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7 December:
H and O1 double heading a Santa Special - Brian Lacey - 1 December 2018
  • One weekend in, and the remaining Santa Specials are a sell-out! Brian Lacey's photo shows the H and O1 double heading one of the four trains which started from Sheffield Park on Saturday, arriving at Horsted Keynes. Camelot was on the other Sheffield Park trains and the S15 hauled those from East Grinstead.

  • Compartments (for 6-8 people) are still available for the Edwardian trains from East Grinstead on 21 December, for "A Horsted Christmas" - Your own private compartment in Victorian and Edwardian carriages for all the fun of our Victorian Christmas Fair at Horsted Keynes. Meet Father Christmas in his parlour where a very special present will be waiting for each child. See Full details and online booking.

  • Some great shots in John Harwood's video of Camelot on the viaduct at East Grinstead, and passing through Kingscote, with the Festive Feast train, on Monday. Note that this footage complies with the Bluebell's Drones Policy.

  • The Railway's main 2019 event dates are now available.

  • John Sandys' photos from Tuesday.

  • News Update Mark Carne, who was Chief Executive of Network Rail between 2014-2018, presented the 2018 National Railway Heritage Awards at a ceremony held in London on Wednesday. Having won the Siemens Signalling Award for the last two years, for the Westinghouse signalling installation at Kingscote, and the resignalling of Horsted Keynes, we were delighted to be presented with the same award this year of the signalling work recently undertaken on the LB&SCR signals at Sheffield Park Station. The Award was presented by Mark Carne and Aiden Stell of Siemens Mobility to Gordon Callander, Andy Swain & Alistair Bruce of our S&T Department, as seen in the photo below.

  • During November 2018 there were 38,665 total hits on this page, from 22,425 unique visitors, taking the estimated total number of hits on this page to over 10 million, since it was created on 27 October 1997.

Q-class signalled in to Sheffield Park at the recently rebuilt inner home signal
Presentation of Siemens Award - 5 December 2018
Siemens Award - 5 December 2018

29 November:
Trackwork repairs completed at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 29 November 2018
  • John Sandys' photo taken this morning shows the completed work on No.7 point at the South end of Sheffield Park station.

  • John's album from today has more shots of the completed trackwork, and preparations for the weekend's Santa Specials, at Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes.


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28 November:
No.323 on a Footplate Taster course at Sheffield Park - Martin Lawrence - 25 November 2018
  • Martin Lawrence's photo shows No.323 'Bluebell' on a Footplate Taster course at Sheffield Park on Sunday.
    We have just released new dates for 2019 for all three levels of Footplate Experience:
    1. Full Steam Ahead,
    2. Footplate Extra, and
    3. Footplate Tasters - The perfect Xmas gift

  • Our annual Carol Service is this Saturday, 1 December - free evening event at Horsted Keynes station.

  • From this weekend until Christmas, we have an intensive service of Santa Specials and other seasonal trains, for which pre-booking is essential (and be warned, only a few tickets remain!)

  • After Christmas, we are running our normal public service of steam-hauled and steam-heated trains. Tickets available in advance or on arrival:

  • Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with plans for locomotive usage through December. Because maintenance work on Q-class No.30541 is not yet finished, for the present O1 No.65 is shown as hauling Santa Set X. In practice, the rostered station Pilot (H-class 263) will be assisting it, and will be replaced by the Q once the attention to the crank axle, big ends, small ends, eccentric straps, and axle boxes is completed.

  • Update with the positions in the Football Competition after the first few months of the season. This is a fund-raiser for the forthcoming overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Restaurant/Dining First No.7864.


24 November:
Trackwork repairs at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 22 November 2018
  • John Sandys' photo shows the work taking place on No.7 point at the South end of Sheffield Park station, as of Thursday morning, and below, as of today. Some of the timbers under the point, the most critical turnout in the layout at the South end of Sheffield Park, required replacement, and so, as in now standard, the ballast has been excavated to renew the drainage beneath the formation. The original metal-work of the point is going back now the new timbers have been installed, just leaving a huge number of screw holes to be drilled in the new timbers to enable the chairs to be fixed to complete the job in time for the start of Santa services next weekend.

  • In addition, the engineering team have cut a 100-yard-long hole in the track at a location north of Kingscote where engine drivers have complained about a "wobble" in the track. We've put in extra drainage to try and get rid of the excess water under the track bed which has been causing the instability.

  • John Sandys also has photos from last Saturday, a glorious sunny Autumn day, and whilst no Passenger Trains were running due to the Engineering Works, it was good to see 323 'Bluebell' on Footplate Taster duty gleaming in the sunshine! He also provides an album from a visit on Tuesday, which covers Christmas preparations at Sheffield Park & East Grinstead, one from Thursday, mainly focussed on the trackwork repairs, and from today, when 323 was again in use on the Footplate Taster turns (having been kept out of the loco yard since the pointwork was removed last week).
    Trackwork repairs at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 24 November 2018

  • News Update A facebook update on the Maunsell Locomotive Society's page for Schools-class 'Stowe' has a report on the return of the inner firebox after its complete rebuild, and other progress on the locomotive. For those not on Facebook, this RailAdvent report is derived from that update. The photo below shows the inner firebox arriving back at Sheffield Park.

  • Part 1 of this Video Blog about building a Lego Atlantic Locomotive incudes a great report covering his research visit to the Bluebell Railway this autumn. See also Part 2 and Part 3.

  • Good to see great progress with the HLF-funded overhaul of our long-term loaned Bulleid Open Third No.1456 at the Mid Hants, with this video of the roof being re-canvassed.

  • The final photo shows newly overhauled Mk.1 Brake Composite No.21246 undergoing a test run on 21 November following a comprehensive overhaul which has been undertaken since the carriage arrived on the Bluebell in mid 2011. It will be included in one of the Santa Special sets. (Photo Martin Lawrence).

Stowe's inner firebox arriving back at Sheffield Park - MLS - 16 Nov 2018 Mk.1 Brake Composite No.21246 undergoing a test run - Martin Lawrence - 21 November 2018

15 November:
H-class on Footplate Taster course at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 10 November 2018
  • John Sandys' latest album covers various aspects of the railway last week, including the weekend's Footplate Taster course, for which the H-class was in use as seen here.

  • News Update Blog updates from Project 27 showing great progress with the erection of the new frames for SECR P-class No.27, only the second locomotive in preservation to have received new frames. The project was also covered extensively in a three-page article in Steam Railway magazine.

  • Please Donate The Wall-to-Wall Appeal to build walls around the Horsted Keynes Carriage Shed extension, and progress the Heritage Skills Centre, as part of Operation Undercover Phase 4 (Cash for Cover - OP4) is making fantastic progress.
    The Double Donations Dash for this appeal has now been extended to run until 31 December, due to delays in the delivery of Bluebell News magazine and hence the launch of the appeal to our membership. The headline figure of £200,000 raised, as of yesterday, is made up of £90,000 in donations plus £20,000 in Gift Aid, matched by £90,000 from a benefactor. We do still need to urgently raise another £50,000 to enable us to let the contract to enable walls, doors and windows to be built three-quarters of the way round the shed in the spring, and the shell of the Heritage Skills Centre made ready to be fitted out. It would then be nice to raise just a bit more, to complete the fourth wall!
    3339 at Horsted Keynes - Ivan Godfrey
  • Ivan Godfrey's provision of this historic photo showing Caledonian Railway carriage No.3339 has prompted the creation of a dedicated web page for this one-time Bluebell-owned carriage. It and other now-departed items of former Bluebell carriage stock are listed as part of our Carriage & Van stock list.
    The photo shows No.3339 at Horsted Keynes in the company of LSWR No.320 and the LNWR Observation Car

  • The faithful web server used for this BRPS web site, provided to us free of charge for the last 21 years, has sadly come to the end of its life. Fortunately we had already started to migrate to a new, paid-for service, and other than a faster and more reliable server, you should see no other difference! If you do spot any problems, please do let me, Richard Salmon, the web site editor, know.


5 November:
H-class with Golden Arrow Pullman - Peter Edwards - 28 October 2018
  • Peter Edwards' photo shows H-class No.263 at Town House bridge with the Golden Arrow Luncheon train from Sheffield Park on Sunday 28 October. Preparations for the winter's track renewal are evident on the lineside.

  • There are no trains running on the Bluebell Railway during November, whilst we undertake track maintenance on our line at various locations.

  • Through the winter, on days when trains run, the Locomotive Shed and the SteamWorks! exhibition at Sheffield Park Station will be open between 10am and 4pm. Click here for Museum opening dates and times. On days when no trains are running, the Locomotive Shed, the SteamWorks! exhibition and our Museum will all be closed.

  • During December, in addition to our pre-booked Santa Specials and other seasonal trains we have:

  • Please Donate Our Wall-to-Wall Double Donation Dash (Cash for Cover) for OP4 has got off to a great start towards its £250,000 target to build the walls on three sides of the new carriage maintenance and storage sheds at Horsted Keynes, which will also kick-start to completion of the Heritage Skills Centre (the structure and roof of which was completed a couple of months ago). The total raised as of the end of last week is £115,204.64 which is made up of £51,651.82 in donations, doubled to £103,303.64, together with £11,901.00 in Gift Aid.
    Please do Donate to the CfC Double Donation Dash, since we only have until 30 November reach the £100,000 doubling target.

  • During October 2018 there were 46,656 total hits on this page, from 25,767 unique visitors.


26 October:
Panoramic view of SteamWorks! locomotive display - Mike Anton - 24 October 2018

SteamWorks!
  • Mike Anton's photo shows a view of some of the locomotives displayed in the newly opened SteamWorks! interactive exhibition at Sheffield Park. This new attraction is still developing, and footplate access to No.75027 will be available at some point in the future. Opening hours are also developing at present, with more volunteer guides being trained to host visitors. Access to the new exhibition, just like our Museum on Platform 2, is available for no extra charge.

  • We are running a two-train service (Service 2 timetable) for Half Term. Note that this Saturday there is a late change to the previously advertised timetable, and there will NOT be a 5.15 departure from Sheffield Park.

  • After Sunday we have no normal timetabled trains running until after Christmas, with all December services before Christmas being pre-booked.

  • Details of November opening hours for the Bessemer Arms (our Bar/restaurant at Sheffield Park) are available here.

  • We are currently advertising a vacancies for a Marketing & Business Development Manager and a Marketing & Event Coordinator.

  • Two photos below illustrating the running shed atmosphere maintained at the south end of the running shed, now open again to visitors, and the bright new display available to visitors in the SteamWorks! exhibition at the north end. These photos from John Sandys come from his album from yesterday when the S15 and O1 were in charge of the trains.

Running shed atmosphere - John Sandys - 25 October 2018 Locos in SteamWorks! - John Sandys - 25 October 2018

23 October:
S15 arrives at Hoirsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 20 October 2018
  • Brian Lacey's photo from Saturday shows S15 No.847 arriving at Horsted Keynes with the 12:15 from Sheffield Park.

  • Our new innovative, interactive exhibition 'SteamWorks!' is now open! Situated in the locomotive shed at Sheffield Park, Steamworks! uses touchscreen displays, information boards and interactives to the bring the science and mechanics of steam to life! The star of the show is an interactive model of a locomotive! Based on our very own Terrier class locomotive 'Stepney' (as featured in the Thomas the Tank Engine books), this special "engine" features a display showing how the engine's boiler works, and, as an added bonus, a special driving experience simulator in the cab will enable you to experience what it's like to drive Stepney on the Bluebell Railway!
    Our locomotive running shed has also reopened, with improved lighting and walkways, so you'll be able to get up close to some of our beautiful locomotives on display and marvel at the engineering involved.

  • Mike Anton provides seven 360-degree views of the new SteamWorks! exhibition. These were shot before the opening ceremony on Saturday and shows how much nicer the space now is compared to the previous cramped and dingy presentation of our stored locomotives.

  • We are running a two-train service (Service 2 timetable) for Half Term. In addition, we have a Kids for a Quid promotion, this week. After Sunday we have no normal timetabled trains running until after Christmas. During November we are relaying a quarter-mile section of track north of Sloop Bridge (Freshfield Lane), with the work funded through The Bluebell Railway Trust.

  • We are currently advertising a vacancy for a Part-time Handyperson.

  • Derek Hayward's photos from Giants of Steam 2018 are now available.

  • John Sandys' photos from Thursday, 18 October, feature activities around Sheffield Park and the last Autumn Tints Special of the year. He also took a photo of a young peregrine falcon in East Grinstead.

  • The Steam Dreams mainline railtour to Oxford and Worcester which was due to start from Sheffield Park on Saturday 27 October has been postponed due to the lack of any mainline-registered locomotive available to haul it. The revised date for the tour is Saturday 5 October 2019, potentially to be hauled by 46233 'Duchess of Sutherland'. This train is promoted by Steam Dreams, to whom all enquiries should be addressed.

  • We regret that the Hallowe'en experience, "Dystopia Station", due to run in the evenings of 29-31 October has been cancelled. Anyone who has booked for it should by now have been contacted by our office.

  • Two more photos below from Brian Lacey, from Saturday, showing Camelot waiting for the S15 to bring its train into Horsted Keynes, and the SECR O1 No.65 with the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea Train.

Camelot and 847 at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 20 October 2018 65 with the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea Train at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 20 October 2018

11 October:
60009 'Union of South Africa' looks at home at Sheffield Park - Julian Clark - 10  October 2018
  • 60009 'Union of South Africa' looks at home at Sheffield Park already, as seen here in Julian Clark's photo taken yesterday.

  • Giants of Steam starts tomorrow.
    Note that only two of the carriages in the trains behind 60009 are pre-booked, the other five carriages are available on a first-come first-served basis for each individual departure.
    Tickets are available on each day from all of our station ticket offices. There is an intensive service of 4 trains running throughout the day, and an all-line return ticket allows unlimited travel subject to space being available on the trains. Full timetable available here.

    In addition to the attractions listed here we have:

    • The Great Northern Directors' Saloon will be on Set A all three days, available to any gala ticket holders who would like to partake of refreshments. This magnificent vehicle is normally reserved for first-class ticket holders, but on this occasion is available on a first-come-first-served basis until all seats are taken; standing is not permitted in this carriage, due to the constraints of the service of refreshments.
    • There will be station tours at Sheffield Park, on Sunday only, at 11.30 and 1.30.
    • There will be Free guided tours of the Carriage Works at Horsted Keynes on Saturday and Sunday, between trains lunchtime and early afternoon.

  • Neil Munro-Thomson provides pictures of the incoming 60009 taken at Woldingham and East Grinstead yesterday.

  • John Sandys' photos from today include 60009, and Camelot on the Autumn Tints, plus a look at progress with 80151 in the loco works.

  • Videos of Captain Baxter's final outing under its current boiler certificate on Saturday, from Nick Dearden and Mike Anton. Baxter is to have a place in the 'SteamWorks!' exhibition until the time comes for its next overhaul.
    Mike's photo below illustrates the run, which was well attended.

  • Steve Lee's photo below illustrates just a small fraction of last Sunday's Bus Running Day, with Brighton, Hove & District No.352, a Bristol K5G built in 1940, and rebuilt by ECW in 1945 following a fire, and preserved Stagecoach East Kent Volvo No.389, at Sheffield Park.

Baxter going well on its farewill train - Mike Anton - 6 October 2018 Vintage buses at Sheffield Park - Steve Lee - 7 October 2018

5 October:
S15 with Autumn Tints Special, at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 3 October 2018
  • Brian Lacey timed his arrival at Sainsburys for a spot of shopping perfectly, just as S15 No.847 pulled into East Grinstead with one of Wednesday's Autumn Tints specials, as seen in this photo.

  • Timings are now available for Saturday evening's 'Captain Baxter' special to mark Baxter's last day in traffic on its current boiler certificate. The bar & restaurant will be open at Sheffield Park in the evening, so this will event has become an impromptu BRPS members' social.

  • Reminder that it's our annual Vintage Bus Running Day on Sunday, with free bus services running on a variety of routes from our stations. Sadly we have just been advised that the Service 409 journeys (Godstone/Lingfield - East Grinstead - Forest Row) are unlikely to operate due to the booked driver having sustained an injury. At this stage, it is not practical to source alternative cover.
    Updated bus timetable information is available here, and we are running steam trains to our Service 2 timetable.

  • Update to the Locomotive Duty Roster, with plans for locomotive usage through October and November.

  • Video of 'Camelot' behing hauled through Clapham Junction by WCR's 37669 on Monday on its way back from the West Somerset Railway, posted by TheModster. It's unable to travel on the main line on its own because it does not have all the various items of modern in-cab electronics required to run on the main line these days, but was in light steam for lubrication.


3 October:
S15 with Autumn Tints Special, at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 2 October 2018
  • This photo from Brian Lacey, taken yesterday, shows the S15 on the first day of this year's Autumn Tints. These offer four options for viewing the autumnal colours. Advanced booking for these trains is strongly advised owing to limited seating, and is essential for Souper Steam and Steam & Cream options.

  • We have launched our Double Donations Dash for the Cash for Cover Appeal, to enable us to build the shed walls and the Heritage Skills Centre as part of the OP4 carriage shed extension at Horsted Keynes.

    To construct the walls around the shed, and progress work on the Heritage Skills Centre (the structure and roof of which are now complete - see details here), we now need to spend a further £250,000 - however a benefactor is offering matching funding for the first £100,000 donated to this Appeal, if the donations are made by midnight on 30 November.

    Please donate The Appeal is thus a A Double Donations Dash which will run until 30 November. Therefore we only need to raise £150,000 from public donations to add to the matching funding. If this can be achieved by the end of November, work should start in the spring of 2019. Please be generous and help us push this project forward in a really meaningful way.

  • An update to the Track Layout at Horsted Keynes page (thanks to Jon Goff) shows detail of what is currently planned to be the new track layout in the OP4 yard, giving access to the existing shed and workshop, and the newly covered maintenance road (E-road) plus the four new roads in the OP4 storage shed. Thanks to recovery of surplus pointwork from a couple of main-line redevelopment schemes, we are achieving this track work at minimal cost, leaving all the funds raised by the A Double Donations Dash appeal to progress the construction work on the shed itself, as described above.

  • We are very sorry to have to announce that B1 'Mayflower' will no longer be visiting us for our 'Giants of Steam' Autumn Gala. 60009 'Union of South Africa' is still coming and all other events over the weekend will go ahead as planned.

  • The Carriage Workshop Tours at Horsted Keynes have proved very popular, and are therefore extended though October. These free tours start at 2pm, each Saturday until the end of October. In addition there will be the usual tours on the Saturday and Sunday (13-14 October) of the Giants of Steam Gala.
     
    Camelot on WSR - Bob Woodland CCL - 27 September 2018
  • This photo shows No.73082 'Camelot' near Yard Bridge on 27 September during its visit to the West Somerset Railway for their 4-day Autumn Steam Gala. The photograph, © Bob Woodland, is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

  • Dan Gosling provides a video of action on the WSR, including coverage of 'Camelot', and similarly there is coverage in 82A Studios' video.

  • John Sandys' gallery from yesterday shows the locomotive safely back at Sheffield Park, along with more photos from the first day of the Autumn Tints.

  • On Saturday evening (6 October) there will be a 'Captain Baxter' special to mark Baxter's last day in traffic. Baxter will be covering a trip to East Grinstead and a half trip to Horsted Keynes with the Victorian 4-wheelers (availability permitting) so come and enjoy this loco's last day before withdrawal. The bar will be open at Sheffield Park in the evening.

  • We are now advertising one day (3rd November) of Footplate Extra - an intermediate Loco Driving & Firing Experience.

  • Mike Anton provides some new 360-degree shots at Kingscote from 31 August, when the first up-service of the day was passing through, driven by Driver Wright:

  • Video about our very own line, from Roll Along Thomas, discussing and introducing Stepney's home.

  • Update to the Who's Who page, with the appointment of Chris Hunford as Deputy Chairman of Bluebell Railway plc, in addition to his existing role as Locomotive Director.

  • New link added to the Career Boss page on How to become a Train Driver.

  • During September 2018 there were 38,655 total hits on this page, from 22,510 unique visitors.


Older updates are in the What's New Archive
or 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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