News from the Bluebell Railway   4 November 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
DDD125 Great Success: Deadline Extended to 6 Nov.
From Staff Coach to Station
"So Delighted:" EGTC Tourism Officer Comments on NEP Progress
A "Sussex Terrier" Runs Round at Seaford, 7 Oct., 1962
A History of the West Croydon Loco Shed
Enjoy These Latest Photos!
Remembering the Great Storm of 1987
Cylinder Repair Made on SECR P-class No. 178
Engineering Firm to Host Tech Seminar at the Bluebell Railway
Bluebells in British Railways Service: Stepney

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



"The Famous Bluebell Railway" on its 26th anniversary.

Special Events 2012  


Bluebell Railway in October 1992 (Beulah Library Roll F39).
Bluebell Railway in October 1992 (Beulah Library Roll F39).

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




"A Pictorial Visit To The Bluebell Railway" taken in July 2012, with a fun soundtrack!


"A Cold Day" (6 April, 2008) by Neil Simonsen.

Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

Audio slideshow of the Bluebell Railway's Branch Line Weekenf on the 12th of March 2011
Audio slideshow of the Branch Line Weekend on the 12 March, 2011.

A set of Isle of Wight steam
including LBSCR, from the

John J. Smith Collection
in the Bluebell Railway Archive:

Prints can be ordered online.
Bluebell Railway on 21 Oct., 2012, by Martin Lawrence.
Bluebell Railway on 21 Oct., 2012, by Martin Lawrence.

DDD125 Great Success: Deadline Extended to 6 Nov.


When the Double Donations Dash 125 (DDD125) closed at midnight on 2 Nov., the sum raised, attracting matching funding, stood at £109,625.  


This was 87% of the target of £125,000. With matching funding and gift aid--which may be claimed on most donations--DDD125 will have raised £240,000 by the time all the money has come in.
The event had been planned around Bluebell News magazine's 22 Oct. publishing date, but due to various problems, the magazine was not published until 27 Oct.  


So despite the fantastic success of DDD125, it is clear that the delay in publication has affected donations. Thus we decided to extend the closing date to 6 Nov.
Any post received or donations delivered to Sheffield Park by close of business (6 p.m.) on 6 Nov. will attract matching funds, until we raise the final £15,375. Donations made online up to 2 p.m. also will attract matching funding.

It is also possible to donate £10 by texting BDDD99 £10 to 70070.
I want to thank all sponsors and donors who have delivered this much-needed financial boost to the Northern Extension Project. There have been more than 400 donations on-line or by text message and more than 800 by cheque or cash--1,200 donations in all. That's a level of support other Funding Directors would die for!

I hope I don't do that, but nevertheless I am sincerely grateful to you all. There are a few more days to see if we can get to £125,000. I am keeping my fingers crossed!
By Roger Kelly, Funding Director
STOP PRESS: At the time this eNewsletter was published, the total raised stood at £111,295 (from 426 donations), so only £13,705 to go!--The Editors  



Track Trek Postponed Until 2013

It will come as no surprise that the continuous rain has forced a postponement of the Track Trek until next year.

Where track has still to be laid, the ground is very muddy, and there is no prospect of it drying out sufficiently in the next two weeks for a Trek to safely take place.

When a new date in 2013 has been agreed all those who have signed up will be contacted.

From Staff Coach to Station


  New Coach Oct. 2012  










Martin Lawrence's photo shows the newly arrived former Mk.I BSK carriage No. 35419 (Balfour Beatty staff and generator coach BDC 977166, from Ashford), which is to be refurbished to provide temporary station facilities for East Grinstead.

The Railway still hopes to construct the sort of terminus building it would prefer at East Grinstead, even though land and funding are tight.   


This temporary structure, however, has the advantage that the Railway can see how traffic develops to determine exactly what facilities will be needed.

In other carriage news , BSK No. 34556 has a new web page . This carriage will be used principally on the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train , but it is currently awaiting final mechanical adjustments prior to entering service.   



"So Delighted:" EGTC Tourism Officer Comments on NEP Progress


Commenting on a story about Northern Extension Project (NEP) progress in the East Grinstead Courier & Observer , East Grinstead Town Council Tourism Officer Simon Kerr says, "It's been a long hard slog, and as we have watched the endless efforts undertaken by the Bluebell Railway, first to acquire the land, then to obtain permission to turn the old track bed back into a working railway, and last the enormous task of raising enough capital to enable this work to take place, we all must have wondered--will they ever pull it off?

"I'm just so delighted that everything now seems to have slotted into place. We have a new platform to greet the first trains up the line into East Grinstead. The basic footprint is there to receive and welcome visitors, and this will expand and improve further. There is the truly magnificent Hill Place Viaduct, the restored red brick arches of which are sure to become something of an icon for those wishing to photograph the trains and carriages high atop the bridgework.

"East Grinstead has kept the faith while all this has taken place, and I know that those in charge of the Bluebell Railway have always been impressed by the warm welcome and support. All this means that a big game change is going to happen to East Grinstead's tourism.

"It won't happen overnight, and we still have lots of things to do before the town will be able to draw the maximum benefits from the expected revenue stream that new visitors will bring. So please don't think that everything is done and dusted; this is more Phase One of a longer project.

"Being a terminus for the Bluebell Railway brings fresh challenges. What sort of events will we want to hold here to attract the Bluebell passengers? How can we best ensure that those arriving here bridge the somewhat dull gap between the Station Quarter and the medieval and Tudor delights of our High Street?

"I'm sure we will rise to these challenges, and the town will benefit from its association with the Bluebell Railway. For me 2013 can't come soon enough. Mind you, I think I'll need a holiday by the end of it!"

For the full story, click here



A "Sussex Terrier" Runs Round at Seaford, 7 Oct., 1962

Within two years of this photo by Ben Brooksbank, loco no. 32636--aka 1872 built No. 72 "Fenchurch"--would run under its own steam to Bluebell Railway via Ardingly and Horsted Keynes, the last loco to do so, and it remains the oldest in the collections based at the Railway. 

Old Fenchurch
Two ex-LB&SCR tank engines; the RCTS Sussex Rail Tour at Seaford View NW towards Newhaven: terminus of LB&SCR branch from Lewes. A1X class 0-6-0T No. 32636 and E4 class 0-6-2T are running round the Tour train, prior to returning to Brighton. (See TQ3380: London Bridge (Central ) Station , with 'Schools' 4-4-0 on a Rail Tour and NS7158: Junction 5 on the M74 northbound ). (See also Ben Brooksbank's A Busy View at Seaford Station .)



Our special Christmas trains are selling faster than last year, with some trains and dates already completely sold out! Book now! More details and ticket information at bluebell 

A History of the West Croydon Loco Shed  


Jeremy Clarke describes how West Croydon played its part in the early history of rail in southern England ...


"West Croydon today is simply another suburban station in South London, although it is also now a terminus for London Overground Services from north of the City via the Thames tunnel.

"The station and shed both opened concurrently with the London & Croydon Railway's line to London Bridge on 5 June, 1839, four years to the day since the company was authorised. The station is mainly located on the site of the barge basin of the Croydon Canal, incorporated on 27 June, 1801, although the original lay on the canal bed's north/south axis ... "


For the complete article, click here .   



Enjoy These Latest Photos! 


Chris Jennings has uploaded many photos taken during the 1970s.

John Sandys' set from 23 Oct., 2012.

John Sandys' Northern Extension Project photos from 1 Nov.

"Julesfoto" at the Railway and Sheffield Park Gardens , in October 2012.

David Chappell's photo (also below), from 22 Oct., shows the H-class No. 263 back in service, hauling the Golden Arrow Luncheon train.

H-Class in Service


Remembering the Great Storm of 1987

16 Oct., 2012--the day of Bernard Holden's funeral--also saw the 25th anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987. 

That night the south east of England was hit by increasingly strong winds beyond hurricane intensity that brought--among all the other damage and destruction--the cessation of train services on south east railways until tracks could be cleared of downed trees.


Network South East General Manager Gordon Pettit took to the air in a helicopter to view, assess, and film the devastation. No trains were running on much of the system, and massive numbers of trees were down. Some of those aerial views made the news broadcasts. 

Sea salt could be tasted in the air the next morning far as Burgess Hill. At Chatham, Kent, the 300-year storm whipped up sap from millions of smashed trees. Sheffield Park Gardens lost more than 2,000 trees and shrubs, as well as its drainage system. Wakehurst Place, near Ardingly, lost a staggering 20,000 trees .  


And the Bluebell Railway? Clearance commenced Friday, by Saturday afternoon no. 80064 and a carriage reached Horsted Keynes, and service trains ran on Sunday. A formidable achievement by the whole team. See how it happened , courtesy Andy Beaton of the Loco Department.

Traffic Manager John Hill's team of volunteers, staff, and contractors commenced clearance of the line from Sheffield Park. By Saturday noon Andy Beaton started taking photos on the upper reaches of the line, and we thank him for making these available. In the photo below, John is seen nearest camera in title photo, carrying a chainsaw. 


Local pubs, lacking power for freezers, slashed their prices, brought the local community together by lamplight, cooked up steaks, and distributed cheer all round. It was a memorable atmosphere. All these experiences were recalled by loco men at that time, who also recall the all-in-it-together spirit shown by the Railway team in Andy's photo. 

By Neil Cameron 


P.S. Don't forget Michael Fish's immortal weather forecast for that evening, captured here on YouTube!    


Great Storm  













We thought you'd enjoy this slideshow from the BBC looking ahead to January 2013, when a special journey of vintage London Underground stock--featuring the Railway's Chesham set--will be made in honor of the Tube's 150th anniversary.

Cylinder Repair Made on SECR P-Class No. 178

Lewis Nodes' photo below shows the result of cylinder repair on SECR P-Class No. 178.  


During late 2011 it became apparent that this loco's cylinder block was in need of serious attention, and new cylinder liners were ordered.

Before they could be fitted, an old patch failed on 26 July, 2012, fortunately without causing much mechanical damage.

The damaged cylinder was dismantled the following week to assess its condition. Most of the cylinder block casting was undamaged, so it was decided that the cylinder could be repaired by fitting the liner which had already been obtained.

The work required to bore-out the cylinder was delayed because the boring equipment required was in use on H-class 263's axleboxes.  


But by 14 Sept. the new liner had been fitted, and the photo shows it in place. More photos and information can be read here


   P Class Cylinder  













Engineering Firm to Host Tech Seminar at the Bluebell Railway

Brighton-based high-tech engineering firm Amplicon has chosen the Bluebell Railway as host of its annual "Network & Monitoring Solutions for Smarter Transport" seminar, which will be held on 28 Nov., 2012.

Aside from a day packed with discussions and demonstrations tailored for engineers in the transportation sector, attendees will get to tour the engine sheds and ride in the 1913 observation coach. 

The seminar will address specialties Amplicon has become known for over the past 35 years, including industrial networking, transportation technology solutions, remote monitoring and control, data transmission via resilient wired and wireless systems, and data processing.

Click here for more information on holding company events at the Railway, call 01825 720800, or e-mail .















Bluebells in British Railways Service: Stepney

Photos and information about Bluebell Railway-based locomotives seen in British Railways service.--The Editors.


Below, the Bluebell Railway's first locomotive--former LBSCR "Terrier" tank no.55 "Stepney" (British Railways no. 32655)--is seen on 2 Jan., 1955 in a Ben Brooksbank photo taken at Robertsbridge. 

"Stepney the Bluebell Engine" has just hauled the last train from Tenterden on the Kent and East Sussex Railway.  


Now painted black and red--as he was when the Railway first opened--Stepney has his own page on our website.   


Old Stepney  










Bluebell Railway May 1960 'A late 50th anniversary dedication'
Stepney steams into Horsted Keynes in May 1960 on the delivery journey from British Railways, via Ardingly, hauling carriages 1520 and brake 6575, a landmark day for the Bluebell Railway as it receives its first loco and train. Also, see Stepney in colour in this 1960s preview video , on sale from British Pathe.



Stepney & The Railway Series

Many recognise Stepney from the Rev. W. Awdry's Railway Series . His story was no. 18 in the series. You can read all about our plucky, literary loco on this Railway Series fan site


Plus, don't forget the Railway has its own Stepney Club . Membership costs £8 for 1 year; £12 for 2 years; or £16 for 3 years.  



Thank you as ever for your support of the Railway. Don't forget to share this eNewsletter with friends, colleagues, and family, through social media and e-mail. See you trackside!

John Walls
Trustee, Bluebell Railway Preservation Society