News from the Bluebell Railway   6 January 2013

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
Our East Grinstead extension
is opening soon!
Bookmark this page for details.

In This Issue
Bluebell Loan Is Well Met
NEP Update I: Dry Weather Required for Planned Opening
NEP Update II: Battling Weather, But We're Nearly There!
"Sir Archie" Supporters Give Big
We Are Very Amused
Society Considers Holden Memorial
Can You Help?
Downton Comes to Horsted Keynes
Plans for Northern Extension Ticket Office Submitted
Don't Forget These Remaining December Events
A Trip Down Memory Line
Bluebells in BR Service
Railway to Bring Surge in Tourism
Enjoy These Latest Photos!
Eastbourne Loco Depot: Its Men & Machines

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 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



Metropolitan Coach No.387 os transferred to a road transporter, by Martin Lawrence.
Metropolitan Coach No.387 is transferred to a road transporter, by Martin Lawrence.

Bluebell Railway Santa Specials, 16 Dec. 2012.
Bluebell Railway Santa Specials, 16 Dec. 2012.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




Christmas at Horsted Keynes 22 Dec., 2012, by Philip Bull.
Christmas at Horsted Keynes 22 Dec., 2012, by Philip Bull.


Bluebell Railway volunteers on Wickham trolley, 23 Dec., 2012.
Bluebell Railway volunteers on Wickham trolley, 23 Dec., 2012.
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

Bluebell Railway Cavalcade 1993-2006, by John Ray.
Bluebell Railway Cavalcade 1993-2006, by John Ray.

Order photographic prints online
from the 

John J. Smith Collection
or Colin Hogg Collection
held at the Bluebell Railway Archive.

  Below are six photographs from
the John J. Smith Collection, highlighting East Grinstead:

Photo 1
Photo 2
  Photo 3
Photo 4
Photo 5
Photo 6

  JJ Smith #8
Santa trains, 23 Dec., 2012.
Santa trains, 23 Dec., 2012.

Bluebell Loan Is Well Met












This weekend, the Railway's four Metropolitan Railway coaches are returning home, traveling to London to take part in Tube150 .  


The 150th anniversary of the opening of the world's first underground railway is being celebrated with a train hauled by Met E-class Loco No. 1 and comprising the London Transport (LT) Museum's milk van and our four coaches (the photo above of them being loaded is by Martin Lawrence).  

The coaches are being joined by Met "Jubilee" carriage No.353, which has been restored with the help of an Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and electric locomotive "Sarah Siddons."

Tickets for the event were quickly snapped up, but we are being represented at the event by members of the Bluebell Ashbury Supporters and Helpers (BASH) Team, which raised money and restored the coaches over a 15-year period.

The public will be able to see the Met train running amongst regularly scheduled service between Kensington Olympia, Earls Court, Edgeware Road, and Moorgate, on 13 and 20 Jan. Further Steam on the Met events will take place in May and September, but these will not involve our carriages. Also, Met No. 1 and No. 353 will visit our Railway at some point.

For me, this marks the culmination of discussions with LT management, which began with a meeting in the GN Saloon 20-odd years ago, when the potential for running our coaches on the LT network was explored.

More recently, the coaches were inspected, and critical components ultrasonically tested, by LT staff at Horsted Keynes. Following the replacement of a couple of mechanical components, they were passed for passenger carrying at up to 25 mph on the LT network.

By Richard Salmon, Carriage & Wagon
& BASH team member 


Met Rail Arms  












NEP Update I: Dry Weather Required for Planned Opening  

The Northern Extension Project (NEP) opening is still planned for last week in March, but no formal announcement on the opening will be made until the end of January.  


Progress will be reviewed at that time--what happens will depend upon some dry weather during the next four weeks. Please know that the Railway is determined to open the extension on time if at all possible.  


Currently, volunteers and members are working seven days a week on the NEP. This extra work is costing extra money, so contributions will be gratefully received, either via Fiver for the Finish certificates or by donations to


By Roger Kelly, Funding Director 



NEP Update II: Battling Weather, But We're Nearly There! 

The Northern Extension Project (NEP) got underway again on 2 Jan. following a 10-day Christmas break.  


It was clear everyone deserved time off, having worked hard in what can only be described as diabolical conditions. With more of the same forecast for the break, there was no point in carrying on.

Clearing the last defiant section of cutting had been frustratingly slow, and instead of completing this task before Christmas as planned, the job remained for January, with the added bonus of clay slips caused by flooding!
Having gone four weeks behind on the revised programme, a strategy revision was undertaken; it had become clear that tackling the water and mud would need a different approach.  


Time is now very tight. It is still possible to open in March, but this timeline depends on hitting several key milestones in January and February, and there is no more spare capacity in the program--we will keep you updated on progress.
On the bright side, literally, looking southwards over Imberhorne Lane bridge now gives a glimpse of a lit-up Kingscote down distant signal (photo below by Bryan McAlley). And most of Kingscote is now powered up, with track circuits operational, points being prepared for power, and remaining signals coming into service this month.
Lastly, I offer a personal thank you and happy new year to everyone supporting the NEP: we are nearly there!
By Chris White, Infrastructure Director


NEP Signal  



















"Sir Archie" Supporters Give Big 

The Big Give Christmas Challenge--to raise funds for the boiler work on "Sir Archibald Sinclair"--closed at 5 p.m. on 20 Dec.

The total donated once matched was £43,726 against our target of £60,000. Due to the sterling efforts of the Battle of Britain Group, the amount raised for this locomotive in 2012 totals £67,311, of which £20,756 has already been spent on components for the firebox.

We hope that the remaining funds will be enough to get No. 34059 running again, but any further donations will be gratefully received, and although they won't be matched in the challenge, they can still be made through the Big Give website or direct to the Bulleid Society .

A very big "Thank You" to the 300 people who donated to this appeal!



2013 Service Update: Please note that the Railway will run Service Two every weekend in January and the first two weekends in February. Then, from February half term, Service One will run with hourly trains from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Click here for details of January trains. 

We Are Very Amused

Queen Vic
Queen Victoria is seen in this Derek Hayward photo visiting Sheffield Park station and the volunteers working the Victorian Christmas Specials.



Society Considers Holden Memorial


(Excerpted from BBC Sussex) "A memorial is to mark the work of the founder of the Bluebell Railway in Sussex, who died just months before its missing link was due to be completed.

"Trustees of the railway's preservation society are considering a variety of ideas on how best to pay tribute to the immense contribution of Bernard Holden ...

"... As a tribute to the railway doyen, the society has decided not to appoint a successor until after the link opens in the spring, ensuring that in name at least, Mr Holden remains president when his dream is realised.

"Mr Holden will still be president in absentia when the complete line opens in March.

"Society chairman Roy Watts said: 'We are examining a number of possibilities for how to honour Bernard, but we are not going to rush into anything. It is what is fitting for him.

"'We still want his name as president when we open the line at East Grinstead, but there is a lot of consultation going on as to what is the kind of thing that would best befit Bernard.'

"Among the ideas under consideration are a bronze bust, a commemorative plaque and even an obelisk at the Imberhorne cutting, which represents the final obstacle to a complete Bluebell Railway.

"However, one idea that has been shunted into the sidings is the possibility of one of the society's engines being renamed after him.

"Mr Watts said 'it would not be appropriate" to name one of the engines after him because the Bluebell fleet have all preserved their original titles ...'"

For the full story, click here .    



Commercial Director Tim Baker reports that income from this year's Santa Specials fares increased almost 20% over last year. Income from the Victorian, School Yule, and other seasonal specials is still to be reported. "All was only achievable with the help of staff and volunteers, to whom we are most grateful," says Tim.  

Can You Help?


Michael Blackburn and Roger Price are trying to complete a film archive of TV programmes that include the Bluebell Railway.

In particular, they are looking for copies of Nuclear Secrets , a BBC2 programme about J. Robert Oppenheimer, "father of the atomic bomb" and Bluebell Railway: Off the Rails , a documentary for Sky.

If any members can provide copies of these or know where to find them, please contact either Mick Blackburn or Roger Price .  



Downton Comes to Horsted Keynes  

Downton Abbey
John Sandys' photo , taken in July 2012, shows filming for Downton Abbey taking place at Horsted Keynes. The sequence was shown in the 2012 Christmas Special, available on the ITV Player for the next four weeks. The main sequence is three and a half minutes into the programme. There was a very brief shot near the end too. 




Ahead of the new Bluebell Railway/East Grinstead link, Southern Rail have opened a new, £2.1 million, state-of-the-art station building at East Grinstead and have added spaces to the parking lot. Read the full story , courtesy of This Is Sussex.

Plans for Northern Extension Ticket Office Submitted  

(From The Argus ) "Steam railway enthusiasts have submitted plans for a station as their 40-year project to reopen a track draws to a close.

"Organisers behind the Bluebell Railway have submitted plans to Mid Sussex District Council for a ticket office, travel centre and toilet facilities for customers.

"They are also seeking permission to permanently park a 32-seater railway carriage as a shop to sell refreshments. 


"The plans mark the culmination of a historic year in the 40-year dream of railway enthusiasts to reconnect Sheffield Park to East Grinstead" ... more .


(NOTE: This article refers to one mile of track needed to complete the extension; that distance is now less than 300 yards--The Editors.)



News from the Loco & Carriage & Wagon Departments

Standard Class 2 Project: The first photo below shows the center cradle pattern sets that have been made by volunteer Roy Stirling, which will provide castings both for No. 84030 and the Standard Class 3 project, based at the Severn Valley Railway.  


The pattern set is the most complex we have seen so far for No. 84030, comprising five large items and six smaller pieces.  

SECR No. 3188: The second photo below by David Chappell shows the latest progress with No. 3188 (the LCDR five-compartment third, recovered from Devon in 2005).

The partition, removed in about 1912 when this end of the coach was converted into a brake van, has been  temporarily re-instated (it may come out again to enable other work to take place).


Center Cradle Pattern  



















No. 3188 Partition  


















Feeling romantic?! The Railway will be celebrating Valentine's Day in two special ways in 2013. Details can be found here

A Trip Down Memory Line 

Enjoy this truly remarkable historical record by Ron Fisher, his " 1960s set ."




Bluebells in BR Service: 30096 1893 LSWR B4 Class 0-4-0 Dock Tank ("Normandy")  


The Bulleid Society's Nine Elms-built dock tank--"Normandy"--is a remarkable survivor, having gone from BR service in 1963 to work for Corralls, shunting coal traffic to and from Northam Yard and Dibles Wharf at Southampton Docks (on the River Itchen side rather than the Solent).

It entered preservation in 1972 under the ownership of the B4 Locomotive Society, formed by members of the Bulleid Society. The Bulleid Society website offers a comprehensive history, depot allocations, and gallery for "Normandy."

This 1963 rail tour saw No. 30096 travel the docks where the "Yankee" tanks had generally displaced them in the late 1940s. One further survivor of the class--"Granville"--can be found at Bressingham steam museum.

The photo above by Keith Adams from 1969 sees "Normandy" in her Corralls days (she has a "Corrall Queen" nameplate). This line is between the south end of Northam Yard and Dibles Wharf, and featured squealing curves and two ungated road crossings.

The day of the formal handover was well attended and a lot of fun. The old loco whistled at trains on the main line and posed for photographs, with volunteers flagging at the two road crossings.

Some locals came out of the Rising Sun pub next to one of the crossings to see what the fuss was, and car drivers complained about being "constantly held up." But the day generally went without a hitch, with "Normandy" moving by road to Sheffield Park.

The first attempt to restore her stalled, but how fortunate that retired Guildford Loco Foreman Fitter Bill Brown--an LSWR man and a great character--came along to rebuild the loco's rolling chassis and engine over several years, working with a small team.

This was a remarkable achievement, and No. 30096 went on to run for 20 years (through two boiler certificates). She regularly helped lay tracks from Horsted Keynes to Kingscote, as can be seen in the video below.

So as the northern extension nears completion, let's recall the contribution this loco made and give three cheers for "Normandy!"

LSWR B4 Normandy hauls a works train on the Bluebell Railway

By Neil Cameron


Mike Hopps has created an online catalogue of his remarkable, 1950s-style posters , with £5 of every sale going to the Northern Extension Project. Mike will be adding more posters over coming weeks, so keep checking his website!

   Atmospheric Railway  
Here are two updates from another Sussex project that will further help draw visitors to the Railway and its environs: the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust Sheffield Park meanders and woodland creation projects.

Railway to Bring Surge in Tourism


(From This Is Sussex) "An estimated 50,000 extra visitors a year could flock to East Grinstead when the extension of the Bluebell Railway line goes full steam ahead.

"The railway's trustees, who are in the process of raising the last £200,000 needed to complete the project, believe the connection will create a huge surge in East Grinstead's tourism industry.

"John Walls, a trustee on the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, said: 'I think the fact that we are building a local line and restoring a link to East Grinstead really touches people's hearts and brings back fond memories.

"'I think it will be a game changer for the town [when it is completed]. It will have such a big impact. We're expecting an extra 50,000 visitors to the town every year.'" ... more .



Enjoy These Latest Photos! 


Trevor Tupper's photographic record of the recovery of Stroudley Third No. 992.

Nick Burgess's photo gallery covers all four of the locos being used on yesterday's Santa Special trains--the 9F, Pannier, the H, and the E4.

Derek Hayward's December gallery .

Andrew Strongitharm's beautiful photo below shows pannier tank No. 3650 taking water prior to working the Sunday evening Golden Arrow Dining Train.

John Sandys' sets from 27 Dec. and 1 Jan. This John Sandys photo shows the pannier tank on her way home.

Keith Duke's slideshow from 29 Dec.

Tim Gregson's photos from Dec. 30.

Martin Lawrence's gallery from 3 Jan.

Pannier Water


On New Year's Day 1933 the Brighton Belle entered service as the flagship of Southern Railway's electrification programme.To mark this anniversary, the 5BEL Trust has commissioned a painting of the Belle by Jonathan Clay--the prize in an anniversary raffle. To enter, visit and make a minimum donation of £5. Funds go to restoring the Pullman First "Hazel." The draw will be made 31 Jan.

Eastbourne Loco Depot: Its Men & Machines  

I present some further social history from Paul Edwards' excellent "Sussex Motive Power Depots" site, a companion to the "Brighton Motive Power Depots" website.


The entry for Eastbourne is fascinating. There's a wealth of interesting photos and no less than six Sussex steam videos.


An early semi roundhouse shed was interesting to see (the photo below is from the E.J. Bedford Collection). To build one of these sheds remains a future ambition at the Bluebell Railway, of a size to accommodate the smaller tank locos.  


Congratulations to Paul and his sources on putting together such an important social document from another age, social historians will find great value in his "historiographical" approach to aid future research.  


More information on Eastbourne rail can be found here .


PLUS ... This BBC archive silent film --"A Dog's Day Out" from 1952--sees a characterful canine, a real railway rover, hop the footplate and steam through Sussex,  Eastbourne-bound for the beach!   


Returning "on the cushions" of a birdcage set, the friendly dog hops out at home station and heads homeward with a tale (tail?) to tell!

By Neil Cameron


Eastbourne Roundhouse  











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