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30 May: BBC Sussex Tweet - Bluebell Railway Appeal Video - 29 May 2020

Please Donate

  • Our CV Emergency Appeal continues to make great progress, thanks to all our donors; just one last push to reach our target.

    The Bluebell Railway Trust's Trevor Swainson, running the fundraising campaign, appears in this BBC Sussex Video on Twitter, explaining how the appeal is going. After making the recording yesterday, Trevor collected another batch of cheques delivered to Sheffield Park station, so we can update you on the total given in the video, since the appeal has now raised £250,000.

  • The portrait of No.65 preparing to haul the "Golden Arrow" Pullman dining service, below, was taken by Chris Rose on 6 October last year.
No.65 preparing to haul the Golden Arrow - Chris Rose - 6 October 2019

26 May: Camelot with matching carriages - Chris Rose - 13 October 2018
  • Chris Rose's photo of 73082 'Camelot' creates a 1950's feel with matching carriages but it was actually 13 October 2018.

  • Our latest Children's Storytime video is of Ruth Rowatt reading Crossing Time on the Blueberry Line.

  • Operation Dynamo - 80 years ago today: 26 May 1940 saw the start of the Dunkirk evacuation, and Graham Muspratt describes in his Blog the part played by the Southern Railway in the movement of 180,982 of those troops away from the Kent coast, in which our late President played his part as most trains from Dover and Folkestone were routed via (and changed locos at) Redhill where Bernard Holden was stationed and from where the railway operation was coordinated.

    Please Donate

  • Our CV Emergency Appeal continues to make progress - please do help us raise the money we need to be able to re-open the railway once the lockdown is further lifted.

Latest updates     -     Earlier updates     -     Latest Project News     -     Weekly train running information     -     Archive News

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22 May: Bluebell Times - Edition 5

21 May: No. 65 pulling Golden Arrow from Sheffield Park - Chris Rose - 6 October 2019
  • Chris Rose provided some photos to keep us going through this difficult period. Here, No. 65 is setting off from Sheffield Park with the Golden Arrow Pullman train on 6 October 2019, and below on the very last day of services before the lockdown, 15 March 2020, we see the vintage shop display in the old W.H.Smith stand at Horsted Keynes.

  • Paul Bromley spoke about the appeal on the Mid-morning Show on BBC Radio Surrey & BBC Radio Sussex yesterday and mentioned some of the people who have contributed. Since it was recorded, the appeal passed its half-way point.

  • We cannot let up on the fund raising, since all £300,000 will be needed to enable the Railway to survive the lockdown and forthcoming re-opening phases. With this in mind, we would ask people to take a minute or so to Nominate the Bluebell Railway Trust for a Movement for Good award.

    We have chance of being given £1,000 through this scheme run by Ecclesiastical, which is a financial services company originally set up to protect Anglican churches and church buildings against the risk of fire, but which is now one of the largest independent British-owned insurers, and much more.

    If you would like to nominate the Railway at this link, the deadline is coming up this weekend (24 May). The Bluebell Railway Trust charity number is 292497 and the Charity Type is "Heritage Arts".

    The more nominations we have the better our chance of receiving a grant.

    Please Donate Please Donate

  • Our CV Emergency Appeal, has now raised over £155,000 towards our £300,000 target just two weeks after the updated appeal was launched.

Shop display at Horsted Keynes - Chris Rose - 15 March 2020

17 May: Celebrating 60 Glorious Years
  • 60 years ago today Stroudley Terrier 'Stepney' brought our first two carriages into Horsted Keynes station from the direction of Ardingly, before heading down to our headquarters at Sheffield Park. We thus became the first preserved standard gauge line to run a steam train, although on that day only members could be carried.
    55 Stepney and coach 6575 recreate 50 years earlier - Richard Clark - 17 May 2010 The photo on the right, taken exactly ten years ago, shows the same locomotive hauling one of those carriages, Southern Railway Maunsell 6575 (photo by Richard Clark). Tony Sullivan took the photo below showing our late President, Bernard Holden MBE, flagging the special train into the platform.

    Further photos below from our 50th anniversary celebrations, 10 years ago today, are by Richard Salmon and Derek Hayward, who also has a gallery from the day.

  • We have added three special Bluebell Storytime videos to our YouTube Channel for children, particularly aimed at members of our Stepney Club: You can find more details of our Stepney Club and various Children's activities and resources on the Children's Section of our website.

  • ITV Meridian News have featured our Emergency Appeal, to which you can Donate here.

Bernard Holden flags Stepney and 6575 into Horsted Keynes - Tony Sullivan - 17 May 2010 55 Stepney and coach 6575 recreate 50 years earlier - Richard Salmon - 17 May 2010

55 with its crew - Derek Hayward - 17 May 2010 55 and coach 6575 - Derek Hayward - 17 May 2010

15 May: Fenchurch and Stepney at Kingscote distant with Goods train, 14 April 2007 - Derek Hayward
  • Under normal circumstances, tomorrow would have been our first "Goods Train Day" of the year, with some of our vintage wagons running during the morning behind the locomotive that was also going to haul the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea Train.

    Derek Hayward's photo from 14 April 2007 shows our pair of LBSCR Stroudley Terriers with an appropriate pre-grouping goods set passing Kingscote's up distant signal in the down direction, whilst below, David Warwick's shows LBSCR E4 No. 32473 with the second train, and Derek's photo from the following day shows U-class No.1638 with the combined set of wagons.

  • Our only income at present is through our online shop (which incidentally has an expanding range available). The intention is that the shop will be open for telephone orders between 9am and 12 noon every Monday & Thursday on 01825 720803 and the orders will be posted out that afternoon. Unfortunately, it is not possible to take off the Members' Discount through the website, so if members wish to take advantage of the discount, you will need to phone the shop, on the days and times mentioned above, with your membership number to hand.

    Please Donate Please Donate

  • Our CV Emergency Appeal, has now raised over £90,000 towards our £300,000 target just a week after the updated appeal was launched.

32473 with goods train at 3-Arch Bridge - 14 April 2007 - David Warwick 1638 with Sunday's goods train - 15 April 2007 - Derek Hayward

13 May: Chris White driving 9F No. 92212 (Mike Hopps)
  • Chris White
    We are very sorry to report that Chris White, a plc Director and Loco Driver, passed away last night after a short battle with cancer.

    Chris was the driving force behind the completion of the extension to East Grinstead. He was key in achieving much on the project, not least organising the removal of roughly 100,000 tons of waste from the cutting at the lowest possible cost, but also the challenge posed by Railtrack's plans to sell the reserved station site at East Grinstead to Sainsburys for a petrol station.

    Our condolences go to his partner and his family.

    The photos show Chris driving 9F No. 92212, which was hired in at the time the extension was completed, (Mike Hopps) and below, during the naming ceremony for GBRf's 66739 'Bluebell Railway' just a couple of weeks after the extension opened, in March 2013 (Derek Hayward).

    Please Donate Please Donate

  • The BBC have picked up on our Emergency Appeal, which following its wider launch has now raised £79,000.

  • News Update The Bulleid Society have just added a report, including some pictures taken earlier this year, showing stay fitting to the new syphons for No. 21C123 at South Devon Railway (Engineering). In addition, the update includes is a newspaper cutting about No. 96 'Normandy' after its arrival on the Bluebell.

  • News Update LBSCR 5-compartment third No. 328, known as 'Betty' after its former owner, has not featured on here recently. The photo below from 5 January 2020, also reflected on the updated web page for the carriage shows progress with re-panelling and undercoating the exterior, scumbling (grain-painting) of the interior, and in the foreground, under protective dust sheets, preparation of the roof timbers, jointed up from the narrower boards available these days, with channels routed out (with metal covers made) to hold the electrical wiring, and painted up to topcoat prior to final fixing. Work has also restarted over the last year or so on the doors for the carriage, a motley selection from a number of different sources, which will need a lot of work.

  • A new web page is available for Carriage No. 35419 which acts as our East Grinstead Buffet, and there has been an update to the web page for Metropolitan Railway carriage No. 412.
Chris White during the naming ceremony for GBRf's 66739 'Bluebell Railway' - Derek Hayward - 28 March 2013 328 during the course of restoration - Richard Salmon - 5 January 2020

11 May:
  • Steaming Through 60 update - The Bluebell Railway turns 60 years old on 7 August 2020.

    Celebrating 60 Glorious Years We originally intended to hold three days of activities and displays from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 August but this event has now been postponed until next year. However, we will instead be holding a virtual event to celebrate our big birthday.

    Robert Hayward, chairman of the Bluebell Railway's Diamond Anniversary steering group, said: "The pragmatic decision not to hold the event as previously planned allows the Bluebell Railway to focus its efforts on reopening. We will be holding a virtual event this August and are currently working on various ideas for the event because we are still going to celebrate 60 years of operating as a heritage line." He added: "New opportunities may be available to us in 2021 that are not possible now. Next year's event will be on a date to be agreed. I'm sure everyone will understand and appreciate the decision the railway has reached."

    Read our full press release here, which includes information on how you can help us create the event.

  • All events at the Bluebell Railway up until the end of August have either been cancelled or postponed. Events from September until the end of December are still under review.

    Bluebell Times - Edition 4

  • The fourth edition of The Bluebell Times, our newsletter for members, staff and supporters is now available.

  • News Update Overhaul update on the FaceBook page for Schools-class 928 'Stowe'. The report is reproduced here, for those not on Facebook.

  • Martin Lawrence's superb 2015 video: Sheffield Park to East Grinstead in 5 minutes is worth 5 minutes of anyone's time!

  • Back in 1999, a radio programme called "Chuffed" was broadcast, about the Bluebell.

  • David Cable's images from Jon Bowers' Charter with Q Class 30541 in early January 2016.

  • 12 years ago, one of the highlights of our 10-11 May "Southern at War" weekend was flypasts from Spitfires. Derek Hayward's photo show these, and our Southern USA tank 30064 in its wartime guise.

10-11 May 2008 - Southern at War - Spitfire Flypasts
- Derek Hayward USA Tank - Derek Hayward - 11 May 2008

9 May: CV Emergency Appeal progress
In mid-March, we launched an Emergency Appeal via Virgin MoneyGiving. The informal target was £25,000, but we raised over double that in six weeks from 700 donors.
Now, we are expanding this appeal by launching a major appeal to members and supporters to raise the total to at least £300,000 including Gift Aid recovered.
This appeal will fund the immediate costs of re-opening the Railway. We will re-engage our volunteers and paid staff to ensure our Railway is fit to run but this will incur substantial costs with little revenue.
Our paid staff and volunteers have important skills to enable the Railway to operate. Not only are these skills required for regulatory and insurance reasons but also staff have developed detailed knowledge and experience that in many cases is irreplaceable. It is within the Trust's charitable objects to ensure that vital heritage skills are preserved and through this appeal the Trust will fund the costs of achieving this until such time as the income from visitors is sufficient to do so once again.
Please Donate We are extremely grateful to you for your generosity if you have already responded. However, if you have not yet been able to support the Bluebell Railway in these unprecedented times we would be very grateful if you would consider doing so. Details of how to donate are set out here. Any donation to support the Railway at this difficult time will be most genuinely appreciated.
Remember: if your donation is eligible for Gift Aid every £100 donated will be worth £125 to the project.
So please help us secure the future of the Railway, and donate now.
Full details of the Appeal are available here.
Thank you for your support.

1 May: P-class 178 with its official re-launch train - Andrew Strongitharm - 1 May 2010
  • Ten years ago:  Saturday 1 May 2010 saw the official re-launch into service of SECR P-class No. 178, as seen in Andrew Strongitharm's photo on the right.

    To enable it to run for our planned 60th anniversary events this year, we had managed to extend its boiler certificate by a few months, but seeing it in steam again this year is sadly now not at all certain.

    Derek Hayward's photos below. also from the relaunch day, show some of the restoration team with the loco at Horsted Keynes, and later the same day the loco to the north of Sloop Bridge double-heading with the C-class, which had been overhauled a couple of years earlier by the same volunteer team, the "Loco Works Working Group".

178 and restoration team members at HK - Derek Hayward - 1 May 2010 178 and 592 north of Sloop Bridge - Derek Hayward - 1 May 2010
  • During April 2020 there were 41,683 hits on this page from 20,664 unique visitors

John Padgham
Michael Toplis provides the tribute below to John, who died yesterday evening after a battle with cancer, just a few days before what would have been his 80th birthday. The photo is thanks to Mike Hopps.

John Padgham on the footplate - Photo: Mike Hopps  
John was a fireman at Three Bridges during the 1950s/early 1960s, and he brought to the Bluebell the relaxed, confident skills, which the true ex-professionals had. He also possessed an effortless, understated, very subtle sense of humour, which meant every turn with John was enjoyable. As well as occasional weekend rostered turns together, he and I spent more than a dozen mid-week holidays together and a day with John was always instructive, relaxed and rewarding experience. He was a natural teacher, which was notably illustrated when we worked together on the driving and firing experience courses, which the candidates never failed to enjoy.

When Clive Groome was obliged to use qualified help to assist with his Footplate Days and Ways courses, John was a natural to be employed as one of his assistants, and this relationship lasted many years, and continued also when Clive conducted courses on other railways up and down the country.

Following his railway career, John was an HGV driver, then for some years ran his own landscape gardening business before latterly working extensively with Matt Crawford on Bluebell permanent way tasks.

For a number of years John also made a big contribution to the running of the Lavender Line nearby at Isfield.

27 April:
  • We are pleased to be able to publish the first edition of our Preservation Standards Manual, which details how everything on and about our Railway should be presented. This is a major undertaking, and there are some sections yet to be fully completed, and it will probably always remain a work in progress as new research is still uncovering refinements.
    John Scrace at the Bluebell in 2015 - Pat O'Neill
  • We are very sorry to report that John Scrace, a former loco man (as had been his father) and a renowned and hugely knowledgeable railway photographer, passed away peacefully on Friday 24 April at his care home in Balcombe, having been ill for some time. The photo on the right, courtesy of Pat O'Neill, shows John at Sheffield Park during a Nine Elms reunion in 2015. Until recently he had been providing help remotely on a monthly basis in support of the work of our photographic archive.

  • Adrian Lee (Chief Signalmen's Inspector) conveys the sad news that Ken Deans (February 1933 to April 2020) passed away in his nursing home earlier this month. Adrian had spoken to him in February and he was a bit breathless but still as sharp as ever.

    Ken was already an experienced signalman at K&ESR, so having passed for the original ('temporary') Kingscote Signal Box in July 1999, soon added SP and HK to his list. He gave up HK on account of the stairs when he was having joint trouble and wasn't sure about the 'new' Kingscote, but did do a conversion and passed with flying colours.

    Joint replacement surgery and recuperation in 2018-19 meant that he had to take a break from signalling but was fully intending to return. Whilst the joints were 'running in' he had a stairlift fitted to ensure he could get upstairs at home without assistance. He called this his 'Mountain Railway'. Unfortunately he subsequently suffered a shoulder injury which prevented him raising his arm beyond horizontal. He then submitted his formal resignation in the latter part of 2019.

    In these times his funeral will only be for his family but he had expressed the wish that when the time came, his ashes be placed in the firebox of an engine at the Bluebell - his preference would have been U-class 1638.

    Our thoughts are particularly with his son John. There have been memories of Ken sent from railway friends all over the world. The first photo below is of Ken in SP Signalbox and the other is of him on his 80th birthday, when he chartered the GN Saloon. He may be gone, but certainly won't be forgotten.

Ken in SP Signalbox Ken at his 80th birthday Party in 2013

24 April: Bluebell Times Issue 3
  • News Update Issue 3 of our Bluebell Times newsletter is now available. Amongst the articles is an important one from company chairman Chris Hunford who introduces the Railway's four-part strategy to ensure that not only can we survive through a lockdown of uncertain duration but will also be operationally ready to run when it is safe to do so. Part of that strategy is a targeted appeal to cover the unexpected costs of re-opening: as the members, staff and supporters of the railway, please look out for the launch of that appeal. The railway has come through tough times before: with your help, we can survive again to enable "Steam to flourish" through our sixtieth year and beyond.

  • Update to the web page for Metropolitan Railway Brake Third carriage No. 387.

  • News Update The Wednesday lineside gang (North) have provided a report from their last day of volunteering before the lockdown. The first photo below is by David Thair, taken during the lunch break on 18 March, and shows part of the Wednesday Gang (North) at Horsted House Farm Bridge. They picked up from where the South Gang left off the week before and were working north towards Vaux End on both sides of the line, in preparation for a Jon Bowers charter. Due to the extremely slippery conditions underfoot, progress was difficult. In the event, of course, the charter had to be cancelled due to closure of the Railway. Pictured from left to right are Peter Beynon, Paul Young, Mick Parker, Brian Kidman, Ian Aitken, Colin Morse and Alan Coomber.

    Meanwhile, on the same day, a second WG(N) group was clearing up on the west side of Lindfield Wood. This area had received attention from the North Gang the previous week, including clearing fallen trees and generally tidying up after recent storm damage. The second photo, taken by Roger Hillman, shows the clear-up in progress.

Part of the Wednesday lineside gang (North) at Horsted House Farm Bridge - David Thair - 18 March 2020 Remainder of the Wednesday gang (North) near Lindfield Wood - Roger Hillman - 18 March 2020

22 April:

BBC Radio Sussex interview You can listen online to this interview from the weekend on BBC Radio Sussex. Our Communications Director Paul Bromley was discussing the latest on our Emergency Appeal and the new Bluebell Times newsletter.

There have also been interviews over the last few weeks on Brighton's Radio Reverb.
Model by Phil Coutanche of Van 707 - Trevor Coleman - 20 April 2020

  • Update to the web page for SECR Guard's van No. 719, with a better scan of the original photo, and including a photo (as seen here) of a model (made by the late Phil Coutanche about 50 years ago) of a similar van. This photo is provided by Trevor Coleman.

  • Update to the web page for our 9F locomotive No. 92240, adding three photos by Mike Esau, and details of the fundraising towards its overhaul.

Donate to our emergency appeal Please Donate  

Please do support our emergency funding appeal.

18 April: Flying Scotsman visits the Bluebell - Keith Leppard - 18 April 2017
  • Two photos from Keith Leppard taken three years ago today recalling the visit to the Bluebell of the National Railway Museum's flagship locomotive, 'Flying Scotsman'.

  • Update to the web page for our London & South Western Railway Adams "Radial Tank" Locomotive No. 488 adding more photos, in particular new ones with thanks to Barry Taylor taken over three decades ago.

  • Carriage Working Notices, Lancing Set Cards and Vehicle Cards held in the Bluebell Railway's extensive and carefully managed Museum Archive have provided the answer to an apparent conundrum from previously published material which indicated that our Maunsell carriage No. 1365 was formed into a set of coaches used on services between Tunbridge Wells West, Oxted and London between 1944 and 1947, and also apparently saw use during the same period as an ambulance carriage. Information researched by Glen Woods shows that it was removed from its service on the Oxted lines only for a few months in 1945 during which time it performed its war service. In consequence the web page for the carriage has been updated.

  • The Bulleid Society latest news includes a notice of postponement of their forthcoming AGM, in addion to news (if you missed it last monthy) of work commencing on the overhaul of 21C123 'Blackmoor Vale'.

Flying Scotsman at Leamland Bridge - Keith Leppard - 18 April 2017

11 April: SECR 65 with the Maunsell carriages at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 14 March 2020

8 April: Fireman's seat - Fred Bailey - 27 February 2020
  • Taking the opportunity to highlight further photos by Fred Bailey taken from the Brighton Atlantic project's recent News Update.
    Right: The final assembly and fitting of the fireman's seat in the cab has been completed, and Dave is clearly quite satisfied it is strong enough as he is seen trying it out whilst doing some intricate fitting to one of its parts.
    Below: At the front of the tank Fred has fitted the two stainless steel strainers fitted over the two holes for the injector water feeds. All parts laser cut by MLFabcuts and TIG welded by Henry Mowforth. The design of the baffles and the internal supports left a clear way through the centre to get as easy an access possible within the tank. At the stage of drawing up the tank Fred also added a feature not present on the originals. A manhole in the bottom to allow those of us of a slightly fuller figure and in advancing years access to the inside. The tank filler is an oval of just 14" x 10". Hands up those that could not only drop through that hole, but be able to climb out afterwards!

  • Update to the web page for Pullman Car 'Fingall' with an additional photo.

  • The Mid Hants Railway have a news update about Bulleid Carriage 1456 which is owned by the Bluebell and has been on long-term loan to them since 2012. The 25-year free loan has enabled them to access National Lottery Heritage funding for its overhaul as part of their "Canadian Pacific project" training new apprentices and overhauling a second Bulleid carriage in addition to locomotive No. 35005.

Tank strainers installed - Fred Bailey - 30 January 2020 Tank interior - Fred Bailey - 30 January 2020 Tank manhole - Fred Bailey - 30 January 2020

5 April: Limited Edition 60th Anniversary Firework van
  • Bluebell 2020 Anniversary Wagon
    For 2020 we have produced a Firework / Gunpowder wagon, quite appropriate for our 60th Anniversary Year. The wagon is unusual by having two running numbers, 1960 on one side and 2020 on the other.

    This is a limited item from our friends at Dapol and there are only 115 available. A little tongue in cheek maybe, but a fun way to celebrate our first 60 years, the van is available to order online from our shop.

  • News Update Latest news on the Brighton Atlantic project from Fred Bailey, including the two photos below, showing some of the complexities of the beading and coal rails on the tender. All the fixings currently in place on the beading are temporary, and will be replaced by rivets. Full details and further photos are available here. Of course, along with everything else, all volunteer activities on the Bluebell, including on this project, are currently suspended.

Tender beading - Fred Bailey - 5 March 2020 Tender beading - Fred Bailey - 15 March 2020

4 April: Setting up for Channel 4 Live programme at Horsted Keynes - Peter Evans - 23 September 1990
  • In our 60th Anniversary year it's interesting to look back to look back 30 years, when the Bluebelll was at the centre of Channel 4's 'Steam Sunday' on 23 September 1990:

    Part 1 of 'Steam Sunday'. Our 9F had returned to steam just a couple of weeks earlier, the first ex-Barry 9F to be restored to working order. Featuring Mike Read, Joe Brown and his daughter, Sam Brown, Jools Holland (playing the piano on board our GNR Directors' Saloon), John Hill, Miles Kington with Instant Sunshine, and David Shepherd.

    Part 2 of the programme again featured Sam and Joe Brown, in the pouring rain, and a few minutes later, when the sun came out, Sally Thomsett, Dinah Sheridan, Bernard Cribbins, Gary Warren, Pete Waterman, John Hegley, George Hinchcliffe and Ray Towell from the NRM. Many of these are sadly no longer with us.

  • Peter Evans' photo is another taken that day, showing the setting up for the filming.

3 April: Replica of Stephenson's Rocket at Horsted Keynes - Peter Evans - 23 September 1990
  • Peter Evans' photo shows the visit of the operational replica of Stephenson's Rocket, on 23 September 1990 for a major live Channel 4 feature as part of their 'Going Loco' season, during our 30th Anniversary year.

  • In a parallel universe our annual Branch Line weekend started today, and it's great to see that Philip Bull has provided the best video coverage he was able, under the circumstances. Good to also see the Project 27 fundraising stand in evidence.

  • New web page, using a photo provided by Peter Evans, for LMS Corridor Third No. 1272 which was used as volunteer dormitory accommodation at Sheffeild Park between 1971 and 1993.

  • Updates to web pages for more carriages (with improved photos): Bulleid 2515, Mk.1 CK 16210 and RMBs 1818 and 1838.

1 April: Normandy with Sir Archie's tender - Tony Page - 13 October 2019
  • Tony Page provides this photo, taken on 13 October 2019, of LSWR B4 No. 96 'Normandy', seemingly attached to the tender from SR 'Battle of Britain' No. 34059 'Sir Archibald Sinclair'. The suggestion that this was for a trial of adapting 'Normandy' to run with a tender was needless to say, an April fool joke, although the information about the four ex-Schools-class/snowplough tenders which were acquired by the Bluebell in the 1990s was correct, with ADS70225 still remaining in its snowplough form, ADS70228 rebuilt to run with U-class 1638, ADS70227 going to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway with S15 No. 30830, and one went to Southern Locomotives Ltd. with parts used to construct a new tender for one of their Bulleids.

  • News Update There have been two major updates recently on the Project 27 Blog; having finished all the riveting to attach the new rear dragbox to the new frames, the team have attached the running plate brackets and are moving to the front of the locomotive, in preparation for fitting the cylinders, together with work on the hornguides, and earlier, of work on the new cylinder block, new piston rods, and refurbished brake rigging.

  • During March 2020 there were 47,447 hits on this page from 24,228 unique visitors.

30 March: Cab of the Maunsell Q-class - John Sandys - 14 March 2020
  • Introducing an exciting new publication packed with news, quizzes, puzzles and games to keep you informed and entertained while the railway is closed.

    The Bluebell Times is designed to fill the gap for anyone missing their steam train rides or visits to the Bluebell Railway.

    It's a publication for all; railway staff working from home or in self-isolation, volunteers in all departments, members, supporters, visitors, friends, train enthusiasts and general readers. It's perfect for train-mad youngsters or anyone who wants a bit of light relief.

  • We have a new web page for The Friends of Kingscote, who maintain Kingscote Station and its environs in good order. The Friends were formed in the late 1980s as a fund raising group, enabling the restoration work started in 1985 to continue.

  • Are you looking for ways to keep the kids entertained at home? Download and print a selection of our Stepney Club Magazines for fun actitivies and challenges. They are sure to keep the little ones (and perhaps big ones too) amused! Visit our children's section to download.

  • Update to the web page for Metropolitan Railway carriage No. 368.

  • Photo: The cab of the Maunsell Q-class, Saturday 14 March. (John Sandys)

28 March: John Woods working as Station Master at Horsted Keynes - 25 June 2016 - Derek Hayward
  • There are 5 new notices on the BRPS Members' information page.

    We start with the sad news that John Woods (right), Horsted Keynes Station Master, Guard, Rail Ale Train and Santa Special volunteer, passed away during the week. There are some tributes here.

    The other four notices appear as a Joint message from our plc and Society:

    1. Explanation from Paul Bromley as to why the Spring edition of our Bluebell News magazine is available to download or read online, rather than in printed form. It is available here as a PDF.
    2. Message from Graham Aitken explaining his resignation as BRPS Chairman.
    3. Message from BRPS Vice Chairman Steve Bigg, who will be acting chairman for now.
    4. Message from BRPS General Secretary Gavin Bennett, concerning the postponement of the BRPS Extraordinary and Annual General Meetings.

  • Even before the further restrictions on movement announced by the Prime Minister on Monday evening, the Bluebell had taken the decision to close down all volunteer activities on the line. I have a few photos in stock showing recent activities from the C&W Department and a report from the Atlantic Project, which I will share on here over the coming days. If other volunteers have recent photos and news reports from their areas, I would be delighted to share them also over the coming weeks.

  • Dave Bowles has added a few pictures of E4 as BR No. 32473 in 2005 with 3 Bulleid coaches to his website.

21 March:
Maunsell Q-class setting off from Sheffield Park - Chris Rose - 15 March 2020
Donate to our emergency appeal The Bluebell Railway, along with many other businesses in the leisure and heritage sector, has been forced to close to visitors due to the current pandemic.

Coming after the early part of the year when trains are not running, our finances are already at their lowest ebb.

We are therefore urgently appealing for donations to help keep the essential services of the railway running at a time when, unexpectedly, we have no income. In spite of our large volunteer workforce, we are also one of the largest employers in Mid Sussex, and we have many ongoing costs and expenses which do not stop when we're not running trains.

Photo: The Maunsell Q-class makes a dramatic departure from Sheffield Park last Sunday, our last operational day, as it turned out, for some time to come. (Chris Rose)

20 March:
  • News Update Coronavirus Update 11am:
    All train services scheduled for this weekend, including the Mother's Day Specials, have been cancelled.
    Our Customer Services team will contact all customers who have booked tickets for these services.

  • Update 4.30pm: Bluebell Railway is suspending its train services and will be closed until further notice.

    We originally decided to stay open and run a minimal service this weekend with enhanced health protection measures in place, but the national and global situation with coronavirus means we will have to close.

    Bluebell Railway plc chairman Chris Hunford said: "The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors remains our priority."

    "Some people have been calling up asking if we're open and saying they still intend to travel this weekend although several people have also called asking to defer their bookings. Taking all this into account and the latest Government advice, we have decided to suspend all services this weekend and the railway will close until further notice."

    During the closure, there will be no trains running and the shop and catering outlets will not be open to visitors although the railway's online shop will continue to trade.

    We are keeping the situation under constant review in the coming days and weeks and will assess the situation as it evolves.

    Please see our full statement here.

19 March: Maunsell carriages and Q-class at Sheffield Park - Chris Rose - 15 March 2020
  • Chris Rose's photo shows a quiet Sheffield Park on Sunday, as the Q-class with its three Maunsell carriages prepares to leave with the 11.15 am departure.

  • Latest Coronavirus Update: In common with some other Heritage Railways and visitor attractions outside London, we currently plan to remain open this coming weekend, but only offering a limited service, with one locomotive in steam, hauling two round trips from Sheffield Park to Kingscote (via Horsted Keynes) only, plus afternoon tea trains. This decision is in line with advice from Public Health England, and we have put special measures in place, as outlined here, including the trains being formed of compartment stock, so that each family will be isolated in their own compartment. East Grinstead Station will be closed. As has been the case for the last week, the situation is under constant review, and please check here before travelling to visit us.

    Booking for future events and trains beyond this weekend has been suspended for the present. The Carriage Shop in Platform 1 at Horsted Keynes now joins the Bulleid Shop and our Museum on platform 2 at Sheffield Park in being closed.

    Details of currently planned train times, and the opening hours of our facilities for this weekend, are available here.

  • Three great videos covering the six Bulleid carriages running on the Mid Hants Railway this last weekend: on Saturday hauled by 30925 'Cheltenham' (video by Hils TheTrainLady), all of Saturday's different trains (by 04clemea) and hauled by S15 No. 506 on Sunday (from The Southerner). The four carriages which we loaned to them for Flying Scotsman's visit there are now, I understand, back to the Bluebell.

  • Two further photos taken on Sunday by Chris Rose show the Standard 4 No. 75027 in the running shed at Sheffield Park, and the subway at Horsted Keynes.

75027 on shed at Sheffield Park - Chris Rose - 15 March 2020 Subway at Horsted Keynes - Chris Rose - 15 March 2020

17 March: Q-class at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 14 March 2020
  • Right: The SR Maunsell Q-class about to set off from Sheffield Park, with three SR Maunell carriages, on Saturday 14 March (John Sandys)

  • In response to the Prime Minister's COVID-19 statement yesterday evening, it has been decided that our Museum and Bulleid Shop on platform 2 at Sheffield Park are closed as from today.

    The Railway's management will make decisions tomorrow on what further actions/restrictions may be put in place. You can see The Bluebell's current Coronavirus statement here.

16 March: Bulleid 1456 at Ropley, Mid Hants Railway - Richard Salmon - 15 March 2020
  • Recently returned to service at the Mid Hants Railway (although running temporarily with an incomplete interior) is Bulleid open third No. 1456, seen here at Ropley yesterday. The carriage is owned by the Bluebell Railway, but is on a 25-year loan to the Mid Hants, who have rebuilt it completely, with the help of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and PRISM. No. 1456 is one of the few surviving Bulleid carriages from the 1947 Bournemouth dining sets which had, in addition to the shallow window vents (like our 5768), the skirts partially covering the solebar.

    It, and Mid Hants' own Bulleid brake 4211, were joined by our four operational Bulleid carriages (which provided additional seating capacity over the previous two weekends for the visit there of 'Flying Scotsman') and this weekend was the first occasion since the early 1990s on the Bluebell that a complete train formed of six Bulleid carriages has run. On Sunday they were hauled by LSWR S15 No. 506, as seen at Ropley below. The second photo shows our four carriages.

  • Our Diamond Anniversary book "Bluebell Railway - Sixty Years of Progress" by Colin Tyson, editor of Bluebell News magazine, is now available in our shop, and to order online.

  • News Update Some pictures showing the removal of the backhead fittings from 21C123 in preparation for its boiler removal, taken by John Fry, have been uploaded to the Bulleid Society's web site.

  • An album from Thursday and Saturday: Springtime at Sheffield Park from John Sandys.

  • Some great galleries of photos from Brian Dandridge covering various Bluebell events and locomotives over recent years.

  • The Bluebell Railway has announced the appointment of Paul Lelew as Commercial and Marketing Director.

Mid Hants Railway S15 506 with Bulleid carriages at Ropley - Richard Salmon - 15 March 2020 The Bluebell's Bulleid carriages at Ropley, Mid Hants Railway - Richard Salmon - 15 March 2020

12 March: 65 ready to head north from Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 29 February 2020
  • Brian Lacey's photo shows SECR No. 65 ready to head north from Horsted Keynes on Saturday 29 February.

  • Coronavirus Update: The Bluebell Railway continues to operate and is open to visitors.
    The safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers is our priority and we will take all necessary precautions to ensure their continued welfare.
    Read more in our statement realeased on 11 March.

  • Trains are running this coming weekend to our Service Two (2-train) timetable with locomotives Nos. 80151 and 65 expected to be hauling the passenger serices. They should be joined by No. 30541 hauling the sold-out Golden Arrow Breakfast and Afternoon Tea Trains on Sunday. [Update Friday 13 March - 30541 replaces 65 on passenger services on Saturday]

11 March: TVR 85 being unloaded at Sheffield Park - Colin Tomlins - 11 March 2020
  • Colin Tomlins' photo, taken yesterday afternoon, shows the visiting Taff Vale Railway No. 85 being unloaded at Sheffield Park, in preparation for our forthcoming Branch Line Weekend taking place Friday 3 to Sunday 5 April.

    No. 85 was built in 1899 by Neilson Reid. The Taff Vale Railway largely existed to enable coal mined in the area it served to be taken to Cardiff docks, and was taken over by the GWR in 1922.

    The GWR's standardisation policy led to the locomotive's withdrawal from service in 1927, but fortunately for posterity, in 1929 it was bought by the Lambton, Hetton & Joicey Colliery in County Durham to again haul coal trains between the inland collieries and the coast. On nationalisation of the collieries in 1947 it became NCB No. 52, eventually entering preservation on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway in 1970.

    Rebuilt as far as feasible to its original TVR condition by a group of K&WVR volunteers in the 1990's, No. 85 gave good service there up to 2010. An ideal locomotive for the line, it was soon overhauled, returning to service in February 2016. It carries its original fully lined out Taff Vale Railway livery.

9 March: TVR 85 preparing to leave Ingrow - Dan Ward - 9 March 2020
  • Dan Ward's photo on the right shows TVR No. 85 being prepared for loading at Ingrow (K&WVR) this evening. It is one of two locomotives visiting for our 3-5 April Branch Line Weekend.

  • Details of the thanksgiving service for the life or Klaus Marx are now available on the BRPS Members' information page.

  • Peter Skuce visited us on Saturday 7 March to take photographs of and ride behind British Railways Standard 4MT 2-6-4T No. 80151, the results being in this photographic album/gallery. In addition he has updated his gallery dedicated to our carriage fleet, complete with interior shots.

  • Peter Edwards' photo below show Maunsell Q-class No. 30541 approaching Town House Bridge with yesterday's sold-out Golden Arrow Afternoon Tea train. Note the presence at the rear of BR Mk.1 Open First carriage No. 3069 'Sapphire' which joined the train towards the end of last year.
    The other photo (also from Peter) shows the newly installed higher level of ramp in SteamWorks! which will shortly allow access to the footplate of SECR C-class No. 592.

Q-class with Golden Arrow Afternoon Tea train - Peter Edwards - 8 March 2020 New ramp in SteamWorks! for footplate access - Peter Edwards - 8 March 2020

7 March: 65 on arrival at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 7 March 2020
  • Brian Lacey's photo on the right shows SECR O1-class No. 65 having detatched from its train at East Grinstead and commenced its run-round.

  • Keith Duke provides a gallery from today, with the 01 and Standard 4 tank running. In addition, a small group of tractors (plus a Green Goddess and an Austin 7) met up at Sheffield Park before a road run. A quick trip to East Grinstead, both our station and the mainline one are covered along with couple of bus pictures taken there.

  • People are already starting to book for our Christmas 2020 Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Trains!
    Your evening will begin with a festive mulled wine and canapé reception prior to boarding your train. Once on board, sit back and relax in the nostalgic atmosphere and enjoy a delicious 3-course Christmas meal, all served by our attentive staff. Your journey will also include a half hour stop at Horsted Keynes Station to enjoy festive carol singing.

  • John Sandys was also about today, and his photos are available here. Two of his photos below show No. 80151 with the first southbound train of the day, passing through Imberhorne Cutting (showing just how well nature has "greened" the cutting sides since the former rubbish tip was excavated a few years back) and No.65 arriving at East Grinstead with the second train of the day, formed of three 1930s' Southern Railway Maunsell carriages.

80151 southbound in Imberhorne Cutting - John Sandys - 7 March 2020 65 arrives at East Grinstead with Maunsell carriages - John Sandys - 7 March 2020

6 March: No.80151 departing southbound from Kingscote - Brian Lacey - 29 February 2020
  • Brian Lacey's photo from last Saturday shows No. 80151 departing southbound from Kingscote. This locomotive together with No. 65 are planned to be hauling services this coming weekend (timetable here), and the SR Q-class No. 30541 should be hauling the sold-out Golden Arrow Breakfast and Golden Arrow Afternoon Tea trains on Sunday.

  • We are sorry to report that Klaus Marx has passed away. Klaus was one of the founder members, editor of Bluebell News for 35 years, and was our Archivist until 2008. He was a founder member of the former London Area Group and hosted their meetings at the school where he was Headmaster for many years. His magnum opus was his 2001 book detailing the definitive history of our line. [Update: Details of his thanksgiving service now available on the BRPS Members' information page.]

  • News Update The latest report from the Southern Electric Traction Group who are working towards returning the Bluebell-owned 4VEP electric unit 3417 to working order at Strawberry Hill. See also their previous report and funding appeal.

  • Dave Bowles has added some more photos of our S15, taken 11 March 2015, to his website.

  • Update with the positions in the 2019-20 Football Competition as of earlier this week. The competition is raising funds for the forthcoming overhaul of Southern Railway Maunsell Restaurant/Dining First No. 7864.

  • The two photos below from James Young were taken on Tuesday, and show three of our four SR Bulleid designed carriages running on the Mid Hants Railway, where they are adding capacity during the visit by 'Flying Scotsman' to that line. Composite No. 5768 is seen behind BR 4MT 2-6-0 No. 76017 (No. 1464 was also in the same train), and Nos. 2526 & 1482 were hauled by Schools Class No. 30925 'Cheltenham'.

Bulleid carriage 5768 on the Mid Hants Railway - James Young - 3 March 2020 Bulleid carriages 2526 & 1482 on the Mid Hants Railway - James Young - 3 March 2020

2 March: 80151 arrives at Kingscote - Brian Lacey - 29 February 2020
  • Brian Lacey's photo from this Saturday shows No. 80151 arriving at Kingscote from the north.

  • Great to see that we're top of the list on The Sunday Express' "very best spring days out".

  • A reminder that we are running steam trains each weekend in March, and daily from 1 to 19 April. See our timetables here.
    Tickets available in advance or on arrival.

  • During February 2020 there were 42,524 hits from 22,659 unique visitors.

  • The second train this weekend was formed of the SECR O1-class hauling the three SR Maunsell carriages, as seen in Brian's photo below, arriving at the same station, from the south.

65 arrives at Kingscote - Brian Lacey - 29 February 2020

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