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The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

2 June O1 with milk tanker and Bulleid carriages - David Cable - 20 May 2023

  •   Three of David Cable’s photos from Road meets Rail – on the right the SECR O1 with milk tanker and Bulleid carriages on Saturday 20 May, and below, taken on Sunday 21 May, ‘Fenchurch’ with its goods train, and ‘Camelot’ approaching Horsted Keynes.
  •   News Update Starting with an apology for no Chairman’s Update having been published last week, today’s update covers this last week, and can be downloaded here (pdf).
  •   The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes station is open this weekend.
          Saturday 3rd June 10am to 4pm
          Sunday 4th June 9.30am to 3.30pm

Fenchurch with its goods train at Horsted Keynes - David Cable - 21 May 2023 Camelot approaches Horsted Keynes - David Cable - 21 May 2023

1 June Sir Archibald Sinclair's boiler test - Andy Kelly - 31 May 2023

  •   News Update The Bulleid Society report: Wednesday 31 May was a great day at the Bluebell Railway, with 34059’s boiler reaching 250psi for the first time since 2012. Having passed its hydraulic test a few days ago, it was good to get the pass from our boiler inspector for the out-of-frames steam test.
    The boiler will now be painted with aluminium heat resistant paint and then mounted on the chassis with the work then centred on the pipe work and other fitting out to complete the project. Photos thanks to Andy Kelly. See more photos and a full report on the Bulleid Society’s web site.
  •   Rapido’s OO-scale models of the SECR 6-wheel goods brake vans have been delivered, and are in stock in the Bluebell Railway Goods Division’s online shop – where a few remain available (at a good price – and even better if you’re able to arrange to collect them from Horsted Keynes – they have a stand at the Members’ Day on Saturday).
  •   News Update The SR Coach Group has been formed to promote the restoration and maintenance of the railway’s unique collection of Maunsell and Bulleid designed coaches. Follow this Facebook page for regular updates on our work (all updates are visible even if you are not a facebook user).
    Current projects include Maunsell ‘Hastings’ BTK 3687 (nearly finished) and the sole surviving SR restaurant car, 7684 (just getting started). The Bulleid team will be starting a new project soon, once shed space is available. We are also progressing a heavy overhaul of BCK 6575, one of the railway’s first two carriages, when time permits.
  •   Photos and videos from John Sandys’ visit on Sunday, and again today when ‘Wightwick Hall’ and 80151 were hauling the service trains, and No. 65 was hauling the Pullmans for a wedding.
  •   Peter Edwards’ photo below shows ‘Wightwick Hall’ approaching New Road Bridge with the 10.30am train from Sheffield Park on Monday 29 May.

Bluebell Railway SR Coach Group 'Wightwick Hall' approaching New Road Bridge - Peter Edwards - 29 May 2023

Members' Day and AGM - 3 June 2023

  •   BRPS Members are reminded that this Saturday sees our combined Members’ and AGM day.

    If members require additional copies of all the AGM paperwork this is available to download at the entry for 20 May.

    As described earlier, the many groups across the Railway are “opening their doors” from 10.00 am so please do support them in anyway you can.

    At 12.00 noon, Journalist and TV presenter Nicholas Owen will rededicate E6040, ‘The Bluebell Railway’ at Sheffield Park station.

    The Society AGM takes place in the Marquee at Horsted Keynes which will be followed by food and drink being available at the station.

    There will be 3 evening trains hauled by 72 ‘Fenchurch’ that will leave Sheffield Park at 5.30 and 6.45 returning at 6.25 and 7.35 (during the early part of the day Fenchurch will be shunting wagons at Horsted Keynes).
    A final late train will leave Sheffield Park at 8.00pm calling at Horsted Keynes arriving at East Grinstead at 8.50 and arriving back at Sheffield Park at 9.50. The train timetable for the day is here.

    Obviously car parking is available at Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes stations.

    It is a pity that many members may have had their plans thwarted by the national train strike but it is hoped members will none the less be able to attend. In addition if coming from the Haywards Heath direction by car, note that it is Lindfield Village Day, and the centre of the village will be closed for a parade around 12.15 to 1.15pm.

    Please do support your Railway.

    We look forward to seeing you and hope you have an enjoyable day.

          Roy Watts
          BRPS Vice President

    Please note that the daytime trains and events, guided tours and project stands are open to all visitors to the railway during the day, so non-members are also most welcome to join in the fun (except of course for the AGM!)

23 May Fenchurch with the goods - Keith Duke - 20 May 2023

  •   Keith Duke’s photo shows what were widely acclaimed as the star trains of the “Road meets Rail” weekend – the Goods services hauled by ‘Fenchurch’, seen here on Saturday morning. The train includes the hard-wood planked Bulleid Wagon, outshopped this year after a bottom-up restoration/reconstruction, the SR Engineers’ wagon, after its heavy intermediate overhaul, and two other wagons which have also been through the works for repaint/repairs, all at the hands of our “Goods Division”.
  •   See also Keith’s album from Saturday.
  •   News Update The recent Chairman’s Update is now available, as a pdf.
  •   The photos below are from the Sunday of Road meets Rail. The first, by Andy Ash, shows the goods train again, but now with an additional wagon, and with Jack Gregory’s Fordson tractor loaded into the LMS-design Medfit, the repair and repaint of which was completed just a week before, and which has only received letters and numbers on one side so far.
  •   The second photo, thanks to Nick Gilliam, shows ‘Camelot’ with one of the two service trains running on Sunday (forming the 10.30 ex-Sheffield Park) and seen at the former West Hoathly station site. This train includes the RMB (buffet car) which has just returned to service after 4 weeks in the carriage works during which time it received bodywork repairs, a partial re-paint/revarnish, and work on its boiler.

72 with the goods train on Sunday morning - Andy Ash - 21 May 2023 'Camelot' with the 10.30 ex-Sheffield Park at West Hoathly - Nick Gilliam - 21 May 2023

20 May

  •   The following notice appears on the BRPS Members’ Information page:
    Society AGM
    Horsted Keynes Station, Saturday 3rd June 2023 commencing at 2pm
    The BRPS AGM documents are in the post but are published here as a backup and for the benefit of members, especially those overseas. Please note the Accounts booklet only contains the Society accounts as the Plc and abridged Trust accounts for 2022 were not finalised at the date we went to press. This version of the Society accounts includes, for comparative purposes only, the 2021 numbers for the former unincorporated Society.
    Any member wishing to vote by proxy must do so by NOON on 31st May 2023. Scanned and signed proxy voting forms may be emailed to the address shown on the form and must include your membership number for validation purposes.
          Gavin Bennett
    The PDF Downloads are available from the BRPS Members’ Information page.

SECR 65 at Kingscote - David Cable - 10 May 2023

  •   David Cable’s photo shows the SECR O1-class No. 65 approaching Horsted Keynes on Wednesday 10 May 2023. This economical locomotive powers most of our mid-week trains at present, which are carrying a lot of coach party traffic.
  •   Reminder that this weekend is our Road meets Rail event – with lots to see and do at Horsted Keynes on both days.
  •   News Update Newsletter from the “Awake the Giant” project, including details of their 2023 Photographic Competition. This project is fundraising for the overhaul of our BR 9F-class heavy goods locomotive No. 92240.
  •   Gallery of photos by Dave Bowles from the 17 April photo charter with ‘Wightwick Hall’

15 May SECR 65 at Kingscote - David Cable - 14 May 2023

  •   David Cable’s photo from yesterday shows the SECR O1 No. 65 with the recently overhauled Bulleid Composite carriage departing from Kingscote.
  •   News Update The latest Chairman’s Update may now be downloaded or viewed as a pdf.
  •   John Sandys’ photos from Saturday and a trip on the GN saloon on Sunday.
  •   The “Blog@” email address hitherto used for submissions of photos and suggestions for these pages has been separated out into one for the Blog editor, and one for the PR team. Please do submit photos to both addresses – details here. These contributions are much appreciated by both the railway and those who read this page, so my personal and collective thanks also to all our contributors.
  •   Brian Dandridge’s photo below show ‘Wightwick Hall’ with the GN Saloon at the south end of one of the two service sets, and the Class 09 D4106 with the SR Queen Mary Brake on Diesel Footplate Taster Experience duties, both taken at Horsted Keynes on Saturday.

6989 and GN Saloon, setting off from Horsted Keynes - Brian Dandridge - 13 May 2023 D4106 with the SR Queen Mary Brake on Diesel Footplate Taster Experience - Brian Dandridge - 13 May 2023

  •   Below are a few of the engines you’ll see working around Horsted Keynes station at our Road meets Rail event this coming weekend, Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 May.
    Wood sawing, road building, thrashing… deliveries by steam wagon and pantechnicon… loads being lowered into wagons by steam crane… the sights of a bygone age being brought back to life at The Bluebell Railway!
    The Event Guide is also now available as a PDF download.
  •   Another of David Cable’s photos from yesterday shows 73082 ‘Camelot’ with the lunchtime Pullman dining service at Kingscote.

Road meets Rail - Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 May 2023 'Camelot' with the lunchtime Golden Arrow at Kingscote - David Cable - 14 May 2023

  •   News Update An update with the latest news on 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair’s overhaul is available on the Bulleid Society’s web site. The photos below, thanks to John Fry, show the original and new firebars, and rocking grate, along with the pattern from which the new firebars are cast.

New and old firebars for 34059 - John Fry - May 2023 Rocking Grate for 34059 - John Fry - May 2023

12 May May 2023 edition of Bluebell Times

  •   News Update The May 2023 edition of Bluebell Times features:
        – A successful start to the year for visitor numbers at events
        – … but more volunteer help is always needed if we are to continue that success
        – Make a day of it on 3 June: see behind the scenes at the Members’ Day – with the BRPS AGM in the afternoon and an evening hog roast
        – More support for the Goods Division and the Horsted Keynes station fund from the Carriage Shop
        – A child’s view of the work of our Education team
        – More progress on the Thumper
        – … and much more.
  •   This weekend, in addition to our busy service of steam (Timetable C), we also have something different: a Circus Skills workshops at Kingscote. Activities and skills include tight-wire walking, juggling, diabolo, poi, hula-hoop, flower stick, gymnastic ribbon, pedal-go, stilts walking and spinning plates. Lots to do and much fun for all the family! More details here.

9 May

Atlantic project on display - John Sandys - 21 April 2023 Atlantic smokebox innards - John Sandys - 21 April 2023

  •   Atlantic House will next be open to the public during the Bluebell on Parade weekend 10-11 June (but NOT on 9th June).
    These two days are also the Atlantic Supporters’ Weekend, with the Chairman’s Address and update at 2.30pm on Sunday 11 June followed by the Auction (with viewing earlier that weekend. Items for the auction can be left at Atlantic House on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or by arrangement. There are already some very interesting items donated for the Auction – which will be detailed here nearer the event.
    The current expectation (and so potentially subject to change) is that the locomotive will be moved out of Atlantic House and into the Loco Maintenance Shed and/or Works to complete painting and commissioning this Autumn, with entry into service sometime before the Autumn of 2024.
    The next project for the group will be announced in the next issue of “Atlantic News” which is sent by post to project supporters. It will not be a “new-build”.
  •   John Sandys’ photos above and below show the Atlantic on display at the recent Branch Line Gala.

Atlantic project on display - John Sandys - 21 April 2023 Atlantic cab - John Sandys - 21 April 2023

8 May Road meets Rail - Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 May 2023

  •   Road meets Rail – Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 May 2023
    Road and rail based steam.
    Goods trains in operation, with shunting demonstrations, and demonstrations of goods loading and unloading.

    Timetable – full Event Details and advance booking.
    A weekend of 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.
    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 the Saturday evening: live music, food and drink at Horsted Keynes. Everyone is welcome to this event so come along, wind down and enjoy the evening with us.

65 and Bulleid coaches at Sheffield Park - James Green - 8 May 2023

  •   James Green’s photo from this morning shows a member of the footplate crew preparing an appropriate SECR Headcode on O1-class No. 65. The train is formed of four of our Southern Railway/Bulleid-designed carriages.
  •   News Update Last week’s Chairman’s Update is now available to download as a pdf.
  •   Coronation Day was of course rather quieter than a normal Saturday, but the Railway still carried a good number of passengers. John Sandys provides some photos and videos.
  •   A great variety of photos from the Branch Line Gala from Christopher Ward, and also his video compilation.
  •   Some short videos taken at Horsted Keynes during the Branch Line Gala Weekend videos from Ron Fisher: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.
  •   Two more photos, below, from David Cable from the first day of the Branch Line Gala, 21 April, showing the SECR O1 at Three Arch Bridge, and the triple header in the morning, which brought the coaches for the evening’s photo charter up in addition to the Birdcage set.

SECR O1 at Three Arch Bridge - David Cable - 21 April 2023 The morning's triple header - David Cable - 21 April 2023

30 April 'Fenchurch' at Three Arch Bridge - David Cable - 21 April 2023

  •   Another of David Cable’s evocative photos from the Friday of the Branch Line Gala, with ‘Fenchurch’ heading South at Three Arch Bridge.
  •   John Sandys’ photos and videos from yesterday.
  •   The two photos below are from yesterday, thanks to Brian Lacey, showing the last two service trains of the day at West Hoathly station site, with BR Standard tank 80151 and the Bulleid coaches, and BR Standard 5 73082 ‘Camelot’ with the Mk.1 set.

80151 at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 29 April 2023 'Camelot' at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 29 April 2023

29 April 52322 approaches Horsted Keynes - Owen Hayward - 21 April 2023

  •   The visiting L&Y 52322 approaches Horsted Keynes during the Branch Line Gala last Friday (Owen Hayward).
  •   News Update The latest Chairman’s Update may now be downloaded or viewed as a pdf.

28 April 52322 on photo charter - David Cable - 21 April 2023

  •   David Cable’s photo is from the Friday evening photo charter, organised by Jon Bowers during the Branch Line Gala, with the visiting L&Y A-class locomotive, the Camelot Locomotive Society’s CCT, and two Carmine Lake & Cream Mk.1 carriages.
  •   Reminder that we have a Toy & Rail Collectors’ Fair on Sunday, and our intensive Timetable D will be in operation, with 14 steam-hauled services passing through Horsted Keynes Station, which hosts the collectors sales stalls during the course of the day. The event (of which we hold two each year) is always very popular, with lots of stalls at Horsted Keynes station.
  •   Videos now available by Terrier55Stepney and European Steam, covering lots of action from last weekend’s Gala.
  •   Not only is ‘Fenchurch’ away on holiday (to the Isle of Wight) in June, but so will O1-class No. 65! This SECR locomotive will be making its way to the Spa Valley Railway, taking part in their Summer Steam Gala on 17-18 June and their Victorian Steam Weekend on 24-25 June.
  •   The installation of solar panels on the roof above the Loco Works at Sheffield Park started yesterday. Weather permitting, the work should take about three weeks. This should start making an impact on our £1,000-a-day electricity bills.
  •   Some more photos below from the Branch Line Gala last weekend:

The two L&Y Locos together at Horsted Keynes - Owen Hayward - 23 April 2023



The two L&Y Locos together at Horsted Keynes on the Sunday (Owen Hayward)

Fenchurch passes the North London Tank - Owen Hayward - 22 April 2023



Fenchurch passes the freshly repainted North London Tank at Horsted Keynes on the Saturday (Owen Hayward). The 1880-built North London goods tank was repainted in just a week by our Goods Division volunteers, and lettered to match the visiting “Pug”.

L&Y A-class near Three Arch Bridge - David Cable - 21 April 2023



The visiting L&Y A-class locomotive with the pre-grouping non-corridor set near Three Arch Bridge on the Friday of the Gala (David Cable).

The Pug gives brake van rides - David Cable - 21 April 2023



The visiting L&Y “Pug” with brake Van rides using our Queen Mary brake on the Friday of the Gala (David Cable).

Photo charter, with the visiting L&Y A-class locomotive - David Cable - 21 April 2023



Another photo from last Friday’s evening photo charter, with the visiting L&Y A-class locomotive near Three Arch Bridge (David Cable).

The Pug and the 4MT - David Cable - 21 April 2023



The “Pug” sizes up to the 4MT tank 80151 at Horsted Keynes on the Friday of the Gala (David Cable).

SECR O1 - David Cable - 21 April 2023



The SECR O1-class No. 65 in the rain earlier on the Friday of the Gala (David Cable).

The Pug and the Terrier - David Cable - 21 April 2023



The “Pug” and the “Terrier” double heading at Three Arch Bridge (David Cable).

Hunslet 'Hastings' - David Cable - 21 April 2023



Hunslet ‘Hastings’ visiting from the Kent & East Sussex Railway on the Friday of the Gala (David Cable).

The pair of L&Y Locos setting off from Horsted Keynes - Philip Hunt - 22 April 2023

  •   Philip Hunt’s photo on the right shows the L&Y duo setting off on the Saturday with the delayed 4.45 service from Horsted Keynes.
  •   During the Branch Line weekend our Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes station made donations to two very worthwhile causes on the Bluebell Railway.
    £500 was donated to the Horsted Keynes station fund. This money was raised from sales of books, postcards, DVDs and souvenirs in the Kiosk on platform 4.
    The Bluebell Railway Goods Division received a donation of £1,000 for the wagon repair fund. This was raised through sales in the main Carriage Shop on platform 1.
    See information on the Carriage Shop including opening hours, here, and more information on the Bluebell Railway Goods Division, here. The photos below shows each of the groups being presented with their donation.
  •   News Update Also below we see an important step forward in the overhaul of Bulleid Pacific locomotive 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ as the first warming fire is lit in the brand new firebox, as preparations are made for the out-of-frames steam test. This follows a successful hydraulic boiler test a few weeks ago (photo thanks to Andy Kelly).

Donations from the Carriage Shop to the Goods Division and Horsted Keynes Station Fund - Chris Wilson - 22 April 2023 First fire in Sir Archie's firebox - Andy Kelly - 28 April 2023

25 April Electro-diesel Locomotive, E6040 'The Bluebell Railway' on Bluebell metals - Bluebell Railway - 25 April 2023

  •   The first sight of E6040 ‘The Bluebell Railway’, the newly arrived Electro-diesel Locomotive, on Bluebell metals since 1992. It is in full working order, and is intended to be available as a thunderbird, to keep our service running in the event of high risk of lineside fires, to haul lighter early morning and late evening trains alongside the Oxted Diesel Unit (which has the same 600 hp diesel engine), and to cover shunting work if the 09 is not available.
    You can find out more on the new web page and Facebook Group for this locomotive.
    Known latterly as Class 73s, these were electric locomotives for the Southern Region’s third-rail system, but incorporating a 600 hp diesel engine, similar to those used in the Southern Region’s DEMUs, intended for use in sidings and other non-electrified areas. Six prototypes, the ‘JA’s, were designed and built at Eastleigh in 1962 using English Electric equipment. They were built to the narrow ‘Hastings Gauge’, giving universal track access across the region.
    43 more Electro-diesel Locomotives were ordered from English Electric, built between 1965 and 1967, as part of the fleet to operate the newly electrified Waterloo-Southampton/Bournemouth line. Initially numbered E6007-E6049, they differed slightly from the prototypes, most notably having higher tractive effort and a 90mph maximum speed.
    73133 was named ‘The Bluebell Railway’ in September 1990, and ran onto what is now Bluebell property two years later at the ceremony passing ownership of the viaduct to us.
    The locomotive just escaped being scrapped in 2004, entered preservation, but returned to main-line use in 2013 and having been used as a shunter at Bournemouth Depot and more recently at Eastleigh Works, was privately purchased from there in December 2022 by a member of the Bluebell Railway’s locomotive department. It was refurbished at his expense at Eastleigh Works over the first three months of this year, prior to moving to the Bluebell Railway, arriving this morning.

24 April Pug and 'Hastings' set off from Horsted Keynes - Nick Gilliam - 21 April 2023

  •   We had a great gala over the last three days. Even before the last train had returned to Sheffield Park yesterday a filming company started arriving to set up for a filming job today!
  •   Three of Nick Gilliam’s photos today to illustrate the gala – here’s the 4.40pm departure from Horsted Keynes for East Grinstead on Friday, with the Pug and ‘Hastings’ hauling the four Bulleid coaches. Below are two more, from Saturday, with ‘Fenchurch’ and 80151 leaving Kingscote with the 6.30pm from East Grinstead, and 52322 passing Hazelden Farm with the 9.30am from Sheffield Park.
    We’d love to see some more photos from the gala, if you’d like to send them to us for use here.
  •   Two more great photo galleries from the Gala – from Chris Ward and Matt Wickham.
  •   Next Sunday (30 April): Toy and Rail Collectors’ Fair
    Catering for everyone, from avid collectors and enthusiasts, to just about anyone who is interested in (or just curious about) collectable toys, model trains and vintage railway artefacts, there will be an extensive range of stalls on Horsted Keynes station platforms and in the car park. You’ll find model railways (new and secondhand), die-cast models, collectables, railway books & emphemera, photographs & Preservation Societies.
    Admission is free with any Bluebell Railway travel ticket valid for the day, or buy a Horsted Keynes station admission ticket for £5.00 per person on the day for admission to the fair only.
  •   News Update Last week’s Chairman’s Update is now available to download as a pdf.

'Fenchurch' and 80151 leaving Kingscote - Nick Gilliam - 22 April 2023 52322 passing Hazelden Farm - Nick Gilliam - 22 April 2023

22 April – part 2 Pug and Terrier with the birdcage - Matthew Cousins - 21 April 2023

  •   This photo, from Matthew Cousins, shows the Pug and Terrier arriving at Horsted Keynes with the birdcage set on Friday.
  •   Two days down, one to go with our Branch Line Gala Weekend! Taking stock on Saturday evening, we’ve had two great days so far, so do join us for the last day tomorrow.
    We’ve seen some fantastic photos of the event so far and we would love to see more, from everyone who’s come to visit our railway over this gala weekend!
  •   Picture sets from today (Day 2 of our Branch-line Gala) are available with thanks to Neil Munro-Thomson and John Sandys
  •   In other news… We feature, along with the Swanage Railway, in this US PBS Newshour report.

Forsdsons at Horsted Keynes - Matt Lander - 21  April 2023

  •   Right: Two Fordsons on display for the Branch Line Weekend – the Bluebell’s own 1951 British Railways Fordson van hasn’t been seen for a few years now, but has been brough out for this event, and is on display over the weekend on platform 5 at Horsted Keynes along with a Fordson tractor belonging to one of the members of the Bluebell Railway Goods Division (photo: Matt Lander).
  •   Below we see two photos taken by Brian Lacey at West Hoathly, showing the Lancashire & Yorkshire A-class with the 12.45 service from Sheffield Park, assisted in the rear by ‘Hastings’.

52322 at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 22 April 2023 Hastings brings up the rear of the same train - Brian Lacey - 22 April 2023

22 April O1-class No.65 with the Bulleid carriages - John Sandys - 21  April 2023

  •   It’s day 2 of our Branch Line Gala, and we hope you can join us this weekend!
    Alongside our three home fleet locos of 65, 80151 and ‘Fenchurch’, visiting locos 52322, ‘Hastings’ & 11243 will also be in action today and throughout the weekend. An intensive timetable will be in operation and can be found here.
    Come and join us for a weekend celebration of smaller locomotives and branch line steam!
    Advance tickets and more information available here.
  •   Photos and videos from Friday, the first day of the Branch Line Weekend, published so far, from Keith Duke and John Sandys (who provides the photo on the right showing O1-class No. 65 with the Bulleid carriages at Horsted Keynes yesterday).
  •   You can see a lot more about what’s going on in the last two entries below.
  •   Richard Salmon’s photo below shows the second arrival at Horsted Keynes yesterday.

11243, 'Fenchurch' and 'Hastings' arrive at Horsted Keynes - Richard Salmon - 21 April 2023

20 April 'Fenchurch' outside Sheffield Park loco shed prior to the gala - Bluebell Railway - 19 April 2023

  •   All set & ready to go!
    Come and join us at the Bluebell Railway over the next three days for a celebration of branch-line railways and smaller locomotives!
    Tomorrow we kick off our 2023 Branch Line Gala Weekend. Visiting guest locos 11243 (Lancashire & Yorkshire “Pug”), 52322 (Lancashire & Yorkshire A Class) and No. 15 ‘Hastings’ (Hunslet Tank Engine) will be working alongside resident locos 65 (SECR O1), 80151 (Riddles BR Standard 4MT Tank Engine) and ‘Fenchurch’ (LBSCR Stroudley A1 Terrier) from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 April. (As ever, all locos subject to fitness to run availability on each day.)
    Catering details and opening hours for the weekend are available here (pdf).
    For more information and advance tickets, see the 2023 Branch Line Gala web page.
    This photo, taken on Wednesday evening, shows No. 72 ‘Fenchurch’ outside Sheffield Park loco shed prior to the gala.
  •   The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes is open this weekend during the Branch Line Gala!
        – Friday 21 April 9am to 5pm
        – Saturday 22 April 9am to 5pm
        – Sunday 23 April 9am to 4pm.
    The shop will have a new selection of model railway items available and their bumper book sales continues with many titles at only £1.
    The Carriage Shop is on platform 1 at Horsted Keynes station, and has been proudly raising money to support Bluebell Railway projects since 1989.
  •   The Bulleid Society shop (platform 2 at Sheffield Park) will be open all 3 days during the gala. What’s more, all DVDs and most of their extensive range of books will be on sale with 50% off, so do come along and see us and pick up a bargain.
  •   The Goods Division will have a display and fundraising stand at Horsted Keynes, in the C&W works with a stall offering merchandise and Rapido products at very reasonable prices. A couple of vintage road vehicles will be on display, one of which hasn’t made a public appearance for many years.
  •   The photo below, by Andy Kelly, shows the visiting locos lined up on shed with ‘Fenchurch’ this afternoon. ‘Hastings’ had been to Horsted Keynes earlier in the day and undertaken some shunting.

Visitors 11243, 'Hastings' and 52322 in the company of 'Fenchurch' in the loco yard at Sheffield Park - Andy Kelly - 20 April 2023

19 April Repainted North London Tank - Richard Salmon - 19 April 2023

  •   Over the last week the Bluebell Railway Goods Division‘s volunteers have undertaken a rapid repaint of the North London Tank locomotive, which has been lettered into LMS livery to match the visiting “Pug” with Matthew Cousins providing the vinyl lettering (with thanks also to Lemonade Print in Burgess Hill).
  •   Our 2023 Branch Line Gala starts on Friday. An updated Gala Timetable is now available, although that could change again depending on whether the SECR O1-class locomotive is available to run. [No.65 was passed fit to run, so this timetable is the one in use.]
    The carriage sets are (south to north):

    •   Set A:- 21246-16210-4941-25728 (BR Mk.1, 1950s-60s)
    •   Set B:- 2526-1482-1464-5768 (SR Bulleid, 1940s-50s)
    •   Set C:- 7598-1098-3363 (LBSCR and SECR carriages, 1903-1923)
    •   Set D:- 6686-1309-1336 (SR Maunsell, 1930s)

    Lots of trains will swap engines at Horsted Keynes, or terminate and re-start there. Brake Van rides will be on offer there, along with guided tours of the C&W Works on all three days. The freshly repainted North London Railway Tank locomotive will also be displayed there.
    At Sheffield Park the various loco groups will have access to view their projects, and display/sales stands, including both the Atlantic project and P-class 27.

  •   There’s an update to the Project 27 BlogSpot, outlining some of the work that has been going on over the winter in less than ideal conditions to get 27 into a presentable condition for your inspection this weekend, with a sales stand just inside the door to Steamworks! (off Platform 1 at Sheffield Park) from Friday until Sunday, opening around 9am until people stop coming in! The restoration site will also be open, with members of the restoration team on hand to chat to you.
    There’s also a revised website for the Little Loco Group.

6989 'Wightwick Hall' with 9017 'Earl of Berkeley' at Sheffield Park - Bluebell Railway - 17 April 2023

  •   On Monday Jon Bowers ran a photo-charter day with ‘Wightwick Hall’ and as seen in this photo taken during a break in the charter, the Bluebell’s GWR “Dukedog” was also posed with it at Sheffield Park.
  •   Brian Dandridge was at the photo-charter, and provides an initial sample set of photos, as well as this video.

15 April 6989 'Wightwick Hall' arrives at Horsted Keyens - Matthew Cousins - 6 April 2023

  •   Matthew Cousins’ photo shows No. 6989 ‘Wightwick Hall’ pulling in to Horsted Keynes with a public train on 6 April 2023.
  •   News Update The latest Chairman’s Update may now be downloaded or viewed as a pdf.
  •   Bluey & Bongo at the Bluebell Railway: please note the correct dates when we welcome the excitable sisters from Down Under to the Bluebell Railway are Sunday 7 & Monday 8 May. Come to see them at story time sessions, led by a narrator, at intervals on both days at Sheffield Park Station.
    Our “Kids For A Quid” Travel Offer applies on those days too.

14 April April 2023 edition of Bluebell Times

  •   News Update The April 2023 edition of Bluebell Times features:
       – Work on “The Jewel in the Crown” resumes after the winter
       – A packed month of activity on our Thumper …
       – … and Electro-Diesel E6040 is renamed ‘The Bluebell Railway’
       – 5 Minutes with Tony Astor, the Railway’s new Infrastructure Director
       – Summary of the recent volunteer workshop
       – “Tender care” on our Giant No. 92240
       – The Bluebell Railway Museum and the Great Western Trust jointly acquire the Edward Wallis photographic collection.
  •   We will be running steam trains throughout this weekend.
          Departure times from Sheffield Park will be at 10:30, 11:45, 1:00, 2:15 and 3:30.
          Departure times from East Grinstead will be at 11:30, 12:45, 2:00, 3:15 and 4:30.
    We have our “Kids For A Quid” travel offer in place throughout, and Steamworks, our Bluebell Railway Museum, and much more, so there’s plenty for all the family to enjoy this weekend at The Bluebell Railway!
    Advance tickets can be purchased here, or you can pay on the day of your visit!
  •   ‘Fenchurch’ is to star at the Isle Of Wight Steam Railway Spring Gala!
    Stroudley Terrier ‘Fenchurch’ will be making its way across the waters to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Their Gala celebrating 100 years of the Southern Railway takes place between Friday 23 and Sunday 25 June. With W11 ‘Newport’ having visited us last year, we’re delighted to see ‘Fenchurch’ head in the opposite direction for a visit.
  •   Newly restored Hunslet tank locomotive No. 15 ‘Hastings’ is the third and final visitor to have arrived for our 2023 Branch Line Gala – 21-23 April, and is seen below with the visiting L&YR A-class locomotive which arrived yesterday.
  •   Matthew Cousins’ photo below shows ‘Camelot’ on one of the two service trains running yesterday, approaching Horsted Keyens Station, where it will pass the Hall. BR Standard Tank No. 80151 is recessed into the currently truncated Ardingly spur, as it was out for a test run after maintenance.

Visitors 'Hastings' and 52322 in the loco yard at Sheffield Park - Bluebell Railway - 14 April 2023 'Camelot' approaches Horsted Keynes - Matthew Cousins - 13 April 2023

13 April L&Y A-class 52322 at Sheffield Park - Tony Sullivan - 13 April 2023

  •   Tony Sullivan’s photo, taken today, shows that Lancashire & Yorkshire A-class No. 52322 has also now arrived, from the East Lancs Railway, for our 21-23 April 2023 Branch Line Gala Weekend.
  •   Customer Notice: Due to unforeseen circumstances, we regret to announce that the Birds Of Prey will not be on display on Saturday 15 April. The Bluebell Railway apologises for any disappointment or inconvenience caused by this last-minute cancellation.
    The railway, however, will still operate a Timetable C service at the weekend with our “Kids For A Quid” Travel Offer available. Train times for the weekend are:
          Sheffield Park departures at 10:30, 11:45, 1:00, 2:15 & 3:30
          East Grinstead departures at 11:30, 12:45, 2:00, 3:15 & 4:30.
  •   Bluey at the Bluebell Railway: Wackadoo!
    We’re delighted to welcome both Bluey & Bingo to the Bluebell Railway on Sunday 7 & Monday 8 May [Note: correction from previously shown Sat/Sun].
    Have your chance to see the excitable sisters from Down Under during story time sessions, led by a narrator, at intervals on both days at Sheffield Park Station. Our “Kids For A Quid” Travel Offer applies that weekend too.
  •   A second photo (below) from Tony Sullivan today shows the GWR Dukedog 9017 ‘Earl of Berkeley’ has been extracted from the Sheffield Park Carriage Shed, where it’s been hidden away from public view for the last couple of years.

GWR 9017 breaks cover - Tony Sullivan - 13 April 2023

12 April L&Y Pug 11243 at Sheffield Park - 12 April 2023

  •   Our first visitor for the 2023 Branch Line Gala Weekend, Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway “Pug” No. 11243, landed at Sheffield Park yesterday (photos, right). This loco will be in action during the gala weekend, Friday 21 to Sunday 23 April.
    See more information and tickets for the gala, here.
  •   News Update Last week’s Chairman’s Update is now available to download as a pdf.
  •   Brian Dandridge has put together this video record of his visit on Easter Sunday.
  •   John Sandys’ photos and videos from a visit on Tuesday.
  •   Phil Laycock’s photo below was taken yesterday whilst he was working with the Tuesday lineside gang, and shows ‘Camelot’ approaching Freshfield Bank with the SR-liveried set currently in use for our second train.
  •   Brian Lacey’s photo from Tuesday 4 April shows ‘Wightwick Hall’ with the 1pm service ex-Sheffield Park at West Hoathly. This locomotive has been on the main service set each day since 1 April.

'Camelot' approaching Freshfield Bank - Phil Laycock - 11 April 2023 'Wightwick Hall' at West Hoathly - Brian Lacey - 4 April 2023

7 April

E6040 (73133) outside Eastleigh Works - Paul Auckland - 5 April 2023

E6040 (73133) being named by Roy Watts - Neil Glaskin - 5 April 2023

  •   E6040, the second of two Class 73s to be named ‘The Bluebell Railway’ (then as No. 73133) is now privately owned by a member of the Bluebell’s Locomotive Department, and in advance of its arrival at the Railway has been overhauled at Eastleigh Works and painted in its as-built “Electric Blue” livery. The ‘JB’ was unveiled on Wednesday in a ceremony at Eastleigh, where the “renaming” was performed by Roy Watts, Bluebell Railway Preservation Society Vice Chairman, who had been instrumental in getting ‘JA’ No. 73004 so named back in 1987.
    The photo above is thanks to Paul Auckland, and that on the right thanks to Neil Glaskin.
    If you’d like to support the project, you can do so either by donating on CrowdFunder, or by joining the support group Paul is setting up. The date when it will arrive on the Bluebell, to start crew familiarisation and training, has yet to be finalised.
    You can see more of Paul’s photos and videos from Wednesday here.
    The official Press Release is here.


  •   The arrival of the ‘JB’ (Class 73/1 Electro-diesel Locomotive) will further enhance the Bluebell Railway’s modest collection of exclusively Southern Region modern traction, adding to the 09 Shunter, the KA-2B (Class 33) and the Oxted DEMU. If required to operate to our relatively tight timetable, the loads the JB will haul on diesel power are modest, however the locomotive gives us additional flexibility. It can cover for both the 09 and the KA as a thunderbird locomotive (vital should a late evening dining train be stranded), and cover for the 09 for shunting work. It can also cover for any non-availability of the DEMU on early morning and late evening services outside of the steam-heat season, and haul services at times of high fire risk. As such it provides us with the resilience we have up to now lacked in our limited modern traction fleet.
  •   Tony Sullivan’s two photos below show 73004 on the day it was named at East Grinstead, painted “Bluebell Blue” in September 1987, and 73133 at Redhill in June 1997 when in “Mainline” livery.

73004 at its naming at East Grinstead - Tony Sullivan - 19 September 1987 73133 at Redhill - Tony Sullivan - 5 June 1997

GN Saloon at Sheffield Park - Richard Salmon - 6 April 2023

  •   ‘Camelot’ and ‘Wightwick Hall’ were hauling the service trains yesterday, and should be today and tomorrow, with No. 80151 taking over from ‘Camelot’ for the remainder of the holiday period, when we’re running our full two-train public service (Timetable C) daily until 16 April.
  •   Having passed its maintenance exams this week, the Great Northern Directors’ Saloon was taken back to Sheffield Park yesterday, and attached to the larger service set ready for the weekend, as seen in the photo on the right.
    On Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday the saloon is on the 10:30; 1pm and 3:30 from SP (11:30 2pm and 4:30 from EGR), offering onboard refreshments.
    No reservation is required, but access is subject to available space. Please note that the crew on board are not able to take credit cards, so please bring cash.

3 April 323 'Bluebell' at Horsted Keynes in 1966 - photo thanks to Keith Mahoney

  •   Keith Mahoney has been sorting through his late father’s photographs, and found these which were taken in 1966, featuring SECR P-class No. 323 ‘Bluebell’. This photo, and the first below show it at Horsted Keynes, and the third photo was taken at Sheffield Park. The train that day was formed of SR rebuild of SER origins, No. 1050 and the LNWR Observation Car.
  •   News Update The latest Chairman’s Update may now be downloaded or viewed as a pdf.
  •   Great 1961 colour film of the Bluebell Railway, late in the year, including I think on the very day we first gained access to (initially just one platform of) Horsted Keynes station.
  •   In January this year the Bluebell’s Standard 5 No. 73082 ‘Camelot’ visited the GCR for their gala. A charter was organised with it and that yielded some fine results – see Dave Bowles’ photos.

323 'Bluebell' with its train at Horsted Keynes in 1966 - photo thanks to Keith Mahoney 323 'Bluebell' at Sheffield Park attracting atttention from footplate crew and other staff in 1966 - photo thanks to Keith Mahoney

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