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14 January:
Track being relaid - Jon Goff - 8 January 2019
  • News Update 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).

10 January:
65 and 592 at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 31 December 2019
  • 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.

  • News Update 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.

Trackbed cleared - Bruce Healey - 9 January 2019 Sleepers laid - Bruce Healey - 9 January 2019 Rails in place - Bruce Healey - 9 January 2019

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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.

latestlatestMost recent updates: See top of this page

3 January 2019:
65 at Nobles - Steve Lee - 1 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.

Camelot with the last train on New Year's Day - Peter Edwards - 1 January 2019 New timber on Pullman Car 54 - Richard Salmon - 30 December 2018 Dennis of FOSP at work - John Sandys - 2 January 2019

29 December 2018:
As Camelot's train pulls into Horsted Keynes, the H-class is already in the platform with its northbound service - Brian Lacey - 27 December 2018

27 December:
Camelot at sunset at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 27 December 2018 Maunsell locos on shed - Brian Lacey - 27 December 2018
  • The rain held off today, and occasionally the sun came out, for Brian Lacey to capture these four photos:
    Above: 'Camelot' at rest at East Grinstead, having brought the 2.45pm train up from Sheffield Park, and a pair of Southern Railway Maunsell locomotives (U-class 31618 and S15 847) on shed at Sheffield Park;
    Below: The 09 brought two of the Met carriages up from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes, and the H-class running round at Sheffield Park after its arrival with the 12:46 from Horsted Keynes.

  • See also Nick Dearden's video of the Bluebell through 2018; spring, summer, autumn and winter.

The 09 shunting the Met carriages at Horsted Keynes - Brian Lacey - 27 December 2018 H-class at Sheffield Park - Brian Lacey - 27 December 2018

26 December:
Camelot with the first train on Boxing Day - John Sandys - 26 December 2018
  • John Sandys' photo shows 73082 'Camelot' with the first train of the day today, Boxing Day. See also his own gallery with other photos from today.

  • Reminder that we are running trains daily until New Year's Day, to our Christmas Holiday timetable
    Tickets available in advance or on arrival.

    From 2 January, until 15 February, the line is closed for winter engineering work, but stations are open for visitors.

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

  • This video of our Christmas Eve trains is by Jon Barnes.

  • A couple of more historic links, for your entertainment:
    - Video showing the state of the restoration at Kingscote Station in 1993, the year before we reopened through to that station, by J.A.W. Thornton.
    - Ardingly Station photos, 1961-3 by Ian Nolan.
    Ardingly station was a long distance from the village, and closed in 1963 when the branch from Haywards Heath to Horsted Keynes closed. The line as far as the station site remains open to serve the aggregates terminal which is still there. The Bluebell owns the track bed from Horsted Keynes to Ardingly, and it is our long-term plan to reinstate the missing viaduct and rebuild the line to Ardingly at some point, but for the present we must concentrate our resources, efforts and fundraising on the maintenance and renewal of our exisiting line, its tracks, signalling, bridges, stations, locomotives and rolling stock, to ensure our long-term future.

22 December:
H-class with Victorian Train - Paul Furlong - 21 December 2018
  • Paul Furlong's photo from Friday shows the H-class with the Victorian Train near Sloop Bridge, as it heads towards the "Horsted Christmas" event that day. The 01 had charge of the Edwardian Train which brought passengers down from East Grinstead. The leading carriage seen here, LCDR No.114 of 1889, has just been through the paint-shop at Horsted Keynes for a much needed coat of varnish, although more work on its body-sides is planned shortly.

  • As our sell-out Santa season is now into its last couple of days, we can look forward to the next of our regular public steam trains, which run 26 Dec 2018 - 1 Jan 2019.
         * 26 Dec (Boxing Day):
    Service 1 timetable
         * 27 Dec - 1 Jan: Christmas Holiday timetable
    Tickets available in advance or on arrival.
    From 2 January, until 15 February, the line is closed for winter engineering work, but stations are open for visitors.

  • Online booking for our Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train for 2019 is now available.

  • The 2019 dates for our "Find out more" days for those interested in volunteering with us, namely the second Sunday of every month from February until November, have now been confirmed. See details here.

  • The 2019 dates for our Photographers' Personal Track Safety Courses are now available. This is mandatory for those wishing to photograph our trains from the lineside. There are no restrictions on visitors taking photos for personal (non-commercial) purposes from public areas on our stations. Anyone intending to use a UAV/drone should consult our drone safety policy.

  • Some pictures, taken by Mike Anton, of the compartments of Bulleid carriage No.5768 have been uploaded to the Bulleid Society's web site, and two are shown below. We hope this carriage will enter service as part of a 4-coach Bulleid set at our 15-17 March Branch Line Weekend.

First Class Compartment of 5768 - Mike Anton Third Class Compartment of 5768 - Mike Anton

263 and 65 during run-round at Horsted Keynes - Steve Lee - 15 December 2018 847 at East Grinstead - John Sandys - 22 December 2018

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.

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.

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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