News from the Bluebell Railway 1 June 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
Make Way for the Mark 1
Society Update: Roles of PLC Directors
Register Now for Track Trek!
FOSP Update: Old Iron Made New
FOSP Art Exhibition Scheduled
A Project With Fibre
Online Fundraising: It's so EASY!
"Father" of Bluebell Railway Drivers Who Drove the First Train in 1959 Remembered
A Diamond Day Out
A Summer Bonanza
Another Feline Farewell
No. 3417 Update: Behind the Scenes
Brighton Atlantic: Wheels on Fire
Scots Rail Wha Hae
Southern Steam Comes North
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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Bluebell Railway Website


Sales & Information  


Timetable & Fares  



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Disabled Access  


Frequently Asked Questions  


Gift Vouchers  


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  


"Stepney's 139th Birthday," by "Terrier55Stepney." Happy Birthday, Stepney. Hope you see many more!

Locomotive Roster  


Public Train Information


  Line Map & Gradient Profile 


Local Accomodation List  


  Local Attractions  



Walkscene "Railway Children" Walks  


Lineside Photographers
Track Safety



The Bluebell Railway on 18 May 2014, by Dave Pearson.
The Bluebell Railway on 18 May 2014, by Dave Pearson.
Edwardian Weekend  by John Townsend.
Edwardian Weekend by John Townsend.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


Keep Up the Pressure Appeal


Bluebell Railway Trust  




H class running around its train at Sheffield Park on the Wealden Rambler service, by James Dann.
H class running around its train at Sheffield Park on the Wealden Rambler service, by James Dann.


The Railway on 22 May, 2014, by John Sandys.
The Railway on 22 May, 2014, by John Sandys.
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

Southern U Class No. 1638 and Southern Coach set, by John Harwood.
Southern U Class No. 1638 and Southern Coach set, by John Harwood.
Station Facilities

Views of Scottish rail by John J. Smith, from the Bluebell Railway archive, chosen by Tony Hillman.
Archive photos can be
browsed and purchased here .

Make Way for the Mark 1   
John Sandys' photo shows the newly arrived Mk. 1 Open Third No. 4754, which will fill a gap in the Railway's heritage collection. It still retains its original internal lighting and veneered timber panelling. It was withdrawn from British Rail service more than 30 years ago.

Society Update: Roles of PLC Directors  

In line with Society rules, the Officers and Trustees met soon after the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 29 May to consider the roles of PLC Directors for the year. This was in accordance with Society Rule 12c) that states "at the first meeting following the Society's AGM, the Committee shall nominate candidates to be Directors of the Company."

The position after the 2014 elections provided an unusual conundrum in that neither Infrastructure Director Chris White nor Operations Director Russell Pearce are elected Trustees of the Society. None of the existing Trustees were able or willing to undertake either of these key posts due to personal commitments.

As the majority shareholder, the Society has a wider responsibility for the Railway as a whole and has to recognize the needs of what is now a significant business. Competent management is essential to ensure the safe and effective running of the Railway, and these posts must be occupied without interruption.

The means by which Directors are selected needs review, and the current situation proves exactly that. Nor is our current process delivering candidates who are willing to undertake key roles at the Director level; plus, the requirements of our safety management system demand people to be of a good competency to suit the job.  

A working group led by Society Vice Chairman Sam Bee was tasked some time back with undertaking a Corporate Governance review of the Society, Trust, and PLC structure, to include succession planning. The findings and recommendations of this group are to be presented to the Trustees by the end of August 2014.

After lengthy debate, the Trustees decided to await the outcome of this review and recommendations before implementing any fundamental changes. Accordingly the Trustees unanimously agreed that the existing Infrastructure and Operations directors should remain in place for a period not exceeding one year, which will take us to the next Rule 12c) meeting following the 2015 AGM. All other Directors also were confirmed in their current roles for the next 12 months.

In the intervening period, both the Infrastructure and Operations directors will be required to attend Society committee meetings to ensure that the Trustees are kept appraised of matters relating to their mandates. By exercising a watching brief over these remits and other company business, the Trustees will ensure that the Society's aims and objectives are met.

This is an interim measure, and the Trustees are very much aware that they are elected to represent the interests of the membership and manage the relationship between the Society and the PLC. We will report back as soon as the review process is complete and communicate what the next steps will be.

By the Trustees and Officers of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society

Register Now for Track Trek!   

It's not too late to pre-register for our second Track Trek that takes place on the evening of 28 June, going from Horsted Keynes to Sheffield Park.

All sponsorship money will go towards the Keep Up the Pressure Appeal, funding overhaul of the boilers of our larger locomotives. Track Trek 2014 will start at 1745 from Horsted Keynes, and there will be a free train service to return participants to Horsted Keynes and East Grinstead after the event.

Full details are available here . Please note that pre-registering helps the organisers plan for the number of participants. So join the 140 who have already signed up (as of writing!) and enjoy a summer evening walk with your friends.

If you are unable to participate but would like to support the event, please consider sponsoring the Society and PLC chairmen at

FoSP Update: Old Iron Made New

Work has been progressing at Sheffield Park with external refurbishment and redecoration along the south eastern elevations of the Station House during recent weeks. This work has involved taking down the cast iron guttering between the entrance porch and the parapet wall above the platform at the south end of the building. Once on the ground, all of the cast components have been stripped back to the bare metal before re-painting into "Brighton Maroon" (actually, it's "Hot Paprika!")  

Some of the cast components required crack repairs, which was accomplished using fibre matting and epoxy: completely effective and quite invisible from the ground. After remounting to the building using new fixings, the internal surfaces of the gutters were painted with bitumen. Convenient "wet tests" applied by the British climate revealed a couple of leaky joints that were subsequently fixed.

By putting in out-of-hours shifts, it was possible to complete the external re-paint of the entrance porch, which now offers a much nicer welcome to our visitors. Longer term, we would like to restore the porch to original condition, with stained-glass panels--as at Horsted Keynes--but until then we decided to carry out the cosmetic repairs and repaint.

The Gents toilets are progressing and contractors have recently fitted new tiling to the internal walls and floor of the main area. Further upgrade work will be paused until the busy summer period is over. Elsewhere, Friends of Sheffield Park (FoSP) members are repairing the double wooden gates adjacent to the shop entrance, which are the emergency access to the platforms. Thanks to this work, we can avoid the expense of full replacement for a few years.  

New FoSP members are always welcome--armchair or working. We're at Sheffield Park every Wednesday if you want to see what we get up to.

By Charles Melton, FoSP Coordinator

FoSP Art Exhibition Scheduled  

The Friends of Sheffield Park (FoSP) Art Exhibition will be held at Sheffield Park during Model Railway weekend, 28-29 June, 2014.
Says Graham Aitken, "It will be difficult not to see our stand as the paintings, prints, and photographs will be displayed from our very own FoSP expanding tower, located on Platform 1.
"The exhibition will be open from 10 a.m. on both days, and we look forward to newsletter readers and others viewing and buying to enable us to raise funds to continue further improvements at Sheffield Park.

"For instance, we need paint and new palings to allow us to undertake the refurbishment of the driveway fence behind the shop, as this now looks tatty when compared to the refurbished east side fence.
"Lastly, the Friends are very keen to receive any railway-themed paintings, prints, and photographs to sell on our stall."

Graham can be contacted at to arrange for delivery.

Congratulations to Sheffield Park volunteer and trainee guard Ron Reed, who was recently elected Mayor of his home town of Crowborough.

A Project With Fibre  
This photo taken by Alex Langley on 14 May, 2014 shows Alan Dengate and Tim Parkin adjusting the length of a fibreglass troughing lid, part of the project to replace the cable route across Poleay Bridge at Sheffield Park. Alan points out that, should anyone comment that his visor is not in the correct position, he was in fact wearing safety spectacles at this time!

Online Fundraising: It's so EASY! 

The Railway is a member charity of and . If you sign up to the former as a "Bluebell Railway supporter," every internet search you make using easysearch (instead of Google or Yahoo, etc.) generates nearly a penny for the Railway from the sponsored results--it adds up!
Similarly, if you sign up with easyfundraising (see how it works ), and then use that route to your selected participating retailer for online shopping, that retailer will donate a percentage of your purchase to the Railway at no cost to you. If you already have a preferred search engine for the Internet, there is no need to use easysearch in order to shop with easyfundraising.
It's even easier to generate donations when you're shopping online--via any search engine--if you download easyfundraising's free " Find & Remind " toolbar, which will automatically tell you if a donation is available from your chosen retailer so that you never miss a donation opportunity.
Here are the percentages of your purchase some of the main retailers pass onto the Railway:
  • Amazon: 1-1.5%
  • M&S: 2%
  • Argos: 1.5%
  • John Lewis: 1.75% (2.5% over £150)
  • Aviva car insurance: £30 donation
It's six years since the Railway joined easysearch and easyfundraising. The Railway now earns around £4,000 a year from searches and shopping donations. The majority being from shopping and that comes from 330 supporters. Yet the Society has nearly 11,000 members representing some 7,000 households, so just think of the difference it would make if only a third of that number used easyfundraising for online shopping.

So if you shop online why not give it a try? It will cost you nothing, and it's so EASY!

"Father" of Bluebell Railway Drivers Who Drove the First Train in 1959 Remembered 

(From the East Grinstead Courier ) The "father" of a generation of Bluebell drivers died in February, but is still fondly remembered as the man who set the standard for the beloved railway.

Jack Owen began his career with British Rail in Three Bridges, before starting as one of only two qualified drivers at the reopened Bluebell Railway in 1959.

During his 40-year career, he and his wife Shirley watched the railway grow as it was extended from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes in 1962, Kingscote in 1985 and finally he was thrilled to see it come to East Grinstead last year.

Mrs Owen, 83, a dedicated Bluebell volunteer, ran the buffet on the station at Horsted Keynes every weekend in full Victorian dress for years ...

Read the full story here .

Richard Salmon reminds us that the fund-raising refreshments at the recent Annual General Meeting were organised as a team effort that certainly included Richard and his wife Deborah but also other members of "The Horsted Gang":  Dave Clarke, Pat and Ray Medhurst, David Chappell, and Tony Silcock. Thanks to all the gang!
A Diamond Day Out     
Diamond Geezer's photo shows the bluebells in full steam during his day out at the Railway on 5 May, 2014. He gives a nice write-up in his blog , and now can cross the Railway off his "bucket list." His 10 Things to Do in East Grinstead list is spot-on.

A Summer Bonanza 

There's so much to do at the Railway and its travel partners this summer, so don't forget to bookmark for quick links to all the happenings, including:
  • Afternoon Tea Lounge Car
  • Ardingly South of England Show
  • Bluebell Ale Trail
  • Chailey Windmill Excursion
  • Horsted Village Excursion
  • Kids for a Quid
  • Model Railway Weekend
  • Monday Club
  • Sackville College Excursion
  • Standen House National Trust
  • Sussex Food Festival
  • Toy & Rail Collectors Fair
  • Vintage Bus Day
  • Vintage Transport Weekend
  • Virginia Woolf/Monk's House

Another Feline Farewell

We were advised last week by his family that a stalwart volunteer is sadly no longer with us ...

Although not formally a Railway cat, Gizmo visited from his actual home near Horsted Keynes station for years. He had many friends at the C&W workshop, where he happily snoozed, undeterred by the sound of machinery all around.

When he fancied a change of scenery, he would pick his way carefully across the rails to the signalbox, where a rusty "miaow" would announce his arrival. Once installed on his favourite comfy chair, Gizmo was very hard to dislodge, except when provided little treats kept in a special tin. The act of opening the cupboard would stir the seemingly sound-asleep cat.

Reputedly 18 years old, Gizmo became increasingly frail, and the last time he visited me in the box three weeks ago, it was obvious he wasn't much longer for this world. Sadly, we were out of cat treats, and he didn't stay too long before wandering over to C&W in search of a better welcome.

Am I correct in thinking we now have no Railway cats? Floreat felix!

By Charles Melton

RIP Gizmo. Photo by Ray Orpin.

No. 3417 Update: Behind the Scenes 

The Southern Electric Traction Group has a new "Gordon's Minions" update regarding VEP unit No.3417 ...

"After the work carried out some weeks ago, all has been quiet regarding attention to the unit. We will be carrying out an inspection on the unit within the next two weeks to confirm that nothing has deteriorated since the last viewing.

"Behind the scenes, however, things have been extremely busy. As you will all be aware, there are many significant obstacles standing in the way of returning the unit to revenue-earning condition. The SETG have been hard at work trying to find ways around those obstacles.

"In the past few weeks we have had productive meetings with various individuals within the railway industry who are keen to see the unit back in front-line use. Those discussions are ongoing, but we would like everyone to know that there aren't just a few enthusiastic amateurs committed to this project.

"We are fortunate to have access to some senior industry figures and are making full use of them in order to bring the potential uses of the 4VEP to as wider an audience as possible. Our hope is to have something concrete to report to you all within the next month ..."

For more of the update, click here .

From the BBC: Great Central Railway museum £10m lottery bid fails .      
Brighton Atlantic: Wheels on Fire
Fred Bailey's photo shows significant progress has been made on the Brighton Atlantic Group project, as the chassis, wheels, cylinders, and rods come together. To see more photos, and to donate to the project, click here . Atlantic House will be open on 21 and 22 June for visitors to get a closer look.

Scots Rail Wha Hae

Neil Cameron has found some Scottish rail video to complement the John J. Smith photos in our left-hand column, chosen from the Railway's archive by Tony Hillman.

Ivo Peters and Derek Cross: Caledonian Railway single and the 2 CR coaches, one of which was at the Bluebell Railway until the early 1970s.
Ivo Peters and Derek Cross: Caledonian Railway single and the 2 CR coaches, one of which was at the Bluebell Railway until the early 1970s.

Railway Roundabout 1959:
Railway Roundabout 1959: "The Skye Line" (Fort William to Mallaig).

Plus ...

BBC's The Train Now Departing with the " The West Highlander " from 1988.

Southern Steam Comes North 

(From ITV Tyne Tees) A rare 104 year old steam locomotive has completed a 300 mile journey to the North East to take part in a fortnight of celebrations on the World's oldest railway.

South Eastern and Chatham Railway "P" Class locomotive No. 178 has left the famous Bluebell Railway in Sussex and made the lengthy journey to the Tanfield Railway near Gateshead to take part in events celebrating the regions' rich railway heritage.

Built in Ashford, Kent in 1910, No. 178 was one of a special class of steam locomotives built specifically to work branch line trains in the South East.
The 28 ton locomotive worked in London suburbs, in the Brighton and Reading areas and in Kent before being withdrawn by British Railways after nearly 50 years in service.After a period working at a paper mill in Kent, No. 178 was preserved by the Bluebell Railway, the first branch line in the country to be saved and operated by volunteers.

It was restored to its original South Eastern and Chatham Railway condition, complete with fine lining and highly polished brass work in 2010.

The visit to Tanfield Railway is believed to be the first time that the locomotive has ever travelled North of London, the trip being arranged specially to take part in celebrations to mark 175 years since iron rails were first laid on the Tanfield route ...

Click here for the complete story.
Tanfield Railway driver, David Allinson, prepares No. 178 for the weekend.

Enjoy These Beautiful Photos of the Railway

Steve Lee's photo above shows the Wealden Rambler on a (sadly) wet Bank Holiday Monday (26 May), featuring SECR C-Class No. 592.

Christopher Barton has some photos of the P-class visiting the Tanfield Railway.

Martin Lawrence's May gallery , including (below) No. 847 pulling the Rail Ale Special .

John Sandys' photos and video from 22/05/2014 , including Mk.1 TSO No. 4754, newly arrived from Bicester; "Bluebell" back from her Spring break; the new 2015 calendar now available in the shop; and more progress on the Q-class in the Loco workshop.

Derek Hayward's photos show members of the 9F Club working in a blocked section of the Down Yard at Horsted Keynes, and working under supervision on the cosmetic refurbishment of the Ransomes and Rapier Ltd Steam Crane.

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