East Grinstead Online urges Bluebell Railway fans to "book early for an evening of Sausages and Swing"--at the Railway's Southern at War Weekend , 14-15 May, 2016--and offers details for the Diesel Gala on 15-17 April.
Visit bluebell-railway.com for information about all special events.
Nick Dearden: The Q class and others at the Mid-Hants. Enjoy another of Nick's recent videos (Bulleid Pacifics) here .
Great Central Railway bridge : "Work to reconnect two parts of a railway line which was divided into two over three decades ago has begun."
John Harwood: Q Class and S 15 passing at Kingscote, 29 Feb. 2016.
Enjoy this British Film Institute-preserved " Operation Bluebell " of 16 and 17 May, 1960, by Trevor White.

Bluebell Pioneers continue preparations, and what a good record of the earliest days.

In May 1960 No. 55 "Stepney" arrived with two carriages, nos. 1520 and 6575. Further deliveries occurred, and on 7 Aug., 1960 the Bluebell Railway was formally opened, conveying passengers in a four-carriage train with a loco at each end.  
Martin Lawrence's Bluebell Railway Compilation, February 2016.

* Full Name: Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway 4-4-0 Locomotive No. 41
* Artist: Cuthbert Hamilton Ellis (1909-1987)
* Medium: Oil on canvas
* Measurements: 25.3 x 37.7 cm
* Gallery: National Railway Museum
* Accession number: 1996-7365
* Acquisition method: Bequeathed, 1993

NOTE: The BBC "Your Painting" website/archive has been transferred to Art UK.
From the Brighton Museums: The fascinating " Untold War Story " of Gertrude Coggins, who became a ticket collector
at Brighton Station in 1915, when women were taking over the work of the men who had volunteered to join the Army.  

Recognising the potential for attracting active and retired mainline railway staff and their families to visit their railways, many heritage lines in the UK already offer national rail staff travel (RST) cardholder concessions, and they have done so for many years.

The list of such railways includes neighbours such as the Kent & East Sussex Railway and Mid-Hants and Isle of Wight, as well as North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Great Central and Severn Valley, and others.

With our Railway's connection to the main network at East Grinstead, the attraction for such cardholders to visit us is now stronger than ever. Accordingly, we have successfully applied to join these concessionary travel arrangements.
The arrangement becomes effective 1 April, 2016, and separate instruction notices will be sent to all our booking offices, the sales team, and Traveling Ticket Inspectors (TTIs).

As we continue with our efforts to attract more day visitor traffic, we hope that this effort will contribute to the numbers.

The concession afforded is a 50% discount on standard third class ticket prices for the cardholder and their immediate family (i.e., a partner plus children). It does not cover first class, special events, or dining trains.

The reciprocal side of the arrangement is that concessions will be afforded to the Bluebell Railway's paid staff, who can obtain a 75% discount off standard fares on the national rail network for themselves and their immediate family.

By Dick Fearn, Chairman, Bluebell Railway PLC
Our diesel video this issue--in preparation for the Diesel Gala--features BR Western Region locos.
A peek at the National Railway Museum's rolling stock collection: LB&SCR Stroudley 0-4-2  "Gladstone " was the first locomotive to be privately preserved. It attended the Bluebell Railway's centenary celebrations for the Lewes-to-East Grinstead line in 1982.  

Schools class No. 30915 "Brighton" being appreciated by a party from Brighton College, probably when the loco was named in 1933.

Writes Tony Hillman: "Following on from the most searched for places, this week I list the six most   searched for engines on our photo archive."

The BBC marks 50 years since the  Somerset & Dorset closed as a through route, with the solemnity of a funeral. But in happier news, the Swanage Railway is marking its 40th anniversary !
"SatNavDan's" video at the Bluebell Railway on 27 Feb., 2016, saw E4 B473 and BR Standard 5 No. 73082 work service two and C class No. 592 on the training/
demonstration goods train.  

Ben Brooskbank: Lawrence Hill BR Standard 4-6-0 on local train, 1959 : "View northward, towards Filton Junction, Swindon and South Wales. The 11:30 Swindon - Bristol Temple Meads stopping-train is passing under the ex-Midland main line to Mangotsfield and the North, as it approaches Lawrence Hill on the ex-GWR main lines. The locomotive is BR Standard Class 4MT 4-6-0 No. 75027, which was built 5/54 and survived to the very end of BR Steam in 8/68 and has been preserved on the Bluebell Railway virtually ever since. "


Enjoy these photos  of the event taken by Mike Hopps.

On 3 March, 2016, the Railway held the official opening of its new signal box at Kingscote. Representing more than 9,000 hours work over a span of nearly four years, this facility is a remarkable achievement for the Railway's Signals and Telecommunications (S&T) team.

When the Railway extended north towards East Grinstead, a temporary Signal Box entered service at Kingscote on 27 April, 1996. Essentially built around a ground frame, this box was expected to be in service for just 10 years!

The long-term plan was to bring into service the box located at the north end of the down platform, the upper wooden structure of which had been rescued from Brighton Upper Goods. This structure housed a Saxby and Farmer lever frame, but it was soon found that size constraints were going to make its operational use impractical.

Attention turned to the alternative use of a Westinghouse "L" style lever frame, and the hunt was on for the component parts and the knowledge required to put them together. Initial sourcing included donations from the Dartmouth Steam Railway (of parts ex-Churston), a private collection from J. Francis, and the National Railway Museum.

The result is a 55-lever frame that will serve the Railway's current needs and provide scope for other developments in the future. Although two "L" frames remain in use on the main network at Liverpool Lime Street and Maidstone East, our Railway's new mechanism is the only "L" frame in use on a standard gauge heritage railway.

The formal opening ceremony was performed by Francis How, Fellow and Chief Executive, Institute of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE), and John Francis, IRSE Fellow.

By Roger Garman, Communications Director

Despite some appalling weather and muddy site conditions, the Horsted Keynes new carriage shed building outline is now taking shape, and the sheer size of the shed is becoming apparent.

The current construction phase is due for completion at the end of April, and groundwork and track will follow at a date yet to be agreed. While the current build only has budget for the shell and its roof, the potential benefit to C&W when completed is now emerging more strongly than ever.

The much needed renewal of No. 5 points north of Leamland Bridge at Horsted Keynes has now been authorised. The value of this work--made up of materials and plant--is £117,000. It's an amount the PLC budget would have been hard pushed to find without considerable impact on other departments, so we must send a really grateful thank to the Trust for underwriting the cost. A November date is likely for this job.

We also have been successful in getting Trust approval for a further £40,000 to make good platform 2 and 3 roads at Horsted Keynes. These two sections of Permanent Way have been in a declining condition for some years now. The situation is now such that we can no longer keep them in traffic without some serious repairs. No firm date is fixed for this as yet, but early 2017 is most likely.

The new Kingscote Signal Box was formerly opened by Francis How, Chief Executive of the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers and John Francis--the "L" frame donor and Independent Competent Person (ICP) for the project--on 3 March, 2016.

It has to be said that the extremely high standard of workmanship attained by the S&T team is quite outstanding, and it received numerous compliments from the assembled visitors. More details on these items will be in the next edition of Bluebell News.

 By Chris White, Infrastructure Director
Don't forget the Bluebell Railway has Special Offers all year round, including the Bluebell Bonus, Gift Vouchers, the London Connection Ticket, and a Local residents Card. Find out more
In what is a quiet period before the main operating season begins, steps are being taken--or rather steps are being removed--to effect repairs to the footbridge at Sheffield Park on the Platform 2 side. There has been concern about some of the fittings which are beginning to get rather rusty, so the whole staircase on that side has been stripped out for refurbishment.

The company that grit blasted the elephant van has been brought in to de-rust and prepare those hard to get at bits before treating and repainting. All the brackets supporting the steps are being replaced as well as the steps themselves. It has been reported that the footbridge was installed in 1978, so it has lasted well and with suitable treatment it will go on for many more years.
Other recent work has included casting concrete aprons in front of the new infrastructure mess room and workshop at Horsted Keynes, which also has been freshly painted in Southern Green. The new entrance to the lower Salt Yard further along Station Approach is also nearing completion, with only the kerbing, road access, and hard standing left to finish.  The new gates--which are set back to allow lorries to enter so that they don't block the road--were installed some time ago. 
Work has started on the foundations for the new platform starter signals at Sheffield Park. These have been re-sited further north in anticipation of the eventual lengthening of the platforms to accommodate seven coach trains.  Slightly further along at River Bridge, larger new abutments are being cast to reinforce the formation on the upstream side, which will also support the ends of the new handrails that have been fitted recently.
There has been a complete transformation at the top end of the Salt Yard and the view from the train has altered considerably now that the steelwork for OP4 is going up. The western bay supports that cover the maintenance road are nearing completion.  This improvement will allow five coaches to be worked on under cover and will offer room at the side for easy access and much-needed workshop space.

By Mike Hopps

Since the Railway opened again at the start of February, our services have been handled by numbers 73082, 592, and 473, with No. 323 acting as pilot and running a service train one weekend when the C class was unavailable.

Our Q class had a successful trip at the Mid-Hants Railway gala, and since returning to Sheffield Park, a boiler washout has taken place along with other maintenance tasks such as brake adjustment.

Inside the Works, the H class has had two boiler stays changed, some rivets on the frames replaced, the small ends and crossheads re-bushed, and the driving axle journals polished. The pistons have been removed for new rings to be fitted, the "D" valves skimmed, and the valve faces re-ground. Classed as "heavy maintenance," this work will keep the loco fit for service.

Work continues on No. 80151 inside the Works, with the fabrication and fitting of new frame stretchers and repairs to the base of the coal bunker. Off-site, the new tyres are being fitted to the loco's wheels, and all being well, these should be returned to Sheffield Park next month. 

The boiler overhaul on No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair," underway at LNWR Crewe, suffered a setback in late January. In the course of removing some platework--which involved cutting through an old weld repair--a visual inspection of the joint revealed flaws in the weld. A full non-destructive test inspection of other weld repairs in the firebox, some of which date back to BR days, revealed a number of other flaws. This finding was verified through independent inspection by two different companies.
Accordingly, the decision has been made that the most cost-effective and reliable course of action is to replace the entire inner firebox, rather than try to salvage what good material remains with the need to add further welds between old and new material.

With LNWR Crewe's current workload, and its focus on the repair of its own locos, a change in strategy has taken place: a new firebox will be ordered from the South Devon Railway, which will complete its construction and fitting. This completed firebox will then be returned to Sheffield Park, where the boiler stays and tubes can be fitted and the boiler re-fitted to the frames in our own workshop. This plan gives greater control over completion timescales and costs, and it best utilises our own in-house skills and resources.
This news is disappointing, but it is better to find such issues now rather than having the loco run for a short period before suffering another sequence of firebox problems. The immediate future therefore will see the final outer firebox platework completed at LNWR Crewe. It is anticipated that the boiler will return to Sheffield Park towards the beginning of 2017, so the overhaul can be completed by the end of 2017.

By Chris Hunford, Locomotive Director
The Kent & Sussex Courier offers these nostalgic looks at the " Terrier" class of 0-6-0 tanks and "the days when Sir Lawrence Olivier enjoyed kippers on board our trains."

Tom Waghorn informs the eNewsletter that the Great Northern Director's Saloon No. 706E will be out for public service--serving homemade sponge cake, cream tea, morning coffee, and sparkling wine--on the following dates:

12/13 March, 2016; 23/24 April; 21/22 May; 18/19 June; 23/24 July; 20/21 Aug; 24/25 Sep; and 15/16 Oct.

Volunteers who look after the saloon are on the look out for some new recruits. If you are interested in working on one of the Railway's "jewels in the crown," then contact Tom at tomwaghorn@me.com . Visit the saloon's Facebook page here.  
The National Trust is marking the advent of spring at Sheffield Park and Garden. 

Feltham marshalling yard 1958, with G16 class shunting, by Ben Brooksbank.

(Information via Wikipedia ) During the early years of the 20th century the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) experienced a substantial growth in its freight traffic to and from London, and for transfer to other railways.  

By 1910 this traffic was beginning to overwhelm the existing facilities at Nine Elms. Plans were therefore made for a hump marshaling yard and motive power depot at Feltham. The purchase of 41.5 acres (16.8 hectares) of land was confirmed in 1911, with additional land being purchased in 1915. This location gave excellent access to the company main lines as well as direct links to the Great Western Railway and London and North Western Railway, and to the Midland Railway, Great Northern Railway, and Great Eastern Railway via the North London line.

The plans were confirmed on 30 March, 1916, and work started soon after with the help of around 200 German prisoners of war. The first nine "down" sidings were opened on 9 Dec., 1917, and the remainder by 2 Oct., 1921.

The yard was completed in 1921 and incorporated two gravity shunting humps and equipped with the latest automated technology including electrically operated points, and widespread use of track circuits. With its 32 miles (51 km) of track (the longest siding being 1,662 feet or 507 metres in length and the shortest being 1,331 feet or 406 metres), it could handle 2,500 wagons a day. These were brought in by 50 down and 26 up trains, and being removed by 18 down and 46 up services.

This was, probably, the busiest marshalling yard in the country at that time. Up to 3,390 wagons could be sorted per day and an incoming train of wagons could be sorted in 12 minutes.

The yard fulfilled an important part in the rail network for over four decades, especially during World War II, passing in to Southern Railway ownership in 1923 and British Railways in 1948. However, with the reduction of freight traffic carried by rail in the 1960s the yard became redundant and closed on 6 January 1969.

Today, part of it is the site of the Jubilee Mail Centre, which handles work for the TW, KT, GU postcode areas as well as parts of south and west London.

A World War II short film of the Yard staff at Feltham dealing with results of incendiary and high explosive bombs dropped by enemy aircraft.

The Yard's Motive Power Depot replaced an existing depot at Strawberry Hill (which was converted into an electric multiple unit servicing depot). The shed was 475 by 125 feet (145 m × 38 m) with six roads and could accommodate 42 locomotives. There were inspection pits throughout and a 50-ton engine-hoist. There was also an electrically driven 65-foot (20 m) turntable and an electrically operated coaling plant.

In 1921 Robert Urie, the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LSWR introduced four large 4-8-0 G16 class shunting tank locos to operate the yard, and five H16 class 4-6-2T locos to undertake the transfer freight workings from Feltham. In addition, the depot had a large allocation of H15 and S15 class 4-6-0 locos for heavy freight duties, withdrawn between 1959 and 1962. The depot was closed by BR in 1967.

The oddly title Turniprail blog has a personal recollection and description of Feltham, with many more photos and a bibliography for further reading.

"Feltham Motive Power Depot" is set to a nice reworking of "Rock Island Line," a tribute to this YouTuber's father and family members who once worked there.

Compiled by Neil Cameron

By Martin Lawrence.

Derek Haywood (28 Feb., 2016): Service trains out and about.

Keith Duke (27 Feb., 2016): "Braving the cold today to try to get some pictures of the goods train."

Alex Fisher (27 Feb., 2016): "On Saturday the C class was out and about with a splendid vintage goods train, as seen in Alex Fisher's photo. Run essentially for crew training purposes, to maintain experience and expertise in the operation of unfitted and part-fitted goods services, it also gives us an excellent opportunity to showcase some of our collection of vintage goods stock, adding an additional attraction for visitors."--Richard Salmon

Pete Lawrence (29 Feb., 2016): A nice "500 px" HDR shot taken at Sheffield Park.
Derek Hayward (February 2016): An update to Derek's 2016 gallery.
Dave Clarke (28 Feb., 2016): Lovely photos from the C&W department taken in late February, including visual updates of progress on the LCDR 5 compartment 3rd No. 3188, Elephant Van No. 4601, and Bulleid Composite No. 5768
Martin Lawrence (March 2016): Martin's photo set also includes C&W updates, plus work on the footbridge at Sheffield Park and on the shed at Horsted Keynes.  
John Sandys (12 March, 2016):  "A foggy start to the day, until the sun got to work revealing a glorious spring day! 'Camelot' was out of the workshop sounding very healthy on the 11 a.m. with the E4 on the first service of the day and serving a very good turnout of passengers. Trains were very full, but comfortable with lots of space." 
By Alex Fisher.
By Dave Clarke.
Thank you for reading our eNewsletter. Don't forget to pass it along to friends, family, and colleagues to let them know all the activities and opportunities--for young and old alike--that the Bluebell Railway offers. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have Railway news to share or if you have a question or comment.
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