East Grinstead on 4 Aug., 2015, by John Sandys.



The Bluebell Railway and local bus preservationists will join forces on 16 Aug., 2015 to recreate the northern half of the old Southdown Service 92 between East Grinstead and Uckfield, and a small section of the joint Southdown/Maidstone & District Service 122 in the Uckfield area. 


Along with many other events this year, it celebrates in a small way the 100th anniversary this summer of the incorporation of Southdown Motor Services Ltd, for many years the major bus and coach service provider in Sussex and east Hampshire.


Click here for more information.

Bluebell Railway Class S15 No. 847, by Martin Tyler.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout August (including August bank holiday weekend 29-31 Aug., 2015) Punch & Judy Shows will be performed at Horsted Keynes station at 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3:15p.m.

Visitors can travel from Sheffield Park or East Grinstead station to Horsted Keynes to enjoy the show. Punch & Judy shows are included in the price of travel or station admission tickets. 

Book in advance and take advantage of our popular discounted Bluebell Bonus tickets . Tickets allow unlimited travel throughout the day. Discounted tickets are only applicable if booked at least eight days in advance of the travel date (these non-refundable and non-transferable tickets are not available at booking offices on the day of travel, or valid during the Vintage Transport Weekend on 8-9 Aug., 2015)

For more information, click here .
From the Financial Times : Rolling stock shortage prompts return of trains
from the 1960s.
Southern at War Weekend 2015, by Martin Fuge.

Visit the Bluebell Railway Museum's website for a complete list and description of latest accessions, including: 
  • A miniature Billiard/Snooker table presented by the Southern Railway for interdepartmental competition.
  • A commemorative paperweight in a brass case containing a piece of Siemens' high power cable used in the first third-rail electrification from Waterloo in 1915.
  • A listing of Brighton Railway staff awarded honours and decorations in World War I.
  • An iconic poster from 1947 by Pat Keely advertising electric and diesel locomotives.


No. 92212 enters Horsted Keynes on 9 April, 2013, by Ben Jenden.


Some U class locos, paying tribute to the Railway's U class, which has been retired fro  service, all from the John J. Smith collection curated by Tony Hillman.


U class No. 31634 at Queen's Road Battersea on 9 Oct., 1959.

The Ferryhill Railway Heritage Trust (Aberdeen, Scotland) has been granted almost £300,000 to renovate a historic locomotive turntable.

Based at Sheffield Park the Infrastructure Department is responsible for all fixed assets including the permanent way, structures, buildings, and services.

This job is a full-time, salaried post with some weekend and unsocial hours involved. The Infrastructure Assistant will report to the Infrastructure Manager and will be required to work with volunteer resources on a wide range of infrastructure maintenance, repairs, and renewals.

This opportunity will suit a person with practical skills who is interested in a varied career working across the entire Railway.

For more information and for application forms and a copy of the job description, e-mail Lisa Boyle or stop by the Sheffield Park General Office. Application deadline is 7 Sept., 2015.
Taking water, by John Sandys.


On 3 Aug., 2015 Roy Watts MBE, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, was delighted to welcome East Grinstead's Town Mayor Councillor Dick Sweatman to the Railway at East Grinstead Station to formally open the platform canopy and disabled persons facility, a combined project that cost just under £50,000.

In his remarks, Roy recalled that when operating the Railway's first trains into East Grinstead on 23 March, 2013 it snowed! Now at least the Railway can provide some shelter for our passengers in case of inclement weather. In constructing the canopy, the opportunity was seized to also provide a more readily accessible disabled persons facility on the platform.

The Bluebell Railway/East Grinstead link has changed the dynamics of where people are entering the Railway for a day out and how they are travelling to it. The ongoing commitment and support of the people of East Grinstead and East Grinstead Town Council were gratefully acknowledged. The Mayor both unveiled a plaque commemorating the event and "unlocked" the facilities for public use!

Councillor Sweatman stated how important the Bluebell Railway connection is for promoting tourism in his town and that the benefits of increased visitor numbers are still accruing. He was introduced to other members of the Railway, including the East Grinstead station staff and two of the team that built the canopy facility. 

Formalities were concluded just in time for the Town Mayor to see the arrival of the first up service from Sheffield Park.


Although the Railway does not have a start date for the Western Extension Project (WEP), we are beginning to address site planning and other permissions, as well as finances and fundraising.

Part of this process is to determine public interest and passenger demand in a western extension to Ardingly. We are therefore asking that our readers help us by filling out a survey that asks short questions about your use of the Railway and possible future use of a western branch line. The survey should only take a few minutes of your time, but it will help us immensely.   

Currently, the Bluebell Railway owns or leases the track-bed to Ardingly, and there is an existing railway line between Ardingly and Haywards Heath used by Hanson Aggregates. This line is still part of the national operational rail network owned by Network Rail, and it is used for aggregates freight trains for Hanson. The proposed new Bluebell Railway line will be different to the old Ardingly branch because of existing business activity by Hanson. Unfortunately, use of the existing station at Ardingly will not be possible.

We do not have indication of the cost of work yet, but we know it will involve installing a new bridge at Horsted Keynes and renovation of an existing tunnel. WEP represents a financial challenge similar to the Northern Extension Project to East Grinstead. However, we are not looking for public financial support at present!

Thank you very much for your help. The survey can be found here .

If you missed B473 pulling the vintage good train on 1 Aug., 2015 (photo below), "Captain Baxter" will be doing the honours on 22 Aug., 2015. No word yet on whether he'll be taking in the cricket match between the Bluebell Railway XI and Scaynes Hill CC!




Peter Gibbs' photo shows No. 73082 "Camelot" back in the Workshop now that roof work is complete. Latest progress includes the tender tank in the Horsted Keynes paintshop, which is now painted gloss black all over. On the loco, the whistle operating gear has been fitted in the cab and more pipe work, destined for the cab area, is being prepared for fitting. Work is still ongoing in the smokebox area.

The tube for the superheater elements is on site and test welds are being done before manufacture of the elements. The locomotive-to-tender hoses are being replaced, where necessary. For more updates, visit the Camelot Locomotive Society's Facebook page.

Charles Hudson restoring a signal machine for use at Kingscote.
Progress towards re-controlling the signalling at Kingscote from the temporary South Box to the permanent North Box continues with a number of important milestones completed.

The construction of the "L" style lever frame was completed in April which allowed a small dedicated team to commence wiring up the contacts, lever locks, and indications. This work involved running more than 2,500 wires and terminating them with identity beads and crimped connectors.

These ends were then attached to the appropriate equipment and progress recorded on the installation diagrams. The work was completed four weeks earlier than planned, which allowed a totally independent team to start checking the work against the test records. So far 50% of this checking has been complete without any errors being found.

Wiring nearing completion under the lever frame.
Meanwhile, the telecoms team have begun overhauling a telephone concentrator that manually switches incoming telephone calls into one handset. We have been lucky in swapping the original identified  unit with a more suitable one from another heritage railway, which will make installation and testing much easier. Most of the telephone cables were run into position at the same time as the signal cables and are ready for termination and testing.

Trackside work has commenced by fitting the present wire operated signals with electric motors. Known as signal machines, these motors had been used at Horsted Keynes until those signals were converted to mechanical wire operation. The machines have been stripped down and each component overhauled before painting, refitting, and testing.

The points at the south end of the loop, which at present are controlled from the south signal box, also require fitting with an electric point machine, which has been overhauled and delivered to site ready for installation.

Regular meetings are held with the Infrastructure Director to ensure that progress is maintained and that other departments are informed of any issues arising. It is hoped the North Box will be brought into work early in 2016, but priority must be given, with a limited volunteer labour force, to maintaining the working railway.

Richard Salmon has spotted a lovely illustration of how steam trains work, from the Peter's Railway website. Good to share with young'uns who might think it's all magic!


Recently elected Member of Parliament for Lewes Maria Caulfield spent the first morning of her summer recess visiting the Bluebell Railway at Sheffield Park on 22 July, 2015.

She was received by Funding Director Roger Kelly and Communications Director Roger Garman. Maria had recently added her endorsement to the resubmission of our application for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund in connection with the Accessible Steam Heritage (ASH) project at Sheffield Park. Her time with us afforded the opportunity to provide an overview of the railways operations and a tour of the site for ASH.

Her tour also included a visit to Atlantic House, where she met Locomotive Director Chris Hunford, a sponsor of the ASH project. Whilst at Sheffield Park Maria was introduced to BRPS Vice Chairman Sam Bee and Operations Director Russell Pearce.

She was also given a view of the Q class's footplate before its 1100 departure, and Driver Mick Blackburn introduced her to his crew for the day. A frequent visitor to the Railway in the past, we hope to see Maria Caulfield, MP again before too long.

This visit follows a recent visit by Ruth O'Keefe, Chair of Lewes District Council, who spent several hours at the Railway earlier in July. Roger Garman and Roger Kelly were her hosts. The Council has offered a small grant as a contribution to the development phase of the ASH project should the latest application to the Heritage Lottery Fund be successful. Ruth was briefed on ASH, and she made several suggestions for sources of funding for this and other projects.


Recent activity by the Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) has been focused on carrying out a cosmetic refurbishment of the "Travelling College" volunteer sleeping coach. The vehicle has been in steady decline for a number of years, resulting in its rather poor state--not a terribly inviting prospect for an overnight stay.

To date, FOSP members have concentrated on clearing out old carpets and deep cleaning; at the same time our experienced "heavy gang" has stripped out the rotten flooring in the north end toilet compartment and replaced it with a double layer of 22mm ply, so that users will no longer be in danger of a rapid exit downwards! Photos show the replacement of the toilet compartment floor in progress--not the nicest of volunteer assignments!

Weatherproofing is a main priority, as over time the roof gutters had become blocked and partly detached from the body. This situation is being rectified and other measures (such as resealing the windows) should see the vehicle once again water-tight.

New mattresses have been procured and are ready for installation when the heavy work has been completed. We anticipate fitting new vinyl floor coverings, and we may consider having these professionally fitted to get a decent fit and finish. It now may be possible to allow use of the vehicle pending completion of the above tasks.

The Carriage & Wagon works needs equipment of all sorts to make its operations easy, or even possible. The changes being brought about by Operation Undercover 4 involve moving our storage containers much further away from the buildings, so a mode of transport a bit more advanced than a hand-powered barrow has become essential.

You might have seen from a passing train that a milk float is now parked in the yard. In view of the short distance required to travel, it seemed that a battery electric vehicle would be most suitable, especially for minimising its maintenance workload. Our new vehicle--a Smiths "Elizabethan"--has been donated in working order.

One of our most important pieces of equipment are the carriage jacks on the maintenance road, visible in the distance from the station driveway. The workload we now have for maintenance, repair, and overhaul has outgrown one set of jacks, creating bottlenecks in the workflow.

Funding for an additional set of jacks might become available shortly, so we are looking into this right now. Another set will enable frequent short jobs to be carried out without interrupting larger jobs.

By Lewis Nodes, Rolling Stock Director

Premier Construction News writes about building the "missing link" between between Robertsbridge and Bodiam on the Kent & East Sussex Railway:


"Creating a new heritage railway transport link between the main line railway system at Robertsbridge Junction in East Sussex and the Kent & East Sussex Railway at Bodiam, the impressive new Rother Valley Railway (RVR), under construction, will operate as a public leisure transport corridor." 


Nicholas Comfort's The Regional Railways Story , which he has co-written with Gordon Pettitt, will be published on 20 Aug., 2015 by the Oxford Publishing Company, part of the Ian Allan group.

"Now President of the Bluebell Railway, Gordon is one of the greats of the latter days of British Rail, having been in turn General Manager of the Southern Region, Director of BR's Provincial Sector, and the founder of the vertically integrated Regional Railways which succeeded it," says Nick.

"Our book is the third of a series about the component parts of BR, and a sequel to Chris Green's acclaimed The Inter-City Story and The Network SouthEast Story ."

The book starts in 1982 with the creation of Provincial to manage BR's most hopeless passenger services. It covers its rebirth as an imaginative managerial focus brought new trains and new services, as well as the revival of passenger demand that continued under Regional Railways and to this day.

The book also addresses privatisation and the success stories of ScotRail, the TransPennine Express, and other parts of the railway that in 1982 were a whisker away from oblivion. Services in major conurbations are scrutinised, and the reprieve of the Settle & Carlisle line is covered in detail, as are the still-challenging finances of operating a rural railway.

Adds Nick, "Our book contains valuable insights from key figures in the railway over the past three decades and some fascinating stories. It is profusely illustrated. Gordon and I end with a review of the challenges facing regional railways today, with business still growing but Network Rail still struggling to deliver electrification and to increase capacity. I hope you enjoy the book. Putting it together with Gordon has been a pleasure and privilege."



We are indulging in a bit of fundraising around the cricket match with Scaynes Hill CC on 22 Aug., 2015, on the ground next to the track at Freshfields.


The Railway has set up a  JustGiving page , and we have secured £300 in match funding. The first 30 donations to this page of £10 or over will be matched by £10 from this fund. Money will be split equally between the Cash for Cover and Keep Up the Pressure campaigns.


For its part, SHCC has been offered £200 in matching funding by estate agents Mishon Mackay ... "Mishon Mackay are delighted be associated with the very liked and respected cricket club at Scaynes Hill together with the world famous Bluebell Railway. These two local institutions are planning their inaugural cricket match on 22 Aug., 2015 to help raise money for both organisations, so please help us to raise much needed funds. Come along and watch if you enjoy cricket and an afternoon out." The cricket club's fundraising page can be found here.

Please consider supporting one or both teams (hedging your bet!) because we can all agree that a vibrant local cricket club playing next to the line enriches the Bluebell Railway experience for our visitors!


We encourage supporters of both sides/organisations to attend the match and "make a day of it." For more information, contact John Walls .     





John Sandys (28 July, 2015): A blustery but dry day saw a good turnout of passengers for the first week of the school holidays, with the Q class on the main Set and the H class on the Maunsell train.  

Martin Lawrence (August 2015): A start on the August album with trains and canopies!

John Sandys (4 Aug., 2015): "A very busy day with Kids for a Quid in full swing!"


Dave Bowles (1 Aug., 2015): A pleasant trip to the Railway in early August, and more.

Dave Clarke (various dates): Updates to many C&W projects, including work on LCDR/SECR Third No.3188; SR Maunsell "Hastings" brake 3rd No. 3687, SR 8-plank wagon No. 30004; and Elephant Van No. 4601.


Aron Stenning (30 July, 2015): "The first of two railway visits for my birthday, I visited the beloved Bluebell line ... "


Derek Hayward (2015): Updates to Derek's 2015 gallery, plus images from the Seaside Weekend .  


By John Sandys.

By Dave Bowles.
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!

It's time for the eNewsletter to go on holiday; you'll hear from us again on 30 Aug., 2015!
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