Blog: What's New at the Bluebell Railway?
- The December 2023 edition of Bluebell Times features:
– 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.
- Two photos below from last night’s Horsted Keynes Station Carol Service, which was attended by 173 guests, and accompanied by the Bluebell Railway Band. In the second photo we see the preacher, curate of St. Giles’ Horsted Keynes, Rev Peter Sutton with driver Ben Coughlan on locomotive 80151.
- Tonight: Horsted Keynes Station Carol Service
7:30pm (until 9pm)
Join us for our traditional carol service, led by Reverend David Murdoch, Rector of St Giles Church and Chaplain of the Bluebell Railway, along with the Horsted Keynes platform staff.
Free entry, with donations going to the Horsted Keynes Station Fund and St. Giles Church, Horsted Keynes.
Refreshments will also be available in the King George V bar on the station.
- David Cable’s photo from Sunday 3 December shows No. 80151 at the head of one of this winter’s hugely popluar “Santa Specials”. The locomnotive is looking particularly festive in a temporary livery (following filming for an advert in November) – the filming contract makes provision for a full repaint back to its former livery which will take place in the New Year.
- A new web page has been created for the pair of ex-Seaham Harbour Chaldron Wagons which were donated to the Bluebell by our then Vice-President Johnny Morris in 1972, and moved in May 1988 to a more appropriate home at the Tanfield Railway.
- Following a week’s break, a new Chairman’s Update is now available.
- The Southern Railway Coach Group has now opened subscriptions to its membership scheme. You can join by completing the application form available from here. Members receive two digital newsletters each year (March and September) featuring updates on the work we’re doing plus other articles about restoration techniques, the individual carriages and more. Members will also be invited to an annual meeting with behind the scenes tours, which will be timed to coincide with the BRPS AGM day (the next one expected to be in June 2024).
- The photo below shows O1-class No. 65 during a Footplate Experience course in November. The photo is provided by Jemima White, whose husband was enjoying the course that day.
- As yet un-named and un-numbered (pending final painting in February), No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ has been in service, hauling last night’s Golden Arrow dining Train, and the Santa Specials starting from East Grinstead today (with 80151 on the Sheffield Park Santas and Steam Lights, and No. 65 on tonight’s Golden Arrow). It’s seen here heading north from Horsted Keynes today in Matthew Cousins’ photo.
Don’t forget 34059’s first use on ordinary public services is on January 1st, when we will also be steaming 6989 ‘Wightwick Hall’, SE&CR 65 on a goods train, and Terrier 72 ‘Fenchurch’ hauling the Observation Car, effectively creating a “mini-gala”.
- Details and dates for the first Lineside Photographers’ Safety Courses of 2024 are now available.
- Today marks the launch of a £50,000 appeal by the Southern Electric Traction Group (SETG) to bring the Bluebell-owned 4VEP unit 3417 ‘Gordon Pettitt’ back into mainline operation.
See more details here and donate on GoFundMe here. To donate with Gift Aid, please do so via the Bluebell Railway Trust –
select “Other” from the drop down menu and write “VEP” in the box.
- We are currently advertising vacancies for a Buildings Manager (part time) and a Loco Works Fitter.
- Today we have another of our Chairman’s Weekly Updates available to download.
- The photo here illustrates one of the new door locks fitted to Metropolitan Railway carriage No. 394, referenced in the update.
- 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ to haul service trains on New Year’s Day!
How about this for a New Year’s Day surprise! Replacing 80151 in our lineup, 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ will be hauling service trains for the first time in over a decade, alongside 72 ‘Fenchurch’, 6989 ‘Wightwick Hall’ and O1 No. 65 for our New Year’s Day Steam Up! This will be for one day only, before the Bulleid heads into our paint shop at Horsted Keynes.
Normal fares apply and our ‘Kids For A Quid’ travel offer will also be available on the day. Advance tickets can be found here.
The timetable has been altered to accommodate this change and can be found here.
- SVV Media shot this video of Steamlights last week. For an explanation of the temporary livery on 80151 (which seems to be going down well with our visiting families), more about Cadbury’s Secret Santa is described here on netmums.
- The two photos below show work in progress with the installation of the new headstock which is now ready to be riveted onto LMS 3-plank wagon 474558. The work is described, along with more photos, in the Goods Division’s Facebook Posts.
- News update from the Bulleid Society: Last week the final testing was carried out on 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’, the loco has now been handed over to the operations department, and is planned to be used on Santa Specials at the Bluebell Railway over the next few weeks.
This photo from John Fry shows the locomotive being prepared for its eight successful fully-loaded test runs last week. In February it will enter the paint shop at Horsted Keynes for final topcoat and lettering and lining.
In the background of the photo you can also see the new inner firebox for ‘Blackmoor Vale’, which has been received. This is the final one of a batch of five new Bulleid Light Pacific steel inner fireboxes made by South Devon Railway Engineering, the first of the batch being the one we have fitted to ‘Sir Archie’.
- We still have some availability on our Golden Arrow Pullman Christmas lunch and evening dining trains – more details and booking.
- Join us for an extra special Steamlights service this New Year’s Eve, and kickstart your new year celebrations with our spectacular train of lights. Book now!
- Our ever-popular Santa Specials have almost completely sold out on the trains departing from Sheffield Park, but we still have seats available on those departing from East Grinstead.
- David Cable’s photo, taken whilst he was engaged in lineside clearance work yesterday, shows 34059 out for another test run. The coaching set is that equipped with leds for the Steamlights trains which commence tomorrow.
- The perfect Christmas present for any railway enthusiast!
The footplate taster days return! Featuring LB&SCR A1 “Terrier” Tank No. 72 “Fenchurch” and SE&CR O1 No. 65 (subject to locomotive availability on the day).
The following dates are currently available to book in 2024:
FEBRUARY: 22, 23, 24, 25 & 29
MARCH 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 22 & 28
PRICE: £330 PER PERSON – These tickets are limited and will sell out fast.
BOOK NOW TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT!
Find out more about these days here.
- We have a new web page covering the current overhaul of SE&CR P-class No. 323 ‘Bluebell’.
The aim is to get this, our flagship locomotive, running again very quickly. Past experience is that having two small locomotives available together provides far greater opportunity, thanks to the certainty and reliability provided by having a backup, for their greater use. Matched with our older (lighter-weight) rolling stock, they provide an attractive and economical second train on 2-train timetable days.
During this overhaul it will be receiving the boiler which it was carrying when it first arrived on the Bluebell in 1960, which has most recently been used in No. 178. No. 178 now carries the boiler until recently fitted to 323, and is now being prepared for a return to static display.
This photo (thanks to Andy Kelly) taken a week ago, shows the boiler which is being overhauled for 323 ‘Bluebell’, in our workshop at Sheffield Park, with forced ventilation attached whilst the tubes are being removed.
- The latest Chairman’s Update (9 November) is now available to download.
- New web page covering the current overhaul of SR Q-class No. 541 and an update on progress with the overhaul of SE&CR H-class No. 263.
The photo shows 541’s boiler, and wheelset removed from under the frames. It is presented here with thanks to Leaky Finders, where the locomotive boiler and chassis are being overhauled. The wheelsets have now gone to SDR Engineering for specialist work, and the tender is now under overhaul at Sheffield Park, where it will receive a new body.
- Rapido Trains have just announced a OO gauge model of the SECR O1 Class including the Bluebell’s own No. 65 in full SE&CR livery (as preserved, and as seen in Rapido’s graphic shown here), as s1065 in BR Sunshine and as 31065 in BR Late Crest Black.
The Bluebell Railway Goods Division are taking preorders at a substantial discount on the rrp so make sure you order before the order deadline (still to be announced) to secure your model!
That they also have a selection of Rapido Trains wagons and brake vans in stock available to order now!
- The November 2023 edition of Bluebell Times features:
– 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 541 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
… and much more!
Maunsell Brake Composite No. S6686S was initially preserved by the Southern Locomotive Preservation Co., and based in various places in Hampshire until the closure of the preservation scheme at Liss led to its transfer to the Bluebell.
The photo on the left (thanks to Nick Catford) shows the carriage at Droxford in April 1967, four and a half years before it came to the Bluebell. It then ran for 16 years on the Bluebell before withdrawal for an overhaul, and over just three years much of the body structure was renewed. It has now been back in service for 26 years.
- Ashford Works 1913 or Sheffield Park, 2023?
Three SECR locomotives and their boilers create this scene, captured in Andy Kelly’s photo taken yesterday, which reminds us that, with 6 of the 8 surviving SECR locomotives resident at Sheffield Park, they form a core part of our fleet.
H-class No. 263 has been under overhaul for a year now, and P-class No. 323 is also now set to be overhauled along side it. We are planning to use the best of our four P-class boilers, which was in No. 178, for this overhaul, which explains the presence of the latter P-class, as the boilers are swapped out.
- Nick Gilliam’s photo, taken on the final day of the autum season, Sunday 29 October, shows SECR O1-class No. 65 approaching Horsted Keynes with the 2.55 dining train from Sheffield Park.
- We have no services running now until Steamlights commence on 17 November. Our Festive Feast trains run on 23 & 24 November, Santa Specials from 25 November and a new service, Steamlights with Santa, commences on 2 December.
Golden Arrow Christmas luncheon and evening dining services also run in November and December. To see in the New Year we also have an extra special New Year’s Eve SteamLights and a special GOLDEN ARROW New Year’s Eve Luncheon.
- Our next public steam trains (pre-book, or turn up on the day) are a two-train Winter service on 28-31 December – see timetable – and what is effectively a mini gala to bring in the New Year on 1 January – start 2024 with us with a special day’s running featuring (subject to availability) ‘Wightwick Hall’, 65, 80151 [now replaced by 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’] and ‘Fenchurch’! An intensive timetable [as updated, here] will be in place, passenger and goods trains will be running throughout the day and travel in the LNWR Observation Coach hauled by ‘Fenchurch’. Normal fares apply and also kids get to travel for £1 with any fare-paying adult! Join us on what we hope to be a busy start to the year at The Bluebell Railway! Book your tickets in advance and save money.
- John Sandys’ photo from Friday 27 October shows No. 73082 ‘Camelot’ as it runs round its train at East Grinstead.
- John also provides galleries of photos and videos from Friday 20, from Saturday 21 and Friday 27 October.
- There are two further Chairman’s Weekly Updates available to download here.
- The current phase of the “Jewel in the Crown” project is virtually complete, and Horsted Keynes Platform 5 is again available for service. Tom James’ photo shows the magnificently overhauled canopy and station house, and the repaired platform 5, with the coping stones reset on a repaired wall below, and fit for the next 140 years!
We need to do the same to the canopy and buildings on Platform 3-4 (for which donations are eagerly sought). Please do seriously consider donating to the appeal, either a single donation, or monthly by direct debit – choose “Jewel in the Crown Appeal” from the drop-down menu. As expected, we need a lot more money yet to finish the job!
- A series of major updates from the various activities in our Infrastructure Department are now available thanks to Bruce Healey. Catch up on all the Infrastructure News here.
The photos below provide a taste of what’s been going on at Horsted Keynes with the work on the Platform 5 wall and coping stones. Firstly, using bricks recovered from the wall, it has been substantially rebuilt over its northern part. The first photo shows the corbel layers finished, including the end ramp, back in May. (Jon Goff)
With the rebuilt brickwork backed up by reinforced concrete, one of the coping stones is seen being lowered into place. (Bruce Healey)
Bob and Steve are busy doing the pointing between the copings. (Jon Goff)
- Visiting Bulleid pacifics 34070 and 21C127 double-head on the Sunday of Giants of Steam. (Keith Duke)
- More of the action from our Giants of Steam gala:
– Great video from Saturday and Sunday thanks to Thomas Shrimpton
– Matt Wickham provides photos and a video from Friday, including Fenchurch on the brake van rides.
– Keith Duke only managed to get to the Sunday, but they’re as always a fine selection of photos.
– A great set of photos and a Video from Chris Ward.
– Mark Johnson’s video ends with the oldest and youngest surviving locomotives to have been built at Brighton Works together.
– A short video compilation covering action on all three days, from Nick Dearden.
– A few photos and videos from Sunday from James Green.
- We have another video to share from Fenchurch’s great visit to the Mid Hants, from Kristian Gough.
- The photos below show more from Giants of steam, starting with the miniature giant, “Famous Fenchurch”, which 60 years ago today hauled the final train onto Hayling Island as that line closed. It had for many years been the oldest locomotive operating on British Railways. It is seen in Keith Duke’s photo from the Sunday of Giants making use of Platforms 4-5 at Horsted Keynes hauling a short fitted goods train on which it was giving free brakevan rides. The Bluebell’s Goods Division would like to thank to all those participants who donated so generously to their funds.
- The second photo shows 21C127 ‘Taw Valley’ as it climbs towards Three Arch bridge with the 4.15 from Sheffield Park on the Saturday. (Nick Gilliam)
- Two photos below from Nick Gilliam from the Sunday of Giants: 6989 ‘Wightwick Hall’ passes Hazelden with the 10.15 from Sheffield Park, and 34070 ‘Manston’ approaches Horsted Keynes with the 5.30 from Sheffield Park, formed of our four currently operational Southern Region Bulleid Carriages.
- Another of Nick Gilliam’s photos from the Sunday of Giants captures the magnificent sight of 73082 ‘Camelot’ as it passes Vaux End with the 3.30 service from Sheffield Park.
- The Bluebell Railway is delighted to be part of the Raildays App! This new app is available on most smartphones. You’ll be able to discover all the latest events, running days, travel details to reach your railway of choice and much more. Its very easy to use and all from the touch of a button!
Download the app now from your app store on your phone today!
Find out more on Raildays website.
- Visiting Bulleid Battle of Britain light Pacific 34070 ‘Manston’ is seen in the autumn sun at West Hoathly today in this photo thanks to Neil Munro-Thomson. This is from a gallery provided by Neil, which also shows the great work which has been done as part of ‘Jewel in the Crown’ in restoring platform 5 and the station building at Horsted Keynes. His photo below shows ‘Fenchurch’ giving the extremely popular brake van rides around that station today.
- Giants of Steam continues tomorrow, as does our Ice Skating which continues daily until 29 October.
- Matthew Cousins’ photo below from today shows Bulleid West Country Pacific ‘Taw Valley’ arriving at Horsted Keynes, hauling Bulleid carriages, with our Ransome & Rapier 45 Ton Steam Crane in the background.
- The October 2023 edition of Bluebell Times features:
– 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 to a 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 its 50th edition!
- The Bulleid Shop on Platform 2 at Sheffield Park has an extensive range of transport books especially about Southern Steam. For Giants of Steam weekend there will be a special offer – buy any three books and get the lowest priced one free.
We also have a variety of bound volumes of magazines available at low prices, with the same offer for purchase of any three volumes.
Railway Magazine various years from 1945 to 1985
Model Railway News from 1960s
Many past years of Bluebell News
A few Trains Illustrated and Modern Railways.
Come along and see if you can complete your collections.
- John Sandys reports: “An early visit to the Giants of Steam event, but even so quite a good turnout with enthusiastic fans from far and wide! Frances and I enjoyed our first ride on the GN Saloon for a while and were looked after very well by the Stewards! Please view a few photos from our visit here.”
Two of John’s photos are shown below. ‘Taw Valley’ draws the stock for the first departure of the day out of the Newick Spur, into Platform 2 at Sheffield Park, as the crowds “stand back from the platform edge”. The second photo shows some of the other stars of the event, ‘Camelot’, ‘Manston’ (deliberately presented in “weathered” condition) and ‘Wightwick Hall’, as they peer over the barrier at the ice-skating rink.
- James Green has created Flickr albums from his recent visits to the Bluebell – April, May and June 2023, from 25 June, from 4 July, and from 22 July.
- Another update from the Bulleid Society provides this photo, by John Fry, showing three Bulleid Pacifics together at Sheffield Park – 34070, 21C127 and 34059 (plus 80151). The update also has photos from yesterday’s test run with Sir Archie, and a comparison of the footplates of the three pacifics.
- Giants of Steam starts tomorrow.
Tickets are available to buy online, save money and grab yours in advance!
- The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes is open over Giants – this is the last occasion it will be in it’s old Mk.1 carriage in Platform 1 before moving to a different vehicle in the dock adjacent to platform 5 for next year.
– Friday 13 October – 8.30am to 5pm
– Saturday 14 October – 8.30am to 5pm
– Sunday 15 October – 8.30am to 5pm
- Also at Horsted Keynes over Giants of Steam, Project 27’s sales stand will be on the Dock at the south end of platform 5. New in stock are beanie hats, tastefully embroidered with a side view of No. 27 in Southern livery, and Project 27 drinks bottles.
- Awake the Giant will be fundraising for the overhaul of 9F No. 92240 with a sales stand in SteamWorks! at Sheffield Park. There will be new merchandise available on the stand.
- We are delighted to bring you, alongside our friends at Modelu, a special range of 3D printed engine crew and platform staff which have been produced, featuring some of our very own members of The Bluebell Railway!
Perfect for any layout, these unique figures are available from our Bluebell Gifts & Models shop at Sheffield Park, and online via Modelu.
All proceeds go into the upkeep and operation of The Bluebell Railway.
- Now with added smoke deflectors – 34059 was out and about today on a 4-coach light-loaded test run, as caught by Jan Kozminski this morning whilst he was going about his S&T duties.
- The following locomotives are expected to be running during our Giants of Steam gala (Friday 13 to Sunday 15 October):
Visiting Locomotive: No. 34070 ‘Manston’
Visiting Locomotive: No. 21C127 ‘Taw Valley’
Visiting Locomotive: No. 6989 ‘Wightwick Hall’
Bluebell Locomotive: No. 73082 ‘Camelot’
Bluebell Locomotive: No. 80151 (Sunday only)
Bluebell Locomotive: No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ (giving brake van rides at Horsted Keynes – donations requested)
- The Giants of Steam Timetable and event guide is available to download.
- It is not planned that 34059 will be used during the Giants of Steam gala, since there are still various things to be finished, but it will probably be on display at Sheffield Park.
- There will be Guided tours of the Carriage & Wagon works at Horsted Keynes on the Saturday and Sunday of Giants of Steam.
- Exclusive Limited Edition – Harvey’s Brewery Container and Conflat – With special thanks to Dapol, we have available a brand new limited edition OO-scale model container wagon. These are limited to 220 wagons only and are priced at £23.00 each. They are now available in our Bluebell Gifts & Models shop at Sheffield Park, and via our online shop.
All proceeds go to the upkeep and operation of The Bluebell Railway.
- Nick Gilliam’s photo shows Terrier No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ passing Soldridge with the 12.20 from Alresford on the first day of the Watercress Line’s Autumn Steam Gala. ‘Fenchurch behaved impeccably during the weekend, and proved a very popular visitor. The carriage immediately behind ‘Fenchurch’ is the Bluebell’s Bulleid Open Third No.1456, which was placed on long-term loan to the Mid Hants Railway and has been overhauled by them thanks to a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant.
- More from the Mid Hants/Watercress Gala: a video from Dan Gosling and photos from Saturday from Keith Duke.
- ‘Fenchurch’ will be back home, and giving brake van rides at Horsted Keynes this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday as part of our Giants of Steam gala.
- The Great Northern Railway Directors’ Saloon will be attached to Set A, and open to the public (providing drinks and other refreshments, including the famed “toasted tea-cakes”) on the Friday and Sunday only during Giants of Steam.
- View progress on the Brighton Atlantic project – “Atlantic House” is open over all three days of Giants of Steam. With the ice rink occupying the south end of the running shed, access to the yard and Atlantic House will be through a manned gate in the top car park, alongside the Loco Works.
- Fire and Ice! – We have Ice Skating over the Half-term period, 13-29 October. Skate on real ice at Sheffield Park Station in the unique and amazing location of the Locomotive Shed. Book tickets in advance.
- A new Chairman’s Update is now available to download.
- Two more photos below from the Watercress Line’s Gala – Roger Carpenter’s shows ‘Fenchurch’ with a goods train on the Sunday, and James Green’s shows the loco entering Ropley station on the Saturday.
- Tony Mallinson’s photo shows the arrival at Sheffield Park yesterday of the third visitor for our 13-15 October Giants of Steam gala, 21C127 ‘Taw Valley’. The Bulleid West Country Pacific, based at the Severn Valley Railway, needed to be temporarily repainted for the final few months of its current boiler certificate, hence this fictional backdating to a wartime Southern livery.
- This update from the Bulleid Society covers the first visit by ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ to East Grinstead.
- Some videos and photos from yesterday thanks to John Sandys.
- Thomas Shrimpton’s video from the Mid Hants Autumn Steam Gala yesterday opens with ‘Fenchurch’ in action. The first carriage in its train is appropriately the Bluebell-owned Bulleid Open Third No. 1456.
- The Bluebell’s Press Release confirming the decision to commence the overhaul next year of the three locomotives shown below; SECR P-class No. 323 ‘Bluebell’, LSWR B4 dock tank No. 96 ‘Normandy’, and LSWR Adams Radial Tank No. 488 (BR 30583).
- No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ was out again running light engine as part of its commissioning tests today. Matthew Cousins’ photo taken this morning shows ‘Camelot’ arriving at Horsted Keynes with the first service train of the day, as 34059 waits to return to Sheffield Park tender-first, having already been up to the northern end of the line.
These two locomotives both arrived on the Bluebell from Barry scrapyard in October 1979.
- Pullman Car 54 is now fully painted. The varnishing was completed today, although there is still work to complete on the interior, and in setting up the running gear and brakes. The newly restored ex-Bicester Military Railway Mk.1 TSO will enter the paint shop in the coming days to complete its painting, since it is to be used on this year’s Santa Specials.
[Updated: The photo here now shows the varnishing as completed on Wednesday 4 October – the original photo, taken on Monday, showed it before varnishing – with masking tape applied to assist in this. That original photo is here.]
- Today Bulleid Pacific No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’, still without its smoke deflectors, made two light engine test runs up the line, and reached East Grinstead for the first time. The two photos below (the first from Jan Kozminski, and second from Richard Salmon), show the locomotive approaching Horsted Keynes on its first and second test runs.
- The latest Chairman’s Update is now available, as a pdf.
Bulleid Battle of Britain Pacific 34070 ‘Manston’ has arrived today from Swanage for our forthcoming Giants of Steam gala, coming up in just over a week’s time (13-15 October). Photo thanks to Martin Lawrence.
- Another update from the Bulleid Society, with John Fry’s photos (including that on the right) showing No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ making its first movements at Sheffield Park last week.
Earlier today it was again seen moving around through the platforms there, looking and sounding good. Although it may enter service later this year, it will not be fully painted until January or February.
- Terrier No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ is seen below loaded yesterday afternoon, and ready to move to the Mid Hants Railway (Watercress Line) for their forthcoming Autumn Steam Gala.
- With ‘Wightwick Hall’ on the main service train (covering for ‘Camelot’ which has had a broken spring replaced today), Terrier No.72 ‘Fenchurch’ (which has now received its correct LBSCR-pattern number plates) was hauling the 4-coach second train today, including the LNWR Observation Car. This coach, attached to our normal service trains, also provides our “Autumn Tints” offering on some specific dates.
- Three important items which it’s worth highlighting, which were included in the “Chairman’s Update” for week commencing 9 September:
Firstly, we have appointed Tim Gray as Locomotive Engineering Director… welcome aboard Tim.
Secondly, we have agreed with the Atlantic Group that when ‘Beachy Head’ moves into the main works early next year they will take on the projects of ‘Normandy’ and the Adams radial tank; this is very exciting (Normandy is such a versatile and powerful loco, ideal for shunting, and the Adams is hugely popular, but was unlikely to be overhauled other than by this experienced and skilled team).
Third, we have filed the PLC accounts for 2022, posting a loss of just short of £400k. In reality, the loss was somewhat higher but we received grant income with which we were able to offset the loss. The true trading loss was around £1.3m, which would be unsustainable for us. So, in the last 8 months, we have been frantically working to reduce costs, whilst also, and most importantly, finding ways to increase revenue, which is why we have done lots of family-based events. This is really paying off and, as things currently stand, if we continue current trends to the end of the year, our trading loss will be under £200k. That is an enormous achievement and, whilst everyone has pulled together to achieve this, I would like to say a special thankyou to the commercial team, the shop team and the catering team who have all stepped up to improve margins, to reduce costs and to get people in for events.
- Photos from John Sandys from Thursday, and yesterday
- SECR P-class – No. 323 ‘Bluebell’
I am very pleased to announce that after todays PLC Board Meeting and the previous Society Board Meeting, we have approved that 323 ‘Bluebell’ will go into the workshops in early 2024 and it is planned to have the loco back into service by the summer.
This is a real step forward and it will be great to see this wonderful engine and our flagship back in steam.
- Flying Scotsman’s visit was hugely successful, enjoyed by our visitors, and sets us up for the launch of the new “Brighton Atlantic” as our biggest Gala event for next year. In this photo, the iconic ‘Flying Scotsman’ is seen approaching Kingscote Station in Michael Cooper’s photo taken on 25 August.
- From Flying Scotsman’s visit we have:
A video from TheModster,
Photos and a video from Chris Ward,
A gallery from John Sandys from 31 August.
- See this video report on the SR Coach Group’s visit to the Isle of Wight to prepare the timbers for the Maunsell Restaurant Car’s forthcoming structural rebuild.
- The photos below, by John Fry, show 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ during its successful boiler steam test on Monday. The current aim is to have the loco running for our Santa Specials in December.
- Last weekend we held our second big beer festival – everyone reported having a great time – see the photo here from B. Sherriff from the Saturday evening.
- Keith Duke provides this little collection of shots from around Sheffield Park on the same day, when we welcomed an incoming railtour.
- Catch up on more news via the latest Chairman’s Updates, and the September edition of our online newsletter, Bluebell Times.
- A project update for the 2MT Tank project (84030) and July Newsletter is now available as a PDF download.
The photos below show one of the new side tanks, constructed to our drawings by the 4253 Loco Group based at the K&ESR, delivered to Sheffield Park on 18 July, and the two new tanks in position.
- ‘Flying Scotsman’ Has Arrived!
We are delighted to see the world’s most famous steam locomotive running this morning, having arrived yesterday, on loan from the National Railway Museum. ‘Flying Scotsman’ will be hauling trains from today until Tuesday 29 August, and will then be on static display at Sheffield Park until Sunday 3 September.
Although (baring the occasional return) the trains being hauled by ‘Flying Scotsman’ itself sold out some weeks ago, we do still have standard travel tickets available to travel on our enhanced Bluebell services during this time, giving you the chance to see ‘Flying Scotsman’ close up in all its glory in this its centenary year!
- Brian Seaman’s video shows ‘Flying Scotsman’ arriving at East Grinstead in the early hours of yesterday morning.
- During Flying Scotsman’s visit Atlantic House will be open for viewing on Wednesday 23, Saturday 26, Sunday 27 and Monday 28 August. It will be closed on other days.
The next full opening (viewing and sales) to see our new-build Brighton Atlantic Locomotive will be during Giants of Steam (Friday 13th to Sunday 15th October).
- Belated report from the Model Railway Weekend, with a video and a few photos from Ashley Smith.
- Apologies for the period of time since the last update on here. In the interim there have been weekly Chairman’s Updates, and an edition of our online newsletter, Bluebell Times.
- There’s also a News Update on the Bulleid Society’s web site. As per John Fry’s photo here, with the boiler now in place, work is carrying on at full speed to pipe everything up, and complete the fit-out of the backhead.
- We are currently advertising two Pullman cars for sale. Following a review of the Pullman fleet and the future development of our Golden Arrow Pullman Train, and in particular the decision to concentrate kitchen and service resources in a Mk.1 BG recently obtained for conversion, we plan to operate our services using Fingall, Christine, Car 54, the BG and, when overhauled, Car 36. The LMS BGZ will therefore be returned to its prize-winning as-restored LMS condition. With Fingall’s kitchen relegated from front-line service, and no requirement for an additional Pullman Kitchen car, both ‘Aquila’ and ‘Carina’ are therefore being offered for sale. Once Car 36 is in service, the plan is to operate three Pullman cars for part of the year, and four cars for the peak period, thus allowing time for adequate maintenance during the course of the year.
[Update – ‘Aquila’ has been sold]
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