Blog: What’s New
- Jack Lamb’s photo from Friday shows SE&CR O1-class No. 65 ready to set off from Sheffield Park.
- Here is some drone footage of the re-opening services from Friday, thanks to Flying Movies Ltd
- New on our YouTube channel:
The Julian Pettifer Interview, June 1960,
Model Railway Gala – part 1,
Introducing Fred Miles of Horsted Keynes, (Tom Martin, 1960),
The Bluebell Railway Steams Ahead, (Tom Martin, 1961 – 1964),
The Brighton ‘Blue Belle’, (Tom Martin, 27 October 1963),
‘Operation Dukedog’, (Tom Martin, 1962 – 1964),
Watch our footplate crew drive No. 65 on our reopening day and 60th birthday, (Martin Lawrence, 7 August 2020)
Volunteering on the Line: In the Yard and on the Pullmans, (Forge Photography),
Volunteering on the Line: Behind the Scenes, (Forge Photography),
See our YouTube Channel for more videos which will be released through today, including:
Model Railway Gala – part 2 (10am)
A Trip up the Line in Stepney (4pm)
- Friday’s “This Morning” on ITV featured our re-opening, now available here in case you missed it live.
- Birthday wishes from the London Transport Museum
- Great video of our reopening day from TheSoutherner
- After traveling on Friday’s Riviera Tea service, regular visitors to the railway over the years the Page family kindly presented the Horsted Keynes Station Master with the birthday card they had made featuring photos they have taken on their visits, as seen in the montage below.
- No. 65 is seen at Kingscote whilst running round in Annamarie Lelew’s photo.
- Tony Sullivan’s photo shows the fireman of ex SE&CR O1-class No. 65, which is heading the 11.00am departure from Sheffield Park, exchanging tokens with the signalman at Horsted Keynes.
- The successful running of our Railway depends largely on the voluntary efforts of the Society’s members.
Watch this special behind the scenes video to see how our volunteers prepare our locomotives.
With thanks to Forge Photography.
- At 10am this morning, part 1 of our Online Model Railway Gala launches on our Facebook page and on our YouTube channel.
- Good publicity yesterday on MSN.
- Neil Munro-Thomson provides a small gallery of photos taken late afternoon yesterday at West Hoathly/Sharpthorne.
- Two photos below taken by guard Jack Lamb yesterday. The first shows No. 65 running round its train at Kingscote, and in the second the fireman on 65 brings the coal forward in the tender during the layover between trains at Sheffield Park
- Diamond Anniversary Virtual Events now underway: Follow events on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- YouTube Video – How it all Began
- ITV Meridian News
- We have been sent birthday eCards from our various supporters. Here is the card from Nicholas Owen!
- Our new webcams are now live. Enlarge them to full screen for full motion HD+ quality!
- Birthday wishes from the Isle of Wight Steam Railway Facebook video.
- We’re back! Facebook video – the SECR O1 steams into the platform.
- Capture from one of our webcams as the 9am Members’ Special sets off from Sheffield Park.
- Maria Caulfield, MP for Lewes, has sent us a birthday message, (facebook video)
- Here is the SECR O1 at the head of our Members’ Special train in a video from Kevin Clark
- Andrew Savage from the Railway Heritage Trust has sent us a birthday message
- Another two captures below from our webcams – 80151 takes water at Sheffield Park whilst the O1 prepares to depart with the first public service – the 11am train, “The Pioneer”, and after its departure, the Standard Tank with the dining set preparing for the 11.45am empty coaching stock departure for Horsted KEynes for “The Rocket” lunch service.
- Some photos by Chris Ward show the O1 approaching Horsted Keynes, with the SECR Birdcage brake bringing up the rear, as also seen in the photo here.
- Nick Brodrick, editor of Steam Railway, has sent us a birthday eCard to wish us a happy 60th birthday.
- Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, has sent us a birthday eCard!
- Railway chaplain Rev. David Murdoch, Vicar of St Giles Church in Horsted Keynes, came to bless our first train this morning – video thanks to Chris Chambers.
- We have received a birthday eCard from Sir Tony Robinson! Thank you for the birthday wishes.
- Reopening speech by Chairman Chris Hunford, and whistling the Members’ train away – YouTube Video.
- Chris Price, General manager at North Yorkshire Moors Railway has sent us a birthday message!
- Nus Ghani, MP for Wealden, has sent us a surprise birthday eCard!
- We are pleased to announce we will be celebrating our big birthday next year – with a three day extravaganza from 6 – 8 August 2021!
See you there – and hopefully many times before.
- Bluebell Railway’s Diamond Anniversary
Today is our 60th birthday and we mark six glorious decades of steam.
Our steam hauled services started 60 years ago, and today they also resume after lockdown. Tickets must be pre-booked in advance, and some trains are selling out, but it’s not too late to book tickets for this weekend.
- If you can’t actually visit us this weekend, we will be marking our diamond anniversary with a virtual event. From Friday 7 August until Sunday 9 August, we will be sharing extra special content across our social media and Youtube channels.
You will also be able to see what’s happening at Bluebell Railway in real time via our new webcams.
See details of our full programme of online events which start at 7am on Friday.
- Steaming To 60 – a superb stop motion video from Max Davies.
- Burgess Hill Radio, a local Community Radio Station, will be broadcasting live from Sheffield Park Station between 7am an 1pm today, and is available on the Internet and locally on 103.8FM.
- Opening day – 7 August 1960.
Tomorrow, after 145 days without passenger trains, we will be reopening to the public once again.
But we have a double cause for celebration – 7 August also marks our 60th birthday and six glorious decades of steam.
Tickets must be pre-booked, but it’s not too late to book tickets for the weekend. Find out more and book your tickets here.
- Two photos taken today by Andy Kelly are a tribute to the hard work of many in our loco dept to get tomorrow’s two locomotives ready for service and cleaned to perfection after so many months sitting dead. Standard 4 Tank No. 80151 and SECR O1 No. 65 are ready to haul our services.
- The Decadian – 50 years ago: in August 1970 we celebrated our tenth anniversary with Johnny Morris, double heading of P-classes 323 and 27, and the Dukedog, our “big” locomotive. Mike Floate was just 15 at the time, and these three photos were all he took that day on his Instamatic.
- Bluebell Railway’s Diamond Anniversary
We have a full programme of online events starting on Friday at 7am and running through the weekend.
- We reopen on Friday!
Last weekend we published a final update on our reopening plans.
In addition to publishing an engaging video and details of our Covid-19 Safety Measures, if you are interested, we set out the steps we are taking to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission for staff and visitors in this handbook.
Book tickets for our August services here.
- Two photos taken today by Mike Hopps: the first shows that sadly Taff Vale Railway No. 85 from the K&WVR which arrived just before lockdown left us today without having been used. In true Bluebell tradition it was returned in sparkling condition. The second is of the 39-ft long rail-built signal post (a lot of which will be underground) which Mike is constructing to replace the current Horsted Keynes up inner home. The current arrangement can require the erection of scaffolding blocking the track to undertake maintenance on the route indicator.
- We have been testing our new webcams today.
Our new pair of webcams, on platforms 1 and 2 at Sheffield Park Station, were live for several hours today. They will next be live this coming Friday, 7 August, for our 60th Anniversary celebrations, and the resumption of our public train services. When they are live, clicking the “expand” symbol on the bottom right of the image gives full motion HD-resolution video.
- Book tickets for our August services here. You can book a private compartment for your household on “The Pioneer”, or tables for 2, 3 or 4 people on our breakfast, lunch, tea or dinner trains.
- Two photos taken 7 years ago today by Nigel Sealey, feature the two visiting locos which were a mainstay of our services that year, both seen at Horsted Keynes.
GWR Prairie tank No. 5521, was running at that time as London Transport L150 due to its participation in the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Metropolitan Railway. BR 9F 2-10-0 No. 92212 is part of the Icons of Steam fleet, and normally based on the Mid Hants Railway.
- More ghost trains running today – 4 days to reopening
Book your tickets now.
- BR Standard 4 tank locomotive No. 80151 was out again today hauling our four Victorian Metropolitan Railway carriages on “ghost train” training runs. Over three days each train (three per day) has a different crew, so we will be ready for Friday’s reopening with 9 complete crews who have been through refresher training.
The photo here, by Keith Duke, was taken from Birch Farm foot crossing today. See more in Keith’s gallery of photos from today.
- Brian Lacey’s photos below were taken 5 years ago today, on Monday 3 August 2015, and shows the SECR C-class and H-class double heading, at the exit from the tunnel, and LBSCR E4 No. B473 at West Hoathly with LCDR/SECR coach No. 3360, restored by a team of our volunteers, and converted to carry passengers in wheelchairs, with funding provided by the Big Lottery Fund’s “People’s Millions” scheme a few years before.
- Ghost Trains running today – Phil Jemmison was on duty in the signal box at Horsted Keynes today, and took this great photo of No. 80151 hauling a “ghost train” consisting of the Metropolitan Railway carriages, in preparation for our reopening on Friday.
These ghost trains are not carrying passengers – they are for staff to refamiliarise themselves with their duties and operations as well as for training ahead of reopening to the public. Please note all Bluebell Railway premises, including our stations and car parks, remain out of bounds to all until we re-open, and then are open only to pre-booked ticket holders – book your tickets now.
- Our reopening trains will be formed using these Victorian Metropolitan Railway carriages hauled by the SECR O1 as “The Pioneer”, with dining services formed of our Lounge Car set hauled by No. 80151.
- Kickstart your day with a full English!
Due to popular demand, we will now be serving cooked breakfasts on some days on our Breakfast Belle services – book here.
- After an interruption caused by some virus or other, the football season has finally ended, and the FA Cup Final took place yesterday. So we now have the final positions in the 2019-20 Football Competition. The competition is raising funds for the forthcoming overhaul of Southern Railway Maunsell Restaurant/Dining First No. 7864.
- On this day in 2014 our Metropolitan Railway “Chesham set” carriages were in action on London Underground to celebrate the Hammersmith & City Line’s 150th anniversary. They are seen in Dan Hamblin’s photo below at Westbourne Park station with Metropolitan No. 1 leading.
- That very same day, 2 August 2014, the visiting ‘Tornado’ was photographed at Sheffield Park by Laurel Arnison.
- Ten years ago, on 1 August 2010, Nigel Sealey photographed our SECR C-class with the Golden Arrow Luncheon Train at Leamland Bridge, on the “double track” section just north of Horsted Keynes. Whilst the thought of seeing the Atlantic on such a train in a couple of years time is enticing, the prospect of eventually having an SECR E-class 4-4-0 on that service is positively mouth-watering.
- During July 2020 there were 41,445 hits recorded on this page from 20,605 unique visitors.
- Three years ago, on 1 August 2017, Brian Lacey had the chance to spend some time at West Hoathly. Below we see the SECR H-class and Birdcage Brake on the 2.45pm service from Sheffield Park, and the S15 bursting out of the tunnel with the 1.30pm service.
7 days to go both to our 60th Anniversary
and to the resumption of services.
- Issue 10 of The Bluebell Times is now available, with details of the Grand Reopening of the railway and the virtual and real 60th anniversary celebrations. There is also a round-up of what’s been happening at the various stations and in different departments to prepare for welcoming back visitors and members.
The newsletter also has a special message from the Bluebell Railway’s chaplain about the importance of working together to operate a preserved steam railway.
In 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
- … and much, much more.
You can download the latest edition here.
- With the very kind help of Eric Kemp, Derek Hayward has completely revised his gallery for East Grinstead (Low Level) Station, which now covers 1968 to the present day. There are 33 new images, mainly, but not exclusively, on pages 2 and 3. The gallery first looks south towards the Bluebell Railway station and then moves to the northern end.
- We have just released tickets for our Pie & Mash (9 October) and Curry Special (30 Ocotber) trains! Book Your Tickets now.
- We are extremely pleased to see our Golden Arrow Pullman service featured in yesterday’s Daily Mail article about Britain’s loveliest train journeys!
- The Railway Hub has an article celebrating 60 years of the Bluebell Line.
- The two photos show a range of Pacific super-power on the Bluebell. The first photo from 6 years ago, again shows ‘Tornado’, this time photographed by Peter Edwards at Holywell with the 2.45pm train from Sheffield Park on 31 July 2014 during the week long Summer Festival in 2014. The second photo, by David Haggar, shows matching Malachite green Bulleid Light Pacifics, our own ‘Blackmoor Vale’ with the visiting No. 34081 ’92 Squadron’ on 29 July 2001.
- Another photo here of ‘Tornado’ which swept in for seven days of action on the Bluebell six years ago. The new-build LNER A1 pacific No. 60163 is seen here on 30 July 2014 as it approaches Imberhorne Lane Bridge with a 7-coach train, in this photo by John Goss.
- Derek Hayward’s photo below was from the Toy and Rail Collectors Fair weekend four years ago, showing H-class No. 263 approaching New Road Bridge on 30 July 2016.
- Nigel Sealey’s photo shows “Dukedog” No. 9017 ‘Earl of Berkeley’ just to the north of Horsted Keynes station on 24 February 2011. The current issue of Steam Railway magazine has an article about how this hybrid GWR interloper became one of the Bluebell’s stalwarts.
- MORE DATES ADDED!
We have just released more dates for our popular services, including The Pioneer, Cream Tea Riviera, Fish & Chips Special and the Wealden Rambler traditional Afternoon Tea!
Please see our full list of services.
- Update to the Infrastructure News, with the latest on the OP4 carriage shed, preparations (as seen in Bruce Healey’s photos below showing one of three main spans, and two of four sill beams) resuming for the rebuilding of the bridge forming Palmer’s Cattle Creep, and about some infrastructure volunteer gangs returning to their duties along the line.
- No. 60163, LNER Class A1 Pacific ‘Tornado’ at West Hoathly station site during its visit to the Bluebell 6 years ago, 28 July 2014 (photo Nigel Sealey).
- Update to the overarching web page for the various phases of Operation Undercover, our 20-year (so far) campaign to get all our locomotives and carriages under cover, along with a revised format for the News page for OP4.
- Update to the non-traffic vehicle section of the Carriage Stock List, adding the four Mk3 Sleeping Cars (and photos of each) which have arrived to replace five of the existing sleeping cars used for staff accommodation.
- The latest Steam Railway magazine features the Bluebell across an amazing 51 pages around our 60th birthday!
- With 11 days to go until our reopening, the railway was busy with activity this weekend preparing to welcome our visitors back on 7 August (the exact date of our 60th birthday!). You can book tickets here. We can’t wait to see you all again!
- The updated Loco Roster indicates that it will be SECR O1-class No. 65 hauling “The Pioneer” (formed of our Victorian “Chesham” compartment coaches), and BR Standard Tank No. 80151 hauling the various dining trains (Breakfast, Lunch, Tea and Evening Meals).
- The first set of photos (by Mark Baker) below shows some of the volunteer station team preparing Kingscote, over the weekend.
- The second photo, by Dave Bowles, records that the Sunday PW gang were out for the second time yesterday. One gang, north of West Hoathly, were greasing fish plates and the second gang (pictured) were fettling the track alignment at Vaux End. P-way work is one of the easier jobs to do whilst maintaining social distancing, outdoors.
|We are bringing all our content together in one handy place.
All the information for the visiting public and the
The original BRPS site (bluebell-railway.co.uk) will maintain the blogs archive and
There is a new editorial email address, at the top of this page, with details of how you
- Nine years ago today, on 26 July 2011, a Bluebell C&W team dismantled and recovered the body of an LBSCR (Craven-era) first-class carriage from the 1860s, from a garden in Bexhill in Sussex. Ian White provided these photos showing the dismantling (the original carriage roof went many years ago, replaced by the pitched roof seen below), and the first photo below shows why the owner was unaware that his garden shed was a railway carriage until he started to clear it out. Ian has also created a web page about the carriage, detailing the discoveries made so far in clearing the undergrowth and removing the body, and the montage photo showing the more complete side of the vehicle, complete with LBSCR garter.
- Links to BRPS, Locomotives, Carriage & Wagon and Signalling pages are in the “About” menu tab at the top of each page. Links to this Blog, and to other departmental news reports are under the “News” menu tab, and How to Help Us, BRPS Membership, Volunteering, and the 9F and Stepney Clubs come under “Join & Support”. The Search Function covers both of the websites.
- Steve Lee’s photo from exactly 5 years ago shows SECR C-class No. 592 waiting to leave Horsted Keynes with a wedding special. In the background, appropriately accompanied by a Bulleid carriage, is the out-of-ticket 21C123 ‘Blackmoor Vale’.
- Below we see Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes from the air (of particular note are the new locomotive maintenance building at the South end of Sheffield Park, and to the right of the Horsted Keynes photo the vast new OP4 carriage works/shed extension), photos taken by Keith Duke during a helicopter flight arranged by a fellow Bluebell volunteer on Tuesday this week. Keith’s gallery of aerial photos provides many more views of our line, at high resolution.
- Peter Edwards’ photo shows H Class No. 263 at the head of a test train which left Sheffield Park at 3.30pm on 23 July 2012. If you look closely you can see that the SECR lining on the loco has not yet been completed. The locomotive, once completed, entered service on 28 July with a ceremony at Horsted Keynes. Over the last year it has had a lot of work done on it, including machining of the driving crank journals.
- The photos below are both by Brian Lacey, taken on this date but a few years ago. The first shows the SECR H-class on a goods train on 23 July 2016, about to give up the token to the Horsted Keynes signalman, and the second from a year later, on 23 July 2017, showing visiting Bulleid light pacific No. 34092 ‘City of Wells’ at West Hoathly.
- Nigel Sealey’s photo shows LBSCR E4 No.473 ‘Birch Grove’ approaching Horsted Keynes from the north on 8 June 2003. With the completion of the overhaul of Brighton Bogie First No. 7598 in 1999 (the first carriage on any heritage railway to return to service having been recovered as a grounded body and fitted to a bogie underframe) this pre-war Southern-liveried set was advertised as our Vintage Train for a number of years. The brake van seen here was later replaced in the set by the overhauled SECR “Birdcage” and LSWR brake coaches, and is currently nearing the completion of an overhaul to enable it to be used as a support vehicle for filming work (in place of the goods brake van which is currently frequently used).
- Due to high demand, and the initially advertised trains having sold out, we have just added two more Fish & Chip Special services on 14 August.
This service includes a steam train journey and a Fish & Chip meal, including dessert and tea or coffee.
We have traditional, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and dairy free menus – just let us know which you would like when you book.
Tickets cost £30 per person – tables for 2, 3 or 4 available.
- The Bulleid Society’s Latest News page has two more photos of work at South Devon Railway (Engineering) on 21C123 Blackmoor Vale’s new inner firebox where work is progressing on fitting the front diaphragm ends of the thermic syphons. Photos are thanks to John Brodribb. The firebox appeal is still open since a lot of further work on the firebox still has to be paid for!
- Nigel Sealey’s photo shows Maunsell U-class No. 1638 departing from Horsted Keynes on 27 May 2013.
- The two photos below were taken 9 years ago today – 21 July 2011:
– John Sandys provided the first photo, showing C-class No. 592 awaiting its departure from Sheffield Park.
– Tony Sullivan’s photo shows the loading of a Waste by Rail train at Imberhorne Tip that day. At that point we just had 8 months left to beat the end of the Landfill Tax exemption, but still another million pounds left to raise.
- Nigel Sealey’s photo on the right shows BR Standard Tank No. 80064 at Horsted Keynes on 4 May 1986. The view here today is rather different, following the ambitious 12-year-long volunteer project (started in 1992) to rebuild the canopy and buildings on the further platform, which had been removed in 1913.
- Two photos below from 7 years ago today, 20 July 2013, on the occasion of one of our Toy and Collectors’ Fairs, with two visiting locomotives:
– Steve Lee captured Prairie tank GWR 5521, running as L.150, moving away after a pause at New Road Bridge, with six carriages all in Southern Railway Olive Green livery.
– Phil Horscroft’s photo shows 9F No. 92212 at Leamland Bridge,
- It’s the 19th July, and there are 19 days to go to the 60th anniversary of our first train service, and 19 days to go until we re-open after lockdown.
- John Sandys’ photo from Tuesday 19 July 2016 shows the S15 on a timetabled service train and 73082, on a 10-coach special for a war veterans’ visit that day, at Kingscote.
- Now available: Issue 9 of The Bluebell Times.
The return to work at the Bluebell Railway after four months of closure and the preparations for reopening are featured. There is also information about the new service and dining trains as well as the measures being taken for increased hygiene and enhanced cleaning.
The newsletter is for everyone – railway staff, volunteers in all departments, members, supporters, visitors, friends, train enthusiasts and general readers. It’s perfect for train-mad youngsters or anyone who wants a bit of light relief.
- 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
- … and much, much more.
You can download the latest edition here.
- In addition, we have another edition of the Bluebell newsletter today, providing detail of the very different variety of services, which suit parties from 2 to 10 people in different ways, and the safety measures in place to protect both visitors and volunteers/staff.
- Update to the web page for Maunsell Composite Brake Carriage No. 6686, with one new and one re-scanned photo (below, showing the coach following overhaul – photo taken by Klaus Marx on 2 April 1997).
- Find out about all our safety measures in the new age of social distancing in this special video with commentary by Martin Clunes which we have made in preparation for our re-opening on 7 August.
- Sheffield Park is starting to come back to life. The locomotive works team spent today preparing Q-class No. 30541 and BR Standard 5 No. 73082 ‘Camelot’ for the annual boiler exams, and the team from aivaf were putting the finishing touches to the access to the footplate of SECR C-class No. 592 in our Steamworks! exhibition.
- We re-open on 7 August.
- Tickets are now on sale.
- See also the Covid-19 Safety Measures we are putting in place to protect our visitors and staff.
- 59 years ago today: David Pool’s photo shows the LSWR Adams Radial Tank No. 488 on the day it arrived at the Bluebell, 15 July 1961, at Sheffield Park at the head of the Chesham set.
- The tickets for the Members’ Train (9am departure from Sheffield Park on 7 August) will be available to book (first-come-first-served) from 22 July. The seats will be for BRPS members only and free of charge.
- Reminder that tickets for our service trains, and some breakfast, lunch, tea and evening trains go on sale at 11am tomorrow. All tickets available online only. See also FAQ for our re-opening on 7 August.
- Thirty years ago, on 14 July 1990, P-class No. 323 ‘Bluebell’ is seen with the push-pull extension shuttle, waiting to leave Horsted Keynes for Horsted House Farm, the first section of our Northern Extension to open – photo thanks to Nigel Sealey.
- Mk3 SLEP No. 10526 was delivered this morning, as part of our programme to replace the current staff dormitory carriages with new ones – see this photo. The first two, with short swing-link bogies were delivered by rail, but this had to come by road because of its long swing-link bogies which are barred south of London.
- Looking back 35 years today, No. 3 ‘Baxter’ hauls our 6-wheeled Southern Railway Milk Tanker at the Cavalcade of Steam event on 13 July 1985, in our 25th anniversary year (photo by Nigel Sealey).
- We have a new deal with Strathwood Publishing, which means Bluebell Railway customers can enjoy a 10% discount on all books (including those from Irwell Press) ordered through the Strathwood website!All you need to do is enter BLUEBELL into the discount code box at the checkout, and in addition to your discount, the Bluebell Railway will also benefit.
Find out more here.
- The photos below, also taken during the cavalcade the same day (exactly 35 years ago) by Nigel Sealey, show Southern Railway Maunsell Schools class No. 928 ‘Stowe’ at Horsted Keynes with then recently restored Maunsell open third No. 1309 immediately behind the tender.This locomotive is currently under overhaul as a joint effort between its owning group and the Railway (you can see a recent updates on the work on the Maunsell Locomotive Society website and on the Project’s Facebook Page). Whilst there’s a lot of work still to do, a huge amount has already been completed over the last six years, and it should be running again before too long.
- Details here of our re-opening plans for 7 August. Tickets go on sale at 11am on 15 July.
It also includes details of the “ghost trains” which are provisionally to run on Sunday 2, Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 August departing from Sheffield Park at 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00 and running up the line to Kingscote and back. These trains will not be carrying passengers. They are for staff to refamiliarise themselves with their duties and operations as well as for training ahead of reopening to the public. The trains will be empty other than the necessary crew and staff. There will be no access to the Bluebell’s car parks, stations or facilities on those days. We will not be arranging any formal photographic facility and regret we will not be able to accommodate accredited lineside photographers. Anyone who wishes to photograph these trains should do so from a place of safety on public land and does so at their own risk. Further details here.
- The latest edition of our e-Newsletter is now available.
- We’re Good to Go!
We are really pleased to announce that we have achieved the Visit England certification to show that we have followed Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.
We will be reopening on Friday 7 August, and timetables will be available soon. Tickets for a range of services will be on sale from 11am on 15 July.
- The photo below, from Nigel Sealey, shows our BR Standard 4MT No. 75027 near Holywell on 11 June 1988. The carriages forming the train are appropriate to our area, since rush-hour trains on the Oxted lines (East Grinstead, Forest Row and Tunbridge Wells West to London Bridge) were in the latter years of steam typically formed of Bulleid corridor carriages strengthened by one or two ex-SECR “Hundred Seaters”.
- Tony Pearce’s photo, taken on 10 July 2007, was from an evening photo charter with the visiting Bulleid “West Country” Pacific No. 34028 ‘Eddystone’ which was running as 34021 ‘Dartmoor’. This event was the culmination of a day which saw a private function for The Bulleid Pacific Locomotive Association in conjunction with The Bulleid Society and the Bluebell Battle of Britain Locomotive Group, with thanks also due to Southern Locomotives Limited. It was a warm-up for the following weekend’s “End of Southern Steam” 40th anniversary public event.
- Available to purchase now: this very special 60th anniversary souvenir!
We have printed and numbered a strictly limited edition of 2000 ‘Edmondson’ tickets on our heritage ticket press at Sheffield Park station.These souvenir tickets cost £5 each and all proceeds will go towards our Emergency Appeal. You can buy yours here.
- Here we see LSWR Adams Radial Tank No. 488 and SR Maunsell Q-class No. 541 at Horsted Keynes on 25 September 1988, in another of Nigel Sealey’s photos.
- The Bulleid Society’s Latest News page has two photos with thanks to Richard Elliott of SDR(E) showing 21C123 Blackmoor Vale’s new inner firebox, now with the foundation channel welded into place. The firebox appeal is still open since the fundraising for this project is still ongoing.
- Apologies that yesterday’s update transposed two digits in our Emergency Appeal total, which has actually now raised a magnificent £385,205, a huge vote of confidence in the Railway from over 2,400 members, supporters and well-wishers.
- A photo taken 9 years ago today by the late Pat Plane serves as a reminder of the enormous effort it took to remove the rubbish tip from Imberhorne Cutting to complete our extension to East Grinstead. The waste trains were formed of 20 wagons, and here wagons 9 and 10 of that day’s train are seen being loaded. The rake was split into two halves (10 wagons), and then, since we could fill up to 4 wagons at a time, further divided down into 4 and 2-wagon sections for filling. This was the fourth day of a 3-week run of trains (the third sequence of waste trains), with another 5-week run taking place later that year.
- Our Emergency Appeal has now raised £358,205, but further donations are still needed to help us retain our skilled engineering/maintenance/restoration workforce over the coming months when our income will be much lower than normal.
- Following on from the news report in the 24 June update, covering the work on its new firebox, here we see Bulleid “West Country” Pacific No. 21C123 ‘Blackmoor Vale’ 17 years ago today, north of Horsted Keynes on 6 July 2003 in another of Nigel Sealey’s photos.
- Yesterday saw the publication of the July edition our e-Newsletter. It includes a farewell note from the e-Newsletter’s outgoing editor, John Walls, who with his brother, Martin, have produced the newsletter for the last eight years.
- Nigel Sealey provides this photo of BR Standard Tank No. 80151 with the Golden Arrow Dining Train, taken on 30 March 2003 just north of Leamland Bridge at Horsted Keynes.At that time, as well as two 1920s Pullman Cars and our LMS six-wheel brake, the train included Met-Cam 1960-built ‘Eagle’ which was on loan from the National Railway Museum, and the privately owned LNWR Semi-Royal Saloon No. 806.
- Today was scheduled to have been the third Goods Train running day this year. In place of that, we have several of Nigel Sealey’s photos from the 1980s. On the right “Terrier” No. 55 ‘Stepney’ is seen with an engineers’ train at Horsted Keynes on 20 December 1987. The wagon immediately behind ‘Stepney’ is DS 27730, a 10T Ballast Wagon constructed on the Isle of Wight in BR days on a 1928-built SR wagon underframe, which we subsequently donated to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. In 2007 they rebuilt it, including the creation of a replacement timber underframe, to its original SR-era Isle of Wight condition. As usual, you can click on the photos for enlargements.
- With our provisional reopening planned for 7 August our count-down to the 60th Anniversary of our original opening in 1960 is also acting as a countdown to our post-lockdown re-opening.
- The other two photos, below, from Nigel Sealey, show LSWR B4 No. 96 ‘Normandy’ at Horsted Keynes with one of our SR Bo-rails on 7 September 1986, and the North London Railway Tank No. 58850 at Holywell on 10 May 1987.
- The success of the Virtual Track Trek and the financial contribution it has made to the overall Emergency Appeal are featured in Issue 8 of The Bluebell Times.There are also several tributes to Dame Vera Lynn who was a great friend of the Bluebell Railway and a frequent visitor to Sheffield Park. The newsletter is for everyone – railway staff, volunteers in all departments, members, supporters, visitors, friends, train enthusiasts and general readers. It’s perfect for train-mad youngsters or anyone who wants a bit of light relief.Contents include:
- 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
- … and much, much more.
You can download the latest edition here.
- The lineside clearance volunteers of our Wednesday Gang (South) have been back at work (in the open air, distancing easy to achieve!) for a few weeks now, and are seen working near Sloop Bridge yesterday.
- Derek Hayward has made a major upgrade to his photo galley for Barcombe Station to reflect changes being made during the current refurbishment. 60 new photos are currently at the start of the collection but will be re-ordered later. Please note that this is private property and cannot be seen from any public viewpoint. Images were taken by invitation and with the consent of the owners. Barcombe Station is on the long-closed section of line between Sheffield Park and Culver Junction; it is not in the village of Barcombe, and is actually at Barcombe Cross.
- The Summer edition of Bluebell News has been published, and is available to download here.
- News release about the Track Trek last Saturday, including a silent drone video of our top team of trekkers.So far nearly £6,000 has been raised through the Virtual Track Trek towards our Emergency Appeal which is being used to help with the costs of reopening the railway which has been closed since March.
We are keeping the Virtual Track Trek going for anyone who wishes to donate or wants to take part in their own sponsored walk of 4.5 miles. Details are here.
- During June 2020 there were 39,912 hits recorded on this page from 19,671 unique visitors.
- Stroudley Terrier ‘Fenchurch’ shunts the GN Saloon at Horsted Keynes on 28 September 1986 (Nigel Sealey). Famous as the oldest operatonal locomotive on British Railways in the late 1950s and early 60s, LBSCR No. 72 will be 150 years old in 2022, and we hope to have it back in steam for that occasion.
- A new web page has been created to record the present overhaul of Pullman Car 54.
- Nigel Sealey’s photo shows No. 35027 ‘Port Line’ at Holywell on 18 June 1988. The Bulleid “Merchant Navy” class Pacific had only arrived at the Bluebell three weeks earlier, and at that time was just expected to stay for 6 weeks for running in, but we must have made the owning group feel welcome, since the locomotive actually stayed with us for 12 years!
- The photos below show pre-lockdown progress with two volunteer-run projects in the Carriage & Wagon Works. Firstly Hastings-line Restriction 0 Maunsell brake third No. 3687 is seen with the painting into undercoat progressing, on 18 March. The second photo shows the doors and glazing ever more complete on the west side of LBSCR Stroudley brake third No. 949, back in January. By 18 March, the internal quarterlight (window) mouldings had been fitted to No. 949, as seen in the third photo.
- The Bluebell’s mighty 9F locomotive, No. 92240, was the first of the BR 9F 2-10-0s recovered from Barry scrapyard to be steamed in preservation. Nigel Sealey’s photo shows it the day after after it returned to traffic whilst running round its train at Horsted Keynes, on 16 September 1990.To help raise funds for its next overhaul, our “Awake the Giant” Appeal was launched last year.
- Newick & Chailey was the first station you would have come to travelling south from Sheffield Park on the now closed section of the line. Derek Hayward has added some photos he took in 2014 of the platform remains at Newick & Chailey Station site, with the permission of the property owner, to his Photographic Tour page for that station. Please respect the privacy of the residents and enjoy Derek’s photos rather than attempting to visit the properties for yourself!
- It’s Virtual Track Trek day! The fund raising from it has now reached over £5,400 online, including Gift Aid. It’s not too late to sponsor the walkers listed here.
- Roger Kelly and Maureen did their 4.5. miles non-stop local to their home in 1 hour 35 minutes with rain and forces 6 winds, and have raised £1.3k.
- Paul Lelew, Steve Bigg and Vernon Blackburn completed their 4.5 miles by going backwards and forwards on the path beside the Railway between Horsted Keynes station and Leamland Bridge. The East Grinstead Mayor, Cllr Danny Favor and his wife Maribel did their Trek around council grounds at East Court. Both he and the Bluebell team were filmed using a drone, and we await the edited video. The money raised on the Bluebell and Mayor collective VIP fundraising page is to date £1,012. More sponsors welcome!
- The SETG report two days of work on our 4VEP unit at Strawberry Hill.
- Nigel Sealey’s photo shows the visiting “King Arthur” No. 30777 ‘Sir Lamiel’ at West Hoathly on 16 October 2010.
- On Tuesday we lit up the first loco to steam on the Bluebell for three months, as P-class No. 178 was given a fitness to run exam. Its extended boiler certificate should see it running through to October.
- Our CV Emergency Appeal has now raised £351,183, but further donations will help us to survive, and retain our skilled engineering/maintenance/restoration workforce, for the rest of the year with what is certainly to be greatly reduced income.
- Finally, please do sponsor the walkers taking part in our Virtual Track Trek tomorrow.If you don’t know who to sponsor, why not support our Official Trek Team, Councillor Danny Favor, The Mayor of East Grinstead; Stephen Bigg, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society; Vernon Blackburn, Chairman of The Bluebell Railway Trust, and Paul Lelew, Commercial and Marketing Director, Bluebell Railway plc.
- Another of David Haggar’s photos from June 1997 as the visiting J52 pilots the H-class on a service train.
- So far the Virtual Track Trek has raised over £3,000 online, including Gift Aid. It would be really good to double that by Saturday, the day of the event. It’s not too late to join in and the same link also provides a list of individuals who can be sponsored.
- The Bulleid Society’s Latest News page has further pictures, showing work on 21C123’s firebox, which were taken earlier this month at South Devon Railway Engineering.
- Chris Rigby’s photo, taken using a lineside pass, shows SECR P-class No. 178 at Holywell with four centenarian carriages on the Sunday of the Edwardian Weekend seven years ago today.
- Celebrate 60 years of the Bluebell’s Locomotive Department:
Saturday 24 October 2020
A reunion for all those who have been connected with the department over the years. Open to current and former loco department members, family and friends. See poster here. Further details to follow.
- Southern Railway U-class No. 1618 was the first locomotive rescued from Barry scrapyard to steam on the Bluebell Railway. It is seen here at Horsted Keynes in Nigel Sealey’s photo from 9 April 1988. Currently carrying BR black livery (it was repainted after its tender was loaned to the Mid Hants Railway a few years back), it is expected to be the next locomotive overhauled by its owners, the Maunsell Locomotive Society, once Schools-class No. 928 ‘Stowe’ is in service.
- Martin Cresswell and Keith Duke are joining the Virtual Track Trek on Saturday, and so anyone who’d like to sponsor them would be most welcome. It’s not too late to sign up to participate if you feel inspired to join in.
- Our CV Emergency Appeal has now raised £335,000, but further donations will help us retain our skilled staff through the forthcoming period when income will remain severely restricted – as you will have seen from yesterday’s announcement, whilst we hope to reopen in August, initially we will be very restricted in terms of our operations.
- The two photos below show the state of work on the overhaul of Pullman Car 54 at Horsted Keynes just days before work stopped with the lock-down in mid-March. Funding for its overhaul is ring-fenced in a restricted fund in the Bluebell Railway Trust, along with money contributed by the Department for Transport to enable wheelchair access, and work can therefore re-commence once the works re-opens.
- Provisional Reopening Date – 7 August announced. The statement includes comprehensive FAQs.
- 8 years ago today: Peter Edwards’ photo on the right shows Furness Railway No.20 at Sheffield Park for filming work on 19 June 2012.
- The seventh edition of The Bluebell Times, our newsletter for members, staff and supporters is now available.
- 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
- … and much, much more
- Four years ago today London Chatham & Dover Railway carriage No. 3188, recovered from a bungalow in Devon, was launched into Bluebell service (photo – Alex Morley – 18 June 2016). This is the same vehicle seen in the entry below for 15 June.With the train also including LCDR carriages 3360 and 114, and our SECR C-class locomotive, the entire train consisted of vehicles built at Longhedge Works in Battersea.
- Another three trekkers have created online fundraising pages for our Virtual Track Trek on Saturday 27 June. Please help to get their fundraising off to a fly start by sponsoring them:
- We are pleased to report that the main CV Emergency Appeal has now raised £334,805. The Virtual Track Trek is also raising funds for this vitally important appeal.
- Another of Nigel Sealey’s photos today; BR Standard tank No. 80064 is pictured at Holywell on 20 April 1986.
- A reminder to sign up to participate in our Virtual Track Trek taking place on 27 June.
- Stewart Moon has also created a fundraising page for the Virtual Track Trek, and can be sponsored here.
- Nine years ago today, on 15 June 2011, work started on turning a carriage body (which had been built into a bungalow in Yarcombe in Devon since 1935) back into a serviceable carriage. It had been built in 1897 by the London Chatham & Dover Railway. Recovered by the Bluebell Railway Trust in 2005, after a comprehensive rebuild No. 3188 was launched into Bluebell service 5 years and 3 days later.
- Please do support the various trekkers who have online fundraising pages for our Virtual Track Trek:
- Our Top Team,
- Deborah Carver,
- Neal Ball,
- James Funnell,
- Richard Salmon,
- Roger Kelly,
- Kirsty Lowe,
- Graham Bucksey and
- David Chappell.
- There is a new Bluebell Storytime video on our YouTube Channel for children: “Mrs Molesworth’s Cottage”.
- Nigel Sealey has submitted some great photos from the 1980s, and today we are taken back to 5 March 1988 when the sole surviving locomotive from the North London Railway, No. 58850, was captured departing southwards from Horsted Keynes on a passenger service.
- Please do sign up to join in with our Virtual Track Trek taking place in two weeks time, on 27 June.
- Today would have been one of our regular “Goods Train” days. So we take you back to 2006, when an entire weekend event was held celebrating the memory of how goods were moved in times past, and Derek Hayward’s photo shows the Dukedog with the Grouping-period Goods Train on Saturday 8 April 2006 at Tremains. There was another goods train running, using pre-grouping vehicles, and further photos can be seen here.
- If you are unable to participate yourselves in our Virtual Track Trek, then why not sponsor our Official Walkers, The Mayor of East Grinstead, Councillor Danny Favor, Stephen Bigg, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, Vernon Blackburn, Chairman of The Bluebell Railway Trust and Paul Lelew, Commercial and Marketing Director, Bluebell Railway plc, via this page.
- Back in June 1997, Great Northern Railway (GNR) J52 No. 68846 visited us to help celebrate the centenary of our resident GNR Directors’ Saloon, and the centenary special is seen passing Leamland Bridge in this photo by David Haggar.
- Our CV Emergency Appeal has now raised over £325,000, and further donations will enable us to continue steaming forward through what will undoubtedly be a very difficult remainder of the year.
- As part of the Bluebell Railway countdown to our virtual 60th birthday, we are inviting visitors and enthusiasts to submit video clips taken at the railway. We would like to include some of your clips on our social media and YouTube channel. Please read the news item here for full details.
- John Goss provided this photo showing H-class No. 263 and C-class No. 592 setting off from Sheffield Park with the 1.15pm departure for East Grinstead six years ago today.
- There is a 10-page article celebrating 60 years of Bluebell steam in the new edition of Heritage Railway magazine.
- Martin Read has very kindly given us permission to use his photo of Schools class No. 928 ‘Stowe’ at Sheffield Park, which was taken during the early 1980s.The locomotive is currently waiting for the overhauled copper firebox to be refitted to its boiler, and we are all very much looking forward to seeing it running again.
- It’s now just over 15 years since we ran the first spoil extraction trains to complete the extension to East Grinstead. Jon Bowers’ photo shows Ivatt tank No. 41312 at Kingscote on 6 June 2005. Jon’s report from that day includes many more photos and three videos. That was the first of many trains removing soil down to Horsted Keynes, prior to the extraction of the rubbish tip itself to other landfill sites.
- Sunday saw the publication of a new edition our e-Newsletter, which includes Chairman Chris Hunford setting out the Railway’s initial plans for reopening and the process being followed to allow visitors and volunteers to return safely.
The Emergency Appeal has now reached its initial target of £300,000, and fundraising organiser Trevor Swainson sets out how the money will be used, and why we need to keep the appeal open, since we still need to raise more. It also reports that Chartered civil engineer Barry Luck is to join the board as Interim Infrastructure Director, and Jan Kozminski has become Treasurer Designate of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society.You can subscribe to the e-newsletter here, and also access the archive of past newsletters.
- Updates to the Who’s Who page with the changes outlined above.
- Since 2013 the Railway has often run a Track Trek (that is a sponsored walk along all or part of the running line) to raise money for variety of causes. This is not possible during Coronavirus Pandemic conditions and with the Railway closed. Even it were open a Trek would not be possible if social distancing were to be observed.
We are therefore inviting our supporters to raise money for our CV Emergency Appeal by participating in a Virtual Track Trek by obtaining sponsorship for walking 4.5 miles, the distance from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes at a location of their choice (but not at the Railway itself). Ideally this could be at home or nearby where the social distancing can be achieved without inconveniencing the public. However if there is somewhere imaginative where you can safely carry out the Trek please do, and let us know. Full details of how to participate.
- Updates with either new or re-scanned photos for Bulleid Brake carriage 2515, Esso Tank wagon 1921, Maunsell Corridor Third 2356, Maunsell Corridor Composite 5644 and LSWR Ventilated Luggage Van 5498.
- Today is 60 days until the Railway’s 60th birthday. Every day, running until 7 August, there will be a special post on the Railway’s social media channels to mark 60 years of operating as a preserved railway. The posts will include fun facts, archive videos, and photographs from yesteryear.
There will also be a series of new videos called “60 seconds with …” which, as the name suggests, are one minute long and feature people talking about a different aspect of volunteering at the Railway. These were all filmed and edited before lockdown.
There is also a special webpage for the countdown that will include the plans for a virtual celebration of 60 years of operation. The major celebrations of 60 years of operating as a heritage line have been postponed until next year.
- The sixth edition of The Bluebell Times, our newsletter for members, staff and supporters is now available. Contents include:
- 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
- … and much, much more
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