Blog: What's New at the Bluebell Railway?
- David Cable’s photo from last Wednesday was taken between Monteswood and Rock Cutting, showing Q-class No. 30541 on the service train.
David has also now released a photo gallery from the photo charters using the visiting Terrier W11 in July.
- John Sandys’ photos from yesterday, with the O1 on footplate taster duties and the Q-class hauling the service train.
- One of the stars of this year’s Giants Of Steam Gala (Friday 14 to 16 October), BR Standard No. 80151, along with Sheffield Park Station, appear in the upcoming feature film “Living” starring Bill Nighy, which is being released on Friday 4 November. The Bluebell features regularly in this trailer!
- Special Notice: Horsted Keynes Station
Due to ongoing heavy engineering work taking place at Horsted Keynes as part of “The Jewel In The Crown Project”, the station will be closed Monday to Friday, with no access available on these days, until further notice.
Passengers visiting the railway during these days are advised to start and finish their journey either at Sheffield Park or East Grinstead when the railway is operating.
See further information on the Jewel In The Crown Project here.
John Sandys’ photo from 23 September shows the current work in progress to repair and restore the canopy on Platform 5 at Horsted Keynes, which has necessitated the partial closure of the station at present.
- David Cable’s photo below shows the Wednesday lineside team with whom David was working when he took the photo of the Q-class at the head of today’s entry.
- Ken Upton provides the photo below of some live entertainment at Horsted Keynes Buffet over the Beer Festival weekend. With thanks to Harvey’s Brewery, the Awake the Giant crew and Loco. Dept. members manned the Buffet, and were able to offer a special Awake the Giant Ale!
- We congratulate Tom Connell, whose superb artwork (right) won a Silver Award in the Illustration category of the Creativepool Annual Awards recently. The poster image was produced for SETG (who look after Bluebell-owned 4VEP No. 3417). This, and other creative talent, provides a basis for the group’s fundraising for the overhaul of the unit, to bring it back to main line operation, which you can check out on the SETG Online Shop.
- Beer Festival: A massive thank-you…
… to our visitors, CAMRA, visiting musicians, volunteers and staff, who came together over the weekend to ensure the Railway’s second Annual Beer Festival was a huge success.
The atmosphere across the railway was energetic and positive and the trains had good loadings throughout the three days.
We look forward to seeing you all again next year for an even bigger and better Beer Festival!
- The first day of our Beer Festival, being run in association with the Sussex Branches of Camra, went well yesterday, and runs until Sunday. John Sandys’ photo shows the main “beer” area in the Loco Running Shed.
We have three locomotives in steam each day, with an intensive train service, using carriages dating from every decade from 1900’s through to the 1960’s. John’s gallery of photos from yesterday is available here.
- Alex Fisher’s superb photo taken on 31 August shows two of our resident Standards, operational 5MT No. 73082 ‘Camelot’ and 4MT No. 75027 which has until recently been stored away from public sight.
- Music – Food – Real Ale – Craft Beer – Cider – Perry – Steam Trains
The fantastic Bluebell Railway Beer Festival, being run in association with the Sussex Branches of Camra, starts to day, running until Sunday. The Event Guide and Train Timetables are available to download. Trains run into the evenings today and Saturday.
- Sussex Wine Train – Thursday 27 October
Don’t miss your chance to take part in this very special dining service and wine train.
The Golden Arrow dining train on the Bluebell Railway is the ideal setting for a tutored tasting of four top-quality Sussex wines, selected and presented by Hennings Wine Merchants.
The evening reception will start at 6.30pm, with the train boarding at 7.00pm for a 7.15pm departure from Sheffield Park, arriving back at approximately 10.30pm. A great way to spend an Autumn evening whilst having amazing wine, fantastic food and travelling in style and comfort through the Sussex Weald.
More information and tickets.
- We’re pleased to announce that No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ successfully passed its steam test on Wednesday.
The 150-year-old Stroudley Terrier locomotive will be returning to service on the Bluebell Railway soon, once it has been tested and completed running trials, following its overhaul costing around a quarter of a million pounds.
- New web page for the SR-designed Shock Wagon No. 14036 which joined our historic wagon collection back in December.
- Updated web page for Mk. I Open First No. 3069, adding a photo of it in its present Carmine & Cream livery following its repaint earlier this year.
- 76017 joins Giants of Steam Gala fleet!
We are delighted to announce that Standard 4MT Mogul No. 76017 will be joining our Standards-themed Gala over 14-16 October! This gives us a line-up featuring no fewer than SIX 6-coupled locomotives.
This extremely popular locomotive, the first of its type to visit the Bluebell, will be joining 73156, 6989 ‘Wightwick Hall’, 73082 ‘Camelot’, 30541 and 80151 for our three-day gala weekend, Friday 14 to Sunday 16 October.
Tickets and event timetable are available on the Giants of Steam event page.
- An archived web page featuring the February 1999 Little & Often (Branch Line) event has been re-published.
- The September 2022 edition of Bluebell Times includes:
– 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
– And much, much more
BLUEBELL RAILWAY WESTERN EXTENSION
The Bluebell Railway is proposing to extend its heritage railway by reinstating the former railway line from Hosted Keynes to Ardingly, enabling onward journeys to Haywards Heath. The proposal has been under active consideration for several years.
The Bluebell Railway is excited to share their carefully worked up proposals for the scheme and is inviting comments, in advance of a planning application and Transport and Works Act Order application being submitted.
You are invited to view the draft plans and provide your comments on the proposals. A public exhibition will be held at Hapstead Hall, High Street, Ardingly RH17 6TB:
2pm to 7pm on Friday 9th September 2022 and
2pm to 4pm on Saturday 10th September 2022
For more information, please visit our dedicated website.
The consultation closes at 5:30pm on Friday 16 September 2022.
The Bluebell Railway is deeply saddened by the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Everyone at the Bluebell Railway sends their sincerest sympathies and condolences to the Royal Family at this very difficult time.
- Updated News from the Brighton Atlantic project featuring the full story of the fitting of the boiler to its chassis on 16 August. David Jones’ photo on the right shows the boiler being attached to the ashpan for the first time, preparatory to fitting the whole assembly onto the chassis.
Below are two more photos from that day; first the boiler being guided into position (Fred Bailey) and second, the driver’s side view of the Atlantic (Melvyn Frohnsdorf). It is now back in its shed, ready for another 12 to 18 months of finishing work. It is NOT ready to run by a long way!
- All but one of the Murder Mystery Dining Trains for 2022 are now sold out.
Bookings are coming in well for the 2023 Murder Mystery Dining Trains.
- Here, SR Q-class No. 30541 is seen hauling the 11.45am train from Sheffield Park on Freshfield bank on 27 August (Peter Edwards)
- This year’s Bluebell Beer Festival (23-25 September) is once again celebrating local breweries who are included amongst the 90 different varieties on offer and a wide selection of ciders, perry and craft beers! All thanks to the support of the Sussex branches of CAMRA.
Over the weekend, come and sample this incredible selection of beers and ciders at one of our bars across the railway, situated at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes or East Grinstead.
The Beer Festival offers the perfect combination of steam, countryside, music and of course…beer!
Book your tickets here for a fantastic day out with friends and family. Don’t miss out!
- Updated Loco Works News for the overhaul of No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ featuring more of Andy Kelly’s photos (including the “view ahead” below) and David Lilley’s showing re-assembly and painting making good progress.
- Steam is back!
Our Webcams at Sheffield Park showed the Southern Railway Q-class ready to haul the 10.30am departure this morning.
Timetable Service B is in operation; two locos in steam with five round trips to East Grinstead.
- Santa Specials on the Bluebell Railway are back for 2022 and even better than ever! Tickets are now on sale!
Running from the end of November, right up to Christmas Eve, this is a must for any family wishing to get into the Christmas spirit this winter.
Visit Santa in his parlour as he makes a very special appearance at our railway. Enjoy mince pies and Christmas punch and be immersed in a vibrant and colourful Christmas atmosphere.
You’ll be transported along our railway, taking in the beautiful wintry Sussex landscape that we run through between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets now and join us for a winter spectacular here at the Bluebell Railway.
- We are pleased to announce that steam hauled services will be resuming from Wednesday 17th August. After safety check were carried out along the length of the line, a full length service to East Grinstead will also be resuming from the 17th August. Timetable Service B will be in operation.
- Not one, but two, boilers go into their frames:
Today saw a mobile crane place the boiler of reconstructed LBSCR H2 Atlantic No. 32424 ‘Beachy Head’ into its frames, as seen in John Sandys’ photo on the right. Fred Bailey reports that the engine is now back in Atlantic House so they can now start work on tidying up the boiler cleading sheets and getting on with the rest of the build. The crane was on time, arriving at about 8am, and the engine was back in the shed at 2.30pm, with the crane pulling out of the yard at the same time. As expected a few things cropped up that required some “adjustments” – the boiler was within 1 or 2 inches of being in its final position when some clashes became evident, so the boiler was removed, suitable minor alterations made and then the boiler refitted. What a fantastic effort by all in the Atlantic team!
- Andy Kelly recorded (below) the final placement of LBSCR Stroudley Terrier Fenchurch’s boiler in its frames, using the overhead gantry crane in the Loco Works yesterday. No issues over whether that would fit after the trial run a few weeks back!
- Due to expected hot weather conditions up to and including Tuesday 16th August, we will be running an amended diesel service on our service trains, subject to weather conditions changing. The service will be operating between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes ONLY. Kingscote and East Grinstead stations will be CLOSED on these days with no service operating at these stations between these dates.
Please download the amended timetable here.
- The August 2022 edition of Bluebell Times includes:
– A marriage proposal delivered by train
– How we are facing the challenges of the next couple of years
– Looking back at 15 years of development in the museum
– Restoration work continues at Horsted Keynes Station
– The preservation story of Fenchurch, from hastily removed BR logos to full Stroudley splendour
– ‘Awake the Giant’ group launch a new photo competition
– And much, much more
- Important: Timetable changes due to fire risk:
Due to the expected continuation of hot weather, our amended Diesel-hauled service will now run up to and including Monday 15 August. The service will be operating between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes ONLY. Kingscote and East Grinstead stations will be CLOSED on these days with no service operating at these stations between these dates.
A safety inspection of the line will be carried out daily to assess if our steam services can resume safely and if the whole length of our railway can be reopened.
Please take a look at the amended timetable (pdf download).
- The Murder Mystery Dining Trains for 2023 are now available, and can be booked by following the details in the brochure (pdf).
In addition, the Murder Mystery Dining Train details for 2022 have been updated since more of this year’s trains are now sold out.
- The BRPS Objectives, Aims & Plans – 2021 edition (The “Long Term Plan”), along with the updated BRPS Articles of Association are now available on the page containing documents for BRPS Members.
- Friday to Sunday 12, 13 and 14 August 2022
Due to high fire risk, we are operating a one-train diesel-hauled service with five round trips serving Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes only to this revised timetable
- Bluebell Railway Beer Festival: 23-25 September
We’re delighted that at this year’s Bluebell Beer Festival we welcome back live music. We’ve got a great selection lined up for you across the weekend, including:
Straw Dogs: A four-piece Irish & Folk band
The Magpies: Bringing you classic 70’s rock covers
Kit Packham: Singer & Saxophonist offering a mix ranging from Jazz & Rock N’ Roll to Blues
Plus popular local band The Blunter Brothers will be performing a Sunday afternoon session.
Book your tickets here for a fantastic day out with friends and family. Don’t miss out!
An intensive 3-train service will be in operation – download the timetable here.
- Updated Loco Works News for the overhaul of No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ – Andy Kelly’s photo records the passing of the out-of-frames steam test yesterday.
- The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes station is open additional days this week!
Wednesday 10th August 10am to 4pm
Friday 12th August 10am to 4pm
Saturday 13th August 11am to 4pm
Sunday 14th August 9.30am to 3.30pm
The Carriage Shop is located on Platform 1, and currently has a wide selection of books, model railway items, photographs, magazines and much more in stock.
Supporting Bluebell Railway projects since 1989.
- SECR O1-class No. 65 enters Kingscote with the Wealden Rambler afternoon tea train, as seen in David Cable’s photo from Wednesday 3 August.
- Important: Timetable changes due to fire risk:
Due to the incoming hot weather, from Thursday 11 to Sunday 14 August we will be running an amended service – subject to weather conditions changing. The service will be operating between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes ONLY. Kingscote and East Grinstead stations will be CLOSED on these days with no service operating at these stations between these dates. Please take a look at the amended timetable (pdf download).
- The Southerner’s Video from Saturday featuring three locomotives in steam on the Bluebell.
- Update to the web page for S15 No. 830 (which is no longer on the Bluebell Railway) adding two new photos by Roger Gregory from 1988.
- The photos below, both by David Cable, show the Q-class arriving at East Grinstead with a service train on 3 August, and W11 on an early morning photo charter (before the public Terrier 150 Event trains started) with SECR carriages 1098 and 3363. This combination could not run in passenger service because of the air brakes on the Isle of Wight locomotive not being compatible with the vacuum brakes on our stock.
- Last Saturday the four terriers are seen together on shed, in this photo thanks to Owen Hayward. His photo below shows a driver’s-eye view from W11 as it approaches Sheffield Park.
- This weekend, you are invited to the Teddy Bear’s Picnic!
You can join this event at any of our stations – Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, Kingscote or East Grinstead – and ride with us with an All-Day Rover ticket.
Children who bring a teddy can travel for free! So, bring your favourite bear and your picnic to the Bluebell Railway for a fun day out for all the family.
- More coverage of last weekend’s Terrier 150 event, with Ashley Smith’s video from Sunday and photos, and there’s also a video from Lee Andrew Davies from Friday
- The move, by its owning group, of SR (SECR-design) Dance Hall Goods Brake 11934 to the Kent & East Sussex Railway should have been noted here back in January.
- The second photo below, from Brian Lacey, shows 73082 ‘Camelot’ on the 1pm service train at West Hoathly on 2 August. We are now running daily with a two-loco, 5-train service, with a third loco in steam on some days for dining services.
- The final day of our Terrier 150 event today was also our second Toy and Rail Collectors’ Fair of the year, which attracted a great number of stall-holders, and with with cloud cover but no rain, the weather was ideal for the event, and the car park at Horsted Keynes was very well filled, a good indication of a great event.
- The photos seen here, from David Cable, show the double-headed Terriers shortly before No. 70 ‘Poplar’ expired on Friday, and two taken during the Jon Bowers’ photo charter on Thursday.
- Keith Duke’s photos from the Friday of the Terrier Gala, and those from Neil Munro-Thomson.
- National Rail are offering Days Out Two-for-One tickets this year if you travel to the Bluebell by mainline train via East Grinstead, where our station is adjacent to the National Rail one.
- Good morning everyone.
Day 2 of our Fenchurch 150th Birthday Bash weekend is upon us.
We’ve plenty going on today across the railway including Chris Vine’s Young Engineers Day Out tour, and Ian Dunne’s Science Magic show at Sheffield Park!
Today we also have a fun dog show at Horsted Keynes Station with classes for Terriers (of course), Terrier wannabes and Terriers in disguise. All dogs welcome. (Dogs can travel on our trains, just keep paws on the floors and no doggy feet on the seats!) Entry is just £2 per class, payment (cash only), with registration on the day.
An amended timetable (download as pdf) is in place for the rest of this weekend’s event.
- There’s a great video now available showing how W11 travelled over to reach us from the Isle of Wight.
- SteamLights tickets are now on sale.
SteamLights returns in 2022 with a sparkling new theme and a new lighting up performance to capture your imagination.
Sparkle, glow and shimmer on a magical steam train covered by thousands of colourful lights.
Illuminate the dark landscape as you journey and feast your eyes on an amazing light show along the way. With brand new sparkling displays, music and narration, this is a steam train experience not to be missed!
The magical event will be running across the festive period, on selected dates from Thursday 10th November to Sunday 8th January.
- Our Terrier 150 weekend started today! All was going well until No. 70 ‘Poplar’ sadly suffered a mechanical problem. The repair work needed means that the locomotive will not be able to take part in the rest of the weekend. An amended timetable (download as pdf) will be in operation for both Saturday and Sunday, and W11 ‘Newport’ will still be hauling trains throughout the weekend. We’re very sorry for any inconvenience caused by this amendment.
- This photo shows SECR O1-class No. 65 at Horsted Keynes earlier today with the three SR Maunsell carriages. Its boiler barrel was recently repainted, since after several years in traffic the paint finish was starting to deteriorate, and this was undertaken whilst it was receiving maintenance over the last couple of months.
- These two photos below show 70 ‘Poplar’ and W11 on shed together yesterday afternoon, with a warming fire in No. 70, and W11 in steam for a Jon Bowers’ photo charter (it had returned briefly to Sheffield Park to take coal and water). In the second photo, it was running round its SR goods train in the platform, before propelling it up the line to the next photo location.
- KIDS FOR A QUID returns this August!
Kids tickets for just £1 when accompanied by a fare-paying adult – Book tickets here.
- And we now have two visiting Terriers!
“Poplar” has safely arrived at Sheffield Park and was paired up with “Newport” on shed shortly after its arrival yesterday afternoon. The chance to grab a photo of the two together couldn’t be missed!
Again we extend our thanks to Reid Freight Services for transporting both locomotives to us and to The Kent & East Sussex Railway and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway for kindly allowing us to have these two locomotives for the Fenchurch 150th Anniversary Bash this weekend.
For more information and tickets please see Details of the Terrier 150 weekend here.
- This Sunday we are also holding a Toy & Rail Collectors’ Fair. Catering for everyone from avid collectors or enthusiasts, to just about anyone who is interested in (or just curious about) collectable toys, model trains and vintage railway artefacts, there will be a large variety of stalls on Horsted Keynes station platforms and car park. You’ll find model railways (new and secondhand), die-cast models, collectables, railway books & ephemera and photographs, as well as stalls for preservation societies and restoration projects.
- Peter Edwards’ photo below shows ‘Poplar’ being prepared for unloading in the yard at Sheffield Park yesterday afternoon, as W11 is being warmed through and in light steam.
Further information about the two visiting Stroudley Terriers is now available on the “Operational Locomotives” page.
- The Carriage Shop has extended opening hours for the Terrier Gala weekend and Sunday’s Collectors Fair:
Friday 29 July 9am – 5pm
Saturday 30 July 9am – 5pm
Sunday 31 July 9am – 4.30pm
This weekend the shop, on Platform 1 at Horsted Keynes, will have large number of railway and transport books at sale prices. Also in stock is a wide selection of model railway locos, coaches and wagons, bound magazines, back issues of the Bluebell News, photographs, posters, timetables and many other collectables. All fund raised from sales are used to support projects across the Bluebell Railway.
- David Cable’s photo, at Rock Cutting, shows ‘Camelot’ under threatening skies on 30 June. Whilst it’s standard practice for volunteers like David working on lineside clearance to stop what they’re doing to watch the train go past, some of the cows are also apparently enjoying the sight!
- Pleased to report the first of the two visiting Terriers, W11 (named ‘Newport’ and ‘Brighton’ at various times) has arrived after a journey over the Solent by ferry, for the Terrier 150 weekend which starts this Friday. The event features five locos in steam, working an intensive service on four sets of carriages.
- Major update on work undertaken as part of the overhaul of No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ over the last 2 months, thanks to photos provided by Andy Kelly. Most recently, the hydraulic test on the boiler has been successful, and this photo shows a test fit of the boiler and smokebox in the frames last month, which also went without a hitch.
It is planned that the loco will be assembled ready for display alongside ‘Stepney’ over the Terrier 150 weekend coming up on 29-31 July.
- The Latest News from the Bulleid Society last month includes a report on work completed on No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’, along with a brief note recording the passing of Sean Day-Lewis, the author of “Bulleid, Last Giant of Steam”, who was the Vice President of the Bulleid Society.
- Photos from Heritage Boiler Steam Services Ltd, covering recent work on the boiler of the Maunsell Locomotive Society’s SR Schools-class locomotive No. 928 ‘Stowe’:
- Firstly, apologies for the gap in updating this blog; hopefully normal service will now be resumed. There’s a lot to catch up on, so we start with the most important news.
- It is with the greatest regret we have to announce the postponement of Flying Scotsman’s visit to the Bluebell Railway in August. Please read the full statement here.
- Friday 29 – Sunday 31 July: We are sorry to announce that, despite the hard work and best efforts of our locomotive department, difficulties in obtaining raw materials and parts mean that ‘Fenchurch’ will not be ready to steam for the Fenchurch 150th Birthday Bash this coming weekend. However, visiting Terriers ‘Poplar’ and ‘Newport’ are still coming to the party and ‘Fenchurch’ will be seen on display alongside ‘Stepney’ at Sheffield Park.
Further details of this special weekend, with 5 locomotives in steam, are available here, and the timetable is available to download here.
- Max Davies’ superb animated film showing the work undertaken to overhaul Stroudley Terrier ‘Fenchurch’.
- There is a great video from our 2006 “Terrier Gala” with thanks to Richard Newman to whet the appetite for the coming weekend.
- The photo above right, by David Cable taken during lineside clearance duties on Wednesday this week, shows 80151 with the service train. Due to the fire risk during the period of record high temperatures, on Monday and Tuesday the steam service was substituted for one hauled by our 09-class diesel, but with the drop in temperature on Wednesday normal service has been resumed. The photo is taken at Rock Cutting, where lineside clearance will enhance next week’s Photo Charter, organised by Jon Bowers, which will feature Terrier W11 from the Isle of Wight.
- Modified Hall No. 6989 ‘Wightwick Hall’ arrived on loan to the Bluebell Railway on 23 June 2022, and is expected to stay until after Giants of Steam. ‘Wightwick Hall’ spent its working life around Hereford. and Gloucester. It was withdrawn in June 1964, and was one of the locomotives saved by being sold on from Barry scrapyard, moving to Quainton Road in January 1978, and restored to operational condition over the following 40 years. It ran over the Model Railway weekend (seen here in David Cable’s photo from 2 July) and is next running this coming weekend for the “Terrier 150” event.
- One of the projects undertaken on the web site over the last two months has been to re-instate on the new server the archived “Villa Team” photos and pages detailing overhaul and maintenance work on the locomotives which took place 20-25 years ago. The transfer work is not complete, and is ongoing, so please forgive the current broken links in some places on these pages.
- Update to the Wagon Stock List, moving the GWR Sleeper Wagon 100677, and ex-LMS/Port of Bristol 5-plank PBA66071 to the “Wagons which are no longer at the Bluebell” section, with updates to the respective web pages for the wagons as well.
- The June and July issues of “Bluebell Times” have appeared since the last update on this Blog, and are recommended to anyone who has not already read them, as a means of keeping up with what’s been going on around the railway.
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