News from the Bluebell Railway 17 December 2011

Recreating the golden age of steam for passengers of all ages, the Bluebell Railway has a large collection of vintage locomotives, carriages, and equipment and holds many special events throughout the year.

This edition of the eNewsletter is sponsored by East Grinstead Town Council, which sends its best wishes to the Bluebell Railway staff, volunteers, and supporters for a Happy Christmas and successful New Year!
In This Issue
The Big Give Christmas Challenge Raises £100,000
Rare Print Goes Back to the Future!
Waste by Rail Ends
Photos of the Year
Loco Works & Carriage Shed
Modern Welfare Facilities Planned
Enjoy the Bluebell Railway on DVD!
Aims, Objectives, and Long Term Plans
A Brighton Atlantic Rebuild
Volunteer at the Bluebell Railway!
Enter Our Christmas Haiku Competition!

Visit our blog



  Timetable & Fares  


Locomotive Roster  


Train Formations  


Local Accomodation List  


Map & Gradient Profile  

The Bluebell Railway Appeal
The Bluebell Railway Appeal

Christmas Services Update!


Reservations for Afternoon Tea in the Lounge Car, 2012


Victorian Christmas Special Trains


New Years Eve Golden Arrow Spectacular  

Bluebell Shop  

Gift Vouchers

What & Where Is
the Bluebell Railway? 

The Bluebell Railway by Nicholas Williams of Fun O Vision Films
The Bluebell Railway by Nicholas Williams of Fun O Vision Films

Just Giving


Donate to 50th Anniversary Appeal


Bluebell Railway Trust




RAF March Past
The Bluebell Railway Band plays
the "RAF March Past."
Popular photographs from the JJ Smith Collection in the Bluebell Railway Archive:

Photo 1
Photo 2
Photo 3
Photo 4
Photo 5
Photo 6

Click here to see photographs from the Colin Hogg collection.

The Big Give Christmas Challenge Raises 100,000   

The year came to a terrific end with The Big Give Christmas Challenge.

Despite problems with The Big Give website, many of you persevered and continued to donate once our target was passed. This was a magnificent effort, and we thank you all. Full details will be in the forthcoming edition of "Bluebell News."


My mind has already turned to 2012, and I am drafting a Funding Strategy for consideration by interested parties in January. There will be a number of activities that we hope will include another match funding challenge--I am searching for sponsors. For one more year, the major focus of our public fundraising must be the Northern Extension Project.


The amount to be raised (i.e. the actual funding gap) now depends on Chris White's assessment of the current situation at Imberhorne Cutting and whether a further Waste by Rail exercise is required. This assessment will take place while the site is closed down for the winter.


Other 2012 fundraising activities will include locomotive and carriage refurbishment and the ambitious plans we have for new building and building restoration. So, 2012 will be a busy year for the newly formed Fundraising Committee.


By Roger Kelly, Funding Director


Rare Print Goes Back to the Future!

The black-and-white photo below, kindly made available by Chris Hazlehurst and obtained with thanks from GW Sharp, is from March 1960. It shows a standard 4 tank locomotive looking north through Imberhorne Lane road bridge. The original cutting face is visible in the top right.  

The restored cutting will look different due to excavation works. The current state of restoration can be seen in the accompanying color photo, taken by Steve Fairweather.








Waste by Rail Ends

During the past two weeks a further eight Waste by Rail trains ran, four trains each week.

One train arrival was unfortunately delayed, making it impossible to fully load the train before the scheduled departure time, and the very last train was cancelled owing to GBRf's contractual commitment to de-icing duties.

By the end of the final week, the total waste removed by road and rail stood at 90,981 tonnes, but remember, volume is more important than weight! Other activities will continue while the site is shut down and assessed.

By Nigel Longdon


B luebell Railway Photos of the Year Released 

Thank you to John Sandys for his slideshow of the Bluebell Railway in 2011. Click here to enjoy!

Latest News from the Loco Works & Carriage Shed

Derek Hayward's photo below shows one of the Bluebell Railway's former "Travelling College" coaches--Mk.I TSO No.4941--which has just returned to Bluebell metals following a contract overhaul of the body at Cranmore Train Maintenance Services.

This maintenance involved repairs to the non-toilet end, door pillars, and the lower body-sides, as well as a re-sealing of the gutters and side-lights (that is, windows).

The other end of the coach had already received repairs and a conversion involving removal of the toilet compartments and their replacement by double doors, to enable this vehicle to become our third wheel-chair accessible coach. A new interior and electric lifts will be fitted at Horsted Keynes, to make this vehicle comparable to No.5034.

Concerning locomotives, work has nearly finished on installing the new stays in the boiler of H class No 263. Next, the boiler will be turned the right way up for the tubes to be fitted. The boiler should contain water within a few weeks.

By Lewis Nodes & Richard Salmon



Modern Welfare Facilities Planned for Loco Shed

A project to construct new Locomotive Department and workshop welfare facilities looks likely to start on 3 Jan.

This improvement is part of Operation Undercover. It will provide washrooms, workshop offices, a training room, and a viewing gallery for department members.

Local contractor CRB Construction foresees completion in April 2012. There will be an interface with the workshop above the existing machine shop during construction, but disruption will be kept to a minimum and the workshop will remain open throughout.

By Chris Hunford

Enjoy the Bluebell Railway on DVD!

Enjoy the Bluebell Railway at home during the holidays!

Preview here the 80-minute DVD called Bluebell Annual 2009 , the latest in a successful series by Permanent Way volunteer and well-known Photo Charters Organiser Jon Bowers.

It is available online from the Bluebell Shop, priced at 15.99 plus postage. Profits go to the Northern Extension Project' s Imberhorne cutting clearance.

Aims, Objectives, and Long Term Plans Revision Continues

The period for submissions to "Aims, Objectives, and Long Term Plans" has now closed, having been open since the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society AGM in May 2011. Thank you to the many members who sent in their thoughts.

I have also been canvassing ideas and opinions during this time. This has been a very enlightening experience, and it has been helpful in my task of gaining a consensus view of our future needs and wants.

What happens now? I am working up a draft with the help of members of my Steering Group. We will consider the whole document and review all the submissions early in the New Year to produce a draft for presentation to the Society Trustees in early February.

Following their consideration, the plan will be circulated to all current members prior to the AGM in May 2012, where it will be proposed for adoption. This version will be a road map for the railway for the next 25 years, and it will hopefully set us on our way to our centenary in 2060!

By Chris Saunders, Trustee, BRPS

A Brighton Atlantic Rebuild

In a testament to the expertise and commitment at the Bluebell Railway, a complete and working Brighton Atlantic locomotive is currently being built from a few existing parts, as fundraising permits.

Click here for a YouTube video in which a Brighton Atlantic locomotive is seen on the move--and in colour. A link to project progress is here. (Please consider making a donation or sponsoring a component!)

By Neil Cameron

A Brighton Atlantic locomotive passes Newhaven Harbour station. Photo taken from the JJ Smith Collection. Prints are for sale in the Bluebell Railway Museum Archive (link in the left-hand column).

Volunteer at the Bluebell Railway!

Make it your 2012 New Year's Resolution to become  a Bluebell Railway volunteer!

Click here to learn about "Find Out More Days" and the many ways you can help our railway.

Enter Our Christmas Haiku Competition!


To celebrate the festive season, we invite you to send us a haiku on a winter subject. The best poem in each age group will be published in the next eNewsletter. Age groups are 12 and under; 13 to 17; and adults (don't forget to tell us your age!)

What is a haiku? It is a traditional Japanese form, Anglicised as a three-line poem of 17 syllables: line 1 has five syllables, line 2 has seven syllables, and line 3 has five syllables. A haiku tries to capture the essence of its subject using one of the five senses and an evocation of the season. A haiku does not have to rhyme or to use proper grammar. It can be serious or funny.

To get you in the mood, here is an example of a haiku (by "anonymous"). 
The last winter leaves
Clinging to the black branches
Explode into birds.

To submit your haiku,   click here . Poems must be received by Christmas Day. An overall winner, judged with reference to the age of the author, will receive a family ticket for a day out on the Bluebell Railway. Martin Walls (my brother) will be the judge. He is the author of three books of poems and is a US Library of Congress Witter Bynner Poetry Fellow.

By John Walls

We are very grateful to all our readers for supporting the eNewsletter. The last edition so far has been read by 1,755 subscribers.
On behalf of the editorial team, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Train-Filled New Year. We'll see you in the New Year after a short break.


John Walls
Trustee, Bluebell Railway Preservation Society