News from the Bluebell Railway 14 September 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
Radial Does the Rounds
C&W Update: Maunsell Dining Saloon No. 7864
Build It & They Will Come
New for 2014: Reindeer Specials
Safety First!
Wanted: Carriage & Wagon Fitter
Down Memory Line: The Blues & Gospel Train, 1964
Museum Archive Photo Special Offer
End of the Lines: The Rural Railway Resurgence 50 Years After Beeching
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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Frequently Asked Questions  


Gift Vouchers  


A Southern Trio at the Bluebell Railway, 31 Aug., 2014, by Daniel Green.
A Southern Trio at the Bluebell Railway, 31 Aug., 2014, by Daniel Green.

Bluebell Shop  


Bluebell Museum & Archive  


Bluebell Railway Summer Festival 2014 Compilation, by
Bluebell Railway Summer Festival 2014 Compilation, by "Terrier55Stepney."

Locomotive Roster  


Public Train Information  


  Line Map & Gradient Profile 


Local Accomodation List  


  Local Attractions  



Walkscene "Railway Children" Walks  


Lineside Photographers
Track Safety



Bluebell Railway from the Air, by
Bluebell Railway from the Air, by "SkyView 360."
The S-15 in charge of the 1st train of the day
The S15 in charge of the first train of the day on 11 Sept., 2014, by John Sandys.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


Keep Up the Pressure Appeal


Bluebell Railway Trust  




The Railway on 30 Aug., 2014, by David Seward.
The Railway on 30 Aug., 2014, by David Seward.


Members of the Railway Enthusiast Club, Farnborough enjoying a trip to the Bluebell Railway on 31 Aug., 2014.
Members of the Railway Enthusiast Club, Farnborough enjoying a trip to the Bluebell Railway on 31 Aug., 2014.
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

Bluebell Railway 12th August 2014
The Railway on 12 Aug., 2014, by Alexander Runting.
Station Facilities

A selection from the John J. Smith collection, chosen by Tony Hillman, including a photo taken at Lover's Walk in Brighton (below).
Archive photos can be
browsed and purchased here .

For music and steam fans: Chris Rea's
For music and steam fans: Chris Rea's "Steam Train Blues."
Radial Does the Rounds
The Railway's LSWR pair--the 1885-built Adams Radial Tank No.488 and 1910-built carriage No. 1520--at Hampton Station to celebrate 150th anniversary of the Shepperton Branch.


Tony Hillman's photo shows the Radial Tank leaving Hampton in the evening of 7 Sept., 2014.

C&W Update: Maunsell Dining Saloon No. 7864

To raise funds for the restoration of the unique Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No. 7864 , Deborah Salmon cycled 37 miles from London to Windsor on 7 Sept., 2014. View photos here (and there she is below, starting out and at the finish).

In two weeks time, Dave Clarke will take part in the Reigate half-marathon. Sponsor Deborah and Dave here .

Writes Richard Salmon: "The coach itself is still under a tarpaulin at Horsted Keynes. The first task will be to get the asbestos professionally stripped from the coach body, and we are looking into grant funding for this. We are also following up leads, through the LNER Coach Association, for the purchase of a large quantity of teak or other suitable timber, for the major structural repairs.

"On the fundraising side, we are approaching the half-way mark towards the £100,000 target, through the various low-key fundraising ventures undertaken, which include Dave's previous sponsored runs; Deborah's clarinet concert; sales of jam, chutney, postcards, and books in the carriage exhibition area; the football competition; and donations from visitors and participants in guided tours of the carriage works."

The Independent has an interesting piece about designing period TV and film shows, mentioning the Railway's role in Downton Abbey. Recalls Neil Cameron of another project, "On the film Chaplin , not only were several Maunsell period carriages sent to St. Pancras for the scene filming but also a kit of parts was hired to create one side of a corridor for studio work, an initiative of then-C&W Foreman John Reynard."    

Build It & They Will Come

(From The Argus , 3 Sept., 2014) Soon after the Bluebell Railway had shut down in 1958, I went on a forlorn walk along the track somewhere near Sheffield Park with my stepfather.

It was a sodden, gloomy day and the deserted track brought home to both of us that the age of the train was over.

Railways had been the dominant form of transport in Britain for more than a century but they were suffering in the 1950s because of the unstoppable rise of the motor car.

There had been closures in Sussex before the Bluebell trains stopped running. The little line from Hove to the Devil's Dyke expired before the Second World War. The charming rural railway through Midhurst stopped in 1955.

The really big closures were still to come, courtesy of Dr Richard Beeching who was asked by the Government to modernise the railways.

His recommendations affected every county. In Sussex the Cuckoo line through Heathfield and the Steyning line were notable casualties ...

For Adam Trimingham's complete column, click here .

New for 2014: Reindeer Specials

The Railway is excited to announce that it has a family of reindeer visiting Kingscote Station this Christmas!

Our Reindeer Specials depart from East Grinstead on 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, and 21 Dec., 2014 at 3 p.m. They stop at Kingscote for about 30 minutes to visit the Reindeer family and the all-important sleigh, with an opportunity for photos.

Then, at Horsted Keynes children can visit Father Christmas in his cabin and receive a gift. Adults also receive a free mince pie and children sweets, which are collected from the Grinsteade Buffet coach at East Grinstead station. The train returns to East Grinstead at 5:40 p.m.

Prices are based upon an exclusive compartment--third class or first class--for up to six. Third Class compartments can take up to eight passengers with an add-on supplement per passenger. For prices and to book, phone 01825 720800. More information can be found here .

Safety First!
Writes Mike Hopps, "I was recently asked to design a set of safety posters that can be displayed around the Railway, because of concerns about doors that many are now unfamiliar with. The format has been agreed to by the Operational Safety Group, and they should be appearing soon. They are in the style of the old BR "slam door safety" posters that many will remember. The young people in the posters were recruited from the 9F Club. "

A nice blog entry about the Railway, from "After 60 the Next 10".
Wanted: Carriage & Wagon Fitter

The Railway is looking for a mechanical fitter to join its team carrying out maintenance and repair of the historic collection of carriages and wagons, focussing on the mechanical parts of carriages, steel bodywork, and mechanical fittings.

The candidate will ideally have either completed an engineering apprenticeship or other equivalent qualification, or have appropriate experience in relevant engineering work, although on-the-job training will be provided to otherwise suitable applicants.

Skills advantageous for this post include machining and fitting mechanical parts, welding and fabricating, pipework, and electrical systems. This is a full-time post. Those interested should contact Lisa Boyle by email or phone 01825 724884 for an application.The closing date is 19 Sept., 2014. 

Down Memory Line: The Blues & Gospel Train, 1964

We are going Down Memory Line this edition with the Blues and Gospel Train of 50 years ago. This 2014 news story explains the event and its historical significance.

It was a made-for-TV event, with an Ivatt 2 steam loco dressed up with cow catcher, headboard, and tender lettering, hauling a packed train from Manchester Central (now GMEX) to a first-for-UK televised concert by American bluesmen and one of the most celebrated gospel singers in the world, seen by an audience of millions.

So it was that one of the most influential concerts in Great Britain's musical history was performed in 1964 at the closed Wilbraham Road railway station in Chorlton, which was decked out with bales of cotton, chickens and goats, and signage to resemble a railway station in the American South.

The decorations may have been a touch patronising, but the performers were the real deal--Muddy Waters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Cousin Joe, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and Otis Spann.

Their songs were incendiary for British musicians just finding routes to American blues through traditional jazz and skiffle. And when Granada broadcast it on television, this one concert changed everything for a whole generation of musicians and music lovers.

Blues and Gospel Train  
The Blues and Gospel Train Concert  

The blues and gospel musicians came from an America where the Civil Rights campaign was in full flood. At home they lived with Segregation, so how they loved their time in the UK and the enthusiastic young audience.

It wouldn't be long before acts such as Cream and Fleetwood Mac returned to America, playing blues music that mainstream America had all but forgotten.

Click here for a story about the 50th anniversary celebration of the Gospel and Blues Train event.

By Neil Cameron

Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Those interested in joining the Friends of Horsted Keynes group, to help give that beloved station some TLC, should contact Chris White via email .
Museum Archive Photo Special Offer OFFER:

To keep Museum photograph orders rolling during what has historically been a quiet time of year, a special offer is being made to readers of the eNewsletter.

If you order before the end of November 2014, you will receive a voucher with your prints offering a discount of up to 20% off your next order. To get the voucher, write "eNewsletter" on the bottom of your order form. The discount voucher can only be used for 6" x 4" prints.

Vouchers are valid until end of April 2015.
Order your prints now!  

End of the Lines: The Rural Railway Resurgence 50 Years After Beeching 

Contributor Neil Cameron thought our readers would enjoy this overview of rural railways, re-published from a 2013 Daily Express article ...

Dozens of teenagers sat on the line shouting "Remember it's your line," while police had to remove detonators from the track in what was a vain attempt to hold up the engine for a precious few extra minutes.

The local paper dubbed it the "great train robbery" but the decision had been made--yet another station, yet another line had been closed for ever from Britain's sprawling rail network. The closure was in September 1964, and the blame was laid squarely at the feet of one man: Dr Richard Beeching.

His report-- The Reshaping Of British Railways --on "modernising" the nationalised train system into an efficient, affordable publicly owned business was destined to alter the shape of rural Britain in a way that is still felt today, almost 50 years since it came out ...

... The Isle of Wight set the benchmark for surviving railway cuts, and inspired others. Most famously, the Lewes to East Grinstead route--which became known as the Bluebell and Primrose Line--saw two fights. The line had limited use and seemed a certainty to be closed in June 1955, despite the efforts of local spinster and teacher Madge Bessemer. She had lived in a 14-bedroom mansion next to the line, was a stalwart of village life, and fought tooth and nail to save the Bluebell (so called because she used to pick flowers on the trackside as a child).

When the decision was taken to withdraw the passenger service, officialdom had not fully appreciated the bulldog spirit of the formidable Ms. Bessemer, who found a legal loophole that forced the transport commission grudgingly to reopen what was described as the "sulky service". The effect was only a stay of execution until 1958, but others were to follow in Ms. Bessemer's wake, and increasingly passengers became better organised and more determined in their efforts ...

The complete article can be found here .

Enjoy These Beautiful Photos of the Railway

John Sandys' gallery from 1 Sept., 2014 . His photo above shows the S15 drawing the stock for the first service of the day into the platform at Sheffield Park.

Ben Gray's photos from 29 Aug.

Dan Green's gallery from 31 Aug., 2014.

More photos of No. 488 and coach No. 1520 on display at Hampton for the 150th Anniversary of the Shepperton Branch, 7 Sept., 2014.

Martin Lawrence's September gallery includes the below photo of the Southern Railway 12-ton 8-plank open goods/mineral wagon No. 30004 getting some TLC .

John Sandys' 11 Sept. photo roll : "RMB Coach S1818 arrived back Sheffield Park from Cranmore Carriage Works this morning. Plus, ground clearance at Horsted Keynes, tree felling at Sheffield Park, shunting, and the S15 on the Service Train."

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 email. See you trackside in the heart of beautiful Sussex!

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