News from the Bluebell Railway 7 December 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
A Welcoming Wreath
Funding for the Future Update
Infrastructure News: Planning Continues
A Bluebell Railway Christmas
Loco News: Exam Time!
Children Re-enact Operation Pied Piper
Six New JJS Images
Ring in the New Year on the Golden Arrow
Can You Help? Vacancies in the Operations Department
Can You Help? Vacancy for a Buildings Manager
A Trip Down Memory Line: The Way to the Sea, a Short History
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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Disabled Access  


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Bluebell Railway Cash for Cover Appeal

Bluebell Shop  


Bluebell Museum & Archive  


East Grinstead Stn Bluebell Railway
John Harwood gets us into the Christmas spirit with this video.

Locomotive Roster  


Public Train Information  


  Line Map & Gradient Profile 


  The Wealden Rambler  


  Local Attractions  



"Railway Children" Walks  


Lineside Photographers
Track Safety



Children Re-Evacuated (1940)
Operation Pied Piper: Children Re-Evacuated (1940)
Bluebell Railway Summer Festival Monday 28th July 2014
Bluebell Railway Summer Festival on 7 July, 2014, by JoeLightRailway.

Northern Extension Project Progress  


   Just Giving  


Keep Up the Pressure Appeal


Bluebell Railway Trust  




Lost Railways: London & The South, featuring the Bluebell Railway.
Lost Railways: London & The South, featuring the Bluebell Railway.


The Wealden Rambler on 4 Dec., 2014, by John Harwood.
The Wealden Rambler on 4 Dec., 2014, by John Harwood.
Carriage & Wagon Updates
& Societies

If you love industrial steam railways, this is a video for you!
If you love industrial steam railways, this is a video for you!
Station Facilities

Great Central in the 1960s
Morrie Greenberg's 1960s radio recordings are the background to this video of the Great Central in the same decade.
A Welcoming Wreath
John Sandys' photo is a great way to welcome you to our first December issue. Step inside, and hopefully there'll be a roaring fire to warm you too!

Funding for the Future Update
As we come the end of 2014, the torrent of donations to Cash for Cover (CforC) has slowed, but I want again to say a big "thank you" for the 1,445 donations that, with Gift Aid, have contributed £366,000 to the appeal.

Having passed the initial targets of £250,000 and £350,000, your generousity will see Operation Undercover 4 (OP4) off to a tremendous start.
Both CforC and Keep Up The Pressure (KUTP) are part of our overall fundraising strategy of Funding for the Future. Although these two appeals have met their initial targets, both are ongoing.

OP4 is a massive project, more than just a roof, while the need for money to return "out of ticket" locos to steam is constant. The proceeds from Track Trek 2015 will be split equally between the two appeals, so put the date of 24 May, 2015 in your diary and look out for Track Trek details in Bluebell News and this eNewsletter.

Donations to both appeals still can be made at  and .
For both, standing orders are most welcome because they help with planning. You can download a Standing Order form for CforC here and for KUTP here . Forms should be sent to my attention at Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL.
Please note that although you can set up a Standing Order online, snail mail is preferred. We still require a name and address to keep track of donations plus authorisation to claim Gift Aid should you be eligible.
Other ways of contributing to Funding for the Future are:
If you create an easyfundraising account and use it to log on to your favourite shops, this service will donate part of your purchase payment to the Railway. In the case of John Lewis and M&S, it's 2.5% on which we can even claim Gift Aid if you tick the appropriate box. For insurance renewal or motor vehicle breakdown renewal, it can be as much as 20%. That's a £30 (£37.50 with Gift Aid) donation to the Railway on a £150 premium--and it costs you nothing!
This is my last contribution to the eNewsletter for 2014, so I close by showing my appreciation to everyone who has made a donation to any Bluebell Railway project this year. Best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
By Roger Kelly, Funding Director

Infrastructure News: Planning Continues 

Following the highly successful Cash for Cover appeal, focus is now on planning the carriage shed construction. Initial work will be directed at clearing the site, a mammoth task in itself. Existing sheds, offices, and storage all have to be relocated and some temporary facilities provided. Important though the new shed is, it's equally important that the day-to-day business of repairing and maintaining our carriage fleet is able to carry on unhindered.

All this is likely to take some months, meaning it will be well into 2015 before the construction phase gets under way. Meantime there is much to do behind the scenes to award contracts and mobilise internal resources to carry out enabling work. The timely effort to commence foundation work this autumn has given the project a useful kick start, and some early knowledge of ground conditions was captured and will help the tendering process.

It was a conscious decision by the September Steering Group meeting to wait for the funding appeal outcome before attempting to plan the project further. Sufficient funds needed to be in the bank to justify mobilisation against a plan that would deliver something tangible. As it happens, the results were all that we could wish for, and a shed will emerge in due course to match the appeal objective.

A fuller report on progress will appear in the next Bluebell News .

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director

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.

Click the image for a PDF of the Railway's Christmas 2014 offerings.  

Loco News: Exam Time!

Readers will be pleased to hear that repairs to H Class No. 263 have been completed and the loco returned to traffic on 29 Nov., 2014. The stay replacement work proceeded very well, and while the loco was in the Works, a few other minor jobs were attended to. S15 successfully passed an annual boiler exam and repairs to the vacuum pump on No. 5643 have been completed.

U Class No. 1638 continues to show signs of age, and recently we've undertaken further repairs to the superheater elements. With one year left on the boiler certificate, we hope the loco will remain a reliable performer through autumn 2015. SE&CR C Class No. 592 is waiting its turn in the Works for some stay replacement work and should enter in the coming weeks. P Class No. 178 is currently undergoing its annual boiler, piston, and valve exams. We have made new piston rings for the lefthand cylinder and will fit these over the next two weeks.

Loco overhauls continue, with good progress on numbers 541 and 73082. A recent visit to Crewe to view No. 73082's boiler repair revealed completed riveting work and a new boiler barrel section and front tube plate. The flue tubes had arrived and smoke tubes were due that day. With a successful hydraulic and steam test, we should see the boiler delivered to Sheffield Park around mid January.

No. 541 has passed the necessary boiler exams, and over the last week the boiler has been lagged, clad, and lowered into the frames. The chassis is back in the Works, with fittings and final assembly taking place.

Of course, there was bound to be some not-so-good news coming up the inside rail (excuse the pun!) While repairing No. 928's boiler, the throat plate revealed cracks in its lower corners, which could not be repaired, and further cracks were discovered, so the old plate was removed. The complicated steel pressing to make a new one is expensive, but it will ensure the loco is reliable. We hope to produce a boiler that's good for 20 years. Our Keep Up the Pressure campaign is still running, so please contribute towards the repair of No. 928. Your donation will be gratefully received.

Looking ahead, we have a number of special events in 2015, including some visiting motive power, along with the return to traffic of two of our locos. So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and I look forward to a successful 2015!

By Christopher Hunford, Locomotive Director

Children Re-enact Operation Pied Piper 
On 22 Nov. around 30 children and accompanying adults from Horsted Keynes village visited the Railway to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the 1939 evacuation of Britain's cities at the start of World War II, called Operation Pied Piper
The visit, arranged by the Horsted Cahagnes Society (the twinning association), saw pupils from St. Giles Primary School, dressed in period outfits and clutching "gas masks" and identity cards, commence their "evacuation" at East Grinstead station. 
The party travelled to Sheffield Park, before returning to Horsted Keynes where their identity cards were checked and stamped, before the sound of the air raid siren sent the party to shelter in the station subway. 

On hearing the "all clear," the party returned to their coach to travel back to the village hall for a wartime tea of fish paste and spam sandwiches, rock cake, and barley water. 

The photo below, by Glyn Genin, shows members of the party at Sheffield Park watching "Bluebell" magically disappear in a cloud of steam The visit was reported in a number of local newspapers, including The Argus .

By David Cockram, Education Officer

[Editor's Note: Neil Cameron reminds us that our late President Bernard Holden was a member of the Redhill-based Southern Railway traffic control team that dealt with the special train campaigns for the Dunkirk withdrawal and the Pied Piper evacuation trains.]  

Six new images from the John J. Smith collection of the Somerset & Dorset, curated by Tony Hillman, including the photo below taken on 1 Jan., 1966 of numbers 41291 and 41296 at Highbridge.

Kingscote Valley: East Grinstead's New Tourism Triangle

(From East Grinstead Online, 23 Oct., 2014) The  arrival of the Bluebell Railway into town last year was a huge boost for the town's economy.

But there is now a second major tourist attraction in the pipeline in the form of the Kingscote Triangle.

It was Christen Monge owner of the Kingscote Estate who first realised that his vineyard--set between the Bluebell Railway and the River Medway--also borders a considerable number of other complementary businesses involved in the leisure industry.

Nearby Blacklands Farm, which has several smaller companies working on its site, offers a diverse range of activities from tree top walks to archery and much more.

The Gravetye Woods belong to the Forestry Commission and have a host of walks and trails--and a whole lot of hidden history with droving lanes and iron workings.

And of course the award-winning Gravetye Manor continues to expand its events calendar alongside its long-established and outstanding hospitality business.

Also within easy reach are Leggett fishing lakes and Stone Hill Rocks, managed by the British Mountaineering Club and a free resource to anyone who would like to take up the challenge of rock climbing. It's also an excellent picnic spot ...

Click here to read more.

Can You Help? Vacancies in the Operations Department

The Railway has a need for more clerical support in the Operations Department, especially for the Operations Manager and Operations Director. 

Applications are invited from anyone who can help with a variety of paperwork tasks, including writing and distributing notices and memoranda, possibly creating and maintaining spreadsheets, and other tasks. 

There are no fixed hours and much of the work could be conducted at home, although attendance at Sheffield Park on some days will help cover busier times. Ability to use Microsoft Word and Excel is essential. 

Applicants should contact the Operations Director at attaching a short CV indicating relevant experience. There is no closing date. 

By Russell Pearce, Operations Director

Can You Help? Vacancy for a Buildings Manager
The Bluebell Railway is looking for a Buildings Manager. This is a volunteer post that carries no remuneration or specific hours of duty, although the successful applicant will require sufficient time and flexibility to be present at the Railway to effectively undertake this role. 
Reporting to the Infrastructure Director, the post holder will be responsible for day-to-day administration of the Railway's main buildings and rented property portfolio. 
The objective is to implement and manage an inspection regime that identifies and prioritises a fully costed routine maintenance, decoration, and repair programme. 
Working with the Infrastructure and Funding directors, the successful applicant also will help identify sources of funding to supplement the annual maintenance budget. Close liaison with the Infrastructure Manager's team, station friends groups, and infrastructure support groups will be required to optimise both employed and volunteer resources. 
The successful applicant will have a good knowledge and understanding of building construction with possibly an architectural or construction background, with a strong empathy towards preserving heritage buildings in their traditional style. 
If you believe you have the right qualifications for this position and would like to discuss the opportunity informally, please contact .
Click the links to learn about the Railway's Christmas Shopping and Festive Christmas Meal specials.
A Trip Down Memory Line: The Way to the Sea, a Short History

Contributor Neil Cameron has put together this short history (in old film and narrative) of Southern rail in Southampton, Portsmouth, and the Isle of Wight ...


Southern Railway's documentary "Way to the Sea" is another example ("Night Mail" is much more famous) of Benjamin Britten's music and WH Auden's writing and narrative. This film looks at electrification work on the London Waterloo-to-Portsmouth line, although a flurry of steam is shown first: Maunsell locos and carriages, the historical and naval background of Portsmouth, and the importance of the transportation corridor to London.

In Part 2 see the commencement of electric train service, leisure travel to the Isle of Wight by Southern Railway paddle steamer, and Navy days with HMS Hood and HMS Nelson at Portsmouth's Railway Jetties.

A film by the British Transport Film Unit released in 1956, with narration by Ralph Wightman . Aptly named Wightman talks of farms, cattle, and the agriculture of the Wight--from cows to Cowes Week, sailing, and celebrated yachtsman and personality Uffa Fox , aboard the schooner "Lumberjack," helmed by Battle of Britain Ace and Group Captain Max Aitken.  


"Steam Railways of the Isle of Wight"

Video captured from 8mm film shot and narrated by the late Roy Hannam, with an introduction by John Hannam.  

British Railways' "Rails in the Isle of Wight"


Round the Island Steam Cruise

Aboard the steamer " Waverley ". Based on the Clyde, she travels extensively each season--a 1947 replacement for the LNER paddle steamer of the same name, lost during the Dunkirk evacuation.

Her triple expansion engines are a spectacular sight, and she tends to travel in sight of fine scenery. So we've been round the island by sea and coach--at one time it could be done by rail.

Isle of Wight Steam Railway during Island Steam Day, April 2014.

Enjoy These Beautiful Photos of the Railway

John Sandys' album from 4 Dec. includes the Wealden Rambler leaving Sheffield Park, new stock in the shop, Q Class progress, and Christmas preparations. 

Keith Duke's gallery from 22 Nov.

Dave Braley's set from 30 Nov. 


Kieran Hardy visited the Railway recently and provides these photos , including the one below of No. 5643 and No. 1638 resting outside the sheds.  

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