News from the Bluebell Railway   20 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
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In This Issue
Let It Snow!
Met Coaches Meet History
Steam Train Takes Commemorative Journey
Northern Extension Report: On Target in January
ORR Proposals Create Controversy
Sheffield Park Canopy Extension Fundraising Update
Volunteers Work to Meet Reopening Deadline
Bluebell Touched by Olympic Legacy
How Powerful Is Powerful?
Upcoming Seasonal Events
Bluebells in British Railways Service: "USA Tank" No. 30064
Bernard Holden's Darjeeling Papers Donated
Enjoy These Latest Photos!
A Trip Down Memory Line

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



A journey with 9F No. 92212.
A journey with 9F No. 92212, by Martin Lawrence.
Bluebell Railway, New Years Day 2013.
Bluebell Railway, New Years Day 2013, by Daniel Green.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




No. 92212 at rock cutting, by Martin Lawrence.
No. 92212 at rock cutting, by Martin Lawrence.


No. 30064 on the Railway in 1981.
USA Tank No. 30064 hard at work
on the Railway in 1981 by
"locomotive 76."
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

Southern Electric: The Brighton Belle Finale, 30 April, 1972. (No tears please!)
Southern Electric: The Brighton Belle Finale, 30 April, 1972. (Sorry for this tear-jerker--Eds.!)

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
Railway Roundabout 1958, the
Railway Roundabout 1958, the "Southampton Docks."

Let It Snow!   


Bluebell Railway - Snow
A winter wonderland, as seen by videographer Martin Lawrence. Updates on service during our snowy weather can be found here .


Met Coaches Meet History  


The Railway's four Metropolitan coaches have formed a key part of the running of steam on the 1863 section of what's now the Hammersmith and City/Circle line, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the world's first underground railway.

The journey started with C&W Works Manager Rowan Millard assembling the coaches into a set-up at the London Transport (LT) depot, and they were joined on the Tuesday night (8 Jan.) by Met 1 and Sarah Siddons, plus the newly restored Metropolitan Railway 1892-built Jubilee coach No. 353, plus the LT museum's Met Milk Van.

On Wednesday evening the coaches passed their fitness-to-run exam, and then, joined by members of our Railway's volunteer team, who had originally restored our coaches, they undertook an overnight test run. No axle boxes ran hot, and the loco didn't run out of water, so on the return journey (hauled by Met electric loco Sarah Siddons) we even had steam heating!

On Sunday there was a run in the morning, and after a break during the day, a series of evening runs. All tickets were sold out despite the relatively high price being charged for this unique opportunity.  Countless photos and videos have been published from the day. The second and final day of running is on 20 Jan.

The use of our Met coaches has given us great publicity.  The TV may have concentrated on the steam locomotive and the newly restored coach, but 90% of the passengers travelled in our coaches. The period adverts were much admired, and there was general surprise that there was once First Class available on the underground!

There are further events planned on the Met's main line in May and September, but these will not, unfortunately, include the use of our coaches because of the difficulty in using slam-door, multi-compartment stock at higher speeds. Maybe one day we'll see them back on the Chesham Branch!

The quid pro quo for our loan is a period of use of Met. 1 on our Railway, which might take place in September 2014.

By Richard Salmon, C&W Dept.


Met Coaches  











Steam Train Takes Commemorative Journey


(Excerpted from BBC News London) "A steam train which carried passengers in the 19th Century has returned to the Tube to mark 150 years since the first London Underground journey.

"Ticket holders travelled along part of the original Metropolitan Line--now the Hammersmith & City Line ... 


"Attached to the Jubilee carriage was a set of four carriages that date back to 1898, on loan from the Bluebell Railway in Sussex ..."

For the complete article, click here












More Coverage of Steam on the Met  


Northern Extension Report:
On Target in January


Until the predicted change in weather conditions that occurred on 17 Jan., we were pretty much on target with the January delivery plan. It remains to be seen what happens over the next few days.

Meantime good progress has been made covering in the cutting faces, with the down side face now completed. We have brought in specialists trained in abseiling who have successfully and very quickly secured the covering material to the cutting faces.

Preparation of track laying is proceeding well, including installation of drains and duct routes into the south end of the cutting.

On the signalling side of the project, work continues in the background with commissioning and testing, which also continues to plan.   


By Chris White, Infrastructure Director


NEP Update-011813  













ORR Proposals Create Controversy 


The Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR) proposals to remove the current £5,000 cap on payments for network disruptions caused by heritage stock operating on the main line are causing great concern amongst the rail preservation community.

Says Nigel Longdon, "Charter trains are likely to virtually disappear from the national network since insurance to cover a failure would be either unavailable or unaffordable."

As far as the Bluebell Railway is concerned, this development could reduce our revenue and number of visitors, as well as lower income for the local community. Perhaps more importantly, the opportunity of visiting by rail from afar, and in a wide variety of preserved locomotives and carriages, may reduce dramatically.

Alan King adds, "The ORR want the charter operators to take up insurance to cover any fines. However, a locomotive owner has already stated that this is highly unlikely to succeed as insurance companies don't cover wear and tear, and what else do locos and stock fail with?"

If 100,000 e-petition signatures in opposition are collected, then this matter can be referred to Parliament. Alan is asking for signatories to an e-petition here . There is also a Facebook group dedicated to opposing this change here .  


"We want to see and hear our heritage fleet all over what remains of our network," Alan says.   



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.

Sheffield Park Canopy Extension Fundraising Update


If you have money you are desperate to give to the Railway--but you are bored with the NEP (!)--please see Chris Hunford's article in Bluebell News about the extension to the Sheffield Park canopy.

Since Chris wrote it, Roger Kelly has obtained donations to the value of £15,000, so with the money already raised by the Friends of Sheffield Park, Phase 1 of the work can go ahead if and when the weather improves.
The donors Roger found would like to see their donations matched, although this was not a condition of their donations. Anyone who wishes to sponsor an item listed below should download a gift aid form and send it with a cheque to the Railway.   


A Just Giving page has been set up for the Canopy project, and text donations may be be sent by texting BRPS99 and the amount to be donated (£1, £2, £3, £4, £5, or £10) to 70070 . (Senders receive an acknowledgement text for gift aid purposes.)

Says Roger, "Let's see how much of the remaining £10,000 for the new canopy readers of this eNewsletter can raise. Oh, and we still need £10,000 to finish off the repairs to the existing canopy which were started last year, so raising more than we need for the canopy extension won't be a problem!"

  • Column Cluster: Donate £36 (plus gift aid = £45)
  • Tin of paint: Donate £24 (plus gift aid = £30)
  • 1m Hip Board: Donate £10 (plus gift  aid = £12.50)
  • Box of fixings: donate £5 (plus gift aid = £6.25) 

The photo below (taken by Richard Lowe) shows the underside of the Sheffield Park platform 2 canopy and its "clusters."


Platform 2 Canopy  













Volunteers Work to Meet Reopening Deadline


(Excerpted from BBC Sussex) "Volunteer railway builders are working every day to try to meet a deadline for the reopening of the Bluebell Railway extension to East Grinstead.

"Gangs of up to 30 people are clearing the way and laying track for the final 100m through the Imberhorne cutting, south of the town.

"Mud and water has been slowing down their efforts but they are hoping to complete the line by mid-March.

"Volunteer Mike Hopps said the work was 'in the final stages.'

"'There has been a huge amount of material to get rid of,' he said.

"'The last 50 to 100m needs to be levelled before we can start putting ballast down and laying track'" ... more


Working to Meet Deadline    



















The Company Upfront has released its latest Murder Mystery Synopsis--called "Murder in the Bothy"--for Murder Mystery Specials on selected Fridays starting in February. Three course meal and, of course, a journey on a steam train is included in the price. A must for mystery fans! More details can be found here

Bluebell Touched by Olympic Legacy 

The Bluebell Railway is getting a tangible part of the Olympic Legacy thanks to the sale of furniture, fixtures, and fittings that formed part of the Olympic Village.

The Railway will take delivery of a number of tables, chairs, and lockers, and the majority of these items will go to furnish the Above Workshop Facility (AWF), the main construction of which was recently completed at Sheffield Park. There will be spare lockers available for elsewhere.

The whole enterprise was made possible by Fundraising Director Roger Kelly, who obtained a donation from one of our very generous sponsors to cover the £6,250 cost.

While the sale organisers can't promise that an Olympic medallist actually sat on one of the chairs or hung their kit in one of the lockers, each item comes with a special plaque attesting to the fact that it was used at the Games.

At the same time, an initiative called "Running the Torch Backwards" will re-visit each area the Olympic Torch went through to find out what has been done with various items. Perhaps the AWF will receive a visit?!



How Powerful Is Powerful?  


With a major new history series underway on BBC 2 (Dan Snow's History of Railways , available on BBC iPlayer ), Jeremy Clarke has reviewed the history of a crucial issue raised in the show: how do you measure engine efficiency and steam power?

This vexing question is somewhat more complicated than one might think! Read Jeremy's full article here .

Below, Ben Brooksbank's photo shows a scene from BR's 1948 "exchange trials" measurement of power and efficiency, with each region's locos performing on other regions, complete with dynamometer car and measured coal consumption.

Exchange Trials    











Interested in volunteering at the Bluebell Railway? The next three "Find Out More Days" are 3 Feb., 3 March, and 7 April, starting 10:30 a.m. at Sheffield Park station. For more information, click here .

Upcoming Seasonal Events   


Fine Valentine's Day Dining: Full Afternoon Tea on board the Wealden Rambler on 14 and 16 Feb. and on board the Golden Arrow Pullman train on 14 Feb. Sparkling wine on arrival. Three course meal with coffee. Gift on every table. Wow! Details here .

Mother's Day:
Don't forget your Mum! On 9 and 10 March enjoy a delicious full afternoon tea on board the Lounge Car service. Depart Sheffield Park at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday or 2:30 p.m. on Sunday for the 90-minute return journey through the beautiful Sussex countryside. There also will be a special gift for every Mother. Details here .  


PLUS ...
There's a discount of 20% on train travel ticket for passengers arriving at the Railway via the 270 Bus from Haywards Heath or East Grinstead.
Book ahead for the Bluebell Bonus Discount!   



Loco Update Quick Links    


Maunsell Locomotive Society S15 4-6-0 tender loco no. 847 overhaul report and updates  on locos no. 1638, no. 1618, and no. 541, and looking ahead to the Schools class no. 928 "Stowe" overhaul.

BR Class 2 tank loco no. 84030 update .

The webpage for the visiting 9F 2-10-0 loco no. 92212.

And don't forget the Loco Works Working Group twitter feed , including photos of Q class no. 541.

Work has been progressing on No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair," with removal of fittings to enable the boiler to be removed from the loco. No. 34059 will very shortly be swapped with 21C123, so that work can continue in the loco shed, giving access to the west side. The principal work on the firebox is planned to commence once No. 847 has been reassembled, which is expected to happen by April. 


Bluebells in British Railways Service: "USA Tank" No. 30064    

USA Tank

No. 30064-- photographed above by Lewis Nodes--has made the longest journey to reach the Bluebell Line, some 3,500 miles from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA to Sheffield Park.

She is one of 382 built as wartime shunting locos for UK and mainland Europe USATC operations. Some got as far as China, and several European countries used them, one even emulated them.
Mr. Bulleid, as chief mechanical engineer of Southern Railway, proposed the locos as suitable for shunting Southampton Docks, and 15 locos were purchased post-war by Southern, no doubt at a knock-down price, from the huge Newbury surplus depot, one loco being set aside for spares. 1950s docks traffic was record-breaking, and these locos handled most of it.

After the docks duties were dieselised, departmental service and several rail tours ensued (see this video ).

No. 30064 ended its BR days as an Eastleigh Works shunter, and on withdrawal in 1967, she was sold to the Southern Loco Preservation Co. Ltd.

After several years in Hampshire, she came to the Bluebell, along with the other SLP Co. stock, and is now owned by the Bluebell. Fortunately, several other examples survived into preservation, and some have since been imported from Europe.

In the 1970s and early 1980s the loco saw regular passenger train service and was a most useful shunter. At one time she was the only loco in traffic and "Yankee Tank" kept our Railway running. Will she run again? Let's hope the journey's not over, but its restoration is not likely to be a priority.

For more information, see P.M. Kalla-Bishop Locomotives at War: Army Reminiscences of the Second World War and Howard Sprenger, Kevin Robertson and Clare Sprenger The Story of the Southern USA Tank .

By Neil Cameron


The London Transport Museum has recognized the Bluebell Railway's collaboration in the TUBE150 project with an entry for our Railway on the initiative's webpage.   

Bernard Holden's Darjeeling Papers Donated


The Darjeeling and Himalayas Railway (D&HR) papers from the estate of the late Bernard Holden, MBE have been donated to the D&HR Society .

Issue 60 of The Darjeeling Mail magazine, from November 2012, reports on Bernard's life and railway career, including his wartime visits and duties as a Hill Railway Officer in charge of sections of the vital rail supply lines that maintained air supply to help besieged Kohima , where Japanese forces were turned back.

World War II dramatically increased traffic on the D&HR, which played a vital role transporting military personnel and supplies to the numerous camps around Ghum and Darjeeling. In 1943 to 1944 the line carried 311,000 passengers and 76,000 tons of goods.

The photo below shows Bernard during his service in India. Bernard's  autobiography covers his wartime days and experiences in India.
Holden Darjeeling


Enjoy These Latest Photos! 


Cameron Smith's photo below shows E4 taking water from the tanker at Kingscote on 6 Jan. The photo also shows the new loop platform up starting signal (the white cross indicates that it has yet to be brought into service).

Rowan Millard's photo shows the Railway's four Met carriages preparing for their runs behind steam as part of the Tube150 celebrations.

John Sandys' photos from 08/01/2013 . and a snowy set from 18 Jan.

A different view of Ron Fisher's great 1960s "pioneering days" set and another set from 2012 , showing a German film company at work.

A snowy set by Martin Lawrence.

E4 Signal


We thought you'd be interested in this blogger's record of her family's day out at the Bluebell Railway: "I felt like we had fallen straight out of the Railway Children or a Famous Five book, either way I couldn't have been happier!" 

A Trip Down Memory Line: "Stepney" Leads the 25th Anniversary Cavalcade


Stepney Cavalcade    


Click here to see the 25th Anniversary Cavalcade slideshow, including the steam crane self-propelling as a Cavalcade participant.  


The 1985 Cavalcade was assembled during the morning in the down headshunt at Horsted Keynes, while the two-train service was worked by the modern standard locos, piloted by locos in the Cavalcade. The steam crane and the LMR brake van were worked to Horsted Keynes by the North London tank loco. 

Passenger service operated normally, with the Cavalcade starting once the southbound departure was clear and returning to the headshunt prior to the next passenger train running round.

I recall three cavalcades per day on both Saturday and Sunday, to large audiences. The steam crane self-propelled northbound, an extraordinary sight and sound. It was drawn back by No. 80064 to take up position for the next Cavalcade.

Cameo trains were drawn by several of participating locos, to a commentary delivered by David Rider over the PA.  


They were well received, and the event considered a success in all respects. The late Bernard Holden was particularly complimentary about the crane's turnout, performance, and reception on its first public outing. (The crane is currently under restoration, all donations welcomed here .) 


Crane Cavalcade 2
This Brian Spurle's photo shows the crane in steam and its team heading for Horsted Keynes.














"Dukedog" at Didcot

Click here for a slideshow of the "Dukedog" during her extended stay at Didcot during 1987-1988 for various repairs, including wheelsets.

By Neil Cameron


(Thanks to Dave Colwell for making his photos available. Dave volunteered at Sheffield Park in the '70s and '80s. He's keen to know the names of Cavalcade loco crews: e-mail --NC.)



Fundraising certificates are being sold through the Bluebell Railway shop for the construction of the East Grinstead water tower. Click here for more information. 
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  
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