"Giants of Steam 2015 at the Bluebell Railway," by Slam Door Media.
"Return of the Giants," by The Pico Productions.
"Bluebell Railway Giants of Steam," by Sound Whistle Media.
"Giants of Steam 2015", by Nick Dearden.
"Giants of Steam" on 31 Oct., 2015, by SatNavDan.
The Railway's Carol Service will take place on 5 dec., 2015 on the platforms of Horsted Keynes station. The service will be led by the Rector of Horsted Keynes and Chaplain to the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society. It starts at 7.30 p.m., with the station refreshment room open from 6 p.m. with hot snacks and mulled wine available for purchase.  More information here .

By Colin Tyson

For Derek Osborne, 28 Oct., 2015 saw retirement from railway service for the second time! A regular face as signalman at Horsted Keynes Signal Box on a Wednesday, his links with Horsted Keynes go back further than the Bluebell Railway.

His mainline career began 57 years ago when he joined the Southern Region of British Railways in 1958 and assumed signalman duties at Horsted Keynes. This was just after the routes to Sheffield Park and East Grinstead had closed for the second time. The electrified branch to Haywards Heath via Ardingly was, however, still open for passenger services.

Derek remained a signalman at Horsted Keynes for more than three years, and in that time he witnessed the emergence of the embryonic Bluebell Railway and its commencement of operations between Sheffield Park and Bluebell Halt just south of Horsted Keynes.

As part of his duties, Derek was advised to ensure that the over-enthusiastic volunteers at the Railway did not encroach north of their agreed territory at Bluebell Halt.

In the early 60s Derek moved from Horsted Keynes to Kemp Town Junction Box and then on to Preston Park, both in the Brighton area. His career with BR continued up to the early 90s when retired just before BR's privatisation.

His links with Horsted Keynes and our Railway had already been forged, and as a volunteer he once again became signalman at his "home box", an affiliation which was to last around 30 years.

This outstanding achievement was recognised at a gathering  of friends, colleagues, and a large family turnout, with a  presentation made by PLC Chairman Dick Fearn.

Good luck, Derek, and thank you.

By Roger Garman, Communications Director

Writes Tony Hillman: "The Railway's photo collections include many images that include  railway infrastructure. Here's a small selection from John Smith and Alan Postlethwaite ..."

Martin Lawrence's 28 Oct., 2015 video highlights Derek Osborne's last day in the Horsted Keynes signal box before retirement.
Due to popular demand, extra Golden Arrow Pullman dining services have been added, on 17 Dec., 2015 and 3 Jan., 2016. The Golden Arrow Pullman dining service is  £75 per person, which includes three hours travel and a three-course meal with coffee. Learn more here

* Full Title: Giants Refreshed: Pacifics in the Doncaster Locomotive Works
* Artist: Terence Tenison Cuneo
* Date painted: 1947
* Medium: Oil on canvas, 78 x 122 cm
* Collection: Doncaster Museum Service

Notes: One of Doncaster Museum Service's most recent purchases is this powerful painting of the Doncaster Plant Works, by the famous railway artist Terence Cuneo.

Cuneo was commissioned to paint the picture by the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1947, as a design for a poster to promote their services. In the following year, after nationalisation of the railways, the poster was re-issued by British Railways.

Click on the BBC image to see a larger version.
Parents! The Kids for a Quid offer will be running on weekends throughout November. Details here .  
"Nos. 30541 and 847 at Sheffield Park on 24 Oct., 2015," by "bobnweaver".
An update with the current positions in the Football Competition which is raising funds for the overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864 . The competition remains very close, with only 2 points separating the top four! Jose Mourinho has no comment.  

Arrangements had to be made to transfer two snowmen to East Grinstead for the Christmas season. So I recorded in the diary a request to reserve the saloon section of coach No. 3360 on the 1617 service from Horsted Keynes to East Grinstead on 8 Nov., 2015 for a Mr. S. Nowman.
This ruse clearly worked as reservation labels were duly produced in the sales office. Sheffield Park station staff promptly reserved the accommodation, and Station Master James Young loaded the VIPs onto the train (having at first thought the reservations were for a real customer, as advised by station staff!)
The snowmen reported a comfortable journey, but one did require the use of the new platform facilities upon his arrival! Anyway, they have arrived safely, and I am delighted with the service provided by the staff on the day, so thank you for all your help
By Tim Baker, Commercial Director
"BR Southern Region Steam in 1967, Part 1," by "ta455driver". Parts 2 and 3 can be found in the "up next" links for this video.

Here's arguably the pick of Derek Hayward's "Giants of Steam" photos--showing No. 4464 accepting a token at Kingscote--which can be found in Derek's event gallery . For more photos, see our gallery below.

The weekend of 31 Oct. and 1 Nov., 2015 saw the Bluebell Railway stage its "Giants of Steam" event, which returned after a five-year absence. This was the first time that the Gala had been staged since extending the line into East Grinstead in 2013.

By Martin Lawrence
The resident locos rostered for service were SR S15 No. 847; Q class No. 30541; and BR Standard 5/Arthur class No. 73082 "Camelot", which had just returned to traffic after overhaul.

The visiting loco line-up included a last minute change. Schools class  No. 925 "Cheltenham" helped supplement the Southern line-up, but due to a technical fault the previous weekend, BR Standard class 7 "Britannia" No. 70000, was unable to join us.

So fast work by Loco Director Chris Hanford and his team resulted in the appearance of LNER A4 Pacific class No. 4464 "Bittern". Chris said that this was an amazing result and passed on his gratitude to Locomotive Services Ltd and the Mid-Hants Railway for making the visit possible at short notice. With this likely to be "Bittern's" last outing before overhaul, its appearance was greeted with enthusiasm. Both visiting locomotives arrived by road.

Photographers were pleased to see an 18-wagon goods train scheduled on both days, hauled by Maunsell goods locomotives nos. 30541 and 847.

An extensive timetable, behind the scenes tours, an array of steam motive power and good weather saw visitors numbers rocket. Saturday was the busier of the two days, and overall visitor numbers exceeded 3,000 over the weekend. Commercial Director Tim Baker said the numbers exceeded expectations and while feedback had been very good, some lessons have been learned which will feed into planning for next year's event!

By Roger Garman, Communications Director

By Kieran Hardy

"Obscured by Clouds" by Stephen Garratt.

By Dan Green

Oliver Abbot's photo shows the Bulleid Society's No. 21C123 "Blackmoor Vale" , one of the Railway's "resting giants" hauled from the shed for a spot of fresh air during "Giants of Steam".

By David Stubbins.

According to AOL Travel, the Bluebell Railway is one of England's top four English rail journeys!   

The summer passed in the loco department as quickly as it came, and we now find ourselves preparing for winter. Our daily service is now over and from an operational point of view, summer passed with a reliable locomotive fleet.

With winter just around the corner and the recent photo charters now completed, the Works will focus on preparing the operational locos for Santa Specials, completing the list of maintenance jobs and looking at the early 2016 motive power requirements. With just the occasional maintenance work on our C class No. 592 boiler over the summer, all the other locos performed faultlessly which is a credit to Andy Sabin and his team of paid and volunteer staff.

The biggest news though is the welcome return to traffic of BR Standard class 5 No. 73082 "Camelot" after a 10-year absence. The loco was substantially complete by the end of September in readiness for the painters who arrived on 5 Oct., 2015 to complete the top coat, lining, and varnish that week. The end result is superb, and the loco looks amazing. Our thanks go to Ian Hewitt and his team at Heritage Painting for an excellent job and to the volunteer painters within the Works too.

With our focus on returning the loco to traffic for "Giants of Steam", it was all hands to the pump to complete the final fitting and the inevitable snagging list. Test trains were undertaken starting 19 Oct., which threw up the odd issue, but otherwise they were very successful. So in the final week before Giants these last little jobs were completed, and on 31 Oct. the loco was officially released into traffic.

While on the subject of "Giants", our planned visit by BR Standard class 7 No. 70000 "Britannia" was cancelled at the last minute due to an issue developing while the loco was out on a mainline run a week before our event. So after many phone calls and emails, I was pleased to be able to announce the visit of A4 No. 4464 "Bittern" as a replacement. This would be the first visit of an A4 to the Railway and a suitable "giant" for our event. Thanks must go to Locomotive Services Ltd and the Mid-Hants Railway for the role they played in ensuring the A4 could visit--both parties making significant efforts to ensure the A4 and, of course, Schools class No. 925 "Cheltenham" were ready to make the journey to Sussex.

Overall "Giants" was a huge success with the visitor numbers and turnover above what the Railway expected. Thanks must go to all the staff and volunteers who put hours of work into the planning and preparation and who attended on both days to ensure the service ran to the highest standard.

Elsewhere in the Works, the new platework for Schools class No. 928 "Stowe" is now being installed, and the first section of the new outer firebox is prepped and ready for welding in place. BR Standard class 4 Tank No. 80151 has entered the Works, and within a week the loco was stripped, the boiler lifted out, motion removed, and the loco will shortly be lifted from its wheels. Some maintenance work is being carried out to E4 No. 473 (stay replacement work, new slide valves, and new piston rings) and the S15 will enter the Works shortly for a piston and valve exam.

Off-site, the boiler work on "Sir Archibald Sinclair" continues at LNWR Crewe, with the new outer firebox sections now in place and the new inner firebox platework on site. When the loco returns to traffic next year, this also will be a welcome addition to the fleet.

By Chris Hunford, Locomotive Director

Christmas is almost upon us and the team involved in dressing our stations are hard at work. Christmas lights are now in place at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, and Kingscote stations, with East Grinstead to be completed this coming week.

Father Christmas's log cabin has now arrived at Horsted Keynes and the Reindeer reception marquee will be erected this coming week.

The Victorian Christmas event on 22 Dec., 2015 quickly sold out, so an extra train will now run at 5:15 p.m. on 23 Dec. Our Victorian service includes a hamper of food and drink to enjoy in your very own Victorian compartment whilst travelling to Horsted Keynes to meet Father Christmas.

Meanwhile, the Reindeer Service from East Grinstead entitles families to an exclusive compartment on our Edwardian train with a stop at Kingscote station to see a family of reindeer, before continuing on to Horsted Keynes to visit Father Christmas and the fairground attractions hoop-la, Splat the Rat, and the Hall of Mirrors.

Our Santa Specials depart from Sheffield Park each weekend, plus on 23 and 24 Dec. Santa himself will be on board with gifts for every child. If Mum and Dad have been good, they will receive a hot mince pie to enjoy. New for 2015 are Santa Specials from East Grinstead on 22 Dec. at 12:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.

All our Christmas services are filling up very quickly so early booking is advised.

Our luxurious Golden Arrow dining service also operates until 3 Jan., 2016. All services were completely sold out by the beginning of October; however, two extra dates have now been added on the evening of 17 Dec. and a lunch time train on 3 Jan.

Don't forget after Christmas the Fairy Godmother will visit the line together with Prof. Ray Sparks for lots of fun on board our trains from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead. There will be a special gift for every child together with reserved seats in our warm and cosy vintage carriages. Advance booking is essential, by calling 01825 720800 or by dropping by the Travel Centre at East Grinstead or the Sales and Information Office at Sheffield Park.

By Tim Baker, Commercial Director

Click here to see more details about all the upcoming seasonal specials.
The 2016 Golden Arrow Murder Mystery programme has added another date (15 April, 2016). Details here .

Maunsell Locomotive Society's V class No. 928 "Stowe" Facebook page has some nice photos and updates, including weld preparation for the new throatplate:

"The new right hand half side has been cut to shape and tack welded to the existing material. Work on the opposite side is almost complete. The old throatplate is being used as a datum; once both sides are welded in place, the new throatplate will be offered up and fixed to the boiler barrel."

The two iconic wooden LB&SCR signals at the North end of Sheffield Park platforms are planned to be replaced in the New Year, and the opportunity is to be taken to locate them 30 yards towards Horsted Keynes.

By Tadie88 (Creative Commons license).
The new position has been authorised by the Operational Safety Review Group. It will facilitate the long-term aspirations of extending the platforms. The details of the work are at present being discussed with the civil engineer who will provide the bases. The finer details of height, alignment, and the appearance to the driver will be reviewed with a formal meeting of a Signal Sighting Committee.

Representatives of the committee from the Footplate and Operations departments will be given the opportunity to suggest improvements, and when all have agreed, they will approve the arrangements. It is intended that the new signals will look to the untrained eye the same as they are today, albeit in the revised position and of course with a fresh coat of paint.

The impressive Down Home bracket signal also requires major repairs. The structure requires a detailed survey to confirm the extent of the work, and to facilitate this, it is intended to have it fitted out with scaffolding. It is possible that the structure will require total replacement, but whatever the extent of the work, the signals will have to be taken out of work and replaced by a temporary signalling arrangement.

It is part of the strategy to keep this interim arrangement in use for as short a time as possible.

By Brian Hymas
The Bluebell Railway Atlantic Group has some updates on its webpage that can be found here.

Meanwhile, Project 27 has some good news to report in regards to No. 27's right-hand horn guide. The project's weekly update can be read here .  

The prototype or "pattern" vehicle for this design was built by the South Eastern & Chatham Railway (SECR) in 1918. The 12-inch deep underframe contained compartments filled with scrap metal, giving it its tare weight of 25 tons.

It was a thoroughly modern vehicle and significantly heavier than most vans in use on other pre-grouping railways. The high tare weight was considered necessary for working long freight trains, composed of wagons with handbrake only, on some of the lengthy descending gradients in SECR territory.

A production batch with detail differences to the pattern van, was built in 1921. The underframe was subsequently re-designed with a 15-inch deep solebar; this design being allocated SR Diagram No. 1560.

11916 was one of a batch of 20 vans ordered to be built by the SECR at their Ashford (Kent) Works. It was completed in 1923 (after the grouping) and was probably turned out in SR livery. Its SR number was 55477.

20 more vans were built to this design by the SR in 1926/27 at the ex-LBSCR Lancing Works.

The nickname "Dance Hall" was applied by SR crews on account of the large cabin area available, which was generally occupied only by the guard. One can imagine a dry-humoured railway goods guard exclaiming that it was "big enough to hold a dance in!" ... MORE
Mike Anton   (October 2015): Mike put together a gallery of events leading up to Giants of Steam weekend. 

Derek Hayward
(October 2015): Derek's "Camelot" gallery. 

Paul Gildersleve (4 Nov., 2015): Photos from the Q class photo charter, featuring Mk. 1 carriages.  

By Paul Gildersleve.

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