20 June:  East Grinstead Midsummer Market  (East Grinstead Excursion tickets are just £5)

27-28 June:   Model Railway Weekend

18-19 July:   Toy & Rail Collectors' Weekend

25 July-9 August: 
Summer Festival

A children's book about the Bluebell Railway is set to delight youngsters, and offer a lovely memento of their time on the popular railway line.

A Tale Of The Bluebell Railway is a picture book written by East Grinstead resident Valerie Stothard, and has rhyming verses that take the reader on a journey through the things they will have seen and experienced during their trip past the stations and viaduct on the beautiful Bluebell line--with delightful illustrations on every page ...

Read the entire article at the East Grinstead Courier.


Pullman Car "Lilian" is the centre piece of the Bluebell Railway stand at the Ardingly South of England Show.

Visitors are welcome to view onboard the car, where there is a short talk about Pullman dining and the history of "Lilian".

Visitors exit via our marquee, where Bluebell Railway products are available from the sales team, dressed in traditional Pullman uniform.

In the first two days several thousand visitors have taken the opportunity to take a look inside "Lilian".

By Tim Baker, Commercial Director
A wet Sheffield Park departure on 29 May, 2015.

Two new railways (Borders Line and East West Rail) get ready for resumption of train service.  


In other news, veteran Borders Railway campaigner Madge Elliot was honoured in a locomotive naming ceremony at Edinburgh Waverley Station on 4 June, 2015. 

No. 847 moving off from Horsted Keynes station on the Bluebell Railway.

* Full title: " 'Carlo', Railway Collecting Dog for the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants Orphan Fund"

* Artist: George Buckly

* Date painted: c.1912

* Oil on canvas, 70.5 x 59.6 cm

* Collection: National Railway Museum


Click on BBC image to see larger version.

An interesting story about Australian steam, and the "Great Train Race."

(From the East Grinstead Courier ) Families and residents are being invited "to use their own steam" to experience one of West Sussex's most beautiful cycle routes on a trip to the Bluebell Railway.

A family bike ride along the Worth Way, to finish at the vintage steam train line at East Grinstead, is being organised by Crawley Borough Council.

The ride will take place June 20, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as part of National Bike Week.

Participants can register at Oriel High School, Maidenbower, Crawley, from 10 to 10:15 a.m. or from 9 a.m. if your bike needs a tune-up.

More information can be found here .

( The Worth Way follows for much of its route part of the course of the Three Bridges-to-Tunbridge Wells Central Line, which opened in 1855 and closed in 1967.)

Hornby has released details of the first running sample of its Adams Radial model.

No. 1638 departs Sheffield Park on 18 May, 2014.

Memories of the RCTS/LCGB Sussex Downsman Railtour of 22 March, 1964. Photos by John J. Smith from the Railway's collection, curated by Tony Hillman. 
The Bluebell Railway is planning a friendly cricket match with Scaynes Hill Cricket Club, at their new ground next to the Railway at Freshfields on 22 Aug., 2015.

We are looking for players at any level of ability (or their relatives). We also hope to indulge in some fundraising, and perhaps turn this into an annual event. If you are interested in playing, or helping in any way, please contact John Walls .
Memories of the Cranleigh Line (videos 1-3) by Southern Steam: it's been 50 years since the closure of Horsham-to-Guildford.

The Bluebell Railway currently is looking for a Safety Manager, who will be responsible for ensuring the railway is kept abreast of current legislation on safety and environmental management requirements and who will also play a leading role in helping deliver overall compliance with this legislation.

This post has a wide range of responsibilities and pivotal to their successful delivery is provision of guidance and support to all levels of staff, taking responsibility for specific safety initiatives, undertaking audits and promulgation of the safety message through development and delivery of safety training and publicity. The post also carries specific responsibility for the Bluebell Railway Safety Management System.

For more information and to apply, click here .
It's been 250 years since James Watt created the "separate condenser" and helped to change world history.
Sixties steam set to music of the day, by Morrie Greenberg.

Bradshaw's Guide: Surrey & Sussex Railways Vol. 11 is now available, edited by Simon Jeffs and John Christopher.

"In this latest volume Bradshaw takes us on the journey and, via the numerous branch lines, also explores the coastal lines, westwards to Chichester and eastwards, on the Brighton and Lewes branch to Eastbourne, St Leonards, and Hastings."

Local author and railway expert Simon Jeffs accompanies Bradshaw's original text with contemporary images and many new colour photographs of the same journeys today.


The first Internet News Update from the Railway, using e-mail and "usenet" discussion groups, and later posted on the website, was distributed by Richard Salmon, with loco news provided by Martin Nichols and encouragement from Malcolm Roe, in June 1995.

This basic service, initially intended for BRPS members and enthusiasts, lasted more than a decade, being superseded by more regular news updates on the Blog/What's New page of the website, and now also this eNewsletter and social media channels.

This news archive is still available online , and the first edition (see below) makes for an interesting comparison both in style and content with this current service. Back then e-mail was relatively new and "plain text" was the only option. (Here's to HTML!--The Editors.)
  • The Q1 (No. C1) is available for traffic again after repairs.
  • The 9F (No.92240) is out of traffic with a firebox crack. The method of repair is being discussed.
  • Loco maintenance requirements are pushing back the date for the completion of the ex-Barry overhaul of No. 73082 "Camelot". Autumn now seems likely for the return to steam of this sole surviving named BR standard class 5.
  • BR Mk. 1 Kitchen Coach RKB 1566 has been sold to the VSOE. Now painted Green, it will become part of the Ocean Liner Express set.
  • Former travelling College Dormitary No. 99161 (ex-Mk.1 SK 25871) has been stripped internally, and has replaced the SR Maunsell non-descript as the Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes.

Photo by Derek Hayward. Larger version can be found here .

News has reached the Railway via our Chaplain Fr. John, that our friend the Right Reverend Cornell Jerome Moss, the Bishop of Guyana, has sadly passed away following an illness.

Whenever visiting England and staying with Father John in Horsted Keynes, the Bishop would look forward to a ride on one of our trains. Indeed, in 2013, following the opening of our extension, the Bishop "commuted" from London to Horsed Keynes via East Grinstead, becoming the first London-to-Horsted Keynes commuter in over 50 years!

Bishop Cornell also kindly took part in the dedication service of our Memorial Garden at Horsted Keynes. I was privileged to hear Bishop Cornell talk about Christianity in Guyana and the obstacles faced by those who wished to give praise to our Lord.

The Bluebell sends our condolences to the Bishop's family and friends in both Guyana and Great Britain.

By Tim Baker, Commercial Director

Gas main works are starting on 15 June, 2015, lasting a few weeks, on the A22 at the junction of London Road and Imberhorne Lane at Felbridge, just north of East Grinstead. 


Previous roadworks at this location have caused significant and lengthy delays, so please bear this in mind if travelling to the Railway from this direction.


In this John Sandys photo, we see No. 73082 "Camelot's" tender heading off to Ashford for its tyres to be turned. Using their ground lathe it's easier to send entire vehicle!

Our running fleet availability has improved over the last month or so, with only No. 323 out of traffic for some maintenance work. The Boiler Inspector will visit in the next couple of weeks to witness this loco's hydraulic and steam tests.

"Stepney" recently returned to her more recognisable colours. Photo by John Sandys.
Unfortunately, we have suffered some teething troubles with the Q class, but these are now resolved and she is available for traffic. Lately, we've been running S15 No. 847 and U class No. 1638 on our corridor coach set, with No. 30541 as standby loco and No. 592 or No. 473 running our vintage train.

"Baxter" has been used on goods trains for training purposes and as a Sheffield Park station pilot. Although only an 0-4-0 and diminutive, "Baxter" is ideal for this work and is a strong loco.

The repainting of A1X No. 55 "Stepney" back into Stroudley Improved Engine Green was completed in time for the re-launch of the Stepney Club on the 7 June, 2015. She looks fantastic and is now more recognisable to our younger visitors. Thanks must go to Tony Funnell for doing an excellent job. She'll now be displayed at the front of the running shed, under cover, adjacent to the entrance where people can admire her.

On the subject of painting, our steam crane is progressing well at Horsted Keynes. We recently moved it to a more accessible part of the up-yard so Roger Barton and his team can continue their excellent work. The body of the crane and the counterweights are the next items to tackle. 

Inside the Loco Works, progress is being made on No. 928 "Stowe's" boiler, with all the old crown stays now removed. That marks the end of cutting and drilling bits out and the start of putting new plate work, crown stays, side stays, rivets, etc. back in. The former for the new throat plate is complete, and this, along with rolled firebox sections, will arrive at Sheffield Park in coming months.

The main focus in the Works is the completion of No. 73082 "Camelot". The boiler is firmly in place, with a new ashpan. The smoke box is riveted in, the cab and running plate are on, and the tender returned this week from Ashford after having its wheels turned. The next tasks are to complete the internal elements of the smoke box, boiler cladding, and other fittings. Our painters are doing an excellent job, each a volunteer and working to a high standard in their spare time. 

Off-site work has started again on No. 34059's boiler after a short period of inactivity at LNWR Crewe's new premises. At our recent visit, we agreed the scope of work and timescale to complete the repair: 2016 will see No. 34059 return to steam!

Lastly, the works' fabric will shortly change, with expired cladding replaced with a modern version, which will be in the same style as the adjacent Above Workshop Facilities and finished in traditional LBSCR colours. Thank you to all those who contribute to the Railway. I look forward to seeing you over the summer.

By Chris Hunford, Locomotive Director

19 May, 2015 started like any other day for the Signals & Telecommunications (S&T) volunteers, but it was not to last. One thing you learn very quickly when working trackside is to make a note of the weather forecast and dress accordingly. Today's forecast was mainly dry but with an occasional short heavy shower predicted. And so it was--well, at least until late afternoon.

At about 4:30 p.m. the sky over Horsted Keynes became very dark and a terrific hail storm took place with thunder and lightning; the noise on the Portacabin roof was deafening and the ground went white. Meanwhile, at Kingscote the sky also turned a deep black, and as the last down train approached the station, the heavens opened and a number of lightning strikes took place nearby.

When the worst was over, it became apparent that the Horsted Keynes-to-Kingscote token instruments had failed, presumably from the results of the lightning. Pilot working was introduced (a human token appointed to assure safe passage) to get the last train back to Sheffield Park.

The S&T guys left on site now needed to find what was causing the failure, but first there were quick calls home to postpone evening meals. It is typical of electrical storms to cause unpredictable wide scale damage and so was the case here.

At Horsted Keynes, amongst an array of other problems, the Down Distant signal had failed, but with the last train gone and no Wickham Trolley available, the only way to attend to it was by foot. The fault was caused by a burnt-out component, so another walk was made back to the depot and then out again to the signal to repair it.

Meanwhile the guys at Kingscote were finding a series of fuses and components burnt out. At both sites, it was a case of clearing one fault to expose another. By 9 p.m. the light was fading and everyone had worked in excess of safety critical hours, so it was time to leave without clearing all the faults.

It took another shift to get everything back to normal, and then the repairs to individual burnt-out units was started. This job is still ongoing as some of the items need unusual components.

By Brian Hymas
The Railway has been awarded another Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, thanks to great reviews from our visitors.

We've had some foul weather this Spring and 18 May, 2015 proved to be one of those days: cold with heavy rain. Just the sort of day for a first visit from one of our local schools. Turners Hill Primary School, from near Crawley, had plans for a picnic down by the river for 71 children and 10 accompanying adults--in effect the whole school. (In contrast, Crawley Down Primary back in February had a clear dry day!)

The weather necessitated a change of plans to enable the school to have lunch at the Railway. With no undercover accommodation for school visits, thoughts turned to the Birch Grove Suite, but that was booked for private function, so the only alternative was the Wealden Rambler set, sitting in the dock at Sheffield Park station.

After a quick word with Caroline Collins and Julia Pique, we were allowed to make use of two carriages for lunch. The Headmaster himself arrived to oversee the arrangements! At the conclusion of the visit, he expressed thanks for the way we handled the situation. The following letter arrived soon afterwards, proving that when we go the extra mile, it is appreciated by our visitors and can lead to further bookings ...      

"Just a quick message to thank you for the day we had at the Bluebell Railway on Monday. Nothing was too much trouble for you and your volunteers and, despite the weather, the day ran like clockwork. I am especially grateful for the provision you made for us to have lunch in the carriages!

"All the volunteers who either accompanied us or we met as we explored the station were obviously passionate about the Railway and its workings, and this was communicated to our pupils. Everyone we met was pleasant and friendly and made us feel very welcome. I should add that I am not usually so full of praise for 'educational venues', and I will recommend you to other schools where possible" (Sandra Woodvine).

By David Cockram, Education Officer
The Railway's team of speakers--principally David Jones, Tony Drake, Graham Todd, and Nigel Simpkins--continues to promote the Railway's attractions to clubs and societies throughout the southeast.

During the first quarter of the year, the team made seven visits, and a further talk--this time by David Cockram, unusually--provided an international flavour, involving as it did the Railway Club of Uwawa High School from Japan, when they visited Whitgift School in Croydon in March.
A further 14 talks are already booked for the remainder of the year, and I'm always pleased to hear from clubs and societies that would like to hear more about the Bluebell Railway.
By Mike Pettit, Talks Coordinator

To the editor:

I am the Publicity Officer for the Crawley Signal Box Preservation Society. We have custodianship of the lovely old 1870s-built LB&SCR Saxby and Farmer pattern signal box situated hard by the level crossing at the south end of Crawley High Street.

We've been looking after the box since 1992 and having regular public open days. Our next open day is 20 June, 2015 from noon to 4 p.m. [A map can be  found here .]

I'm sure many Bluebell Railway members, and the general public, don't know of the society's existence, or the fact that the box is looked after by a small but enthusiastic band of dedicated volunteers. This group has worked wonders with what--when the society was granted access to the box in 1992--was filled with six years-worth of pigeon droppings!

John Simmonds

Congratulations to Alan Clark, who won the 2014-2015 Football Competition . This year's competition raised £235.50 towards the restoration of Maunsell Restaurant Car No. 7864. 

The Railway's Ransomes & Rapier 45-Ton Steam Breakdown Crane , which can now be seen (easily!) from Platform 1 at Horsted Keynes. View a larger photo here .

When I first wrote some text for the webpage on our Esso tank wagon, I wondered why, at the height of World War II, the Ministry of Supply released material and resources to construct a tank wagon to essentially carry lubricating oil. I did not give it a great deal of further thought.

However, recent research by my friend and former Bluebell Railway colleague Martin Allen has revealed that the wagon was actually one of a number built for the Air Ministry, principally to supply fuel to the numerous air bases which, at that time, served the large number of Allied aircraft based in Britain.

It was built by Hurst Nelson & Co. of Motherwell and was numbered 812 in the Air Ministry fleet. All privately owned vehicles had to be registered with one of the railway companies in order to travel on the main network and our tank was registered with the LMS as No. 162376, star-plated in January 1942 ...

For more of Martin Skrzetuszewski's description and a link to the webpage for No. 1921, click here .
An overview of an outing, sponsored by Goldman Sachs, to the Railway by The Not Forgotten Foundation, in support of sick or disabled ex-service men and women.

On 29 May, 2015 representatives from the Southern Electric Traction Group (SETG) visited Bombardier's Ilford Carriage Works to assess progress on the restoration of the Bluebell Railway's unique 4VEP EMU No. 3417.

Driving Trailer No. 76262 stands at Ilford in its pristine undercoat. Photo by Mark Broomfield.
As those of you who are following the unit's progress on Facebook and Twitter will be aware, the first vehicle--Driving Trailer No. 76262--has already been processed through Ilford's state-of-the-art paint facility.

Bombardier has informed us with a wry smile that this first coach required "more prep" than they were expecting. It also acted as the test bed for the vehicles yet to be processed, so that the rubbing down, prepping, and undercoating can be carried out as efficiently as possible on the remaining three coaches.

To say that we are impressed with the results would be a gross understatement; the body work looks better than new. All the rust and blemishes on the body sides have been removed, and the nose ends are similarly devoid of blemishes. It would be no exaggeration to say that Ilford has achieved as near to a mirror finish that we have ever seen on a Mark One vehicle ... MORE

By "Gordon's Minions"

It's 50 years since the closure of The Cuckoo Line , the informal name for a railway branch that linked the Sussex communities of Polegate and Eridge.

It was nicknamed the Cuckoo Line by drivers from a tradition observed at the annual fair at Heathfield, a station on the route. At the fair, which was held each April, a lady would release a cuckoo from a basket, it being supposedly the "first cuckoo of spring."

The route is now preserved as the " Cuckoo Trail ", a footpath and cycle way. 

Read this fascinating history of the Cuckoo Line by contributor Jeremy Clarke:

Even before its main line had been completed the London & Brighton Railway had received authorisation to build branches to Lewes and Newhaven, and to Shoreham though only the last, opened 12th May 1840, was constructed at the time.

It was left to the Brighton, Lewes & Hastings company, a Brighton "front", to open the coast line to Lewes on 8th June 1846, and through to St Leonards (Bulverhythe) two weeks later. At the end of the following month the L&B and the London & Croydon along with several other local companies, including the BL&HR, amalgamated to form the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway ... MORE

Looking north at Argos Hill on 11 June, 1965. No. 80142 is about to enter the short tunnel with the 3:14 p.m. Tunbridge Wells-to-Eastbourne train. With the end of the Cuckoo Line just two days away, the lineside looks immaculate. Photo by John J. Smith. "I love this picture because it seems to sum up the spirit of the Wealden branch lines so well, and something similar to what we recreate on our own Railway," writes Mark Thompson, who provided the photo.

Huntley Archives on the Cuckoo Line, 1960s.

Southern Films on the Cuckoo Line (1 of 4; others found with this video).


It was 50 years ago (on 13 June, 2-15) since the closure of Eastbourne Loco Depot, the last BR steam depot in Sussex.

It was not entirely the end of steam in Sussex, as Fratton and Redhill locos continued to work steam-hauled trains in and out of the county, and some steam facilities remained as mixed traction depots, but Southern steam was completely withdrawn in 1967.
The editors thank Paul Edwards and his contributors for permitting us to run this series on the steam depots of Sussex. We trust he and his ASLEF colleagues are marking this 50th anniversary, and we wish them well with the future development of their own depot-by-depot history. 

John Sandys (4 June, 2015): "A beautiful sunny day," which included "Stepney" showing off in a gleaming new coat of paint.

Keith Duke (31 May, 2015): "Baxter" goes through the tunnel.

John Sandys (9 June, 2015)

Martin Lawrence (June 2015): Includes a lovely photo of "Stepney" and a young admirer.

Derek Hayward (April 2013): Permission has been granted to view Derek's Barcombe Station photo collection. 


By Keith Duke.
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