News from the Bluebell Railway 28 July 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
Join the Track Trek, 30 Sept
An Early Christmas Present for "Sir Archie"
Sun Shines on Northern Extension Project
Track Trek Gathers Momentum
Loco News
Celebrating the H Class Returning to Service
Come Rain or Shine the Bluebell Railway is Open Daily
East Grinstead Station Open for Viewing
LBSCR Fruit Van 270 Restoration to Be Complete in 2013
East Grinstead Beckons!
Bachmann Builds Station Replica, Donates
Enjoy These Recent Photos & Slideshows
Enjoy These Vintage Photos!
A Video Playlist by The Railway Channel

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
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 Railway Films: H class on a push-pull passenger and the C class loco on the Goods on the Hawkhurst branch in 1961 and earlier.
Southern Railway Films: H class on a push-pull passenger and the C class loco on the Goods on the Hawkhurst branch in 1961 and earlier.

Special Events 2012  


Footage from the Bluebell Line With Engines Stepney, Blackmoor Vale and Earl Of Berkeley.
January 2012 footage, with Stepney, Blackmoor Vale, and Earl of Berkeley, by "farfarfan163."

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




Cutting work,26/07/12
Cutting work being done on the Northern Extension Project, 26 July, by John Sandys. Latest project photos can be found here


Southern Steam on the Oxted Line, Part 1.
Southern Steam on the Oxted Line, Part 1.

Carriage & Wagon Updates & Societies

 Video taken on Jul 7, 2012 by
Video taken on 7 Jul, 2012 by "ralfm0051." (Note: on YouTube, the videographer is looking for accurate information about the trains.)

A set of Light Pacific photographs from the
Colin Hogg Collection
in the Bluebell Railway Archive:

Prints can be ordered online.
Preparations for the day at S/P,24/07/12
Preparations for the day at Sheffield Park, 24 July, 2012, by John Sandys.

Join the Track Trek, 30 Sept.  


Join the Bluebell Railway's Track Trek, 30 Sept. 2012
Join the Bluebell Railway's Track Trek to help fund the Northern Extension Project, 30 Sept. 2012. More details here.


















An Early Christmas Present for "Sir Archie"

We received some terrific news this week. Locomotive No.34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair" has been accepted for the 2012 "Big Give" Christmas Challenge. Many of you will be familiar with the how this challenge works, having given very substantially to the Northern Extension project (NEP) last Christmas.  


It is very gratifying to know that the Big Give organisers have found a benefactor willing to put up match funding of £15,000, to place alongside £10,000 from the Battle of Britain Locomotive Fund and £5,000 from a very generous Bluebell Railway supporter.

So the challenge will be to match the £30,000 sponsor fund. The give period has been extended to two weeks over 6 to 19 Dec., which should make online giving easier. The sponsor fund is then released pound-for-pound, and, unless we make the target, the outstanding amount is returned to the Big Give benefactor.

"Sir Archie" is a truly historic locomotive, which may be why it has obtained a single (and anonymous) benefactor from the Big Give. It was originally built in 1947, rebuilt in 1960, then fully restored to service in 2009. It is named after the World War II Secretary of State for Air from 1940, who came from a long line of liberal politicians.  


The Patron of the 50th Anniversary Appeal is Sir Archibald's grandson John Thurso MP who is an avid, and practical, supporter of the Railway. Visitors to Sheffield Park will have seen "Sir Archie" resplendent in his green livery outside the carriage shed, looking wistfully up the line that he wants to run.

Unfortunately, he needs extensive work on his firebox for a new boiler ticket. Until now, repairs have been prioritised because of lack of funding (the firebox ideally should have been completely replaced earlier).  


This is a unique opportunity to make a real difference, and I urge anyone with an interest in steam to earmark the date and save up some coins. It's fair to say "Sir Archie" has already had three lives, so why stop there? You can be sure that nearer the time Roger Kelly will drumming up support from outside the Railway. Let's make it four lives lucky!

By John Walls, Trustee, Fundraising & Communications 

Mid afternoon sees glorious sunshine as Battle of Britain Class No.34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair (aka "Archie") runs round its train at Kingscote. Photo by Peter Trimming and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons . Click here for the Bulleid Society Archie page and here for further status updates


Sun Shines on Northern Extension Project

The last two weeks have seen a gratifying return to work in the cutting. This has been mainly at the north end, with the new formation taking shape as it approaches the occupation bridge. This is the first stage of a carefully phased sequence of work intended to avoid moving material further than necessary and to ensure the stockpiled capping remains safe.

North of the bridge, track has been lifted ready to re-profile to the new 1:60 gradient as this section approaches the bridge. The work appears disjointed because we are moving between different jobs to allow material to dry out and to catch up on lost time.

Once these two profiling projects are complete and meet up, drainage and service ducts will be installed and track will be laid north to south, under the occupation bridge and into the cutting (see Steve Fairweather's photo below). The two rail heads should meet somewhere south of Imberhorne Bridge because construction through the cutting will proceed north-to-south.

South of the bridge, some re-profiling work remains, as well as signalling work on the single line north of Kingscote, following which the track northwards will be reinstated. A tamper was needed to address maintenance issues on the running line, so we gave Kingscote North an initial tamp-through, resulting in a nice piece of railway!

The plan has been updated to account for lost time. With no more serious set-backs, we should meet the entry-into-service deadline of March 2013. Some tasks have been reprogrammed to run in parallel rather sequentially, but unfortunately we incurred some unavoidable standing time costs for plant.

It's too early to say if these factors will impact Track Trek, so watch this space. If we are unable to proceed on 30 Sept., we may push the event into October.

Lastly, a bit about the Billingshurst signal box, pictured below. The offer of this historic structure (at no cost to the Railway) has been taken up by the trustees with a view to planting at East Grinstead. The idea is to provide a suitable location and to make the station look more authentic.


There are no plans to use it as a working signal box; signalling eventually will be controlled from Kingscote North. Billingshurst simply will be a preservation project; besides, the agreement is in principal only, and quite a lot of planning is still required.

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director

NEP Update 7.27.12  


  Billingshurst Box(2)



Track Trek Gathers Momentum


More than 70 individuals or families have already signed up for Track Trek, making 150 people in total. There is room for plenty more; sign up at . Trekkers also are setting up their own Just Giving pages . Instructions on setting up your page are here .

Unsolicited donations to the Northern Extension Project (NEP) have understandably slowed since the Double Donations Dash (I am seeking sponsors for another DDD to be held later this year), so Track Trek is not just a chance for a Sunday stroll but an opportunity to collect funds by way of sponsorship from friends, family, colleagues, etc. Track Trek so far has raised £350, two months before it takes place!

East Grinstead Mayor Liz Bennett is one of those who has set up her Just Giving page , and she writes in RH19 Uncovered , "On Sunday 30th September I shall be walking the newly laid track on the Bluebell Railway, to raise funds for their Northern Extension Line. I am very excited about the Bluebell Railway coming into East Grinstead and this is my way to show my support. I have always had a fondness of the Bluebell Railway as my Grandfather used to work on these lines many years ago and so I shall think of him as I walk!"

Some people have asked why I have not updated the Funding Gap recently. Well, because of the inclement weather, I have been reluctant to say what we need, having no wish to increase the figure if more bad weather puts up costs by having staff and material stand idle or if it makes work difficult for Chris White and his team.
So where does this leave us? Despite the weather, our NEP fundraising target is still just under £600,000. However, until we finish the earthworks and lay track, we must be cautious.  


My plans are to try to raise at least a further half million pounds to see the NEP paid for by the time it is complete. I am not just relying on the public--I have irons in other fires--but I will not know the outcome of these before October. Until then, as they say, "All contributions gratefully received!" But with Track Trek, we are trying to get funds from places other than our usual supporters' pockets!

By Roger Kelly, Funding Director   



Loco News


After an extensive overhaul and repaint at Sheffield Park Loco Works, former SECR H class loco 263 successfully returned to traffic this weekend, as star of an unrivalled mini-gala of SECR locos.  

The 9F loco 92212 is set to return to the Watercress Line in August, before returning again to the Railway for 12 months from October, subject to recall to the Watercress Line if required for service there.  


More updates:


Celebrating the H Class Returning to Service


From city to branch line to Dover Pier, H class locos went everywhere! To learn more about H Class Locos, start with the loco's Wikipedia page .  


Videos of the H Class

Southern Railway Films has many H Class videos:

Photos of the H Class

Ex-SE&CR 0-4-4T shunting on Admiralty Pier at Dover.

"View NE, across the Harbour to the cliffs towards Langdon Bay and South Foreland - nowadays the Eastern Docks would be much more prominent. The locomotive is Wainwright H class 0-4-4T No. 31540 (built 11/1904 as No. 540, withdrawn 2/60)." Photo courtesy of Ben Brooksbank, 1951.


Ex-SE&CR 0-4-4T at Stewarts Lane Locomotive Depot. 

"On the occasion of an RCTS visit, ex-SE&C Wainwright H class 0-4-4T No. 31265 (built 5/1905, withdrawn 8/60) is beside another of the same class, employed mainly on empty stock work to Victoria; beyond is a BR Standard 2-6-4T." Photo courtesy of Ben Brooksbank, 1958.

Below, Bluebell Railway's H Class, seen prior to overhaul at Sheffield park loco yard. Photo by Christopher Wars, aka Bluebellnutter . (Nice screen name!-Eds.)     

H Class Before  



Come Rain or Shine the Bluebell Railway is Open Daily


The Railway has received a wonderful review from John and Michelle Edwards, read it here , courtesy of Mid Sussex Times .  


Are you looking for activities with which to entertain the children on their summer hols? Join us for our popular "Kids for a Quid" offer. All children (3 to 15 years) travel at just £1 on third class services if booked in advance. Tickets allow unlimited travel throughout the day.  


Plus, August Fun Days are being held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in August. Punch and Judy shows will take place at Horsted Keynes station at 11.30 a.m., 12.30 p.m., 1.30 p.m. and 2.30 p.m.  


Call the Railway about advance bookings and "Kids for a Quid" at 01825 720800 or click here for more information.



We thought we'd share these reviews of the Bluebell Railway, courtesy of the Mid-Sussex Times.

East Grinstead Station Open for Viewing

The Railway's East Grinstead Station is open for viewing each Wednesday throughout August.  


Have a browse around the station platform and a cup of tea or coffee, and imagine this time next year when the steam trains will be serving this currently sleepy terminus.  


Our Sales and Information staff will be on site from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. viewing days, and they will have some special summer promotions that you can only enjoy if you visit the station!
By Tim Baker, Commercial Director 



LBSCR Fruit Van 270 Restoration to Be Complete in 2013


O270 was built in 1908 to carry perishables to market at speed. Fruit would be loaded in the van at passenger station stops, on shelves (removable or folding) that were numbered so staff knew from which farms fruit originated.  


Those numbers are still clearly visible on 270's doorposts, although most shelves have been removed and lost. (Is there anyone who has knowledge of these vans who could help determine the internal layout?)

After use on LBSCR and Southern Railway for 30 years, 270 stayed at Lancing carriage works until bought by the Railway in 1964. (It was part of the last train from Haywards Heath.) On arrival it was given a cosmetic restoration and was used as a workshop until it began to deteriorate. 

In 2006 restoration began. Most of the framework was in fair condition, but all the bottom rails had to be replaced. The roof had to come off to remove the body frames and was then not fit to go back. The outer panels were originally 3/8-inch-thick solid mahogany, but almost all had been replaced with steel sheet or hardboard.

The underframe is wood, strengthened with metal (maybe wrought iron) flitch plates on the outside. Three of the wooden ends were rotten, so they had new pieces scarfed in and steel flitch plates fitted.

The body was then repaired and re-erected, the outer panels now being made of high quality plywood. The polytunnel, which the team erected at Horsted Keynes, is a far from an ideal place to do this kind of work. Heat dries out the new wood and wet weather expands it. However, the roof is on and canvassed and all the outside is undercoated, except the mouldings, the fitting of which is almost complete. 

The inner boarding is nearing completion, and six of the eight doors have been rebuilt (although one needs more attention) but progress with them is slow. The brakes need attention; some younger people are needed to help with them and crawl underneath! 


Hopefully, 270 will run with the Stroudley carriage set, and to that end an exhibition is being planned for inside the van that will tell of its restoration and of the carriages. Below, the fruit van seen in its current ( "currant?"-Eds ) condition.  

By Jim Hewett     


Fruit Van New  



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

East Grinstead Beckons!    

Aerial North
Looking north to East Grinstead , by Martin Lawrence.



Another LBSCR Carriage Recovered! 


Well, half a carriage to be more accurate. On 23 July Sheina and John Foulkes and a group of volunteers gathered in a Crawley back garden to start dismantling a garden shed with a difference, it being the only known surviving remnants of a Brighton "balloon" carriage.

More properly called "elliptical-roofed," these carriages were produced between 1905 and 1907. The Crawley carriage was built in 1906 as one of two lavatory second brakes, arranged with a guard's compartment at one end, then six compartments, and finally a lavatory accessed from the last two compartments.

In its Southern days, it was No. 3815, then downgraded to Third and modified so that the last four compartments had lavatory access. When withdrawn in 1940, it was used as a grounded body at Ifield, which is where the present householder's grandfather worked. Soon after World War II, he acquired sections of it to make a garden shed. The granddaughter was sad to lose the shed, but she needed the space and was pleased to give it a new home.

The plan is to add the surviving sections to a display at Horsted Keynes. The photo below is by Sheina Foulkes. This photo shows what parts of the "Balloon" coach have been saved.

By Ian White

   LBSCR Balloon  













Bachmann Builds Station Replica, Donates


(From Sussex Express) "Famous makers of model railways have produced a scale model of the Victorian station at Sheffield Park. Bachmann has been working with the Bluebell Railway to create the replica of the original station, built in 1882.

"And the firm has donated £3,285 towards the Bluebell Railway as a proportion of the model sales. The money will be used to help restore the original station buildings at the railway's headquarters.

"Bachmann managing director David Haarhuss presented a cheque to Bluebell Railway retail director Russell Pearce and Sheffield Park station master, Len Harvie in a short ceremony on 16 July ..."  Click here for more.



The Wine Sleuth reviews Ashdown Park Hotel and the food fair at the Bluebell Railway.

Enjoy These Recent Photos & Slideshows


Slideshow by Neil Ball from 7 July, 2012.

The H Class leaves the paint shop , by John Sandys.  


John Sandys' slideshow from 24 July, 2012.


A playlist of videos  taken 28 July by "Joe S231989," many of which feature the H class 263 returning to service, double heading with C class 592 



Enjoy These Vintage Photos!


Ex-LSWR Adams 4-4-2T No. 488 on Bluebell Railway at Sheffield Park, from 25 Oct. 1975. Courtesy of Ben Brooksbank.
"View southward, towards Lewes until the ex-LB&SC East Grinstead-Lewes line was closed in March 1958, later the southern terminus of the Bluebell line after its opening from Horsted Keynes in 1960. No. 488 was acquired by the Bluebell Railway soon after its withdrawal as BR No. 30583 in 7/61. (See SY0991: EX-LSW 4-4-2T on Rail Tour at Tipton St Johns for the locomotive's history.) The coaching stock looks decidedly odd, with a large tarpaulin over the leading coach, unlikely to be a train in service."

Ex-LB&SCR 0-6-2T "Birch Grove" at Sheffield Park, Bluebell Railway, from 20 Sept. 1970. Courtesy of Ben Brooksbank.
"View northward, towards Horsted Keynes - also East Grinstead on the original LB&SC line from Lewes, closed in 1958. Now looking splendid in its original livery, R. Billinton E4 No. 473 was built 8/1898, withdrawn as 32473 10/62. (See TQ3378: Ex-LB&SCR 0-6-2T at Bricklayer's Arms Locomotive Depot .) Note the smartly dressed children, my son being the one seated."

"Stepney" at Horsted Keynes in 1964. Courtesy of Ben Brooksbank.
"View southward, towards Sheffield Park: ex-LB&SC East Grinstead-Lewes line, restored by Bluebell Railway Preservation Society in 1960. (See TQ4023: Bluebell Railway train at Sheffield Park in 1961 .) Ex-LB&SC A1X 0-6-0T No. 55 "Stepney" with two vintage coaches heads the train from Sheffield Park in 1964."    



A Video Playlist by The Railway Channel  


Steam Engine - Bluebell Railway - Normandy part one
Here's a fascinating video playlist by The Railway Channel, showing two parts of a programme on B4 loco "Normandy."


















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