The Bluebell Times

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

In This Edition


  • “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.

The Bluebell Times is published monthly on the second Friday of every month. The next issue is due out on Friday, 8 March 2024.

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


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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