The Bluebell Times

The latest issue of The Bluebell Times is now available to view for May.

In This Edition

  • Help us in “Paving the way” by sponsoring new platform coping stones for Horsted Keynes
  •  Car 54 enters service – with the help of GB Paralympic athlete Fabienne André
  • The Plc board needs you – we have volunteer board vacancies for Chairman, Commercial Director and Carriage & Wagon Director
  • The Branch Line Society visits – and their special train traverses (nearly) every inch of track on the Railway!
  • The carriage shop is back in business in its new location
  •  Can we help you ensure the preservation of a historic photographic archive?

The Bluebell Times is published monthly on the second Friday of every month. The next issue is due out on Friday, 21 June 2024.

You can download the latest edition by clicking the button below.

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April 2024

  • Watts Occurring – the “what, why, when and how” of what we do
  • Details of the forthcoming BRPS Annual General Meeting
  • Work continues on the Q class tender
  • Restoration on multiple fronts in the C&W with work on the Maunsell Restaurant Car, SE&CR 100 seater, Bulleid 3rd and our historic wagons
  • Not just trains: the Railway’s Fordson van is also being restored
  • What it takes to become a passenger guard
  • The Carriage Shop moves into its new home ready for the main season

March 2024

  • ‘Beachy Head’ emerges for the first time.
  •  While “Normandy’ and the Adams Radial Tank take their respective places in Atlantic House.
  •  Latest progress on Q class No. 541.
  •  Pullman Car No. 54 undergoes running-in trials.
  • A new museum exhibit devoted to railway women.
  • The Carriage Shop is preparing to open in its new location.

February 2024

  • “When Gordon met Gordon” – our 4-VEP goes to London Waterloo.
  • Mammoth winter works at Sheffield Park to relay track, repair the platforms and fit new footbridge steps.
  • The Maunsell Restaurant Car enters the Carriage & Wagon workshop.
  • Workshop updates on Sir Archibald Sinclair, Beachy Head and a brace of Southern Railway vans.
  • The Carriage Shop is poised to return – and provides another £2,000 towards two restoration projects.

January 2024

  • Bluebell Goods Division reaches five years of wagon restoration
  • Ben Gray celebrates his 21st birthday – by becoming the Bluebell’s youngest ever driver
  • Major track relaying project starts at Sheffield Park
  • Restoration updates on Q class No. 541, 9F 92240 – and Stroudley Brake 3rd No. 949 nears completion
  • Positive feedback for the Education team from school visitors
  • Remembering Jock McKay – a mentor to a generation of enginemen

December 2023

  • A major appeal to get our 4-VEP running on the mainline next year
  • Sir Archibald Sinclair enters service on our Santa Specials.
  • A driver’s view of a commercial goods train – ten years later.
  • A Christmas message from the Railway’s Chaplain.
  • Save the dates for next year’s Society AGM, Members Day & Bluebell Staff Party.
  • A busy 2024 is planned- but keeping focus on the underlying business.

November 2023

  • A giant success as ‘Manston’ and ‘Taw Valley’ lead to the most successful Giants Of Steam Gala yet.
  • Save The Date! First special event dates for 2024 are announced, plus an intensive New Year’s Day service is planned.
  • High tech treatment for 9F No. 92240’s tender.
  • Workshop progress for ‘Bluebell’, Q Class 30541 at Leaky Finders and the Bicester Military Railway carriage.
  • A look over the fence at East Grinstead to see how Network Rail keeps the national network running during the leaf fall season.

October 2023

  • Overhaul plans announced for a trio of our oldest locomotives
  • New safety director appointed
  • A summer of work on Horsted Keynes platform, canopy and building draws close – where next for the Jewel in the Crown?
  • Overhaul updates on Q class No. 541, Thumper 1305 and Crompton D6570
  • “Sir Archibald Sinclair” makes its first loaded test runs
  • The annual Nine Elms reunion provides a welcome boost to the Bluebell Railway Trust – and Woking Homes
  • The last weekend for the Carriage Shop approaches before it moves to a new home
  • … and Bluebell Times reaches it’s 50th edition!

September 2023

  • Crowds turn out to enjoy the visit by Flying Scotsman – thanks to the hard work of our staff and volunteers
  • A special moment as Kenneth Turner is reunited with the loco he last worked on as a young fireman during the war.
  • SteamWorks! museum has a revised management structure – and Sharpthorne and the North London Tank are planned to go on display within the museum.
  • Overhaul updates from Q class No.54, the Oxted Thumper and Pullman Car No. 54.
  • The Carriage Shop continue its support of projects around the Railway – and there is a donation from the Bulleid Society to the Goods Division as well in recognition of the overhaul of Bulleid Open Wagon 12058.


August 2023

  • The Railway is running full steam ahead – and bookings remain strong in the opening weeks of the summer holiday
  • The Q class has it’s boiler lifted – but your help is still needed
  • BR Standard Class 2 No. 84030 receives its new water tanks
  • Another £500 is donated by the Horsted Keynes Carriage Shop – and its long-term future at Horsted Keynes is assured
  • A watershed moment at Horsted Keynes as the renovated canopies and platform come back into view
  • Praise for the education team from a junior school party

July 2023

  • A successful June for visitor numbers – but secondary spending is inconsistent
  • Q class No. 541 is off to Leaky Finders
  • Old favourite vintage carriages return to service
  • A find of 1950s wheelsets helps out another loco restoration group
  • More donations by the Horsted Keynes carriage shop to restoration groups across the Railway
  • A new radio system improves communication

June 2023

  • A move back to the Railway sees attendance at the BRPS AGM more than double from last year – report with all the results
  • Nicholas Owen renames our namesake Class 73 Electro-diesel at Sheffield Park
  • The Southern Railway Coach Group takes shape – and Maunsell carriage No. 3687 is revealed in all its glory as it nears entry into service
  • Overhaul of ‘Normandy’ is agreed by the board – boosted by a donation of £500 from the Horsted Keynes Carriage shop
  • We enter the solar age as electricity starts to flow from the roof of the Above Workshop Facility
  • More progress at Horsted Keynes on both the fabric of the station and on Thumper 1305

May 2023

  • A successful start to the year for visitor numbers at events – but more volunteer help is always needed if we are to continue that success
  • Make a day of it on 3 June: see behind the scenes at the members’ day  – with the BRPS AGM in the afternoon and an evening hog roast
  • More support for the Goods Division and the Horsted Keynes station fund from the Carriage Shop
  • A child’s view of the work of our Education team
  • More progress on the Thumper

April 2023

  • Work on “The Jewel in the Crown” resumes after the winter
  • A packed month of activity on our Thumper …
  • … and Electro-Diesel E6040 is renamed “The Bluebell Railway”
  • 5 Minutes with Tony Astor, the Railway’s new Infrastructure Director
  • Summary of the recent volunteer workshop
  • “Tender care” on our Giant No. 92240
  • The Bluebell Railway Museum and the Great Western Trust jointly acquire the Edward Wallis photographic collection.

March 2023

  • Working in partnership with “The Southern Six”
  • What’s it like to work on the Golden Arrow dining service?
  • Progress on our multiple units – diesel and electric
  • Our Bulleid carriages run on the mainline for the first time in forty years
  • A decade of running to East Grinstead
  • John Betjeman’s Metro-land – 50 year’s on
  • New museum acquisitions – and photos.

February 2023

  • Don’t get an electric shock – the juice is costing us a fortune
  • ‘Fenchurch’ and Bulleid wagon are both in line for top annual awards
  • Three visitors announced for Branch Line Gala
  • What happens when a train breaks down along the line
  • The Bluebell and Southern Railways Archive is soon to open to the public for researchers to visit in person
  • Progress on the line’s diesels – and Sir Archie is reunited with its boiler
  • Carriage shop donates to the Maunsell Restaurant Car and Horsted Keynes renovation

January 2023

  • Dates confirmed for the volunteer workshops – sign up now!
  • Take 5 with the Railway’s safety team
  • Time for a Southern Railway Coach Group? Read the proposal from the Rolling Stock Committee and take their survey
  • A round-up of the best pictures of the Railway in the snow
  • News about our namesake locomotive No. 73133
  • Farewell to the museum’s long-standing curator

December 2022

  • A message of Christmas hope from the chaplain – and it is the railway’s annual carol service on publication day
  • Could you be a Society Trustee? Details of two vacancies on the society board
  • The Railway gives a magical night out at SteamLights for a group of Ukrainian families
  • Catching up with one of our young volunteers
  • The Night Ferry sleeping car departs for preservation in Belgium
  • The Wickham trolley is overhauled from rail to roof
  • The “giant” moves to Sheffield Park – and the rate of donations has doubled in a year.

November 2022

  • Board Changes: We Welcome Two New Directors To The Railway
  • Jewel In The Crown Report For October
  • Goodbye BROOSS- Hello HOPS
  • Volunteer Find Out More Days
  • New Bluebell Museum Acquisitions

October 2022

  • Advanced details of next year’s BRPS AGM
  • Introductions to the new Safety and Assurance Director and Museum Curator
  • How No. 65’s trip to the mainline was planned from a beach in Antigua
  • Latest work at Horsted Keynes as renovations gather pace
  • 5 Minutes with BRPS Trustee Laurie Anderson

September 2022

  • Loco No. 65 goes mainline for the first time in 60 years!
  • Beachy Head’ and ‘Fenchurch’ both have their boilers refitted
  • The next locomotive overhauls are planned in the workshop and Atlantic House
  • The first glimpse of Bulleid wagon 12058
  • Solar panels planned for locomotive workshop roof – but we all need to “put that light out” as electricity bills soar
  • More work at Horsted Keynes, including a deep clean of the subway – and a new floral arrangement

August 2022

  • A marriage proposal delivered by train
  • Looking back at 15 years of development in the museum
  • Restoration work continues at Horsted Keynes
  • The preservation story of Fenchurch, from hastily removed BR logos to full Stroudley splendour
  • ‘Awake the Giant’ group launch a new photo competition

July 2022

  • Preparations are underway for Fenchurch’s Birthday – including a special guest coming by ferry!
  • The story of how a locomotive designed to work in the London suburbs in the 1870s was still hard in the southern countryside at work 90 years later
  • Updates from Horsted Keynes as renovation work starts – and news of another generous donation to the Jewel in the Crown appeal
  • ’Stowe’ departs for overhaul work at Quainton – while ‘Wightwick Hall’ travels the other way to help with our summer services

June 2022

  • The company chairman paints a picture of how the Railway could appear to our visitors of the future
  • A round up from the recent BRPS AGM
  • Five minutes with new BRPS Vice Chairman Neil Glaskin
  • A new home for the Yankee Tank No. 30064
  • Work starts on “The Jewel in the Crown”
  • A walk along the Forest Row line in 1963
  • New museum photos capture Beachy Head at Horsted Keynes in the 1950s, and Fenchurch in the 1960s.

May 2022

  • A reminder of the forthcoming Society AGM – and reciprocal travel arrangements for working volunteers
  • From shop floor to board room, opportunities aplenty to help the Railway
  • An update on the Western Extension Project
  • Fenchurch is back on its wheels – and the boiler is progressing rapidly as well
  • Carriage Shop donates £4,000 to two worthy restoration projects
  • Bluebell Standards caught in passing at Horsted Keynes

April 2022

  • Some good news on coal supply – but costs have gone up considerably
  • Initial feedback from the spring volunteer workshops
  • The Awake the Giant team reveal plans for the locomotive to move south – and a range of merchandise
  • Update on projects from around the railway
  • On this day in 1951 – Fenchurch and a Brighton Atlantic met in Newhaven, a pairing we can soon recreate

March 2022

  • Flying Scotsman to fly south again
  • Storm Eunice leaves the railway battered but unbowed
  • Plans for the miniature railway gather pace
  • The Jewel in the Crown appeal formally closes having raised a tremendous £591,500 – now the work on the ground can begin
  • The museum unveils a new trove of historic images

February 2022

  • An update on the first volunteer workshop – with two more opportunities to attend
  • How our South Eastern survivor traces its roots back to Glasgow
  • The Heritage Skills Centre section of OP4 is open – find out how the project started and raised the all-important funds
  • Workshop progress on ‘Fenchurch’ and our historic wagon fleet
  • More historic photos added to the museum website – and a promise of another trove to come.

January 2022

  • Unique surviving South Eastern Railway locomotive No. 65 is acquired by the Bluebell Railway Trust
  • The Jewel in the Crown appeal hits its initial fundraising target – but more match funds have been released to raise even more
  • A packed schedule of special events for 2022 …
  • … and a commercial round up from 2021
  • The C&W trimming team are the first to move into the new Heritage Skills Centre
  • The Bluebell archive moves to a new home at Beare Green
  • Workshop progress on ‘Fenchurch’, ’Sir Archibald Sinclair’ and No. 30541

December 2021

  • Updates from the latest board meeting pointing the way to 2022
  • Dates for next year’s volunteer workshops confirmed, and details of how to attend
  • A last push needed to get the Jewel in the Crown appeal up to its target of £540,000
  • ‘Remembrance’ nameplate from the LBSCR memorial locomotive goes on display in the museum
  • Five minutes with new Society trustee and filming liaison officer Mike Hopps
  • 500 new photos are uploaded to the museum website – including the beginnings of the John Scrace collection
  • A new footbridge for East Grinstead mainline station

November 2021

  • The Jewel in the Crown appeal is off to a strong start – but there is still time to see your donation doubled
  • A young 9F Club member raises money for the appeal – by selling lemonade
  • Bluebell volunteer Chris Cooper is awarded a lifetime achievement award by the National Transport Trust, after more than sixty years dedication to the Railway
  • How volunteering in our museum led to a second career as a community rail line officer
  • The Heritage Skills Centre is signed off for use — and the carriage trimming team are first to move in
  • A photo retrospective from our hugely popular ‘Giants of Steam’ event
  • Local signal box name boards on display in the museum
  • An alien presence in SteamWorks!

October 2021

– Paul Churchman is elected to be the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society chairman
– A welcome boost to the Jewel in the Crown appeal from the Horsted Keynes Carriage Shop
– Bestselling author Jacqueline Wilson visits the Railway
– An East Grinstead porter’s second life in print, parliament and far-flung places
– Behind the scenes in the carriage shed as two more vintage carriages approach completion
– Enjoying the tranquillity of our Memorial Garden
– The Awake the Giant group launch a photographic competition
– A walk along the ‘Jungle Line’ in 1959

Special issue – The Jewel in the Crown appeal

  • The Grand Plan for Horsted Keynes
  • The condition of the station – and how you can help restore it to its former glory
  • A history of the station, in words and pictures
  • Behind the scenes photos from some of the many films and TV productions shot at the station
  • A story of the life – and death – of an Edwardian railway worker at the station.

September 2021

  • A reminder about the upcoming Bluebell Railway Preservation Society AGM, including all the candidates standing for election
  • The latest news from the volunteer co-ordinator
  • A selection of new dining trains for the autumn
  • Uprated power supply installed at Horsted Keynes
  • An update from the team raising money for locomotive No. 92240
  • A round-up of the 60+1 anniversary weekend in words and photos
  • Historic railway scenes from the Bluebell Railway Museum Archive, taken on 10 September past

August 2021

  • Appointments of a new Chairman and Locomotive Engineering Director
  • A wartime locomotive icon hired for the summer season
  • Two visitors announced for “Giants of Steam”
  • An update on progress with the Heritage Skills Centre
  • More photos of the line on the eve of preservation in 1959

July 2021

  • Appointment of a volunteer co-ordinator
  • Use your skills to help the Bluebell Railway Trust with fundraising and accounting
  • The arrival of ‘Crompton’ D6570
  • A round up of activity in our carriage and wagon workshop
  • A walk along the line in July 1959
  • The end of steam on 9 July 1967 – on the Western Region!

June 2021

  • Details about the first events of 2021
  • An update on the arrangements for the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society AGM
  • The future for our splendid Pullman Train
  • Readers’ reaction to the pressures on our carriage fleet
  • Pictures from the Sheffield Park gift shop following its refit
  • The Bluebell Railway Museum – 10 years on
  • Buy a limited edition 60th anniversary cushion – and support the Heritage Skills Centre
  • And much, much more

May 2021

  • News of Fenchurch’s overhaul as our oldest locomotive approaches its 150th birthday
  • The pressure to maintain our carriage fleet
  • Update on plans for our 60+1 anniversary
  • The launch of our new Kingscote virtual tour
  • Five minutes with a former naval pilot now kept busy at Horsted Keynes
  • An original song celebrating the rhythm of our locomotives

April 2021

  • More virtual tours coming soon
  • A new addition to SteamWorks!
  • A special Easter message from the Railway’s chaplain
  • An in-depth look at ‘Camelot’

March 2021

  • Updated schedule of events for 2021
  • Government promotion of our virtual tours
  • Memories of trainspotting in the 1960s

February 2021

  • Details of a surprise 100th birthday present for a lifetime member
  • A closer look at H class locomotive No. 263
  • Detailed information on how smoke deflectors work
  • Your help needed identifying some old photos
  • Puzzles with links to local branch lines

January 2021

  • Wishes from across the Bluebell Railway for 2021
  • An honour from the Queen for one volunteer
  • The first virtual tour using some of the Government’s grant money
  • Three generations of one family who all volunteer at the Railway
  • An update on the tender plate from SE&CR Stirling F class No. 31

December 2020

  • Christmas greetings from the Railway’s chaplain
  • Reports and photos on the start of SteamLights
  • Reasons to feel positive about 2020
  • News of sponsorship deals for equipment for the locomotive department
  • How the filming generator van was prepared for SteamLights
  • An update on the appeal to return the 9F to traffic
  • A festive Spot the Difference competition

November 2020

  • A review of the “Off the Rails” event showcasing goods trains and vintage vehicles
  • How the locomotive department reached “Peek” performance in its cleaning
  • Suggestions for Bluebell-related Christmas presents
  • Auction success in obtaining one of the nameplates for ‘Ardingly’ locomotive
  • Word Search puzzle about Railway Works
  • Down Memory Line and On This Day with tales of yesteryear

October 2020

  • Help support the Railway at no cost to yourself
  • Searching railway auction catalogues for items of interest
  • A day on the footplate with a visiting charter
  • Down Memory Line and On This Day
  • Guess the Year and Word Search puzzles

September 2020

  • Details of the Bluebell Railway’s heritage grant from the National Lottery fund
  • Reports on the completion of the Accessible Steam Heritage (ASH) project in SteamWorks! with the installation of a ramp for footplate access and new buffer stops.
  • The story behind the Elton John album cover photo opportunity
  • More tales of working goods trains
  • A debate over the colour of The Bluebell Railway nameplate
  • Guess the Year and Word Search puzzles

Issue 11

  • Reports and photos of the Grand Reopening at Sheffield Park station
  • The view from the platforms and from the footplate are covered in depth alongside the Virtual Gala for those who couldn’t be there for the anniversary weekend.

Issue 10

  • Find out why there’s more to being a Train Guard than waving green flags and blowing whistles
  • A closer look at one of our industrial locomotives which featured in the 50th anniversary celebrations
  • An explanation of why train crews regard the line as effectively a staircase
  • A themed Word Search puzzle to coincide with the 60th anniversary
  • New puzzles as well as the regular favourites

Issue 9

  • Details of the limited edition 60th anniversary souvenir Edmondson tickets
  • Learn more about the married couple who cover everything from footplate turns to filming liaison
  • A closer look at the oldest locomotive at the Bluebell
  • Find out how Sheffield Park station got its name
  • What goes on inside the museum
  • New puzzles as well as the regular favourites

Issue 8

  • A report on the reopening after the pandemic of our twin railway in the Netherlands
  • TV coverage of one of our locomotives … in a programme about paintings
  • What a Running Foreman does at the railway
  • The second and final part about living on the site of a former railway station
  • A personal rundown of the top 10 railway films
  • New puzzles as well as the regular favourites
  • Special kids’ section with a new challenge

Issue 7

  • Meet the couple who live on the site of a former railway station
  • Find out how a loco was rescued from the scrapyard and restored
  • Read about ‘A Day in the Life’ of a senior station master
  • New puzzles including a Spot the Difference challenge
  • Special kids’ section with a carriage shed shunting puzzle

Issue 6

  • The initial plans for a phased reopening of the railway
  • Closing in on the fundraising target for the Emergency Appeal
  • Details of a ‘Virtual Track Trek’ sponsored walk
  • The start of the 60-day countdown to the railway’s 60th birthday
  • New puzzles as well as the regular favourites
  • Special kids’ section with a new puzzle and evacuation story

Issue 5

  • A major milestone is reached in the emergency fundraising appeal
  • Details of how to nominate the railway for more money
  • A family connection to our new-build locomotive
  • Photos from the month of May in years gone by
  • An in-depth look at a locomotive which some call a “spaceship”
  • New puzzles as well as the regular favourites
  • Special kids’ section with a signalling challenge

Issue 4

  • Raising funds for the railway’s recovery
  • An update on plans to celebrate 60 years of heritage running
  • How the online shop is bringing a little magic into youngsters’ lives
  • Storytime with the Bluebell Railway
  • Plans for a virtual gala of Bluebell Railway locomotives
  • A profile of a locomotive driver nicknamed ‘Yeti’
  • The story of special Bluebell Railway postage stamps
  • An in-depth look at one of our operational locomotives
  • A new Word Search and the answer to the previous puzzle
  • Guess the Year – plus the answers to the competition in the last issue
  • Special kids’ section with a World War II-inspired game

Issue 3

  • Details of the railway’s fundraising strategy
  • An update on the emergency appeal
  • Branch Line Weekend as imagined by a train guard
  • The story behind the special cardboard Edmondson tickets
  • The connection between digital election graphics and directing fundraising
  • The next instalment of the memories of a wartime evacuee
  • An in-depth look at one of our operational locomotives
  • A new Word Search and the answer to the previous puzzle
  • Guess the Year – plus the answers to the competition in the last issue
  • Special kids’ section with puzzles and a story

Issue 2

  • The story of the first member of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society
  • Life as a wartime evacuee by train
  • An in-depth look at one of our bigger locomotives
  • How “Railway Time” came and went
  • A new Word Search and the answer to the previous puzzle
  • Guess the Year – plus a bonus question from a reader
  • Special kids’ section

Issue 1

  • Life as a train driver
  • An in-depth look at one of our locomotives
  • Update on the emergency appeal
  • Word search
  • Guess the Year
  • Special kids’ section