost complete back wall of the Heritage Skills Centre, taken from inside the new carriage shed. The gaps in both the ground-floor and first-floor walls are temporary ones to make it easier for material for construction of the internal partitions to be lifted into the now enclosed spaces.

    Once the cladding on this side of the first floor is in place, the final two tracks (H- and J-road) can be laid (using second hand track on concrete sleepers, recovered during the next planned section of track relaying), and further carriages shunted into the new storage shed.

  • News Update A photo, taken by John Brodribb, showing the second thermic syphon for the new firebox for No. 21C123 'Blackmoor Vale' being working on at SDR Engineering has been added to the Bulleid Society's web site.

  • Two more photos from New Year's Eve from Brian Lacey, showing 80151 pulling into platforms 4/5 at Horsted Keynes, and the SR Q-class arriving at the same station.

80151 pulls into platforms 4/5 at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 31 December 2019 Q-class arrives at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 31 December 2019

16 January: Foggy departure from Sheffield Park - Phil Horscroft - 30 December 2019
  • Phil Horscroft's photo shows 80151 making a foggy departure from Sheffield Park on 30 December 2019

  • Fancy a treat for half term? Our Kids for a Quid special offer applies daily 15-23 February.

  • We have a Pie and Mash evening train on 9 October, and a Curry Special on 30 October, in addition to our regular Fish and Chip and Rail Ale evening specials.

  • Pullman Brake Parlour Third Class Car No. 36 arrived at Sheffield Park on Tuesday 14 January, where it was unloaded and later transferred over to the carriage running shed behind the museum. It will go up to Horsted Keynes when the track renewal is completed, although work to put it into service is not expected to start until after Car 54 enters service.

    The carriage was purchased privately for use on the Bluebell, delivery being delayed until after the Christmas season when the carriage had been in use at the Colne Valley Railway. Before entering service on the Bluebell it requires at a minimum rewiring (from 240V AC to 24V DC), provision of steam heat, fitting luggage racks (actually hat racks), and re-instatement of the missing partition, which it is believed is still in existence, as well as some mechanical and bodywork maintenance. The existing non-Pullman seating was retained by the Colne Valley Railway as we will fit original Pullman-type seating in due course.

    The two photos below, by David Jones, show the carriage arriving at the Bluebell, and the bare interior (it had originally been stripped internally when used as a cinema coach on the Bulmers' "Cider Train"). It carried the name 'Morella' and was painted green, red and white whilst in Bulmers' ownership, until 1986, and 'Hermione' after it went to the Colne Valley Railway in 1988 (along with 'Aquila', moving there in part-exchange for 'Gwen' which went to VSOE).

Car 36 being unloaded at Sheffield Park - David Jones - 14 January 2020 Interior of Car 36 as delivered - David Jones - 14 January 2020
Car 36 had been built in 1926 by the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Co Ltd of Smethwick, and entered service in July of that year on the "Southern Belle" between London Victoria and Brighton, initially with 54 seats in a 2+2 arrangement. After electrification of the Brighton line, and replacement by the "Brighton Belle" electric units, Car 36 continued to be used on the central division of the Southern Railway (by now with 42 seats in the more normal 2+1 arrangement) until withdrawn from service for the duration of the war.

In 1946, now as Second Class 'Car No. 194', it was allocated to the "Golden Arrow" running between Victoria and Dover, complete with arrows and "Golden Arrow / Fleche d'Or" insignia painted on the bodysides (soon after, instead painted boards held on with clips were used to give greater flexibility). From 4 May 1947 the second class cars were removed from the "Golden Arrow", and reverting to 'Car No. 36' it served on the "Devon Belle" (alongside the Bluebell's Car 54 and 'Fingall').

When the new cars for the "Golden Arrow" were introduced in 1951, Car 36 was one of the older cars sent to the Pullman Works at Preston Park to be modified to run with them, receiving aluminium panelling on the bodyside, and the oval "cathedral" lavatory lights (windows) were replaced by the rectangular type as fitted to the 1951 cars. It then ran regularly on the "Golden Arrow", and subsequently on other Southern services, and was on the "Bournemouth Belle" at the time it was withdrawn in 1967. One of its lavatory compartments was converted into a guard's compartment and so, like Car 54, it has the heavier guard's doors at one end.

13 January: Work in the cutting at full swing - Jon Goff - 10 January 2020
  • News Update Infrastructure News update - further to last Wednesday's photos from Bruce Healey showing the first 100 yards relaid, another update shows progress over the following two days, with thanks to Jon Goff. The photo on the right shows work in the cutting now at full swing, and the report describes the scene in detail.

  • Compilation of mobile phone video footage from Martin Lawrence, giving an overview of 2019 on the Bluebell.

  • John Sandys' photos from yesterday, including P-class No. 178 on Footplate Taster duties at Sheffield Park, as also seen in his photos below.

178 in steam at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 12 January 2020 178 in steam at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 12 January 2020

11 January: Q-class emerges from the tunnel - Brian Lacey - 31 December 2019
  • Brian Lacey's photo shows the Maunsell Q-class as it emerges from the tunnel on New Year's Eve.

  • Two dates have just been released for our Full Steam Ahead experience, which gives participants the chance to fire and drive Standard Tank No. 80151 as part of a full day on the Railway.

  • Two photos below, taken by Richard Salmon today:

    The SECR C-class is in the paint shop at Horsted Keynes where Heritage Painting are undertaking a repaint to prepare the locomotive for display in SteamWorks! at Sheffield Park, where the tender and locomotive will be split to enable public access to the footplate, including access via wheelchairs. The footplate is much lower than that on No. 75027, so providing ramped access at much lower cost and complexity than if the Standard 4 had been used for this purpose.

    Representing an investment of around £15,000 by its owning group, the Howlden Trust, here we see newly forged and machined drawhooks for the Great Northern Railway Directors' Saloon. Since the main cost was for the die-blocks for stamping the forgings, making spares at the same time was very cost effective.

C-class in the Paint Shop - Richard Salmon - 11 January 2020 New drawhooks for the GN Saloon - Richard Salmon - 11 January 2020

10 January: Blackmoor Vale back in the loco shed - John Sandys - 5 January 2020
  • John Sandys' photo from 5 January shows Blackmoor Vale back in the loco shed at Sheffield Park.

  • Tickets are now on sale for our 3-5 April Branch Line Weekend - Book online for big discounts on advance purchases. Two-day and three-day tickets are also available, again giving a good discount.

  • Another archive photo on the Internet, this time a colour photo from 1967 showing our B4 'Normandy' in industrial service at Southampton, then named 'Corral Queen'.

  • News Update Infrastructure News update with thanks to Bruce Healey, with photos, including the first below, showing the first six track panels relaid during the first week of the winter maintenance period. The remaining section of track to be renewed, leading up to Three Arch Bridge, is in a cutting rather than on an embankment, which therefore requires much more work, including provision of greatly improved drainage.

    The update also covers work on two areas of OP4 (Operation Undercover Phase 4) at Horsted Keynes, and John Sandys' photos from yesterday include this one below showing progress with the ground floor windows and doors of the Heritage Skills Centre.

First six panels - Bruce Healey - 8 January 2020 OP4 Heritage Skills Centre - John Sandys - 9 January 2020

6 January: 178 at Sheffield Park on Footplate Taster duties - John Sandys - 5 January 2020
  • John Sandys' photo shows SECR P-class No. 178 at Sheffield Park on Footplate Taster duties yesterday, with the driver and fireman taking a close interest in the steam reverser.

    You can see more of John's photos from Sunday, here.

    TVR No. 85 at Keighley - 6 August 2017 - Phil 62005 - CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Branch Line Weekend (3-5 April 2020): We are very pleased to announce the first visiting locomotive will be Taff Vale Railway 0-6-2 Tank No. 85, thanks to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. Another guest is currently still to be confirmed.

    This photo, by Phil 62005, shows TVR No. 85 setting off from Keighley, with vintage L&YR carriages, on 6 August 2017 (licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0). You can also view this video of the locomotive in action in 2017 by David Roy Ball.


  • Back to home territory with two more of Brian Lacey's photos below, taken on Saturday 28 December. Firstly the token exchange from the Q-class at Horsted Keynes, and second the Standard tank passes the former West Hoathly station site.

Token exchange - Brian Lacey - 28 December 2019 80151 at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 28 December 2019

4 January: Q-class and 80151 at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 28 December 2019
  • Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday 28 December shows the Q-class arriving at Horsted Keynes whilst No. 80151 waits to depart southbound.

  • Reminder that, although we are not running any services now until 15 February, weekends will see a locomotive steaming around Sheffield Park for our popular "Footplate Taster" experiences. Note that this weekend these only take place tomorrow, Sunday. There are still places available for a few more participants over coming weeks - book up online!

  • Philip Bull's great video from 30/31 December.

  • Photos from Dave Bowles, showing the Santa Special trains on 23 December, when the sun came out!

  • More old photos of our locos online:

  • Phil Horscroft's photo below shows the Q-class in the mist at Horsted House Bridge on Monday 30 December, and Steve Lee's taken on Wednesday 1 January shows 80151 in the cutting south of Three Arch Bridge.

    Note, in Steve's photo, the rails and sleepers in the cess ready for the relaying exercise which is now under way in this particularly damp cutting; a second drainage ditch is to be provided along with cross-drains and geotextile and impervious membranes laid under the formation, which is being completely dug out and renewed.

Q-class at Horsted House Bridge - Phil Horscroft - 30 December 2019 80151 in the cutting south of Three Arch Bridge - Steve Lee - 1 January 2020

1 January 2020: Happy New Year!

Celebrating 60 years


2020 is the 60th year of steam operation on our preserved line. We were the very first standard gauge heritage line to operate steam-hauled services, and we are celebrating with a very full programme of special events throughout the year.

Q-class northbound at Milepost 10 - Steve Lee - 1 January 2020

  • Steve Lee's photo shows No. 30541, the Maunsell Q-class, northbound at Milepost 10 today (see the "location map" to discover where that is!). Lighting conditions were not the best for photography! This was the last day of services until 15 February as we take our customary break at this time of year, which enables us to undertake major engineering works on our line.

  • During December 2019 there were 44,085 hits on this page, from 23,028 unique visitors.

  • On Monday Sussex was shrouded in mist in the morning. Although the sun broke through later, the conditions enabled some atmospheric shots to be taken in the morning.

    Robert Else's photo below shows No. 80151 as it waits at Horsted Keynes for the arrival of the second up train, slowly being engulfed in steam.

    Phil Horscroft's photo shows the same locomotive at Horsted House Bridge.

80151 waits at Horsted Keynes - Robert Else - 30 December 2019 80151 at Horsted House Bridge - Phil Horscroft - 30 December 2019

Archive of the Blog/What's New pages

latestlatestMost recent updates
Older updates are in the What's New Archive
or the 2019, 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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