The Q class leaving Sheffield Park with its first service train on 28 April, 2015, by John Sandys.
An uplifting story about the re-use of the buildings at Etchingham station on the London-to-Hastings line.
Rare light railway scenes from the Kent & East Sussex's earliest years--a delight to watch. In the loco line at Robertsbridge spot H class No. 263 being painted! Looking forward to the Rother Valley Railway's Robertsbridge link eventual opening to establish a main line connection.

London Connection Tickets are available on all Saturdays from 28 March until 24 Oct., 2015. They allow return travel for just ¬£5 adult and ¬£1 child.

Travel on the 9:45 a.m. from Sheffield Park or the 10:02 a.m. from Horsted Keynes to East Grinstead to connect with the mainline service to London.

Return travel is permitted on the 6:15 p.m. East Grinstead return only.

For more information or to book tickets, phone 01825 720800.

A treat for "Blue Circle" fans: steaming on the Railway in 1964. Thanks to Paul Plowman.
fun story from Wales: Volunteers at the Porthmadog railway cooked a beef stew using 97-year-old locomotive Gertrude!

Writes Neil Cameron: "The B4 tank No. 96 'Normandy' once had a large cake baked in its smokebox, with other food cooked on the shovel, and our veg wrapped in silver foil next to a suitably hot pipe in the cab."
British Pathé: 1957 Railway Exhibition. More information about this historic event here .

* Artist: John  Lavery
* Date painted: 1917
* Medium: Oil on canvas, 63.5 x 76.2 cm
* Collection: IWM (Imperial War Museums)

Click on BBC image to see larger version

This is one of the World War I War Department train ferries. Two ran from Richborough and one from Southampton, to French ports. One of these ferries brought No. 27 home in 1918.
John Sandys' livestream video from 21 April, 2015.

Sad to report that Talyllyn Railway, an icon of preservation, was attacked by vandals on 25 April, 2015. 

The Railway in Springtime, by Nick Dearden.

(From C&IT Magazine ) A new cookery school in a West Sussex vineyard is offering corporate classes and teambuilding events, as well as conference space for hire.

Kitchen Academy at Kingscote will be based in a 15th-century tithe barn visitor centre at the heart of the 150-acre Kingscote Estate, situated near East Grinstead between the historic Bluebell Railway and Weir Wood Reservoir ...

Learn more here .
Q class returns to steam, by Ashley Smith.
Plans to extend scenic Devon railway build up a head of steam .

"I thought I'd do some 9Fs this time as our one has just returned to Sheffield Park. These photos are from from John  J. Smith and Alan Postlethwaite," writes Tony Hillman.

From The Argus : The Brighton Mainline is set for bigger and better trains with more seats and more services for customers, rail bosses have promised.

The Bluebell Special, by John Sandys.

John Sandys was the intrepid photographer on-the-spot on 28 April, 2015 as the Q class re-entered public service after its major overhaul on the 11 a.m. train. See video in the left hand column.

Our policy on BR Mk1 carriages is set out in the society's Long Term Plan, which envisages our most modern trains being a mixture of Mk1 and Bulleid vehicles that ran in the 1950s and 1960s.  

At the moment we are short of operating Bulleid carriages, with just sufficient Mk1s to operate the commercial requirement. This situation has arisen through a combination of circumstances and opportunity.

Prior to East Grinstead opening, 60% of our trains were formed of four carriages, and only 30% of five or six. The prediction for the Board was that business would settle back to this figure after the opening rush; however, this has not happened, and now we have a requirement for five or six-car trains through a greater part of the year.

A significant consideration is the frequency of routine maintenance, with most carriages being done every 3,000 miles and Mk1s, with their roller bearings, doing 6,000 miles. We have only one maintenance pit, so only one carriage can be done at a time.

When the Pullman kitchen car "Fingall" was taken out of service for overhaul a few years ago, we hired restaurant car No. 1674 to provide the kitchen facility. This vehicle is owned by a well-known collector, and the agreement included provision for him to loan a number of his other carriages in order to recreate a train that ran in the Brighton-to-Plymouth cross-country service in the 1960s.

With the on-going requirement for longer trains and the overhaul of Builleid brake No. 4279, it's clear we need additional carriages in order to maintain service, so three are now on hire from the collector. Our short-to-medium term plan is to have one set entirely of Mk1 carriages, which will prevail until we are able to overhaul more Bulleid carriages.

The collector decided to have all his carriages painted in carmine and cream livery, used in the early 1950s. Rather than have trains of mixed colour, we have painted several of our carriages to match. Some years ago we ran one set of Mk1s in maroon livery for a while, so now we have an opportunity to have a complete set in carmine and cream. This set-up will be short term only; it's probably our only opportunity to do this.

As more Bulleid carriages come into service, the need to hire the Mk1s will end, so we will move towards our long-term goal, and carriages will turn green again at their routine re-paints.

By Lewis Nodes, Rolling Stock Director

Just a few weeks ago, there was an appeal for donors to help restore the porch at Sheffield Park to a similar condition as at Horsted Keynes, with turned hardwood columns and spaces between filled with decorative stained-glass. Happily, a donor stepped forward very quickly, and with this generous support we are able to proceed.  

In the past few weeks, we have chosen a carpenter to prepare and install the hardwood columns and a glazier to manufacture the stained glass panels. Our carpenter recently carried out the extensive restoration of the Horsted Keynes signalbox, but the glazier who worked on the Horsted keynes porch has ceased trading. Our substitute is a local business that mostly does bespoke commissions, including ecclesiastical.

The hardwood for the new columns has been procured and planks have been glued together and will soon be sent for turning. Once ready, we can begin work on-site. The first stage will be to remove the square corner posts and boarded in-fill dating from the British Railways era.

The roof structure will be held up by temporary supports, and the stone plinth support on the right hand side of the porch entrance will be re-bedded to correct sinkage (thought to be associated with a rainwater drainage problem that Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) volunteers corrected last year).

After this work, new hardwood columns will be fitted and the temporary supports removed. Then the stained glass panels can be made to fit the glazing spaces. Meanwhile, FOSP volunteers will paint the new work. Finally, the glazing can be installed, using a scheme already agreed to by our principal suppliers, details of which will be reported later.  

All of the above must be carefully planned so that our site works do not impede Railway operations. We will be working closely with the operations department, and activities will only take place at jointly agreed upon times.

Thus, we shall soon realise a great aesthetic improvement that will enhance our visitors' experience as they pass through the entrance to Sheffield Park station--all made possible by the generosity of our donor.

By Chas Melton

The Peter's Railway website is organising its third annual Treasure Hunt, now involving an amazing 55 railways. This free competition is for children up to the age of 14 years. There is a £300 first prize, and lots more besides. You can find all 55 quiz sheets, including one for our Railway, here .


This Peter Gibbs photo shows new lagging being fitted to No. 73082's boiler, as well as a new cladding sheet for the front ring where the clack valves are located. For more "Camelot" updates, follow the society's blog .

By Derek Hayward.

The Railway received many positive comments about the recent Diesel Gala. Many thanks to all who were involved. There were so many amazing photos and videos captured, that we present the following round-up :

By Mike Anton.
Deltics on the Bluebell Railway, 19 April, 2015, by David Pearson.  
Deltics on the Bluebell Railway, 19 April, 2015, by David Pearson.

While Signals and Telecommunications is busy preparing the mechanical signals at Kingscote for power operation (more on this in a future edition), Brian Hymas has written an interesting history on lock and block signals ...

Saxby and Farmer Lock and Block
Railway signalling improvements were often driven by learning lessons from accidents. The classic book Red for Danger detailed many mishaps and established the need to fill loopholes in early systems that allowed human error to bypass them.

Locking one lever to another was fundamental to making signalling safe, by preventing a signalman from clearing a signal conflicting with other signals or points. Meanwhile, telegraph developed, ensuring signalman did not allow two trains to enter a block section between two signal boxes.

This level of security was fine, but it still relied on signalman interpreting block instruments correctly and then relaying this information by way of signals to the driver. What was needed to plug this loophole was a safety system that interconnected levers, telegraph, and train. It was to become known as "lock and block."

Sykes' Lock and Block did exactly this. Patented in 1875, it was used on the constituent companies of Southern Railway, Great Eastern, North British, and elsewhere. The system is easily recognised in old photographs by the wooden block shelf instruments positioned above the lever they control, displaying "LOCKED" or "FREE" in a circular window.

Although used extensively up to the 1970s, no known systems of Sykes' Lock and Block is left working--except at Horsted Keynes signal box.

Fortunately, Charles Hudson decided to incorporate a Sykes system into the re-signalled layout at Horsted Keynes, providing a working record of this important development in signalling.

W.R. Sykes worked closely with the LC&DR, with workshops adjacent to the railway at Clapham High Street. The buildings still exist just west of the station, next to the Up Atlantic Line.

Another much rarer, if not unique, Saxby and Farmer version of lock and block was installed between Ardingly and East Grinstead Low Level. The system was made complicated by fitting a signal disengaging mechanism, so that the passing train automatically replaced the signal arm to danger rather than relying on the signalman.

To achieve this action, a number of special castings had to be built into the lever frame, and these can still be seen under Horsted Keynes signal box in the locking room. No other double line examples are known to have existed. It was removed around 1932.

There does seem to have been an experimental single line Saxby and Farmer lock and block system (Hodgson's patent) installed at Heathfield, Horeham, Hellingly, and Hailsham. Its objective was to eliminate the need for exchanging single line staffs or tablets. How long the system lasted seems unclear.

By Brian Hymas
The Railway is  currently advertising  vacancies for Locomotives Works Manager and a Carriage & Wagon Department Fitter.


This year's Track Trek will take place on 24 May, 2015, a walk from Kingscote to Horsted Keynes through Sharpthorne Tunnel.

As numbers registered surpass 150, we are encouraging people to register in advance to help plan the event. Hard copy sponsorship forms will be distributed soon via the Bluebell Railway Journal. It will help planners if those who intend to use these forms also register online. 

Register by e-mailing tracktrek@bluebell-railway.co.uk with the names of your party, indicating which are children.


For more information and to download a sponsorship form, click here . You can also create your own JustGiving page .


To sponsor Deborah Salmon's "Pink Boot Trek" to support Cash for Cover, visit her JustGiving page .  


(From East Grinstead Online ) The Bluebell Railway has donated a bench to be used in the flower beds outside the station which are maintained by the team from East Grinstead in Bloom.

"It's a double-sided original bench which has been beautifully restored," said Bloom chairman Julie Mockford, "and it will have the East Grinstead sign on it.

"We plan to place it in one of the beds so it can be both used by pedestrians and seen by drivers."

But given the number of plants which have been stolen from flower beds around the town over the past year, the Bloom committee is taking no chances--the bright green bench will be firmly cemented and bolted in place.

From East Grinstead Online: Visitor numbers are up at Sheffield Park and Nymans. 


In April 2015, Southern Railway 12/13 ton 8-plank Open Goods Wagon No. 30004 received some TLC at the Carriage & Wagon Department. The above photo, by Martin Skrzetuszewski, shows how lettering was refreshed by David Rhydderch: "No. 30004 is shown glistening in the evening sun."

This work involved stencilling and painting new tare and load capacity lettering in the correct position. ("David is certainly not an experienced signwriter but his work looks pretty darned good!") The new tare weight figure is one typical for the lot which includes No. 30004.

More photos and updates can be found here .

By close of play on Sunday, approximately half of the fitted bolts which hold the cylinders in place had been removed.

In the picture you can see Stuart and Jim removing one of the easier ones! The lower row of bolts is generally easier to remove as these bolts are below the cylinders and have not been corroded by the action of remnants of smoke box ash reacting with rain water causing severe corrosion of the nuts.

It is likely, we have been told, that the cylinders will be removed within the next two weeks or so. This work will be done once the temporary stretcher has been located between the frames in place of the balance weight.

Once this job happens, the only big thing left to do in the strip-down is the splitting of the cylinders, which will enable us to make a final decision on what we do with them.

It is more than likely that a new set will need to be cast. Investigations are proceeding, in conjunction with the workshop, which is looking into the feasibility of constructing a new set for No. 178 ...

To read more updates, click here .


This photo by Clive Emsley shows a scene from the unveiling of the side-tank from SECR (ROD) No. 27. 

Re-enactors of the 10th Essex Regiment were in attendance providing cameos of families waving to soldiers on departing trains and bayonet drills at the front of the station. They also recruited a number of younger visitors, who were tempted by the King's (chocolate) shilling!

The unveiling of the tank was carried out by Graham Aitkin and Russell Pearce and attended by a guard of honour provided by the 10th Essex Regiment. The Exultation was read by the Regiment's Chaplain before a wreath was laid by Clive Emsley.

The tank will be on display adjacent to the Bookshop on Platform 1 at Sheffield Park until 30 Sept., 2016, which marks the 100th anniversary of the repatriation of the loco.
The Locomotive Duty Roster has been updated for May.

This is the only ordinary LB&SCR bogie coach on the mainland of Britain, and for many years we have run an ex-LB&SCR line with none of that company's rolling stock in service!

This carriage is a good example of a Billinton arc-roofed coach, at one time so common on Sussex branch lines and more prominently on the Isle of Wight.

Built for the London-to-Brighton main line, it provided the most luxurious first class accommodation, with only six seats in a compartment nearly eight feet square, although on the relatively short journeys to Brighton or Eastbourne it was obviously decided that lavatories would be unnecessary.

Its length of 48 feet was once the standard length of much of the rolling stock built by many different railways, but now very few survive. Like so many coach bodies, it survived as a bungalow.

Few survive in such good condition, and this one was selected after several years' search for such a vehicle. Many parts for it, including replacement partitions, electrical and brass fittings, and some spare doors, have come from other old bodies which did not survive complete, and have now been broken up ...

Read the entire page here .


John Sandys (21 April, 2015): "Another gorgeous day."


Martin Lawrence (19 April, 2015): A 180¬į view of inside a Deltic cab.  


Ashley Smith (2015): Ashley's Bluebell Railway album. 


John Sandys (23 April, 2015): A treat for 09 fans--see her shunting at Sheffield Park. 


Martin Lawrence (April 2015): Martin has added to his April gallery. 


Geoffrey King (Various Dates): Some photos from the Railway's early days.


David Stubbings (26 April, 2015): C class is back in service.


By John Sandys.

By Martin Lawrence.


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