Bluebell Railway Southern at War 2015, by "sniperal".

(From rail.co.uk) It is an undeniable fact that the railways played a major part in the war effort in World War II. It transported troops and military equipment from bombs to tanks and landing craft and anything else required to help the military effort. It also swung into action moving evacuees from Dunkirque (Dunkirk) in June 1940.

While every railway company did their utmost, arguably it fell to the Southern Railway (SR) to bear the brunt of activities in 1944 and 1945 to support D-Day and the subsequent supply chain to help sustain the military effort on mainland Europe.

Once the war was declared over--the official end date was 8 May, 1945--this prompted a special victory edition of the SR staff magazine. This unusually used much colour and contained letters of thanks from the Chairman Col. Eric Gore Brown and General Manager Sir Eustace Missenden ...

Click here to read more .

A fascinating series of videos in which we hear from the frontline UK footplatemen handling freight and passenger trains (passenger services ran to ensure war production was maintained) and who had to work in a blackout every night to handle the traffic of the war, with the risk of direct attack from the air night and day.  

Later in the war the work was all about moving endless supplies and men to the south and southwest for the D-Day landings. (We don't hear from any signalmen, but their essential work is implied  here.)

Part 1 ; Part 2 ; Part 3 ; Part 4
British rail in World War II, part 1 of 4.
After a suspension, West Coast Railway is back in service . The company's "Jacobite" service  has resumed, travelling through the heart of Scotland's majestic countryside.
Southern at War, by Peter Trimming.

* Artist: Richard Jack
* Date painted: 1916
* Medium: Oil on canvas, 203.3 x 319 cm
* Collection: York Museums Trust

Click on the BBC image to see larger version.
An aerial film of the "Jacobite" train.

The National Railway Museum has recently acquired a complete set  of railway parliamentary papers charting the official story of the birth of the railway network from 1837 to 1906.

Southern at War 2015, by "Joe Light Railway".


* Kids for a Quid : Special Half Term and selected dates are on offer, including for half-term.


* Sat 20 June : East Grinstead Midsummer Market (£5 steam travel offer).


* 27 & 28 June, 2015 : Model Railway Weekend.

(From The Telegraph ) "Thomas the Tank Engine: the runaway success turns 70." An in-depth look  at the book series and subsequent childrens' TV empire! (There's three Railway Series references in this eNewsletter--can you spot them!)



Filming Coordinator Tim Parkin reports that scenes were shot on the Railway in April 2015 for a documentary entitled The First Days of Peace (Back To The Beaches) narrated by Anthony Horowitz. The programme was transmitted on 11 May, 2015, but it is available in the UK on iPlayer. 


A couple of familiar Railway working member "faces" can be expected to be seen. The programme explores the sudden change after VE Day to a Britain that wanted to holiday again, and how the Sussex and Kent coastal towns handled that demand, following their wartime role as the country's "front line".

The Sussex Express has a fascinating look back at a rather basic industrial light railway that used to run in the Cuckmere Valley.

War Department (WD) "Austerity class" locomotives from World War II are the subject  of Tony Hillman's archive photos for this eNewsletter. They were built in 2-8-0 and 2-10-0 configurations.

Two videos below discuss the Austerity locos in more detail:

Locos for the Second Front (1943): about the origin of the class.

Southern Steam: War Department engines bound for Europe (1944).

In this silent Pathe video, see (incredibly) the 1,000th WD loco leave for Europe, shipped from Dover on the Southern train ferry to temporary berth at Cherbourg.

We also see wartime heavy crane attachment and extension link span lowered at Cherbourg. With this attachment, the ship just fits in the Dover train ferry dock by using the outer dock gate only.

It's at Dover Ferry sidings that we see the WD locos pushing onto the ship, with one loco carrying a headboard indicating the 1,000th loco.
NEW !  

War Department "Austerity class" locomotives are the subject of these John J. Smith photos, curated by Tony Hillman.

Masterchef winner Peter Bayless pays tribute to East Grinstead vineyard owner Chris Monge, who died recently. Sad news. 


13 to 14 June, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the closure to passengers of the greater part of the Cuckoo Line , from Rotherfield to Hellingly.

( I t became known as the Cuckoo Line after a custom at Heathfield, where a cuckoo was released every April to mark the onset of spring. Steam service ended in June 1965, when diesel units took over and ran a Polegate-to-Hailsham service until 1968.)

A period of dereliction followed before the southern part of the line was rebuilt from Heathfield to Polegate as the Cuckoo Trail cycle, horse, and pedestrian track , which now sees user/visitor numbers of around 250,000 per year.
To recognise the anniversary, the Wealden District Council is putting on a modest programme of events that are detailed in this flyer . Railway enthusiasts may be interested in some of these events and of seeing close-up aspects of a railway--such as Heathfield Tunnel--built by the same contractor as the Bluebell Railway and only two years earlier.
By Graham Kean, Engineer & Countryside Officer, Wealden District Council

This BBC children's TV classic " A Dog's Day Out " features the Cuckoo Line.

Down Street tube station , Mayfair, closed since 1932 and formerly the wartime protected underground headquarters for Churchill's railway executive committee, is having alternative uses sought for it by Transport for London.


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

We are encouraging people to register in advance to help plan the event. However, w rites Roger Kelly: "If it's a nice day and you haven't pre-registered, please just turn up away by travelling on the 4:17 p.m. from Horsted Keynes or 5 p.m. from East Grinstead. 
"Bring a sponsorship form downloaded from this page and a torch. Also, be sure to wear good walking shoes. If you can't come but wish to sponsor the Trekkers, you can do so here or via individual TT15 JustGiving pages. Thank you in advance!"  

To sponsor Roy Watts (BRPS Chairman) and Dick Fearn (Bluebell Railway PLC Chairman) , click here.  


Also, you can donate to Track Trek 2015 by text message from your mobile phone:
  • T ext "CHMN55 £10" to 70070 to donate £10
  • Or you can donate £1, £2, £3, £4, or £5
  • You can elect to Gift Aid your donation
  • Your operator's standard text charge applies
Southern at War was extremely busy, with ticket revenue in excess of £25,000. The fly-past was the highlight each day, especially the Hurricane on the Sunday.

We also were very pleased with the military vehicle display at Horsted Keynes, and the tank was very popular with visitors. Other activities included concert party shows, band concerts, a bomb disposal unit, and the National Fire Brigade.

The Sussex Home Guard regularly patrolled the station and performed a bayonet practice and other drills on platform 2. Their recruitment office was located on platform 4. For the first time, spivs (a comic touch) could be found trying to sell their wares on each of the corridor trains and while trying to avoid "the old bill" who were on the lookout for the black marketeers.

The event was well organised by Louise Duncton of the Customer Service Team, and we are grateful to the many re-enactors who made the event a nostalgic, poignant, yet celebratory one on the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.

By Tim Baker, Commercial Director

There are no shortage of lovely images from Southern at War 2015 (9 and 10 May, 2015), celebrating the 70th anniversary of VE Day. Click the photos to see more.

Scouts pose with a tank at Horsted Keynes on 10 May, 2015, during Southern at War. Photo by Derek Hayward.

Getting into the swing. Photo by ARW Photography.

The Railway has raised £3,971 via EasySearch and £15,747 via EasyFundraising. Please sign up to support us here with these easy-to-use online services.


Taken on 10 May, 2015, this photo shows the ashpan of No. 73082 "Camelot" during the process of trial fitting and final adjustments. More images and updates can be found on the society's Facebook page .

On the 8 May, 2015 the last remaining bolts were removed from the cylinder block of No. 27, and the cylinders lifted from the frames. 

The restoration group is now able to split the two halves of the block and give it a thorough inspection. The block also can be used to provide dimensions and an understanding of the shapes when preparing a pattern for casting a new set, another costly exercise!

The photo by James Parker shows the cylinders as they left the frames. Read more about Project 27 at this blog .

By Clive Emsley, Chairman, The Fenchurch Fund

Fred Bailey provides a great report on major progress on the Atlantic, illustrated by some excellent, detailed photos ...

It is some time since I have provided you all with an update of progress on the Atlantic, and this is not because nothing has happened, but in order to go forward we have had to go slightly backwards.

When building things of a mechanical nature from scratch, part of the procedure is to assemble things that require "fitting". This term is something that is a little less prevalent in these days of mass-production with computer-controlled machines and robots, but is still very much alive in the making of steam engines, just as much now as when they were the norm.

Our replicas or whatever you may wish to call them are one-off, hand-built units; even though a lot of the parts are made by more modern methods, the actual assembly is very much a skilled, hands-on operation ...

For more text and those close-up photos, click here .



* The Atlantic Project has an updated Sponsorship List (components that require sponsorship in order to build the loco). Donors receive news of the project directly-be ahead of the curve! The full list plus instructions can be downloaded here .


* Update from the Loco Roste r: The Q class No. 30541 will be in use 17 to 25 May, 2015.

* Bulleid Society update on Battle of Britain Pacific class No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair".

* News for the British Railways Standard class 2 tank No. 84030 rebuild project. 


By Derek Hayward.
Bluebell season is very short, with the iconic flowers visiting the lineside for just a few weeks every year.

Following its return to service, the unique 1913-built Observation Car--with all round vision--has been operating a series of Bluebell Specials with spectacular views of the embankment and woodland between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead.

It is very noticeable how many Bluebells can be seen on the extension from Kingscote to East Grinstead, with a lovely carpet of the flowers just outside Kingscote itself. Our volunteer track clearance teams have done a superb job over the last view years, and our lineside is extremely well-kept, which encourages wild flowers, including another spring beauty--primroses (see Derek Hayward's photo)--which have been a delight to see and enjoy this year.

Just look at our website and social media pages for excellent photographs clearly indicating why the line was called "The Bluebell & Primrose Line" in days gone by. Thanks to all the photographers!

By Tim Baker, Commercial Director

Well, this small club--which has started playing on a ground next to the Railway--has some stiff competition, with beautiful grounds at Arundel, Saffrons (Eastbourne), and Fulking (Preston Nomads).

But judging by this photo from the Chichester Observer- -looking like a scene out of a Railway Series book--it might be in the running. The paper asks its readers to nominate other beautiful grounds from around the county.

The photo shows Scaynes Hill 3rd XI v Lancing Manor in the ground's inaugural match. No. 1638 and the Observation Car can be seen in the background. In the foreground the batsman appears to be a little nonplussed by this interruption to his innings! Let's hope No. 1638's train didn't break his concentration too much.

No word yet on what cricket and public transportation afficionado Henry Blofeld thinks of Scayne's Hill Cricket Club's new digs and its steam-hauled visitors.

The editors are considering a social cricket game--Bluebell Railway XI versus Scaynes Hill--in August, exact date to be determined. Working members, their relatives, and others with a Bluebell Railway connection are invited to show their interest in joining the team: contact John Walls .


Photo from Sussex Motive Power Depots.
Selsey locomotive shed was opened on the 27 Aug., 1897 by the Hundred of Manhood & Selsey Tramway. The Selsey loco shed closed on the 19 Jan., 1935 by the Southern Railway.

There is no known branch of A.S.L.E.F. at Selsey steam shed, but during the 1919 Railway Strike, there was a very limited service on this branch line, indicating that there was trade unions members employed on the Selsey branch line ...

See more photos of this fascinating chapter in Sussex motive power history.

The history of The Hundred of Manhood and Selsey Tramways Company is told at the Col. Stephens Railway Museum website ...

Colonel Stephens was engineer and subsequently manager and latterly effectively owner of this railway. It was was opened in 1897, without benefit of legislative sanction, from Chichester to Selsey Town and extended a further mile to Selsey Beach in 1908, though this latter section fell out of use in 1914.

Generally known as the Selsey Tram, the railway suffered greatly from road competition after the early 1920s ...

Photo by Ben Brooksbank. Ex-LB&SC 0-6-2T shunting at Midhurst. Seen on the Last Day (5/2/55) of the Petersfield-to-Pulborough passenger service, ex-LB&SCR. Billinton class E4 0-6-2T No. 32520 (built 6/1901 as No. 520 "Westbourne", withdrawn 1/57) is shunting at Midhurst, goods traffic continuing from the Pulborough direction to Midhurst until 10/64.

Midhurst had two railway companies each having their own station and locomotive shed in the town. The first shed was opened on the 1 Sept., 1864 by the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR).

The second shed was opened on 15 Oct., 1866 by the Mid-Sussex & Midhurst Junction Railway , which later was amalgamated with the LB&SCR (shed code mid).

This shed was to replace the Petworth shed, which was built by the Mid-Sussex Railway and opened on 10 Oct., 1859 and closed on 15 Oct., 1866. The LB&SCR shed was demolished and replaced in 1907.

With formation of Southern Railway in 1923 the  L&SWR shed was closed in late 1925 but the LB&SCR shed remained opened until c1955 ...

Read more at Sussex Motive Power Depots .
New offer : get your donation matched by PayPal! For every £5 you donate on PayPal, get an extra £5 to donate on JustGiving. The Railway's PayPal donate page can be found here .

By Andrew Crampton

The two runs to East Grinstead using "Captain Baxter" on 3 May, 2015 went well and proved that Baxter could be used on passenger trains if the need arises.

The loco made a good account of itself arriving at East Grinstead in fine fettle on both trips. The trains were reasonably well-loaded with members and their guests, together with the directors who organised the special test trains-many thanks to them.

The fares paid for the privilege of travelling on the trains were collected by the Fenchurch Fund/Project 27 to be used for the restoration of SECR loco No. 27.

Thanks must also go to the loco crew, signalmen, and East Grinstead gateman for giving up their Sunday evening. Don't forget to keep reading the Project 27 blog for up-to-date information regarding restoration progress and events.



Keith Duke (3 May, 2015): "Captain Baxter", No. 847, and more.


Tom Waghorn  (3 May, 2015): Baxter's Train.


John Sandys (5 May, 2015): " There were three locos in steam today with the S15 on the main service train, the U class on a special, and the H class in charge of the Bluebell Special."


John Sandys (7 May, 2015): "The 09 shunting, the Bluebell Special with No. 263, and the main service train hauled by the S15."

By Keith Duke.

By John Sandys

The Railway is one of the " Top Five Mr. Whicher Locations to Visit " according to the Radio Times. 

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