News from the Bluebell Railway         23 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
Proceed with Caution!
Railway Shows Healthy Income in First Third
Bluebell Railway PLC Looking for New Interim Non-Executive Chairperson
No. 5768 Update in Pictures
Summer Begins with Edwardian Weekend
Museum Archive News
Good Taste
Model Railway Weekend to be Held 29 & 30 June
Loco Update in Pictures
A Trip Down Memory Line: Turntables of the LBSCR System
Enjoy These Latest Photos!

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  

BBC The Four Steamers
From the BBC Archive: "The Four Steamers," first broadcast in 1964. "Diesel engines are machines, steam locomotives are practically human."

Locomotive Roster  


Public Train Information


  Line Map & Gradient Profile 


Local Accomodation List  


  Local Attractions  



Walkscene "Railway Children" Walks  


Lineside Photographers
Track Safety



Shunting at Sheffield Park, 20 June, 2013, by John Sandys.
Shunting at Sheffield Park, 20 June, 2013, by John Sandys.
Railway Mania
From the BBC Archive: Anthony Burton looks at the role of railway companies in the 19th Century (from 1980).

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




The first visit to the Railway since 1977 by
The first visit to the Railway since 1977 by "Benny60ity."


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
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

Station Facilities

Proceed with Caution!

Operational Signal
The Kingscote Up Distant Signal, previously fixed at caution, situated 903 yards in the rear of the Up Home Signals, become operational on 1 June. Derek Hayward's photo shows the signal in the off position when the line is clear, via the main platform, through to East Grinstead station.


Railway Shows Healthy Income in First Third 


The first four months of 2013 show income significantly ahead of the Railway's budget as of the end of April, according to a report Finance Director David Foale gave to the Bluebell Railway PLC Board of Directors at the end of May.

In the light of this report, the Board agreed to allocate some of the likely surplus. It was decided that the boiler from No. 73082 can be sent for repair; further platform cover can be planned at East Grinstead; West Hoathly Tunnel can be "winter proofed" by lining the really wet areas to prevent icing; and a replacement coaling device can be leased.

At the same meeting, Commercial Director Tim Baker and Retail Director Russell Pearce reported that the period since the East Grinstead opening has been busy, with revenue from all sources running ahead of plans.

Among the good news, the Directors noted that visitor numbers are up 23% on the same period in 2012; the Travel Centre at East Grinstead is attracting additional revenue and acting as a third ticket window; Sheffield Park and Garden has seen a trade increase; both the catering and the shop are trading ahead of budget; and the new Grinsteade Shop and Buffet is trading more heavily than expected.


Bluebell Railway PLC Looking for
a New Interim Non-Executive Chairperson


Current Bluebell Railway PLC chairman Graham Flight is standing down this July after 30 years' commendable service as chairperson, during which time he oversaw considerable changes throughout the Railway, both in terms of major projects and the way in which the company has grown and is now operated.

The Railway thanks him for his commitment and leadership during this period, and we wish him well for the future. As a result, the company is now looking to appoint a new interim non-executive chairperson to lead the current board.

Click here for a PDF of the full notice.


Bluebell Railway's Unity Lottery had its first £1,000 winner recently! To play the lottery, click here . Fifty pence of every entry goes towards specific Railway projects.

No. 5768 Update in Pictures

Bulleid Carriage
The partition between No. 5768's C and D compartments has been reinstated while the one between D and the central vestibule has been removed to facilitate replacement of the attached door pillar.

Built at Lancing (underframe) and Eastleigh (body) in 1947, No. 5768 is one of the last corridor composites built for the Southern Railway. Preserved initially at Liss, No. 5768 moved to the Bluebell Railway with Blackmore Vale in 1971.

After an intermediate overhaul, it entered traffic in 1976 and ran until 1991 in frontline service, before being replaced by MK1 CK No. 16210. It was withdrawn in 1994 due to deterioration.

No. 5768 entered the works for a heavy overhaul in autumn 2009. It will be stripped to its frame so that corrosion to its bottom rail can be addressed, and it will receive new 3/8-inch steel and wooden bottom rails and partial repairs and/or replacement of its timber framing and it will be re-canvassed and re-sheeted.

It is hoped that No. 5768 will re-enter traffic in about another three years.

By Dave Clarke
Bulleid Bogie
A start has been made on overhauling the first bogie. The bolster plank and its hangers have been removed so they can be cleaned, overhauled (if necessary), and then replaced. Once completed, it will be swapped for one under No. 7864.


Summer Begins with Edwardian Weekend   

Edwardian Weekend
Photo by Derek Hayward. Click photo to see more.

Visitors to Bluebell Railway's innovative "Edwardian Weekend" rekindled memories of the "Downton Abbey" days, when the butler was the head of the house and the maids and valets went about their daily duties for the family upstairs.

The Railway ran trains themed from the period just before the First World War and included carriages used in the filming of the "Downton Abbey" TV blockbuster. Coaches in service included the Edwardian London South Western Railway and South Eastern Chatham Railway compartment coaches, plus the Metropolitan coaches and four-wheeled carriages from the London Chatham and Dover Railway and the London Brighton and South Coast Railway.

At Horsted Keynes, a summer fair was set up with side stalls including the hall of mirrors, high striker, swing boats, and a roundabout. Visitors also enjoyed an afternoon band concert, real ale in the beer tent, and high afternoon tea in the grand marquee.

This spectacular event, with its considerable cast, was planned and executed by Tim Baker and his hard-working team--it has taken Railway events to a new level. Will it return next year as "The Summer of 2014," recreating the bittersweet English summer before descent into war? As the poet Philip Larkin wrote, "Never such innocence, / Never before or since ..."


Museum Archive News: Research

& Records Centre Planned  

Plans for a Research and Records Centre at Sheffield Park are being formulated by the archive team, and they already have approval from Preservation Society, Bluebell Railway PLC, and the Trust. More details will appear in the next Bluebell News magazine.

The project is essential to store and make available an ever-growing collection of more than 10,000 south of England railway documents, which include working timetables, carriage working notices, signalling diagrams, royal train notices, accident reports, and more. They are currently stored in commercial premises in Horsham and are not generally available to researchers.

The archive now comprises about 8,000 photographs and collections of printed literature spanning 54 years, such as legal documents, correspondence files, drawings, films, and videos.

We are always pleased to receive any items for our collections, so before disposing of anything relating to Southern Railway and its constituent companies or the Bluebell Railway, please e-mail me at to check if we need the items. If you have lots of items, we are always willing to view them at your home.

We are also making collections of all Southern-related society newsletters and magazines. If you can assist us with copies of The Brighton Circular , Footplate (Camelot Society), or The Golden Way (Pullman Society), we have large gaps. For other groups, we need some copies to complete runs.

Finally, if you produce any printed documents for Railway clubs and groups, please let me have a copy for posterity!

By Roger Price, Archivist


For those thinking of a camping trip in the heart of Sussex, check out the Wowo campsite. As the owners say on their website : "The Bluebell Railway has re-connected its tracks with East Grinstead, so now it is entirely possible to travel to Wowo by train from anywhere in the country."   
Good Taste
   Ardingly Prize
The Railway was awarded a First prize in "A Taste of Sussex" at the South of England Show in Ardingly. Tony Sullivan's photo shows Tim Baker receiving the cup together with Sullivan, Kevin Leggett, and Bob McLean. Congratulations also to Bluebell 9F Club member Cameron Smith, whose 45mm gauge model coaches (a composite and a brake)--inspired by the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway--were "highly commended" at the South of England Show.



Model Railway Weekend to be Held 29 & 30 June 

The Second Annual Model Railway weekend will be held on 29 and 30 June. The event takes place at both Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes stations with traders and layouts at both locations.

The show will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Layouts range in size from an N gauge in a coconut (!) to a ride-on 10 and 1/4-inch gauge. Traders will include Martell's, Invicta Model Rail, and Trackside Signs.

For more information, including special services that weekend, click here .


Update from the Fenchurch Fund
There's not too much to report on No. 27 at the moment, but progress is being made on removed parts, which are being cleaned and painted before being stored for future use. 

We are still waiting for the frames to be removed from the wheel sets, a job that requires a crane, and we hope they can be lifted at the same time as a couple of boilers for larger locos.
We will shortly be launching a fund for the construction of a new boiler for No. 27. The cost likely will be around £70,000--please remember us if you win the lottery! The exact format of the boiler fund has not been finalised, but it is likely there will be levels of donation and corresponding benefits, such as seats on an inaugural train hauled by No. 27. While this landmark is at least four years away, we are trying to come up with ideas for a P Tank gala weekend!
We continue to run sales and publicity stands around the country. Our last one was in Burgess Hill, where we had a very good day both financially and in terms of publicity for this and other projects, including the Brighton Atlantic and the Maunsell Society.

At the Model Railway Weekend, we will be showing model Fenchurches from 1872 to 2012, as well as models of No. 27 in different liveries and various other models. If you have interesting models of P Tanks or Terriers you would like to display, please contact me at .
We also will be having a sales and information stand at the Vintage Transport Weekend on 10 and 11 Aug., where again we will be displaying the models and selling items to raise money for No. 27.
For those who have pre-ordered the LBSCR replica World War I service badges, these are being progressed and should be with us soon. Tea cans, Fenchurch 140 mugs, and T-shirts are still available, and we are looking at clothing for the "new type" of British summer--sweatshirts and hoodies--and a T-shirt in SECR "plain austerity green" with "SE 27 CR" in yellow on the front.
By Clive Emsley, Chairman, The Fenchurch Fund



A Trip Down Memory Line: Turntables of the LBSCR System
Soon after railways were established, loco turntables were provided at termini, important junctions, and engine sheds. The Southern Railway's pre-grouping constituents used this equipment, usually tables between 42 and 45 feet long. As larger locomotives were introduced, so turntables were made to accommodate them.

But by the time of grouping in 1923, only a few tables on the Southern system were in the 50 to 55 feet range, and they were at the major points. Most of them were the undergirder type, although the LSWR was partial to the overgirder variety. The longest lasting of this type were at Guildford and Eastleigh.

In general LBSCR locomotives were small, even Lawson Billinton's "K" class "Moguls" were under 58 feet in length with a wheelbase of only 47 feet 11 inches. Southern installed a limited number of 60 and 65 feet tables, and a few 70-footers for the Bulleid "Pacifics," but few of the larger ones appeared on the Brighton system.

A list of tables operating in 1934 is found in An Historical Survey of Southern Sheds by Chris Hawkins and George Reeve. Some of those at former LBSCR locations were:
  • Brighton: 59' 10"
  • Lewes: 44' 9"
  • London Bridge: 46' 5"
  • Newhaven: 59' 10"
  • Tunbridge Wells West: 46' 1"
  • Portsmouth: 56' & 50'
  • Victoria (Central): 60'
These are the rail lengths; the pits were a little bit longer. Only one--at Redhill, a major junction with considerable interchange traffic in four directions--was 65 feet long. Suburban and coastal electrification must have had an influence on which shorter tables should be replaced by longer ones.

Of the two at Portsmouth, the longer was located at the Harbour station, the shorter at Portsmouth and Southsea. In addition, the Fratton shed had a roundhouse table 50 feet long

There are some surprises. London Bridge retained a short table installed in the 1870s between the Brighton and SER lines. But the company's nearest main depot at New Cross Gate has a 50-footer, although by the time of this survey, a number of engines working on the Brighton line were serviced at Bricklayers Arms, where a 65 feet turntable was being installed.

St Leonards (49 feet 11 inches) raises an eyebrow, since the locos and duties at Hastings, where a 55 feet turntable had been in place to the north of the station, had been transferred to it. But the "Schools" class Charing Cross-to-Hastings expresses were only 58 feet 9 inches long and could just be accommodated at St Leonards.
Newhaven's 59 feet 10 inches turntable, installed for the "Moguls," should have turned a "King Arthur" with a six-wheel tender, making a total length of 61 feet 10 inches. But the cramped location of the shed and close proximity of the depot road did not provide sufficient clearance, meaning any "Arthur" working a boat train had to be sent to Brighton for turning!

It is fascinating to wonder how the situation might have continued had electrification not occurred and had we seen Bulleid "Light Pacifics" throughout the southern and coastal routes.

By Jeremy Clarke

Adds Neil Cameron: This photo of the Newhaven Loco Depot in "Our Newhaven" demonstrates the point Jeremy makes about the tight location preventing installation of a larger table. This is a fascinating link, well worth browsing!




Enjoy These Latest Photos! 


178 & 263 Leamland Bridge

Some new photos are included in Derek Hayward's collection , including (also above), a double-header at Leamland Bridge.

John Sandys' photos from 18/06/2013 (including progress on the Sheffield Park canopy , below) and 20/06/2013 .

SP Canopy-062013


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