Blog: What's New at the Bluebell Railway?
- Another of David Cable’s photos from the Jon Bowers’ photo charter last week featuring Standard Tank No. 80151.
- Why not join us? We are a volunteer-led organisation. If you wonder whether you might be interested in volunteering in any capacity on the Bluebell, you can sign up for one of our Find Out More Days:
* Saturday 11 June
* Sunday 10 July
* Saturday 13 August
* Sunday 11 September
* Saturday 8 October
- With the BRPS AGM approaching on Saturday 28 May 2022, the relevant documents have been sent to members by post, but you can also find most of the documents relating to the meeting on the Notices for BRPS Members web page (including AGM arrangements, Agenda, Election nominations, Minutes of October 2021 meetings, long service awards, in memoriam, various reports, Trust & Society Combined Report & Accounts 2021, and a Proxy Voting Form). The plc accounts are only being sent by post.
- Loco Works News update on Terrier No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’, including, as seen below, the tanks being painted.
- News on the overhaul of No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ on the Bulleid Society’s web site featuring work in progress on the tender. John Fry’s photo below shows the reassembled and re-fitted vacuum cylinder.
- The May 2022 edition of Bluebell Times includes further feedback from our spring volunteer workshops, and a round up of a busy calendar of events in May and June.
In this issue:
– A reminder of the forthcoming Society AGM – and reciprocal travel arrangements for working volunteers
– From shop floor to board room, opportunities aplenty to help the Railway
– An update on the Western Extension Project
– Fenchurch is back on its wheels – and the boiler is progressing rapidly as well
– Carriage Shop donates £4,000 to two worthy restoration projects
– Bluebell Standards caught in passing at Horsted Keynes
– And much, much more
- Enjoy a day out with the whole family at Bluebell Railway this half term!
Our Kids for a Quid days are back, and this special offer applies from Monday 30 May to Sunday 5 June.
- Tickets for the Flying Scotsman running days sold out within four days of issue. The dining train tickets are about to go on sale and we continue to sell tickets for the static display days, when you ride on our ordinary steam trains, and can also view Flying Scotsman in our loco shed, and pre-book footplate visits.
- We are busy gearing up for Road Meets Rail (Saturday 28 to Monday 30 May) and our Model Railway Weekend (2–3 July).
- The two photos below from David Cable feature Standard tank No. 80151 with a branch line train, including the recently overhauled CCT belonging to the Camelot Locomotive Society. They were taken on a photo charter on 9 May organised by Jon Bowers.
As you would expect we have some exciting plans for this year’s visit – including running Flying Scotsman on regular services and special dining trains (details to follow later this month).
The Flying Scotsman will be running non-stop return services between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead for five days from 25 – 29 August. All seats must be pre-booked in advance.
Visitors will also be able to see the locomotive on static display at Sheffield Park from 17 – 24 August and 30 August – 5 September. Tickets for footplate viewings will be available.
The locomotive is currently being overhauled which started in April 2022, prior to the locomotive’s centenary celebrations in 2023. The visit to the Bluebell Railway will be one of the first chances to see the famous engine following the overhaul. As part of the overhaul, Riley & Son (E) Ltd will restore the locomotive to the same standard as the last overhaul in 2016, with work focusing on the boiler and the required retube and recertification. There will not be any changes to the locomotive’s livery, numbering or chimney configuration.
See our full event timetable (pdf download), including The Flying Scotsman and ‘home fleet’ trains.
For travel, dining or running viewing (25-29 August):- Book Flying Scotsman in Steam Tickets.
For static viewing day tickets (17-24 August and 30 August – 5 September):- Book Flying Scotsman on Display Tickets.
The photo, by David Long, shows ‘Flying Scotsman’ during its last visit to the Bluebell, in April 2017.
The photo on the left, by Andy Kelly, features in a new update to the Loco News page for Fenchurch’s overhaul, and shows the firebox with all the rivets in the foundation ring, and half the stays now in place.
- Peter Edwards’ photo shows Maunsell Q-class No. 30541 on Freshfield bank with the 2.15pm train from Sheffield Park on Easter Monday 18 April 2022, following its return to service at Easter after a valve and piston overhaul. It also shows that the bluebells are currently in full bloom – the view from our trains, especially through the woods, includes one of the best displays for years.
- This Sunday at the first of our two Toy & Rail Collectors’ Fairs this year. 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.
- To coincide with the Collectors’ Fair, the “Carriage Shop” at Horsted Keynes (open 10am to 4pm) is having a massive Book Sale on Sunday, including a good selection of Middleton Press books at only £3.00!
- Photos from John Sandys from Saturday 16 April and Monday 18 April, including trips in the GNR Directors’ Saloon.
- Video from John Harwood featuring ‘Camelot’ and the Q running earlier this week, at Kingscote and over the viaduct at East Grinstead, along with a look inside the buffet carriage there.
- Update available from the Brighton Atlantic Project.
Fred Bailey’s photo below shows the boiler, with the insulation and cladding in place, which it’s hoped will go into the frames this summer. More details of this and other progress in this news update.
- The Standard 2MT Tank Project update and April Newsletter is now available, detailing recent work on No. 84030.
The photo below shows the new steel plate which has been profiled and delivered which will form the front and rear of the bunker. It also shows the refurbished and re-certificated lifting gantry, which will be put to good use in erecting the bunker onto the engine frame.
- Peter Edwards’ photo from yesterday shows SECR No. 65 at the former Town House Bridge with the vintage set, currently formed of the four Victorian Metropolitan Railway coaches and 1935-built Maunsell open third No. 1309.
- On the locomotive side, the Southern Railway Q-class No. 30541 is now back in service following a major valve and piston overhaul, and has done a loaded test run today. From Sunday it joins BR Standard No. 80151 and SECR No. 65, which will also be in steam over the Easter weekend – see the Locomotive Roster for more details.
- Trains continue to run to our 5-train Service B timetable (pdf download).
- The Great Northern Railway Directors’ Saloon completed its maintenance yesterday, and is now prepared for service. It will be attached on the 10.30 am, 1 pm and 3.30 pm departures from Sheffield Park each day from Good Friday to Easter Monday.
- There will be guided tours of the Carriage & Wagon Works on Saturday this weekend. Listen for station announcements, or see the signs on the workshop doors at Horsted Keynes for timings.
- Find Out More Days are back after a 2-year break – the first one was on Saturday – come and see behind the scenes to find out how and where you could get involved on the Railway as a volunteer. The dates for the remainder of the year are:
- Sunday 8 May
- Saturday 11 June
- Sunday 10 July
- Saturday 13 August
- Sunday 11 September
- Saturday 8 October
It’s essential to reserve your place in advance – see details here.
- Brian Dandridge visited the Railway last Saturday and provides this photo gallery.
- The Bluebell Railway is home to a large collection of carriages and wagons, totalling some 175 vehicles, dating from the 1850s to the 1960s. The Bluebell Railway Preservation Society has reviewed the Railway’s stock recently and concluded, with the agreement of the Bluebell Railway plc (the owner of the stock) that a small number of vehicles should be offered new homes. The requirement to clear some siding space may result in some being scrapped if no homes can be found. Details of the vehicles being offered are available in this document (pdf)
- Apologies that we have a problem with the security certificate on one of our domains. which may prevent some of the more picky browsers from showing the images on this and some other pages, and indicating a security problem (which does not in fact exist), with the BRPS archived and detailed web pages. The certificate should have auto-renewed, but we are chasing this up with our service provider to cure the problem, and find out why a new certificate has not been issued.
- Last Saturday Jon Bowers organised a superb photo charter at Horsted Keynes featuring two BR standard locos, “Standard Arthur” 73082 ‘Camelot’ and 80151, with appropriate SR-designed Bulleid carriages and BR-liveried Southern-design vans. The photos below are from David Cable and Dave Bowles.
- 80151 nearly half a century apart:
– Tony Winson sent us this snap from a family holiday in Wales in 1973 when they visited Barry scrap yard. He remembers they had a fantastic time climbing all over the locos – there were no “health and safety” worries back then. His dad considered it a Mecca, having been brought up with steam locos in his blood, working at Derby Locomotive Works. The photo was taken by their mum and shows him with his dad, brother and sisters.
– Another of David Cable’s photos from Saturday provides the “now” comparison. The locomotive is seen with the Camelot Locomotive Society’s CCT and the Elephant Van.
- The April 2022 edition of Bluebell Times includes feedback from our spring volunteer workshops, and updates regarding coal supply.
In this issue:
– Some good news on coal supply – but costs have gone up considerably
– Initial feedback from the spring volunteer workshops
– The Awake the Giant team reveal plans for the locomotive to move south – and a range of merchandise
– Update on projects from around the railway
– On this day in 1951 – Fenchurch and a Brighton Atlantic met in Newhaven, a pairing we can soon recreate
– And much, much more
- A reminder that from this Saturday we are running daily steam trains now for the School holidays, with our two-train Service B timetable of 5 round trips, daily up to and including Easter Monday.
- The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes station is open this weekend, 10am to 4pm both Saturday and Sunday, with a wide selection of second hand railway and transport books, model railway locos, coaches and wagons, bound magazines, DVDs, and Thomas the Tank Engine toys, etc, with all the funds raised going to support projects across the Bluebell Railway.
- Aerial video from John Harwood showing ‘Camelot’ approaching East Grinstead on Tuesday.
- A new web page from the Camelot Locomotive Society records the Model Railway Events which they ran in the 1970s and ’80s.
- New photos and videos from John Sandys from visits to the Railway on Monday and from Wednesday showing conservation and maintenance work starting at Horsted Keynes, a look in the Carriage works, new items in the shop at Sheffield Park, and some videos of Camelot at the Park, Horsted and East Grinstead.
- An accidentally long exposure on this shot of ‘Camelot’ departing from Sheffield Park on Sunday 20 March gives both an impression of speed, and a retro “original BR days” feel to this photo by Chris Rose.
- This weekend we have two locomotives in steam each day, with public trains running to our Service A timetable. The second locomotive will be hauling the pre-booked Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train and Golden Arrow Pullman dining train.
- News update from the Awake the Giant Project including the latest on our fundraising for the forthcoming overhaul of the 9F locomotive, which includes merchandise now available from the Bluebell Shop at Sheffield Park, and plans for (and how you could get involved with) the locomotive’s overhaul.
- This Sunday there will be a bus service operating between Lewes and Sheffield Park, operated by Seven Sisters Bus & Coach. There is no charge for the service but the organisers are asking for donations that will all go to supplying aid to Ukraine. As well as a half hourly bus service between Sheffield Park and Lewes there are a number of feeder bus routes from across Sussex.
All the details and timetables are on the Ukrainian Appeal Bus Running Day April 3rd 2022 Facebook page. The bus timetables for the day are here (pdf). Please note, this service is provided by Seven Sisters, and not the Bluebell.
- Photos and videos from last Saturday, from John Sandys.
- Although most of our staff are volunteers, we are currently advertising a number of paid employment roles on the Bluebell Railway, including:
- Carriage Painter,
- Digital Co-ordinator,
- Finance Manager,
- Pullman Car Restoration Fitter,
- and a variety of Catering roles, at all levels.
- David Cable’s photo below shows 80151 passing Mill Place Bridge just after leaving Kingscote on 19 March.
- Standard tank No. 80151 is seen on the service train on Sunday, in this long-shot from the hillside below Highbrook, with thanks to Graham Parsons.
- John Sandys’ photos and videos from Saturday. This weekend saw the service trains formed of the Mk.1 Corridor set in place of the vintage compartment stock used over the previous two weekends.
- The photo below, from Chris Rose, shows 9F No. 92240, awaiting its planned overhaul. You can contribute to enabling that overhaul via the Awake the Giant fundraising scheme.
- The second photo below, by Andy Kelly, is one of a number recently added to the Loco News page for Fenchurch’s overhaul, and shows the boiler, now with the outer firebox wrapper riveted to the barrel and the backhead, and the foundation ring about to be test fitted to the new inner firebox.
- John Sandys’ photos and videos from last Saturday, including this shot of ‘Camelot’ on arrival at East Grinstead.
- Trains this weekend (and next) run to this timetable.
Tickets are available to book online for an advance discount, or on the day from any station booking office.
We are also running Supper Specials on many Friday evenings, and Golden Arrow Dining services and Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea trains some days most weekends.
- We will have 73082 ‘Camelot’ and Standard Tank No. 80151 running both days this weekend.
- The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes, with a large selection of books, model railways and other collectibles currently in stock, is open this weekend:
Saturday 19 March 11am to 4pm
Sunday 20 March 9.30am to 3.30pm
- The March 2022 edition of Bluebell Times – Contents include:
– Flying Scotsman to fly south again
– Storm Eunice leaves the railway battered but unbowed
– Plans for the miniature railway gather pace
– The Jewel in the Crown appeal formally closes having raised a tremendous £591,500 – now the work on the ground can begin
– The SECR O1-class No. 65 story (part 2)
– The museum unveils a new trove of historic images
– And much, much more
- Details of Flying Scotsman’s visit to the Bluebell this coming August.
- The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes, with a large selection of books, model railways and other collectibles currently in stock, is open this weekend:
Saturday 12 March 11am to 4pm
Sunday 13 March 9.30am to 3.30pm
The Carriage Shop has been proudly supporting projects across the Bluebell Railway since 1989.
- The Southern Electric Traction Group (SETG) have provided an update on the latest work undertaken on Bluebell-owned VEP unit No. 3417 ‘Gordon Pettitt’.
- Peter Edwards provides these two photos from last Sunday, showing SECR O1-class No. 65 at Three Arch Bridge with the second run of the Golden Arrow from Sheffield Park, and BR 5MT No. 73082 ‘Camelot’ at Nobles approaching Three Arch Bridge with the 3.30pm train from Sheffield Park.
- Infrastructure update: On Monday the points at the south end of the Sheffield Park platforms (7B) were replaced. Jon Goff’s photo shows the ballast being dug out and formation being levelled. Further details and more photos are on the Infrastructure News Page.
- A thoughtful YouTube Video from the Talyllyn Railway: “We Need To Talk About Coal” with Chris Price from the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, who is leading on this topic for the Heritage Railway Association. On the Bluebell we are currently experimenting with ovoids, and following the experiments on other lines as well.
- Addition to the list of wagons formerly at the Bluebell of GWR Fruit Van body W 105565.
- Photos and videos from John Sandys from today, with ‘Camelot’ hauling the service train which was formed of Victorian and Edwardian carriages (as seen in the photos below). In addition SECR No. 65 was in use on the Afternoon Tea train.
- This photo (© and with thanks to John H Bird/ANISTR.com) of LSWR B4-class No. 30096, shows it during industrial service with Corrall’s in (probably August) 1970. At that time it was named ‘Corrall Queen’, but still carried its smokebox number plate and Eastleigh shed plate, and is seen shunting coal wagons at Dibles Wharf, Northam, Southampton. Now known by its original name, ‘Normandy’, it is owned by The B4 Loco Group, part of The Bulleid Society.
The Bluebell’s web page for ‘Normandy’ has also now been updated.
Further photos on ANISTR.com show 30096 in BR days: at Eastleigh in 1952, in the company of 30083 in 1959, and again at Eastleigh in 1962.
- An Album by Peter Skuce featuring photos of the Railway, and particularly No. 80151, from Saturday 19 February when the line was re-opened after Storm Eunice the previous day.
- On Tuesday John Sandys took a set of photos of Kingscote Station highlighting the work of the Friends of Kingscote (FoK) over the last couple of years, with the restoration of the ex-Ardingly Goods Shed (below left), donated to the Railway and its relocation co-funded in 2019 by the Bluebell Railway Trust and FoK. A heritage trail, with QR-codes for further details of important features has been developed. Even in BR days there was no mains electricity here, so oil lamps were used right through the 1950s period to which the station is restored to represent. Lamps to decorate and illuminate the station have been refurbished or made new (below right).
Details of the Friends of Kingscote and how to join their support group (to also receive regular newsletters) are on the group’s web page.
- David Cable’s photo shows ‘Camelot’ on the Golden Arrow luncheon train on Saturday.
- Update to the OP4 news page, with links to articles about the completion of the Heritage Skills Centre, and other progress with this major development at Horsted Keynes.
- We are running trains each weekend in March, to this timetable.
Tickets are available to book online for an advance discount, or on the day from any station booking office.
We are also running Supper Specials on Friday evenings in March, and Golden Arrow Dining services every weekend.
Our stations are closed Monday – Friday until April, but our Gift Shop at Sheffield Park is open every day, 9.30am – 5pm.
- A couple of updates from contractors undertaking work on our locomotives: Video from Statfold Engineering showing Fenchurch’s driving wheelset on their lathe, and current progress on Stowe’s firebox at Heritage Boiler Steam Services.
- There are just a last few tickets remaining for the Pie & Mash train this Friday! Book now. Your steam-hauled train will depart from Sheffield Park Station at 6.30pm for the 1 3/4 hour journey through the beautiful Sussex countryside on Friday 4 March.
- Trevor Stone made use of the Bluebell as part of his journey to London during the closure of the Brighton Main Line (for engineering work) on 24 January, and his Video of the trip from Sheffield Park to East Grinsted behind No. 80151 is here on YouTube – he travelled First Class in Southern Railway 1947-built Bulleid carriage No. 5768.
- John Sandys’ photos from Saturday.
- Two further photos below, thanks to David Cable, showing the two service trains running on Saturday; the vintage set behind SECR O1-class No. 65, and the Mk.1/Bulleid set with the south-facing Standard tank No. 80151.
- We are fully open this weekend with our Kids for a Quid Special Offer, and the last two days of Ice Skating at Sheffield Park. There are three locomotives in steam, providing a 5-train public service, to this timetable, plus our lunchtime Pullman dining train.
- Peter Edwards’ photo taken today shows SECR O1-class No. 65 approaching Ketches with the vintage set.
- John Sandys’ has some photos and videos from yesterday.
- On Wednesday, ‘Camelot’ replaced the O1 on the vintage set, and is seen at West Hoathly in Brian Lacey’s photo below. The piles of sleepers are there in preparation for the next track re-laying.
David Cable took the second photo below (showing 80151 with the first service train of the day on Wednesday) during his work on the lineside just by Allens Bridge.
- Our train services continue to run as planned, with two locomotives in steam, providing a 5-train service daily this week, alongside the Ice Skating at Sheffield Park.
- Friday’s storm brought down a substantial tree just north of Kingscote Station, which did a thorough job of destroying the down home signal. Fortunately the adjacent equipment cases survived unscathed. Our S&T volunteers, assisted by Jon Bowers’ Sunday P-way gang, have done wonders, and succeeded in erecting and commissioning a temporary 3-aspect colour light signal to take its place on Sunday – Photo thanks to Andy Swain.
We are pleased to report that the power has been restored today at Horsted Keynes. Until then the signalling there had been running from our emergency generator.
- The Bulleid Society plan to open their shop on Platform 2 at Sheffield Park every day through to the end of half term (Sunday). It is well stocked with secondhand books as well as gifts and souvenirs, so please come and have a look; every purchase supports the restoration of their locomotives.
- To coincide with the new web page for our volunteer Goods Division wagon gang, there’s also a new wagon news page detailing all the work done by the Goods Division over the last 11 months on the intermediate overhaul and re-plank of SR 20-Ton Engineers’ wagon No. 62002. This great shot, from Wednesday 6 October last year by Laurie Anderson, shows one of the benefits of working outside. However, fortunately the wagon has been accommodated inside the OP4 maintenance area when possible, which makes things much easier, since when outside we can’t work in the rain or when it’s dark!
- The web page for our recreated SECR 2-plank Ballast Wagon No. 567 (which is to feature in one of the new models described below) has had its web page re-vamped.
- Rapido Trains had previously announced new OO-gauge models of SECR 5-plank and 7-plank open wagons, including one representing our No. 16194. Rapido have now followed these with the other two designs of wagons built on the same underframes, the SECR-designed box vans and 2-plank ballast wagons, including models of the Bluebell’s very own SECR 2-plank 567 and SECR van 15750 (photos below by Dave Clarke and Richard Salmon). These are now available to pre-order on our Goods Division online shop.
We would like to thank Rapido Trains UK for their support with fundraising for work on our goods wagon.
- Pleased to report that, after initially only being able to operate as far as Kingscote (from Sheffield Park) yesterday, the remainder of the line was soon cleared, and by the afternoon trains were running right through to East Grinstead. We had a power cut at Horsted Keynes, which persists today. Remembering back to the hurricane of 1987, we were without power at Horsted Keynes for a week, and at Sheffield Park for two!
- We had three locos in steam yesterday, with Standard 4 No. 80151 and O1 No. 65 (as seen here leaving Horsted Keynes) on the two-train public service, and No. 73082 ‘Camelot’ hauling the lunchtime Pullman service.
- We have a variety of evening supper trains coming up this year, starting in March, with:
– Pie & Mash – 4 March
– Sausage & Mash – 11 March
– Sussex Cottage Stew – 18 March
– Curry Evening – 25 March
- The Murder Mystery Dining Train details for 2022 have been updated since the April and May trains are now sold out.
A new website, Terrier 150, has been set up to promote events across the UK which are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the introduction of Stroudley’s famous “Terrier” locomotives, of which our own ‘Fenchurch’ was the first into service.
- Stop Press: We are currently running between Sheffield Park Station and Kingscote Station. We hope to open the full line later today.
Please check the Today at the Bluebell Railway page for up to date information.
- Stop Press: The Bluebell Railway will be closed on Friday 18 February due to adverse weather conditions. All pre-booked customers will be contacted as soon as possible.
- Saturday saw the return to service on the Bluebell Railway of Pullman Car ‘Fingall’ following a year on the jacks having its bogies, brake gear and wheel sets being given a once-in-30-years mechanical rebuild, including new springs and horn guides.
- Photos from John Sandys from visits to the Railway on Saturday and today.
- Update, with revised link: The Southern Electric Traction Group (SETG) who are working towards returning the Bluebell-owned VEP unit No. 3417 ‘Gordon Pettitt’ to working order for visits to heritage lines and in the longer term for railtour use on the main line, are raising money for its overhaul, and have just launched a Redbubble online shop with stickers, mouse mats, baseball caps, etc. This is in addition to their main online shop for mugs etc.
- Infrastructure update: The re-laid track in the cutting north of Lindfield Wood was tamped in advance of services resuming last weekend. In addition there’s work preparing new points, re-roofing of the Horsted Keynes Water Tower, a digital survey of the line and more work outside the Heritage Skills Centre. Further details and several photos are on the Infrastructure News Page.
- A short update on the activities of the Project 27 team during the winter of 2021/2022, looking at the work done on the chassis of SECR P-class No. 27, including the assembly of the new front buffer beam, as seen in the second photo below.
- Peter Edwards’ photo from Saturday shows the SECR H-class No. 263 at Ketches with our Pullman Luncheon Train, which it also hauled on Sunday. This was the first Pullman we have been able to run since March 2020.
The H-class is now out of service at the end of its 10-year boiler certificate. However it is planned that it should receive a rapid turn-around in our loco works following completion of ‘Fenchurch’ and ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’, in view of the generally good condition of the boiler and recent significant mechanical work. It does require a boiler lift, and at a minimum new crown girders and tubes, new tyres and new springs. The work is to be funded by a grant from the Bluebell Railway Trust, in part thanks to a bequest left by Ray Tanner specifically for work on this locomotive.
- Reminder that we are running a public steam-train service(using two locomotives, SECR O1-class No. 65 and BR standard 4 tank locomotive No. 80151) with five round trips daily, until 27 February, to this timetable, with our Kids for a Quid Special Offer.
The Ice skating in the Loco Shed is also proving very popular – you can book separately for this, or combine it with a train ride if you wish.
- Loco News update on Fenchurch’s overhaul, with thanks to Andy Kelly, Paul Russell and Statfold Engineering Ltd.
Read the full February 2022 report here which contains a full description of recent work, and many photos, both from our own Loco Works and from Statfold Engineering Ltd.
The photos below show Fenchurch’s new outer firebox wrapper being test fitted in the works at Sheffield Park (Andy Kelly) and the new cylinders in place, with guide bars and valve rods being fitted (Statfold Engineering Ltd).
- The penguins (and snowmen) are ready and waiting for you!
Skate aids are available to hire when our ice rink opens today at Sheffield Park Station.
Ice skating sessions are available to book up to 27 February. Tickets will also be available on the day (subject to availability).
- Reminder that we have three locos in steam this weekend, with public services running to this Timetable.
- Last Saturday the new LBSCR-pattern tarpaulin, lettered up by Matt Lander of our Goods.Division, was put over our LBSCR Hi-bar wagon, No. 3346. It was secured in place using a single long rope, as the originals would have been. The wagon will hopefully be put back into service once it’s received some mechanical attention, so it can be used again in our demonstration goods trains (which will be running regularly again this year, using the locomotive which will already be in steam on days when the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea service is running).
The web page for this wagon has also been updated.
- The SECR H-class No. 263, which comes to the end of its 10-year boiler certificate at the start of next week, has been busy with Footplate Taster Experiences this week. It is seen here, in Jon Goff’s photo from Tuesday, when it also collected Pullman Car ‘Fingall’ after a major overhaul of its running gear which has taken place over the last year, ready for the resumption of Golden Arrow Pullman dining services.
The loco will be hauling our Golden Arrow Luncheon services this weekend before its withdrawal from service. Come and see the loco in steam with a platform admission or ticket to travel on 12 & 13 February!.
In addition to the luncheon train, we are also operating a two train public service (5 round trips – Service C Timetable) this weekend, and indeed every day until 27 February, with our Kids for a Quid Special Offer.
You can also book for Ice skating in the Loco Shed (which is also open into the evenings). The real-ice rink is now ready, and also opens tomorrow.
- The Carriage Shop team are looking forward to reopening and getting back to raising funds for the Bluebell Railway. It reopens on Saturday 12 February and has additional opening days next week as follows:
Saturday 12th – 11am to 4pm
Sunday 13th – 9.30 to 3.30pm
Monday 14th – 10am to 4pm
Tuesday 15th – 10am to 4pm
Wednesday 16th – TBC
Thursday 17th – 10am to 4pm
Friday 18th – 10am to 4pm
Saturday 19th – 11am to 4pm
The shop, on platform one of Horsted Keynes station, is fully stocked with a large selection of books, model railway items, Thomas toys, bound magazines and much more for sale.
- The February 2022 edition of Bluebell Times – Contents include:
– An update on the first volunteer workshop – with two more opportunities to attend
– How our South Eastern survivor traces its roots back to Glasgow
– The Heritage Skills Centre section of OP4 is open – find out how the project started and raised the all-important funds
– Workshop progress on ‘Fenchurch’ and our historic wagon fleet
– More historic photos added to the museum website – and a promise of another trove to come.
– And much, much more
- The Awake the Giant team are pleased to announce the results of their Photo Competition. The winners and runners up are seen on the left, and the full results may be Downloaded here (pdf).
- The 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society became a Registered Charity (No. 1195698) in December 2021. Any supporters of the locomotive who wish their donations to attract Gift Aid are invited to complete and return this (pdf) Gift Aid Form.
The web page for the locomotive on the Bluebell web site has also been updated and improved.
- Bob John – A celebration – Anyone who is interested in the delayed “send off” that Bob had provided for in his will is invited to remember him by joining us on Saturday 9 April 2022. Full details are available on the BRPS Members’ Notices page.
- Winter track re-laying: Ballasting
The re-laid track in the cutting north of Lindfield Wood has now been ballasted, and will be tamped next week.
Jon Goff’s photo shows one of the dogfish dropping the ballast which was then ploughed using a road-railer, and Kevin Tucker’s below shows the 09 shunter with one of the hopper wagons. Further details and photos are on the Infrastructure News Page.
- The Footplate Taster sessions being run using the H-class in the last few weeks before its boiler certificate expires were an almost instant sell-out. Here we see John Sandys’ photo from yesterday. There are more photos, including others from around the station in the sunshine in John’s gallery from yesterday.
- Want to treat someone special for Mother’s Day? We have two special steam-hauled services: Traditional Afternoon Tea on Saturday 26 March and Luncheon on our Golden Arrow Pullman Train on Sunday 27 March.
- We are running an intensive steam hauled service each day over the fortnight covering half terms in London, Surrey, Kent, and East and West Sussex: 12 – 27 February, with our Kids for a Quid Special Offer, and you can also book for Ice skating in the Loco Shed (which is also open into the evenings) on the same dates.
- News from Strawberry Hill: Work Report: 27/01/22 (aka ‘THE BACKROOM STUFF’) from the Southern Electric Traction Group (SETG) who are overhauling the Bluebell-owned VEP unit No. 3417 ‘Gordon Pettitt’.
If you missed it, you should see Tim Dunn’s video on YouTube, produced for Network Rail in December, about the project.
- Today was the first of 3 sessions held by Geoff Mee and Paul Churchman, respectively Chairman of the PLC and the Society. Attendees – BRPS working members – engaged in discussions in small groups and brainstormed ideas that should help secure the railway’s future, and speaking personally it was a very worthwhile occasion. I would urge other fellow volunteers to join in one of the remaining two sessions (12 February or 5 March). To participate email Gordon (dot) Dudman (at) bluebell-railway (dot) com – further details are on page 4 of the December Bluebell Times.
- New web page with additional photos (including that on the right taken on 7 April 1990 by Dave Warby) for former Bluebell S15-class locomotive No. 30830.
- The SECR H-class is nearing the end of its current ticket. A Jon Bowers photo charter was run in December, using appropriate carriages and goods stock. Dave Bowles has a great album of photos taken that day.
- Updates to the web pages for LBSCR Terrier No. 55 ‘Stepney’ and for the North Thames Gas Board’s Becton Retort House Locomotive, No. 25.
- Winter track re-laying:
The re-laying north of Lindfield Wood has gone well, and the track is joined up again.
Jon Goff’s photo shows the track re-laid, but awaiting final alignment, ballasting and tamping.
- Belatedly a news report and video covering the reconstruction of Palmers Bridge has been added to the 2020 Infrastructure News Archive.
- Loco News update on the overhaul of Fenchurch’s chassis, with thanks to Statfold Engineering Ltd. The photos below show the wheels and chassis – the report has many more photos and details of the work that’s been completed.
- Infrastructure News: Horsted Keynes Up Inner Home signal
Ali Bruce provides this photo showing the new Inner Home, Calling On Signal (with the “C” arm) and Southern Railway cased Route Indicator newly installed at Horsted Keynes.
You can read the full story here, which explains more about our first operational hydraulically operated signals, and why the old one has been replaced.
- 2022 Special Events list:
- Fire and Ice! – Ice skating: 12 – 27 February
- Kids for a Quid: 12 – 27 February
- Easter Weekend: 15 – 18 April
- Toy and Rail Collectors Fair: 1 May
- Road Meets Rail: 28 – 30 May
- Model Railway Weekend: 2 – 3 July
- Terrier Gala – Fenchurch 150: 29-31 July
- Toy and Rail Collectors Fair: 31 July
- Teddy Bears’ Picnic : 6 – 7 August
- Beer Festival: 23 – 25 September
- Giants of Steam: 14 – 16 October
- SteamLights: 10 November to 8 January
- Santa Specials: 26 November to 24 December
- Winter track re-laying:
End of week 1
The re-laying covers 311 yards of track at Milepost 9/1 (between Lindfield Wood and Waterworks), which is the last significant stretch to be re-laid between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes, although a section south of Freshfield Bank, and a short section over New Road Bridge remain to be tackled.
Jon Goff’s photo shows the track re-lay in progress.
You can read the full report here (pdf).
Golden Arrow Dining Trains Return
Bluebell Railway’s Golden Arrow train is the perfect setting for a special meal with friends or an intimate evening for two. Having not run for the last couple of years, we are pleased that the operation of this service will resume in time for Valentine’s Day.
With luxurious Pullman Cars ‘Christine’ and ‘Fingall’, and 1st Class Dining carriage ‘Sapphire’, the train recreates the fabulous Golden Arrow which once linked London and Paris with the style and panache which made it one of the most glamorous and famous trains in the world. On board you will enjoy fine food and wine served to the standards of yesteryear.
Tickets for our February The Golden Arrow Luncheon trains are now on sale. Tickets for the rest of the year will be on sale in early February.
Photo: 1920’s elegance bought to life (Chris Hewison)
- February half-term will see the return of Kids for a Quid, with public steam-hauled services running daily from 12 to 27 February, to a two-train service C.
- Brian Dandridge has just put together some great video material shot at Horsted Keynes Station on 17 April 2017 that he had lost and has just recovered and edited together.
- Fire and Ice! 12 – 27 February 2022 at Sheffield Park Station.
Come Ice Skating on real ice in the unique and amazing location of the Locomotive Shed.
More details here.
- Road meets Rail, 28 – 30 May at Horsted Keynes Station – our first big special event of the year.
Traditional steam fair featuring working traction engine displays, miniature engines, goods trains and a steam driven children’s fair.
More details here.
- The January 2022 edition of Bluebell Times – Contents include:
– Unique surviving South Eastern Railway locomotive No. 65 is acquired by the Bluebell Railway Trust
– The Jewel in the Crown appeal hits its initial fundraising target – but more match funds have been released to raise even more
– A packed schedule of special events for 2022
– A commercial round up from 2021
– The C&W trimming team are the first to move into the new Heritage Skills Centre
– The Bluebell archive moves to a new home at Beare Green
– Workshop progress on ‘Fenchurch’, ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ and No. 30541
– And much, much more
- Bluebell Railway Trust acquires locomotive No. 65
At the end of last year, we were advised that the Lewis-Evans family wanted to sell this unique South Eastern Railway locomotive, which is currently part of the Bluebell’s operational fleet. Although the Bluebell Railway was the family’s preferred buyer, there were several other potential purchasers who would have been very keen to acquire it. We are therefore pleased to announce that The Bluebell Railway Trust, the charity that supports the Railway, has been able to buy the O1.
Further information is available in today’s issue of The Bluebell Times and a detailed article about the very interesting history of the O1 together with information on how people can contribute to the cost of the locomotive will appear in the February edition.
Photo: No. 65 at Sheffield Park, Jon Horrocks.
- This edition of The Bluebell Times also includes a feature on the Bluebell’s Archive. As we start to plan for a permanent archive, and to help inform its design and operation, we are interested in understanding how BRPS members would use the new facility. If you can spare a few minutes, we would be very grateful if you could take time to answer a few short questions linked here. Your answers will be treated confidentially, but will be very useful as we plan for the future.
- The Jewel in the Crown Appeal to restore Horsted Keynes station is doing exceptionally well – see announcement here.
Work on the first phase of restoring the station should begin in the Spring. The initial work will cover repairs to the station house and platform 5.
The appeal is still open, and with over a million required in total to fully refurbish the whole station, further donations are still very much appreciated and needed. There will be a full update in next week’s edition of Bluebell Times.
- A news update on The Bulleid Society web site reports that progress on No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ is now concentrated at the back of the engine with the injector pipework and the injectors themselves being erected. Work will start soon on the cab. The motion on the LHS is now completed with the connecting rod in place, as seen in John Fry’s photo below, and the RHS awaits its turn now that the bronze for the bush has arrived and has been machined.
You can support the project by joining the Bluebell Battle of Britain Locomotive Group’s 500+ Club, or making a donation.
- Major update to the web page for our 12 Ton SR Hand Crane, with text provided by Martin Skrzetuszewski.
- Updates to web pages for SECR Birdcage Brakes 1061 and 1170, SECR 100-seater 1098, Pullman Car No. 36, BR GUV 93722, the Camelot Society’s CCT 2531, SR Van U (CCT) 2276, the Maunsell Society’s PLV 2186, SR PLV (PMV) 1184, SR 20T Engineers’ Wagon 62002, and BR Blue spot fish van 87720, adding a pre-Bluebell photo.
- The board of Bluebell Railway Plc has appointed Nigel Page as the company’s first IT director.
- A project update and December Newsletter is now available from the Standard 2MT Tank Project, who are creating locomotive No. 84030.
The second photo below shows the (extended) rear frame of the locomotive, onto which the new bunker, now under construction, will be assembled.
- The December 2021 edition of Bluebell Times – Contents include:
– Updates from the latest board meeting pointing the way to 2022
– Dates for next year’s volunteer workshops confirmed, and details of how to attend
– A last push needed to get the Jewel in the Crown appeal up to its target of £540,000
– ‘Remembrance’ nameplate from the LBSCR memorial locomotive goes on display in the museum
– Five minutes with new Society trustee and filming liaison officer Mike Hopps
– 500 new photos are uploaded to the museum website – including the beginnings of the John Scrace collection
– A new footbridge for East Grinstead mainline station
– And much, much more
- Today the BRPS became a Company Limited by Guarantee
Today marks the Society’s transition from an unincorporated association to a Company Limited by Guarantee, as approved at the Society’s EGM last October. All current members have been transferred to the new Company. The Society’s name remains the same as we have been granted exemption from using “Limited”, so we appear on the Companies House website as Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, company number 13745313, registered in England. All the officers and trustees are now Directors of the company but will continue to be called Trustees.
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