News from the Bluebell Railway   3 February 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
In This Issue
East Grinstead to Open 23 March!
NEP Report: "Let's Go for It!"
Mud, Glorious Mud!
Funding Update: NEP, Track Trek, & Canopy Project
End of the "Fiver"
A Rare Find
"Swordfish" to Help Out with NEP
Upcoming Seasonal Events
A History of Bognor Regis Loco Shed
Bluebells in British Railways Service: No. 75027 Standard Class 4 Tender Loco
The "Brighton Belle" on Its 80th Anniversary
Enjoy These Latest Photos!
A Trip Down Memory Line: Southern Railway Day/Night London-to-Paris Services

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



Steam on the Underground, a beautiful video of Met150 by Sam Brown.
Steam on the Underground, a beautiful video of Met150 by Sam Brown.

The Railway in the snow, by Phillip Bull.
The Railway in the snow, by Phillip Bull.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




Another view of Met150.
Another view of Met150.


Bluebell Railway - Class 08 No.13236 swaps two carriages
No. 13236 swaps two carriages, by Martin Lawrence.

Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

Order prints online from the Bluebell Railway Archive's
John J. Smith or Colin Hogg collections.

Station Facilities

No. 473 in the snow, by Martin Lawrence.
No. 473 in the snow, by Martin Lawrence.

East Grinstead to Open 23 March!


On Feb 1, Infrastructure Director Chris White informed the Trustees that the East Grinstead Extension will open on 23 March as planned --subject, of course, to the weather!

This is extremely welcome news and, given recent weather-related challenges, a credit to him and his team.

The Railway will celebrate with a two-week opening festival from 23 March until 8 April. Full details of East Grinstead opening events can be found here .
All bookings for the first and other special trains will open at 10 a.m. on 8 Feb. For more information and tickets, call the Sales and Information Office at 01825 720800.

For coverage of this news from This Is Sussex, click here .    



NEP Report: "Let's Go for It!"


Late in the afternoon on 1 Feb., Infrastructure Manager Matt Crawford and I were at East Grinstead reviewing progress against the construction programme we have been following since resumption of Northern Extension Project (NEP) work after the Christmas break.

This review showed a decision point four weeks into the New Year at which we had to decide if it remained possible to run the first train on 23 March and so launch the long-awaited opening festival.

Whilst many people have played out their roles across a wide range of tasks--from the front line construction team to the back room professionals addressing all the design, legislative, and regulatory processes required--at the end of the day, it came down to a value judgement by Matt and myself to decide whether to press the "go" button or not.

After looking at progress to date--and assessing how much time we have left (six weeks)--we said, "Let's go for it!"

We were acutely aware that once this decision was made, there was no going back. Later that evening--following a brief discussion with Roy Watts--we announce to the Trustees that the first public train will run on 23 March.

As always the weather caveats this statement. If we get snowed in or flooded out again, we could be in trouble, but the weather forecast looks sufficiently promising to take the risk.

As reported many times before, our original programme had us running test trains last October, but every minute of recovery time in the programme--and more besides--has been lost due to inclement weather.

Only careful planning and very tight control of site work--not to mention seven diggers working on site six days a week and a lot of very bedraggled volunteer track laying teams working in the mud--made it possible to claw back some of deadlines that slipped so seriously.

Watching the budget has been another juggling act. All the extra plant does not come cheap and was not allowed for, but against this has to be weighed the loss of revenue if we do not open as planned.

So there we are. It really is going to happen now. I hope you enjoy your very expensive two miles of extra journey when you next travel over the line, but I suspect you will agree it's been worth the effort--we certainly do!

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director   



Mud, Glorious Mud!


I am of an age where I should have attended the Glastonbury Music Festival by now. I might come to regret this, but I know that at least I have had the mud experience during the Northern Extension Project (NEP)--beyond anything the Festival can offer.

As the phrase goes, you can't really appreciate it until you have experienced it.

We have had three occasions during which--up to their waists in it--volunteers have become so stuck, they have had to phone to be hauled out by other people or, one time, by machinery.

I understand two of these gentleman actually lost their boots, which are now part of the extension's foundation for evermore.

The dedication and enthusiasm of NEP volunteers beggars belief. It is very hard work, so that after just one day of it, I need a rest. Yet many give up several days each week, and Matt Crawford (our full-time Permanent Way manager) has moved to seven-day working.

There are no words to describe Matt's heroic efforts, save to say when I was on site two weeks ago, he looked us all in the eye and said, "We will not be beaten by this thing; we will open on time as planned."

With the news that we really are going for it in late March, only a foolish man would bet against Matt and his team.

By John Walls, Trustee & NEP Volunteer



Funding Update: NEP, Track Trek, & Canopy Project  


In all the excitement about the March opening of the East Grinstead extension, we still have to pay for the work. We need around £100,000, give or take another rainy day or so.

We hope to make a substantial dent in that figure with the Track Trek--still planned for 24 Feb., a date we hope to confirm this coming Wednesday.

If you are not completely worn out and suffering from donor fatigue, you can support our friendly neighbourhood Mayor Liz Bennett of East Grinstead at .

Liz will be doing the Trek along with nearly 700 others. (Trustee John Walls has been recruited to carry--but not wear--the mayoral chain of office!) We still need stewards for the Trek, particularly those who are trained in Personal Track Safety, so if you want to help, please e-mail Nigel Longdon .
If you want an alternative to donating to the Northern Extension Project (NEP), our other and smaller target is for the Sheffield Park Canopy Extension being carried out by the Friends of Sheffield Park.

Having raised around £22,000 of the £25,000 budget for the new part of the canopy, we have extended the target to £40,000 in order to pay for a new zinc roof for the older part of the canopy. Contributions can be made here , or if you want to avoid the 6% handling charge, please send a cheque plus gift aid form to me at Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex, TN22 3QL.
Finally, model railway enthusiasts may be saddened to learn that Fleischman Model Railway Club has folded after 30 years. In disposing of assets, the club made a donation to the Railway of £350. This will be put towards the extended canopy, so one day I will be able to invite the club's members to gaze up at the column clusters that they helped pay for.
By Roger Kelly, Funding Director



End of the "Fiver"

With impending opening of the East Grinstead extension, the last "Fiver for the Finish Certificate" will be sold on 17 March.

£51,500 has been collected via this scheme since it started just under a year ago, and the hope is to make it to £55,000.

Sunday the 17th will not only be the last chance to purchase one of these historic certificates, it will be the end of collecting on the trains--at least for a while.

We will not bother those visitors who have come to enjoy the extra two miles by asking for money whilst they are traveling.

Funding Director Roger Kelly will be on hand on 17 March to make the purchaser of the last certificate feel special (assuming he doesn't buy it himself!) and to present a framed certificate signed by the Railway's Board. 



Bookmark this Special Events page for a full listing of 2013 events, as so far known. In addition to the two-week East Grinstead opening festivities, there's the return of "Giants of Steam" in October, a new Edwardian event in June, and a Model Railway weekend. 

A Rare Find

We are very fortunate to have in the Railway's collection (with the kind permission of the Historical Model Railway Society and thanks to Martin Skrzetuszewski) a copy of a rare builder's photograph of a GWR open wagon from the same lot as No. 87782 , built in 1912. The photo is from the "Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Collection" of the HMRS ref. no. ACJ208. The wagon is undergoing restoration to original condition through the support of donations to the  Bluebell Railway Trust .  


"Swordfish" to Help Out with NEP


Lewis Nodes reports that the Railway is hiring class 33 diesel locomotive No. 33103 "Swordfish" from Nemesis Rail to assist with Northern Extension Project (NEP) construction work, specifically the movement of materials.  


No. 33103 will assist diesel shunting loco No. 13236 , which has a relatively low speed and haulage capability.  

"Swordfish" has worked on several preservation railways, including Swanage Railway, Severn Valley, and Keighley and Worth Valley.

Specifically, she's a 33/1, a sub class push/pull fitted for use with Trailer Car passenger train sets of three or four carriages, with driving controls at the non-loco ends of the train. These were principally used on South Western lines, west of Bournemouth, prior to electrification being extended.  

"Swordfish" is expected to arrive in the week ending 1 Feb. No date has been set for the end of its hire, but Lewis says there is no planned use for it beyond completion of the NEP, which will be some time after the extension's opening.














A Bit of Kingscote History: The third page about the history of Kingscote station has been updated to give a taste of life at the time of the station's closure, with thanks to Martin Skrzetuszewski and Nick Beck.  The other pages are here and 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!   



A History of Bognor Regis Loco Shed  


(From Paul Edwards' Sussex Motive Power Depots website) "Bognor Regis's locomotive shed was opened on the 1 June 1864 by the LBSCR. The locomotive shed (75Ds) closed in November 1961.

"With the electrification arriving in Bognor Regis on 22 May 1938, this created a new motorman's depot at Bognor Regis (EMUT), which opened in 1938.

"In 1995, Bognor Regis Depot closed and the drivers transferred to the newly opened Barnham depot. Bognor ASLEF members had not formed their own branch until some time after 1912.

"In June 1912, they were still part of the Horsham Branch" ... more .




Bluebells in British Railways Service: No. 75027 Standard Class 4 Tender Loco     

No. 75027
The fine lines of the Standard 4 are exemplified in this study of No. 75027 captured one winter's day on the Bluebell Railway, by Barry Lewis. A generous gesture from a Bluebell Railway Preservation Society member and character saw this modern loco plucked from storage at Carnforth as BR steam came to an end in August 1968.

Locos were being scrapped at speed, but no-one knew at the time that Barry scrapyard would store their locos for nearly 20 years rather than scrap them, permitting hundreds of other locos to be preserved and operate on Britain's preserved steam railways.

The end of BR steam came at the time when the Railway's line purchase was occurring, which is one reason it didn't buy locos back then. The thought was probably to get a working loco while available.

How it came to be chosen is an interesting story, as is the journey to our Railway. No. 75027 was hauled by rail in stages to London accompanied by Railway riders (the story is told in a 1969 Bluebell News). The final delivery by road was by Wynns of Newport. The "Pacific" ballast tractor Wynns used is itself very rare now.

The donated No. 75027 was in steam very soon after arrival. It has been ever popular with crews, capable and economical through several boiler certificates.

Video Links
Photo Links


This tragic accident on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway reminds us of the critical importance of health and safety on a preservation railway. Our Safety Officer is Roland Law . Information on the Operational and Safety Review Group (OSRG); the Safety Management System (SMS); and back issues of Bluebell Safety News can be found here

The "Brighton Belle" on Its 80th Anniversary


Up "Brighton Belle" passes auto-train to East Grinstead in Three Bridges station. Taken 1 April, 1958 by Ben Brooksbank.

Brighton Belle
View southward, towards Brighton, etc., also to the coast via Horsham and to East Grinstead: ex-LB&SC main line and branches. Motor-fitted ex-LSW Drummond M7 class 0-4-4T No. 30110 (built March 1904, withdrawn May 1963) is propelling its train to East Grinstead: the Pullman "Brighton Belle" EMU is passing at speed on one of two non-stop runs made each day in 60 minutes between Brighton and London Victoria.

Just like the Bluebell Railway returning steam trains to East Grinstead , bringing the "Brighton Belle" back to the London-to-Brighton run is an ongoing preservation project, the website for which can be found here .

More interesting links: With thanks to Beulah, we can watch the "Belle" on the move in British Railways days, in both Pullman and BR liveries. Some great shots can be seen here!
Beulah Library Roll F37
Beulah Library Roll F37

By Neil Cameron


Enjoy These Latest Photos! 


Sarah Siddons is seen with the Bluebell Railway's four Metropolitan Railway coaches at Edgware Road on 20 Jan. in Tim Easter's lovely photo (also below).

A photo by David King showing No. 473 "Birch Grove" after a snowy test run up the line.

Derek Hayward has overhauled his Bluebell Railway People galleries.

Martin Lawrence has a gallery of photos from 11, 13, & 17 Jan. and one from 19 Jan. 

A set by Keith Duke.

Mick Ralph photographed the only thing moving on 20 Jan. (the E4 approaching Horsted Keynes!)

A set from Chris Jennings

This Ben French photo shows a Met carriage returning home on a low loader.

Sarah Siddons


We thought you'd be interested in this lovely find: the BBC Documentary The Train Now Departing , which in this episode, takes a nostalgic trip from Waterloo to Exmouth on the "Holiday Line." 

A Trip Down Memory Line: Southern Railway Day/Night London-to-Paris Services 


Golden Arrow Poster  


















Neil Cameron takes a look at the "Golden Arrow;"  "Canterbury," the first "Golden Arrow" ferry; and the London-to-Paris Night Ferry.  


Click here for photos, video, and other links of interest connecting the Bluebell Railway's popular "Golden Arrow" service back to its illustrious past.

Southern Steam - Victoria c1929
Southern Steam: c. 1929, outside Victoria Station, a "Golden Arrow" Pullman service departs in style. LBSCR's overhead electrification can be seen, and of particularly note is the ex-South Eastern Railway's American Pullman cars on the second departure, seen on the Sundays-only "Kentish Belle" all-Pullman express to Margate.



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