News from the Bluebell Railway   31 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
We're Making History!
Welcome to the Future
Welcome to No. 66739 "Bluebell Railway"
Funding *Past* the Finish
All Eyes on the Bluebell Railway
What You Thought
A Final Fiver
Bids Being Accepted on Unique C Class Model
One Down, Many More to Go
Loco Update
Remembering Dr. Beeching
Sheffield Park Canopy Extension Project Update
Bids Being Accepted on Unique C Class Model
New Bus Link from Haywards Heath Launched
A History of East Grinstead Station Part 2
Enjoy These Latest Photos!
Ben Brooksbank's Bluebell Railway Photographs 1960s-1990s
The Brighton Depot in the 19th Century

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  


  NEW: Line Map & Gradient Profile 


Local Accomodation List  


Walkscene "Railway Children" Walks  

Lineside Photographers
Track Safety



Naming of the
Naming of the "66" at Horsted Keynes, 28 March, by John Sandys.
Bluebell Railway Crew Training between Kingscote and East Grinstead, 17 March, 2013.
Bluebell Railway Crew Training between Kingscote and East Grinstead, 17 March, 2013.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




Southern Steam: Four Coupled Collection.
Southern Steam: Four Coupled Collection.


"Best of" Early and Mid 1960s: Trains, Cars, and Boats. At 9m 30s our H Class No. 31263 is seen at Three Bridges,  push-pull services (M7 tanks) stations to East Grinstead HL. The whole hour-long film is of interest, set to swinging '60s radio!
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

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

A selection East Grinstead-related photos from the John J. Smith Collection:
Photo 1 ; Photo 2  ; Photo 3 ;
Photo 4 ; Photo 5  ; Photo 6

JJS EG Photo
Station Facilities

Southern Steam: The Isle of Wight in the 1930s
Southern Steam: The Isle of Wight in the 1930s.
Bluebell Railway Railtour and other activities on 28 March, 2013 by Martin Lawrence.
Bluebell Railway Railtour and other activities on 28 March, 2013 by Martin Lawrence.

We're Making History!   

1855 Opening
A poster announcing the original opening of East Grinstead station in 1855.


Welcome to the Future   


This sort of report usually starts with "the sun shone and the band played." Well, the Bluebell Band did play (congratulations!) as the first steam-hauled passenger train in many decades--"The Pioneer"--headed south to Sheffield Park from East Grinstead at 0945 on 23 March, 2013.

However, far from sunshine, the events took place--as had much of the work to make it happen--in atrocious weather. Thus ended the 30-year Bluebell Railway  project to make East Grinstead its northern terminus.

What a great day it was! The only sad part was remembering the number of contributors no longer with us. In jostling for position to look down from their cloud, they seem to kicked over a bucket or two of snow! The Railway is indebted to the anonymous Southern Railway staff who helped clear and salt the platform.
The first train out was hauled by the Railway's oldest (owned) and most recent locomotives, driven by its youngest and oldest engine crews. It was despatched by the BRPS Chairman in his role as Senior Station Master. It was packed with pre-booked passengers and waved away by a large crowd both on the platform and in Sainsbury's car park. Everyone wanted to witness history being made.
Half an hour after the first departure, the first up-train--the Champagne Breakfast Special "Grinstede Belle"--arrived. It was driven appropriately by Northern Extension Project Director Chris White with Bluebell Railway Plc Chairman Graham Flight on board. This special was greeted by East Grinstead Mayor Liz Bennett, huddled under a Pullman umbrella.

The day continued with frequent services that ended with the Pullman Imberhorne Limited and a spectacular fireworks display at Horsted Keynes. Nicholas Owen and the team that brought you the Fundraising videos in 2011 and 2012 were on hand to film the activities, and their production will be available online soon.
So began our two-week gala. Details can be found at .


Welcome to No. 66739 "Bluebell Railway" 

History was made on 28 March, 2013 when the first through charter train ran from London Victoria to Sheffield Park (via East Grinstead).  

This train was the first to travel this route since 1958. It was organised by UK Railtours, hauled by GBRf 66/7 No. 66739, and comprised 12 coaches and a pair of 73 electro-diesels at the rear to provide heating.

The "66/7" was an appropriate choice as these locomotives were used to haul our Waste by Rail trains that removed some 80,000 tonnes of waste from Imberhorne Cutting. On arrival at Sheffield Park, the train reversed  back to Horsted Keynes where No. 66739 was formally named "Bluebell Railway." Our Society crest is displayed on the right of the nameplate.

No. 66739 Named

A mounted copy of the nameplate was presented to the Railway for display in our museum. After the naming ceremony, the two "73s" hauled a rake of our coaches on a series of service trains prior to the return of the whole charter train back to Victoria.

During the journey from Victoria, volunteers from the on-train fundraising team were allowed to sell commemorative certificates to mark the occasion, raising a useful £800, and the on-train raffle raised a further £1,200 towards Northern Extension Project costs. The certificates will be on sale in the Railway shop and Sheffield Park office for £5.

Our thanks go to John Farrow (UK Railtours) and John Smith (GBRf) for making this day possible. Hopefully there will be further opportunities to run through trains to Sheffield Park in the not too distant future.

By Nigel Longdon  


The Blue Belle Railtour 28th March 2013
More video of this event from John Sandys and Chris Ward . See Chris Livings photos here .



Funding *Past* the Finish  


With plenty of work ongoing during week days after the opening fortnight, we must remember that we have not (quite) fully funded the extension yet.

I am pleased to report that donations are still coming in, and any further contributions are gratefully received, either online or for those donations more than £25, preferably direct to the Railway by post ( download form ).

There has been plenty of talk about Ardingly over the past week, and whilst this now has become a real and enticing possibility, the focus over the next year is the Funding for the Future campaign.

This funding plan includes the new canopy at Sheffield Park station and an exciting new initiative which allows supporters to enter a lottery, with half of all proceeds going to the Railway, and much of the rest being returned as prizes (see below for both of these).

I for one will be signing up and dreaming of a holiday to warmer climes, whilst, of course, helping the Railway along the way!

By John Walls, Trustee, Fundraising & Communications.

For reflections on the generosity of our funders and supporters--from This Is Sussex-- click here .


All Eyes on the Bluebell Railway

Here's a round-up of just some of the excellent press the Railway has received over the past few days:

All aboard! Bluebell Line Steam Trains Are Connected to the National Rail Network for the First Time in 55 Years (The Daily Mail)

Bluebell Steam Railway Joins Mainline After 40 Years (The Guardian)

Bluebell Railway to Be in National Rail Network (The Scotsman)

In Pictures: How the Sussex Bluebell Railway Grew (BBC Sussex)

Return of the Bluebell Railway: Full Report (ITV Meridian)

The Bluebell Railway Links to the National Rail Network (The Daily Express)

Bluebell Railway Reopens Historic Line After More Than Half a Century (The Argus)

It Looks Like Dr. Beeching Was Too Hasty After All (The Daily Telegraph)

Lastly, a lovely photo of the opening below, taken by a Getty Images photojournalist.

Getty Photo


What You Thought 


(From This Is Sussex ) "As 13-year-old Michael Hall pupil George Delfas said: 'My grandad used to work in the ticket office at Sheffield Park and the line near Horsted Keynes runs along the bottom of my garden. I love the history of the line.

"'I am a member of the 9F club [named after the Bluebell's freight locomotive] so I know how much work has gone into the extension. The part of the journey I'm most looking forward to is when we go through the Imberhorne cutting. That was probably the hardest part so to go through it will be special.'" ... more .


A letter of thanks to directors, staff, and volunteers from Graham Flight, FCA, FCCA, Chairman, Bluebell Railway Plc. 
A Final Fiver
Final Fiver
The very last Fiver for the Finish was sold on 17 March, 2013. Intrepid "Tenner for the Tip" and "Fiver for the Finish" salespeople managed to raise more than £300,000 towards the Northern Extension Project, proving that the elephant can indeed be eaten "one bite at a time!" Well done to all! (L to R, Back Row: James Turner, Martin Lawrence, David Heasman, Alan Clark, David Cockram. Front Row: Nigel Longdon, Michael Cole, Lorna Webb, Roger Kelly, Roger Lamb. (And we must not forget Peter Forrester-Smith, who couldn't be with us due to ill health--many thanks Peter.)


A Flutter to Fund the Future  


As part of the Funding for the Future Campaign--which will be launched after 28 March--the Railway has teamed up with the Unity Lottery, which runs lotteries every Saturday on behalf of charities and good causes.

By taking part in the Unity Lottery as supporters of our Funding for the Future campaign you will ...
  • Contribute to the restoration and maintenance of the locomotives and rolling stock
  • Contribute to the maintenance of our infrastructure
  • Ensure the Railway continues to run steam hauled services between East Grinstead and Sheffield Park
  • Maintain our railway heritage for the education and enjoyment of current and future generations
The top prize each week is £25,000, and other prizes range from £1,000 down to £5. Everyone has a 1 in 63 chance of winning something. Fifty pence of every entry goes towards specific Railway projects. Participants must be older than 16, but otherwise entry is open anyone, and you can place many entries.

Sign up at . Paper application forms will go out with Bluebell News next month.
  • You have the option to pay by direct debit, card, or cheque.
  • You must be 16 or older to enter and be resident in Great Britain.
  • Once we receive your completed application form, we'll send a letter with your unique six-digit Unity Lottery game number.
  • This game number is entered into the draw each week, provided your account has at least £1 in it.
  • For those using direct debit, there is a 14-day cooling-off period; however, a letter will be sent with a game number in all instances.
  • If you have queries, call the Unity Lottery hotline at 0870 050 9240.
Remember, by playing this Lottery, unlike any other, you are directly supporting the Bluebell Railway.

By Roger Kelly, Funding Director


Thank you for signing up for this eNewsletter Kevin Meade . Our records indicate you were the 5,000th reader to do so, making you just one of many Bluebell Railway enthusiasts to have subscribed to the eNewsletter since it began publishing.  

One Down, Many More to Go 

First Panel
Photo from 13 March, 1988 (taken at Horsted Keynes, Leamland Bridge)--The Rt. Hon. Paul Channon, former Secretary of State, is at the controls of the Ransomes & Rapier Steam Crane as it lays the Northern Extension Project's first track panel.



Loco Update 


The cylinder liners for No. 592 have arrived and are being fitted. A small amount of adjustment is required to fit them into the bores, and before they are fixed in permanently, the valve ports have to be machined out. Some further machining must be done for the covers to fit.

At the time of writing, one liner is in place. In the meantime the axleboxes for the trailing axle have been re-metalled and are now being machined. This photo (also below) shows machinist Steve Heckford at work.

The repair work on No. 847's boiler has been completed, and tubes are now being fitted, with the expectation of being filled with water in about two weeks time. Pictures of this work can be found here .
By Lewis Nodes, Locos & Rolling Stock Director

No. 592 Machinist



Remembering Dr. Beeching  


The history of Richard Beeching , Baron Beeching, former chairman of British Railways, is in many ways bound up with that of the Bluebell Railway.

Beeching lived in East Grinstead; his infamous Beeching Report was responsible for the closure of thousands of miles of railways (although the Bluebell Line was already closed when the report was published); yet he was a guest of our Railway in its early days, helping to open a new halt and assisting with the release of "Fenchurch" in time to arrive under own steam to the Railway via Ardingly before the route was severed.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the report--and the opening of our Railway's northern extension--BBC News broadcast all day from the Railway on 27 March, 2013.

Meanwhile, ITV Meridian offered this piece on the Beeching Report featuring Monty Python member and travel writer Michael Palin.


Sheffield Park Canopy Extension Project Update  


Project team member Charles Melton notes that the biggest and most visible update is that the timber structure for the first bay of the extended canopy was completed by contractors during a week of favourable weather (!) during early March.

In other news, the Railway has awarded the contract for the complete zinc sheet roof--installation will begin on 15 April. This is a very expensive part of the project, so please donate at Just Giving to stop the project from running low of funds!


The project to recreate a new Brighton Belle electric train has moved a step further . As we celebrate our great achievement, the Bluebell Railway wishes this project well.

Bids Being Accepted on Unique C Class Model


The Fenchurch Fund has received a Bachmann model of the Wainwright C Class locomotive in Bulleid Southern Black.

The fund is offering this model for sale for a minimum offer of £90 (plus postage) with the entire profit going directly to the Fenchurch Fund and the restoration of SECR loco No. 27.
If you would like to purchase the loco, it will be sold on a sealed-bid basis. The closing date for bids is the date of the Annual General Meeting on 18 May, 2013. As Terry Wogan used to say, "Don't leave it to the last minute; put in a killer bid now!"
The Fenchurch group needs to complete the restoration of No. 27 before it can start to take Fenchurch apart for overhaul prior to the Fenchurch 150 weekend in September 2022. More updates on this project will be forthcoming.


New Bus Link from Haywards Heath Launched


On 29 March the Mayor of Haywards Heath, Councillor John Sabin, accompanied by his wife, Margaret Sabin, launched the new 769 bus route to Sheffield Park in Haywards Heath (see photos of the event here ).

The launch was also attended by Graham Flight, Chairman, Bluebell Railway Plc; Tim Baker, Commercial Director; Steve Walker, Manager, Sheffield Park National Trust Garden; Russell Pearce, Retail Director;  and Barry King and Chris Chatfield of Compass Bus.

Subsequently the Mayor opened the newly refurbished Birch Grove Suite at Sheffield Park Station and was later given a tour of the line.  

By Derek Hayward

Bluebell Railway bus connections can be found here .


You know you're onto something in the tourism trade when you pop up on the Trip Advisor website . It might be a busy summer! 

A History of East Grinstead Station Part 2  


A Croydon, Oxted, & East Grinstead Railway Bill was put before Parliament in 1878. The Brighton and South Eastern had agreed to build and work this line jointly between Croydon and Crowhurst, the northern part of the route closely following that of the abandoned S&SJR.

Southward from Crowhurst, however, where the South Eastern made a junction with its Redhill-Tonbridge line, it would be exclusively London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) territory. The Act was passed, Firbank again being involved in refurbishment of the Surrey and Sussex Junction Railway (S&SJR) and the additional construction. The route opened on 10 March, 1884, making an end-on junction at East Grinstead with the line from Lewes.

That date also saw the opening of the St. Margaret's spur. This double-track loop diverged on the up side about a half mile north of East Grinstead, climbing and curving in to join the route from Three Bridges immediately to the west of the station. There were two island platforms in the high-level part, which straddled the lower one.  
A goods yard also was located at the lower level on the down side of the station with a spur connection to the Tunbridge Wells line east of the upper platforms. This provided easy interchange of freight traffic between the two yards, as well as stock transfer and the occasional loco movement. But no scheduled services ever passed over it.

Not surprisingly the main station building was in the style of its contemporaries on the Lewes line. Two stories and on the down side of the low level platforms, the brick-built ground floor was surmounted by an upper storey of timber construction with plaster infills, later covered with decorative hung tiles. The separate refreshment room had a lantern roof.

The high level platforms were of timber where they passed over the low level tracks. Refreshment facilities were provided on both islands and staircases connected the two parts of the station on both east and west sides. The west staircase was put out of use after construction of a bridge between the low level platforms in 1891.

Access to the station was from two directions. Railway Approach ran parallel to and on the south side of the Tunbridge Wells line and passed under the connecting spur to reach the forecourt. Station Road paralleled the east side of the Oxted line and got to the forecourt by passing directly beneath the upper platforms. Both streets joined the London Road.

As Bluebell Railway history will tell us, the line from Lewes closed in June 1955, briefly reopened 14 months later and finally closed on 17 March, 1958, the low level station falling out of use after this date. The high level platforms followed suit when the Three Bridges-to-Ashurst Junction line closed on 2 Jan., 1967.

Croydon, Oxted and East Grinstead Railway (CO&EGR) trains now used the refurbished low level down platform for both arrivals and departures. Only departures could be made from the up platform, these generally being confined to busy times.

The station building shown below dates from the 1880s when the low level and high level was created to serve the new line to Lewes.

By Jeremy Clarke

East Grinstead Station


Enjoy These Latest Photos! 


Old v New

Old vs. New photos will become a theme now that the mainline and the Bluebell Line are connected. The one above is by "clee2011."

Ashley Smith got this photo in the pouring rain of the U-class on another round test trip to East Grinstead today.

SR U-class No. 1638 took a seven-coach test/training train up to East Grinstead, as seen in David Haggar's photo from 17 March.

John Sandy's photo set shows progress with the water tower , as of 19 March.

Peter Edwards struck it lucky when the rain briefly stopped on 19 March, enabling him to capture the H-class with the Met set on one of the service trains.

Dudley Hubbard's photographic impression of the opening festival.

Two sets of photos from Peter Suddaby here and here from the 28 March ceremonies.

Alan Bedford's photo (also below) showing the reflection on the spotless carriage No. 6686, from the 4:30 p.m. train from East Grinstead on 24 March.

Many more photos and videos of recent events on the Bluebell Railway Blog !



"On behalf of the Waverley Route Heritage Association, may I offer you our warmest congratulations on your achievement of extending your operation to East Grinstead. You set a fine example to the Heritage Railway movement and one we shall endeavour to emulate. If you ever find yourselves in the Scottish Borders, you are sure of a warm welcome at Whitrope summit."--Roy G. Perkins, Chairman, Waverley Route Heritage Association. 

Ben Brooksbank's Bluebell Railway Photographs 1960s-1990s


Birch Grove  
Photo by Ben Brooksbank. View northward, towards Horsted Keynes-also East Grinstead on the original LB&SC line from Lewes, closed in 1958. Now looking splendid in its original livery, R. Billinton E4 No. 473 was built August 1898, withdrawn as 32473 October 1962. (Cf. TQ3378 : Ex-LB&SCR 0-6-2T at Bricklayer's Arms Locomotive Depot). [Note the smartly dressed children, my son being the one seated.]

Click here for a slideshow of Ben Brooksbank's Bluebell Railway images, just a few of his 10,000 or so photos to be found on Geograph taken across a more than 50-year period.

Brooksbank makes these photos freely available. To use them, simply credit his photos, include his description, and let him know if the description needs to be corrected. 


The Brighton Depot in the 19th Century


Paul Edwards has written about the earliest history of Brighton Loco Depot ; the formation of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway; and the social history surrounding the locomotive work and the representation of the men, leading to the creation of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF).  

It is through the Branch Records that much interesting information for the railway enthusiast has emerged--as well as a remarkable social record of the Industrial Revolution.

Here's an interesting extract ...

LONDON & CROYDON RAILWAY: Regulations for the First Appointment of an Engine-Man.

  1. The candidate must not be under twenty-one years of age, and must produce a certificate of a sound constitution and steady habits.
  2. He must be able to read and write, and if possible, understand the rudimental principles of mechanics.
  3. It will be a great recommendation if he has served his time to any mechanical art, especially as a Fitter of Locomotive Engines; and, if possible, he should produce testimonials stating his qualifications as such.
  4. If the candidate has been a Fitter or a stationary Engine-man, he must, for several months at least, have been a Stoker on a Locomotive Engine, under the direction of a steady and competent Engine-man; and before his appointment, he should produce a testimonial from the Superintendent of Locomotives, or at least from an Engine-man under whom he has served, stating full confidence in his acquaintance with the construction of an Engine and the principles of its management.
  5. If the candidate has not been a Fitter or a stationary Engine-man, he must have served as a Stoker for at least two years, and produce the testimonials named in the preceding rules.
  6. If require by the Board of Directors, for greater security, the candidate must undergo an examination from their Engineer, Superintendent of Locomotive, or other competent person, as to his knowledge of an Engine and its management, and the general result of this examination must be committed to paper, signed by the examiner, and presented to the board.
  7. The Engineer or Superintendent of Locomotives of the Railway to which the candidate is desirous of being appointed, shall sign a certificate stating that he has conversed with him, has seen him drive and has confidence in his steadiness and ability.
  8. Before being allowed to take the entire charge of an Engine and train, the candidate must drive for several days under the direction of an experienced Engine-man, who must be on his Engine, and certify to ability.
  9. All certificates and testimonials must be deposited with the Secretary of the Company, who will restore them to the owner on his leaving their service.

Framed by the then Mr C. H. Gregory, in his capacity as the Company's Resident Engineer, and adopted by the Directors of the L&C Rly in 1840.


The London & Croydon Rly & the London & Brighton Rly amalgamated on the 27th July 1846.



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, now from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead!

John Walls
Trustee, Bluebell Railway Preservation Society