News from the Bluebell Railway 27 February 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.
Floreat Vapor: Let Steam Flourish! The Bluebell eNewsletter is sponsored by the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society
In This Issue
A New Phase: News from the Northern Extension Project
Northern Extension Project Funding Update
Double Donations Dash Details Finalised
Marathoner to Go the Distance for NEP
Goodbye Tenner for the Tip
Loco & Carriage Updates
Steam Crane Arrives Horsted Keynes Up-Yard
Stoomtram Hoorn Medemblik Goes to War
The Archivist Wants!

Bluebell Railway Website


Sales & Information  


Timetable & Fares  


Google map  




Disabled Access


Frequently Asked Questions


Gift Vouchers



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

Bluebell Shop  


Bluebell Museum & Archive  

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

Locomotive Roster  

Train Formations  


Line Map & Gradient Profile


Local Accomodation List  


Walkscene "Railway  Children" Walks  


Lineside Photographers
Track Safety

Bluebell Railway video by Gary and Phillip Bull
Bluebell Railway video by Gary and Phillip Bull.

Special Events 2012  


"The Steam Era: Blackmore Vale and the Bluebell Railway," featuring the old steam crane at work!

Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




East Grinstead Concert Band/Bluebell Railway Band plays
East Grinstead Concert Band/Bluebell Railway Band plays "Dambusters," May 2011


View our photos on flickr

Some artistic interpretations of the Bluebell Railway in February 2012
by Nick Burgess

Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

Video by Brian Jones of The Bluebell's 9F Black Beauty 92240. An exclusive first showing for eNewsletter readers!
Video by Brian Jones of 9F Black Beauty 92240, from 1991. An exclusive first showing for eNewsletter readers!
An updated set of photographs from the Colin Hogg Collection in the Bluebell Railway Archive:
Prints can be ordered online.

A New Phase: News from the Northern Extension Project

We know many of you have been waiting for the latest news on our plans to steam through to East Grinstead. Despite the site being closed over winter, a lot of planning activity has been done--this special eNewsletter updates everyone on where we are now.

First, the good news. We have effectively met our 1 April deadline for waste clearance. Further waste trains are unlikely, and even if a relatively small amount of waste still needs to be moved, we have plans in place. Both undertaking this work and also raising the funding required by the deadline has been a magnificent effort by staff, volunteers, and other donors. However, we cannot let up, as there is much more to be done.

Work on the ground will recommence in earnest in the last week of March, at Kingscote and Imberhorne Road Bridge. Both track and signalling at Kingscote will require changes. The existing point is adequate to allow locomotives to reverse and to proceed at low speed; however, its curvature is too steep for normal running. This point will be replaced. In tandem with this work, the track on the north side of the gate will need to be realigned.

Timing of this phase is crucial because the current engine turning facility will be lost during the work, and we want to give the S&T team maximum time to address the new signalling arrangements. Our proximity to the electrified line at East Grinstead introduces some new features, including AC track circuits and immunisation, adding complexity to this work.

At the cutting itself, designs for the final cutting shape are still being developed. The most important of these deals with the large volumes of capping material that have to be processed. Several options are emerging, each of which has differing cost and time implications that have to be balanced against ensuring a safe and fit for purpose solution. All the options involve re-engineering the cutting and re-profiling the track bed south of the road bridge. Once this is done service and drainage ducts can be installed followed by the track itself that should be in place by the end of the summer.

Once track is in place, the remaining capping material can be moved south to Horsted Keynes for construction of the turning facility. This is likely to involve the use of a hired-in train similar to the one used for waste removal to undertake the work quickly and efficiently. Before we finally open, a number of other tasks need to be done, including repairs to the occupation bridge and underside of the viaduct south arch; construction of customer facilities at the station site and an inter-station walkway; and administrative work on safety, staff training, and operational plans.

We plan to hand over to the Operations Department on 18 March 2013. However, this date is only achievable if the last remaining funding is available on the same timescale. The total estimated cost of the works is £800,000, comprising an average spend of approximately £80,000 per month over the next 10 months. We have planned hoping our supporters will make a final effort for one last "big give" to see the Railway's most significant long-term objective come to fruition.

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director 


Northern Extension Project Funding Update

In order to finish the Northern Extension Project (NEP), we need to cover the remaining funding gap of approximately £800,000 and see the NEP paid for by the time scheduled services to East Grinstead start in the spring of 2013.  


To raise this money, the Railway is launching the "Funding for the Finish" campaign. The campaign's progress will be reported on the Railway's website, through the eNewsletter, and in the Bluebell News magazine.
We have a number of events planned--or in an embryonic state--over the next 12 months. The first of these is the Double Donations Dash . Half a dozen individual sponsors have promised up to £40,000, if that amount can be matched by online, cash, and cheque donations made between the 24 and 30 March.
Also, Tenner for the Tip has been replaced by a new initiative-- Fiver for the Finish --and our stalwart band of collectors will continue to seek donations from the public traveling on our trains. "Fiver for the Finish" will also be available in the shop and online at the shop's website . So if you have never purchased a Tenner for the Tip Certificate--or want one more for your collection--you have a limited amount of time to buy one!
Later in the year there will be events for our supporters to gather contributions from outside the Railway--watch this space!
We will of course continue to try get support from business and government at every level, but in these difficult economic times, it is likely that the support of individual donors--who wish to see our long term dream of a connection to East Grinstead come true--will make it happen.

We have achieved so much in the last three decades of NEP and there's now only a small proportion of the overall cost still required to complete the project. We will do it!


By Roger Kelly, Funding Director 


Double Donations Dash Details Finalised

The NEP Double Donations Dash-- 24 to 30 March --will use a special page on the Just Giving website . This is a well-established way of giving and has proved very successful so far; there is even a facility for donors to leave a message! We will shortly update our existing page with our new funding requirement.

Those of you who gave to the Christmas Challenge will know that it proved so popular with the many charities taking part that the "Big Give" website experienced problems. This new challenge is unique to the Railway, so we expect it to go smoothly. There is no rush to donate by a specific time; donations can be made anytime between 24 to 30 March. You also can send us a cheque arriving (or post dated) during the "give week."

We will provide daily updates on the Just Giving page with the grand total raised. Finally, a big thank you to our sponsors for making this happen and for giving us a chance to take a big chunk out of the NEP funding gap.

By John Walls, Trustee, Fundraising 


Marathoner to Go the Distance for NEP

Bluebell Railway Preservation Society member Lorna Webb is taking part in the London Marathon on 22 April, to raise funds for the Northern Extension Project (NEP).

Webb says she first visited the Bluebell as a child and has continued to visit ever since. "I even took my (now) husband there for our second date," she says. "Luckily he likes steam railways too!"

Webb, who lives in East Grinstead, says she can't wait to see steam engines at the platform there. "I have been volunteer fundraising for about a year now, promoting Tenner for the Tip on East Grinstead open days, but I wanted to do more," she explains.

A keen runner, she applies for the London Marathon every year. "I have run in the marathon before, but always for big charities, so when I got a ballot place this year, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to support the Railway on our final push into East Grinstead."

On early training runs, whilst the last dig was on, Webb planned a route that went past the tip, so she could check progress ("and have a bit of a breather after running up Turners Hill Road!" she adds.)  


Her training was interrupted by a calf injury, but she's now recovered. "There is still a lot of running to be done, in the rain, the wind, and whatever else the weather can throw at me, so please keep me motivated by supporting my fundraising efforts!" Click here to support Lorna!

Webb is also getting together a Bluebell Railway team for the East Grinstead leg of the MSDC Sussex Living Marathon --a 10-mile run on 5 May. Anyone who wants to take part and represent the Railway should contact the eNewsletter editor , who will pass your interest along. 


Goodbye Tenner for the Tip

In January 2009 "Tenner for the Tip" was launched. Some thought that it wouldn't work, but by the end of 2011 in excess of £230,000 had been raised, primarily by a stalwart team of on-train promoters.

The promoters were supported by the shop, the on-line community, East Grinstead open days, and stands at external events. They are very grateful to Customer Services for providing administrative support.

The money raised equates to almost 10 days of Waste by Rail--a magnificent achievement. The on-train promoters each had different ways of encouraging our visitors to part with some loose change if they could not afford to give 10 pounds. Stickers for the children also encouraged donations.

Gifts came in all amounts, but my personal experiences included two separate £50 donations--one from a German lady who, to my reaction that it was "a lot of money" replied, "But I love steam trains!"

Since further WBR trains are unlikely, it was decided to continue with the on-train fundraising, but with a fresh message. Towards the end of March a new scheme called "Fiver for the Finish" will be launched as part of the Funding for the Finish Campaign.

So there will be the opportunity to donate to obtain a new certificate design and the team of on-train promoters are getting ready to ply their trade. Sadly, Peter Forrester-Smith, one of our regulars, has had to withdraw due to illness. We wish him an early return to good health. If anyone would like to join the team, contact me , and I will forward your name to our roster clerk.

By Nigel Longdon

In this photo Nigel Longdon relieves Ken Measures of £10. Note the blurred hand showing how quick the transaction takes place! (Photo by Steve Fairweather.)

Loco & Carriage Updates

1) Maunsell Society: Locos 847, 1618, and 541.

There has been some much needed surgery as 847 gets some attention to bits that will see her through her next 10 years sweetly we hope ... More information .  


2) Bulleid Society: Bulleid Coach 5768  

 A replacement northeast corner pillar has been fabricated and trial-fitted. In order to confirm the location of its base, the adjacent door that closes upon it has been hung ... More information .  


3) Please support John Sisley's Amazon book sales , proceeds to the Northern Extension Project. Click here .  


Steam Crane Arrives Horsted Keynes Up-Yard

On 21 Feb., the Ransome Rapier 45-ton lift steam crane enjoyed a smooth run to Horsted Keynes at reduced speed, in the capable control of Paul Russell--driving the 08 350hp diesel shunter "Gronk"--and the guard/shunting team in the SR bogie brake van. 

Russell, Trevor West, and Neil Cameron--three of the four remaining crane gang members who worked on the project from 1982 to 1992--prepared and accompanied the crane for the move, along with Chris Hunford.

The crane has been out of sight at the far end of Kingscote for more than 10 years, hence the multi-shade green moss coating on the visible east side, where it lay among the trees. The crane will be more visible at Horsted Keynes.
One axle ran slightly warm--the north end axle of the relieving bogie behind the crane being the only journal to have acquired any rust during its sojourn at Kingscote. 

The final move into the allocated "Hudson's" siding was stopped short pending straightening and levelling at the rear of the siding, which will permit the crane to come off its present sharply curved and awkward stance and roll back to a straight-and-level situation more suited to its close-coupled nature.

You can see this rare move thanks to the videos by John Harwood and Martin Lawrence and Lawrence's slide show .   


By Neil Cameron 


Stoomtram Hoorn Medemblik Goes to War

Our Dutch twin railway will be operating a 1940s weekend on 16 and 17 June. All the stations on the line will explore a different era in the Second World War. 

Travel through time from Hoorn (1939) to Medemblik (1945) and from mobilisation to liberation. Thanks to collaboration with the Dutch Living History Society, around 600 re-enactors plan to be at the event.  
Visit Stoomtram's website for more details about the event and the railway. If you would like any more information or assistance with a visit, contact Roger Price .  

The Archivist Wants !

If you have any of the following Bluebell Railway items, please contact the archivist at :
  • Any Special Traffic Notices before 2000
  • Any departmental name and address lists (these are useful to identify when persons worked at the railway)
  • Stepney Newsletter Autumn 2007
  • Points and Crossings for November 2010 and March 2011
  • An original Bluebell Railway cap badge (as worn in the 1960s)
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