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


And it works! In Q4 2014, the Railway raised ¬£704.96 from EasyFundraising and ¬£86.75 from EasySearch, from approximately 700 donation transactions and 17,000 web searches. Thank you!  

An enjoyable day out, by
An enjoyable day out, by "SoftCentaur".

Don't forget that the Bluebell Railway 500+ Club No. 34059 Firebox Rescue Appeal membership drive ends 25 March, 2015, when the first prize drawing will be made. More information can be found here. 

Follow the (goods) van to the Bluebell Railway.
Follow the (goods) van to the Bluebell Railway.
Local landmarks including Sackville College, East Court, and the Bluebell Railway are featured in the latest East Grinstead tourism guide .
Nick Dearden continues to edit some older video.
Nick Dearden continues to edit some older video. "I have a compilation from the 12 Aug., 2007 Giants of Steam weekend in HD."


The National Railway Museum's photo of the week caught our attention. It's a Southern Railway ship's flag based on the naval Red Ensign. The flag was used on the Cross Channel ferries between Dover and Calais or Dunkerque and included sailings by the Golden Arrow and the Night Ferry.

At this link you can see the flag flying atop the main mast of a Dover-bound Golden Arrow steamer TSS Canterbury II , built 1928 by Denny of Dumbarton, in the Walter Thomas' oil painting. The Bluebell Railway Museum has one of these flags in its collection, look out for it on your next visit.

This ship was kept busy during World War II, at Dunkirk and Normandy, with her SR crew aboard. Here you can read a fascinating account of her transporting the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment to Normandy after D-Day.


The Railway on 4 Nov., 2014, by Keith Chesworth.
The Railway on 4 Nov., 2014, by Keith Chesworth.

Latest news from a three of the Railway's locomotive projects:

BR Standard Class Five No. 73082 "Camelot":   "Now that the boiler has passed its tests and is back at the Bluebell Railway, work proceeds on putting everything back together ..."

BR Standard Class 2MT 2-6-2 Tank No. 84030: "The project has benefited indirectly from plans to build a carriage shed at Horsted Keynes. The poly shed until earlier this year was in use for restoring the LBSCR six-wheel milk/fruit van No. 270 ..."

V class No. 928 "Stowe": Preparations for getting the new firebox wrapper rolled.
Jacques Valero visits the Railway on 8 Feb., 2015.
Jacques Valero visits the Railway on 8 Feb., 2015. "Un très beau train touristique à visiter dés que vous pouvez. Nous avons passée une excellente journée."
Four locos on 15 Feb., 2015, by Simon Mulligan.
Four locos on 15 Feb., 2015, by Simon Mulligan.

Brendan McCrory is retiring 53 years after stepping onto the footplate of a steam loco for the first time.

He worked the last steam-hauled services seen in Britain and Ireland and went on to drive many of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland's steam-hauled excursions. Read his fascinating story here . He recently travelled on a steam-hauled excursion as a guest of the RPSI, which runs an extensive all-Ireland programme of excursions .

Steam on British Rail ended in August 1968, but in Northern Ireland passenger and contract freight haulage did not end until May 1970, and station pilotage and engineering trains would see steam into 1971.

How did this come about? In 1965, the policy was to end steam asap, yet the contract to haul sufficient stone from the Magheramorne quarry on the Belfast-to-Larne route to reclaim land beside the railway saw four WT class 2-6-4 tank "Jeeps" turn out from Belfast York Road shed SX, to pair up and top-and-tail the hopper wagons to a site near Belfast, where land was being reclaimed beside running lines sufficient to build a new motorway.

Seasonal passenger trains used as many as six "Jeep" locos pulling trains to the holiday resort of Portrush from Belfast and Derry, using the shrewdly retained steam-hauled carriages and diesel timings over a partly single main line. Some of these trains were Sunday School excursions, and in the holiday period there were additional trains timetabled.

I used to visit the shed and travel on these trains until the Summer 1969 when I moved to Sussex and found the Bluebell Railway in 1970. Ben Brooksbank's photo of this class of loco at the head of a train at Belfast York Road station is below.

By Neil Cameron  
Riding behind No. 60163
Riding behind No. 60163 "Tornado" at the Bluebell Railway.
As spring begins to poke its first shoots through, start planning your Bluebell Railway catering trips now. Details about Fish & Chip Specials, Ploughman's Plus, and more are on the Catering Services page. 
March marshalling yard, (Whitemoor) 1963 (Anglia TV). 


Download the synopsis and dates for the Company Upfront's "The Curse of Wyvern House" and "Murder Rattle and Roll," the Murder Mystery Evening productions for 2015.

Witness the murder most foul, then board the Golden Arrow and steam through the Sussex countryside in luxurious Pullman carriages while enjoying a three-course meal and helping to solve the heinous crime.     

Check out new products at the Bluebell Railway Shop
John Betjemen's Metroland.
John Betjemen's Metroland.

Six photos of the Hawkhurst Branch Line from the Bluebell Railway Archive, by Alan Postlethwaite, Colin Hogg, and John J. Smith, chosen by Neil Cameron and Tony Hillman.

News from the Rother Valley Railway : Battle MP Greg Barker says plans to restore a rail link between Robertsbridge and Bodiam will help boost the local economy.
Wisbech & Upwell tramway (1961 Anglia TV ). Fruit Growers' special!




Have you ever wanted to walk through Sharpthorne Tunnel? Now is your chance! This year's Track Trek will take place on the evening of 24 May, 2015, going from Kingscote to Horsted Keynes. Led by Roy Watts and Dick Fearn, it will start just after 5:30 p.m.


By showing a sponsorship form, walkers can use either the 4 p.m. from Sheffield Park/4:17 p.m. from Horsted Keynes or the 5 p.m. from East Grinstead to get to Kingscote. Parking is not permitted at that station, but participants may be dropped off and collected, and bicycles can be parked there. 


After all walkers have finished, a free train from Horsted Keynes will return walkers to Kingscote, East Grinstead, and non-stop to Sheffield Park.

The 4.5-mile walk includes 731 yards through Sharpthorne Tunnel, the longest tunnel in preservation. It can be damp, so appropriate clothing and stout footwear is required. The tunnel will be illuminated, but Trekkers should carry a torch.

We hope you will take this unique opportunity to trek through an exciting part of the Permanent Way--and raise lots of money through sponsorship! Funds raised will be equally split between the Keep Up The Pressure and Cash for Cover appeals.

Because it will cost more than previous treks to stage this one--including running a special train and lighting the tunnel--the minimum expected sponsorship is £25 per person and £40 for a couple or family (up to three children between 7 and 16).

If space permits, it will be possible to turn up on the day, but numbers are limited, so pre-registration is advised by e-mailing tracktrek@bluebell-railway.co.uk with the names of the members of your party. Please indicate which members are children.

You can download a sponsorship form with additional information at  tinyurl.com/track-trek . You also can set up your own sponsorship from at this JustGiving page .

Whether your interest is in carriages or locos, we hope to see you at this event!

By Roger Kelly, Fundraising Director


Visitors to museums increasingly expect them to have the latest information technology, and many large museums and galleries have introduced smartphone applications in the last few years.

The Bluebell Railway Museum at Sheffield Park station will be the first preservation railway museum in the UK to provide an "app" for the use of its visitors.

The app is designed to enhance the visitor experience and not to be a replacement for visiting. It will be of some use to steam enthusiast visitors but is mainly targeted at "lay" visitors.

The app is approved by Apple and Google and has just been publish online. The target launch date within the museum is 23 March, 2015.

The app will work on any mobile device and platform--phone, tablet, Android, or Apple--and it uses quick response (QR) codes to access information. It also can be navigated by using a menu.

When you have a moment, please view and download the app via your online store ( iTunes or Google for instance) and then give it a review. If you feel a 5-star review is deserved, it would certainly help the app's popularity.

Within the museum, a Wi-Fi system will allow access to the app but not general access to websites and e-mails. We hope you enjoy the app, and please spread the word!

By Malcolm Johnson

For the first time, a comprehensive index is being compiled of the fastest growing companies in Sussex. In the run-up to the Sussex Super Growth awards in March 2015, The Argus business editor Finn Scott Delany has profiled the Bluebell Railway, which has been shortlisted for the awards.

From the story ...

"Commercial director Tim Baker said: 'The growth has definitely come from expanding the line into East Grinstead.

"'We are a tourist attraction, but we do also get regular people that use us to go into town to do their shopping.

"'We appeal to families, enthusiasts, corporate guests--all sorts of different people visit.'

"He added: 'The Pullman has also helped grow the business. We are working with hotels and people are coming to the area to stay for two or three days to see the other attractions.

"'Longer term we want a track from Horsted Keynes to Ardingly, and there's opportunity to run between Haywards Heath and Horsted Keynes, though that won't happen in the next five or six years."
Enjoy these photographic steam reminiscences courtesy of The Argus . The gallery includes photos of the Southern Belle, Bluebell Railway, Brighton Belle, Newhaven, and Nellie the Elephant!  
Keith Duke's gallery  shows "Mayflower" shunting at Preston Park station near Brighton, during a visit to Sussex on 14 Feb., 2015. This will be the loco used for the upcoming Steam Dreams trip to Cambridge and Ely on 21 March.

It is too easy to assume that the world knows everything there is to know about the Railway and that people stand ready to beat a path to our door. However, that is far from the case, and there remains a constant need to promote our product to a wider audience.

We are fortunate to have a small team of members ready to undertake this task by visiting clubs and societies across the south east, as well as further afield on occasion.

During 2014, Matt Cousins, Tony Drake, David Jones, Nigel Simpkins, Graham Todd, Ian Wright, and myself--supplemented by others on an ad hoc basis--made 37 such visits. The clubs/societies to which we spoke covered a wide spectrum, including transport interest groups, Rotary and Probus clubs, senior citizen clubs, and others. Venues ranged from London to Eastbourne to Windsor to Tenterden, Kent. To date we have 14 talks booked for 2015.

These outreach efforts do much to encourage follow-up visits by the clubs' members and their families. So, if you are aware of other clubs and societies that would be interested in a visit by our team of speakers, please encourage them to get in touch with me at mike.pettit@gmx.com .

Similarly, I'd be interested to hear from members who'd like to join our team. Powerpoint presentations are the norm on these occasions.

By Mike Pettit, Talks Coordinator


Though it is well known that "Fenchurch" arrived at the Railway with the smokebox number plate (British Railways No. 32636) attached, it was given as a gift to the person who donated the money to purchase the engine.

Photo by Ben Brooksbank showing the BR number plate, taken at Newhaven on 7 Oct., 1962.
The number plate has now been purchased at auction using Museum funds, with substantial contributions from the carriage shop at Horsted Keynes. The plate will be displayed in the Museum.

For more recent Museum accessions, click here .


On Good Friday (3 April, 2015) and Easter Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, Little Bo Peep will be travelling on the 12:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. service from Sheffield Park and 1:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. from East Grinstead.

Bo Peep would like to meet all children on board and present them with an Easter Gift. Adults won't be left out as they will all receive a Easter treat from Bo Peep's helpers! An entertainer will be on board the train too.

All seats must be booked in advance by phoning the Customer Service Team on 01825 720800 or calling into the Travel Centre at East Grinstead station or Sales and Information Office at Sheffield Park.

Click here for more information.

The Scotsman reports that the installation of the 30-mile Borders railway has been completed. 
This photo by Mike Anton, taken in the Carriage & Wagon Works on 15 Feb., 2015, shows work on Southern Railway Bulleid Composite No. 5768, specifically the south end, where the steel bottom-plate has just been renewed, and the main end pillars put in place. These are replacements which were salvaged from Bulleid carriage No. 4035.

Reader Mark Thompson sent us some lovely video (two parts, here and here ) about the Hawkhurst Branch Line : "A delightful little film, made just before, and at, closure."

Adds Neil Cameron ...

Shed no tears for the single track, for perhaps we may come back. / And if we do, you can be sure, we'll see you all again once more.

So, with admirable sentiment, the crew chalked this couplet on one or both of the two SECR-built C class tender locos allocated for the Hawkhurst Branch line's last day in public service on 10 June, 1961.  

SECR-built H class tank locos normally worked the line's push-and-pull, two-carriage trains, for which a driving cab at one end of the train made for economy in the daily operation, as seen in a photo taken at Horsmonden (courtesy of the Bluebell Railway Museum).

Extra carriages were brought in to strengthen the last trains for the anticipated crowd, which indeed came from near and far to celebrate and mourn the last Kent rural branch line, 11-miles from Paddock Wood, through Horsmonden , Goudhurst , Cranbrook , and Hawkhurst .

It was a sad but perhaps inevitable pre-Beeching closure, occasioned by the imminent southeastern division electrification scheme.  Peter A. Harding's book about the branch line can be purchased in the Bluebell Railway Shop online. 

The line's freight traffic was agricultural. Fruit, hops, and potted plants for Woolworths would load out and coal and other deliveries would load in. Hop picking , a seasonal activity in Kent , was often done by London families on a " working holiday ," as seen here in 1946. Here a World War II evacuee recalls the four years he spent in Horsmonden.

On 11 June 1961, the South Eastern rail tour was the last train to run on the line. 01 class No. 31065 and C class No. 31592 visited the now-closed branch that day. This was the locos' last BR turn of duty. They returned to Tonbridge Shed and now can be seen in preservation at our Railway, thanks to the locos' owners.

Finally, here's some more information on the Danger On the Old Pull 'n' Push TV series, which was filmed on the line. In this article we learn that Elisabeth Beresford's Wombles are more Wealden than Wimbledon and that Beresford's son, Marcus Robertson, now runs the Steam Dreams company!

By Neil Cameron
  • John Sandys (10 Feb., 2015): "The Q-Class steaming through in preparation for its steam test."
  • John Sandys (12 Feb., 2015): "Including The Tamper brought in to bed in the recently re-laid track at Freshfield Bank."
  • Jonathan Hughes (8 Feb., 2015): "
    H class No. 263 storms away from Sheffield Park hauling today's 1:30 service in the wonderfully warm winter sunshine."
  • Mike Anton (various dates--a very artistic set!)

  • John Sandys (17 Feb., 2015): "Tuesday of half-term and the Railway very busy! "
  • John Sandys (19 Feb, 2015): Looks as though John is back to full strength!--The Editors
By Jonathan Hughes.
By John Sandys.
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
Bluebell Railway
Railway Information

Timetable & Fares

Special Events

Special Offers

Getting to the Railway

Online Shop

Disabled Access

History of the Railway

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact Us  
The Stations
Sheffield Park

Horsted Keynes


East Grinstead

Line Map
Train Roster

Loco Roster

Museum & Archive

Sheffield Park & Garden

East Grinstead Attractions

East Grinstead Events

Discover Mid-Sussex

Bluebell Railway Walks

"Railway Children" Walks (WalkScene)

2015 Hotel Packages

Other Local Accommodation
Special Trains
& Services
Catering Services

The Golden Arrow

Murder Mystery Evenings

Afternoon Tea/The Wealden Rambler

Railway Weddings

Services for Groups

Educational Services

Corporate & Film Services
Funding for the Future

Keep Up the Pressure

Cash for Cover


Unity Lottery

Other Ways to Give
Want to Volunteer?

9F Club (Young Volunteers)

Stepney Club (Our Littlest Fans)

Bluebell Railway Band

Job Openings

Lineside Photography
& Safety

Bluebell Railway | j.walls1@btinternet.com | http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk
Sheffield Park Station
East Sussex
Near Uckfield, TN22 3QL