News from the Bluebell Railway 3 March 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
Track Trek Goes Ape!
Trekkers Brave Cold Weather to March into the Future
Track Trek Video
Ballast Anyone?
Bluebell Rail Is on Track After More Than 50 Years
Finish for the Fiver
Tour of Bluebell Line Stations Added to Opening Festival
Marjorie Remembers the Last Train on Old Bluebell Railway
Bluebell on Film: "Endeavour"
Stepney Club Steams Again
Sheffield Park Canopy Project Update
A History of the Tunbridge Wells West Loco Depot, 1866-1985
BGZ Paint Now A-OK
Enjoy These Latest Photos!

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



John Sandys' video from 18 Feb., 2013 of an extended run-round at Kingscote, taking the token for East Grinstead and returning to practice taking and returning the token. See all the new signals at work.
John Sandys' video from 18 Feb., 2013 of an extended run-round at Kingscote, taking the token for East Grinstead and returning to practice taking and returning the token. See all the new signals at work.
British and Irish Steam memories from the 1950s and 1960s (with musical accompaniment!)
British and Irish Steam memories from the 1950s and 1960s (with musical accompaniment!)

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




The ballast train arrives on 21 Feb., by John Sandys.
The ballast train arrives on 21 Feb., 2013, by John Sandys.


The Railway on 16 Feb., 2013.
The Railway on 16 Feb., 2013.
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

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

A selection C Class loco photos from the John J. Smith Collection:
Photo 1 ; Photo 2 ; Photo 3 ;
Photo 4 ; Photo 5 ; Photo 6

JJS C Class
Station Facilities

The arrival of No. 33 Swordfish on Nov. 2, 2013, by John Sandys.
The arrival of No. 33 Swordfish on Nov. 2, 2013, by John Sandys.
Looking Back at Track Trek 
24 FEB., 2013

Track Trek Goes Ape!    

Gorilla on Platform
You see some strange people waiting for the train at Kingscote! He must have been flushed out when the cutting was cleared. For more photos of the Track Trek from John Sandys, click here .


Trekkers Brave Cold Weather to March into the Future  


On 24 Feb. 400 walkers--plus others who sent in donations but didn't take the walk--raised a total of £40,000 for the Bluebell Railway by completing Track Trek over the two-mile extension the Railway is building between East Grinstead and Kingscote stations.
This was the third attempt to run this event, which was cancelled twice due the foul weather!

In zero degrees and with a freezing nor'easterly wind on their backs, the intrepid Trekkers set off at 10 a.m. from East Grinstead, led by East Grinstead Mayor Liz Bennett.

"It is a great privilege to support the Bluebell Railway by helping to raise money for its Northern Extension Project, which will mean so much to the town," said the Mayor.

The East Grinstead Council provided £1,000 towards the cost of taking the Trekkers by bus back to East Grinstead, and the Mayor raised more than £1,500 in sponsorship, a sum that was only exceeded by top fundraiser John Sandys, who collected more than £2,000.
Everyone enjoyed the day, and there were many smiling faces as the participants fell on tea and bacon sandwiches at the end--although we had to assume the chap dressed in the gorilla suit was happy: it was hard to tell!

One lady enjoyed the experience so much that, having taken the bus back to East Grinstead, she did the walk all over again. Another enthusiast took more than three hours to complete the route.

"It was a fantastic day," said Funding Director Roger Kelly. "I am delighted we have been able to raise so much money. A big thanks to our main organiser Nigel Longdon and also our army of stewards and marshals who were out doors for more than four hours."   


Together, the Track Trekkers made a substantial dent in the amount still required to fully fund the NEP.

The top four fundraisers at the event were:
  • John Sandys: £2,051
  • Liz Bennett: £1,520
  • Joseph Wright (aka Bollo the Gorilla): £1,137
  • Deborah Salmon: £731
(The Chit Chat Track Trekkers Team--comprising 11 Trekkers including John, Deborah, and Joseph--raised more than £6,000 between them.)

Lastly, spare a thought for John Sandys--who also provides us so many wonderful photos and videos--for he is due to have a major operation this week.

To further donate to the NEP and help see the project home, please click here

Track Trek Video  


Track Trek official video, with thanks to David Allen and Alex Mansfield.
Track Trek official video, with thanks to David Allen and Alex Mansfield.


By John Harwood
By John Harwood














Part 1, by John Sandys
Part 1, by John Sandys














Part 2, by John Sandys
Part 2, by John Sandys















The Final Push

The Final Push: Progress on the Bluebell Railway's extension to East Grinstead.
Progress on the Bluebell Railway's extension to East Grinstead.

Ballast Anyone? 

Ballast Train  
Brian Kidman's photo show Class 66 No. 66708 and its train of Falcon wagons loaded with ballast for Imberhorne Cutting, passing Hurst Green Junction at 2:20 p.m. on 21 Feb., 2013, en-route to East Grinstead.


NEP Update: On Target for 23 March 


The Northern Extension Project (NEP) remains on target for the first public trains to operate into East Grinstead on 23 March.

The cutting is now cleared, and with the outstanding ballast deliveries completed, the remaining 120 metres of track bed will be ready to accept sleepers and rail on 4 March. The usual top ballasting and tamping will commence later that week.

Our focus is now on the safety verification process, which commences on 11 March, culminating in a visit from the Railway Inspector, to "cast his eye over what we have done" and review our safety file. After this, it will be possible to run some test and crew familiarisation trains. Most of the desk top crew training is complete

Meanwhile at East Grinstead, the Travel Centre, toilets, disabled car park area, and walkway are being installed ready for our visitors, whilst the water tower is gradually extending upwards--and very good it looks too.

It's very satisfying to see things coming together, more rushed than we would wish but nevertheless in time for the long-planned opening.

The photo below by John Sandys from 1 March shows that the basework for the track from north and south has now met in the cutting.

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director

Base Complete



Finish for the Fiver


The on-trains sales of the Fiver for the Finish certificates will come to an end on 17 March.

The sales of these certificates--and their predecessors, the Tenner for the Tip certificates--have been going on for four years, and it is time to bring the campaign to a close.

Intrepid sellers have raised one third of a million pounds for the Northern Extension Project!

The last certificate to be sold has been signed by Roy Watts and Roger Kelly and will be presented to the highest donor on the 3 p.m. from Sheffield Park on 17 March. We plan to get as many of the sellers together at 12:45 p.m. on that day for a commemorative photo.
Meanwhile the certificates are still on sale here should you wish to have one as a memento of this unique period in Bluebell Railway history.

By Roger Kelly, Funding Director



Tour of Bluebell Line Stations Added to Opening Festival


The Railway has added another event to its Opening Festival calendar. On 3 April, a vintage coach tour will follow the old line to Lewes touring closed Bluebell Line stations.
The coach will depart Sheffield Park at 11:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. and will visit the sites of old stations at Newick and Chailey. Plus, view the old station at Barcombe--now a private residence--and return via Barcombe Mills and Isfield stations.
The tour will take approximately one hour and 15 minutes. There are 28 places per tour, and the cost is £20 per person. To learn more, visit or call 1825 720800.




Marjorie Remembers the Last Train on Old Bluebell Railway


(From This Is Sussex ) "Memories of the Bluebell Railway have come flooding back for an East Grinstead resident who travelled on the final train to the town 55 years ago.

"Unbeknown at the time to Marjorie Marshall and late husband Ernie, the couple were aboard the last trip in March 1958 from Kingscote Station to East Grinstead before the route was axed by British Railways.

"The 91-year-old, who for 16 years lived at Kingscote Station with stationmaster Ernie, said the couple's years by the rail line were some of the happiest of their lives.

"Now living at Elm Court, East Grinstead, Marjorie described her excitement after reading in the Courier & Observer that the Bluebell line was close to being reconnected to the town ..."

For the full story, click here .

A few clarifications are required for this lovely story ...
  • The last train ex-Kingscote was in 1955, not 1958, the closure order anticipated by the railway strike of that year.
  • The Marshalls were tenants of the station house from the early 1950s to about 1967 (Ernie Marshall visited the restoration at Kingscote and gave details).  
  • A history of Kingscote during this period can be found here .
  • The Sheffield Park reference in the article is to the Gardens, not the Railway.
  • Lastly, the Railway is in touch with Marjorie, and we are hoping to accommodate her so she can make the journey once again.




For full details of the East Grinstead Festival--23 March to 7 April--can be found here .


U Class Test
This photo --by Richard Salmon--shows U-class No. 1638 back in service. It recently passed a steam test and was photographed on 24 Feb. during its run-round at Kingscote.



Bluebell on Film: "Endeavour"    


ITV 1 have been filming a new four part drama series about the early years of Inspector Endeavour Morse (the fictional character created by Colin Dexter) who made his name as a young detective in Oxford.

The story filmed at Horsted Keynes is set in 1965, when Morse is looking for a missing schoolgirl in the "city of dreaming spires." That is, Horsted Keynes plays both Oxford and Stamford stations. Morse is played by Shaun Evans and Inspector Fred Thursday by Roger Allam.

The part of the story filmed at the station depicts Morse going to visit his dying father and returning to Oxford, with scenes filmed in the booking office, in the train, and on the platform.

Two trains were used, each comprising four coaches--Bulleids, and Mark 1s--one hauled by the P class No. 178 and one by the H class No. 263.

To enquire about the Bluebell Railway as a filming location, click here .




Stepney Club Steams Again    


As some members may know, the Stepney Club--for children aged three to eight years old--has been running for more than two decades, and it has always proved popular among young railway enthusiasts (and, we hope, volunteers of the future).

The club suffered a severe setback with the sudden and then long-term illness of David Rider, who has edited the Stepney Club magazine and organised club events from the beginning. 

An appeal to the Railway membership for help to swell the ranks of our very small team has produced two new volunteers to assist us with events and the editing of the magazine, and we are trying to get the club up and running again. A new magazine is in production  and there are plans for an event in the summer.

The Edwardian weekend in June will include a Stepney Club day with extra attractions for club members, such as discounted travel, a dedicated Stepney Club magic show, a Stepney marquee, an Edwardian dress parade and prize, and brake van rides.

Stepney Club members receive travel discounts, a magazine three times a year, a birthday card from Stepney on their birthday, and access to special events. 

If you are a parent or grandparent, now is a good time to join up your small rail enthusiasts!

Stepney Club members always enjoy getting together with others who love steam trains, and it is a very enjoyable way to support our Railway. There are several working volunteers who started their careers in the Stepney Club, and we would like there to be many more.

Membership costs £8 for a year, £12 for two years, and £16 for three years. Membership forms can be picked up at any Railway booking office or printed from this webpage .

The photo of Stepney below is by Dave Colwell.
Stepney Cavalcade



Roland Law, the Railway's safety manager, has published a new Bluebell Safety Newsletter. To download a copy as a PDF, click here .  

Sheffield Park Canopy Project Update

FOSP Foundation
This photo (by Derek Palmer) shows one of the freshly excavated holes fitted with reinforcing mesh, put in place ready for a concrete foundation to be poured. This foundation will create a support for one of the two new canopy columns on Platform One at Sheffield Park Station. The remains of the brick support for the original column--revealed for the first time in 70 years--are clearly visible.

"Since our last report in the winter Bluebell News , the Friends have now accepted responsibility for completing the restoration of the existing canopy on Platform 1, as well as building the canopy extension.

"This will involve some serious fund-raising to enable us to carry out the work in a continuous manner (although there will have to be a pause during the busy summer season).

"Graham Aitken is our new Friends' fundraising leader, and he is working with Roger Kelly and the Bluebell Fundraising Committee, where it has been decided to direct future Railway fundraising efforts to this cause once the NEP is completed.

"We have been negotiating with a contractor to supply and fit the new zinc roof sheets to the whole
platform canopy, and we now just need to raise sufficient money to pay him--and to complete the
whole job ..."

To read a complete update on the Canopy Project by the Friends of Sheffield Park--and to see a list of sponsored canopy items-- click here .

To make a donation via this project's JustGiving page, click here .


A History of the Tunbridge Wells West Loco Depot, 1866-1985

   Tunbridge Wells 1

Enjoy this collection of local motive power social history, courtesy of Paul Edwards' Brighton Motive Power Depots and Sussex Motive Power Depots , a collation of the histories provided by depot footplatemen.

Tunbridge Wells West Locomotive Shed was opened on the 1 Oct., 1866 by the East Grinstead, Groombridge, and Tunbridge Wells Railway, which was later amalgamated with the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway (Shed Code T-W).

The steam shed was closed on 9 Sept., 1963. With the introduction of diesels-- electrical multiple units (DEMUs)--Tunbridge Wells West become a DEMU-only depot. The depot and railway line was finally closed on 9 Aug., 1985

The Tunbridge Wells Branch of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) was opened on 25 Feb., 1906 and closed the day the railway closed in 1985.

Click here to read the full story.

Tunbridge Wells 2
Tonbridge-to-Brighton train entering Tunbridge Wells West Station
By Ben Brooksbank: View eastward, towards Tunbridge Wells Central; ex-London, Brighton, & South Coast line (from Grove Junction) to Groombridge, Eridge, Lewes, and Brighton. The train is the 19:10 Tonbridge-to-Brighton, headed by BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4T No. 80150, which was withdrawn in Oct. 1965 and is preserved on the Mid-Hants Railway.


BGZ Paint Now A-OK

Richard Salmon writes, "Our LMS BGZ, which is used as both brake van and pantry for our Golden Arrow Pullman train, was repainted into Pullman colours a few years ago. Unfortunately, we had a poor batch of brown paint, which turned green in the sun. Our paint suppliers have been good to us, enabling the coach to be repainted at the start of this year when the Pullman train is out of service for its annual maintenance." David Chappell's photo shows the BGZ in the paint shop in January 2013.


Enjoy These Latest Photos! 


A recent gallery by Ashley Smith.

Photos by Martin Lawrence from 15 Feb. (His photo of No. 473 at night is below.)

More photos by Martin Lawrence from 23 Feb.

John Sandys' photos taken on 17 Feb. at Horsted Keynes, showing three of the four locos running, in sunny weather (for once!)

Derek Hayward's sequence , showing training taking place at Kingscote North signal box and the Northern Extension.

Steve Lee's photo from 16 Feb. shows three of the weekend's four engines, at Horsted Keynes.

Keith Leppard has a gallery from 23 Feb.

Derek Hayward's lovely photo from 24 Feb. shows the two P-class locomotives with the Southern set at Kingscote.

E Class at Night


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