Blog: What's New at the Bluebell Railway?
- Today we bring you more photographs submitted to the blog from Giants of Steam. This photo taken by Alan Jenkins last Saturday shows ‘Cheltenham’ and ‘Tonbridge’ at Sheffield Park provide a pair of Schools class locos together, something which it would be great to achieve properly once the current overhaul of Bluebell-based ‘Stowe’ is completed.
- A special treat before No. 35028 ‘Clan Line’ leaves the Bluebell on Monday evening… The loco will be available for footplate visits at Sheffield Park from 10am to 4pm, tomorrow Sunday 17 October. Come and visit us with a ticket to travel or platform admission ticket!
- The next photo (thanks to Andrew Crampton) shows freshly overhauled ‘Camelot’, now sporting the later BR emblem, at West Hoathly on Friday 8 October.
- Paul Furlong’s photo shows shows ‘Clan Line’ on Freshfield Bank on Saturday 9 October.
- Alan Bedford’s photo on the left shows ‘Cheltenham’ at Kingscote on Friday 8 October, with the Great Northern Saloon at the head of the Southbound 12.55 pm departure.
- Two more photos below from David Cable, showing the two Southern Railway Maunsell locomotives which were running at Giants. The first features ‘Cheltenham’ on a Jon Bowers’ photo charter with the SR Bulleid carriages on Monday, and the second the S15 with the birdcage and Metropolitan carriages near Waterworks / Holywell last Saturday.
- David Cable’s photo from Monday’s photo charter shows ‘Cheltenham’ arriving at Horsted Keynes station with the Bulleid carriages. It’s understood that this loco is remaining on the Bluebell until the end of October.
- Focus on Horsted Keynes: This coming Saturday (16 October) in support of, and to inform members and visitors about, the Jewel in the Crown Appeal (Donate here), we have in-depth tours behind the scenes arranged as follows:
C&W Tour 10.20 am
Station tour 11.25 am
S&T tour 12.35 pm
C&W tour 1.40 pm
Station tour 2.45 pm.
- We are pleased to link to a variety of galleries and videos from last weekend’s Giants of Steam Gala:
Video from Ashley Smith and some photos from him.
Videos from “The Southerner”, from Barry Price, from “totally-transport”, from WillowTreeShed, from Brian Seaman, from 82A Studios and from Derek Spicer.
Photo albums by Jon Horrocks and John Sandys.
- More pictures, taken by John Fry, showing progress with the lubrication system on No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ have been uploaded to the Bulleid Society’s web site.
- David Cable’s photo below, of ‘Clan Line’, was taken early Saturday morning on the approach to Waterworks / Holywell and Alan Jenkins’ photo shows the H-class with the short fully-fitted goods train which was providing brake van rides around Horsted Keynes.
- Our three-day Giants of Steam Gala starts tomorrow, and a further updated version of the public timetable is now available to download.
- David Chapman’s photo from Wednesday morning, taken while he was on lineside maintenance duties, shows the S15 No. 847 backlit and climbing towards Horsted Keynes at Three Arch Bridge.
- John Harwood’s video from earlier this evening shows No. 35028 ‘Clan Line’ arriving at East Grinstead. No. 30925 ‘Cheltenham’ and its tender arrived by road on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. No. 80151 has remained at the Mid Hants Railway to cover, it’s understood, the unexpected absence of their Ivatt 2MT Tank, which has gone to the East Lancs Railway’s gala, to stand in for now-withdrawn 60009.
- Two photos below, thanks to Kevin McElhone, show ‘Camelot’ undertaking further test running following its recent overhaul, on Wednesday, using one of the carriage sets prepared for Giants of Steam, which includes the Great Northern Directors’ saloon.
- Travel on the GN Saloon will cost an additional £5 per single journey which includes unlimited supplies of tea/coffee, and the normal range of other refreshments will be offered at appropriately reduced prices. To maintain a Covid-safe environment, the numbers of passengers on board the saloon will be limited, and therefore priority will initially be given to family/friendship groups sharing a table. On Friday 8th October the saloon will be attached to the 11:45 & 2:45 services from Sheffield Park (12:45 & 3:45 from East Grinstead). On Saturday: 10:30, 1:30 & 4:30 from SP and 11:30; 2:30 & 5:30 from EG. On Sunday: 10:30 & 1:30 from SP and 11:30 & 2:30 from EG.
- Sean David Moroney’s photo shows Bluebell-based 4MT Tank No. 80151 at the Mid Hants Railway’s steam gala last weekend.
- As ever, plans for the Giants of Steam gala can and do shift slightly…
In place of BR Standard Tank No. 80151 and USATC S160 No. 6046, we will instead have SR S15-class No. 847 and SECR H-class No. 263 – the H-class will be shunting goods wagons and giving brake van rides at Horsted Keynes.
- Schools Class No. 30925 ‘Cheltenham’ will be arriving by road from the Mid Hants iminently, and Merchant Navy Class No. 35028 ‘Clan Line’ arrives by rail from London on Thursday evening. They will be joined by the sole surviving “Standard Arthur”, BR 5MT No. 73082 ‘Camelot’, returning to service after overhaul, in addition to the S15 and H from our home fleet.
- Special guest USATC S160 No. 6046 will also be on static display at Sheffield Park station.
- The fifth version of the public timetable with updated locomotive allocations is available to download. [Link updated to version 5.2 – 7 October]
- The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes has extended opening hours for Giants of Steam this weekend:
Friday 7th October – 9.30am to 5pm
Saturday 8th October – 9.30am to 5pm
Sunday 9th October – 9.30am to 4pm
- The Great Northern Directors’ Saloon will be attached to one of the carriage sets each day, and visitors can partake of refreshments on board.
- A Special edition of Bluebell Times to launch the “Jewel in the Crown” Anniversary Appeal
In this issue:
– The Grand Plan for Horsted Keynes
– The condition of the station – and how you can help restore it to its former glory
– A history of the station, in words and pictures
– Behind the scenes photos from some of the many films and TV productions shot at the station
– A story of the life – and death – of an Edwardian railway worker at the station.
- Full appeal details
- Donate here.
- David Cable’s photo (taken whilst he was undertaking line-side maintenance) shows S15 No. 847 on 8 September in the early morning light with a film crew’s support train.
- Please note there will be no electricity at Horsted Keynes on Sunday 3 October. Therefore, the buffet, carriage shop, model railway and elephant van will be closed on this date.
- Forthcoming services and events:
- 1 October 2021 – Service A timetable
- 2-3 October – Service B timetable
- 6-7 October – Service A timetable
- Giants of Steam: 8-10 October – What can you expect this year? An intensive and varied timetable showcasing different engines of the BR Southern Region. Alongside our own BR Standard Class 5 No. 73082 ‘Camelot’ and BR Standard Class 4 Tank No. 80151, visiting locomotives Merchant Navy Class No. 35028 ‘Clan Line’ and Maunsell Schools Class No. 30925 ‘Cheltenham’ will feature to fit the Southern Region theme. They will be joined by special guest USATC S160 No. 6046 which is at the Bluebell Railway until the end of October. Visitors can compare the might of the American locomotive alongside our Southern beasts and decide who the true Giants of Steam really are! – Giants of Steam timetable [updated]
- Autumn Tints: 11-21 October – Discover beautiful autumnal colours from the comfort of your steam heated carriage as you journey through the beautiful High Weald AONB.
- The BrickWorks! Adventure 22-31 October – Join us for our STEM Family Fair, with interactive workshops, trade stands and building challenges for the whole family to enjoy. The BrickWorks! Adventure will feature 15 amazing BRICKLIVE Outer Space models, including a 310cm high Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket made with 68,583 bricks! – intensive steam train timetable too!
- SteamLights: selected dates from Friday 5 November 2021 to Saturday 8 January 2022 – Brighten up the chilly winter evenings with a seasonal lights spectacular! Sparkle, glow and shimmer on a magical steam train covered by thousands of colourful lights. Illuminate the dark landscape as you journey and feast your eyes on an amazing light show along the way. With festive displays, music and narration, this is a steam train experience not to be missed!
- Santa Specials: selected dates from Saturday 27 November to Friday 24 December – Nothing stops Santa visiting the Bluebell Railway! After our successful season last year, we aim to give you another wonderful, safe and enjoyable festive experience with all the traditional sights, sounds and aromas of Christmas. Travel by steam train in your own private compartment, visit Santa in his parlour with an opportunity for a photo, collect your special present from Santa’s Workshop, and enjoy the traditional inclusive amusement attractions.
- BR Standard 5 No. 73082 ‘Camelot’ was back in service today, test running after its rapid intermediate overhaul, with a new 10-year boiler certificate.
After an early light engine test run up the line it hauled the service trains today, in what was essentially a proving run ahead of its use on the Giants of Steam Weekend. First however, the workshops will be doing some more tweaking/snagging jobs over the next few days, prior to more test running. David Cable’s photo of the locomotive climbing Freshfield Bank was taken whilst he was engaged on lineside maintenance duties.
- The Maunsell S15 No. 847 hauled this evening’s Fish & Chip Special.
- A project update and September Newsletter is now available from the Standard 2MT Tank Project, who are creating locomotive No. 84030.
The photo here shows the start of assembling the new bunker – this is the shovelling plate. The profile-cut holes in the plates are being used as a template for drilling the angle iron. The assembly is then temporarily bolted together for trial fitting in its final location before drilling/reaming for riveting.
- Tony Sullivan’s two photos below show firstly the arrival back at Sheffield Park today of the USATC S150 No. 6046 (re-united with its tender which had stayed with us while the locomotive brake gear was repaired).
The second photo shows our BR Standard 4MT Tank, No. 80151, which was loaded onto the same transporter to move to the Mid Hants Railway for their forthcoming gala, a reciprocal loan for ‘Cheltenham’ which is coming to us for Giants of Steam.
- Apologies for the lack of recent news updates on here – a lot’s been going on… but it’s also been business back to usual, with trains full of happy passengers. It’s been a bit tight on the loco side, with the S160 returned to the Churnet Valley for repairs, but it is due back at the Bluebell imminently. The Q-class and S15 both failed with piston or valve ring problems. This left the O1, H and Standard 4 tank to keep our services running. The S15 has now returned to service, and Camelot has been under test (as seen in John Sandys’ photo on the right, part of his album from today), on the verge of returning after its quick intermediate overhaul with a new 10-year certificate. The Q-class needs a bit more work, which is under way inside the “ASH” National Lottery Heritage Fund project’s locomotive maintenance building.
- We have a news update from The Bulleid Society, with more pictures, taken by John Fry, showing progress with 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair’s overhaul.
- Miss Bessemer saves the train – Penelope Keith reads the story inspired by Miss Bessemer’s fight to keep her local line open, eventually enabling us to resurrect it as the first standard gauge passenger line to be reopened by volunteers. The 5-part series is on BBC Radio 4 each Sunday evening at 7.45pm, started yesterday. You can listen it here on BBC sounds.
- The September 2021 edition of Bluebell Times – Contents include:
– A reminder about the upcoming Bluebell Railway Preservation Society AGM, including all the candidates standing for election
– The latest news from the volunteer co-ordinator
– A selection of new dining trains for the autumn
– Uprated power supply installed at Horsted Keynes
– An update from the team raising money for locomotive No. 92240
– A round-up of the 60+1 anniversary weekend in words and photos
– Historic railway scenes from the Bluebell Railway Museum Archive
– And much, much more
- Southern Railway Schools-class No. 925 ‘Cheltenham’ will be visiting us for our Giants of Steam Autumn Gala. The loco last visited us for our gala in 2015 (as seen in Derek Hayward’s photo, double-headed with S15 No. 847 at Birchstone Bridge), and we look forward to saying ‘welcome back’ for the 8 – 10 October event. ‘Cheltenham’ will join Merchant Navy Class No. 35028 ‘Clan Line’ for the weekend, as well as the S160 and our own fleet of locomotives.
- A new Facebook group has been created, which will document the preservation, restoration and operation of D6570 and D4106 which are based at the Bluebell.
- We have launched a major push to recruit new volunteers – the updated “Volunteer at the Bluebell Railway”
web page has details of 50 different volunteer opportunities, and how to join us. There’s something for everyone, from gardenning to marketing, building maintenance to serving Fish & Chips, alongside the huge range of jobs you might normally associate with operating a heritage railway.
- John Sandys has galleries from 20 August, 23 August, 27 August, 6 September, 13 September, 20 September and 22 September.
- And finally a couple more videos from the “60 plus 1” anniversary gala, thanks to Lee Andrew Davies and James Batcheler.
- The August 2021 edition of Bluebell Times is now available.
It covers, amongst other things:
– Wartime loco hired for the summer season
– Two visitors announced for Giants of Steam
– Progress with the Heritage Skills Centre
– What’s Brewing (Beer Festival)
– Paul Russell – new Loco Engineering Director
– Major Upgrade to Museum Website
– East Grinstead Book Shop
– More photos of our line in 1959
– And much, much more
- We are pleased to report that S160-class No. 6046 has arrived on the Bluebell, and will be with us until late October. Six of the class were allocated to the Southern Railway, so are not totally alien to the area. See News Report here.
No. 6046 was built as works No.70280 by the Baldwin Locomotive Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, and the locomotive was exported straight to France in 1945 to help with the war effort. After working on industrial lines in Hungary, it was brought to the UK for restoration and then to the Churnet Valley Railway (1992) PLC in 2006.
The photos above show S160 No.6046 at the West Somerset Railway (Paul Bailey, Setpember 2018) and on arrival at Sheffield Park (John Sandys, 11 August 2021). You can see more of John’s photos from Wednesday here.
- John Sandys’ photos from Friday of the 60+1 Anniversary gala.
- Chris Ward’s photos and video from the first two days of the gala.
- Ashley Smith’s photos and video from the gala.
- More gala videos from FrontLineSteam, from Tim’s video channel, from Joe Light Railway, and from 82A Studios.
- John Sandys’ album from Monday including footage of the shunt at Horsted Keynes, and the two locomotives in steam, the H-class and the Q-Class.
- Some pictures taken by John Fry, showing the boiler of No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’, prepared for display over the coming weekend, have been uploaded to the Bulleid Society’s web site. In addition there is an update on progress with the Bulleid 5-plank wagon, and photos of 34059’s wheeled chassis.
- Some photos from today, from John Sandys’ showing in particular the Met coaches, and some preparations for the weekend. His photo below shows part of the first-class interior of Metropolitan Railway coach 412.
- “60 Plus 1”
Full details are available for our Diamond Anniversary gala which starts tomorrow. Four train service, live music and bar in the field at Horsted Keynes, continuing into Saturday evening, and much more! The Southern Railway “Queen Mary” Brake Van has been outshopped from its rapid mini-overhaul and is seen below photographed yesterday evening; the times for its brake van rides are given on the last page of the timetable. There’s a huge amount going on at all our main stations, and all the details and timetable are here.
- Some photos from the Model Railway Weekend, from John Sandys’ from Saturday including that below showing the live steam O-Gauge layout in the Loco Works.
- Neil Munro-Thomson’s photos from Sunday show all four locos in steam, although he’d only arrived at Horsted Keynes just as the model show was being packed up! His photo on the right shows the pair of SECR locomotives on one of the three service trains.
- The timetables for our 60 Plus 1 event this coming weekend (starting on Friday) have been confirmed. We have a busy 4-train timetable planned for the event, alongside a host of displays and festivities to celebrate our belated Diamond anniversary. Sadly the planned cavalcade has been dropped, but we have a lot going on at Horsted Keynes, with Brake Van Rides, a Goods Shunting demonstration, the chance to drive our Sentinel Shunter and guided tours of the Carriage works, with displays from our trimming (upholstery) volunteers and from our Goods.Division who have just completed the rapid repair and repaint of our Queen Mary brake van for the brake van rides. It will also be the first outing since 2019 for our Great Northern Railway Directors Saloon.
- Santa Special tickets are now on sale!
- John Sandy’s photos and videos from today. His second photo below shows a passing train and platform staff at Horsted Keynes.
Keep ‘Camelot’ steaming into the future – an appeal from The 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society.
The Society held its first sales stand since March 2020 at the Bluebell’s Model Railway weekend. ‘Camelot’ was on display outside in the locomotive yard and visitors could go up and view the footplate and meet Society representatives. The newly painted locomotive looked splendid in the sunshine. Reassembly of the locomotive to complete the Intermediate Overhaul is progressing and a return to steam is eagerly anticipated.
The weekend was also the launch of the Society’s new fundraising appeal to replenish its funds. In January 2021 the Bluebell commenced an Intermediate overhaul of the locomotive, in part to deal with a persistent leak in the foundation ring of the boiler. Mindful of the Bluebell’s financial position as a consequence of the 2020/2021 Covid-19 pandemic, the Society has willingly funded the material costs and any contractors costs incurred. Like many other small organisations, we have had severely reduced income since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The £35,000 spent has significantly depleted the Society’s financial reserves and we are now launching an appeal so that we can keep ‘Camelot’ steaming into the future.
As a small locomotive group committed to keeping ‘Camelot’ in service well into the future, we are making this rare appeal to all those who have enjoyed seeing and hearing our locomotive in action. Please help us if you can.
Please download the appeal leaflet for further information (pdf). Although we do not have the facility to take donations online, details on how to donate electronically are included in the leaflet.
The photos below by Julian Heinemann show Camelot and the sales stand as descibed above, on Saturday.
- The railway is busily preparing for the Model Railway Weekend, with the loco and carriage works, the loco shed, and upstairs in the Bessemer Arms being cleared out to make space for a huge range of layouts and stalls.
- Some pictures taken by John Fry, showing the re-wheeling of No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’, have been uploaded to the Bulleid Society’s web site. That on the right shows the frames down on the wheels.
- It has been announced today that experienced railwayman Geoff Mee has been appointed as the new Bluebell Railway chairman, and that longstanding Bluebell volunteer and Chartered Engineer Paul Russell has become Locomotive Director, taking over from Graham Flight (who remains as Company Secretary) and Bob Pamment (who remains as Roling Stock Director), who have been covering the posts on an interim basis since January.
- John Sandys’s photos and videos from yesterday, when the
Q-Class replaced No. 80151 on the first train to depart Sheffield Park, with the 01 hauling in use on the second train.
- Work continues on the Queen Mary brake van, preparing it for the 6-8 August “60 Plus 1” anniversary gala brake van rides. On Wednesday Matt repainted the lettering (as seen in his photo below), Laurie fitted the varnished capping rails around the verandas, Jack and Steven prepped the south end for repainting removing flaking paint, priming where necessary, and keyed the surviving old paint to take the new red paint (the colour being based on the shade specified in the HMRS/Southern Style livery register), and David painted a few last bits in preparation for fitting the new doors which should take place this weekend. On Thursday Richard completed the bolting down of the 13 replacement floor planks, having done most on Wednesday alongside fitting the new roof-end board on the north end.
- The second photo below shows that, following a concerted effort by a large number of volunteers, the painting of the interior of the Heritage Skills centre at Horsted Keynes (part of Operation Undercover Phase 4) is nearly complete – this will be the training room which will not only be used by the railway, but also bring in an income as it will be hired to organisations using our premises for training purposes, a rapidly growing activity.
Yesterday saw the start of a 6-week campaign to raise awareness of the importance of heritage railways across the UK. The last 18 months have been like no other, and as we look forward to the summer ahead, we’ve joined forces with some of the much-loved railways across the UK to celebrate what we are and what we do!
Keep your eyes peeled for #LoveYourRailway content for you to share, like and get involved in on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
It’s also #Heritage week!
- Video from “The Southerner” and another from “Joe Light Railway” both taken on the first day of our Road meets Rail gala on 17 July.
From the second day, Sunday 18th, we have this comprehensive video from “Bovine_of_the_Rails”. Also from the Saturday, “Classic Oily Motors” drove out to visit in a Morris Minor which includes footage of the fun-fair, and from the Sunday, great coverage of the road-building demonstration, log sawing, craning, threasing and ploughing from “Muddy Lake Engineering”.
- John Sandys has some photos and videos from Monday, a busy day with a two-train service and the 09 shunting out a redundant sleeping car pending its sale, and also some from Saturday, when the Pioneer, Rocket, Sussex Gin Train, and The Blue Belle Evening Dining Train were running. His photo on the right shows the trains passing at Horsted Keynes on Monday, with No. 80151 at the head of the Metropolitan Railway carriages. That below/left shows the SR Maunsell Q-class shunting the dining set out of the platform on Saturday, with Bulleid West Country Pacific No. 21C123 ‘Blackmoor Vale’ on display in the dock siding beyond.
- Update featuring last weekend’s work on the Queen Mary brake, which has all the floor planks cut to size, and second topcoats on most of the woodwork and metalwork on the sides.
- The second photo below shows the Maunsell Hastings-line Brake Third, No. 3687, with its roof canvas laid out on the roof. Keith Leppard has just completed the third coat of undercoat on this side of the carriage (Pete Sulsh is painting the other side of the carriage).
- John Sandys provides an album of photos and videos from yesterday, which was another very warm day at the Bluebell, with two locos in steam, the Q-class in charge of a Wedding Special, and No. 80151 (seen here) on the service train.
- Tickets are now available for our Teddy Bears’ Picnic, a great family day out which will be running across the August bank holiday weekend, 28–30 August.
- Tickets are still available for our first Sussex Gin Train tomorrow afternoon. Booking closes tonight.
- Merchant Navy Pacific No. 35028 ‘Clan Line’ is confirmed to be making a very rare visit to a heritage gala for our Giants of Steam event on 8 – 10 October. The gala will offer an intensive and varied timetable showcasing a varity of engines from the BR Southern Region. Alongside 73082 ‘Camelot’, Standard Tank 80151 and Q-class 30541, we are currently in negotiations for another visiting locomotive to fit the Southern Region theme. More updates, timetables and ticket information will be available soon.
Derek Hayward’s photo shows its only previous passenger turn on the Bluebell, one return trip as a test run on 27 August 2019, after it had received a bogie inspection and maintenance using our wheel-drop.
- Our Model Railway Weekend (31 July – 1 August) just got a little bit bigger as we welcome Bentley Miniature Railway’s 7 1/4 inch gauge layout, on which you can enjoy a ride through our loco yard. Book your ticket here.
- The Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes, selling previously owned Railway Books & Models to raise money for Bluebell Railway projects, is open this weekend: Saturday 24 July – 11am to 4pm and Sunday 25 July – 9.30am to 4pm.
- Another update is available here, featuring work done on Monday and Wednesday this week on SR Queen Mary Brake Van No. 56290. The photos below show the west side having had its first top-coat, and some of the new veranda floor planks being fitted.
- A popular feature of last weekend’s “Road meets Rail” event at Horsted Keynes was the loading and unloading of a couple of scrap wheelsets onto the Bluebell Railway Trust’s LMS 3-plank drop-side wagon, which was one of the Bluebell’s first items of goods stock.
- Our first Sussex Gin Train will be launching this Saturday afternoon, and tickets include:
* Return travel up the entire line to East Grinstead from Sheffield Park
* A delicious Sussex gin-based cocktail
* Two full size gin & tonics from the Gin Menu
* Spectacular countryside views!
The perfect way to catch up with friends. Book your tickets today (booking closes at midnight on Friday – discount for Bluebell working volunteers).
- From 19 July the Government has moved England to Step 4 of its roadmap, removing most legal Covid-19 restrictions. Please see information about how this has enabled us to open up more of our facilities and services with all stations open, turn-up-and-go prices returning to normal, and all-day rover tickets again available. However, it is still possible to pre-book segregated compartments on specific trains for your exclusive use should you wish.
- A new public WiFi system has been introduced at Sheffield Park station where the “Bluebell Guest” network provides free Internet access. See further information here.
- David Cable’s photo shows SR Q-class No. 30541 on one of the two public trains for Road Meets Rail on 17 July. We had four locos in steam each day over the weekend (the Q, S15, 80151 and the O1), once a minor repair to the S15 was completed, with two service trains, a wedding train on the Saturday and a lunchtime dining train on the Sunday, and one locomotive shunting goods wagons and doing run-pasts at Horsted Keynes with the goods train.
- Our new East Grinstead second-hand book shop is now open, selling railway books, magazines and DVDs as well as novels.
- Another news update for the rapid overhaul of SR Queen Mary Brake Van No. 56290 to enable it to carry passengers on brake van rides at the forthcoming 60 plus 1 Diamond Anniversary gala (6-8 August). The photo below from Sunday shows the replacement doors now painted in primer – more photos in the News Update.
- The team working on BR Standard 2MT tank No. 84030 have recently returned to work on the project. The first edition of their new 84030 Rebuild Project Newsletter is now available via the Project page. It also contains an appeal for new volunteers to join the project since, for a variety of reasons, not all the old team have returned after the lockdown.
The photo below by Tony Sullivan shows a trial fitting of the reversing gear.
- Photo album from yesterday thanks to John Sandys when Standard 4 tank No. 80151 was in action, in place of the rostered S15 No. 847, as seen at Horsted Keynes in this photo from the album.
- The Carriage Shop reopens for the Road meets Rail event being held at Horsted Keynes station this weekend. The shop is on Platform 1 at the station and will be open on Saturday 17th from 9.30am to 5pm and Sunday 18th 9.30am to 5pm. Alongside a vast selection of second hand books are a large range of model railway locos, carriages & wagons, toy & model cars & buses, Thomas the Tank Engine toys, vintage bound magazines, SR time tables, puzzles, posters, pictures, photos and many more collectables!
- Update to the web page for Bulleid Open Third No. 1482 adding details and a photo of its recent (and as yet incomplete) rolling intermediate overhaul and re-trim, as seen in Dave Clarke’s photo below.
- New C&W News page created for the present intermediate attention (including two new doors and new floor planks) being given to SR Queen Mary Brake Van No. 56290 to enable it to carry passengers on brake van rides at the forthcoming 60+1 Diamond Anniversary gala (6-8 August). Matthew Lander’s photo below shows the state of the work as of last weekend.
This coming weekend sees our Road meets Rail event, which is a traditional steam fair featuring working traction engine displays, miniature engines, goods trains and a steam driven children’s fair, taking place at Horsted Keynes Station. All day tickets, to start from any station, are available online in advance (with a discount), and on the day from our booking offices. Admission tickets without travel, for the displays at Horsted Keynes, will be available on the day.
On the Saturday, visitors to the event will be able to extend their day long into the warm summer evening and enjoy live classic rock at Horsted Keynes, provided by Sussex band, The Magpies. The bar will be open and for those with train travel tickets, a late train service will operate to get people back to East Grinstead and Sheffield Park.
Our timetables (inluding locomotive allocations) for the weekend can be found here (pdf).
In line with Government guidelines applicable until 19 July, the following safety measures will apply:
Face Coverings must be worn in all public places at the railway such as platforms, in the museum and SteamWorks! They should also be worn when boarding, alighting and travelling on trains. Face coverings are not required when visiting open air exhibitions in the fields at Horsted Keynes Station.
Socially distanced seating – Our onboard seating capacity has been reduced to allow for a comfortable, socially distanced journey. Passengers are asked to practise social distancing at all times.
- Update from the Brighton Atlantic Project.
Fred Bailey’s photo on the right shows the tender, with the external double-skin now in place. There is much more detail and other news and photos in the update.
- With theatrical productions now feasible again, our Murder Mystery evening dining trains now resume, and you can download PDFs for Murder Mystery evenings for the remainder of 2021 and also now make bookings for Murder Mystery evenings in 2022.
- Another couple of photos showing Sir Archibald Sinclair’s painted bogie and wheels, and crank axle have been put up on The Bulleid Society’s web site.
- An update is now available on the PROJECT 27 blogspot concerning the overhaul of SECR P-class No. 27. This gives an indication of the way forward in the very short term, together with some news on the marketing side. There will be new items available in the Project 27 online shop.
Project 27 will be having sales stands at the forthcoming modellers weekend (31 July – 1 August), and will also be there on all three days of the BLUEBELL 60+1 event (6-8 August). Additionally Stuart Bardouleau will (hopefully) have his 5 inch gauge ‘Stepney’ in steam for the first time in many a long year! It is also hoped, but not yet confirmed, that Loco No. 27 will be available for inspection over the weekend. This is dependant on many factors, many outside our immediate control.
- The July 2021 edition of Bluebell Times has more details of what is planned for our 60+1 Anniversary Gala – and how we have marked the landmark anniversary over the last few years.
It also covers:
– Appointment of a volunteer co-ordinator
– The Bluebell Railway Trust looking for help with fundraising and accounting
– The arrival of ‘Crompton’ D6570
– A round up of activity in our carriage and wagon workshop
– A walk along the line in July 1959
– The end of steam on 9 July 1967 – on the Western Region!
– And much more.
- An album from yesterday from John Sandys showing the S15 on the service trains together with a look around Sheffield Park, featuring the loco shed (photo, right), the shop, the flower borders, and SteamWork!
- John Arkell’s photo below, taken yesterday whilst he was painting one of the rooms in the new Heritage Skills Centre at Horsted Keynes, shows work by our Infrastructure team to cast the reinforced concrete retaining wall protecting the new septic tank being installed for the station, which is sited behind OP4.
- Les Haines’ photo shows the result of last winter’s work researching, recreating, painting and installing a new wooden door just as it would have been originally, on the concrete Southern Railway Fogman’s hut south of Kingscote. The hut has been relocated slightly; it was adjacent to the site of the original Up Distant signal on what was then a double-track line (so was the distant for the Up platform starter). The hut was starting to slip down the bank, and so was also moved about 20 yards further north, re-establishing a correct relationship with a signal post, now the Up Home, which controls entry to Kingscote’s passing loop.
- David Cable’s photo shows Maunsell S15-class No. 847 with one of Sunday’s “The Pioneer” service trains just North of Caseford Bridge.
- An update on the overhaul of 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’ is now available on The Bulleid Society’s web site. John Fry’s photo below shows the locomotive’s trailing truck, now fully overhauled.
- We are pleased to add that The Bulleid Shop at Sheffield Park has reopened. It has a wide selection of secondhand railway books as well as secondhand model railway items and other gifts and souvenirs. It is open each Saturday and Sunday and will also aim to open on a Wednesday subject to volunteer availability. Please call in and support the restoration of their locomotives and rolling stock.
- Jack Lamb’s photo, below, from 31 May shows the SECR O1 and H-class locos on that day’s service train, adjacent to the public footpath just North of Horsted Keynes.
- David Cable’s photo shows Maunsell Q-class No. 30541 with the “Riviera” Cream Tea service at Leamland Bridge on 19 June.
- We currently have job vacancies for a Catering Supervisor and a Chef de Partie.
- Another chapter unfolds in the Bluebell story. As per the notice issued on Tuesday, Class 33 No. D6570 ‘Ashford’ has arrived at Sheffield Park! In consequence, there is a new web page now published for this locomotive.
It is seen here in Mike Hawkins’ photos being loaded onto the low loader at Wittersham Road yesterday evening, and unloaded at Sheffield Park just after mid-day today. Mechanically it is believed to be in relatively good condition, but will receive some maintenance, as well as bodywork repairs, before it enters service, as a “Thunderbird” locomotive, and to cover potential periods of high fire risk when we might otherwise have to suspend our services, as explained in this pdf document published on Tuesday..
- David Cable was out working with one of our volunteer maintenance gangs on the lineside yesterday, and was able to catch this shot of S15 4-6-0 No. 847 on “The Cricketer” service train at Rock Cutting.
- Nicholas Tozer’s video on YouTube shows No. 847 in action on “The Cricketer” service on 29 June. The train is seen at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes and East Grinstead.
- The Southern Electric Traction Group, custodians of the Bluebell’s 4VEP unit, have announced today that Armstrong Powerhouse, the market-leading producer of high-quality add-ons for the consumer computer game Train Simulator, are supporting the SETG’s restoration of unique 4VEP No. 3417. You can read full details here (pdf) of this massive step forward in their efforts to bring 3417 back into passenger service.
- The Bulleid Society web site has a piece about Malcolm Root’s latest painting (“The Last Spark”, featuring Bulleid’s Leader, see below) which will be produced as a low print run if sufficient orders are received. Malcolm has offered a contribution from the prints sold towards the overhaul of No. 96 Normandy and No. 21C123 Blackmoor Vale. Full details here.
- Updated and enhanced news page for the overhaul of LBSCR 5-compartment 3rd carriage No. 328. The second image below shows the current state of the carriage, with the roof timbers now mostly fitted.
- David Cable’s photo from Sunday 13 June shows our pair of operational SECR locomotives double heading “The Pioneer” service train.
- Tickets for our Model Railway Weekend (31 July – 1 August) are now on sale.
- SteamLights tickets will be on sale TOMORROW from 3pm
- Update to the page for the current overhaul of Stroudley Terrier ‘Fenchurch’, including Nicholas Smith’s photos (as below) showing Fenchurch’s frames on the traverser outside the workshop at Statfold Barn taken earlier this month.
- Members may be interested to read this pdf document about current Diesel Developments. Class 33 No. D6570 ‘Ashford’ (below, photo thanks to Derek Hayward, 19 September 2006) is expected to move from the Kent & East Sussex Railway by the end of this week, and will be owned by the same group of Bluebell Locomotive Department members who own and maintain the Class 09 shunter D4106. It will be hired for use on the Bluebell on an as-required basis.
On arrival at the Bluebell Railway, it will not enter service immediately, however the new owners will implement a re-commissioning programme to ensure the locomotive is reliable before being available for service and at the same time undertake a number of bodywork and roofing repairs to make the loco weathertight.
For the full story: read the pdf.
- David Jones’ photo shows “Golden Arrow” Pullman Car ‘Aquila’ about to be unloaded on 28 May. The S.A. Smith rig arrived during the evening of the 27th from Buckfastleigh, then unloaded on the 28th with the wheels of the Pullman ‘touching down’ on Bluebell metals at 9.08 am. You can read more about how this privately owned vehicle, which has come to the Bluebell on a 30-year loan, fits into our Pullman strategy, in this document: Sustaining Our Wonderful Pullman Train (pdf).
- A notice has been published concerning the 2021 BRPS EGM and AGM (pdf).
- The intermediate overhaul of ‘Camelot’ is making good progress, with the boiler tested and back in the frames, and Heritage Painting having completed a touch-up (where required) and repaint (otherwise). Mechanical work is progressing, and when it returns to service later in the summer it will have a new boiler certificate with the potential for another ten years use. For more information and photos, see the 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society’s Facebook page.
- The Virtual Tour of Sheffield Park now includes a look around our newly re-fitted shop.
- The June 2021 edition of Bluebell Times includes:
– Details about the first events of 2021
– Readers’ reaction to the pressures on our carriage fleet
– Pictures from the Sheffield Park gift shop following its refit
– The Bluebell Railway Museum – 10 years on
– Buy a limited edition 60th Anniversary cushion – and support the Heritage Skills Centre
– And much, much more.
- John Sandys’ photos and videos from his visit on Thursday, with S15 No. 847 in charge of The Cricketer Service Train, including the photo of that locomotive, below, whilst running round its train at Sheffield Park.
- Keith Leppard (a Bluebell Railway volunteer) has updated his earlier book on the Bluebell (written to mark the Railway’s extension to East Grinstead), to bring it up to date for our 60 + 1 Anniversary year, including a series of behind-the-scenes explorations. It is modestly priced at just £8, and is available from our shop – see cover below.
- We now have details available for our 2021 Special Events with tickets now on sale for the first one, our Road meets Rail event on 17–18 July, which is a traditional steam fair featuring working traction engine displays, miniature engines, goods trains and a steam driven children’s fair, taking place at Horsted Keynes Station.
- David Cable’s photo on the right shows SECR O1-class No. 65 at Horsted House Bridge amid the ox-eye daisies on Saturday. This will be one of the next sections of track to be relaid (hence the piles of sleepers seen alongside the track). 80151 had hauled the first two trains that day, but a leak in the water tank level indicator meant that the O1 substituted for the final round trip; 80151 was back in service for the evening dining train.
His photo below, taken on 13 June, shows the Q-class with the Lounge Car catering train.
- My apologies for having not updated this page for a month – who knew taking retirement could make one so busy! I will try harder – Richard.
- John Sandys’ has a gallery of photos from 24 May, from which is taken that below right showing 80151 during its run-round having arrived back at Sheffield Park. John also provides some more taken on 11 June.
- A new magazine, Trackside, which is written by and for railway preservationists, has just launched, and in the first issue there’s a six-page article by Colin Tyson about the jewel in our crown and the challenge which is our massive 5-platform Horsted Keynes station, which needs £1.8 million spending on it, for which we will hopefully be able to start raising the funds in the autumn.
- We are open again, and trains ran today! David Cable’s photo here and below shows BR 4MT tank No. 80151 with a train of mainly side-corridor compartment stock, enabling our passengers to be safely segregated in family groups. This service is known as “The Pioneer”, and is running daily until 6 June, and then at weekends. You can book in advance here.
If compartments remain available, platform ticket holders at Sheffield Park may purchase remaining compartments, including tickets for solo travellers, on the day. Tickets for July will go on sale soon.
- “The Sussex Cricketer” is the name given to the trains running on Mondays to Fridays from 7 June, for which tickets are also available.
This summer special service has been named to commemorate 125 years since the occasion in May 1896 when 25,000 people travelled to Sheffield Park to watch a notable cricket fixture against Australia. Spectators included HRH Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) and banners lined the route between the railway and the gardens of Sheffield Park. The National Trust have a more information about the importance of Sheffield Park to the development of international cricket!
- The second photo below is from John Sandys taken today at Sheffield Park, and shows our newly refitted shop. More of John’s photos from today are available here.
- SR Q-class No. 30541 is seen on a staff training run (using the catering set) on Sunday 16 May; photo thanks to David Cable.
- Fenchurch’s frames and firebox have been sent away for overhaul, as described in this news update.
- We currently have job vacancies for a Locomotive Works Apprentice and Catering Assistants and Kitchen Porters. Also we’re looking for a Medical Officer.
- We have added another 5 webcams, at Kingscote and East Grinstead, to the pair already at Sheffield Park. These are operating today, and this capture shows the SR Maunsell Q-class ready to depart with the 2.30pm test train today, as we renew staff training this week ahead of the relaunch of public services on Thursday.
- Tickets are still available for some of the “Pioneer” timetabled trains, but many of the catering services have already sold out.
The H-class was at Horsted Keynes on Tuesday, and is seen here about to shunt the generator van (BY 404) from the maintenance pit to join a set being prepared for some filming work (we seem to have had quite a bit of that recently, providing some very much needed income). The Metropolitan Railway coaches then went over the pit to prepare them for operation in a few weeks time. The Mk.1/Bulleid side-corridor set will initially be used on the public services.
- The May 2021 edition of Bluebell Times includes:
– News of Fenchurch’s overhaul as our oldest locomotive approaches its 150th birthday
– The pressure to maintain our carriage fleet
– Update on plans for our 60+1 anniversary
– The launch of our new Kingscote virtual tour
– Five minutes with a former naval pilot now kept busy at Horsted Keynes
– An original song celebrating the rhythm of our locomotives
– And much, much more.
- You could sponsor Beachy Head’s Whisle Valve…
There’s an updated list of items which are available to sponsor for the Atlantic, including many parts for the tender.
- We are pleased to launch our new virtual Kingscote tour. This tour gives you chance to explore our stations wherever you are – and includes areas areas not usually open to the public, such as the booking office and the signal box.
- Tickets are now on sale for trains during Half Term week, and weekends in June. Also new are the Pie and Mash Lunch Specials.
- The loco roster has also been updated to cover the re-opening period.
- BR Standard 5 No. 73082 ‘Camelot’ has passed its out-of-frames boiler steam test, with the leaking foundation ring it had now totally cured. The boiler will be painted silver over the next few days, and the cladding is due back from blasting and priming next week. The work done will re-set its 10 year certificate.
- Derek Hayward has re-organised his photos of the Ardingly Branch into four collections, and there are new historical photos from Eric Kemp and Nick Mander in the Ardingly Station and Haywards Heath sections.
- We remain on course for public re-opening on 20 May. The main public trains are The Pioneer (all visiting groups have their own private compartment or segregated seating bay) and on Saturdays, the Cream Tea Riviera service and tickets for the first few weeks are on sale here. This year sees the return of full discounts for BRPS Members, and membership is worth considering if you may visit us regularly.
- Tickets are selling out fast for the first few of our popular Fish & Chip Specials
- Our free re-launch trains for BRPS members on 19 May are now fully booked.
- Realtime Trains to sponsor restoration of unique 4VEP EMU
Details of the sponsorship arrangement for this Bluebell-owned unit (photographed below at Strawberry Hill depot by Richard Salmon on 13 April this year) are available in this Press Release.
- 10T Ballast Wagon S 27730, which was formerly resident on the Bluebell, now has its own web page, thanks to photos by Alan Elliott (right) and Gerry Bixley. Built as a 10 Ton Open Goods wagon in 1928 by the Southern Railway, to a London, Brighton and South Coast Railway design, 27730 was an Isle of Wight vehicle in Southern days, and was converted to a service vehicle for the electrification work there in 1966. In 1980 was purchased for preservation by the Bluebell. It subsequently returned to the Isle of Wight, where it was restored to its 1930s condition in 2007.
- The April 2021 edition of Bluebell Times includes:
– More virtual tours coming soon
– A new addition to SteamWorks!
– A special Easter message from the Railway’s chaplain
– An in-depth look at ‘Camelot’
– Electric Vehicle charging points installed at Sheffield Park, funded from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage grant
– Memories of Fire Service Emergency Services Weekend 2002
– In our Museum: The New Devon Pottery’s “Bluebell Railway” range
– Five Minutes with … Sam Bee
– Recruitment starts for our next plc Chairman and Locomotive Director
– And much, much more.
- Tickets for the BRPS Members’ Specials on Wednesday 19 May are booking fast. These services are free of charge for BRPS members, and can be booked here.
- This photo of our H-class, No.31263 (as it was then), taken by Peter Quilley at Three Bridges on 31 May 1963, has been added to the web page for the locomotive.
- A collection of photographs of the early years of the Bluebell Railway, taken around 1968 – 1970 by Eric Kemp, is now available online thanks to Derek Hayward.
- Project 27 now have an online shop, with most of the postable items which are usually available on their sales stands, plus a few “special” items only available on line. They often add new items so do keep popping back. See: The Fenchurch Fund – Project 27 Shop (on square.site).
Project 27 can also take donations via this shop, but if you are able to give with Gift Aid you are advised to use the Project 27 Virgin MoneyGiving Page.
The Bluebell Railway has been awarded £272,400 in the second round of grants from the Culture Recovery Fund to help us move towards reopening. Read more about this news here.
- More updates on progress with Camelot’s intermediate overhaul on The 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society Facebook Page. Members of the owning group have been cleaning down and re-painting the dragbox. The repaired (and mostly new) ashpan is ready, the new tubes are in the boiler, which has been filled with water and will have preliminary checks this week running up to a hydraulic test in the presence of the boiler inspector which is scheduled for 12th April. An out-of-frames steam test will follow and then reassembly can begin.
- Provisional re-opening date – Thursday 20 May
Please see our announcement about re-opening the Railway to the public after the current lockdown. Tickets will go on sale at 11am on Wednesday 31 March.
- We will initially be running The Pioneer service as well as luncheon and evening dining and afternoon tea trains. More information regarding the timetables will be available shortly.
- Keep your eyes peeled…
Make sure you check our website and social media channels at 11am on Monday (29 March) to find out more.
(Photo: Andrew Strongitharm)
- The Bluebell Railway Goods Division’s lastest “Ready To Run” wagon model is now available to pre-order:
OO Gauge Southern Railway 20 Ton Engineers Wagon No. 62002. Built by the Wetherall Anderson Kit Wagon Company, this exclusive limited edition run of 30 wagons is to celebrated the launch of the Bluebell Railway’s very own SR 20 Ton Dropside Engineers Wagon currently under overhaul. You will also get a commemorative collectors card and a booklet of the history of the wagon.
All profit made goes to the Wagon Fund held by the Bluebell Railway Trust for restorations of wagon.
These models will be released on 62002’s launch date (date to be confirmed). The pictured model below is the part-complete prototype, and for comparison we see the original wagon when previously overhauled on the Bluebell in 2002.
Visit the Bluebell Railway Goods Division’s Shop.
- The March 2021 edition of Bluebell Times includes:
– Winter Works
– Inside the Workshops
– Infrastructure Update
– Heritage Skills Centre
– Tamper Training
– A Closer Look at … The Dukedog
– Down Memory Line – Cowden Station
– And much, much more.
- EVENTS UPDATE The commercial and marketing team have reviewed the current planned events and have made a number of changes to the previous provisional schedule in the light of Covid, and commercial and practical considerations.
– The Model Railway Weekend has been moved from June to July – it is now scheduled to take place on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July [April update – the date has changed again to 31 July & 1 August].
– The first Bluebell Railway Beer Festival is due to take place in September (date to be announced).
– Giants of Steam will be Friday 8 – Sunday 10 October rather than in September with visiting locomotives to be confirmed nearer the time.
– The Diesel Gala which had been scheduled for July has been postponed until 2022 to allow more time for preparation.
– The Diamond Anniversary steering group is enagaged in planning the ’60+ 1′ celebrations scheduled for Friday 6 – Sunday 8 August.
- A few updates on progress with Camelot’s intermediate overhaul on The 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society Facebook Page.
- Update to our own web page for Schools-class locomotive No. 928 ‘Stowe’ which is currently under overhaul.
- Update to the web page for Pullman Car No. 76 which has been sold, and left the Bluebell in January.
- Update to the web page for Southern Railway Borail No. 57883 (currently on long-term loan to the Swanage Railway). The update includes an explanation as to why it was mistakenly numbered 57889 on the Bluebell.
- TheSoutherner’s YouTube video: Steam Veterans | Pre-Grouping Locomotives in Action 2020 has a very good Bluebell showing.
- The February 2021 edition of Bluebell Times includes:
– An update from the board on the current activity while the Railway is closed;
– A surprise 100th birthday present for a lifetime Bluebell member;
– A closer look at H class locomotive No. 263;
– How smoke deflectors work;
– Your help needed identifying some old photos;
– Puzzles with links to local branch lines;
– And much, much more.
- A new Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway blog post reporting on a visit by some of the GWSR C&W Dept. to the Bluebell over Easter 2017 to ride behind ‘Flying Scotsman’.
- An updated and improved web page is now available for the Standard Class 2 Tank Engine Rebuild Project, No. 84030, along with an updated leaflet/donation form.
Tony Sullivan’s photo shows BR Class 2 Tender Engine 2-6-0 No. 78059 shortly after arrival at the Bluebell from Barry scrapyard in May 1983, and which provided the basis for the project.
- Did you spot us in The Times?
We made the list for the Pictures of the Month for January!
- Some great video footage by Paul Ravenscroft from some of the galas held on the Bluebell in 1990, with thanks due to to Dave Bowles. Many locomotives in service then which now await their turn for overhaul.
- Added a photo, also seen below, to the web page for Maunsell droplight open third No. 1336. The photo was kindly provided by Steve Mcnally, and shows the carriage when in departmental service at Fratton as ADS 70313 in the mid-late 1980s, shortly before we acquired it for preservation. . It entered service on the Bluebell in 2008 after a comprehensive rebuild.
- Thanks to a consortium of C&W members and Wagon Group supporters, the SR design 25 Ton Express Goods Brake Van (ARMY 49018 – BR M360328) (seen below left in Richard Salmon’s 1997 photo) has been donated to The Bluebell Railway Trust. The Bluebell’s Goods Division (wagon group) are planning its overhaul, hopefully to include the replacement of the stove, at some point in the coming few years.
- As a fund-raising venture, our Goods Division are taking pre-orders for a limited edition of 30 OO Gauge RTR models of our SR Builleid 5 Plank Open Wagon No. 12058 (photo below). The models will be delivered to coincide with the launch of the wagon itself, which is currently under overhaul.
- Update to the web page for the SECR C-class No. 592.
The C-class and all three of our operational LCDR carriages were built at Longhedge Works, Battersea, and for the relaunch of the third carriage, on 18 June 2016, this train was assembled for the occasion, seen here in Alex Morley’s photo approaching Kingscote where a photo opportunity was staged.
- A major update has been applied to the page for LSWR B4-class locomotive No. 96 ‘Normandy’, with new photos including those below:
Nigel Sealey’s photo shows ‘Normandy’ as first overhauled, shunting at Horsted Keynes on 7 September 1986.
Mike Esau’s photo on the right shows ‘Normandy’ at Southampton Docks for the 50th anniversary of D-Day, with the USS Guam as a backdrop, on 3 June 1994.
- Updated and revised web page for our historical important locomotive Sharpthorn. This photo shows ‘Sharpthorn’ with ‘Baxter’ (also built in 1877) for a publicity shoot on the extension north of Horsted Keynes on 14 May 1993 (Mike Esau).
Built in 1877 by Manning Wardle & Co, Leeds, it was sold on just a year later to Joseph Firbank and used in the construction of the Lewes and East Grinstead Railway. At this point it was given the name ‘Sharpthorn’ (but note that this differs from the modern spelling used for Sharpthorne village). In 1888 it was purchased by Samuel Williams and Sons, becoming their No. 4, and for the next 70 years was employed hauling coal trains around Dagenham Dock, up to the nearby mainline sidings. After withdrawal from service in 1958 it was preserved on site, and two new photos added to the page show the locomotive at Dagenham.
It visited the Bluebell for our centenary celebrations in 1982, and we were able to purchase this unique and important part of our line’s history a year later. It remains at present as a static exhibit, but there is interest from a team of Bluebell volunteers in caring for, and starting to make more of this historic locomotive.
- Update on the boiler work being undertaken on No. 73082 ‘Camelot’, taking advantage of the current quiet period to deal with the leaking foundation ring rivets which have recently been causing concern, and with the advantage that this enables us to obtain a new 10-year boiler certificate for this mainstay of our current operational fleet.
- Our new Museum Virtual Tour allows you to take a look around the accredited Bluebell Railway Museum at Sheffield Park. More tours will be coming soon. These 360 Virtual tours are funded by the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, so we can continue to be #HereForCulture and #HereForYou. It has been produced by the Railway in collaboration with Stef van Vuuren of Stef’s Photography.
- Two offers, below, supporting prjects associated with the Bluebell:
- “Somewhere in South West London, 4VEP No. 423 417 ‘Gordon Pettitt’ is taking maximum amps as it accelerates into the dusk at the head of a diverted semi-fast service to Bournemouth.”
Prints of this magnificent image by Tom Connell are available for sale in the SETG shop, as fundraising for the work being done by SETG to return this Bluebell-owned 4VEP unit to working order.
Tomorrow is last day for you to obtain Volume 5 of the Steam Locos In Profile while also supporting the Bluebell’s Wagon Fleet. The SLIPs Team have kindly offer to donate £5 towards the Wagon Fund every time a copy of Volume 5 is sold.
The Bluebell Railway Trust are currently matching all donations into the Wagon Fund so this means all donations from the SLIPs is doubled.
- “Somewhere in South West London, 4VEP No. 423 417 ‘Gordon Pettitt’ is taking maximum amps as it accelerates into the dusk at the head of a diverted semi-fast service to Bournemouth.”
- News reports on the overhaul of Stroudley Terrier ‘Fenchurch’ have been added to the Locomotive Works News pages.
Tom James’ photo shows the boiler with the throatplate and inner firebox removed, as at 22 November 2020; the outer wrapper and foundation ring are also being replaced, along with the front tubeplate.
- Why not support the current overhaul of Bulleid Pacific No. 34059 ‘Sir Archibald Sinclair’, by participating in the Bluebell Battle of Britain Locomotive Group 2021/22 500+ Club. The closing date is 28 February.
- Daniel Gosling’s “Delivering The Goods” Episode 10 features C-class 592 and E4-class B473 working goods trains on the Bluebell, along with other Southern goods trains.
- Julian Heinemann’s photo shows the GCR-based LMS 8F No.48624 on shed at Sheffield Park during our October 2016 “Giants of Steam” gala.
If things go to plan, we will be holding another such gala on 24-26 September this year. Fingers crossed!
- Nice to see us keeping in the public eye – Last Monday’s Times, although, despite their suggested date for our reopening, no decision or announcement on reopening can be made until we know how the current restrictions are to be lifted across the UK.
The BBC South East News also carried a great report about the Railway, including great footage of the riveting of ‘Camelot’s foundation ring.
- News updates on the fundraising for our 9F locomotive No. 92240 – Awake the Giant are now available.
- The Locomotive Stock list has been updated.
- GDS Railway Photography provides a reminder on his superb video of an hour of activity at Horsted Keynes during the Friday evening of our “End of Southern Steam” Gala, 7 July 2017.
- Brian Dandridge has edited some of his video footage (largely from the Bluebell in 2006) to this great classic voice recording (originally a 78) as a tribute to Reginald Gardiner.
- Amongst other items included in the
January 2021 edition of Bluebell Times are:
– Plans for 2021 and dates for events planned for our ’60 plus 1′ anniversary season
– OBE in the Queen’s New Year honours for Bluebell Railway volunteer Joanne Monck.
– Sale of industrial locomotive ‘Stamford’ (and Pullman Car No. 76 previously reported here)
– SteamLights “Thank You”
– Three generations of Bluebell volunteers tell of their family’s involvement
– Purchase of negatives from the Casserley Collection, and the link to an SECR Stirling F1 tender plate obtained by the Museum
– Photos taken on this day in 1966
- With the Railway being closed as part of the national lockdown, our locomotive workshop are taking the opportunity to carry out remedial work on No. 73082 ‘Camelot’.
A problem had arisen caused by leaks at the foundation ring rivets. To allow these to be replaced, the boiler has been prepared for lifting, hopefully this week.
Although there are still over 4 years remaining on the current boiler ticket, other work will be carried out as necessary whilst it is out of the frames, and will include partial retubing, with the aim of gaining a new 10 year boiler ticket.
As things progress we will give further updates.
- Three photos today by David Cable from a photo charter with visiting Black 5 No. 45231 organised by Jon Bowers on 26 February 2014. Check out the brilliant smoke ring in the second one below!
You can see more from that charter in David’s SmugMug gallery from that day.
- Dan Gosling’s video Delivering The Goods – Episode 8 features, amongst other locos, our Maunsell Q-class No. 30541 running on the Mid-Hants and Great Central Railways as well as at home.
- Trevor Ledgeway’s video “Visit to The Bluebell Railway, 1997” features the NRM’s Bulleid Q1 and ‘Camelot’.
- Update to the web page for Bulleid Brake carriage No. 4227 (the one with the coupé compartment) with a rescanned photo of the carriage taken at Bristol Docks, two years before its arrival on the Bluebell.
4 January 2021
- Infrastructure News – ASH buffer stops
Mike Hopps’ report covers the installation during 2020 of three new dismantlable low-depth buffer stops to protect the exhibition area of the ASH (Accessible Steam Heritage) exhibition SteamWorks! from rail vehicle movements in the loco yard and running shed has been added to the Infrastructure News page.
You can read the full report here (pdf).
Further reports from our Infrastructure teams on activities during 2020 will be made available here in the coming weeks.
- Heritage Rail Posters’ 2021 Calendars are available to download for free, and this year feature a selection of Bluebell goods trains. Again, this is thanks to Mike Hopps.
- Announcement published regarding change to the Interim Chairmanship of the Bluebell Railway company board.
- Update from the Brighton Atlantic Project.
Fred Bailey’s photo shows the clothing sheets fitted to the firebox. There is much more detail and other news and photos in the update.
- Wishing all our members and supporters a very happy New Year. Here’s to 2021!
- Jack Lamb’s photo on the right shows one of the SteamLights services on 7 December. These services were very well received by our visitors, and should have been continuing through January, but are now sadly curtailed by the Tier 4 restrictions.
- We have a great Virtual Tour of Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes at Christmas.
- Two videos from Keith Duke covering some of the spectacular SteamLights event:
The switch-on of the lights on 11 December, and a SteamLights departure from Sheffield Park on 22 December.
- Our Santa Specias ran in a very different format this year, with social distancing in place throughout, using compartment stock, and again appeared to go down well with our visitors. Jack Lamb’s photo below shows the S15 with one of the Santa trains returning to East Grinstead at sunset, using our Edwardian and Victorian carriages.
- Above and right are photos from David Cable taken during Jon Bowers’ photo charter with the Maunsell S15 goods loco (minus smoke deflectors) and a rake of goods wagons.
- The Bluebell Railway Goods Division is the rapidly growing group of volunteers fundraising for and physically maintaining and overhauling our wagon fleet. They have just set up a new online fundraising shop on SquareSite.
- A new video compilation from Lee Andrew Davies features LBSCR Locomotives 55 ‘Stepney’, 672 ‘Fenchurch’ and B473 ‘Birch Grove’ running on the Bluebell.
- Update to the web page for the Bulleid Q1 locomotive, which was on loan to Bluebell from the National Railway
Museum between 1977 and 2004.
- Update to the web page for Pullman Car 76, which has now been sold.
We currently have five other carriages available for sale.
- The latest Government announcement has placed East and West Sussex into Tier 4 (Stay at Home) from Boxing Day. As a result, the Railway is closed from this date and services from 27 December have been cancelled until further notice. *Please keep an eye on our website and social media channels for information about reopening.
- Our customer services team will be contacting all customers with an affected booking as soon as possible. We are receiving a very high volume of enquiries at the moment, so we ask for patience and understanding at this difficult time. If you have emailed us already, please be assured your email has been logged and we will be in touch as soon as possible.
- Our services on 24 December will be operating as planned.
- The December issue of The Bluebell Times is out now!
- An end-of-year message and reflections on 2020 from senior Bluebell Railway personnel are included in the latest issue.
- Issue 15 also contains a special Christmas greeting from the Railway’s chaplain as well as a report and photos on the start of the SteamLights service with illuminated trains and lineside displays.
- Our new SteamLights service was included during the BBC South East programme on 10 December. Watch a clip here.
- The Bluebell Railway reopened to the public on Thursday 3 December.
- Our brand new SteamLights service began on Thursday 3 December, and will be lighting up the winter nights on selected dates until 31 January. The photo on the right shows No. 73082 hauling a SteamLights service over the weekend (Credit: Hannah Louise Photography).
- We are also running Santa Specials and Festive Afternoon Tea services on selected dates in the run up to Christmas.
- Restaurant Miniature Buffet (RMB) No. 1838 has now returned to Bluebell Railway. The buffet vehicle arrived back at Sheffield Park on 3 December, after having structural repairs at Cranmore Traincare & Maintenance Services.
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