Every little bit helps! Please don't forget to donate to the Railway's two very worthy ongoing causes: Cash for Cover and Keep Up the Pressure

And Easyfundraising and EasySearch are two very convenient ways to fund the Railway, while you search and shop online. Thank you!

Maunsell S15 in action, by Nick Dearden.
Maunsell S15 in action, by Nick Dearden.



Thank you to our readers! The eNewsletter has been named an All-Star by Constant Contact for its consistently high level of engagement.


Not coincidently, a significant milestone has been reached by the eNewsletter: the most recent issue was sent to 6,002 recipients (by contrast, the first issue, in November 2011, was sent to 2,832 recipients).


And still not coincidentally, JustGiving and Easyfundraising both recently placed the Railway in their top 10% of fundraisers.


Pats on the back all round .


Please help us to keep growing--don't forget to tell your friends about the eNewsletter!



A creative video of Nos. 263 and 30541, by Philip Bull.
A creative video of Nos. 263 and 30541, by Philip Bull.
Help with the cost of repairing No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair's" firebox: 500+ Club membership closes 25 March, 2015.
British Pathé: Deltic Diesel (1962).
British Pathé: Deltic Diesel (1962).


This spring and summer the Mid-Norfolk Railway will host a special visitor from the Bluebell Railway. Our Great Northern Director's Saloon, owned by  The Howlden Trust and featured in The Railway Children movie, will be a guest there from May through August.


Created in 1995, the Mid-Norfolk Railway is owned and operated by the volunteers of the Mid-Norfolk Railway Preservation Trust. From its base in Dereham, Norfolk, it operates heritage rail services along its 11-mile line to the market town of Wymondham, just outside Norwich. 


Learn more at 


British Pathé:
British Pathé: " Winston Churchill " SR Battle of Britain class No. 34051 (1963). Read about the loco's and Churchill funeral train's restoration here .



Gift vouchers and tickets can be purchased via the Railway's shop website . They can be used to pay for anything across the Railway, including travel, Preservation Society membership, and at the gift shop and restaurant. Available in £10 and £5 denominations, they also come with an attractive card.


Other gift vouchers available:


* Lounge Car Afternoon Tea Gift Vouchers --r elax in one of the Railway's First Class Lounge Cars with a full, traditional afternoon tea served on board. They are valid for one year from date of purchase and cost £44 per person.

* Golden Arrow Gift Vouchers -- The Golden Arrow Pullman dining train is the perfect setting for a special meal with friends or an intimate evening for two. Vouchers are  £75 per person and can be used on any Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon service when the train is in operation.

* Fish & Chip Supper Gift Vouchers -- The popular Fish & Chip trains run on selected Fridays from April to September. Vouchers are £28.50 per person.


On 25 Jan., 2015, a week after the removal of the frames from the wheels, the six axle boxes were removed from the axles to allow for cleaning the journals. The axle boxes were cleaned prior to being stored until they are required for overhaul.

The journals were measured and checked for roundness and damage before being bound with a protective layer of Denso Tape, great for resisting the ingress of moisture without causing any damage to the metal it is protecting ...

More P27 news can be found here .
Photo by Clive Elmsley.

Some contemporary news of note: The PM has backed a new Okehampton railway route as the "most resilient" alternative to the vulnerable Dawlish line in Devon .  



Giants of Steam is back this year--from 31 Oct. to 1 Nov., 2015--and you may be asking, "What locomotives will visit us?" Well we hope one loco will be a BR Standard 4-6-2.


Also, on the subject of visitors, we should have one coming from across the water in November. From the Isle of Wight, that is. Keep watching this space for further announcement and details on both events.


Additionally, in cooperation with Steam Dreams , we will be running a Cathedrals Express from Horsted Keynes and East Grinstead on 21 March, 2015 to Cambridge and Ely. This train is scheduled to be hauled by 1948-built LNER Thompson class B1 "Mayflower". We did wonder if "Mayflower" could stay with us for a little while, but alas the logistics won't allow this.


By Roger Garman, Chairman of Publications

"All that mighty heart ..." How London Transport kept the nation moving through the 1960s.
The BBC has a nice story on the restoration of Sir Winston Churchill's funeral train at the National Railway Museum in York.
Measured for Transport 1962: A combined effort by British Railways and Pickfords Heavy Haulage, bringing a transformer to Blaenau Festiniog by rail, and with customary skill, jacking, and packing, it is hauled and placed in its power station in build.
"Measured for Transport" (1962): A combined effort by British Railways and Pickfords Heavy Haulage, bringing a transformer to Blaenau Festiniog by rail, and with customary skill, jacking, and packing, it is hauled and placed in its power station in build. "A very good film," says Neil Cameron.



Tickets are selling well for the Quiz Evening on 21 Feb., 2015, which will be raising funds for the restoration of Maunsell Dining Saloon No. 7864. Tickets are limited in number and must be booked in advance, with an indication of whether you require a vegetarian meal (supper is included in the ticket price of £12 per person).  


Also, the bar will be open before and during the Quiz, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Tables of up to six are available, so bring a team, or join a table on the night. E-mail Richard Salmon for more information. 


"Winston Churchill," "Sir Archibald Sinclair," "Blackmore Vale," boat trains, and more in this series of John J. Smith and Alan Postlethwaite photos--curated by Tony Hillman--from the Railway's photo archive. 

Preview of high quality videos, by Video 125, about Lynton & Barsntaple and the Bluebell Railway. Well worth watching.
Preview of high quality videos, by Video 125, about Lynton & Barsntaple and the Bluebell Railway. Well worth watching.
John Sandys' photo from 3 Feb., 2015 shows work in progress at the Kingscote North signalbox.

In Kingscote "North" signal box the Westinghouse "L"-style lever frame is now substantially complete. It consists of 55 levers--1 to 21 are passive provision for possible developments to the north; 22 to 45 to control Kingscote; and the remainder are for changes and developments to the south.

The completed frame has chromed levers, with brass indication bezels holding the indication displays of the signal and point positions and brass pull plates to describe the function of each lever.

The panels below the levers are glazed to show off the technology; interestingly, the glass was replaced with plywood during the war to reduce the impact of any bomb blast. Wiring of the lever contacts is progressing; access for this work is via a mezzanine floor below the levers ...

For the complete report by Brian Hymas and photos by Chris Majer, click here . For photos by John Sandys, see above.  

On 2 Feb., 2015, the Railway undertook something out of the ordinary for this time of the year and organised a special charter train for some 150 pupils and staff of Crawley Down Primary School in connection with their study of "The Victorians".

The party was accompanied throughout by a team of guides in Victorian costume and assistance also was provided by museum stewards, the train crew, and station staff. Fortunately, the weather was dry and sunny, albeit not warm.

Starting at Sheffield Park, the school party visited Stepney and the Victorian train set, and they enjoyed visits to the museum and the loco shed, before boarding the train for a trip to East Grinstead and then back to Horsted Keynes, where the visit paused for lunchtime, before pupils saw the Carriage Shed and a loco footplate.

Returning to Sheffield Park, the party concluded its studies at the station, before departing at 2:30 p.m. Despite the cold, the trip was an ideal complement to the school's study of the Victorian period, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

School party leader Mark Newman, Assistant Head, wrote, "The trip was excellent. You and your colleagues are a great credit to the organisation and all the children (and adults!) thoroughly enjoyed themselves! We all got so much out of the day, and the children's learning has been given that extra sparkle because of the visit. Thanks again for your time and efforts."

Some of the children's art work may be displayed in The Grinsteade Belle in due course. Many thanks to all who helped out with the visit. (We still need more guides for school parties this year. Anybody interested can contact me by e-mail .)

By David Cockram, Education Officer
The line has re-opened after winter engineering work, with steam-hauled and steam-heated trains operating on the  Service One Timetable.
"The wait is over!" writes Steve Lee. Q class No. 30541 is seen in his photo on a steam test in the Sheffield Park loco yard on 1 Feb., 2015. "Looks like all she needs is a dome cover to finish her off."

River slip isn't slipping any more--well at least we hope not, after propping it up with 16 deep piles and about 70 tons of reinforced concrete.

Quite what we will call "river slip" now, since it is no longer on the move, remains to be seen. Perhaps Lindfield Bank is appropriate. Cause for a competition perhaps?! Hats off to Matt and his team for a job really well done in the face of the sort of unhelpful weather that we have come to expect when doing jobs such as this.

Track-laying went according to plan, with 11 panels laid, and the tamper finished off the job in time for the line to be reopened to traffic for full working on 31 Jan., 2015.

This week has seen the remainder of the cables connected by the Signals & Telecommunications Department, as well as general tidying up, concreting around cable duct chambers, landscaping, and some final ballasting near Holywell Bridge.

The tamper was in action again on 3 Feb., working south from Holywell, and the next day, it was busy north of Horsted Keynes. Next week, the infrastructure gang is moving to Freshfield Bank, where the plan is to relay three 60 foot panels connecting up with the sections previously relaid.

Our usual method of formation improvement--with a terram/polythene sandwich--will be applied before ballasting, levelling, and compacting, and the tamper will be on hand to finish the job afterwards. There is a speed restriction there at the moment, and drivers will be very pleased to see it lifted after we have finished.

By Mike Hopps, Infrastructure Volunteer
More memories of Sir Winston Churchill's funeral train by Fireman James Lester.  
From Richard Clark via the Bluebell Railway Facebook page : "Making good use of the line closure, a small team of the Kingscote Station Staff--comprising of Mike Jackson, Fraser Hutchinson, Geoff Hempstead, and Richard Clark--got together on Saturday 24th January to undertake a deep clean of all the public areas. The picture shows Fraser Hutchinson jet washing the subway steps and walls, whilst the fireplaces were black-leaded, interior dusted, and polished and the down platform canopy back wall was brushed down, removing a year's worth of loco soot, cobwebs, etc.

Progress continues on LCDR 5-compartment third No. 3188, with the exterior of the roof essentially now complete with all roof-furniture, including rain-strips and an electrical-lighting conduit. 

Photo by Dave Clarke. Click photo for full album.
The top layer of the floor is laid in two compartments: newly-laid diagonal planks retain the original LCDR look, on top of the plywood installed some time ago. Tony Clements' prototype seat-base design has proved successful in the first compartment, and the pads for three seat-backs have been prepared, with one test-trimmed in some odd scraps of moquette by Frank Ferris. 

The plain seat base will be finished off with a horse-hair stuffed cushion, in the same way as some of the Chesham coaches, a spare cushion from which--although an inch too wide and an inch short--is seen in place to confirm the design.

Installation of the lighting is now well-advanced, as is the construction of droplights for the doors, and Dave Clarke's internal paintwork is complete in three of the compartments and progressing in the remaining two, with Jenny Wills also now learning how to do "scumbling" (grain-painting to resemble a natural timber finish).

By Richard Salmon, C&W Volunteer

LB&SCR Carriages: Volume 1 (Four- and Six-Wheeled Ordinary Passenger Stock) is now available from the Bluebell Railway online shop. Royalties from its sale are being donated to the Stroudley Coach Fund.

This hardback (232 pages, £29.95) volume is the first of two intended to cover LB&SCR carriages and passenger-rated vans. Volume 1 covers the 4- and 6-wheeled ordinary passenger stock. It contains many previously unseen photographs (170 photos in all), as well as approximately 60 scale drawings and prototype details.

It is written by Ian White, Simon Turner, and Sheina Foulkes, who have been long involved in the restoration of LB&SCR carriages on the Railway.

Notes Neil Cameron: "The marvel of discarded but valued old carriages that were used as accommodation or converted into buildings and thus preserved, only to be saved from demolition and later returned to service in our Railway's fleet.

"Carriages such as No. 661, taken to Bracklesham Bay and plinthed--minus wheels--in 1919. It had a wooden holiday house--Wind Demon--built around it in 1920. It was uncovered in 1983 by a team of Railway volunteers that was tasked with recovering the vehicle and levelling the house and outbuildings, an arrangement made by then-BRPS Chairman T.C. Cole with the owner.

"Now No. 661 is one of three recovered 19th century carriages in service, their restoration supported by the Bluebell Railway Trust. The authors of this work--the restoration team--have further restorations in mind to make a complete 19th century train. Here is an opportunity to purchase a excellent volume describing their work."

"Simply Excellent! A truly remarkable reference book"--The Brighton Circle

"An important book, and a tremendous achievement by the three authors"--The South Eastern & Chatham Railway Society

The Railway is running its Kids for a Quid offer during half term and other dates. Details here


On 23 Jan., 2015, representatives from the Southern Electric Traction Group (SETG) and the Bluebell Railway visited Bombardier's Ilford Carriage Works to discuss the timetable for commencing work on the the Railway's celebrity 4VEP multiple unit No. 423 417 "Gordon Pettitt".

BRPS Chairman Roy Watts photographs the 4VEP Multiple Unit.
As has been mentioned in previous reports, Bombardier has offered both bodywork repairs and a complete repaint for the unit. This work will be carried out by trainees as part of Bombardier's apprenticeship scheme.

Paul Oldacre (project manager) talked through the specifics of the refurbishment, involving re-skinning the coaches before giving the unit a high-quality repaint in two-pack paint. Bombardier will process one coach at a time, with the first vehicle due to move into the sheds by mid-March at the latest.

Bombardier has additionally agreed to fit new step boards to every coach. As ultimate owners of the unit, the Bluebell Railway will be consulted on the use and supply of the required materials; however, it falls to the SETG to specify the materials in line with the SWT 400-series specifications that applied when the unit was retired from front-line service.

The possibility of having SETG technicians visit the site was raised, to allow GSM-R equipment to be retrofitted to both driving trailers. Since the unit will be in a partially stripped state and under covered accommodation, all parties agreed that it is logical to do as much work concurrently as possible.

More work to be conducted on the GSM-R system will be revealed in due course. SETG also hopes to have news on the fitting of OTMR "Black Box" equipment within the next few months.

To read the complete report, click here .

It's 50 years since the closure of the GNRI route between Portadown and Derry/Londonderry
 (75 miles in all), leaving a large area of northwest Ireland with no access to a railway. The "Derry Road" and Goraghwood-to-Warrenpoint closed in February 1965 , much to the regret of those that loved the line and used it. (Some of the lines shown in our links already had closed in 1957.)

Photo by Roger Joanes . Londonderry Foyle Road: No. 67 with a train for Omagh, 3 April, 1963.
My brother married the daughter of a (former) relief Station Master on the line. My Great Uncle Donald's 1st Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment was in Derry/Londonderry's City Barracks in August 1914 when World War I broke out.

They travelled to Belfast on two special trains chartered from the Great Northern Railway and started their journey to the front over this very railway, taking a ship direct to Le Havre and on to Mons with the "Old Contemptibles' of the British Expeditionary Force.

The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland  enjoyed its 50th anniversary last year. It will display three restored 4-4-0 tender locos of the GNR this year, I understand, at least two of which will have worked the Derry Road.

Farewell to the Derry Road
BBC Documentary: Farewell to the Derry Road.
The work RPSI does to keep steam on the main lines of Ireland is outstanding, and many vehicles, carriages, and locos have been saved from the scrap pile. It also has transformed its Whitehead engineering base into a tourist attraction at the former Whitehead Excursion Station.

Will the railway in question come back?  A railhead at Omagh for Portadown and services to Belfast or Dublin would be a start, if there's funding and a will to do it.

By Neil Cameron
This lovely blog entry from traveller Chris Robinson praises the Railway "... the staff I met at the Bluebell Railway were all friendly, smart, enthusiastic and helpful. If I ever decide to return to live in England, I can well imagine wanting to make this area my home and this railway my passion." 
By Dan Green.
By John Sandys.
By Derek Hayward.
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 | j.walls1@btinternet.com | http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk
Sheffield Park Station
East Sussex
Near Uckfield, TN22 3QL