The Railway's Giants of Steam event is back again this year, being held over the weekend of 31 October and 1 Nov., 2015. 


It's been quite a few years since we last ran this event, primarily because we didn't have any "giants" in our operational fleet! But with recent improvements to the loco running fleet, now is the time to stage the event again. 


In addition to our own "giants", we have some visiting locos booked for the event in the form of BR Standard class 7 No. 70000 "Britannia" and SR class V No. 925 "Cheltenham". 


These will run alongside our SR S15 No. 847, SR Q class No. 30541, and, if complete in time, BR Standard class 5 No. 73082 "Camelot". 


As always all these locos are subject to availability, so everyone please keep your fingers crossed! We look forward to seeing you at the event. 


By Chris Hunford, Locomotive Director 


Find more details and purchase tickets (discounts on tickets purchased by 18 Oct.) here .

Martin Lawrence's "Sheffield Park to East Grinstead in Five Minutes" (2015).

Online and postal booking is now open for the Bluebell Railway's hugely popular Santa Special trains, starting 5 Dec., 2015.

Telephone booking for Santa Specials opens on 5 Oct., but third class tickets may be purchased online here . The postal booking form can be found here .

Booking for Reindeer Specials is also now open: phone 01825 720800 or book online .

And book now for the Victorian Christmas trains on 22 Dec., 2015, including an opportunity to purchase tickets for an exclusive carriage compartment on one of the Railway's Victorian carriages for up to six passengers.

Visit bluebell-railway.com to learn more on all these seasonal specials!
"Steam on the Met", 12 Sept., 2015, by JS Rail Videos.

During autumn, the Railway's steam-hauled services will operate every day from East Grinstead to Sheffield Park through the delightful Sussex countryside. This is a special time of year when the trees display their magnificent golden colours.

Just a short walk across the parkland from Sheffield Park station is the National Trust Garden with more than 87 "champion trees" planted throughout, some of which help to provide a vibrant autumnal colour show.

Special Notes:

On weekdays between 5 and 23 Oct., the 12:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. departures from Sheffield Park and the 1:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. departures from East Grinstead include the Observation Car. This train only seats 65 passengers, therefore advance booking is recommended. Travel on this train is subject to a £1 supplement.

Each Saturday and Sunday until the end of October a special bus service will link the Railway and the National Trust Garden.

Find more information about this year's the Autumn Tints Specials. 
Huntley Film Archives: "Okehampton to Tavistock line, 1950s".

The Railway has a number of positions open. Visit this link for all details on the following:
  • Safety Manager
  • Loco Workshop Manager
  • Infrastructure Assistant
  • Chef
  • Kitchen Porter
  • Catering Staff
  • Silver Service Waiting Staff
PLUS, there are plenty of opportunities (as always!) for volunteers.

Writes Tony Hillman: "The old Southern route between Okehampton and Plymouth still seems to appear in the news, so here's six John J. Smith images from this line."


* Full Title: "Forging Ahead: The First British Railways Standard Express Locomotive" (i.e., No. 70000 "Britannia")
* Artist: Terence Tenison Cuneo
* Date: 1952
* Medium: Oil on canvas, 96 x 133.5 cm
* Collection: National Railway Museum

Click on the BBC image to see a larger version.
"Front Window 6: Q class No. 30541", by The Southerner.
American blogger "Super Train Station H" visited us in the summer, and his Tumblr site is full of vacation memories.

No. 37706 opens up through Preston Park working 0Q37 (Lovers Walk-to-Streatham) on 20 Sept., 2015, by Trainmania100


John Sandys' photo shows the Q class back in action on 15 Sept., 2015. For this and more photos taken by John on that day, click here .

The Bluebell Railway is delighted to report that an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the ASH (Accessible Steam Heritage) Project has received a first round pass.

The project will revitalise the way the Railway shows its locos through substantial repairs to the Running Shed, which will be converted into an Exhibition Hall. There will be provision for footplate access by both pedestrians and wheelchair users to static locos. There also will be an exciting exhibition of how steam engines work.

The exhibition is planned to include a footplate driving experience based on a mock-up of No. 55 "Stepney", alongside the original 19th century engine. To release space in the Running Shed and provide more undercover space for routine loco maintenance, the project will build a new maintenance facility over the wash-out pit and adjacent siding in the loco yard.

A first round pass means the HLF has agreed initial support of £30,000 to develop the project in order to make a second stage application for the full grant in 11 months time. The total project cost will be in excess of £1 million. That includes a substantial amount of "effort in kind" put in by many members of the Railway's 700-strong volunteer labour force.

Funding Director Roger Kelly says, "We are delighted by this endorsement of our Railway by the HLF. When completed we will have an educational and entertainment facility based around steam locos that will be accessible to everyone and unique in the South of England. There is now a lot to do to develop the project and to raise the matching funding to go with the full HLF award before a second round application for that grant can be submitted. We have a strong team ready to go, and the work starts now".

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, says, "We are extremely pleased that, thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to give the green light to this exciting project which will allow many more people to explore the history of steam locomotion."

Local MP Maria Caulfield says, "I'm delighted that the Bluebell Railway has been successful. The proposal is exciting and innovative and of great educational value. This will give everyone one more reason to visit the Railway and learn more about our wonderful heritage".

Lewes District Council is making a £1,000 grant to the development of the project. Chair of the Council Ruth O'Keefe says she was very pleased "to hear the good news about the award made to the Bluebell Railway for its interesting and well thought out proposals for the Locomotive Exhibition. I am sure that it will be a great addition to what is already a very popular attraction. I really enjoyed my recent visit and am looking forward to returning to see the exhibition in place".

Click here to view an artist's rendition of the project.
The Vintage Bus Services Day will be on 4 Oct., 2015. All services are free. Click here for more details.

OP4 Steering Group Chair Dick Fearn recently updated PLC Directors and Society Trustees on the OP4 project, a very important project to help protect carriage stock awaiting restoration from the elements.

OP4 is a phased project, with Phase 1 being site clearance and enabling works, and Phase 2, the erection of the supporting structure and roof.

The site clearance has been a bigger task than initially contemplated, but the site now looks better for it, and the work is nearly complete. A legacy received by the PLC, monies from the Trust, and the overwhelming contribution from the Cash for Cover (C4C) Appeal means that financial resources will be in place to complete Phases 1 and 2 at a total cost of just less than £500,000, including some contingencies.

Therefore, we are ready to award the fixed price contract to Robert Stevenson, a company very experienced in erecting structures of this type. It is hoped that work will commence early in October and that impact on day-to-day Carriage & Wagon Department operations, including access to the inspection pit, is minimised.

Additional monies raised by C4C means that steel fabrication for attached buildings--a mess room, offices, etc.--will be included in the work.

It was confirmed that OP4 is not intended to be used for the covering of coach stock presently in service, which would in any event be precluded until full pointwork and connection to the existing track is completed.

The remaining phases--which will include adding cladding/walls, a parts storage shed, mess room, offices, doors, full linkage to the track system, and probably an enhanced power supply for the Horsted Keynes site--are still to be finally costed and, more importantly, funded.

This additional work and its costs are being looked at as a priority. However, it was recognised that whilst the contractor is on site, adding cladding/walls will be more easily achieved if funds are available.

By Roger Garman, Communications Director

Things are progressing steadily on the OP4 Project, and the Infrastructure Team has now turned its attention to the top end of the yard next to the existing carriage shed.

Recent jobs have included casting concrete bases for the temporary Carriage & Wagon office and Trim Shop cabins, which were finally delivered last Tuesday (see my photo at right). The positioning of the cabins made it easy for delivery, and once they were linked together, a pre-fab staircase was assembled for access to the office that is over the temporary trim shop.

One old, large wooden building on the site has already been dismantled (some of it fell down!) and disposed of. Once the new office is in use, the old office building will be demolished as well, along with other now redundant buildings and sheds.

The existing Trim Shop is still in quite good condition, so that will be refurbished and recycled for another use. The Electrical Department was due to connect up the cabins this week, and concrete plinths have now been cast to provide step access to outside doors and the base of the staircase.

Other recent infrastructure work includes renewing old fencing at the end of the washout pit road at Sheffield Park, now that all the fencing is finished at the Imberhorne tip site.

By Mike Hopps
An additional date (10 Dec., 2015) has been added for the Murder Mystery Evenings on the Golden Arrow. Details and synopses are here .

After a successful stint at "Steam on the Met 2015", the Railway's four Metropolitan Railway carriages returned home on 16 Sept., 2015, with thanks to GBRf 73s. The coaches are seen here in Nicholas Woollven's photo at Clapham Junction.

15 Aug., 2015 was the date agreed for the Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) Fundraising Day, despite me being almost as far away as possible in Alice Springs, Australia (this was probably the reason why the date was chosen!)

An excellent day was had by all who attended, and thanks must go to the members of FOSP who looked after the stalls; the musicians from the jazz band and the saxophone group, who provided the entertainment; members of the Operations Department, who worked the Brake Van shuttles into and out of the Pumphouse Siding; and Tim Baker, who kindly donated tickets for the Wealden Rambler, which were raffled with all tickets being sold.

Thanks to the generosity of those who purchased, listened, travelled, or played the raffle, a magnificent total of £750 was raised on the day, which is going to fund the replacement of the unsightly and out-of-character concrete fencing at the north end of Platform 1 ... or is it?!

No it's not, because a sponsor has come forward to fund the replacement fence, which means that the money will now cover the cost of providing concrete bases for the tables located in the Picnic Area. This work will be undertaken early next year in time for spring.
By Graham Aitken, Fundraising Secrectary, FOSP
The next Vintage Goods Train has been moved to 10 Oct., 2015 for operational reasons. View the latest Loco Duty Roster .

The V class No. 928 "Stowe" project has had some good news, with the steel half sides and new throat plate arriving for the boiler restoration. This photo shows the brand new throat plate. Many more photos of progress can be seen on the project's Facebook page .

(Another gem from the museum website-The Eds.)

... It is planned that the Goods Yard area at Kingscote will be converted to recreate a typical station Goods Yard from the 1950s. Various equipment will be included including a yard crane, cattle pens, etc.

The Goods Shed

During 2015 the Friends of Kingscote completed a total overhaul of the Kingscote Goods Shed. This work took nine months to complete and cost £3,000.

Although much of the external timber was in good order, having been protected by many layers of paint, 10 of the 12 roof joists needed to be replaced.

The zinc panels on the roof were found to be life expired, but the cost of using zinc replacements was prohibitive. As the roof cannot be seen from the ground coated steel sheeting was used on the roof with zinc flashings to resemble the original appearance.
The Kingscote Goods Shed was originally sited at Horsted Keynes. It is believed that it was built in 1890 when goods facilities were provided along the line. It was extended to its current size in about 1920 ...

The complete webpage can be found here .


John Sandys (19 Sept., 2015): "A lovely sunny day at the Railway today with quite a few passengers enjoying the day. Shots of the Q-Class on the main Set & the H-Class looking great in the sunshine with the Maunsell Set, also a look in the Works at an almost finished Camelot and work to install new lighting."

John Sandys (22 Sept., 2015): "An April Showers type of day today (in September?!--The Eds) , but quite busy for a Service One running day."

By John Sandys.
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