News from the Bluebell Railway 22 January 2012

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 successful 2012!
In This Issue
Imberhorne Cutting, 1957
Birch Grove Suite to Receive Makeover
Loco & Carriage News Updates
Keep Fit & Raise Funds!
Bluebell to Celebrate Local Produce
Volunteer at the Bluebell Railway!
Enjoy Photos of the Bluebell Railway in Dec. 2011 & Jan. 2012
Ballast: A Personal Journey
Miniature Signals Donated to the Museum
Haiku Contest Winner Announced

Visit our blog



Bluebell Railway Website


Timetable & Fares  


Locomotive Roster  


Train Formations  


Local Accomodation List  


Map & Gradient Profile  


2012 Special Events List  

Bluebell Railway Appeal  (updated Nov. 2011)
Bluebell Railway Appeal
(updated Nov. 2011)

Reservations for Afternoon Tea in the Lounge Car, 2012  


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




Bluebell Railway Band plays
Bluebell Railway Band plays "Luftwaffe"
Popular photographs from the Colin Hogg Collection in the Bluebell Railway Archive:

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

Prints can be ordered online.
Bluebell Railway 7.1.12 (credit: Gary and Philip Bull).

Leader: Photo by Colin Hogg 

Old Imberhorne Cutting
21 March, 1957. Imberhorne Cutting, 12.28 p.m. EG-Lewes. (Find links to the Colin Hogg photo collection in left column).

Birch Grove Suite to Receive Makeover

The Board has given the go ahead for the refurbishment of the upstairs space in the Bessemer Arms building at Sheffield Park, known as the "Birch Grove Suite."

The building was first erected in 1986-1987, and the suite opened on the first floor some five years later, a result of the benefits of learning how best to serve the wide range of visitors and staff the building welcomes throughout the year.

While it has served Bluebell Railway well over the years, the suite is now in need of some refurbishment, which we hope to complete during autumn 2012. This will give the space a new lease of life for the next 25 years and will help us to widen and expand our hospitality.

In particular, weddings are popular on the Bluebell Railway, and we hope to make the wedding experience even better in the future. We also hope to add to our slate of corporate events by hosting training courses and seminars. Plus, some of you may have already given the new carvery a try--it is becoming increasingly popular--and the refurbishment should improve the ambience of the carvery area.

Loco & Carriage News Updates 

  • For a photo of the Golden Arrow Pullman "Carina" arriving at Sheffield Park, click here.  
  • For the latest on the Brighton Atlantic loco project, click here.  
  • To follow the Bluebell Loco Works Working Group on Twitter, click here.  
  • For an update on H class loco repair , click here.  

Keep Fit & Raise Funds!

Many of us will have made New Year resolutions to keep in better shape. Well, why not raise money for the Bluebell Railway at the same time?

Firstly, a major new festival of running is coming to Mid Sussex in May 2012, with the launch of the Sussex Living Marathon Weekend, sponsored by Sussex Living, three Town Councils, and the Mid Sussex District Council.

The organisers want charities to have the opportunity of raising funds via the event, and it would be great if runners supporting the Bluebell Railway are visible on the day. Local businesses also are being encouraged to get involved either through entering teams, sponsoring and supporting the races, or offering discounts to runners.

Three races are planned over the weekend:
* A 10-mile race in East Grinstead on 5 May 
* A 10-mile race in Haywards Heath on 6 May  
* A 10K race in Burgess Hill on 7 May 

In addition to the main races, there will be family and corporate relay events, children's races, and other attractions. Full entry details, including information on how to enter online or by post, can be found here .

Secondly, the Bluebell is planning its own sponsored event--"Track Trek."

This is specifically aimed at raising money for the Northern Extension Project and will involve a sponsored walk over the length of the extension, possibly with a choice of starting at either Kingscote or East Grinstead.

Track Trek will offer a unique chance to walk (or possibly run) the entire length of the extension before track is fully laid. We will be asking all participants to register in advance and obtain a minimum amount of sponsorship. The event is provisionally planned for autumn, but that will, of course, depend on the condition of Imberhorne Cutting.

Bluebell to Celebrate Local Produce 

Planning is well underway for the increasingly successful "Sussex Food Festival" that takes place at Horsted Keynes 24 to 25 June.

We are pleased to announce that alongside the support of the Co-operative in Haywards Heath, we are joined by the Ashdown Park Hotel that will hold cooking demonstrations at its stand to show off the skills of its professional chefs.

Other traders are expected to promote a wide range of the best food Sussex has to offer, from ice creams to cheeses and homemade jams to chutneys and mustards. And don't forget the unforgettable sausages and breads that we enjoyed last year!

Watch out for further announcements in this eNewsletter and on the Bluebell Railway's special events page.

"Find Out More" About Volunteering, 5 Feb. 

Have you ever wondered how to become a volunteer, what it entails, and whom to contact? Give it a try in 2012!

To become a working member of the Bluebell Railway, attend the next "Find Out More Day" on 5 Feb. from 10.30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Sheffield Park Station.

For more information about volunteering, to request an information pack, or to book your place on the tour, contact the General Office at (01825) 720-800 or e-mail Volunteer Recruitment Leader Clive Soper.

Enjoy Photos of the Bluebell Railway in Dec. 2011 & Jan. 2012  

Bluebell the Train
Courtesy of Martin Lawrence. For Dec. 2011 photos, click here. For Jan. 2012 photos, click here.

Ballast: A Personal Journey 

What do we see all over the railway, but scarcely pay any attention to? As someone who has regularly shovelled ballast, the opportunity arose for a lift in one of the delivery lorries to collect track ballast from the Isle of Grain, Kent.

The ballast, consisting of granite chips, is dynamite quarried from the isolated Glen Sanda Quarry , Lochlinnhe, near Oban in Scotland. It's crushed before being loaded onto an 86,000 tonne self-discharging ship.

From there it is transported 1,000 miles by sea, taking two-and-a-half days to reach Bardon Aggregates at the stone terminal in Port Victoria, Isle of Grain, Kent.

It is then unloaded onto dedicated dumper trucks and carried about one-third of a mile inland on its own purpose-built elevated metal roadway to the processing plant.  

Here the chips are washed, sieved, and carried by conveyer belts to the appropriate pile in the yard. Our ballast is size S1: approximately 32mm x 50 mm.

The ballast is now ready to be loaded into our 20-tonne delivery lorry for the 55 miles to East Grinstead. The cost of ballast fluctuates, but it averages about 10 per tonne. In future, of course, it will arrive by rail.

My photograph--taken with permission--shows one of the conveyer belt feeds creating a ballast mountain of washed and sorted chips.

By Ken Measures

Miniature Signals Donated to the Museum  

The museum recently received a superb collection of 11 model signals based on LBSCR, SECR, and SR designs. We are very grateful to Mr. R. Coffin for donating them to us. They are built to a scale of 1.5 inches to a foot, and we hope to display one or more of them in the museum in due course. Each signal can be operated from an attached miniature lever frame.

Pictured is a SR (ex-LBSCR) "double slotted" signal with "stop" and "distant" signal arms. This model represents one of the Saxby and Farmer designs used on the Brighton Line. The "distant," or lower, arm is said to be "double slotted." Where block sections were short and braking distances in consequence were reduced, it was essential that relevant "stop" signals were pulled off by the next two signal boxes in advance before the "distant" signal could be lowered to the "off" or "line clear" position.

An additional slot mechanism was thus added to control the operation of the upper "stop" arm. Operating the lever frame, which represents three different but successive signal boxes, will clearly demonstrate how it works.

By Tony Hillman

Haiku Contest Winner Announced


Thank you to all those who entered the 2011-2012 Bluebell Railway Winter Haiku Contest.

We received several entries in the adult writers category but unfortunately none from young writers (perhaps next time?!) So, we asked our judge, Martin Walls, to choose a winner and two honorable mentions.


Frost sparkles on rails
Steam hangs in the freezing air
The firebox glows bright.

By Dave Chambers

Writes our judge: "This one comes closest to spirit of a true haiku--showing rather than telling, use of multiple senses, and implicit comparison among images."


Old Guard from Coulsdon
In Birdcage Brake resplendent.
No Riff Raff please

By Tony Wilkinson


Floreat vapor
Steaming on the bluebell line
Next stop East Grinstead

By Gordon Hicks

We are very grateful to all our readers for supporting the eNewsletter. Please forward it to family, friends, and colleagues. See you trackside!

John Walls
Trustee, Bluebell Railway Preservation Society