News from the Bluebell Railway   14 April 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
The Bluebell Railway Arrives at East Grinstead
Pioneers Pass at Kingscote
NEP Update: "Closing Out" Tasks Begin
Holden Reaches the Summit
Steam Crane Receives Funding
"Operation Overcover:" New Roof Installation Begins
Bluebell Broadcasting Company
Down Memory Line: The "Blue Belle" Rail Tour, April 1962
A Great Trophy!
In Remembrance of Stations Past
Enjoy These Latest Photos!
Brooksbank Bluebell Railway Photo Prints Available
A History of East Grinstead Station, Part 3
A History of the Brighton Loco Depot, Part 2

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  


  NEW: Local Attractions  



Walkscene "Railway Children" Walks  


Lineside Photographers
Track Safety



The Bluebell Railway on 17 March, 2013.
The Bluebell Railway on 17 March, 2013.
SECR H Class No. 263 on 27 March, 2013.
SECR H Class No. 263 on 27 March, 2013.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




London Steam, the post war years.
London Steam: The post war years.


9F runs from East Grinstead to Kingscote, by John Sandys.
9F runs from East Grinstead to Kingscote
 on 1 April, 2013, by John Sandys.
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

Bluebell Railway East Grinstead Opening Festival, Day Ten: Easter Monday.
Bluebell Railway East Grinstead Opening Festival, Day Ten: Easter Monday.

The Bluebell Railway Arrives at East Grinstead      

The Bluebell Railway arrives at East Grinstead - 23 March 2013
The official video of the opening day of the Northern Extension, 23 March 2013, when the Bluebell Railway's first public steam trains were run out of, and into East Grinstead station. Nicholas Owen beautifully narrates this video, recording the completion of a project which has taken 39 years and cost about £11 million, almost all raised by and from the Railway's membership and the public.


Pioneers Pass at Kingscote     

Pioneers Pass
Pat Plane's photo shows two "pioneers"-- No. 1638 heading "The Grinsteade Belle" and No. 473 heading "The Pioneer"--on Day One of the Northern Extension Opening Festival (23 March, 2013). No. 473 is waiting to pass No. 1638 at Kingscote station, formerly the northerly terminus of the Railway. "The Grinsteade Belle" was the first up-train to pass through Kingscote on its way to East Grinstead. It was driven by Northern Extension Project Director Chris White with Bluebell Railway Plc Chairman Graham Flight on board.



NEP Update: "Closing Out" Tasks Begin  


Well it's now history--we ran the first northern extension public train on the date we planned some 60 weeks before Entry into Service.

Behind the scenes, in the run up to this historic moment, it was quite a challenge to overcome all the persistent demons that have sought to delay the opening--details can be found in the next edition of Bluebell News.

However, on 22 March the team was able to spend a relatively quiet day tidying up and checking over things before going home early, having done all possible in readiness for the big day.

We are now embarking on closing out the remaining tasks and completing all the paperwork required to satisfy the legislative processes. The main engineering activity involves finalising the cutting surfaces, including drainage systems and fencing.

Once again the recent heavy rains have delayed this work; it seems as if we are destined to put up with this "inconvenience" until finally moving off the site, no doubt we will then have constant sunshine!

Also underway in the coming weeks is completion and commissioning of the water supplies and ticket office canopy at East Grinstead, following which we then sit back and monitor how things work at our new northern terminus before expanding any more effort on the facilities.

In a year or so, things will have settled down, and we will assess what needs changing or improving to meet the steady state business that passes through the gate.

Meantime, the project team is undertaking daily inspection and maintenance of the new section of railway to make sure that all is well, and they are dealing with any emerging problems so that nothing can impact operations. Once things settle down, this task will be undertaken on a routine basis by the usual track patrol teams that cover the rest of the Railway.

I will continue to update readers on the project until final close out and whatever else the Infrastructure Team is working on.

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director


Recently, Terry Steddy contacted us from Down Under, with congratulations on the opening of the Northern Extension and a few memories of his own: "My grandparents moved from Ningwood Station on the Isle of Wight to West Hoathly station around about 1920. Grandfather was either station master or station foreman at West Hoathly, and my mother went to school in Imberhorne, being very sad when the station at West Hoathly was pulled down. I went to sea in the Merchant Navy with 'Port Line' before emigrating to Australia in 1967. My wife and I visited and rode on the Railway in 1995, and as luck would have it, we were pulled from Horsted Keynes to Kingscote and back by No. 35027 'Port Line'!"

Holden Reaches the Summit  

Holden Summit
The Holden Summit marker, named in honour of Sir Bernard Holden, is seen here on 23 March, 2013. Members of the pre-train running track patrol--Stewart Moon and Richard Patten--briefly pose for a photograph with it on their way through the Imberhorne cutting to Kingscote Station. (The summit of our Railway is just 125 metres above sea level, but you'd be forgiven--given the snow, terrain, and hard hats--for thinking we were running a mountain railway!) Photo by Pat Plane.


Steam Crane Receives Funding  


To support the Ransomes & Rapier steam breakdown crane project, an application was submitted to Arts Council England in the name of the Bluebell Railway Trust.

I am delighted to report that a grant has been awarded for £15,250. This will enable the cosmetic restoration of the crane to make it presentable to the public and to prevent deterioration. Included is funding for interpretation to explain its historical significance.

The project is headed by Neil Cameron and Chris Hunford. The crane is at present standing in a siding in the West Yard at Horsted Keynes (see photo below).

In celebrating the grant, we must thank the Breakdown Crane Association for its enthusiastic support and input; Roger Kelly and the Fundraising Committee; the 9F Club, which is playing its part; and everyone else who has supported the project thus far.

By Sam Bee, Bluebell Railway Trust

More details on this project in the next eNewsletter.

Steam Crane on Siding



"Operation Overcover:" New Roof Installation Begins  


Progress towards full restoration of the existing canopy on Platform 1 at Sheffield Park station will take another step forward on 15 April when the first of the brand new zinc sheet roofing sheets will be installed.

The pre-formed sheets were delivered to site on 8 April, and the contractor has been working all week to prepare the first sheets that will be fitted to the outer part of the roof, over the platform edge.

Special arrangements have been agreed with the Operating Department to limit public access to Platform 1 and for trains to operate out of Platform 2 during this period.

Finally, we can remove the plastic tarpaulin, which has provided surprisingly reliable weather-proofing through the winter, and replace it with something more permanent.  

Meanwhile, the fundraising effort has seen much enthusiastic support, so much so we are now approximately 80% towards our target, with a grand total to date of £34,725 towards £42,000.

With just a little more effort--and generosity--we shall have all the funds we need to finish the job, including installing all the decorative valancing, timber "trim," cast iron guttering and drainpipes, and the new underground drainage connections to carry the rainwater away.  

Of course, it's all to be painted in "Brighton" colours by the Friends of Sheffield Park gang. Then we shall have restored the station appearance to its former glory with matching canopies on both platforms replicating the originals.

So, please help us reach our fundraising target. You can donate easily online via our special JustGiving page .

By Charles Melton

Adds Roger Kelly: Proceeds from catering and the retiring collection at the upcoming Annual General Meeting will go to the Canopy Fund. Plus, we are running a "Canopy Caper," whereby donations made before the end of the interval, up to £1,000, will be doubled by an anonymous donor, giving the potential to raise over £2k on the night."

Below, zinc sheet preparation taking place at Sheffield Park. Photo by Richard Lowe.

   Canopy April 2013



It's a "Country Life" for the Railway as we get a mention in this article in the venerable lifestyle magazine.  

Bluebell Broadcasting Company 


Roy Watts Interviewed by BBC
Bluebell Railway Preservation Society Chairman Roy Watts is interviewed by the BBC during the Northern Extension Opening Festival.


Down Memory Line: The "Blue Belle" Rail Tour, April 1962  


   Blue Belle Rail Tour  











Above, the 1962 "Blue Belle" about to depart Horsted Keynes for Haywards Heath via Ardingly on its return journey to London Bridge after a very successful visit. Photo by Geoffrey King.  


A memorable rail tour ran on 1 April, 1962--the "Blue Belle" from London Bridge to Sheffield Park and return, via Haywards Heath and Horsted Keynes. 


It featured J52 class Great Northern Railway (GNR) tank No. 1247 , pioneer of privately owned mainline steam operations by Cpt. Bill Smith, RNR. (Class 33 No. 33109 bears this name.)

The photo below shows none other than Dr. Beeching aboard, to open Holywell Halt for passengers arriving by bus (but later closed in response to road congestion).

This rare slideshow from the day shows many photos taken around Sheffield Park during the rail tour. (Grateful thanks to Andy Beaton, a former Loco Department fireman who snapped up these colour slides at a model railway sales event and has made them available for our readers.)

In the slideshow, see a busy Haywards Heath goods yard before it became a commuters' car park; the P class tank No. 27 in its early guise as "Primrose" (because the route between East Grinstead and Lewes was known for its wild flowers and called "The Bluebell and Primrose Line"); GNR No. 1247 on the former coal dock for replenishment, no doubt; a characterful photo of the North London Tank; and the Adams radial tank No. 488 in steam, with its coal rails around the bunker.

By Neil Cameron  


Below, Dr. Beeching snapped by Ken Chown/Bluebell Railway Museum.






















A Great Trophy! 

Plaque on Wall
Tony Hillman snapped this photo of the "66" nameplate, now displayed at the Bluebell Railway Museum.





As reported in the last eNewsletter, GB Railfreight (GBRf) No. 66739, which headed up the first charter train from London to our Railway, was named "Bluebell Railway" at Horsted Keynes on 28 March.

GBRf presented the Bluebell Railway Museum with the traditional third nameplate and a duplicate of a presentation photo collage of its operations in support of the Northern Extension Project.

Our thanks go to GBRf's Managing Director John Smith and Chris White, Bluebell Railway Infrastructure Director, for this very kind surprise.  


These items are on display in the museum at Sheffield Park. The beautifully reproduced coat of arms was taken from a photograph by Tony Drake, of a coat in the museum's collection.

By Sam Bee, Chairman, Museum Management Committee




In Remembrance of Stations Past 

On 3 April the Bluebell Railway operated coach tours to some adjacent closed stations and Cinder Hill Tunnel.

Derek Hayward has, in consequence, updated his images of Barcombe Station and Barcombe Mills Station .

Barcombe Station is seen below (this is a private road and access and photography were by kind permission of the owner).


Barcombe Station  












Courier Front Page The East Grinstead Courier & Observer 's wrap-around cover marking the opening of the northern extension received a special mention in trade publication Hold the Front Page . Well done to our local newspaper! 

Enjoy These Latest Photos! 


   End of Winter

Above, Lance Hodgson's photo of a
dormant brazier signals--we hope--the end of winter on the Railway!

This set from Derek Hayward includes photos from the rail tour and the special tour in vintage buses of the Bluebell Line, including Barcombe Station.

Photos from Easter Monday by Neil Munro-Thomson.

More Easter Monday photos , by Cameron Smith.

The Railway on 2 April , by John Sandys. His set from 11/04/2013 includes progress on the water tower.

Nick Slocombe's gallery taken on 28 March.

James Hayward's set from 31 March.

Photos taken by Ashley Smith.

Alan Jenkins photo (also below) shows the 9F on its run round at East Grinstead on 3 April.

Keith Duke's slideshow includes photos of vintage buses going from Horsted Keynes Station to Horsted Keynes village where guided tours were given of St. Giles's Church , the final resting place of former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

David Haggar's new album of slide scans recalls a photo charter with the E4, which was matched with three BR(S) Bulleid carriages, back on 14 Oct., 2005, when the locomotive had just been painted black.

9F at EG


Brooksbank Bluebell Railway Photo Prints Available 


Postcard size prints of these photos are available for purchase from Ben Brooksbank.  

For more information, contact Neil Cameron ,identify the photo or photos you are interested in, and Neil will pass the information along to Ben.

Payments must be made directly to Ben (who must cover his costs), and all photos will remain his copyright. There is limited availability because only a small number of prints can be produced for fellow enthusiasts.

Below, No. 9017 "Dukedog" at Sheffield Park, by Ben Brooksbank.













A History of East Grinstead Station, Part 3 


The 1882 building was demolished in November 1971 and the usual prefabricated structure of the time erected in its place. Two footbridges were provided between the platforms at about this time, one giving direct access to the car park to the west of the site of the now-razed high level platforms.

The brand new and up-to-date £2.1 million station building now provides a welcoming entry to Southern's line to London and also to the Bluebell Railway.

Despite Herbert Walker's best pre-War efforts to introduce "clockface" timetables, it was not until a major recast from 15 June, 1955 that the "Oxted Group" finally lost its seemingly haphazard set of timings that characterized it from early days.

Off-peak London Bridge lost all its services, a Tunbridge Wells via East Grinstead train departing from London Victoria at eight minutes past each hour with a push-pull connection via Edenbridge provided at Oxted.

In reverse, the up Tunbridge Wells trains departed East Grinstead at 26 minutes past each hour. A Three Bridges connection was provided in both directions. (The short-lived "sulky service" from Lewes seemed to hold connections at that station as more important.)  

Among several exceptions was the 1108 from Victoria that continued to run through to Brighton via Uckfield but carried an East Grinstead and Tunbridge Wells portion detached at East Croydon. Another was a change in the working of the "Terrible 6:10" Victoria-to-Lewes via Uckfield that now provided a connection for East Grinstead and Tunbridge Wells at Oxted. (Peak-hour London-to-Brighton workings mostly travelled via Uckfield.)

Rarely does a new timetable work perfectly, and the 1955 one was no exception. Several changes and improvements were made in 1956 at the same time as the Heathfield and Crowborough lines got a regular interval service.

Diesel traction was introduced on 18 June, 1962, working to steam timings. Several further timetable changes followed from 17 June, 1963 as the full accelerated diesel service came on line. Though most traffic was handled by the "Oxted" three-car DEMUs built for the routes, a number of type "3" Bo-Bo diesel electric engines featured.  

By that time goods workings were well in decline. East Grinstead was served by the 0705 from Norwood Junction which called at Oxted (pick-up only) and Lingfield. The return working left East Grinstead at 1240 with a stand at Oxted before departure for Norwood at 1805. Freight traffic was withdrawn from 10 April, 1967, although several of the lower yard sidings remained in place for stock berthing until 1987 when all were lifted. Only a scrap of the L&EGR line towards and on Imberhorne viaduct was left for this purpose.

Authorisation for electrification of the remaining line came in May 1985. The third rail was energized on 20 July, 1987, with test running in August. Following several celebratory events in September, introduction of the full service, presently half-hourly off peak, occurred on 5 Oct.

Not long after this, the arrival of the Bluebell Railway was advertised. On the down platform a sign appeared stating "Site for the Bluebell Railway Station ..."

Below, a superb model railway of the 1855 terminus and it surroundings. To see more photos, click here .

EG Model













A History of the Brighton Loco Depot, Part 2  


With thanks to Paul Edwards--creator of the Brighton Motive Power Depots website--we take a further look at the early years of the Brighton Loco Depot, leading to founding of Brighton Branch of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF).

Below is an extract from the historic material in the above website:

Dedicated Locomotives: "An Engineman's Cab Was His Castle"

William Stroudley decided to allocated each of his engines (even though they belonged to the company) their own engine drivers who would then become responsible for their own locomotive. This was Stroudley's way of getting his engine drivers interested in their work, and by stimulating their pride, the condition and performance of their engine would be maintained to a high standard.

These engines would have the name of the engine drivers painted inside the cab on the weatherboard in gold paint.

For example (see below photo) Brighton Driver William Love was allocated B1 class locomotive No. 214 "Gladstone," and his name is painted in the cab. Stroudley also introduced a bonus scheme for coal saving, whereby engine drivers would receive payment for burning less coal.

During the palmy days of steam, an engineman's cab was his castle. William Stroudley himself said:
"I consider it a great advantage to keep separate engines for drivers. I have always believed that if an engine is made as carefully as possible, it will respond to the attention that it gets afterwards; that the driver will be proud of its appearance, and of the duty he can get out of it: and doubly proud to be able to perform a great duty with a small amount of expense." ...

As a result of this policy, and because the cab fittings constituted the tools of his trade, each driver took special pride in the appearance of his footplate. The footplate crews would come to work in accordance of the booked work allocated for their locomotive, this practice last up until 1919.

In 1919 enginemen saw the introduction of the eight-hour day and the LBSCR was obliged to abandon its time honoured tradition of "one driver, one engine"--quite simply it ceased to be an economic proposition. Thereafter the best compromise (circumstances permitting) was to introduce "double manning," with each engine allotted to a pair of drivers on opposite turns (one early, one late). Under this system the locomotive was, in effect, available for about 16 hours in every 24 hours ...

Below, the view of the inside of the cab of "B1" class No. 214 "Gladstone"--driven by Brighton's William Love--now preserved at the National Railway Museum.

William Love



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