News from the Bluebell Railway 24 November 2013
50th Issue  

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
Another Proud Milestone Is Reached
Bernard Holden: No. 477
A Note About Train Service This Winter
The Pudsey Express Toots Its Horn
Infrastructure Report: SP Platform & HK Signal Box
Loco Works News
FOSP Update: Canopy Is Nearly Complete
Do Your Christmas Shopping By Steam Train
Going Dutch 2014
End of the Day
A Trip Down Memory Line I: Evocative Eastbourne
A Trip Down Memory Line II: Some S15 Recollections
50/50: The Demise of the Horsted Keynes-to-Seaford Service
50/50: The Bluebell Railway in 1963
50/50: JFK's Sussex Summit
Project 27 Raffle Follow-Up
A Model Request
Putting the Power Back in Battersea
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  

Bluebell Railway Highlights 2013
Bluebell Railway Highlights 2013, by Lee Davis.

Locomotive Roster  


Public Train Information


  Line Map & Gradient Profile 


Local Accomodation List  


  Local Attractions  



Walkscene "Railway Children" Walks  


Lineside Photographers
Track Safety



34046 Braunton and 44932 - The Blue Bell Explorer - 09/11/13
No. 34046 Braunton and No. 44932 pulling the Blue Bell Explorer on 9 Nov., 2013. A great view of the top-and-tail steam rail tour, with locos exchanging whistles with a Spa Valley tank loco at Eridge; Braunton leading enroute Uckfield; and a view of the return with Black Five leading.
Black 5 Non-Stop to E/G, 16/11/13
The Black Five non-stop to East Grinstead on 16 Nov., 2013.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




Back stage at Children-in-Need.
Back stage at Children-in-Need.


Cellist George Delfas plays
Cellist George Delfas plays "The Train Whistle" by Aaron Minsky on 16 Nov., 2013 as the 1:15 p.m. Sheffield Park-to-East Grinstead passes by. A tribute to his granddad, filmed by George's dad Nick Delfas.
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

S15 Steam Test, by Robin Johnston.
S15 Steam Test, by Robin Johnston.
Station Facilities

The BluebellRailway on 16 Nov., 2013.
The Railway on 16 Nov., 2013.
Enjoy this series of photos from the Bexhill West branch, from the Bluebell Railway's photo archive and chosen by Tony Hillman. Archive photos can be browsed and purchased here .

Another Proud Milestone Is Reached 

On 10 Nov., 2013 an all-female crew--Driver Liz Groome and Fireman Ruth Lee--worked the 1345 train from Sheffield Park. A first for the Railway. Photo by Neil Glaskin.


Bernard Holden: No. 477    


Joining "IK Brunel" and "Oliver Bulleid," one of Brighton & Hove bus company's new Volvo double-deckers--No. 477--has been named after Bernard Holden.

The naming remembers Bernard's many connections with the city of Brighton and Hove and with Sussex transportation, not least the Bluebell Railway.

Brighton & Hove have this recollection of Bernard. Thanks to Darryl Meades for alerting us to this story.
Photo of "Bernard Holden" by David Grimstone.


A Note About Train Service This Winter    


Following a successful season since the opening of the northern extension, the PLC Board has authorised additional expenditure on track work at Freshfield Bank and the replacing of Number 23 points at Horsted Keynes.

As a result, the line will be closed between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes for two weekends in January and the first weekend of February.

The Railway has not yet had the opportunity to see how busy East Grinstead can be this time of year. We certainly have not seen any sign of passenger numbers falling off, and recent Sundays have been busier than Saturdays.

Having invested in ice prevention inside Sharpthorne tunnel, we are very keen not to close the Railway in 2014 for engineering work but to find and operate a suitable train service if we can--that will give a good message to visitors travelling from the north.

Keeping and servicing a steam loco at Horsted Keynes during this period is not ideal. Therefore, we are exploring other options in a bid to run an economical service and to make things a little interesting. For instance, we are looking at hiring a two-car diesel multiple unit (DMU) from Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

We plan to operate five round trips between Horsted Keynes and East Grinstead during the works, and in addition coach No. 1674 will be based at Horsted Keynes to supplement existing buffet facilities and to operate a hot meal service based on a two-course, pre-booked meal.

We must continue to encourage customers to book in advance; should the weather turn wintry, they will still visit our Railway, and we hope to have a couple of additional low-cost attractions based at Horsted Keynes. Once an agreement is reached, an announcement will be made to that effect.

By Tim Baker, Commercial Director


The Pudsey Express Toots Its Horn
BBC South East Today announced it had a wonderful day out at the Bluebell Railway on 15 Nov., 2013, raising money for Children in Need with the help of the "Pudsey Express." In all, £31 million was raised by the national 2013 Children in Need campaign. Photo by Tony Sullivan.

Photo by BBC. See more BBC photos here .

The Keep Up the Pressure Campaign now stands at £106,000. Many, many thanks to all the contributors who have helped us reach this milestone. To learn more about the fund and to donate, click here .

Infrastructure Report: SP Platform & HK Signal Box     


It has been a period of changing priorities over the last few weeks. Re-laying 23 Points at Horsted Keynes has been moved to January for operating reasons, resulting in a shift of resources to Sheffield Park platform repairs.

In reality, these repairs have turned into something more significant. Excavation work revealed lots of "quick fixes" that have required more serious long-term attention. The opportunity has been taken to incorporate canopy and platform drainage pipes, new gas pipes, services duct routes through the platform, and ducts that enable the Golden Arrow "shore line" cables to be hidden under the surface. All-in-all, these are general tidy-up and much-needed passenger safety improvements.

Meanwhile, the fairly major repairs to the structure of the Horsted Keynes signal box are nearing completion. This job is another of those "simple" ones that turned out to be something rather more serious, and it has taken a lot longer than planned, but the results are looking good.

Completion of the box's roof repairs--which involves the acquisition of matching tiles, followed by completion of painting--will leave the structure well-prepared for the winter and, indeed, years to come. And, yes--before I receive any more e-mails reminding me--we know it is a listed structure, and all the repairs have been undertaken with this fact in mind, using appropriate materials.

Finally, writing of Horsted Keynes, I would be interested in hearing from anyone who wants to be part of a Friends of Horsted Keynes group. "FOHK" does not roll off the tongue, but no doubt someone will come up with an acronym that does!

Basically, we have successful "friends" organisations at Sheffield Park and Kingscote that help with infrastructure jobs, but we could do with one at HK. The idea is the group would undertake general repairs, maintenance, and decorating tasks within their comfort zone and help give the station some TLC. Please contact me at .

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director


The Daily Mail recently had a date with East Grinstead's storied Sackville House.
Loco Works News: No. 847 Passes Its Exams, & More

No. 847 passed its boiler exam on 19 Nov. and successfully ran trials on that day and the following, making a number of test runs to Horsted Keynes. It is now back in the works for painting and is expected to be in service for the Santa trains.

No. 1638 had its boiler repaired by copper welding. Where the platework around stays had fractured (known as "star-fracturing"), the heads were chiselled off, then the cracks chiselled out, and copper weld applied in the cracks and over the stay ends.

A long-standing crack in the rear right corner was also chiselled out and re-welded. A steam test has been performed, and the loco is expected to be in service for the weekend of 22 and 23 Nov. The boiler has two years left before overhaul is required, but whether it will last for that time is yet to be seen.

The apparent success of the welding operation on No. 1638 is to be repeated on B473, probably early in the new year. The loco frames of No. 541 have been replaced on the wheels. Work continues on this loco with aim of running next summer.

No. 92212 has returned to the Mid-Hants Railway, and L150 is expected to return to our Railway about 10 Dec.

We are taking on hire No. 5643 from the Furness Railway Trust from February to December 2014. This is a GWR 5600 class 0-6-2 tank, BR power class 5F. A recent picture of the loco at Severn Valley Railway is below.

By Lewis Nodes, Loco & Rolling Stock Director


FOSP Update: Canopy Is Nearly Complete

Photo by John Sandys.  

Since the last report from the Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP), there has been significant progress on the canopy at Sheffield Park. After being unable to access the canopy during summer, we can once again access its outer face using a scaffold tower on a wagon.

So, hardy FOSP volunteers spent several November days mounting the remaining 143 decorative valance boards, which had been pre-painted over many previous Wednesdays. Contractors then mounted the cast-iron rainwater guttering and downpipes. While not beyond the capabilities of volunteers, it is vitally important the guttering is level to within millimeters across about 20 metres. Also, the moulded timber trim had to be aligned correctly for aesthetic purposes.

This guttering task is nearly complete and looking good. We even had the "luxury" of a cloudburst during the later stages of installation--a perfect "wet test" which the gutter passed, although the Infrastructure Gang near the signal box didn't appreciate water discharging over them from its truncated end!

We hope to hold a small ceremony to mark the completion of the canopy project, where thanks will be given to everyone involved, including our many sponsors, whose generosity allowed it to be finished more quickly than we could have imagined.

Elsewhere, refurbishment of the west side picket fence is complete, and its smart appearance is enhanced by the reinstatement (by Mick Blackburn) of heritage enamel signs.
Plus, the usual prosaic maintenance tasks (such as unblocking the drains in the Platform 1 gents toilets) have been carried out during our Wednesday work days. Now we are planning for further tasks, once the canopy is completely finished. We have a couple of projects in mind, which hopefully will be approved and announced shortly and which should carry us through winter.

Any suggestions for suitable projects are gratefully received, and any member interested in joining FOSP is welcome to convene with us over tea, Wednesdays at around 9:30 a.m. in the Porters' Lobby.
By Chas Melton, Projects Coordinator
Another milestone is reached as regular FOSPers Dave Brown and Ron Reed complete the refurbishment of the west side driveway and forecourt fence.


Do Your Christmas Shopping By Steam Train  

Put some fun into your Christmas shopping this year and travel to East Grinstead by steam train! Special shopper's excursion trains depart Sheffield Park at 9:45 a.m. and Horsted Keynes at 10:02 a.m. on 16, 23, and 30 Nov.

Take time to visit the specialised shops in East Grinstead High Street and the London Road. Enjoy lunch in one of the many cafés and bars throughout the town, before returning by train from East Grinstead on either the 2:30 p.m., 3:45 p.m., or 5:00 p.m. services.

(A special return third class fare of just £5 per person (kids for a quid) will apply to passengers who return from East Grinstead from 2:30 p.m. onwards.)

Plus, for unlimited bus travel between the railway station and the high street, purchase Metrobus tickets for just £1 at any booking office, travel centre, or sales and information office before you travel.

Additional Christmas shopping trains will run on 2 and 19 Dec., departing Sheffield Park at 10:00 a.m. and Horsted Keynes at 10:25 a.m. The return from East Grinstead is at 4:00 p.m. Free car parking is available at both Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes stations.

Call 01825 720800 for tickets and more information, or click here .


Going Dutch 2014

Roger Price is organising another trip to The Netherlands next May. Final details are still being worked out, but the plan is to travel to and from Brussels by Eurostar and to use a road coach for most internal journeys.

Visits will be arranged to the South Limburg, Haaksbergen, and Goes steam railways and, of course, our twin museum Stoomtram Hoorn Medemblik .

We also plan to visit Arnhem (it's the 70th Anniversary of the famous Operation Market Garden battle of World War II). The highlight of the week will be two days in Dordrecht for the Steam Festival, which takes place bi-annually and which rivals the Great Dorset Steam Fair in popularity. It has the added attraction of steam boats and ships, plus a connecting steam train on the main line.

Good quality hotels will be used, and all breakfasts and some other meals will be included in the price of £950 (per person, sharing a twin room).

E-mail for full details.


End of the Day  

Richard Clark caught the Black Five from the all-steam rail tour on its arrival at London Victoria, on 9 Nov., 2013. 


A Trip Down Memory Line I: Evocative Eastbourne

Reader Chris Philipson wrote to the editors after looking at the JJ Smith photos of Eastbourne in the last issue.

"The photos of the U1, V, and D1 show the bomb damage to the canopy over platforms 1 and 2 and the overall roof over the cab road on platforms 3 and 4 had still to be repaired.

"There used to be a lovely Southern Railway waiting room on platforms 1 and 2 that had art deco table and benches. It was removed in the early 1980s.

"The shot of the B4 shows the damage to the shed roof caused by bombing or possibly when pulverised coal exploded around 1930. (There was a U class 2-6-0 based at Eastbourne that was experimentally modified to burn the fuel.)

"I remember riding on the footplate of a K Class while a fireman mate of mine shunted the Brighton breakdown crane in April or May 1962. The crane was being used to lift out the remaining girders of the derelict shed roof."

The Maunsell Society's Schools Class 4-4-0 No. 928 "Stowe" now has her own Facebook page. You can "like" Stowe by clicking here .

A Trip Down Memory Line II: As S15 Passes Its Steam Test, Some Recollections



Peter Austin sent us the photo above of S15 No. 30824 on the 3:54 p.m. Waterloo-to-Basingstoke semi-fast on a summer Saturday, circa May/June 1964.   


"The train is passing Raynes Park in the outer London suburbs," says Peter. "It was a very majestic loco, having an eight-wheel, King Arthur-type 'flair sided' tender, as opposed to the straight-sided variety. At the time, its home shed was Feltham; it was withdrawn from Eastleigh in September 1965."

My recollections of the Maunsell Society's S15 No. 847 include this memory from August 1993: I was running the first Steam Fair in the rally fields at Horsted Keynes, and I have a strong recollection of its strong exhaust working northbound, echoing around the whole site, linking the sounds of the Railway with those of the Fair and Steam Rally.

Back in the Barry Scrapyard days, I had gathered components for No. 847, those few that could be carried rather than towed, that is. Later, I joined the team operating the Railway's steam crane, removing its boiler in the Loco Yard and replacing it following restoration.

By Neil Cameron

Tony Hillman's photo below from 20 Nov. proves that the S15 has clearly passed its steam test. Watch a video of S15 here


Bottom, David Jones' photo shows the S15 being coaled, in preparation for the exam.  




On the occasion of the 50th issue of the eNewsletter, we look back at some local events that occurred 50 years ago.

50/50: The Demise of the Horsted Keynes-to-Seaford Service  

The Horsted Keynes to Seaford electric service last ran on 28 Oct., 1963, and the closure of the spur between the former and Copyhold Junction also occurred.

At this time, British Rail's asking price for the stretch of line between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes had risen to £43,500 now that the station at the latter was to be included within the sale.

BR had declared that once the five-year lease ran out, renewal was not an option, and only an outright purchase would be accepted.

Frantic fundraising took place from 1964 onwards, and the required sum was raised to allow the purchase of the line by the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society in 1968.

50/50: The Bluebell Railway in 1963   

Following the closure of the Horsted Keynes-to-Haywards Heath branch at the end of October 1963, the Railway was scheduled on the public timetable to cease operation until the following year.

However, as shown in the Sheffield Park train register (below)--which is in the care of the Bluebell Railway Archives--passenger trains ran on 3 Nov. On 10 Nov., three trains ran to Holywell Halt to recover the materials after its early demise. Nothing then ran until Boxing Day--Santa Specials had not been invented then!

Although some thought had been given to retaining the link to Haywards Heath, the costs would have been exorbitant, and in any case, use of the trains had been minimal compared to passenger arrivals by car at both Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes.

Sidings at the latter station were taken over by the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society (BRPS) in November 1963, and the signal box was connected to Sheffield Park at the same time.

The contract to lift the track north and west of Horsted Keynes was out for tender, so after the euphoria of three mainline rail tours that ran during the year, the Railway was soon to be consigned to isolation--a situation not reversed until 50 years later!

At this time discussions were taking place with British Railways to reduce the cost of the line and associated buildings, the final payment for which would be in 1965. It is a sobering thought that the Railway was being asked for £34,000 for two stations, five miles of rail, eight cottages, and all the associated land!

The BRPS committee elected in December 1963 included John Leroy, Chairman with Ken Barnett, Bill Brophy, Ken Chown, Bernard Holden, Charles Hudson, Tom Martin, Richard McGilvray, Mike Mason, Don Sayers, and Alan Whitbread.

By Roger Price

Click here for a PDF version of this Train Register from 1963.

50/50: JFK's Sussex Summit  

Here is a recollection from Fr. John Twistleton's " A Diary of a Country Priest " about a banner event for Sussex that happened half a century ago ...

On the 29 and 30 June, 1963, US President John F. Kennedy visited British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan at Birch Grove.

The media was said to be arriving in large numbers to cover the event, and the landlord of the Red Lion was besieged by reporters, some of whom even asked if they could sleep in the pub's attic.

The area was swarming with security and bodyguards. It was rumoured that secret agents spent the night up in trees and that they took the number of every car approaching the area. A massive security operation was in progress, and the village of Chelwood Gate was under siege for about three days.

At the time it was reported that Television sets refused to work because of the power of the security transmissions to protect the 35th President of the United States. These were the greatest security precautions ever seen in Britain, and it was said the English police were not obtrusive but that the American security force had guns which were openly on display.

The helicopters which carried the President landed at the Isle of Thorns. There were certainly two helicopters, possibly more, so that at least one could act as a decoy. The American service personnel allowed local boys to have their photos taken next to the Army vehicles.

Kennedy was a devout Catholic and went to Mass at the Roman Catholic Church in Forest Row. It was said his Cadillac was followed by a car with armed guards standing on the running boards clinging to the sides. As his car approached the Red Lion, the driver slowed down to take the sharp corner back to Birch Grove and this enabled waiting children to see and wave to him.

On his return to Birch Grove, Lady Dorothy had asked the boys from Cumnor House School to line the paths to greet him. The President stopped to speak to the boys and asked them to sing their school song, but alas Cumnor House had no school song, but the invitation was much appreciated.

This was to be the last time Kennedy visited England--he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on 22 Nov., 1963.
June 29-30, 1963 - President John F. Kennedy visits Harold Macmillan, Birch Grove House, Sussex
US President John F. Kennedy visits Harold Macmillan, Birch Grove House, Sussex.


The Mid-Sussex Times has a story on how prayer is helping to bring closure for Rosemary Lever, daughter of Winifred and Ronald Knapp, killed on the Bluebell Line on their wedding day in 1943.
Project 27 Raffle Follow-Up 

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Project 27 raffle on the staff Ale Train on 16 Nov. We received more than £250 towards the restoration of SECR No.27.

Specifically, appreciation is due to Neil Glaskin who invited us to run the raffle on the train. At the end of the evening, there were four unclaimed prizes, listed below:
  • A bottle of Bordeaux wine (pink ticket No.498)
  • A pack of Jupiler Belgian beer (pink ticket No. 237)
  • A Fenchurch T-Shirt (yellow ticket No. 28)
  • A Fenchurch mug (yellow ticket No. 297)
If you hold any of these tickets, contact me at and arrangements can be made to unite you with your prize.
Again, thanks for your support and apologies for not getting all the winning numbers circulated on Saturday evening.

By Clive Emsley


A Model Request  

Paul Kemp asks for help from our readers. He is conducting some research in order to assist his father, a retired Eastbourne driver, model the Eastbourne Station complex as it was in the 1950s.

The following are sought: blueprints, dimensions, and elevations for the station, goods shed, loco shed, etc.

Can you help? Any detailed information on Eastbourne station and its surrounds will be greatly appreciated. Contact Paul at .


For information on the Bluebell Railway's seasonal offerings--including the Santa Specials, School Yule, Victorian Christmas, Carol Service, and much more--visit . New this year are Weekday Wonders trains departing from East Grinstead.
Putting the Power Back in Battersea
Two steam engines; one train. The top-and-tail steam rail tour is seen leaving London Victoria station on 9 Nov., 2013 en route to Sussex. Photo by Ian Wylie.

Enjoy These Latest Photos!



Above, look what Tony Hillman found when he arrived at work on 23 Nov.: No. 92212 awaiting collection to return to the Mid-Hants Railway.   

Writes John Sandys, " An unscheduled visit to the Railway on 16 Nov. found it very popular, with the various special offers seemingly going down very well. The Black Five was hauling the main service train and sounded in fine form, with the C-Class in charge of the Victorian train. And all bathed in glorious sunshine for a change!"     


Keith Duke's set from 16 Nov.   


Keith Leppard photos from 16 Nov. The first photo sees No. 45231 framed in the Autumn foliage.  


John Sandys' photos from 19 Nov. shows lots o f work continuing at Sheffield Park, Kingscote, and elsewhere.  


A photographic record of Francis Clarke's trip to the Railway .     



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