News from the Bluebell Railway 27 May 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
AGM Notes Difficult Financial Year
Better Weather Means Progress on Northern Extension Project
Baxter Keeps On Steaming!
Mark Your Calendars for These June Events!
Save the Date: Pooh Bridge Excursion, 1 July
The Rolling Downs + Bluebell Railway = Inspirational Getaway!
Photographers' Track Safety Training Sessions Slated
Loco & Carriage & Wagon News
H Class Tank Returns to Steam
Enjoy These Recent Photographs!
Archive Photo Quiz Part 2, Redux!
Chandlers Helps Out

Bluebell Railway Website


Sales & Information  


Timetable & Fares  


  2012 Timetable PDF  


  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  


Trains & Events  


Train Formations  


Line Map & Gradient Profile  


Local Accomodation List  


Walkscene "Railway Children" Walks  

Lineside Photographers Track Safety  

Southern at War 2012, including fly past, by Blakey063
Southern at War 2012, including fly past, by Blakey063.

Special Events 2012  


Spitfire flypast during Southern at War, by Richard Salmon.
Spitfire flypast during Southern at War 2012, by Richard Salmon.

Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




The Bluebell Railway on 10 May, 2012, by John Sandys.
The Bluebell Railway on 10 May, 2012,
by John Sandys.


80151 departs Kingscote on 22 Feb., 2009, by Martin Lawrence. Best played loud, he notes!
80151 departs Kingscote on 22 Feb., 2009, by Martin Lawrence. Best played loud, he notes!

Carriage & Wagon Updates & Societies

Pleasant video with a nice soundtrack, by
Pleasant video with a nice soundtrack, by "foxcell" from 11 Feb., 2012

A set of Brighton Atlantic photographs from the Colin Hogg Collection
in the Bluebell Railway Archive:

Prints can be ordered online.
A recently digitized camcorder video of the Railway circa 1990, by
A recently digitized camcorder video of the Railway circa 1990, by "The Western Explorer."

AGM Notes Difficult Financial Year


Despite there being no election required this year, we easily achieved a quorum at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), possibly due to the Chairmen's Challenge, which raised £1,100 from those who attended. In fact, after adding the chairmen's matching funds, the tea/coffee income, and the retiring collection, nearly £3,000 was added to the Northern Extension Project (NEP) account during the evening.


The NEP funding gap was stated to be £570,000 (representing a magnificent effort from those who have given in this year alone). The bad weather had caused a four-week delay in work at Imberhorne, and contingency should therefore allow a handover to the Operations Department on 18 March, 2013 (before opening for passenger service later). It is likely that GB Railfreight will have the privilege of running the first charter train, since they have been so supportive of the Railway.


The Society accounts showed a fall in subscriptions due to the number of five-year subscriptions taken out and an ever-increasing number of "senior" members. The PLC accounts also showed a relatively difficult year, which was thought to be due to the economic climate and also the expectation that 2011 was always going to be challenging after the 2010 50 th anniversary celebrations.


The Trust accounts showed a lot of money passing through for various projects, especially the NEP, but no significant "general" money received. Richard Salmon stressed that members should consider leaving a legacy. Legacy income was much lower in 2011 (against 2010), but it is always expected to fluctuate. As a result, the Trust has had to exercise tight control on new projects.


The first motion concerned the proposed subscription increase. The proposal was defended on the grounds that there has been no increase in the last four years, and these had always been at intervals of several years. The motion carried by a majority, although with a substantive minority against and a lot of abstentions. A second motion, concerning the payment of volunteer's expenses, was defeated by a huge majority.


A provisional timetable for 2013 was unveiled. Trains will run at one-and-a-quarter hour intervals, starting at 9:30 a.m. from Sheffield Park.  


Finally, in addition to the 25- and 40-year awards, the NEP fundraisers and the Tenner for the Tip collectors were given commemorative "gold" medals for their efforts, in recognition of this Olympic year. (Don't worry, they cost under a £1 each! Roger Kelly is tight-fisted when it comes to actually spending Railway money!)


By Nigel Longdon


Better Weather Means Progress on Northern Extension Project


Earth works have now resumed south of Imberhorne Lane bridge profiling the track formation to its new gradient. Once completed, drainage works will be required before reinstatement of the single line up to the bridge. This work will continue through June with progress being de pendant on weather.

Meantime, the exposed sandstone cutting face will have been marked with new datum points throughout, to enable the cutting itself to be profiled to its new gradient. Work on this stage will also commence in June, again subject to dry weather conditions.

At Kingscote North good progress continues to be made, with the locomotive run round facility due to be handed back to the Operations Manager on 1 June as planned. There will be residual work required to complete the track remodelling, following which the S&T will move in to begin their tasks ready for through working to East Grinstead next Spring

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director

AWF Progress
A photo by John Sandys showing the latest progress on the Loco Department's "Above Works Facility," a project described in last issue of the eNewsletter. More AWP and NEP progress photos can be found here .

Baxter Keeps On Steaming!    

Baxter at NRM
Captain Baxter is seen here at the "Locomotion" spring gala at The National Railway Museum, Shildon. Our roving ambassador's final British Tour engagement before returning to Sheffield Park was at Severn Valley Railway's "Victorian Weekend" on 19 and 20 May. For a photo of Baxter while at Kidderminster, click here . The Captain returned home on 24 May.

Mark Your Calendars for These June Events!


High summer is coming, and the Railway has many, many events planned. Here's what's happening in June: 


1 June: Rail Ale Evening . Enjoy a steam hauled train ride; evening supper and live jazz; and a range of real ales available at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, and on board the train.

2 June: Full Afternoon Tea on board our Lounge Car service.  


8 June: Murder Mystery Evening on the Golden Arrow Pullman.

15, 22, & 29 June: Fish & Chip Evening Supper Specials.

17 June: Father's Day . Full Cooked Breakfast on board a special morning Wealden Rambler train.

23 & 24 June: Sussex Food Festival at Horsted Keynes . A celebration of locally produced food and drink, supported by Ashdown Park, FoodLovers, Haywards Heath Co-operative, and Plumpton College.

30 June: Victorian Picnic . A special evening train with your own exclusive compartment, food and drink, and a traditional music hall show. Book now! 


Save the Date: Pooh Bridge Excursion, 1 July

Enjoy a leisurely day out from East Grinstead for a vintage train and coach cruise through the Sussex countryside and Ashdown Forest and a visit to Pooh Bridge. 

Ashdown Forest is a famous literary location--it has featured in the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes and it's the Hundred Acre Wood of A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh stories and poems.  


It's also an outstanding area of natural beauty; it's the site of Harold Macmillan's country home (which US President John F. Kennedy visited in a helicopter); and it's known for many other natural, archaeological, and historical features.  


No visit to the area is complete without visiting the Pooh Bridge, near Chuck Hatch, to play "poohsticks." 

On arrival at East Grinstead, you'll take a special vintage coach to Kingscote Station, where you will be welcomed onto one of the Railway's Lounge Cars to enjoy morning tea or coffee as you steam through the beautiful Sussex countryside, served by stewards in traditional uniforms.  

The train will depart at 11:05 a.m., and on arrival at Sheffield Park, you will join your vintage coach cruise. For full details, follow this link

The photo below of Pooh Bridge is copyright David Brooker.


Pooh Bridge  


The Rolling Downs + Bluebell Railway = Inspirational Getaway!

One of the most interesting and delightful places to stay in Sussex is at "The Rolling Downs," a novel and original self-catering experience.  


The "Huts of Romance" can be found on the Bentley estate near Halland, about 12 miles from Sheffield Park and the Bluebell Railway, which happens to be one of the best days out in southern England (so say us!) 

  • Click here to learn more about "The Rolling Downs" self-catering experience.
  • Click here for a blog about a special birthday celebration that combined "The Rolling Downs" and the Bluebell Railway.   

Photographers' Track Safety Training Sessions Slated

In 2010, the annual Lineside Pass system was replaced by the new Bluebell Photographers' Personal Track Safety certificate.

The total cost for a Photographers' Personal Track Safety training session and certificate (which acts as a lineside photographic pass) is £30 per person.

Personal Track Safety training sessions for photographers will be held at Sheffield Park on:

  • 15/06/2012
  • 24/07/2012
  • 25 Aug.
  • 26 Sept.

The course runs from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. To book a training session and for further details, e-mail .    


Loco & Carriage & Wagon News

80151 Bows Out  


Below is Tom Waghorn's fine study of Standard 4 tank 80151 on 19 May, its last day in service before the boiler ticket expired. The Great Northern/LNER Directors Saloon is behind the loco, with 80151's owners aboard. The headcode discs are inscribed to honour the loco's service.  


Rolling Stock Director Lewis Nodes said in tribute, "80151 has run 64,887 miles, much more than the previous highest (Camelot, about 57,000). In the 'big engines' group they are the best value-for-money." 

Q Class 541 Loco Works Working Group  


With 541's tender almost complete , the loco and tender have swapped places. The boiler has now been removed from the frames, and work commences!  


"Since getting the boiler out and examining it, no significant extra work has been found above that already known," says Lewis Nodes.  

Other news:  

  • Camelot: Check the Bluebell Blog for a photo update on the current overhaul.
  • Stepney is to attend Railfest 2012 at National Railway Museum, York.
  • Fingall: The bottom photo shows Pullman car Fingall's marquetry panels, as seen left after repair and refurbishment, and on the right as removed from the car. The refurbishment programme is ongoing.





H Class Tank Returns to Steam

H Class locomotive 263 --the former South Eastern & Chatham Railway 0-4-4, built in 1904 and out of traffic since 1998--has been running in, shunting at Horsted Keynes and exchanging materials trains at Kingscote.


Says Rolling Stock Director Lewis Nodes, "We don't have a launch date yet. The leaky smokebox door is being repaired by welding a ring around the inside edge and machining this flat. It may not need any further test running, so painting can probably start very shortly." 

The photo below by Bryan Benn is of 263 in its BR days, at Oxted in 1962, when it was 31263. 

Recent videos of the loco running-in:  

Historic videos of the H class:

More photos of H Class locos and 263: 

H Class  


Enjoy These Southern at War Photographs!

Southern at War is one of the Bluebell Railway's most photogenic events. These photographers prove the point!  (Winners of the photo competition will be announced next issue.) 

PLUS ...



Archive Photo Quiz Part 2, Redux!

Seems you were really foxed by the photo quiz last time, with no one offering an answer!  


If you didn't look at the images last time, please have a look now and help the archive out. Someone out there must know the locations!  

Suggestions gratefully received at .


By Tony Hillman 


Chandlers Helps Out

From Builder's Merchant News : "The Bluebell Railway unveiled its new running-in board at Sheffield Park station on 25 April, which was completed thanks to a donation from independent builders merchant Chandlers Building Supplies.

Chandlers supplied Bluebell Railway with a variety of materials, including timber and hardwood ply, to enable the sign located on Platform 1 to be replaced. It was constructed by Chandlers customer, Alan Brown.

Michael Sharps, assistant branch manager at Chandlers Great Bookham commented, "The new running board looks fantastic; Alan has done a great job. Bluebell Railway is completely managed by volunteers, and we are delighted to have been able to help with the preservation of the Railway by supplying the material to enable the new sign to be constructed."


(L-R) Dave Brown and Graham Aitken (Friends of Sheffield Park); Michael Sharps; Alan Brown; Charles Melton (Friends of Sheffield Park); and Sam Bee (vice chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society).
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