News from the Bluebell Railway   13 October 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
Want even more locos?! Don't forget to click on the hyperlinks in the blue or underlined text !
In This Issue
Drink to That!
A Royal Honour
Dick Fearn Named PLC Chairman
On Point
Infrastructure Report: Water, Ice, & Points
Bridge to the Future
Keep Up the Pressure!
Chris White Receives Commendation at Rail Staff Awards
Group Visits Play a Vital Role
Loco News: Welcome to "The Sherwood Forester"
New Collection of Photographs Added to Museum Website
New Years Eve Golden Arrow Spectacular Announced
Bluebell Railway Provides Backdrop for Film Success
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  

Royal Train Video
The Royal Train leaves for East Grinstead, by John Sandys.

Locomotive Roster  


Public Train Information


  Line Map & Gradient Profile 


Local Accomodation List  


  Local Attractions  



Walkscene "Railway Children" Walks  


Lineside Photographers
Track Safety



North of Kingscote Diary, 7 Oct., 2013, by John Harwood.
North of Kingscote Diary, 7 Oct., 2013, by John Harwood.
The Railway on 28 Sept., 2013: An afternoon at Kingscote
The Railway on 28 Sept., 2013: An afternoon at Kingscote.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




Bluebell Shunting at S/P, 08/10/13
Bluebell shunting at Sheffield Park, 8 Oct., 2013, by John Sandys.


The Railway on 3 Oct., 2013, by Martin Lawrence.
The Railway on 3 Oct., 2013, by Martin Lawrence.
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

North of Kingscote Diary update, by John Hardwood.
North of Kingscote Diary update, by John Hardwood.
Station Facilities

Drink to That! 

EG Water Crane
Martin Lawrence's photo shows some of the finishing touches being put to the water crane, which was installed at East Grinstead on 4 Oct., 2013.


A Royal Honour  

Duke of Gloucester Charter
The Duke of Gloucester's charter. Photo by Derek Hayward.

On 10 Oct., 2013, His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester was welcomed to the County at Sheffield Park Station by Peter Field, the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, where he met local dignitaries, before being introduced to senior staff of the Railway inside the booking office and members of the Northern Extension Project on the platform.

After viewing the Railway's new carriage shed, Museum staff showed His Royal Highness the many exhibits and awards under display, before inviting him to unveil a dedicated plaque and to sign the Visitors' Book before departing the Museum.

Senior members of the Railway then escorted His Royal Highness to East Grinstead, where he met station staff and viewed the new facility, before departing for London.

For a full description of the day, including a list of attendees, see the official program .

Browse Derek Hayward's photos of the event here .  


Coverage of the event from Uckfield FM.

Royal Visit  
HRH The Duke of Gloucester meets with members of the Northern Extension Project Team. Photo by John Sandys. 

Royal Plaque
A plaque in the Museum commemorates the Royal visit. Photo by Tony Hillman.


Dick Fearn Named PLC Chairman  

The Railway is pleased to announce that Dick Fearn, former Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann, has been named the new Chairman of Bluebell Railway, PLC.

Dick is an extremely experienced rail man, with 40 years in the rail industry in Britain and Ireland.

Dick joined Iarnród Éireann in 2003, as Chief Operating Officer, responsible for day-to-day operations of the rail service.  He was appointed as Iarnród Éireann's Chief Executive in 2006.

He oversaw major improvements in the performance and reliability of Iarnród Éireann's services, the renewal of the rolling stock fleet, and network expansion. Major projects included increasing line capacity and the reopening of some regional and commuter lines.

Under his leadership, Iarnród Éireann efficiency increased, with a 23% reduction in government operating subvention and a 50% reduction in operating cost per train kilometer.

Before joining Iarnród Éireann, Dick served in the UK rail industry for 30 years, from 1973 to 2003, in British Rail and its successor companies, including as Zone Director of Midlands and North West Railtrack/Network Rail; Managing Director of the South Eastern Train Company; and Divisional Director of BR Network South East, Thames and Chiltern and South East Divisions.

We had nine excellent candidates for the position of Chairman, and each bought unique elements and visions to the table.

In the review, we spent a lot of time going over what the candidates presented, their skills and experience, and their individual thoughts. It was a tough call to compile the shortlist.
Dick, I know, is very keen to get stuck in to understanding what needs to be done to make sure our Railway sets itself up for the future, and he will spend his initial weeks meeting the Railway's management and committees.

He is under no illusion that the next few years present a great challenge, but as a true lifelong railwayman, he brings us a wealth of knowledge. We welcome him to the Railway, and we wish him every success.

By Roy Watts, Chairman, Bluebell Railway Preservation Society
Dick Fearn
Dick Fearn

Congratulations to the Bluebell Railway's Facebook page, which has passed 6,000 "likes." You can join the crowd at this link .

On Point


Dengate Points
Alan Dengate's photo shows the start of work, on 1 Oct., on clearing the ground for both track re-alignment and the pre-assembly of the replacement of points at the south end of Horsted Keynes.










Infrastructure Report: Water, Ice, & Points

The tunnel ice prevention project was completed on budget and three days before the planned completion; it will be reported more fully with pictures in the next edition of Bluebell News . Overall a really successful job was well executed by everyone involved.

At East Grinstead, the locomotive water supply is now just about finished and will be commissioned just as soon as one outstanding section of pipe is delivered to connect up the tower sump pump. We plan to hold a small ceremony on site to mark its formal entry into service, once the final testing is complete.

Efforts have now turned to Horsted Keynes 23 point renewal, with preparatory work now taking place. A look at the south end of the station reveals a new drain being installed parallel to and on the west side of the formation. This will not only drain 23 points but eventually the whole south end of the station--it currently relies on a poor drainage system.

In the longer term, most of this area needs either renewal or relaying with more effective drainage and the now customary membrane underlay. Replacement of 23 points themselves will take place week commencing 11 Nov. in two phases in order to keep trains running during the weekends.

There was also the recent delivery to Horsted Keynes yard of the two bridge sections gifted by the Highways Authority for future use on Ardingly extension.

These single line steel bridge sections, complete with walkways, are in excellent condition and will be gradually cleaned up and painted ready for eventual use to "bridge the gap" south of the Ardingly Spur formation, where the demolished viaduct once stood.

But please don't expect to see them positioned for a year or two yet!

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director


Bridge to the Future
M50 Demolition
Leaving ...
Bridge Arriving
... and arriving!

Martin Lawrence took some photos at Horsted Keynes on 2 Oct. recording the arrival of the replacement bridge spans for Sheriff Mill Viaduct.

These spans are very suitable for the Railway's long-term purposes, but not because we are in a position to go charging off westwards immediately!

There's a lot of other work to do--as well as fundraising for vital and urgent projects such as Keep Up The Pressure--before the Railway can think about raising the funds to start major work on the Ardingly Branch.

This webpage from the Malvern Industrial Archaeology Circle shows the dismantling of the M50 bridge in March 2012 and has more about the history of these bridge sections.


Keep Up the Pressure!
Thank you to all those who have contributed to the Keep Up the Pressure Appeal. Currently, the total stands at more than £74,500.

KUTP funds will help expedite the Railway's planned loco overhauls, by sending several boilers away for major work. The aim is that within a few years we should have five of large locomotives in steam, alongside three medium-sized locos.

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 


Chris White Receives Commendation at Rail Staff Awards 

Congratulations to Chris White, who received a "High Commendation" (first runner-up) at this year's Rail Staff Awards in the category of Rail Engineer of the Year.

Chris attended the event along with Matt Crawford and Barbara Watkins (representing the volunteer team in the absence of Nigel Longdon).
Rail Staff Awards 2013



Looking for some colour?! Autumn Tints specials continue through 25 Oct. Find out more .
Group Visits Play a Vital Role 

The opening of the East Grinstead extension has seen a significant growth in visitor numbers, both individuals and groups (such as clubs, societies, and schools) and, over the 27 weeks since we began daily running in March, some 300 groups have visited the Railway.

As a result, the Bluebell's Team of Guides, who meet the groups on arrival and accompany them throughout the visit, have been kept busy dealing with myriad questions about the Railway, in particular the extension and our plans for the future.

Visits by schools from across the south east are a particular challenge, but these are a key feature of the Railway's educational work, and a good deal of work goes into attracting them and devising suitable programmes, tailored to meet the needs of school staff.  

The end of September saw the end of the 2013 season, during which just fewer than 30 schools visited, culminating in the final week with visits from three schools on four successive days!

For the younger children such visits provide an introduction to railways and the part that they have played in the geography, economy, and social history of the UK. The Guides play an important role in this process, meeting the schools on arrival, showing them around the stations and generally explaining how the Railway works.

It's easy to forget that young children have often never seen coal, let alone know how it is used to power steam locomotives. Equally important is the role that our signalling and locomotive crews play in explaining their respective roles to the children.

For the older children, visits provide an opportunity to study specific aspects of railway and social history--the impact of the Beeching Report on communities, for example--and in that respect, the museum tells much about the impact upon communities of WWII.  

Our WWII evacuee package is proving to be increasingly popular, with more schools entering into the spirit of the occasion and bringing the children and their accompanying adults dressed in appropriate 1940s-style clothing.

This year has seen improvements made to the package, with the introduction of a team of actors from local dramatic societies. They help coordinate the activities, interact with the children, and assist the school staff with activities, such as billeting exercises at Horsted Keynes Station.

Such has been the success of the new product that a number of bookings are already in hand for the 2014 season.

By David Cockram, Education Officer
Wartime Pupils
Pupils at Dallington Primary School learning about life during the Second World War. Photo from This Is Sussex.



Loco News: Welcome to "The Sherwood Forester"
The Railway is taking on hire LMS "Black Five" No. 45231 " The Sherwood Forester " from the end of October until it goes back to main-line work in March. Its exact arrival date has not yet been agreed.

L150 is currently being re-tubed at the Flour Mill, and will be returning to us after its "Santa on the Met" duties on 8 Dec. It is planned to stay for 2014, with some some short visits to London Underground.

No. 178 is expected to be back in service this week following its annual boiler exam.

A technique for repair of the fractures in the copper firebox plates in No. 1638 has been approved by the insurance inspector, and we are awaiting a contractor to carry out the copper welding work. Note, however, that only once the welding has been tried will its success or otherwise become known.

By Lewis Nodes, Locos & Rolling Stock Director
No. 45231
"The Sherwood Forester." Photo by "cooldudeandy01"/Foter/CC.



New Collection of Photographs Added to Museum Website  

The first part of Alan Postlethwaite's collection of photographs has been added to the Museum website.

This set joins the collections already available from JJ Smith and Colin Hogg, and as with these sets, prints of Alan's photos can be ordered.

You may know Alan's name as he has written many railway books and contributed articles to magazines such as Southern Way . We thank Alan for making his collection of photographs available to the Bluebell Railway Museum Archive.

The museum's photographic collection is found at .

By Tony Hillman

Here are six station photographs from the newly released Alan Postlethwaite collection:

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

Old EG Station
East Grinstead Station on 4 July, 1959, by Alan Postlethwaite.


Our friends at the Spa Valley Railway will hold their Autumn Diesel Gala and Beer Festival on 20 Oct., 2013. Details here

New Years Eve Golden Arrow Spectacular Announced

The 2013 New Years Eve Golden Arrow Spectacular evening will begin at Sheffield Park Station with a mulled wine and amuse bouche canapes reception.

You will then board the 1920s Pullman train where you can step back in time and enjoy the splendour of travel in times gone by while feasting on a delectable five course menu.

Entertainment will include the fascinating tricks of our "up close magician," and our very own Polar Express Train Guard, who will make you laugh the evening away with a cocktail of fun-filled jokes.

Before the clock strikes midnight, arrive at the atmospheric Horsted Keynes Station and welcome in the new year with a complimentary glass of champagne and a rendition of "Auld Lang Syne." Then all aboard for the arrival back at Sheffield Park at 1 a.m.

Bring the New Year in with style and decadence at the Bluebell Railway!

For more information, click here .


Bluebell Railway Provides Backdrop for Film Success

A "pitch trailer" shot at the Bluebell Railway proved so successful it enabled a full-length, train-focussed thriller--
The Last Passenger --to move forward.

Set for an 18 Oct., 2013 release, this helter-skelter, Hollywood-style movie is expected to be a success around the world.

(From The Guardian ) "... The old rolling stock used was hunted down on the internet and found in a field in Wales. It provides the location for the whole film, the story of an attempt to kidnap a train and send it hurtling to its doom.

The director, who wrote the screenplay with Andy Love, had the idea sitting on a train alone one night. His first task was to convince his producers and potential backers that with clever technology the right impact could be created without a large special effects team. He did this by making a £500 trailer, filming it in a few hours with a heritage train on loan from the Bluebell Railway in Sussex.

On the strength of this footage, Pathé and then the British Film Institute and Pinewood Studios, the owner of Shepperton, stepped forward with some finance ..."

To read the whole story, click here .

Coverage from the Evening Standard can be found here .

The Last Passenger Web Trailer.


Enjoy These Latest Photos!  


No. 1638

Chris Rigby's photo (above) from 29 Sept. shows the SR U-class No. 1638 looking the part, in charge of the lunchtime dining train at Holywell, which was, exceptionally, reinforced with the First Class Lounge Car.

Kieran Hardy has re-loaded his photos from the Railway's 50th Anniversary Gala, from 2010.

Brian Lacey's photo shows No. 323 "Bluebell" arriving at East Grinstead with the Autumn Tints special on 2 Oct.

Martin Lawrence's gallery from 3 and 4 Oct.

Derek Hayward's new " Ardingly collection ."

John Sandys' set from 8 Oct., 2013 includes photos of the new "Autumn Tints" train at East Grinstead and of the new trolley service for this train.



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