News from the Bluebell Railway 23 February 2014    
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
Bluebell Railway Receives HRA Award at Annual Ceremony
Infrastructure Update: On Time & On Task
Getting to the Point
Bluebell Railway on Track to Come to Haywards Heath
Down Signal Up
Fingall Returns for 2014
FOSP Update: Taking Care of Business
Railway Display Open at East Grinstead Museum
Down Memory Line: The Flight of the Condor
Sunday Carvery Returns to Refurbished Birch Grove Suite
Meet GWR Sleeper Wagon No. 100677
An Artifact Photo Quiz
Enjoy These Beautiful Photos
Want even more locos?! Don't forget to click on the hyperlinks in the blue or underlined text !

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Keep Up The Pressure Boiler Appeal focussing on No. 928
Keep Up The Pressure Boiler Appeal focussing on No. 928 "Stowe."

Bluebell Shop  


Bluebell Museum & Archive  


The H-Class running round at East Grinstead on 17 Feb., 2014.
The H-Class running round at East Grinstead on 17 Feb., 2014, by John Sandys.

Locomotive Roster  


Public Train Information


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Local Accomodation List  


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Walkscene "Railway Children" Walks  


Lineside Photographers
Track Safety



Video by Lewisham Bill--British Rail Blue, Part 2 (The 1970s).
Video by Lewisham Bill--British Rail Blue, Part 2 (The 1970s).
British Railways: Vintage Southern.
British Railways: Vintage Southern.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


50th Anniversary Appeal  


Bluebell Railway Trust  




In memorium Jack Owen , the driver of Stepney in this Pathe film from 1960.


Spectacular Footage Of Trains Plowing Through Deep Snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains, California. 1952 Railroad Documentary
Think this winter was bad? Here's 1952 footage of trains clearing extremely deep snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains, California.
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

Kingscote to East Grinstead on the1st train of the day with 1638, 21/02/14
Kingscote to East Grinstead with No. 1638 on 21 Feb., 2014, by John Sandys.
Station Facilities

A look back at
A look back at "Black Five" No. 45231, by Philip Bull.
Six Schools class photos from the John J. Smith collection, chosen by Tony Hillman. Archive photos can be browsed and purchased here .

Railway Roundabout 1959 :
Railway Roundabout 1959: "The Skye Line" ( Fort William to Mallaig ).
Bluebell Railway Receives HRA Award at Annual Ceremony   

Above, Bluebell Railway PLC Chairman Dick Fearn and Preservation Society Vice Chairman Sam Bee (on left) receive the Heritage Railway Association (HRA) "Large Groups" award from Lord Faulkner of Worcester, HRA President, at the Association's annual dinner in Bath Spa on 8 Feb., 2014, in the company of members David Wigley and Roger Price (on right). The Bluebell Railway received this prestigious award in recognition of the historic completion of its link with the national rail network. Photo by Gwynn Jones.

Writes Sam Bee, "The main meeting was held in the Guildhall in Bath, a most impressive building with chandeliers lighting the meeting venue. Once the formal AGM business was completed various interesting presentations were given, first by Neil Butters current Chairman of the Council in Bath, followed by Don Foster MP for Bath.

"Dick Fearn, the newly appointed chairman of the Bluebell Railway PLC then took the floor. He had previously addressed an HRA meeting in Dublin and recently retired as Chief Executive of Iarnrod Eireann, the Irish railway network. He was therefore able to talk with more than a little authority on both national and heritage railways. He spoke on various aspects and made the point that in addition to the obvious high priority of safety, a highly important matter for both types of railway is customer care.

"We were then addressed by Henry Cleary of BESTT (Boiler & Engineering Skills Training Trust) who gave details of the work and aspirations of this organisation of which the HRA is a member ... MORE .

Infrastructure Update: On Time & On Task

The first big job of the year, relaying a quarter of a mile of plain line on Freshfield Bank, was successfully completed on time and handed back to the operators ready for the February half-term service.

This job has used all new bought-in rail and stone, along with concrete sleepers from stock, and has enabled a long-running temporary speed restriction to be lifted.

Like so many lineside tasks these days, the weather once again did its best to make things "mission impossible," but it goes without saying deadlines still have to be met, and with the usual perseverance from Matt Crawford and his team, all went to plan.

Attention now has turned to the final preparation for renewal of Horsted Keynes 23 points in early March. This piece of fairly complex point work has been prefabricated, complete with signalling attachments, and will be lifted into place in three sections with minimum disruption to traffic.

It has been possible to use materials left over from the Northern Extension Project for this work, which has shaved some £15,000 off the cost. These are flat-bottom points and not usually deployed within station limits, but they are out of sight of the platform ends, so in the circumstances dispensation was granted for their use.

Once completed all temporary speed restrictions will have been removed from the single line and the Infrastructure Team will have done its bit towards the 2014 time-keeping initiative. Once these two big track jobs are out of the way, a period of more routine tasks will follow.

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director

The Keep Up the Pressure Campaign total now stands at £127,500. Thank you! To donate, click here .
Getting to the Point    
Dan Hamblin's photo, taken from a passing train, shows progress assembling the new points for Horsted Keynes. It will be installed in stages over the first few weeks of March, with the line remaining open at weekends (see the Infrastructure Update above).

Bluebell Railway on Track to Come to Haywards Heath  

(From the Mid Sussex Times ) Plans are on track for steam trains to roll regularly into Haywards Heath railway station for the first time since the 1960s--although not for 10 years or so.

The Bluebell Railway, which a year ago extended its preserved steam service from Sheffield Park in East Sussex through to East Grinstead, has now set its sights on Haywards Heath.

Land has been set aside for the Bluebell Railway to build a station in the town, said Chris White, the Railway's Infrastructure Director, speaking to the Mid Sussex Times.

Mr. White, who has volunteered with the preservation organisation since 1975, said, "What we have negotiated with the developers of the station site, where there is a new Waitrose going, is an agreement with them, Network Rail and the Local Authority, that at the point at which we can run trains to Haywards Heath, there is a plot of land allocated for us to build a station which sits between the Network Rail station and the new Waitrose."

Cllr Norman Webster, cabinet member for planning said, "As a council we would love to see the Bluebell Railway service extend to Haywards Heath, and we have ensured that a piece of land is safeguarded for a platform by making it a condition of the planning permission granted for the Haywards Heath station redevelopment."

However, Mr. White added that while they view the project as a "very desirable long term preservation and commercial opportunity", they are yet to work out the costs of the project.

He said, "We are putting together the bones of a project to extend the Railway from Horsted Keynes to Ardingly, and once we've got to Ardingly, the plan is then to negotiate running rights with Network rail through to Haywards Heath."

This section of track is still in use commercially by a daily freight train carrying stone.

Once the railway reaches Haywards Heath, the effects are likely to be far-reaching. Last March, East Grinstead became the northern terminus of Bluebell's operation, and the town promotions manager Simon Kerr told the Middy it "certainly put us on the national tourist map."

Mr Kerr said, "The economic spin off is reflected by increased tourist spend in our shops and cafes here, and this has been confirmed by retailers who have been surprised by the number of visitors who have come into town while visiting the Bluebell Railway."

The number of additional visitors to the town who have arrived by train is estimated to be in excess of 60,000 in 2013.

Mr Kerr added, "Although it's still not quite a year since the line opened, the extension has won the hearts of all our locals, and I'm sure it will go on to increase our visitor flow in the coming season and beyond.

"Should the Western spur from Horsted Keynes to Haywards Heath be re-connected, I'm sure that it would bring yet more visitors who will go on to enjoy an even bigger 'Bluebell Experience'--and better yet, residents of Haywards Heath can come and visit us by train too!"

For the full story, and to leave comments, click here .

Track Trek 2014 Update

Track Trek 2014 will take place on the evening of 28 June, 2014. Earn the medal below and help raise funds for the Keep Up the Pressure appeal. Trekkers can start on the five-mile hike from Horsted Keynes to Sheffield Park between 1730 to 1815.

This year the Trek will be led by PLC Chairman Dick Fearn and Preservation Society Chairman Roy Watts. The Model Railway Show will take place during the day, so why not come early and make a day of it! Stay tuned to Bluebell Railway channels for more information soon.

The Railway has had a $1,000 winner of the Flutter to Fund the Future lottery! Sign up for the Unity Lottery here . Fifty pence of every entry goes towards specific Railway projects.
Down Signal Up

The above photo, taken by Mike Hopps on 12 Feb., 2014, shows the planting of the new post for the Down Advanced Starter signal at Horsted Keynes.

The rail-built post, built to the standard SR pattern, has been constructed by the Alf Brown Gang and was planted by members of the Infrastructure and Signal & Telecommunications teams.

The base of the old wooden signal post is badly rotten, and the signal has been supported for quite some time by two rails at the sides. However, the upper part of the old post will be re-used for a repair to the Down Inner Home at Sheffield Park.

To construct the post, the Alf Brown Gang was given some of the rail removed from the platform road at Sheffield Park when it was relaid last year.

Whilst wire brushing, John Arkell found the rolling mill's mark--Dowlais Steel 5 1910 LB&SCR--indicating that the rail was more than 100 years old when taken out of service!

Fingall Returns for 2014

The very popular Pullman Car "Fingall" returns to service this February after three years of overhaul and restoration.

Fingall was built in 1924 for the White Pullman (the Golden Arrow after 1929) and reappeared in the Golden Arrow after its wartime suspension. The Railway purchased the near-derelict car in 1979 and spent thousands of hours restoring it to its original condition.

At the end of 2010, the car once again needed repairs, and it has spent the past three years being restored in the Carriage & Wagon workshop.

Fingall is now available for booking. It features a table of four in a "coupe" section and a small number of tables for two in the main saloon. It's the perfect setting for an intimate dinner and celebration!

See the Pullman Dining webpage for more details on the Golden Arrow service.

FOSP Update: Taking Care of Business

The gentlemen's toilet on Platform 1 at Sheffield Park is looking very shabby and is becoming difficult for staff to clean, so to resolve this, the Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) are planning to refurbish the toilet and return it to an acceptable standard.

The work will involve removing and replacing the existing stainless steel urinal and hand basin. The existing drain will be altered to accommodate the new fixtures and the manhole covers replaced with new sealed covers.

The floor will then be levelled and slate look tiles will be laid on the floor.
Damp is rising up the adjoining wall with the ladies' toilet, which has already caused damage, so an injected damp course will be used to resolve this problem.

The existing tiles are either damaged or shabby, so they will be removed from the walls and replaced, and because the ceiling has been damaged by water ingress, it will be removed and new boarding installed. The ceiling and untiled areas will then be decorated. We do not intend to remove the existing slate modesty screens because they are heritage items that will be preserved.

As a precursor to this work, FOSP has already started the replacement of the toilet roof, which has been leaking for some time.   

By Ron Reed, FOSP Volunteer

For details on the Special Executive Coach Excursion to the Mid Norfolk Railway on 10 May 2014, click here .
Railway Display Open at East Grinstead Museum

The Bluebell Railway Museum has set up a display in East Grinstead Town Museum. It will run until 20 July, 2014.

The theme of the display is "The Bluebell Railway: Then and Now." There are "then and now" photographs of all the stations, plus various artifacts and a centre piece--the five-inch gauge model of locomotive Beachy Head. Copies of some of the original plans of the Bluebell Railway also are on display.

The exhibition was officially opened by Nicholas Owen on 15 Feb., 2014. For more information about the East Grinstead Museum, visit .

Down Memory Line: The Flight of the Condor  

Sir Terence Cuneo, the celebrated artist of industrial and military scenes, is seen in the above British Pathe video painting the Condor London-to-Glasgow accelerated transit freight train for a series of BR posters. Later in the video, see some steam locos he drives himself to improve the viewpoint!

The finished painting is seen below as the BR poster.

The all-container express Condor (for CONtainer-DOor-to-dooR) service was introduced in early 1959, offering collection and next-day delivery of railway-owned containers. The service ran between London and Glasgow.

The original train had about 27 wagons, all standard four-wheeled vacuum braked container flats. The rolling stock was rated to travel at up to 75 mph.

By Neil Cameron

Sunday Carvery Returns to Refurbished Birch Grove Suite 

Enjoy a traditional Sunday carvery--featuring locally sourced meats with all the trimmings--in the newly refurbished Birch Grove Suite at Sheffield Park station (on the first floor; unfortunately, there is no wheelchair access).

The carvery is available every Sunday, except on some special event days and when in use for private hire. If you are not purchasing a travel ticket and you want to enjoy the carvery, you can purchase an admission ticket for £5 per person.

However, special discounted train travel plus a one- or two-course meal is available. Booking is essential. You can book a table for seating between noon and 2:30 p.m. by phoning 01825 720800 or by calling into the Travel Centre at East Grinstead Station or the Sales and Information Office at Sheffield Park.

Congratulations to the Maunsell Project, whose No. 847 has returned to service! Updates from the No. 928 "Stowe" Facebook page can be found here (its boiler recently was lifted). Please donate here to help this work.
Meet GWR Sleeper Wagon No. 100677

No. 100677 is a Diagram T12 wagon designed by the Great Western Railway (GWR) to carry wooden sleepers from their creosoting plant at Hayes, Middlesex to a work site.

Built in 1938 at the GWR Swindon Works as part of a lot (No. 1313) of 18 vehicles, it has a carrying capacity of 18 tons, is fitted with vacuum brakes and has a design tare weight of 11 Tons 16 cwt. It is fitted with a Dean/Churchward ratchet handbrake.

To assist in loading, the side stanchions are in two halves, designed to slot together. There are pockets for holding-down chains on each side of the wagon. In theory, No. 100677 is able to carry 160 sleepers fitted with chairs. Unlike most GWR wagons, this one has no code name.

For more from No. 100677's new webpage, contributed to by Martin Skrzetuszewski and Nick Beck, click here . Photo below by Richard Salmon.

An Artifact Photo Quiz

The Bluebell Railway Museum recently purchased an LB&SCR cast plate. It's 13 by 11 inches in size with four bolt holes, one in each corner, so it can be affixed to a wall.

Having taken advice from all the LB&SCR experts we know, we believe we know what this plate's purpose was. But we are not sure!

Can anyone shed any light on the plate and its purpose? A picture of it in situ would be wonderful. The plate has clearly been painted recently, so the colours may not bear any resemblance to what they were.

E-mail with your suggestions.

Enjoy These Beautiful Photos
of Our Railway

Dave Clarke's gallery has recent photos from around the C&W Department.

Martin Lawrence's February 2014 photos ,  featuring GWR No. 5643 on a test run at East Grinstead (also above).

Photos and video by John Sandys from 17 Feb. and 20 Feb., 2014 (including the 09--below--shunting at Horsted Keynes).

Kieran Hardy atmospheric photo gallery .

Yoshi Hashida's lovely photo shows the visiting LMS "Black Five" No. 45231 and its train climbing Freshfield Bank on Sunday.

Photos from 18 Feb. by Dan Green.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our ever-growing Railway. Don't forget to share this eNewsletter with friends, colleagues, and family, through social media and e-mail. See you trackside in the heart of beautiful Sussex!

John Walls
eNewsletter Editor-in-Chief, Bluebell Railway Preservation Society