Blog: What's New at the Bluebell Railway?
- 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.
– 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. 94 “Normandy”, with new photos including those below:
Nigel Sealey’s photo shows ‘Normandy’ as first overhauled, shunting at Horsted Keynes on 7 September 1986.
Mike Esau’s photo on the right shows ‘Normandy’ at Southampton Docks for the 50th anniversary of D-Day, with the USS Guam as a backdrop, on 3 June 1994.
- 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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