News from the Bluebell Railway 15 September 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
"Blue Belle" Meet "Bluebell"
Steam Dreams and "Tornado" Take Pioneering Journey to the Bluebell Railway
A Banner Day in Steam Preservation
Keeping Up the Pressure
Infrastructure Report: Inside the Tunnel and the Future of Kingscote
C&W Report: No. 3188
Best in Show
Friends of Sheffield Park: Canopy Work, and More
Booking Now Open for Christmas Specials
A Trip Down Memory Line: Ardingly
Runaway Dog Pushed to Safety by Steam Train
Can You Help?
Enjoy These Latest Photos!

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The Bluebell Railway Arrives at East Grinstead.
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Bluebell Railway - 8th September 2013
Bluebell Railway on 8 Sept., 2013, by Martin Lawrence.
BLUEBELL RAILWAY.  A Trip to Kingscote 30/08/2013
A Trip to Kingscote on 30 Aug., 2013, by Philip and Gary Bull.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




BR Southern Region Steam, around Greater London in the 1960s.
BR Southern Region Steam, around Greater London in the 1960s, a new "steam and pop compilation" from "Lewisham Bill."


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

Images of the Cuckoo line in April 1951, from the John J. Smith Collection:

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

  Cuckoo Line
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

Shunting at Sheffield Park, Thurs, 12/09/13
Shunting at Sheffield Park, 12 Sept., 2013, by John Sandys.
Station Facilities

The 1-15pm leaving sheffield Park for east Grinstead, 13/09/13
The 1315 leaving Sheffield Park for East Grinstead, 13 Sept., 2013, by John Sandys.

"Blue Belle" Meet "Bluebell" 

"A photo that illustrates the achievements of so many," writes Charlie Rose of this shot of No. 60163 "Tornado," aka "The Blue Belle," meeting No. 323 "Bluebell." You can watch much more video and see many more photos of this historic event on the Bluebell Railway blog




Steam Dreams and "Tornado" Take Pioneering Journey to the Bluebell Railway 

"Tornado" at Clapham Junction on 10 Sept., 2013. Photo by Richard Salmon.

(From BBC News) A steam train has travelled from London's Victoria station to the Bluebell Railway in East Sussex for the first time in 50 years.

The Tornado, the newest steam passenger locomotive in Britain, hauled the 12-coach train via East Grinstead to the Bluebell's terminus at Sheffield Park.

The historic journey was made possible because of the completion earlier this year of the £4.5m extension of the Bluebell line from Kingscote to East Grinstead, where it joins the national rail network.

BBC South East's Robin Gibson spoke to railway enthusiast John Keohane, fireman John Pridmore, Marcus Robertson, chairman of Steam Dreams and Bluebell Railway engineer Chris White.

Click here to watch video on the BBC iPlayer.

Steam. Tornado 60163 @ Riddlesdown Viaduct (Croydon). Blue Belle 10/9/13  
No. 60163 "Tornado" crossing Riddlestown Viaduct on 10 Sept., 2013, on its way to become the first steam train to cross from the main line onto the Bluebell Line's newly opened East Grinstead extension, by "Kingandcastle." 
Tornado Arrives at Sheffield Park!, 10/09/13  
Tornado Arrives at Sheffield Park, by John Sandys. 




A Banner Day for Steam Preservation   


Fifty years on, the London Victoria-to-Sheffield Park excursion--the original "Blue Belle" headboard attached to A1 Steam's huge and iconic new-build express loco "Tornado"--saw yet another dramatic "first day" in the Bluebell Railway's first season re-connected to the national network.

May the 2013 steam- and diesel-hauled mainline excursions develop into a regular programme!

Back in 1963, the blue locomotive that carried the headboard was, remarkably, the Caledonian Railway single-wheeler , itself an icon of railway preservation.

In 1963, that train ran via Ardingly rather than the (then closed) East Grinstead-to-Horsted Keynes line. In 1964, the Ardingly line was severed, isolating our Railway until the East Grinstead extension opened.

This historic day in steam preservation was a tribute to all in each of the organisations concerned.

By Neil Cameron



Downton Abbey fans might enjoy this behind-the-scenes article from the Daily Mail, with a nice mention of the Bluebell Railway to boot!
Keeping Up the Pressure

As this eNewsletter reaches you the Keep Up the Pressure (KUTP) campaign total has reached £66,403 . This is a splendid result for an appeal launched in the summer.


It would be marvellous if the sum raised could reach £75,000 before the autumn edition of Bluebell News comes out. This will be when many of the people who do not see this electronic news update first hear about KUTP.


We need to reach £100,000 to pay for boiler improvements to No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair," plus another £50,000 for the "01," and even more so we can move on to Standard Tank No. 80151.


All contributions are gratefully received at or by cheque using our gift aid form, found here , to Bluebell Railway Trust, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL.

By Roger Kelly, Funding Director 


Infrastructure Report: Inside the Tunnel and the Future of Kingscote
Work continues on the tunnel ice prevention project which is expected to be completed this month. The recent noticeable drop in temperature means even worse conditions in the tunnel itself, with cold winds making their presence felt, which in turn increases the need for "warm up" breaks.

Because of the unusual nature of this task it is being recorded by the same film crew that produced the extension DVDs, so look out for release of "Inside the Tunnel."

The arrival of the first steam-hauled special from the main line, with the famous "Tornado" in charge, has of course been a significant milestone for the Railway, following the opening of the extension.

What may be less obvious is the preparatory work that has progressed quietly in the background for some weeks to enable this event to happen, both on Network Rail and our Railway.

Special route clearance was required between South Croydon and East Grinstead with numerous speed restrictions to lessen the impact of its 22-ton axle loads on structures. Platform and bridge clearances had to be compared against the locomotive's dimensions and our own Bridge Engineer had to undertake a special exercise to confirm that "Tornado" could run and through which platforms, etc.

So the message is, when a special like this runs, it involves considerable preparatory work and liaison between departments to make sure everything goes smoothly and, of course, safely.

Meantime, planning is also underway on another outstanding Northern Extension Project action, the resolution of Kingscote issues following its end of use as a terminus. This task is proving quite complicated to close out for a number of reasons, but it is recognised that the situation facing our customers and staff is not acceptable long-term as it is both confusing and difficult to administer.

We still plan to finalise the sale of tickets and refreshments along with use of the picnic area by the end of this year, but this is heavily dependent on agreeing a way forward with all stakeholders.

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director  


C&W Report: No. 3188
The under frame destined for the five-compartment LCDR Third Class coach No. 3188 progressed over the summer. Located behind the shed, it is only visible from the approach road to the station.

Originally from a Southern Railway van, the frame has been cut to length by having about 4 feet removed from the northern end of the sole bars.

This process necessitated the removal of the rivets holding the W & J Irons to the under frame. These support the axle boxes and springs respectively.

After shortening, new holes have been drilled in the sole bar and the W
irons and a new head stock temporarily fitted in place with bolts. These have subsequently been riveted in place.

The frames were then inverted so that the J Irons could be riveted. This work has to be done this way to facilitate for the riveting gun.

The frames have been turned again and a start made on attaching the brake
gear and the associated safety bars.

By Dave Clarke, C&W Volunteer
Under the watchful eye of Dave Deeks, Eddy Carter positions one of the safety brackets for the brake gear. In the event of a metal failure, this prevents the brake rod from hitting the ground.



UK Railtours is following up its very successful inaugural tour to the Bluebell Railway with a "Bluebell Victorian Christmas" tour on 12 Dec., 2013. Details here .
Best in Show


Two Vintage Transportation Weekend photos from Derek Hayward include one of the Southdown Cup for Best in Show being awarded to Steven Green for his Mini Rio. More photos from this event can be browsed here .





Friends of Sheffield Park: Canopy Work, and More

The new canopy on Platform 1 is now watertight, the new zinc sheet roof being finished just in time for the summer peak season.

The shelter (from the sun!) has been much appreciated by visitors and staff alike. The whole canopy is scheduled for completion during the autumn after peak train services have ceased, allowing access from the track so we can install the decorative valancing (the parts are already in stock and are being painted ready for use).

The cast-iron gutters and gas lighting will finish everything off nicely, and the whole lot should be done in time for the Santa Specials.

During the peak running season, the Friends resumed painting and repairs to the main station building, working from a scaffold to reach the high points.

This maintenance work has been a big undertaking using all volunteer labour, but the good weather has permitted rapid progress to be made. With the continuing dry spell, we hope to have the whole lot done before autumn.

The station approach fence is being steadily replaced and repainted. This job has taken many hours of work and a huge amount of paint. And whilst all this has been going on, we have also carried out many smaller maintenance and repair tasks.

Future work for the Friends is under discussion, likely to include repainting the shop windows and doors.

By the FOSP


Booking Now Open for Christmas Specials

Details and booking for all these events is here .

Santa Specials: Postal and online bookings are now open for the ever-popular Christmas services, where Father Christmas distributes presents to the children on the train, with mince pies for the adults and Victorian Christmas entertainment at the stations.

Christmas Weekday Wonders: A steam train ride from East Grinstead station (at 1100) in Edwardian carriages, with a special tour of the museum and a traditional Christmas Lunch at Sheffield Park, returning on the train afterwards.

Horsted Keynes Station Carol Service: Come and join in with the Bluebell Railway Band and the Bluebell Chaplain and Rector of Horsted Keynes Fr. John Twisleton. The station refreshment room will be open with mulled wine and other refreshments available to purchase.

School Yule: A steam train ride for school and pre-school groups in our Edwardian carriages, with presents distributed by Father Christmas.

Victorian Christmas Specials: Travel in an exclusive compartment in a Victorian carriage, and the Railway will supply you with a hamper of delicious snacks and drinks. Father Christmas will be on hand with a special gift for all children. Plus, Victorian fairground, hot chestnuts, and mulled wine.

Fairy Godmother Specials: After Christmas come and take a ride on one of our vintage steam trains from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead, where the Fairy Godmother will be on board the train with special Christmas treats for both adults and children.  

PLUS ... download synopses for 2013 and 2014 Golden Arrow Murder Mystery Evenings here .  


Bachmann has announced that in 2015 it will be producing ex-LBSCR H2 Atlantic locomotives in OO gauge. The two initial models are planned to be No. 2426 "St Albans Head" in SR olive green and No. 32424 "Beachy Head" in BR black (with the early BR emblem).  

A Trip Down Memory Line: Ardingly


In just a few weeks it will be 50 years since an electric passenger train last ran between Seaford and Horsted Keynes, on 28 Oct. 1963, taking the right hand line from Copyhold Bridge as seen in this photo .

The never-so-busy Brighton lines are seen racing away northwards while the former branch line route takes the rural route via Ardingly , the end of the line today, where block trains of quarried stone are discharged for road distribution.

Ardingly station features in this well-illustrated article , photographed in 1960s. And in this photo , see an electric train calling at Ardingly, with the station and station house above at street level.

Bluebell Railway's newly purchased locos and carriages had the option to steam to Horsted Keynes via this route until 1964, "Fenchurch" being the last loco to arrive under its own power. In fact, the Railway's very first delivered train comprised "Stepney" and two carriages, in 1960 (see photo below).

Back then, through steam excursions from London and Brighton used the route via Ardingly in order to access the "Bluebell Line." In October 1963, the "Blue Belle" ran from Brighton to Sheffield Park to mark the 100th year of operation of train services along the link, since its centenary would see the line truncated to Ardingly as now.

In this photo (and above), you can see the street level Ardingly station house in modern times; it has survived and now is used as office accommodation. Ardingly council recently made provision for the return of the Bluebell Railway to the village in its Area Plan.

Perhaps we can look forward to the day when Ardingly will have its station again, and Horsted Keynes becomes a "steam days" rural railway junction once more; something very special indeed. Will this extension bring that added dimension? Floreat Vapor!

By Neil Cameron



Runaway Dog Pushed to Safety by Steam Train


(From the East Grinstead Courier & Observer ) A dog trainer was reunited with a runaway pet--after it was guided to safety by a steam train.

Mastiff cross Marley escaped the Herontye estate home of dog communication expert Dawn Allen, after the canny canine apparently managed to open the front door of the property.

The rescue dog, who is being temporarily fostered by Dawn, went missing for four days before she was eventually caught by valiant volunteers on the Bluebell Railway.

Passengers on board the steam train spotted the three-year-old on the track at East Grinstead station, so staff decided to slowly persuade her to move along the line to Horsted Keynes, where she was rescued ...

For the complete story, click here .  


Mike Hopps' wonderful posters are now available in several sizes. View them here . His first steam crane poster (below) will be followed by a version marking this scene (originally photographed by Mike Esau) as the day the Northern Extension Project commenced in March 1988.


Can You Help?


The Bluebell Railway Museum has recently been loaned the nameplate from the River Class locomotive "River Dart."

The nameplate will soon be on display, and as is usual with our artifacts, we will produce a short piece about the item and would like to include a picture of the locomotive.

The problem is we cannot find one!

If anyone has--or knows of--a picture, could they please e-mail me at so we might add it to the description.

We are planning to use a picture of the "River Arun" (see below), but we would much prefer the real thing!

By Tony Hillman




Enjoy These Latest Photos! 



Brian Lacey's photo above shows No.
66172 leading the railtour back onto Network Rail metals at East Grinstead on 10 Sept., 2013.

A series by Ben Gray from 2 Sept.

Derek Hayward has updated his 2013 album .

John Sandys' galleries from 3 Sept. , 05/09/2013 ., and 13 Sept.  

Nathan Gibson's set from 7 Sept.  


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
eNewsletter Editor-in-Chief, Bluebell Railway Preservation Society