News from the Bluebell Railway 25 June 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
MSDC Grant £25,000 to Water Tower at East Grinstead
"Operation Undercover" Completes Stage One
Northern Extension Project at Kingscote on Track for End of June
H Class loco 263 Returns to Service, 28-29 July
Above Workshop Facility Nears Completion
Ambassador Stepney Returns Home
Save the Dates of These July Events!
Congratulations to the Bulleid Society!
Enjoy These Vintage Photos!
Railway's Film Role Gets Rave Reviews
Enjoy These Recent Photos!
Archive Quiz Answers, & Some More Questions!

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 Extension Appeal 2012 - Funding for the Finish
UPDATED! Bluebell Railway Extension Appeal 2012: Funding for the Finish

Locomotive Roster  


Trains & Events  


Train Formations  


Line Map & Gradient Profile  


Local Accomodation List  


Walkscene "Railway Children" Walks  


Lineside Photographers Track Safety  

Southern Steam: Tunbridge Wells to Three Bridges
Southern Railway Films: Tunbridge Wells to Three Bridges in which you can view the old East Grinstead high level station.

Special Events 2012  


Southern Steam: The Wealdsman Rail Tour
Southern Railway Films: The Wealdsman Rail Tour

Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




Southern Railway Films: the Bluebell line before closure, plus some early Bluebell Railway footage.
Southern Railway Films: the Bluebell line before closure, plus some early Bluebell Railway footage.


Sheffield Park to Kingscote in 4 minutes, by Martin Lawrence. (NOTE: THIS IS Filmed from THE rear of THE train and run in reverse, which is why the train appears to be ignoring signals!)
Sheffield Park to Kingscote in 4 minutes, by Martin Lawrence. (NOTE: This is filmed from the rear of the train and run in reverse, which is why the train appears to be ignoring signals!)

Carriage & Wagon Updates & Societies

The H Class is run-in with a shunt. It returns to service 28-29, July (see story at right.)
The H Class is run-in with a shunt. It returns to service 28-29, July (see story at right.)

A set of Merchant Navy photographs from the Colin Hogg Collection
in the Bluebell Railway Archive:

Prints can be ordered online.
First runs of Blackmore Vale on the Bluebell Railway in March and May 1976. From the Model Railways website.
First runs of Blackmore Vale on the Bluebell Railway in March and May 1976. From the Model Railways website.

MSDC Grant £25,000 to Water Tower at East Grinstead

Mid Sussex District Council have announced a grant of £25,000 to substantially cover the build costs of the Railway's water tower at East Grinstead station.  


The new tower will ensure that locomotives turning round at the station will have adequate provision for the return journey, and of course it also will be available to visiting steam locomotives from the main line.

The water tower will be built to look suitably in-period, but it also will accommodate the modern drive towards sustainable development. It will use rainwater collected from the viaduct, which will be pumped upwards to the holding tank at the top for distribution in the usual way.  


The holding tank itself was generously donated free to the Railway, a gift worth many thousand of pounds in itself.   


Councillor John de Mierre, Mid Sussex District Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, says, "The Bluebell Railway has a special place in the hearts of many Mid Sussex residents, and it is a big draw when it comes to attracting visitors to the area. I am delighted that we have been able to offer financial support to a project that, once completed, will deliver a big boost to Mid Sussex tourism."  


On behalf of the Railway, Roger Kelly says, "This grant shows that local government believes in the need for the Railway to complete the Northern Extension Project, and it brings the total support provided by MSDC to £100,000 since 2009. It is important for the Bluebell to show local government is right behind it and East Grinstead businesses. This grant certainly does that."

Below, the water tower as it might look, excerpted from a wonderful artist's impression by Railway member MJ Cousins.

By John Walls, Trustee, Fundraising
& Communications  

Water Tower


"Operation Undercover" Completes Stage One

On June 16, Society Chairman Roy Watts welcomed the Heritage Lottery Fund to Sheffield Park to mark the formal opening of the new Carriage Shed. This major project marks the completion of the first stage of the Railway's drive to secure all of its carriages in enclosed accommodation, known as "Operation Undercover."

The £3.9 million new build, which was substantially funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will provide cover for up to eighteen of the carriages used by the Bluebell in regular service.

Thanking Alistair Fairley, a Fund Committee member for the South East, Roy noted the considerable effort spent by many volunteers in ensuring the project reached a successful conclusion. In particular, Roy recognised the significant contribution of Tim Preston and Nicolas Pryor in initiating and managing the project.

Tim was invited to become a life member of the Bluebell Railway, and Nicolas was given the special honour of flagging out the first locomotive officially to leave the Shed.

Alistair Farley was then shown around the existing Carriage and Wagon works at Horsted Keynes, where planning permission has been obtained for the construction of a second building, which will provide undercover accommodation for those carriages the Railway has yet to return to service. The party then returned to Sheffield Park for a reception in the Bessemer Arms.

The new Carriage Shed incorporates a Museum, which has become a popular and noteworthy attraction. Emphasising the need to engage young people in Britain's heritage, Fairley quoted the favourable reaction from the museum visitor book, showing that the museum appealed to visitors of all ages. 

Tim Preston
Tim Preston receives a life membership of the Railway from Railway Chairman Roy Watts with Alistair Farley of the Heritage Lottery Fund looking on. Photo by Derek Hayward.

















Carriage Shed Guests
Guests at the opening of the new Carriage Shed. Photo by Derek Hayward.


Northern Extension Project at Kingscote on Track for End of June

The main focus of attention since the last update has been towards completion of the Kingscote North works, which continues to make steady progress towards the end of June programme date.

The remaining point work for the down siding has now been delivered and will be installed shortly thus completing the "heavy ironwork" installation.

Looking north from Kingscote, the single line is now reconnected with the new throat following the revised design alignment. The whole area looks a bit like a demolition site just now, but this will change once the clear up train has collected all the surplus material, the final stone is laid, and the tamper has run over the track a few times.

On the crucial signalling installation side of things, progress remains good with more equipment and cables appearing on site each week. Taking into account the entire Signalling and Telecommunications (S&T) team are all volunteers and the job is, to say the least, technically quite demanding with equally demanding time scales, we should count ourselves lucky to have this valuable resource committed to the project.

Most of what the S&T team does is hidden from public view, apart for the visible signals, of course, but it is absolutely essential for the safe operation of the railway.

Below, Mike Hopps' photo from 19 June shows the reconnection of the line just inside the "narrow section."

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director


NEP June 26  



H Class loco 263 Returns to Service, 28-29 July

The H Class 263 will be returning to service 28 and 29 July 2012, with Service One operating and 263 joined by the other South Eastern and Chatham locomotives: C Class 592 and P classes 323 "Bluebell" and 178.

Coaching stock for the weekend will be formed from our pre-grouped London, Brighton, and South Coast; London, Chatham, and Dover; South Eastern and Chatham Railways; Metropolitan; and Southern Railway stock.

On Saturday 28 July, there will be a dedication service at Horsted Keynes at 10:00 a.m. 

The photo below is from January 1976. 263 is about to start the journey by road from Ashford Steam Centre to the Bluebell Railway thanks to the H Class Trust that saved the loco and restored it to working order. The photo, by David Idle, shows (L to R) Graham Burtenshaw, Peter Cox, Ted Oades, George Nickson, and Brian Spurle.


Above Workshop Facility Nears Completion

The work to complete the new Locomotive Department welfare facilities, known as the Above Workshop Facilities due to its location above the existing Machine Shop, is now nearing completion.

The steel superstructure is complete, including the external cladding, flooring, staircases, and fire separation between the two buildings.  


The window installation is 90% complete with the last two remaining windows due by this week, including the fire-rated glass adjacent to the fire escape stairs.

The external scaffolding has been removed and the site compound cleared ready for handover. Snagging the structure will take place on 21 June.

Our attention can then turn to the internal fixtures and fittings and looking forward to opening this much-needed facility. The photo below is by John Sandys.

By Chris Hunford, Trustee, Infrastructure













Ambassador Stepney Returns Home  

Stepney Returns
Bluebell pioneer loco no.55 "Stepney" has just returned to Sheffield Park from representing the Railway at the highly successful Railfest 2012 at the National Rail Museum. His livery looks the part for performing a key role at a certain celebration closer to home next year. Photo by Chris Thomas.


Save the Dates of These July Events!

Summer is in full swing at the Railway, and that means the Model Railway Weekend and many more family friendly events are scheduled:

1 July: Pooh Bridge Excursion Travel from London to East Grinstead, and join our vintage luxury coach and steam train excursion through the Ashdown Forest. 

1 July Victorian Picnic A special evening train with your own exclusive compartment, food and drink, and a traditional music hall show.


7 July: Beer, Brass, and Steam With real ale, a picnic supper, Horsham Borough Band and a ride on a steam train. Phone 01825 720800 or see the web page for more information and to book tickets. 

7 & 8 July: Model Railway Weekend Special events in the Loco and Carriage and Wagon Workshops together with model railway layouts and trade stands. If you are interested in having a stand, please contact Nikki Favell via the Shop. 

13 July: Murder Mystery Evening On the Golden Arrow Pullman.


15 July: Evening Songs of Praise With a special train at 5.45 p.m. from Horsted Keynes. 

20 July: Fish & Chip Evening Supper Special .


21 & 22 July: Toy and Rail Collectors Fair Railway artefacts, model railway equipment, and many other stalls at Horsted Keynes, both on the station platforms and in a marquee. 

27 July: Fish & Chip Evening Supper Special .


28 & 29 July: H Class loco 263 returns to service With vintage carriages.  


Congratulations to the Bulleid Society!

John Fry, chairman of the Bulleid Society , received a 40 Year Service Award presented to the society at the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society Annual General Meeting on 19 May.


A very early recollection I have is of  Bulleid Society members extending the pump house siding to receive their loco and stock. They were led by Fred Carter, British Railway's and Bluebell Railway's "ganger" for the line. It was remarkably all moved by rail from Liss to Haywards Heath for a series of road moves to Sheffield Park in 1971.

By Neil Cameron

  Bulleid 40 Years


Enjoy These Vintage Photos !  


A wonderful 1964 Bluebell Railway slideshow by David Ford.  


Steam scenes in BR days at Three Bridges, by Ben Brooksbank 


32426 St. Alban's Head leaving Horsted Keynes with the RCTS Wealden Limited Rail Tour, 14 Aug 1955, by Charlie Verrall.  


Ex-LB&SCR K class 2-6-0 on RCTS Rail Tour running round its train at Preston Park . (Description: View northward, towards Haywards Heath and London: ex-LB&SCR London to Brighton main line, junction of the loop from Hove. The RCTS Sussex Rail Tour is on its way back to London by a circuitous route and R. Billinton K class No. 32353 (built March 1921, withdrawn December 1962), running tender-first, has drawn the train out of Brighton Station. It will now take the train round to Hove, thence back to London via Steyning and Horsham.)  

Photos taken in BR days between Culver Junction and East Grinstead. In the Lewes section are several interesting photos of trains heading to and from the Bluebell line. Courtesy of Paul Edwards (Brighton Motive Power Depots).   


Got updates for the Bluebell Railway eNewsletter? Send your (brief) stories and photos to Neil Cameron at .

Railway's Film Role Gets Rave Reviews 


(From the Mid Sussex Times ) "A Sussex railway station provided the backdrop for what has been dubbed the most successful British horror film since records began.

"The Bluebell Railway was used as a location for scenes in Hammer Horror's The Woman in Black , starring Daniel Radcliffe.

"Sections of the line at Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park were used.
The film's location manager Chris Moore said he picked the railway because it was one of only a couple of period railways large enough to film on and close enough to London.

"He said staff at the railway had previous experience of film work and 'were wonderful to work with.'

"He added: 'All three of their stations looked absolutely stunning, providing the perfect setting.'"

NOTE: The film has been released on DVD--The Editors.    


Woman in Black Scene  


Enjoy These Recent Photos!


Ben Gray's slideshow from 7 June.
Martin Lawrence slideshow from June 10
Martin Lawrence slideshow from June 13


John Sandys' slideshow from 21 June


Ron Fisher's slideshow , including a German TV crew and nice shots inside Carriage & Wagon works.  


Derek Hayward's slideshow of the Sussex Food Fair, 22-23 June.

Below, " Birch Grove " is seen with the LSWR brake coach, in the beautiful sunshine at Kingscote, by Jess West. 


Loco 473  










Archive Quiz Answers, & Some More Questions!


Thanks to all who sent in answers to last time's quiz. The answers are:

  1. Between South and East Croydon.
  2. Just south of High Brooms.
  3. Lover's Walk, Brighton.
  4. Greatfield Sidings, between Polegate and Hailsham.
  5. Earlswood.
  6. This was the problem one this time so it's been repeated below to see if any further suggestions are forthcoming.

In the previous quiz the answer to question 4, train at Southeram Junction, was incorrect. The picture is looking towards Lewes, not Eastbourne.


Suggestions gratefully received at


By Tony Hillman   


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