News from the Bluebell Railway              9 June 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
Best in Show
NEP Update: Finishing-Up Work Continues
Destination Sheffield Park
GN Saloon Offers a Touch of Class
Summer's Here! Special Events for June
Loco Update in Pictures
Friends of Sheffield Park Update
A Trip Down Memory Line: The Bulleid Pacific Preservation Society, Part 3
What's Coming Up in Bluebell News
Enjoy These Latest Photos!
Southern at War Photo Competition Winners Announced

Bluebell Railway Website


Sales & Information  


Timetable & Fares  


Google map  




Disabled Access  


Frequently Asked Questions  


Gift Vouchers  


The Bluebell Railway Arrives at East Grinstead.
The Bluebell Railway Arrives at East Grinstead.

Bluebell Shop  


Bluebell Museum & Archive  

John Harwood's video shows work on the northern extension, including the water tower.
John Harwood's video shows work on the northern extension, including the water tower.

Locomotive Roster  


Public Train Information


  Line Map & Gradient Profile 


Local Accomodation List  


  Local Attractions  



Walkscene "Railway Children" Walks  


Lineside Photographers
Track Safety



9F Approaching Horsted Keynes
9F Approaching Horsted Keynes by John Sandys.
More action on the northern extension, by John Harwood.
More action on the northern extension, by John Harwood.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




The Rail Ale train on 31 May, by John Harwood.
The Rail Ale train on 31 May, by John Harwood. The Eastern Region of British Railways, Kings Cross, abd the City Widened Lines, seen in the 1950s.
The Eastern Region of British Railways, Kings Cross, abd the City Widened Lines, seen in the 1950s.
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

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

A selection Adams Radial-related photos from the John J. Smith Collection:

   Photo 1
   Photo 2
Photo 3
  Photo 4
  Photo 5
  Photo 6

  Adams Radial
Station Facilities

The Bulleid Society's Blackmore Vale completion goes into service on 15 May, 1976. This is a very historical film produced by Paul Plowman. The loco looks exceptional, with many Bulleid carriages leading.
The Bulleid Society's Blackmore Vale completion goes into service on 15 May, 1976. This is a very historical film produced by Paul Plowman. The loco looks exceptional. The Carriage & Wagon Department and the Bulleid Society produced five beautifully restored Bulleid carriages to run behind the train.

Best in Show

Tony Sullivan's photo from 6 June sees the LSWR brake coach No. 1520 representing the Railway at the South of England Show at Ardingly, Sussex.


NEP Update: Finishing-Up Work Continues


Work on closing outstanding Northern Extension Project (NEP) jobs continues, with recent dry weather helping us make good progress on clearing away the residual capping material from the cutting site. This work is being achieved by means of a regular diesel-hauled rake of wagons moving the spoil to other sites on the Railway where embankment strengthening is required.

Once these jobs are finished, the remaining cutting surface can be levelled off and grassed. What has proved to be the most challenging part of the whole extension project can then be considered complete.

At East Grinstead station the ticket office canopy is complete, and the water tank is now safely planted on the newly completed brickwork. It just remains for the water column and associated plumbing to be installed.

New close-board fencing is being installed between gates 1 and 2, which replaces the dilapidated chain link fence and also discourages onlookers from standing in Firbank Way to watch the trains and putting themselves at risk from road traffic in the process. This, together with the new main gate entrance sign and other finishing touches, helps bring together the whole station appearance for visitors.

There are lots more jobs to cross off the completion list, but overall good progress is being made. Meantime, focus is turning towards other jobs further south, including ice prevention measures in the tunnel before winter returns and relaying No. 23 points at Horsted Keynes.

For those who may not be aware of the significance of these points, they control the south end throat to the station, and they currently have a 5 mph speed restriction, pending renewal. Apart from being in a difficult place for drivers to recover from when travelling north, there is an impact on train timings that needs rectifying.

Because of the critical role of these points, trains cannot arrive or depart from the station southwards without them. The planning process involves preassembly on site, with a short procession to lift out the old and fit the new without disruption to trains. It's a new approach for us, and if successful it will be used for other renewals.

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director


Raise funds for the Railway while you shop online !

Destination Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park and Garden is becoming a must-see for those discovering they can now reach the picturesque heart of Sussex in style by train and by steam.

The National Trust is doing its bit by offering new instructions about how to get to the park via the Railway's East Grinstead link.

The local bus company is providing a timely service between the Railway and the Park and Garden, with record ridership reported on Route 769 (Sundays). Click here to learn more about the buses.

And in its article " All aboard: A horticultural trip through the summer ," The Independent gives the Railway a great plug: "Bluebell Railway in Sussex stops at Sheffield Park, famous for its Capability Brown landscapes and fabulous azaleas. Trains now run direct from East Grinstead; £16.50 gives you rail travel and garden admission."



GN Saloon Offers a Touch of Class

Want a touch of luxury during the Edwardian Weekend? Look no further! The Great Northern Saloon will be running on 22 and 23 June offering fine refreshments and champagne. Mrs. Howlden will be pleased to serve either lunch or afternoon tea, depending on the time of travel.
  • Champagne Brunch: This service includes sandwiches, Duddleswell homemade sponge cake, Danish pastries, tea or coffee, served with a glass of champagne (available on 1100, 1200, and 1330 departures).
  • Champagne Tea: This service includes sandwiches, Duddleswell homemade scones with Rodda's clotted cream and jam, as well as tea or coffee, served with a glass of champagne (available on 1330, 1430, 1600, and 1700 departures).
Passengers must join at either Sheffield Park or East Grinstead. Passengers on the 1330 departure from Sheffield Park have a choice of either brunch or tea.

Pre-booking is essential. Cost of refreshments is £16.50 for a single journey, or £23 return, plus travel ticket (£16 Bluebell Railway membership discount also applicable).

We will also be trialling our new coupé, which offers a private compartment and panoramic view of the line. Booking this table is an extra £5 per person.

Send me an e-mail if you'd like to join the champagne fun or wish to book a table. We had a trial last month, and it was a great day (references available if required!), so join us for arguably the most elegant journey on the Railway.

By Deborah Salmon


Summer's Here! Special Events for June

20/06/2013 23:00:00 Beer, Brass and Steam--A mid summer's evening at the Bluebell Railway with the Horsham Borough Band, plus real ale, a picnic supper, and a steam ride. For more information, phone 01825 720800 or click here .

22 & 23 June: Edwardian Weekend--New for 2013, rekindle the days of Edwardian splendour and travel in the rolling stock used in the filming of Downton Abbey. Includes a Summer Fair, band concert, and real ale tent. Locos in service will include B473, No. 592, No. 263, No. 178 and No. 323. Coaches in service will include the period London South Western Railway and South Eastern Chatham Railway compartment coaches, plus the Metropolitan coaches and four-wheeled carriages. Click here for more details.


The Railway has teamed up with Unity Lottery for Flutter to Fund the Future. The lottery is drawn every Saturday, with the top prize each week set at £25,000, and other prizes range from £1,000 down to £5. Fifty pence of every entry goes towards the Railway. Participants must be older than 16. Enter the lottery here .  
Loco Update in Pictures

Above, John Fry's photo shows progress made in the locomotive workshop on No. 592, when the re-sleeved cylinder block was relocated in her frames. John reports: "The small group of us involved in this aspect of the overhaul were ably advised by Tony Deller, with Russ Hubner stating that it was one of the enjoyable days when positive progress was the end result. We hope to complete the final bolting in place of the cylinder block and return the engine to its 0-6-0 configuration (the front wheelset is currently out), reinstate the motion, and reset the valves."

Below, John Sandys' photo shows the S15 boiler being prepared for its (out of frames) steam test. All being well, this loco should re-enter service in August 2013.

   No. 847 steam test



Friends of Sheffield Park Update

At the recent Annual General Meeting the magnificent sum of £2,600 was raised, allowing us to reach our target of £42,500 for the refurbishment of the existing Platform 1 canopy at Sheffield Park and for its extension to the south end of the station building.

The money raised on the evening was made up by donations of £1,300, matched funding of £1,000, and receipts from the sale of refreshments of £600.

Very many thanks from the Friends of Sheffield Park to all of those who made a donation, to the benefactor who provided the matched funding, and to those who provided--and enjoyed--the refreshments.

By the time you read this update, the woodwork of the extension will have been completed and will have received two coats of undercoat paint and one of gloss topcoat, a full four months ahead of the schedule we set ourselves. 

This good news is thanks to having the money available and to the recent--and welcome--spell of dry weather. The installation of the zinc roofing will take place over the next two weeks, and the new canopy will be water tight and ready for use, just in case the summer is wet (again!)

As mentioned in the last newsletter, the Friends are organising a Railtour on 13 July, and there are now only 20 seats left, at a price of £20 each. Details can be found be clicking here . Money raised from the Railtour will fund ongoing refurbishment of Sheffield Park station. We've already achieved a lot, but there is still lots more to be done.

By Graham Aitken



The Long Term Plan--otherwise known as the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society Objectives, Aims, and Plans--was unanimously agreed to at the recent Annual General Meeting. Read the plan here .

A Trip Down Memory Line: The Bulleid Pacific Preservation Society, Part 3  


The movement to Longmoor Military Railway was not without controversy. The arrangement was that No. 34023, No. 35028, and No. 41298 would figure in a "bulk purchase deal" with British Rail, fronted by Cpt. Peter Manisty of the Association of Railway Preservation Societies (ARPS). The move to Longmoor was kindly negotiated by the well-known artist David Shepherd, whom I got to know quite well when he was at Nine Elms sketching his remarkable "End of Steam" scenes.
I refer to controversy! Well, Alan Wilton was opposed to anything to do with the rebuilt Bulleid Pacifics, and the association with the Merchant Navy Preservation Society (MNPS) was just not on his agenda. It was not that he was unsociable or had fallen out with MNPS officers; the society and its endeavours were simply not on his radar!  

Imagine, if you can, trying to convince our leader that the ARPS and David Shepherd were pursuing the best option open to us at the time, in the best interests of preservation. I would add that the other members had an excellent relationship with the MNLPS, which extended to a meeting in Acton with several of their committee members to discuss détente.  
Finally, with time running out, an agreement was reached that No. 34023 also would move to the Longmoor. We all breathed a sigh of relief. The actual movement of the locos took place on 13 Aug., 1967, an immensely proud day for everyone concerned with the three locomotives.  

Life at Longmoor was very ordered. When working parties were visiting, the guard room would be the first point of call, to report all our comings and goings. I shall always remember waiting for an officer to arrive at the guard room. I was suddenly challenged, and orders were barked to "put that cigarette out and stand to attention!" I had been mistaken for a recruit!

Nevertheless, the military personnel were amenable and interested in the new arrivals, although interest from enthusiasts presented a security problem. Any breach by the public was treated very seriously, and on at least one occasion, film was confiscated from someone taking photographs.

With the locos secured, there was an anti-climax. It was time to look for a new challenge, and I turned back to my first love, London Transport, embarking on a project to preserve a Leyland "Roof Box" RTL 453, now in the safe hands of Ensign Bus.

I look back upon those heady days 45 years ago with an immense sense of pride and pleasure, having helped contribute to the preservation of significant icons of the period.

Alan Wilton was a man who looked after his own. I was at Southampton Central one evening when he drove No. 34023. I shall always recall standing by the water column at Central, being immersed in the atmosphere, the buzzing of the steam generator, the cab illuminated by the lights generated by live steam, the smell of oil and coal, and the safety valves gently lifting, sending a white plume of steam into the black night sky.

Suddenly I was aware of Alan tapping me on the shoulder and pointing in the direction of the cab. "Up you go!" he shouted. What followed was 79 and a quarter miles of sheer ecstasy! What an experience, to witness an original Pacific driven by the ultimate authority on these Bulleid locos.  

By Peter Austin


Note: Peter will be meeting No. 34023 once again on 31 July at a Nine Elms reunion. The Bulleid Society Ltd was eventually created to carry on the task of restoration of No. 34023.

Below, two photos of Blackmoor Vale being prepared for her move to Longmoor. Click here and here for larger PDF versions. Photographs copyright Peter Austin.   


   34023 Nine Elms 1967  

























The Bluebell Railway is hiring! Among current vacancies are those for a locomotive fitter, a Carriage & Wagon fitter, and a Carriage Works administrator. Click here to learn more. 

What's Coming Up in Bluebell News


Editor Colin Tyson provides this sneak peek at contents in the upcoming Bluebell News magazine, free with your membership in the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society:
  • Healthy shop and buffet trading news.
  • Infrastructure plans post-Northern Extension Project.
  • Double page spread on recent filming activity at the Railway, which was so successful Camelot's boiler is to be outsourced to Crewe to hasten its restoration!
  • Locomotives & Rolling Stock Director Lewis Nodes gives an amended loco strategy update.
  • Archive storage facility plans.


Enjoy These Latest Photos! 


Steve Lee's photo from 30 May shows the H-class at Sheffield Park.

Peter Austin's photo from 27 May shows the 9F recreating a very authentic train: the reporting number denotes "1" (Class one express passenger train); "0" (train bound for the Western Region from the North/Midlands, ultimately Southern Region destination); and "94" is the train reporting number in the working time table.

John Sandys' 27 May photos of the 9F in the rain and sets from 31/05/2013 and 06/06/2013 .

Neil Balls' gallery from the Rail Ale evening on 31 May.

Martin Lawrence's set from the 02/06/2013 . His lovely portrait below shows No. 263 topping up at Sheffield Park.

A recent gallery of 2013 images by Derek Hayward can be found here .

No. 263 Topping Up


Southern at War Photo Competition Winners Announced  


Congratulations to Paul Pettitt and Kenton Lawton, this years' winners of the Southern at War photo competition.

Paul took first place for his evocative and creative use of editing to capture the spirit of Home Front life in a poster-style image. Below, Kenton's crystal clear photo of a Spitfire took second place.

Paul Pettitt SAW 2013

Kenton Lawton SAW 2013


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