News from the Bluebell Railway 23 November 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
We're Covered!
Please Help the "Stowe" Throat Plate Appeal
Night Charter
A Ditch in Time
East Grinstead Tourism Experts Headhunted
Steaming In
Ring in the New Year on the Golden Arrow
A Trip Down Memory Line: Remembering the Rolts
"Camelot" Coming Along
Website Gems: Former Bluebell Railway Locomotives
Let It Snow!
Murder on the Santa Special Now Available
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 on Remembrance Sunday 2014.
The Bluebell Railway on Remembrance Sunday 2014.

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A visit to the Bluebell Railway, by John Stocker.

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Track Safety



Night Mail
Night Mail , the classic 1936 documentary film about an LMS mail train from London to Scotland, produced by the GPO Film
Unit. A poem by English poet W. H. Auden was specially written for it, as was music by Benjamin Britten.
The Railway on 19 Aug., 2014, by
The Railway on 19 Aug., 2014, by "MulliGWR".

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


Keep Up the Pressure Appeal


Bluebell Railway Trust  




Steam 2014, a compilation including the Bluebell Railway, by
Steam 2014, a compilation including the Bluebell Railway, by "Jasper Vision".


The Train Now Departing, 2014 style, including images from the Bluebell Railway.
"The Train Now Departing," 2014 style, including images from the Bluebell Railway.
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

Tunbridge Wells to East Grinstead and Three Bridges Railway: Then and Now
Tunbridge Wells to East Grinstead and Three Bridges Railway: Then and Now
Station Facilities

Archivist Tony Hillman has chosen some London Transport photos from the John J. Smith collection, in honour of the recent use of the Chesham set for LT celebrations.
Archive photos can be
browsed and purchased here .

Baker Street, 1954
Talyllyn Slate Railway Steam Trains (Wales) circa 1960  -
Talyllyn Steam Trains c. 1960: "Railway With a Heart of Gold". Many notable rail enthusiasts helped on this pioneer preservation railway, including Rev. W. Awdry (said to be seen in this video) and Ben Brooksbank .
We're Covered!

Bluebell Railway Cash for Cover Appeal
Bluebell Railway Cash for Cover Appeal
The results of the Cash for Cover Appeal have been stunning. The generosity of nearly 1,300 donors has meant we have reached our main target of œ350,000 in less than five weeks.

Donations are still coming in, and I wish to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed!
The  Operation Undercover 4 Project Team is delighted by the response, and the work will be energetically pursued. The donations given by the time the Steering Group meets on 25 Nov., 2014 will influence the planning for the tasks ahead.

This is a big project, and the target which has been so wonderfully met is only the first phase. The building drawings for which we have planning consent include a lot more than a roof over the carriages, and as always all contributions to will be gratefully received.
Meanwhile, we must continue to raise funds for locomotive restoration.  Projects in progress for the O1 and No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair" still require funds, and there is also a request in this newsletter for money to pay for a new throat plate for No. 928 "Stowe". The Keep Up The Pressure appeal is still ongoing at and donations made there in the next couple weeks will go to both No. 34059 and No. 928
With both appeals it is better for the Railway if you send a cheque--to Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL, with a gift aid form if possible--for any amount more than œ20.
Thanks again to everyone who has made a donation. Your gift is greatly appreciated by all the Trustees and members of the Board, particularly so with the Christmas season nearly upon us.
By Roger Kelly, Funding Director

Please Help the "Stowe" Throat Plate Appeal

Can you help maintain the momentum of No. 928's boiler overhaul?

The good news of the project is that new steelplate work for the backhead is now welded into place, and the copper doorplate and copper tubeplates have been sent away for specialist copper welding repair.  

Meanwhile, our contract boiler smith, James Kidd, and other Maunsell Locomotive Society (MLS) workers have been absorbed with drilling out more than 1,000 stays on the side plates.

James recently turned his attention to the "throat plate". This is the area of steel plate at the front of the firebox (usually hidden between the frames). It has some complex curves where a flat vertical section has to fold around to meet the sides of the firebox and also bend around to meet the curved section of the boiler barrel.

Inevitably, due to its shape, over time the plate is prone to stresses. It has only recently been possible to access and test this area, and we have been informed it is beyond economic repair. We need to purchase a whole new throat plate.
Due in part to the need to make a "former" that will be used to "form" the correct shape of the new steel plate, we estimate the new plate could cost approximately ┬£40,000. MLS can fund about half this cost from our existing budget for next year, but we need to raise approximately ┬£20,000 in order to ensure we can maintain the momentum of the overhaul of Stowe's boiler.  

Can you help? All donations to will be very welcome. Thank you.

By Steve Pilcher, Treasurer, Maunsell Locomotive Society

LB&SCR Carriages Vol. 1 (4- and 6-Wheeled Ordinary Passenger Stock) is available from the Bluebell Railway shop--just in time for Christmas!
Night Charter
An atmospheric photo from the Jon Bowers Photo Charter with No. 473 on 6 Nov, 2014, by Alan John Crotty.

A Ditch in Time 

This has been a big year for work on culverts, and the Infrastructure Team is still busy catching up with maintainance work on these very necessary, big plumbing jobs that largely go unseen but that are nevertheless vital to keep the Railway running.

Generally, the brick culverts are in very good order. They are flowing well and are testament to very skilled Victorian bricklaying. However, it is the headwalls that are beginning to suffer, and the latest problem in Lindfield Wood, just south of Holywell, has been causing the ground to move for a while.

The latest work has involved creating a new reinforced concrete headwall just inside the old downstream brick one, which has cracked and is moving west! Five holes 2 1/2 metres deep were drilled with the road railer, and then reinforcing cages, built in the Salt Yard, were inserted and concreted in.

This past week saw a large shuttering box--6 metres long and 1/2 metre high--made at Sheffield Park that was then delivered on site and installed behind the old headwall. More wire reinforcing was then built to connect the top of each pile in a cage formation to consolidate the structure.

Once the recent concrete pour has cured and the ground has settled, a decision will be made on whether to remove the old headwall or just leave it in place as added support.

By Mike Hopps, Infrastructure Volunteer

East Grinstead Tourism Experts Headhunted to Give Advice on Heritage Railway Plans in East Sussex

(From the East Grinstead Courier , 22 Nov., 2014) East Grinstead is the town to turn to if you want advice on how to make a heritage railway work.

The town's tourism team were invited to give advice on plans to extend another heritage railway line in East Sussex after the success of the Bluebell Railway--and they faced a sceptical audience.

Simon Kerr and Dawn Spalding from the East Grinstead Tourism Initiative [along with BRPS Chairman Roy Watts--Eds] were headhunted to attend a meeting of residents, land owners, and planning officials at the Ostrich Hotel in Robertsbridge on Friday, November 8, 2014.

Similarly to the Bluebell Railway in East Grinstead, proposals to reconstruct parts of a heritage railway in East Sussex would connect the town of Bodiam to Robertsbridge, which has a mainline train station taking passengers to London ...

To read more, click here .

Huffington Post UK has begun a series on Great Scenic Railways of the World .  
Steaming In   
John Sandys' photo from 17 Nov., 2014 shows the SR Q class No. 541 boiler receiving an out-of-frames steam test. For more from the Locomotive Working Group, click here .

Ring in the New Year on the Golden Arrow

Book now for the 2014 New Year's Eve Golden Arrow Spectacular! Your evening will begin at Sheffield Park Station with a mulled wine and "amuse bouche" canap├ęs reception.

You will then board the 1920s-style 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.

Onboard entertainment includes the fascinating tricks of our "up close magician" and an impersonator/comedian "Polar Express" train guard.

Before the clock strikes midnight, you will arrive at the atmospheric Horsted Keynes station to welcome in the new year with a complimentary glass of champagne and a rendition of "Auld Lang Syne". Then all aboard for arrival back at Sheffield Park in the early hours of 1 Jan., 2015.

This is a party not to be missed, so see the New Year in with style and decadence at the Bluebell Railway (dress code: black tie/evening dress)! To learn more and to reserve your place, click here .

A Trip Down Memory Line: Remembering the Rolts

As reported in the last issue of the eNewsletter, Sonia Rolt OBE, widow of author and engineer LTC Rolt, has died aged 94. Her obituary appeared in three national broadsheets , and she was eulogized by the Canal and Rivers Trust (formerly British Waterways), the Society for Preservation of Ancient Buildings, the National Association of Women's Institutes , The Landmark Trust, and Talyllyn Railway, the world's first preserved railway, opened in 1951.

Tom Rolt helped preserve the former quarry rail line, managed its first two operating seasons, and wrote a book about it-- Railway Adventure --that remains in print, such is the appeal of the narrative and its subject.

Rolt first scoped out the Talyllyn Railway for preservation in mid 1940s. He met with the line's owner--Sir Henry Haydn Jones--who said the railway would be run until his death (he died in 1950). Rolt then made subsequent visits with engineer David Curwen (the Railway's mechanical engineer for 1951).

A Birmingham public meeting had a positive result, and the project went ahead, with Rolt managing the railway in 1951 and working as mechanical engineer in 1952.

According to the railway's obituary for Sonia, she "was involved in the early years of the newly preserved Talyllyn Railway, often operating the ticket office at Wharf Station while Tom was General Manager. She even guarded trains while pregnant with their eldest son, Richard. Her interest in the railway was to continue for the rest of her life."

Tom died in 1974 aged 64. Among his other written works were histories of the Industrial Revolution, canals, railways, and famous engineers. His classic Narrow Boat --this year is its 70th anniversary--had profound influence and led to the creation of the Inland Waterways Association and the preservation of Britain's canal network. He also had a hand in the creation of the National Railway Museum, Vintage Sports Car Club, The Newcomen Society, The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, and The Association For Industrial Archaeology.

Sonia Rolt kept her husband's work alive. As The Guardian notes, "Sonia Rolt ... was the grande dame of Britain's waterways, a link between their harsh working past and their leisured present. She also campaigned for an appreciation of the wider legacy of the industrial revolution--for the architecture of coal and steam--and for the preservation of even older buildings. But her first love remained the narrowboats of the cut."

By Neil Cameron
Sonia Rolt during her last visit to the Talyllyn Railway with No. 7 "Tom Rolt."

Tom Rolt with Poet Laureate John Betjeman at the opening of the Narrow Gauge Museum at Tallylyn in 1965.

Operations Director Russell Pearce notes that there will be no service on the Railway from 12 to 30 Jan., 2015 inclusive so Permanent Way work can take place.

"Camelot" Coming Along

A recent inspection of the boiler work at the Crewe Heritage Centre by representatives of the Bluebell Railway and the Camelot Society has revealed very good progress with the boiler overhaul. Peter Gibbs' photo shows the new boiler barrel (previously shown with temporary fixing bolts) now riveted in position. For more photos, click here .

Website Gems: Former Bluebell Railway Locomotives

locos that were formerly based on the Railway, but that have now moved on elsewhere, including ...


  • LSWR T9 No. 120 "Greyhound"
  • SR Bulleid C1 "Austerity"
  • Aveling Porter No. 9449 "Blue Circle" (see below)
  • SR Maunsell S15 No. 830
  • Rebuilt SR Bulleid Pacific "Port Line"
  • North Thames Gas Board Loco No. 25
  • Dorking Grey Stone Lime Co. No. 4 "Townsend Hook"

... Aveling Porter were well known for their road-going steam engines. They also built a few railway locomotives, and most of those surviving are 0-4-0s. This example formerly operated at Snodland Cement Works, and was presented to the Bluebell in 1964 by its owners, Associated Portland Cement. 


Restored to working order after many years of inactivity, it is not a locomotive which really fits any niche on the Bluebell, so was sold to a group who owned another similar locomotive, based at Quainton Road. It then moved on, in 2005, to the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway, and is now at the Battlefield Line ...

Dave Bowles' photo of when the lovely Blue Circle came back to visit the Railway in 2004.




Museum Archive Photo eNewsletter Special Offer:
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!    
The football competition is in full swing, raising funds for the Maunsell Restaurant Car. Congratulations to Nigel Cornish, currently top of the table.
Let It Snow!

Commercial Director Tim Baker's photo illustrates how East Grinstead is gearing up for a busy Christmas season. Says Tim, "The new Reindeer Specials from East Grinstead are filling up fast. We are now sold out on 14 Dec., 20 Dec., and 21 Dec." For more information, click here .

Murder on the Santa Special Now Available

Now available from the Bluebell Railway Shop, Murder on the Santa Special is a new book by Sussex author NM Scott. The story is a seasonal English village "whodunit".

The book follows the events on the fictitious Bramley Cross and Brocklehurst Preserved Steam Railway and the gruesome happenings aboard the line's Santa Special.
The sleepy village of Bramley is deep in decline. The school, cottage hospital, and local post office are threatened with closure, and the Bramley Cross and Brocklehurst Preserved Steam Railway is in desperate need of repair and extension if it is to survive.

When a benefactor in the shape of an obscenely wealthy Russian oligarch begins to transform the fortunes of the village, tongues wag about the provenance of his village-saving cash. Is he Russian Mafia or a self-made millionaire?

Concerns abate with the transformation of the post office, a new maternity unit for the hospital, and a completely revamped railway museum--featuring Stalin's famous armoured carriage. But the sudden death of a passenger on the train line's popular Santa Special forces one canny villager to investigate. Elderly Miss Parrish has a sharp mind and a fearless determination, but is she really prepared for what she discovers?
On 6 Dec., 2014 between 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., the author--a resident of Rottingdean--will sign copies of Murder on the Santa Special in the Sheffield Park shop. Copies may be purchased by phone at 01825 720803 or via the website .
By Neil Glaskin, Retail Director

Enjoy These Beautiful Photos of the Railway

Martin Lawrence has been uploading some older photos to the Internet. These are from 2008, as is the photo above .

Martin Lawrence's November 2014 gallery is off to a good start.

John Sandys' photos from 17 Nov. show the Q-Class steam test (see above) and Christmas preparations underway.

Dave Bowles' photos from the E4 Jon Bowers' charter on 6 Nov.

Some slides from a 1974 trip to the Railway by Steve Guess.

John Sandys' set from 20 Nov. includes annual steam tests for the S15 and H-Class and the 09 shunting at Sheffield Park (below).

Robin Wilson's photo, at bottom, from 15 Nov., shows an exchange of tokens at Horsted Keynes.

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