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

Bluebell Railway in 2012 by Nick Dearden.


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.


The 4.5-mile walk includes 731 yards through Sharpthorne Tunnel, the longest tunnel in preservation.

Funds raised will be equally split between the Ke ep Up The Pressure and Cash for Cover appeals. The minimum sponsorship is £25 per person and £40 for a couple or family (up to three children between 7 and 16).

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 .



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. 

The BRPS Social Sub-Committee held its 

Quiz Evening on 21 Feb., 2015 . " This was a very enjoyable and successful event, and raised over £368 for the restoration of the Maunsell Dining Saloon No. 7864 ." 


Enjoy a full afternoon tea on board our Lounge Car service for Mother's Day on 15 March, 2015 ( that's next Sunday!--The Eds ).

The train departs Sheffield Park at 3:40 p.m. for a return journey through the Sussex countryside in early spring.

Tickets--which can be used for a whole day out--are £44 for adults and £39 for children. More information can be found here , or phone 01825 720800.
The Railway on 7 Feb., 2015, by Joe Light Railway.



Nikki Favell notes that the Bluebell Railway Shop's sales and information stand once again attended Brighton's Model World exhibition and had a successful weekend. The Railway has had a shop stand at the well-known event for quite a few years now.

Nikki says she always enjoys chatting with the visitors who stop by the stand, and making sales!


The stand will be at the East Grinstead Model Railway Show  o n 14 and 15 March, 2015. This model club is celebrating a remarkable 75 years this year! Congratulations!

The Railway has ordered eight hanging baskets to help East Grinstead's "Celebration of Freedom" flower bed display . This year the beds will commemorate the Magna Carta, the Battle of Waterloo, the Women's Institute , and VE and VJ days.

Southern Electric: Classic traction in the Rail Blue Days.

Station staff at East Grinstead will no longer have to climb up the ladder to the water tower to check whether it is full.

A new external gauge has been made by Mike Hopps of the Infrastructure Department (photographed by Mike, also), and it was fitted to the side of the tank this week.

The design is based on the age-old concept of a float inside the tank, counter-balanced by a weight on the outside which indicates the water level.

The traditional counterbalanced float and indicator uses recovered materials, including the signal cable wheel visible at the top of the tank, and has been installed by Mike, Stewart Moon, and Clive Anstice of the Infrastructure Department.

The station staff control the water supply--recovered rainwater when available--and will be pleased with this latest addition.

The line's original water towers at Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes had a boiler and steam pump to fill the tank. A member of staff would visit these and other installations on rotation.

The Railway on 15 Feb., 2015,  by MulliGWR.

Those of you who watched the movie The Theory of Everything might have recognised the train station steps Stephen Hawking stumbles on has he runs for his train at "Cambridge" station.

Yes, that scene was filmed at Horsted Keynes.
This thorough website offers all the locations used in the film.

In addition to movies The Theory of Everything and Kingsman: The Secret Service , a TV drama about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle starring Martin Clunes has been filming at the Bluebell Railway recently.

The reporter in this The Independent story caught up with the star at the Railway.

The Telegraph also met with Martin Clunes at the Railway: "On the set of Arthur & George , it's a freezing cold morning, and the gleaming steam locomotive pants and whistles on the platform at Sheffield Park station, East Sussex, while a technician sticks some last-minute Velcro to the back of a 'Great North Western Railway' sign ... "

The Bexhill-on-Sea Observer reports that "[c]ampaigners are making a fresh push to bring a high speed rail service to Bexhill in the next five years.

Northern Ireland Steam: The Final Years. A video featuring the last contract bulk haulage using steam locos in UK, 1965-1970 in Northern Ireland, plus a rail tour through beautiful scenery (and nostalgic history).


The Bluebell Railway Museum is the first preservation railway museum in the UK to provide a mobile application ("app") for the use of its visitors.

Designed to enhance the visitor experience, it works 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.

Download the new Bluebell Railway Museum app via your online store ( iTunes or Google for instance).

"Looks good. Very nice app. Will have to come and see the railway museum now on my next visit."--Matthew Hume

"Great app for a great museum."--David Higgs


Six archive photos, by John J. Smith and Colin Hogg and curated by Tony Hillman, of unrebuilt Merchant Navy class locos (models of which will be released by Hornby in 2016). 

Southern Steam: The naming of Merchant Navy 4-6-2 No .21C1 as "Channel Packet".
The latest photos for the restoration of the LCDR Third No. 3188 can be found at the project's Flickr page .

"... The coach will be restored as a Full Third in the Purple Lake livery it would have carried in the late Edwardian period prior to WWI ..." 
Deltics, by "Preserved Thumpers". Don't forget the Railway's Diesel Weekend in April--there will be an evening dinner Pullman train hauled by a Deltic.

Members of the Carriage and Wagon Department have been successful in their grant application to the Arts Council Museum Resilience Fund.

A sum of £84,150 has been awarded for the restoration and adaptation of a railway vehicle as a play and educational facility. The application for funding was made on behalf of the Bluebell Railway Trust, which is contributing a further £9,000 to the project.

The final choice of vehicle will be announced shortly. The adapted vehicle will provide our younger visitors with a safe, all-weather area in which to play, and it will also contain material regarding its history.

The chosen vehicle will be restored to original condition externally to further enhance the railway environment, but it will be fitted out on the inside with appropriate play equipment and some seating for adults.

The project, which forms part of a programme to improve visitor experience on the Railway, will provide work for a wide spectrum of volunteers. It will be completed in two years.

Many congratulations to Sheina Foulkes and the Carriage and Wagon Department team for this achievement. We wish them every success with the project.

Since my last update, there have been the usual boiler washouts and general maintenance.

No. 3 "Captain Baxter" suffered a leaky tube while being prepared for service in late February. After removing the tube and examining it, we discovered that slag had been present in the manufacturing process causing a small abrasion to wear thin and pin holes to form. A new tube has been installed and expanded against both tube plates.

U class No. 1638 has developed an intermittent fault with its vacuum brake cylinder. Fortunately, we only have to remove the cover and piston, which will take place over the coming week. "Bluebell" is having some minor attention to its firebox. Once complete, it will undergo its annual boiler exam.

Inside the Works, Q class No. 541 successfully passed its final steam test on the 11 Feb., 2015. This highlighted some snagging items which we attended to, and it has been in steam undergoing tests around Sheffield Park. Apart from a blocked steam chest drain and lubricator feed pipe to the cylinders, the engine is complete. Once infrastructure work is done, it will venture north of Sheffield Park.

No. 73082 "Camelot" continues to take shape, with the boiler now sitting at the correct height within the frames and the smokebox offered up, marked out, and drilling of the holes ongoing. The boiler cladding is being rubbed down and primed, and the boiler crinolines (the part the cladding fixes to) are being screwed into place.

Schools class No. 928 "Stowe" continues to undergo extensive boiler repair. A new throat plate has been ordered along with steel for the new outer firebox. The inner firebox sides have been cut away and templates made for rolling the new sections to the correct radius. Outside work continues on the chassis.

All the new stays for C class No. 592 have been installed, and the boiler underwent its initial hydraulic test over the past week.

Offsite work continues, mainly at Flour Mill, where No. 65's boiler is coming together. New crown girders have been installed and inspected. The next stage is to complete copper welding to the firehole door ring and firebox before boiler tubes and fittings are installed.

At Crewe, work has stopped temporarily on No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair's" boiler, while the Works move to a new premises at the old Crewe South diesel depot. No. 34059's boiler will be the first to move to the new site.

With daily running almost upon us, I look forward to seeing you at the Railway!

By Chris Hunford, Locomotive Director

If you received a Trustee nomination form in the last issue of Bluebell News , a reminder that the deadline for nominations is 20 March, 2015 at 6 p.m.


The Railway is pleased to report that The Hilary Awdry Charitable Trust is providing a grant of £10,000 towards the completion of No. 73082 "Camelot".

Hilary Awdry was the daughter of the Rev. Wilbert Awdry, who wrote the well-known Railway Series/Thomas the Tank Engine books.

Funding Director, Roger Kelly says, "We are grateful for the generousity of the Trust--set up in memory of Hilary Awdry--for making this award."
There is, of course, a Bluebell Railway connection with the Railway Series. Book No. 18 is the volume Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine . In one story Thomas visits our Railway to meet "Stepney", which is why that locomotive is so familiar to and beloved by many of our younger visitors.

Following successful completion of track work at 9½ MP (between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes) and relaying at 7½ MP, both of which took place during hostile winter months, work is now being done to prepare the carriage works yard for OP4 construction, to excavate the East Grinstead platform ready for canopy erection, and to repair some culverts.

We rely heavily on a very committed infrastructure team that will tackle just about anything in any weather anywhere on the Railway. Have you noticed the new East Grinstead water tower indicator, by way of an example of their work?!  (See story at left--The Eds.) The team is being rewarded with a special day out in April, with tea on the Wealden Rambler. For once they won't be in orange (I hope!)

I am pleased to report we have now appointed a Buildings Maintenance Manager, following a strong response to the advert. This volunteer post follows quite a bit of success we have chalked up lately appointing volunteer managers. The identity of the new manager and more infrastructure news can be found in the next issue of Bluebell News .

By Chris White, Infrastructure Director

Fundraising Director Roger Kelly has been invited to speak at the London Transport Museum Friends' Transport Heritage Conference on 21 March, 2015 in Acton. Roger will speak about fundraising initiatives. Other speakers will represent the London Transport Museum, Tramway Museum, Transport Trust, and Epping Ongar Railway. 


Since the frames were lifted from the wheels of SECR P class loco No. 27, work has been carried out on the loco every weekend.

Stuart Marks, Loco Superintendent, shows off three new blast pipes, one for each of the P class locos.
The first task was the removal of axle boxes from the wheelsets. They are now stored ready to be worked on later. Also removed were the connecting rods, which involved rotating them so they were facing towards the rear of the loco and applying "gentle" downward pressure on the tapered bolts.

During the process, we found the right hand connecting rod had been damaged in a previous attempt to remove it. Replacing it will be a costly, unbudgeted job.

Attention has turned to the frames. The initial job was to remove the balance weight at the front of the loco, which is bolted through the frames, with studs holding the sand boxes passed into the block. When the sand boxes were removed, some time ago, the studs were cut, resulting in the question of how to remove them.

Following two weeks of drilling, chiselling, and cursing, the weight was removed on 28 Feb., 2015. It has been stored until ready to be re-fitted; not be too much work will be required here.

We found the rear five feet or so of the frames must be replaced because of exposure to the elements and the effects of coal remnants in the bottom of the bunker have taken their toll. The cylinders are the next big item. The crossheads will be removed from the rear of the cylinders and a temporary stretcher made and installed before they are removed and split. A final assessment of their state can then be made; good news is not expected.

Lastly, the Railway has received three blast pipe castings, one for each of the P class locos. The pipe for No. 27 will cost around $800, to be paid by the project. We welcome sponsorship for this item. If you can contribute, please contact me at thefenchurchfund@gmail.com .

By Clive Emsley

On 20 Feb., 2015, the Bluebell Railway helped wish-granting charity the Starlight Children's Foundation make Daniel Bainbridge's wish come to life.

Ten-year-old Daniel, from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, lives with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disease that causes tumours to grow along his nerves, as well as an optic pathway glioma. As a result of his illness, he has undergone intense chemotherapy.

Despite all his challenges, Daniel remains positive, often cheering up other children on his ward. He has always been interested in trains, so his mum, Julia, wrote to Starlight about Daniel's wish to be a train driver.

Starlight contacted the Bluebell Railway to help make the dream come true.

Daniel arrived at the Railway on the Friday bright and early with his mum. He was met by Roger Garman, Communications Director, and taken to meet the H class loco's driver Ian and the fireman Michael. Michael invited Daniel onto the footplate and Ian showed Daniel how to use the train's controls.

In no time Daniel was shunting the train up and down the track full steam ahead! He also helped to refill the train with water before its next journey. When Daniel got off the train his clothes were very dirty but he had a big smile on his face!

Congratulations to Peter Henshaw and Jon Elphick, the Chelsea and Manchester City of the Railway's Football Competition, raising funds for Maunsell Restaurant Car No. 7864. 

It is five years since Paul Edwards created the Brighton Motive Power Depots  and Sussex Motive Power Depots websites as a framework to record trade union branch history, and upon this he is building a social history of each depot, gathered from the men who worked there, by those who had relatives there, and photographers who are willing to supply their photos.

Newhaven Loco Depot.
The websites record steam days through nationalisation, modernisation, and privatisation, and they recall the many depot closures that happened as the industry concentrated its resources. This kind of history might simply disappear unless curated diligently, as in Paul's case.

Southern Steam: Brighton Radial Tanks at Newhaven.  
Southern Steam: Brighton Radial Tanks at Newhaven.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Eastbourne Loco's closure, the last BR steam depot in Sussex. "Stories from the Shovel" are being added to the websites in conjunction. They are personal reminiscences or recollections of particular instances, all of which add colour to the overall picture of times past. 

The building that was Newhaven Loco Shed was demolished last year, so it's good to have Ron Terrill's reminiscences to take us back there, in steam days when all the loco types allocated were of LB&SCR vintage, and to hear of their journeys round Sussex and beyond.

Ron Terrill was at Newhaven from 1954 (aged 14) to 1963. He moved on redundancy to Brighton as a Passed Fireman when Newhaven closed, and he continued to work steam locos. For his reminiscences of this latter period, click on the Brighton Motive Power Depots link at the end of Part One.

Click here to read Ron Terrill's reminiscences. If passing on the story to friends, we request you use the link rather than extract from the text.
By Neil Cameron

At this link , re-visit a special 1998 footplate reunion for retired drivers from Brighton, Newhaven, and Three Bridges depots, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Lewes-to-East Grinstead closure. It was organised by much-missed Driver Gerry Butler.

In 1910 the London Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) purchased 66 acres of land at Lancing near Shoreham-by-Sea for a carriage and wagon works. The site at Brighton was not large enough for continued operation. The works opened in January 1912 with many employees transferring from Brighton.
20 April, 1955: The Lancing Belle passing Holland Road Halt. From the Colin Hogg Collection. 

Because of the rural situation of the new works, the railway operated a special daily workmen-only train from Brighton for the workforce. This became known as the Lancing Belle. The train ran from Brighton station into a staff platform at the works.

The boards on display above come from the panels in the coaches that can be seen below and above the windows.

One of the coaches used in the train in Southern Railway days.
The Lancing Belle would stop at principal stations between Brighton and Lancing in the morning. Due to the steep gradients between Lancing and Brighton, the return train would only slow down enough to let the workman jump off because if the train stopped, it would be unlikely to restart! The return working was always worked by two locomotives.

This train remained one of the last steam workings out of Brighton shed right up until the end of steam at Brighton. On 15 June, 1964, the train became diesel. The diesel haulage was brief, with the last running on 3 July, 1964, hauled by two steam locomotives. The service was then replaced by electric stock working between Brighton and Lancing stations.

By Tony Hillman

(Thanks to the Brighton Branch of ASLEF website for text.)
East Grinstead's rail history, including Dr. Beeching and the Bluebell Railway, are among the " 10 Amazing Reasons " to brag about the town, as chosen by Simon Kerr, the town's Promotions Manager.  

Reader Jeremy Clarke follows up on the Down Memory Line from last issue ...

I was much interested in Neil Cameron's piece on the last days of this line in the March eNewsletter because its history reads rather sadly from the start.

Authority for the section from Paddock Wood to Cranbrook, at one time the centre of the Wealden cloth industry, was obtained in 1877 by local interests under the title "The Cranbrook & Paddock Wood Railway"--note which end the promoters considered the more important!--and built in the charge of a very young Resident Engineer, one Holman F. Stephens.

This followed a number of abortive schemes including one sanctioned to the SER between Paddock Wood and Hythe via Cranbrook to counter a similar proposal by the Chatham, quietly dropped once the threat faded ...

The entire piece can be found here
  • Paul Pettitt (various dates): From Paul's "Rails and Buffer Stops" blog.
  • Charlie Ralph (1 March, 2015): " One of my jobs today was shunt Q Class No. 541 out of the workshop and on shed today; had time for a picture with E4 No. 473.

  • John Sandys (3 March, 2015)
  • Brian Lacey (28 Feb., 2015): The U class seen taking water at Platform 2 whilst the S15 prepares for the 2:45 p.m. departure from Sheffield Park. View the loco roster and come and see No. 1638 in her last season on her current boiler ticket!
  • Martin Lawrence (February 2015)
  • Nick Burgess  (21 Feb., 2015)
By Brian Lacey. 


By Charlie Ralph.

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