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13 February February 2021 edition of Bluebell Times

  • The February 2021 edition of Bluebell Times includes:
      – An update from the board on the current activity while the Railway is closed;
      – A surprise 100th birthday present for a lifetime Bluebell member;
      – A closer look at H class locomotive No. 263;
      – How smoke deflectors work;
      – Your help needed identifying some old photos;
      – Puzzles with links to local branch lines;
      – And much, much more.

  • A new Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway blog post reporting on a visit by some of the GWSR C&W Dept.’s to the Bluebell over Easter 2017 to ride behind ‘Flying Scotsman’.

10 February 78059 shortly after arrival at Sheffield Park - Tony Sullivan

  • An updated and improved web page is now available for the Standard Class 2 Tank Engine Rebuild Project, No. 84030, along with an updated leaflet/donation form.
    Tony Sullivan’s photo shows BR Class 2 Tender Engine 2-6-0 No. 78059 shortly after arrival at the Bluebell from Barry scrapyard in May 1983, and which provided the basis for the project.
  • Did you spot us in The Times?
    We made the list for the Pictures of the Month for January!
  • Some great video footage by Paul Ravenscroft from some of the galas held on the Bluebell in 1990, with thanks due to to Dave Bowles. Many locomotives in service then which now await their turn for overhaul.
  • Added a photo, also seen below, to the web page for Maunsell droplight open third No. 1336. The photo was kindly provided by Steve Mcnally, and shows the carriage when in departmental service at Fratton as ADS 70313 in the mid-late 1980s, shortly before we acquired it for preservation. . It entered service on the Bluebell in 2008 after a comprehensive rebuild.

ADS 70313 at Fratton - Steve Mcnally - 1986 or 1987

SR design
Goods Brake Van M360328 - Richard Salmon - October 1997 Prototype model of 12058

2 FebruaryAll-Longhedge-built train - C-class with LCDR carriages - Alex Morley - 18 June 2016

  • Update to the web page for the SECR C-class No. 592.
    The C-class and all three of our operational LCDR carriages were built at Longhedge Works, Battersea, and for the relaunch of the third carriage, on 18 June 2016, this train was assembled for the occasion, seen here in Alex Morley’s photo approaching Kingscote where a photo opportunity was staged.
  • A major update has been applied to the page for LSWR B4-class locomotive No. 94 “Normandy”, with new photos including those below:
    Nigel Sealey’s photo shows ‘Normandy’ as first overhauled, shunting at Horsted Keynes on 7 September 1986.
    Mike Esau’s photo on the right shows ‘Normandy’ at Southampton Docks for the 50th anniversary of D-Day, with the USS Guam as a backdrop, on 3 June 1994.

Normandy at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 7 September 1986 Normandy at Southampton Docks - Mike Esau - 3 June 1994

1 FebruarySharpthorn - Mike Esau - 14 May 1993

  • Updated and revised web page for our historical important locomotive Sharpthorn. This photo shows ‘Sharpthorn’ with ‘Baxter’ (also built in 1877) for a publicity shoot on the extension north of Horsted Keynes on 14 May 1993 (Mike Esau).
    Built in 1877 by Manning Wardle & Co, Leeds, it was sold on just a year later to Joseph Firbank and used in the construction of the Lewes and East Grinstead Railway. At this point it was given the name ‘Sharpthorn’ (but note that this differs from the modern spelling used for Sharpthorne village). In 1888 it was purchased by Samuel Williams and Sons, becoming their No. 4, and for the next 70 years was employed hauling coal trains around Dagenham Dock, up to the nearby mainline sidings. After withdrawal from service in 1958 it was preserved on site, and two new photos added to the page show the locomotive at Dagenham.
    It visited the Bluebell for our centenary celebrations in 1982, and we were able to purchase this unique and important part of our line’s history a year later. It remains at present as a static exhibit, but there is interest from a team of Bluebell volunteers in caring for, and starting to make more of this historic locomotive.
  • News Update Update on the boiler work being undertaken on No. 73082 ‘Camelot’, taking advantage of the current quiet period to deal with the leaking foundation ring rivets which have recently been causing concern, and with the advantage that this enables us to obtain a new 10-year boiler certificate for this mainstay of our current operational fleet.

30 JanuaryBluebell Railway Virtual Tours

  • Our new Museum Virtual Tour allows you to take a look around the accredited Bluebell Railway Museum at Sheffield Park. More tours will be coming soon. These 360 Virtual tours are funded by the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, so we can continue to be #HereForCulture and #HereForYou. It has been produced by the Railway in collaboration with Stef van Vuuren of Stef’s Photography.
  • Two offers, below, supporting prjects associated with the Bluebell:
    • “Somewhere in South West London, 4VEP No. 423 417 ‘Gordon Pettitt’ is taking maximum amps as it accelerates into the dusk at the head of a diverted semi-fast service to Bournemouth.”
      Prints of this magnificent image by Tom Connell are available for sale in the SETG shop, as fundraising for the work being done by SETG to return this Bluebell-owned 4VEP unit to working order.
    • Tomorrow is last day for you to obtain Volume 5 of the Steam Locos In Profile while also supporting the Bluebell’s Wagon Fleet. The SLIPs Team have kindly offer to donate £5 towards the Wagon Fund every time a copy of Volume 5 is sold.
      The Bluebell Railway Trust are currently matching all donations into the Wagon Fund so this means all donations from the SLIPs is doubled.

'Somewhere in South West London' - print by Tom Connell sold in aid of SETG Volume 5 of the Steam Locos In Profile - supporting the Bluebell’s Wagon Fleet

29 JanuaryFenchurch's boiler with the throatplate and inner firebox removed - Tom James - 22 November 2020

25 JanuaryLMS 8F No.48624 on shed at Sheffield Park - Julian Heinemann - 30 October 2016

8 JanuaryJanuary 2021 edition of Bluebell Times

  • Amongst other items included in the
    January 2021 edition of Bluebell Times are:
      – Plans for 2021 and dates for events planned for our ’60 plus 1′ anniversary season
      – OBE in the Queen’s New Year honours for Bluebell Railway volunteer Joanne Monck.
      – Sale of industrial locomotive ‘Stamford’ (and Pullman Car No. 76 previously reported here)
      – SteamLights “Thank You”
      – Three generations of Bluebell volunteers tell of their family’s involvement
      – Purchase of negatives from the Casserley Collection, and the link to an SECR Stirling F1 tender plate obtained by the Museum
      – Photos taken on this day in 1966
  • News Update With the Railway being closed as part of the national lockdown, our locomotive workshop are taking the opportunity to carry out remedial work on No. 73082 ‘Camelot’.
    A problem had arisen caused by leaks at the foundation ring rivets. To allow these to be replaced, the boiler has been prepared for lifting, hopefully this week.
    Although there are still over 4 years remaining on the current boiler ticket, other work will be carried out as necessary whilst it is out of the frames, and will include partial retubing, with the aim of gaining a new 10 year boiler ticket.
    As things progress we will give further updates.

6 JanuaryCharter with Black 5 No. 45231 - David Cable - 26 February 2014

  • Three photos today by David Cable from a photo charter with visiting Black 5 No. 45231 organised by Jon Bowers on 26 February 2014. Check out the brilliant smoke ring in the second one below!
    You can see more from that charter in David’s SmugMug gallery from that day.
  • Dan Gosling’s video Delivering The Goods – Episode 8 features, amongst other locos, our Maunsell Q-class No. 30541 running on the Mid-Hants and Great Central Railways as well as at home.
  • Trevor Ledgeway’s video “Visit to The Bluebell Railway, 1997” features the NRM’s Bulleid Q1 and ‘Camelot’.
  • Update to the web page for Bulleid Brake carriage No. 4227 (the one with the coupé compartment) with a rescanned photo of the carriage taken at Bristol Docks, two years before its arrival on the Bluebell.

Charter with Black 5 No. 45231 - David Cable - 26 February 2014 Charter with Black 5 No. 45231 - David Cable - 26 February 2014

4 January 2021

  • News Update Infrastructure News – ASH buffer stopsInstallation of bufferstops in Locomotive Shed - Mike Hopps - 2020
    Mike Hopps’ report covers the installation during 2020 of three new dismantlable low-depth buffer stops to protect the exhibition area of the ASH (Accessible Steam Heritage) exhibition SteamWorks! from rail vehicle movements in the loco yard and running shed has been added to the Infrastructure News page.

    You can read the full report here (pdf).

    Installation of bufferstops in Locomotive Shed Report (PDF)

    Further reports from our Infrastructure teams on activities during 2020 will be made available here in the coming weeks.

  • Heritage Rail Posters’ 2021 Calendars are available to download for free, and this year feature a selection of Bluebell goods trains. Again, this is thanks to Mike Hopps.
  • Announcement published regarding change to the Interim Chairmanship of the Bluebell Railway company board.

31 December 2020Firebox cloathed - Fred Bailey - 22 October 2020

30 DecemberSteamLights - Jack Lamb - 7 December 2020

  • Jack Lamb’s photo on the right shows one of the SteamLights services on 7 December. These services were very well received by our visitors, and should have been continuing through January, but are now sadly curtailed by the Tier 4 restrictions.


  • We have a great Virtual Tour of Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes at Christmas.
  • Two videos from Keith Duke covering some of the spectacular SteamLights event:
    The switch-on of the lights on 11 December, and a SteamLights departure from Sheffield Park on 22 December.
  • Our Santa Specias ran in a very different format this year, with social distancing in place throughout, using compartment stock, and again appeared to go down well with our visitors. Jack Lamb’s photo below shows the S15 with one of the Santa trains returning to East Grinstead at sunset, using our Edwardian and Victorian carriages.

S15 with a Santa Special - Jack Lamb - 13 December 2020 S15 on a goods train photo charter - David Cable - 8 December 2020

S15 on a goods train photo charter - David Cable - 8 December 2020

23 December

  • The latest Government announcement has placed East and West Sussex into Tier 4 (Stay at Home) from Boxing Day. As a result, the Railway is closed from this date and services from 27 December have been cancelled until further notice. *Please keep an eye on our website and social media channels for information about reopening.
    • Our customer services team will be contacting all customers with an affected booking as soon as possible. We are receiving a very high volume of enquiries at the moment, so we ask for patience and understanding at this difficult time. If you have emailed us already, please be assured your email has been logged and we will be in touch as soon as possible.
    • Our services on 24 December will be operating as planned.

14 December

  • The December issue of The Bluebell Times is out now!
    • An end-of-year message and reflections on 2020 from senior Bluebell Railway personnel are included in the latest issue.
    • Issue 15 also contains a special Christmas greeting from the Railway’s chaplain as well as a report and photos on the start of the SteamLights service with illuminated trains and lineside displays.


  • Our new SteamLights service was included during the BBC South East programme on 10 December. Watch a clip here.
    • Keith Duke’s new album includes photos of our new SteamLights service, which is lighting up the winter nights between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes.
    • Tickets are available to book for all services up to 31 January here.

7 December

  • The Bluebell Railway reopened to the public on Thursday 3 December.
    • Our brand new SteamLights service began on Thursday 3 December, and will be lighting up the winter nights on selected dates until 31 January. The photo on the right shows No. 73082 hauling a SteamLights service over the weekend (Credit: Hannah Louise Photography).
    • We are also running Santa Specials and Festive Afternoon Tea services on selected dates in the run up to Christmas.


  • Restaurant Miniature Buffet (RMB) No. 1838 has now returned to Bluebell Railway. The buffet vehicle arrived back at Sheffield Park on 3 December, after having structural repairs at Cranmore Traincare & Maintenance Services.

earlier      Earlier updates are in the Archive here      earlier

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