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The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service


15 May Road Meets Rail

  •   Road Meets Rail – Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 May 2024
     
    Hard on the heels of last weekend’s great Branch Line Weekend, we have our next event, and it’s always a great one, with road-based steam performing at Horsted Keynes, with steam powered demonstrations and vintage fairground fun!
     
    Traction engines, road rollers, steam wagons, showman’s engines, crane engines and more… bringing Horsted Keynes station to life with recreations of a bygone age.


    Road Meets Rail
    See how road building, wood sawing, timber haulage and thrashing were carried out in the early 1900s. Watch as steam wagons and pantechnicons arrive with goods to be unloaded for onward rail transport and larger loads are craned into wagons.
     
    Experience vintage fairground rides, enjoy an ice cream and watch miniature steam displays in the paddock, with a fabulous view of the passenger trains passing by.

     
    On Saturday evening, we will be hosting live music, food and drink at Horsted Keynes after the event on this day. Everyone is welcome to this event so come along, wind down and enjoy the evening with us!

     
    More information is available here, along with the weekend’s timetable and event guide.



  • 7714 as it passes Birchstone bridge - Nick Gilliam - 11 May 2024

  •   Nick Gilliam’s photo shows Pannier Tank 7714 as it passes Birchstone bridge with the 12.45 from East Grinstead on Saturday.

     

  •   We have a good number of photos and videos notified to us. Here’s a selection:

       – Keith Duke’s photos from Friday

       – Video from Saturday by Matthew Edwards-Causer

       – Photos and a video from Chris Ward.

       – Ashley Smith’s video from the weekend.

       – “Joe Light Railway” provides this video from Sunday

       – Video from Chailey Stowe

       – A video featuring Saturday evening’s Goods Train from Richard Salmon.

       – This video from “Spacebunny” includes shed scenes and other interesting footage from Saturday.

       – Ben Jenden’s videos from Saturday and Sunday.

     

  •   The film “The Invisible Woman” is currently available on BBC iPlayer. The section filmed on the Bluebell Railway, covering the Staplehurst crash in which Charles Dickens was involved, can be found starting at 1:23:47

     

  •   News Update Update on work on the Q-class locomotive.

     

  •   More information about the Paving The Way Appeal including different ways to donate.

     

  •   See information about the roles of plc Chairman (non-exec), Carriage & Wagon Director, and Commercial Director which we’re currently advertising.

     

  •   Nick Gilliam’s photos below show 7812 passing Three Arch bridge with the 10.15 service from Sheffield Park on Saturday, and ‘Fenchurch’ passing Town Place Farm with the 11.35 from Horsted Keynes on Sunday.


'Erlstoke Manor' at Three Arch Bridge - Nick Gilliam - 11 May 2024 'Fenchurch' near Town Place Farm - Nick Gilliam - 12 May 2024


11 May 1369 at Rock Cutting with the Victorian carriage set - Rob Howard - 10 May 2024

  •   Rob Howard’s photo from today shows 1369 at Rock Cutting with the Victorian carriage set – this event marks the return to service of 1880-built LB&SCR First 661 for the first time since the pandemic, and the first two Metropolitans returned to service after fitting them with new door locks (replacing the worn originals which were becoming hard to maintain).

     

  •   Our Branch Line Gala concludes tomorrow, with more action from the four Great Western engines, alongside three from our home fleet.

     

  •   Below are two more of Rob’s photos, showing ‘Erlstoke Manor’ at Town Place Bridge, and the oldest and newest surviving locomotives built at Brighton Works together at Rock Cutting. 80151 is running as 80100 this weekend.


'Erlstoke Manor' at Town Place Bridge - Rob Howard - 10 May 2024 'Fenchurch' and 80151 (as 80100) at Rock Cutting - Rob Howard - 10 May 2024

'Wightwick Hall' passing through Horsted Keynes with the goods train - Richard Salmon - 11 May 2024

  •   Richard Salmon’s photo shows ‘Wightwick Hall’ passing through Horsted Keynes with the goods train this evening; this was the first time a goods train had operated right through to East Grinstead at one of our special events since our extension opened. On the return journey there was a locomotive swap at Kingscote which saw 1369 take over the train which was to be shunted into the down yard at Horsted Keynes, which is inaccessible to the Hall, due to restricted platform edge clearances in platforms 4/5.

     

  •   Videos covering lineside action from yesterday at our Branch Line Gala from Thomas Shrimpton and James McLeish.

     

  •   Please note that the earlier advertising of the Brake Van Rides tomorrow as being hauled by our resident Class 73 Electro-diesel was incorrect, since that locomotive is currently under maintenance. Instead, 80151/80100 will give footplate visits and rides from the Dock on Platform 2 at Sheffield Park, before hauling the 4pm service to East Grinstead and back.



10 May May 2024 edition of Bluebell Times

  •   News Update The May 2024 edition of Bluebell Times features:
        – Help us in “Paving The Way” by sponsoring new platform coping stones for Horsted Keynes
        – Car 54 enters service – with the help of GB Paralympic athlete Fabienne André
        – The Plc board needs you – we have volunteer board vacancies for Chairman, Commercial Director and Carriage & Wagon Director
        – The Branch Line Society visits – and their special train traverses (nearly) every inch of track on the Railway!
        – The carriage shop is back in business in its new location
        – Can we help you ensure the preservation of a historic photographic archive?

     

  •   John Sandys photos from the first day of the Branch Line Gala


  • Observation Car specials - 2024

  •   Help Horsted Keynes with the ‘Paving The Way Appeal’!
     
    The Bluebell Railway needs your help! Platform 1 at Horsted Keynes needs a significant restoration. From rebuilding the platform wall to replacing the deteriorating platform edging, the work is indeed tasking but rewarding. The Bluebell Railway Trust has been instrumental in supporting us, especially with the funding. The charming 140-year-old coping stones adorning our platforms are nearing their end. Their century-long service has left them cracked, brittle, and worn out, especially the ones on Platform 1.
     
    We initially considered replacing only the damaged stones, but this would lead to a mismatched mixture of old and new stones. So, we’re choosing to replace all the stones on Platform 1. This doesn’t mean the older stones go to waste; many are still usable and will serve in future repairs. Finding suitable replacements wasn’t easy, but we’re set to replace the 150-metre platform with 180 new stones. A restoration of this magnitude requires financial support. The total cost is estimated to be £26,000, with each stone (made from a modern composite stone material, but having the texture and form of the originals) costing £115. We’re inviting members and friends to ‘buy’ a stone for £115.
     
    These purchases are essentially donations, eligible for Gift Aid claims. We’re also offering to number each stone and honour donors on an ‘Honours Board’, keeping donors’ details confidential if they wish. We’re grateful for an early donation covering 20 stones, and we’re optimistic about exceeding our target, so any surplus from this appeal will be applied to further work required on Platform 1. Let’s bring Platform 1 back to its glory together.
     
    Please support us and donate towards the project.



9 May

7714 on shed - Brian Dandridge - 9 May 2024 7714 on shed - Brian Dandridge - 9 May 2024

Erlstoke Manor and 65 at Sheffield Park - Brian Dandridge - 9 May 2024
All set for our Branch Line Gala
 
Brian Dandridge’s photos show ‘Erlstoke Manor’ ready for a test run to East Grinstead, together with SECR 65 at Sheffield Park, and 7714 on shed with 72 ‘Fenchurch’.
 
For this weekend only, 80151 is running as 80100.
 
Full details of all the weekend’s activities are here.
 
The weekend’s timetables are available to download here:
        Friday 10 May,
        Saturday 11 May, and
        Sunday 12 May.
 
A special gala weekend booklet is available. Complete with loco listings, map, future events and a gala timetable insert when you purchase one, they will be available for £2 at all our stations throughout the event.


8 May

Nos. 7714 and 1369 have both arrived - Bluebell official photo - 8 May 2024

  •   The two visiting Pannier tanks, Nos. 7714 (from the Severn Valley Railway) and 1369 (from the South Devon Railway) have both arrived, and are seen here at Sheffield Park today, ahead of our Branch Line Gala Weekend which starts on Friday. This means all four of the GWR locomotives are now ready to work alongside three locomotives from our home fleet, to provide a great weekend of steam, with 5 coaching sets in operation, including Victorian, Edwardian, and Southern Railway carriages. There will be lots going on at Horsted Keynes in particular, where some trains will terminate or re-start, providing shuttles heading both North and South, a variety of stalls, guided tours of the Carriage Works, and (on the Sunday) Brake Van rides behind our new Class 73 locomotive [N.B. this information was incorrect since the 73 is under maintenance]. A goods train will also operate on the Saturday.
     
    Full information is available on the four visiting locomotives here.

     

  •   Warning – M25 planned closure this coming weekend
    Advance notice to anyone heading to our railway by car, and those who might be intending to use the M25 this weekend to visit our gala, please be aware of the planned closure between Junctions 9 & 10 in both directions between Friday 10 and Monday 13 May.
     
    For further information, please see the National Highways website.
     
  •   Dave Bowles’ photos from the Friday of the SVR Spring Gala, featuring ‘Fenchurch’ in particular.
     
  • Class 14 D9551 to attend the 2024 Bluebell Diesel Gala!

  •   Class 14 D9551 to attend the 2024 Bluebell Diesel Gala!
     
    Fast on the heels of our announcement of the Bluebell Diesel Gala in September and our first visiting locomotive, Class 20 D8188 from The Watercress Line, we are delighted to announce Class 14 D9551 as an exciting addition to our gala lineup!
     
    Our thanks must be extended to the SVR Class 14 Company Ltd and The Severn Valley Railway for allowing this locomotive to participate in our gala.
     
    We will let you know of any more visitors and gala news when we can. Keep an eye out on our social media channels and the event’s web page to find out more!



4 May Branch Line Gala Weekend - 10-12 May!

  •   Branch Line Gala Weekend – 10-12 May!
     
    We are extremely excited to bring you our Branch Line Gala Weekend next week, we can’t believe it’s only a week away!
     
    Join us to see visiting locomotives 7714, 1369 and 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ operate an intensive timetable throughout the 3-day event alongside our home fleet of locomotives.
     
    Book now and save money with your gala ticket today!



2 May Wightwick Hall amid the Bluebells - Rob Howard - 21 April 2024

  •   Wightwick Hall departs from Sheffield Park; the lineside Bluebells are superb this year! Photo thanks to Rob Howard, who made good use of his Lineside Photo Permit on 21 April.
     
  •   For the best view of the linside Bluebells, why not travel in our unique LNWR observation coach, No. 1503, which is attached to our normal service trains on 3 – 6 May (subject to availability).
     
    No pre-booking is required, come along and upgrade your ticket at the ticket office when you arrive at the railway!
     
    The Observation Car is on the 10:45 and 2:15 departures from Sheffield Park on 3 May, and on the 10:30, 1:00 and 3:30 services on 4, 5 & 6 May.



D8188 announced as first visitor for our 6-8 September 2024 Diesel Gala
Our Diesel Gala returns this year, and will take place 6-8 September.
 
Class 20 No. D8188 is our first visiting locomotive announced for the gala! Our thanks to Somerset & Dorset Locomotive Ltd and The Watercress Line for allowing this loco to take part in our event.
 
Look out for further details and other guest announcements in due course!


1 May Erlstoke Manor arrives at the Bluebelll - 1 May 2024
 
We are pleased to report, as per the photo here, that 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ has arrived at the Bluebell Railway today as one of four GWR locomotives which will be running at our forthcoming Branch Line Gala Weekend, taking place on Friday 10 to Sunday 12 May.
 
See timetables, discounted advance bookings, and full details here.
 
This visit is being made thanks to the Erlstoke Manor Fund and the Severn Valley Railway.
 
Join us for a Special Pie & Mash Service on 10 May, featuring guest locomotive 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’.
Book now to travel behind this fantastic locomotive on this special evening service.


30 April Family events in May 2024
 

  •   Family Fun Activities coming up in May:
     
    Looking ahead to the next few weeks, we have some fantastic family activities to come at our railway throughout May.

    From Stormtroopers Day (“May the 4th”), A Magician on our trains (6 May), Circus Skills and Sparkle Day, there’s plenty to look forward to for all the family to enjoy!
     
    Find out more details of all these events and our Kids for a Quid offer, here. And don’t forget Trainmaster day (see below) on 5 May.
    Please note: Kingscote station has no parking facilities and access is via rail travel only.
     

  •   Photos and videos from his visit on 13 April from
    James Green.
     
  •   Trains Running this week:
    Here’s a list of our services running this week at the railway:
          Timetable A (Wednesday to Friday)
                10:45 & 2:15 Departures from Sheffield Park
                11:45 & 3:15 Departures from East Grinstead.
          Timetable C (Saturday to Monday)
                10:30, 11:45, 1:00, 2:15 & 3:30 Departures from Sheffield Park
                11:30, 12:45, 2:00, 3:15 & 4:30 Departures from EastGrinstead.
    Book advance travel tickets and save money.


GWR Toad brake van 17908 - Nigel Longdon - 27 August 2022


1913-built GWR “Toad” brake van No. 17908
This vehicle is being advertised FOR SALE.
Deemed too “off region” for the collection and offered for disposal into further preservation only. The brake van will not be scrapped.
See more information about the vehicle and its history, here.
 
To register an interest in its purchase, which will probably be by tender due to the significant interest already generated, please contact Richard Salmon.
Photo by Nigel Longdon, August 2022


29 April Book now for our Trainmaster day on Sunday 5 May 2024

 
Next Sunday the Bluebell Railway welcomes back Trainmaster Sussex to bring the train fun indoors!
 
Ride and play with an array of train sets at Sheffield Park Station in the Birch Grove Suite. Selection of cakes and bakes, hot and cold drinks will be available at the bar.
 
Please note the Birch Grove Suite is located upstairs, above the platform’s Bessemer Arms Restaurant.
 
Running Times: 10:30am – 11:45am | 12:30pm – 1:45pm | 2pm – 3:15pm.
 
Price: £8.50 per person
 
Find out more here, and book your tickets!



27 April Camelot's crew - John Sandys - 26 April 2024

80151's crew - John Sandys - 26 April 2024



26 April 928 'Stowe' approaches Horsted Keynes in April 1990 - Richard Salmon

  •   Flashback to 34 years ago: Southern Railway Schools-class locomotive 928 ‘Stowe’ approaches Horsted Keynes in April 1990 (photo by Richard Salmon). This locomotive, one of the gems of Bluebell’s fleet, which sadly has not run since its boiler certificate expired later that year, is currently under overhaul. It is now owned by the Maunsell Locomotive Society, and whilst most of the mechanical work has been completed at Sheffield Park, the boiler-work is being undertaken by contractors off-site, and the cylinders are currently being re-bored at Quainton Road.
     
  •   We have steam trains running to Timetable A today, to Timetable C on Saturday and to Timetable D on Sunday.
     
  •   We have our Toy and Rail Collectors’ Fair at Horsted Keynes Station, from 10am to 4pm on Sunday 28 April.
     
    Admission to this event is free with any Bluebell Railway travel ticket valid for the day. Alternatively, you can buy a Horsted Keynes Station admission ticket for £5.00 per person on the day for admission to the fair only. Don’t miss out on this exciting event!
     
    You can find out more here.
     
  •   On Saturday 27 April we have a Falconry event at Horsted Keynes, showcasing a variety of species and sizes of falcons. After an enlightening talk, you’ll even get the opportunity to hold these magnificent creatures on a special glove, guided by our knowledgeable falconers. Sessions are at 11am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm and 3pm – each session will last 30 minutes.
     
  •   Our Kids for a Quid special offer applies to travel on both days this weekend.
     
  •   Wednesday saw the official launch of Pullman Parlour Brake Car No. 54, with its specially adapted wheelchair lift and space. Team GB Paralympian Fabienne André cut the ribbon and proceeded to board via the lift, as did two further guests from the MS Society. Also present were local dignataries and other guests. (Photos below from Colin Tyson and Richard Salmon).


Fabienne André with Golden Arrow Staff - Colin Tyson - 24 April 2024 Fabienne André cuts the ribbon - Colin Tyson - 24 April 2024

Fabienne André boards Car 54 - Colin Tyson - 24 April 2024 Car 54 passes Horsted Keynes - Richard Salmon - 24 April 2024


21 April 'Fenchurch' approaching Hampton Loade - Kevin McElhone - 19 April 2024

  •   Kevin McElhone’s photo from Friday shows ‘Fenchurch’ at the SVR Gala approaching Hampton Loade.
     
  •   Photos and videos from John Sandys’ short visit to the Bluebell today which includes the Hall and ‘Camelot’ on the service trains, the 09 on footplate experience duties, and the SE&CR O1 on the Golden Arrow Pullman Luncheon Train.
     
  •   Two further photos, below, taken by David Cable on Friday at the SVR Spring Gala feature ‘Fenchurch’, which is seen on Eardington Bank and at Crossing Cottage.


'Fenchurch' on Eardington Bank - David Cable - 19 April 2024 'Fenchurch' at Crossing Cottage - David Cable - 19 April 2024

Road Meets Rail photo montage

 
 
Road Meets Rail 2024 – four weeks to go!
 
We are fast approaching our Road Meets Rail event at Horsted Keynes on the weekend of the 18-19 May.
 
One of the highlights of the Bluebell Railway’s year, and an event that’s got lots of different attractions compared to a straight-forward gala, it’s something that you won’t want to miss as the station is transformed into a vibrant and colourful hub of steam, both on and off the rails, throughout the weekend.
 
Make sure you join us and grab your advance tickets for this exciting event today.


19 April Lineside bluebells - John Sandys - 19 April 2024

  •   John Sandys’ photo on the left shows the fantastic display of bluebells in the lineside woods, as part of his gallery of photos and videos from today. His photo below shows 73082 ‘Camelot’ during its run-round at East Grinstead today.
     
  •   News Update The Bulleid Society have put another update on their News Page with new photos from John Fry showing the painting of 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’.
     
  •   Layouts & Exhibits announced for our 2024 Model Railway Weekend!
    We have refreshed our popular Model Railway weekend for our 2024 event, taking place over the 29-30 June.
     
    Tickets and a special timetable will be available very soon!
     
    See the list of layouts and exhibitors here.


Camelot at East Grinstead - John Sandys - 19 April 2024 Layouts & Exhibits announced for Model Railway Weekend


16 April 'Fenchurch' on the low loader at Sheffield Park, ready for its trip to the Severn Valley Railway - Bluebell Official - 15 April 2024

  •   Our 1872-built Stroudley Terrier ‘Fenchurch’ is seen here on the low loader at Sheffield Park yesterday, ready for its trip to the Severn Valley Railway to take part and star in their Spring Steam Gala weekend.
     
  •   We have steam trains running to Timetable A this week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and Timetable C on Saturday and Sunday.
     
  •   Get ready to immerse yourself in the world of toys and model railways at The Toy and Rail Collectors’ Fair, on Sunday 28 April at Horsted Keynes Station, from 10am to 4pm.
     
    Admission to this event is free with any Bluebell Railway travel ticket valid for the day. Alternatively, you can buy a Horsted Keynes Station admission ticket for £5.00 per person on the day for admission to the fair only. Don’t miss out on this exciting event!
     
    You can find out more here.
     

  • Bulleid Society update - Sir Archie in the paintshop - John Fry - 7 April 2024

  •   News Update The Bulleid Society have updated their News Page with a selection of pictures, taken by John Fry, showing the progress in the painting of 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’, with the work being done under contract by Ralph Timmins, at Horsted Keynes, as also seen here (in undercoat).
     
  •   Murder Mystery Evenings At The Bluebell RailwayBook Now!
     
    Witness the murder, then steam through the Sussex countryside while enjoying a 3-course meal and solving the heinous crime!
     
    Embark on an unforgettable journey where mystery and fine dining intertwine, presenting you with an experience like no other – a murder mystery dinner aboard a steam train, thanks to The Company Upfront team & The Bluebell Railway!
     
    Dates are now available for our “Murder, Rattle & Roll” evenings in April through to July. Find out more, or book now!
     
  •   On Sunday 21 April you are invited to Sheffield Park Station, where we have organized a special free exhibition of Jaguar cars! This is an opportunity to make your railway visit truly unforgettable, as you’ll have the chance to admire a stunning collection of Jaguars as part of your visit.


Spring dates for Murder Mystery evenings, 2024 Jaguar Day is on 21 April 2024


13 April April 2024 edition of Bluebell Times

  •   News Update The April 2024 edition of Bluebell Times features:
        – Update from BRPS Acting Chairman, Roy Watts
        – Society AGM (15 June 2024) – nominations
        – Long Service Awards 2024
        – HRA Privilege Cards
        – Q Class 541 Overhaul Update
        – Progress on SR Coach Group Projects
        – Car No. 54 Enters Traffic
        – Goods Division – Before and After
        – Fordson E83W Van
        – Thought of Becoming a Passenger Guard?
        – Maunsell U-class Moves
        – Horsted Keynes Carriage Shop Reopens!
        – More Photos From The Museum Website
        – On This Day, 12 April
        – Volunteer Vacancies



Observation Car specials - 2024
 
The Bluebells are out – and what better way to view them than from our LNWR Observation Saloon.
 
Attached to our normal service trains on selected days (subject to availability) come for a ride on our railway and catch the bluebells along the lineside in bloom from our unique LNWR observation coach, No. 1503.
 
No pre-booking is required, come along and upgrade your ticket at the ticket office when you arrive at the railway!
 
You can book your advance travel tickets, at a discount, here.


 


'Wightwick Hall' with our Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train - David Lilley - 13 April 2024

80151 at Sheffield Park - Neil Armstrong - 5 April 2024
 


'Camelot' hauling a service train - Neil Armstrong - 5 April 2024 65 with the Wealden Rambler afternoon Tea train - Neil Armstrong - 5 April 2024

S15 No. 847 with 'Fingall' and 'Bertha' approach Horsted Keynes - Richard Salmon - July 1993
 
The photo here, taken by Richard Salmon in July 1993, shows our S15 No. 847 approaching Horsted Keynes station with a train headed by Pullman Cars ‘Fingall’ and ‘Bertha’. The latter Pullman is no longer at the Bluebell Railway. The photo has also been added to Bertha’s web page.


4 April 80151 arriving at Horsted Keynes - John Sandys - 4 April 2024

  •   Photos and videos from today from John Sandys, including the photo on the right showing 80151 arriving at Horsted Keynes with the current vintage (B) carriage set, led by the three LC&DR carriages. The C&W Department’s sentinel shunter is also seen working in the down sidings.
     
  •   Alice In Wonderland – This Weekend!
    Join us on 6-7 April for a delightful and whimsical experience at the Bluebell Railway’s Alice in Wonderland event.
     
    From meeting and greeting Alice & The Mad Hatter (on SET A at intervals on this train between 10:30am Departure From Sheffield Park to 2:50 pm arrival back at Sheffield Park) and meeting the Bluebell Bunny and Tower Princess at Kingscote station (between 11 am and 3:10 pm at intervals at the station) there is something for everyone to enjoy. Marvel and enjoy these beloved characters and witness the magic come to life before your very eyes.
     
    Our dedicated staff and volunteers will ensure a seamless experience, providing unrivalled service and an atmosphere reminiscent of Wonderland itself. Don’t miss out on this extraordinary event; which is FREE when you book your travel tickets, and our Kids For A Quid travel offer is also available where children can travel for just £1 with any fare paying adult! (Up to Four Children per group on this offer.) Come along and lose yourself in the magical world of Alice in Wonderland at the Bluebell Railway.
     
    Alice is not taking over the whole railway, so if you just want to come for an ordinary steam train ride, our trains are operating as normal to Timetable C.
     
  •   The Bluebell Railway Goods Division provides the “before and after” comparison below. The 1937-built LMS 3-plank wagon No. 474558, the Bluebell’s very first ordinary goods vehicle which arrived in May 1965, came into the works last year for what was expected to be a quick intermediate overhaul. However, once the floor was removed, it was discovered that there was significant corrosion on the underframe, which in addition to other repairs has involved the complete replacement of one headstock and the welding on of a new top flange on one sole-bar. The top-planks all round have been replaced, and all the metalwork stripped back and treated to reduce future corrosion. The “after” photo shows it today, and the “before” (by Matt Lander) on 8 May 2023.


474558 before its overhaul started - Matt Lander - 8 May 2023 474558 after its overhaul - Bluebell Railway Goods Division - 4 April 2024


1 April 80151 with the 1.20pm departure from Horsted Keynes - Richard Salmon - 1 April 2024

  •   80151 sets off from Horsted Keynes with the 1.20pm departure today (Richard Salmon).
     
  •   Through the School Holidays…
    A reminder that, daily until 14 April, we are running steam trains to our peak Timetable C, and you can also take advantage of our popular Kids For A Quid Travel Offer.
     
  •   Today’s April Fool joke had an element of truth to it… the first news release, this morning, announced that BR standard tank No. 80100 is to run at the 2024 Bluebell Branch Line Gala. Then this afternoon the way this was to happen was revealed. As normal, click on the images to see them at full size.
     
    You can find more details of our 10-12 May Branch Line Gala Weekend, which features four GWR locomotives alongside 80100/80151, 65, and 72 ‘Fenchurch’ here.


80100 to run at Branch Line Weekend - morning - 1 April 2024 80100 to run at Branch Line Weekend - afternoon - 1 April 2024


31 March 60007 at Barrow Hill, 4 April 2009 - Hugh Llewelyn (Licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0

  •   The Bluebell Railway is pleased to announce that 60007 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ is to star at Giants of Steam 2024 – More details of the event will be released as they are available. This locomotive will be visiting us for the first time for our Giants of Steam Gala (11-13 October), and will also operate on special Bluebell Railway Golden Arrow Pullman dining services the following weekend (19 & 20 October).
     
    This will by the first visit by ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ to the Bluebell, although we have previously hosted ‘Union Of South Africa’ in 2018 and ‘Bittern’ in 2015.
     
    This photo, by Hugh Llewelyn was taken at Barrow Hill, 4 April 2009 (Licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0).


The Museum's new exhibition being examined by some of the women who work or volunteer on the Bluebell - Clive Emsley - 30 March 2024
 
The Bluebell Railway Museum at Sheffield Park Station unveiled a new exhibition yesterday on the often-neglected subject of the role of “Railway Women”. The display describes how at every stage of railway development the role of women has been vital.
The exhibition will be available on display in the Museum, on the Museum Website, and on the interactive digital display in the Museum.
The exhibition was opened by Stephanie Inglesfield, the Town Mayor of Haywards Heath. (Photo thanks to Clive Emsley)


30 March MG Car Club at Horsted Keynes - Richard Salmon - 30 March 2024

  •   Today the MG Car Club were blessed with decent weather for their display at Horsted Keynes. Some of the cars on display are seen here (Richard Salmon).
     
  •   Below are two photos taken today by Nick Gilliam. First, ‘Wightwick Hall’ is seen with the 3.40 service from Sheffield Park, passing Holywell. Secondly, ‘Camelot’ climbs Freshfield Bank with the 1.45 ‘Wealden-Rambler’ Afternoon Tea train. This was one of the locomotive’s first public services since some extensive maintenance work (including a valve and piston exam) over the winter.


'Wightwick Hall' passing Holywell - Nick Gilliam - 30 March 2024 'Camelot' climbs Freshfield Bank with the 'Wealden-Rambler' Afternoon Tea train - Nick Gilliam - 30 March 2024


29 March 65 at Corfe Castle, Swanage Railway - Roger Carpenter - 24 March 2024

  •   Our SE&CR O1 No. 65’s visit to Swanage was very well received, and it performed well throughout their Victorian Weekend. Here we see 65 heading north out of Corfe Castle on the Sunday, after one of their sets of Mk.1 coaches had failed with a hot box and been replaced by the unusual sight of a DMU being used as hauled stock. (Photo thanks to Roger Carpenter)
     
  •   A short video of our SECR O1 No.65 in action on the Swanage Railway during the Swanage Railway’s ‘Victorian Weekend’ Gala last weekend. Many thanks to Green Aspect Videos for the footage and Andrew P.M Wright for the photographs used.
     
  •   Daily through the School Holidays until 14 April we are running steam trains to Timetable C, and you can also take advantage of our popular Kids For A Quid Travel Offer.
     
    This Easter weekend we expect to have locomotives 80151, 73082 ‘Camelot’ and 6989 ‘Wightwick Hall’ hauling our trains. We also have two free events for our visitors:
    On Saturday we have the MG Car Club display at Horsted Keynes.
    Right through Easter weekend, including Monday we also have the Mobile Farm at Kingscote Station with animals from South Brockwells Farm, providing a hands-on educational and tactile experience for children and adults of all ages, with an exciting array of animals for you to see and pet (for a small donation).
     
  •   John Sandys’ gallery from a visit to Horsted Keynes this lunchtime.
     
  •   Update to the web page for “Terrier” No. 55 ‘Stepney’ adding much more detail of the locomotive’s operational history before preservation.
     
  •   Update to the web page for BR Mk.1 Corridor Second No.25769, which left the railway on the low loader used for shunting the Atlantic out of, and 488 and 96 into, Atlantic House.
     
  •   On Monday Jon Bowers organised a photo charter with our two LB&SCR Terriers, 72 ‘Fenchurch’ (in steam), and 55 ‘Stepney’, which was brought out of the Locomotive Shed for the day and posed statically. Below are two photos thanks to Nick Gilliam.


72 Fenchurch with a goods train at the photo charter - Nick Gilliam - 25 March 2024 72 Fenchurch and 55 Stepney at Sheffield Park station during the photo charter - Nick Gilliam - 25 March 2024


24 March 65 visiting Swanage - Matt Wickham - 22 March 2024

  •   Matt Wickham’s photo from Friday shows our SECR O1-class No. 65 during its visit to the Swanage Railway, double heading with the LSWR T3 at Swanage’s Victorian Weekend. Matt also has this video compilation from Friday.
     
  •   Neil Munro-Thomson provides this photo below of today’s Golden Arrow Pullman Luncheon train, hauled by 80151, and featuring newly overhauled Pullman Car No. 54 on its first weekend of operation. Our Pullman dining trains are now open for booking right through to August.
     
    His gallery of photos also shows the 09 shunter on a Diesel Footplate Taster at Horsted Keynes, ‘Camelot’ on the vintage set, ‘Wightwick Hall’ with the Mk.1 set and the updated and much improved Carriage Shop now open.
     
  •   Brian Lacey’s photo below shows 73082 ‘Camelot’ hauling the vintage set at West Hoathly today.


80151 with Car 54 and the rest of the Pullman Train at Horsted Keynes - Neil Munro-Thomson - 24 March 2024 'Camelot' hauling the vintage set at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 24 March 2024


22 March 80151 at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 21 March 2024


Diesel Footplate Tasters MG Car Club Meets


21 March 80151 after its repaint - James Cummins (Bluebell Official) - 27 February 2024

  •   After the winter’s track renewal, we return to steam this weekend in style, with three locomotives (expected to be 80151, 73082 ‘Camelot’ and 6989 ‘Wightwick Hall’) hauling our trains, to Timetable C. In addition, children can meet Bluey & Bingo over the weekend at Sheffield Park – and you can also take advantage of our popular Kids For A Quid Travel Offer.
     
  •   Here we see 80151 freshly painted (by Heritage Painting) after its “purple patch”. It’s also had a valve and piston overhaul over the winter, nearly completed as seen here in James Cummins’ photo from 27 February.
     
  •   The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes opens on Saturday having completed its move out of the old ex-Travelling College Mk.1 coach (which was in Platform 1) into the refitted GBL (Southern Railway luggage van) in the Dock next to Platform 5, where it now shares space with Matthew Cousins Rail Artists exhibition and sales.
     
  •   Our SECR O1-class No. 65 arrived at the Swanage Railway yesterday for their forthcoming ‘Victorian Weekend’, which starts tomorrow. (Video from TheSoutherner)
     
  •   Below we see the “Dukedog” as it sets off for a two year loan to be displayed in the new VoR museum at Aberyswyth on 26 February (James Cummins) and 178 loaded ready to go to Margate on 20 February (Phil Laycock)

Dukedog sets off from Sheffield Park - James Cummins - 26 February 2024 178 loaded ready to go to Margate - Phil Laycock - 20 February 2024

7812 'Erlstoke Manor' at the Severn Valley Railway's Winter Gala - Richard Salmon - 7 January 2024
 

  •   The three visiting GWR Locomotives have been announced for our Branch Line Gala Weekend – 10-12 May: No. 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ and two different varieties of Pannier tanks: 1369 from the South Devon Railway and 7714 from the Severn Valley, and with 6989 ‘Wightwick Hall’ running too, this will be something of a GWR first for us! 80151, 65 and 72 ‘Fenchurch’ will be in steam from the home fleet. Tickets are now on sale and the Timetables are now available.
     
    The photos of 7812 and 7714 were taken at the Severn Valley Railway’s Winter Gala on 7 January this year by Richard Salmon. The photo of 1369, taken at Buckfastleigh on 24 Septmeber 2021, is licensed from JHRailPhotography under CC by-sa 4.0.

7714 at the Severn Valley Railway's Winter Gala - Richard Salmon - 7 January 2024 1369 at Buckfastleigh on 24 Septmeber 2021 - JHRailPhotography, licensed under CC by-sa 4.0

 



14 March

  •   Fundraising milestone passed!
    We are very pleased to report that we have now raised £30,001.47 via the EasyFundraising portal for the Bluebell Railway Trust over the years we’ve been part of the scheme! [Correction, due to a change in the way EasyFundraising report the total raised, we actually passed this milestone a year ago, and the total we have received is now £31,248]

    easyfundraising Visit EasyFundraising (you need to sign up to support the Bluebell Railway).
    This is great way of supporting us at no cost to yourself. Through this portal you will find many on-line retailers, shops, hotels and other suppliers who will donate to us when you buy something through this link. Everything you buy from these retailers once you have registered to support us will benefit the Bluebell Railway.
    Our thanks to everyone who participates in the scheme.
     

  •   Statement on the BRPS Members’ Notices page from Roy Watts regarding the Chairmanship of the railway.
     
  •   News Update Two Press releasesthe first announcing that our GWR Dukedog locomotive has gone on loan for two years to be displayed in the new museum at Aberyswyth, created by the Vale of Rheidol Railway from the old locomotive shed where 9017 was based in the 1950s.
    The second announces that SE&CR P-class No. 178 has also left the Bluebell, bound for under-cover storage and (when it opens to the public) display at The One:One Collection, Margate. This follows the swap of its wheelsets and boiler with 323, and their subsequent repainting green to match the rest of the locomotive. 178, along with 2′ 6″ gauge Kerr Stuart ‘Brazil’ class locomotive ‘Leader’ from the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway (the two locomotives which worked together at Bowater’s paper mill at Sittingbourne in Kent) will form a display in the One:One Museum’s entrance.

    Both locomotives remain in Bluebell ownership, and will return in due course. Plans for the overhaul of the Dukedog remain a medium-term priority in view of the large amount of work done on it at its last overhaul and since, and its generally good condition and usefulness.



12 March March 2024 edition of Bluebell Times

News Update The March 2024 edition of Bluebell Times features:
    – ‘Beachy Head’ emerges for the first time
    – While ‘Normandy’ and the Adams Radial Tank take their respective places in Atlantic House
    – Latest progress on Q class No. 541
    – Pullman Car No. 54 undergoes running-in trials
    – A new museum exhibit devoted to railway women
    – The Carriage Shop is preparing to open in its new location


6 March
The momentous news and photos here are taken from the Bluebell’s Facebook release. The low loader was used for the manoeuvre since Atlantic House is at right angles to the tracks in the yard. The loco requires completion of painting and lining of the boiler, weighing, boiler test, commissioning, and running in, before a formal launch into service later this year.

You can find out more about the Atlantic Project here.

The Atlantic attached to its tender on Bluebell metals at Sheffield Park - Bluebell Railway Official - 6 March 2024

The Atlantic emerges from the building in which it was constructed at Sheffield Park - Bluebell Railway Official - 5 March 2024

 

‘Beachy Head’ Emerges!
A historic day for everyone at The Bluebell Railway. New build LB&SCR H2 Atlantic No. 32424 ‘Beachy Head’ was transported from its shed at Sheffield Park yesterday afternoon and was partnered with its tender for the very first time this morning.

This is an incredible achievement by the Atlantic House team and everyone involved with this fantastic project. The reality of seeing an LB&SCR Marsh Atlantic is very much reaching the final stages.

The locomotive has now been moved into the maintenance shed where the commissioning work will now commence to bring ‘Beachy Head’ into service.

Here are a couple of photos of both yesterday and today, showing ‘Beachy Head’ at Sheffield Park.

The Atlantic winched onto its low loader - Bluebell Railway Official - 5 March 2024 The Atlantic now tucked away in the maintenance shed - Bluebell Railway Official - 6 March 2024

Normandy is moved into Atlantic House at Sheffield Park - John Fry - 5 March 2024

 

News Update The Atlantic’s place was taken by our two LSWR Adams locomotives which are now to be overhauled there, Radial Tank No. 488 (itself an Atlantic 4-4-2T) and No. 96 ‘Normandy’. The Bulleid Society have updated their News Page with a series of pictures showing Normandy’s move into Atlantic House.


16 February SE&CR O1 No. 65 with Pullman Car 54 on an evening test run - David Chandler - 12 February 2024

  •   David Chandler’s photo shows SE&CR O1 No. 65 with Pullman Car 54 on an evening test run on Monday. Yesterday Car 54 entered the paintshop for a couple for days, to receive its final coat of varnish. This Pullman car will be running on our Golden Arrow Pullman dining trains from March. For the first time in many years this will enable every seat offered on these services to be in a 1920s Pullman carriage, and also for the first time, we can accommodate passengers requiring step-free or wheelchair access.
     
  •   John Sandys provides the first photo below, one of the photos he took yesterday, which include a nice selection of photos of Car 54 being shunted at Horsted Keynes. In addition he also has an album of photos taken on Monday.
     
  •   If you want a ride on the Bluebell in the near future, we are running this weekend and following track replacement work at the bottom of Freshfield Bank, we re-open on 23-24 March.
     
  •   On 23-24 March Bluey & Bingo will be at Sheffield Park.
     
  •   News UpdateThe second photo below, courtesy of Leaky Finders, shows boiler work in progress on SR Maunsell Q-class No. 541. We have an update to the web page for the overhaul of No. 541.


Stroudley Terrier 'Fenchurch' arrives at Horsted Keynes - John Sandys - 15 February 2024 Lower part of the backhead removed on Q-class 541 - Leaky Finders - December 2023


12 February No. 72 with its lunchtime departure from Horsted Keynes - Richard Salmon - 11 February 2024

  •   Nick Gilliam’s photo shows No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ leaving Kingscote with the 12.45 service from East Grinstead on Saturday.
     
  •   Reminder that we are running steam trains every day this week ( until Sunday 18 February), for half term, to this timetable. The locomotives being used are LB&SCR Terrier No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ and SE&CR O1-class No. 65.
     
  •   We have our Kids for a Quid Travel Offer every day this Half Term.

    We also have Ice Skating on offer at Sheffield Park station, as an additional attraction.
     

  •   On Friday 16 February we have There’s A Tiger On The Train – meet the Author.



11 February No. 72 with its lunchtime departure from Horsted Keynes - Richard Salmon - 11 February 2024

  •   No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ with its lunchtime departure from Horsted Keynes today, hauling a vintage train consisting of the Observation Car, SE&CR 100-seater and a pair of LC&DR carriages.
     
  •   Below we see the first arrival of the day at Horsted Keynes, hauled by the SE&CR O1-class No. 65.
     
  •   In the Paint Shop at Horsted Keynes, our Battle of Britain Light Pacific No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ is being painted by Ralph Timmins. Today several members of the Loco Department/Bulleid Society were working on it, helping to clean it.

SE&CR 65 arrives at Horsted Keynes - Richard Salmon - 11 February 2024 Bulleid Pacific 34059 in the paintshop - Richard Salmon- 11 February

  •   The final two photos show BR Standard Class 5 No, 73082 ‘Camelot’ as one of its driving wheelsets is raised back into position on our wheeldrop on Thursday, as its winter maintenance turns to the re-assembly phase. We also see a photo from today of the Alf Brown Group’s van 153, now in the care of the Thumper gang, with its new doors and rainstrips fitted. The nearest planks in undercoat are mostly new. Those at the end which are also going to be replaced are marked with chalk crosses.

Camelot's wheelset being lifted back into place - Andy Kelly - 8 February 2024 SR 419 with new planks - Richard Salmon- 24 January 2024


10 February Nos 72 and 65 together at Sheffield Park - John Sandys - 10 February 2024

  •   John Sandys was on hand to record the first day of train running this half-term, and provides this photo/video gallery from today, and the accompanying photo showing Nos. 72 and 65 together at Sheffield Park this morning.
     
  •   I have added some photos to illustrate yesterday’s “catch-up” blog post, below.


9 February 2024

  •   Following completion of the first half of our winter maintenance (see reports in February’s Bluebell Times) we are running steam trains every day this week (10-18 Feb), for half term, to this timetable. The locomotives intended to be used are LB&SCR Terrier No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ and SE&CR O1-class No. 65.

    We have our Kids for a Quid Travel Offer every day.

    We also have Ice Skating on offer at Sheffield Park station, as an additional attraction.

    On Friday 16 February we also have There’s A Tiger On The Train – meet the Author.
     

  • February 2024 edition of Bluebell Times

  •   News Update The February 2024 edition of Bluebell Times features:
        – “When Gordon met Gordon” – our 4-VEP goes to London Waterloo
        – Mammoth winter works at Sheffield Park to relay track, repair the platforms and fit new footbridge steps
        – The Maunsell Restaurant Car enters the Carriage & Wagon workshop
        – Workshop updates on Sir Archibald Sinclair, Beachy Head and a brace of Southern Railway vans
        – The Carriage Shop is poised to return – and provides another £2,000 towards two restoration projects


     
  • January 2024 edition of Bluebell Times

  •   News Update The January 2024 edition of Bluebell Times features:
        – Bluebell Goods Division reaches five years of wagon restoration
        – Ben Gray celebrates his 21st birthday – by becoming the Bluebell’s youngest ever driver
        – Major track relaying project starts at Sheffield Park
        – Restoration updates on Q class No. 541, 9F 92240 – and Stroudley Brake 3rd No. 949 nears completion
        – Positive feedback for the Education team from school visitors
        – Remembering Jock McKay – a mentor to a generation of enginemen


     
  •   Apologies for the hiatus in updating this page – below is a “dump” of outstanding updates:
     
  •   Video by FrontLineSteam of Bluebell trains on 28 December, and from Martin Lawrence, showing a little of our mini-Gala on 1 January.
     
  •   Keith Duke’s photos from 1 January
     
  •   A video of 2023 steam in the South of England including a lot of Bluebell action, from Chatter Hatter.
     
  •   News UpdateChairman’s Year-end Update 2023 (published 3 January 2024) and the January Update (published 31 January), are now available.
     
  •   News Update Update to news from the Atlantic Group who have nearly finished their recreation of No. 32424 ‘Beachy Head’.

    The photos below, from Fred Bailey, illustrate a small part of the report, and show the new steam pipes being heated to relieve stresses, and the blower ring mounted on blast pipe.

Steam pipe being heated - Fred Bailey - 23 February 2023 Blower ring mounted on blast pipe - Fred Bailey - 7 September 2023

Bunker construction in progress - January 2024

  •   News Update Update and latest newsletter from the BR Standard Class 2 tank 84030 Project.

    This photo shows the righthand side of the bunker now in position and ready for welding, and then the drilling and riveting of the angle iron strengthening bars.
     

  •   News Update The 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society have been posting updates on the winter maintenance currently under way on ‘Camelot’ via their Facebook page – you don’t have to be signed up to Facebook to read the reports. You can similarly follow work on Class 73 E6030 ‘The Bluebell Railway’, and on Oxted DEMU 1305 (and SECR PLV 153).
     
  •   News Update The SR Coach Group have been posting updates on their Facebook page, and you can also follow progress by the Bluebell Railway Goods Division on theirs.
     
  •   The photos below show progress with selective re-planking and a roof recanvas on SE&CR Passenger Luggage Van 153, undertaken by the Oxted Thumper gang, and on SR Van C 419, which has been substantially re-planked, and also received a new roof covering over the last 4 months, by the SR coach Group, funded by the Carriage Shop.


SE&CR 153 with new planks - Oxted Thumper Gang - 28 January 2024 SR 419 with new planks - Richard Salmon- 24 January 2024

  •   Bluebell video compilation from David Wadley, covering a variety of periods, including some great footage from 1990 at the end.
     
  • Bluebell's VEP at Waterloo - Richard Salmon - 27 January 2024

  •   This great video from Tim Dunn explains all about the events on Saturday 27 January, when Bluebell-owned 4VEP unit 3417 (in the care of SETG) was hauled into Waterloo station for a private event in honour of BRPS President Gordon Pettitt (after whom the VEP unit is named). Getting the VEP into a fit state to be certified to run into London, and be exhibited, is a major achievement by the SETG team.
    The page outlining the work required to get the VEP onto the main line. has been updated – and outlines how there’s still a lot to do!
    Their fundraising is going well, please contribute to the appeal to get it back on the main line.
    Donations may also be made online via the Bluebell Railway Trust, if you wish to add Gift Aid; choose “Other Funds” from the drop-down menu and put “VEP” in the message box.
     
  •   Update to the web page for D6570 (33052) ‘Ashford’ adding a photo by Tom Bowes showing that it was very much a local locomotive, at Dormans during electrification work on the East Grinstead line in June 1987.
     
  •   Two photos of 09018 (D4106), which Alan Michael Gay took in the Summer of 1987, have been added to the 09’s web page.
     
  •   Following loan to the Mid Hants Railway (Watercress Line) in 2022, Mk.I BSK 35207 was then at the Epping Ongar Railway for the 2023 season. This coach is not owned by the Bluebell, but has now returned to us for use this coming year on the Wealden Rambler set.


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