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11 January 2015     
Santa Special 2014: Departing Horsted Keynes.
Santa Special 2014: Departing Horsted Keynes.
JustGiving has informed the Railway that it was among the top 5% of fundraisers during 2014. Thank you to all who made this possible. The Trust's JustGiving campaigns can be viewed together here

1)  Atlantic Group "Beachy Head" build.

2)  Standard class 2 No. 84030 restoration/conversion.

3) Bulleid Pacific No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair".

Membership of the Bluebell Railway 2015-2016 500 Club is now open. The club has been running for several years and is now helping to raise funds for the repair of No. 34059's firebox. Details here .

4)  BR Standard class 5 No. 73082 "Camelot".

5)  Southern Schools class No. 928 "Stowe" , including throatplate appeal donation information.
"Beachy Head" progress, by Fred Bailey.
In this East Grinstead Courier article, the Railway is cited as one reason for East Grinstead's retail re-birth, by Gill East, owner of Tomoli & Will, a clothing store located at 14 High St.
Views of Kingscote and East Grinstead Stations, by John Harwood.
Views of Kingscote and East Grinstead Stations, by John Harwood.

Operations Director Russell Pearce announces that Tim Parkin has been appointed Filming Facilities Manager to help relieve Chris Knibbs. Tim is a member of the Signals & Telecommunications team at Kingscote with a background in project management and the TV/film industry. "He is well-placed to understand both the requirements of production companies as well as the needs of the operating Railway," says Russell.

Stuart Marks has been appointed Locomotive Superintendent. "Stuart will head up the Locomotive Operating department in the new structure, reporting directly to the board via the Ops Director. His post became effective on 1 January; on the same day, the old posts of Shedmaster and Chief Loco Inspector lapsed, and my thanks go to Ian Wright and Lewis Nodes for their work in these positions."
Two pioneers of the preservation movement passed away recently. Allan Garraway MBE was Founder Member and General Manager of the Festiniog Railway. He worked with the Heritage Rail Association and Strathspey Railway in his retirement.

Frank Atkinson established the Beamish Museum and the process that preserved buildings, artifacts, and transportation used in this open-air, living museum.

The Railway on 4 Jan., 2015, by John Harwood.
The Railway on 4 Jan., 2015, by John Harwood.


Following the restructuring of the Loco Department, the Railway is looking to recruit additional support to ensure the efficient running of the department, including a Locomotive Shed Foreman and Chief Clerk (both volunteer posts).

More information and application details can be found here . Closing date 24 Jan., 2015.

The editors understand that John Sandys will be stepping back from photography this year. Keep in touch, John, and thank you for your superb contributions.  
The Railway on 29 Dec., 2014, at Sheffield Park.
The Railway on 29 Dec., 2014, at Sheffield Park.


Six images, curated by Tony Hillman, from the John J. Smith Collection: "industrial this time; all Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway, taken well before the line was handed to the Locomotive Club of Great Britain in 1969."

Notes Neil Cameron, "The industrial railway first ran from Sittingbourne to Ridham Dock, which provided deep water anchorage for ships servicing Sittingbourne paper mill. The dock was completed in 1919. In 1923, Europe's largest paper mill was opened at Kemsley, 1.6 km south of the dock. The expanded facility was then linked to Kemsley and Sittingbourne mills by the Bowaters Paper Railway, part of which is preserved today as the Sittingbourne & Kemsley Light Railway."


Nick Beck and Martin Skrzetuszewski have updated web pages for  Mk. 1 CK No. 16210 (with two recent views of the interior by David Chappell) and  LMS 12-Ton open wagon PBA No. 66071 , adding a photograph of the remains of the Birmingham Carriage & Wagon Company cast iron builder's plate, and a recent view showing its deteriorating condition (to restore it will require a replacement under frame).
Southern Films: Brighton Shed in the late 1930s.
Southern Films: Brighton Shed in the late 1930s.
The Burning Question [1 of 2]
Southern Films: The Burning Question [1 of 2]
Southern Films: The Burning Question [2 of 2]
Southern Films: The Burning Question [2 of 2]


The Bluebell Railway and the Deltic Preservation Society are pleased to announce the visit of D9009 "Alycidon" and No. 55019 "Royal Highland Fusilier" from 17 to 19 April, 2015, in time for the Bluebell Railway Diesel Gala on 18 and 19 April.

Deltic D9009
This visit will be the first time two Deltics have visited the Railway, with both locos arriving via the mainline connection at East Grinstead. A two-train service will be in operation each day, with the locos switching diagrams on the Sunday.

For further details, please check in with the Bluebell Railway website , call the Railway on 01825 720800, or email the Deltic Preservation Society .


The Santa season is over, so the Works enters a quiet phase, allowing us to catch up on maintenance and other tasks. Our Santa trains were hauled by the Maunsell S15 and the U class, with the H class on the Reindeer Specials and No. 323 "Bluebell" acting as station pilot at Sheffield Park. 

I was pleased that the U class completed the season in working order. This loco now enters the final year in traffic and is under a "repair and proceed" regimen, in which we continue to repair superheater elements, for example. At some point this work will become uneconomical and then a decision will be made to withdraw the loco from traffic. So if No. 1638 is a particular favourite of yours, I urge you to see it sooner rather than later!

P class No. 178 suffered a failure in service at the end of last year, which was caused by an issue with the LHS cylinder bore. After removing the buffer beam and front cylinder cover, we discovered the repair to the cylinder block had failed and, in fact, had accentuated the crack in the block that the loco arrived at the Railway with. Unfortunately, we don't have a spare cylinder block, and with five years remaining on the boiler ticket, we decided to undertake a repair, reassemble the loco, and return it to traffic on "light" duties. This situation is far from ideal, it but does keep the loco in traffic. In the meantime discussions are taking place on casting a new cylinder block using 3D printing.

Inside the Works, the Q class is in the final stages of its overhaul, with finishing touches being added and volunteer painters hard at work. Repairs to the C class have commenced. The loco has been stripped down and drilling out of the fractured stays is underway. No. 73082 "Camelot" work continues to progress steadily, with a focus on the valve gear and, in particular, metaling and bushing the rods. Offsite, boiler repairs are progressing very well and, subject to a successful hydraulic and steam test, we should see the boiler returned this month.

Finally, I would like to thank the Furness Railway Trust in Lancashire for the loan of GWR tank No. 5643, which has now completed its time at our Railway. The engine was popular with visitors and crews and now leaves for some winter maintenance at Furness. Happy New Year to all; I look forward to seeing you at the Railway in 2015.

By Chris Hunford, Locomotive Director

For more loco updates, see left hand column--Eds.
Click here to browse a list of 2015 special events, including fairs and festivals and Pullman dining and other catering events.  
With Christmas and New Year's Day behind us, thoughts turn to how we can show appreciation to our loved ones in 2015. What about becoming part of a station porch?!   
Stained glass at Horsted Keynes.
Not just any old station porch--a refurbished one at Sheffield Park.

The Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) have decided that the current porch is in need of a major facelift, and we would like to adorn its replacement with stained glass windows just like its sister porch at Horsted Keynes.

As you can imagine, this is a costly prospect. But for a £4,000 (plus gift aid) donation, you could secure an exclusive Valentine's Day or birthday gift for that special person in your life (which could be you, if course!) That is, you can have a name or names etched on a pane of stained glass.

Plus, both you and the recipient will receive an invitation to cut the ribbon when the new porch is ready to be formally opened, and during its manufacture you will be invited to view the window in production.

Imagine the satisfaction of knowing that every person who arrives by road at Sheffield Park will walk through "your" porch and of seeing your window featured in photographs and even in films and TV shows.

Please help the FOSP bring another part of the station up to their exacting standards! For more details, contact Graham Aitken, FOSP Fundraising Secretary, at .  
With Santa back in his workshop, the Infrastructure Team is busy "sorting out" in the now-traditional winter closure, which this year will hopefully see the end of speed restrictions at river slip following extensive engineering work on the bank.

Digging out ready for headwall construction. Photo by Mike Hopps.
Ballast has started arriving by road and will be put in the hoppers at the salt yard ready for spreading once the track is down and in the correct position.  It has been brought in by rail before, but on this occasion there is nowhere it can be be dumped conveniently at the worksite to access easily. 

Eleven panels are due to be relaid with new rail topped up with the new ballast, and areas of known wetness will be cleared before our usual sandwich of terram/polythene/terram is laid on the existing bed to increase stability. 

But before track laying can start, there must be inspecting, clearing, and improving drainage, and this has been taking place since last Monday.  Another culvert has been identified as needing some TLC; it wasn't a broken headwall this time but a broken pipe on the downsteam side, which has collapsed, and we can't find the original end! So having dug out and cleaned up the end we have found, a headwall will be built. 

A new headwall. Photo by Mike Hopps.
Other work includes making a concrete inspection chamber over an existing invert to bring the levels up for new track side drainage, and laying ducting for Signals & Telecommunications to replace the existing concrete cable troughs, which are well past their sell-by. 

Another job started at the end of last year when a party surveyed this particular stretch of track, measuring the offsets every 10 metres so that the correct cant can be applied for our 25 mph running speed. The data recorded will be used by the tamper when the relaying is finally finished so that the wear on the rails--which has been one of the problems here--can be minimised in the future. 

It is essential that we put the new track back in exactly the same place to make proper use of the data, so surveying pegs have been set out this week every five metres along the stretch being lifted, measured to exactly two metres from the running edge. Tip of the week from "Larry with the big hammer": "Don't touch the pegs." 
By Mike Hopps, Infrastructure Volunteer, an organisation that works with autistic children, has a lovely blog entry about a trip to the Railway.

Bluebell Railway's first locomotive, " Stepney ",
the ever popular London Brighton & South Coast Railway Terrier class loco, currently is being re-liveried in that company's celebrated golden ochre, having been painted in British Railways black livery for our Railway's 50th anniversary in 2010.

From Ben Brooksbank.
This interesting 1964 photo of "Stepney" in golden colours, by Ben Brooksbank, includes the third or live rail that powered electric trains from Seaford and Haywards Heath to Horsted Keynes (the service closed in 1963, but the electric rail was not recovered till the following year).

Also of note, the former London & North Western Railway Observation Car No. 1503 , seen at rear of Stepney's train, has recently received an intermediate overhaul and returned to traffic for the 2014 Santa trains.

Could electric rail return to Horsted Keynes? In Bluebell News , President Gordon Pettit noted that it's possible, and he points out that preserved electric trains of 750v DC currently have nowhere to run.

By Neil Cameron


Bluebell News Editor Colin Tyson sent us this notable, historical photo: "The only pic I've seen of any crew taking water at Hosted Keynes's north water cranes."
Courtesy of Paul Edwards.
Contributor Neil Cameron contacted Paul Edwards, the curator of website Sussex Motive Power Depots, about the scene, and Paul was kind enough to write this description:

"This photo features my late father, Brighton Fireman Jimmy Edwards and his Driver Charlie Thorpe, also based at Brighton Loco  [although at the time of these photos both men were based at Three Bridges--Eds.]. It was taken on the 14 March, 1958, while they were working the 1530 up service from Lewes to East Grinstead.

The crew taking water at Sheffield Park, 14 March, 1958. Courtesy of Paul Edwards.
"I recall my father telling me that he, along with his driver, were rostered to work the Bluebell Line on its last day, but they were taken off the turn so senior men could work the final passenger trips.

"During the final years, a railway enthusiast took photos that feature Charlie Thorpe and my father working the line. One of these appears in an early book about the history of the Bluebell Line, showing my father taking water at Sheffield Park in April 1955 on a Standard Tank (my father was at Three Bridges Loco at this time).

"The photographer later gave my father and Charlie a small album from this period, which includes many scenes between Culver Junction and East Grinstead Low Level. I have added these photos to my website ."

Click here for dates and other details for the 2015 Wealden Rambler trains and afternoon tea on board the Ashdown, Chelwood, or Balcombe lounge cars. 

The history of steam railways and shipping in Great Britain are intimately linked, especially when one considers the history of Southampton Docks, often described as "The Gateway to the World." Southern Railway owned, developed, and operated the port and its inland transportation from 1922 to 1948, when the railways were nationalised.

Remarkably, all ports indicated on this map were, in the 1930s, linked to the docks by passenger and cargo liner shipping services.

The Arundel Castle in Southampton Docks (1949).
In fact, in the late 1930s--the pre-mass aviation age--no less than 46% of the world's passenger shipping terminated, called, or tendered at Southampton. This dominance was partly due to the investment of Southern and the London & South Western railways over a 40-year period, and notably the creation in 1932, by reclamation, of the Western Docks.
  • Here is a 1934 SR promotional video
    of the railway and the docks in operation. Note the steam navvy working on the new docks site. This video also explains the double high water (two hours of high tide) that is such a gift to shipping in Southampton Water.
  • View a detailed map of the docks and Southern Railway links.
  • This website has maps, pictures, and much more about the docks, including its beginnings in 1843, a century of operation, and the shipping lines.
  • SR publicity gives an atmospheric reminiscence of the golden age of travel, as does this video history of RMS Aquitania.
Through two world wars L&SWR Adams B4 class dock tanks served the dock system. They had their own shed in the Eastern docks ( this photo from 1903 shows multiple examples of the class). Fortunately, an example of the type survives at Sheffield Park: No. 96 "Normandy" , in the care of the Bulleid Society. "Normandy" lived on after the end of steam in 1967 as "Corrall Queen", shunting coal wagons between Dibles Wharf and Northam Yard until happily preserved at our Railway. This short clip shows a Southern T14 loco departing the docks on a boat train.

Southampton also was the main trooping port to the Empire for more than a century. When necessary, ships were chartered by the War Office to move troops to and from their stations around the world, as this history of the "Black Watch" regiment and its 1930s deployment to India and this 1938 Path√© newsreel clip explain (see also the Aquitania video above).

One of the most notable residents during the docks' glory days was the 80,000-ton RMS Queen Mary of the Cunard Line. This clip shows her entering the docks after a voyage from Clydebank, Scotland, before her maiden crossing to New York. She became a troop ship during World War II and is now moored as a tourist attraction and event center in Long Beach, California.

To be continued ...

By Neil Cameron
PLEASE NOTE: There are no trains operating over the weekends of 17 and 18 and 24 and 25 January due to engineering work, although Sheffield Park Station, the Museum, Locomotive Shed, Bar, Restaurant, and Shop will be open. 

Enjoy these photos of our Railway, in the heart of beautiful Sussex ...
By Keith Duke.
By Jonathan Hughes.
THANK YOU for supporting the Bluebell Railway, whether you are near or far from Sussex, young or not-so-young, a volunteer or visitor, or new to steam or an old hand. Don't forget to pass this newsletter on to family and friends, and see you trackside! 
John Walls
Editor-in-Chief eNewsletter
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Bluebell Railway | |
Sheffield Park Station
East Sussex
Near Uckfield, TN22 3QL