Bluebell Specials run 25-28 April and 3-6 May, 2016. To book your place on the Observation Car, click here .

Peter Reed, Chairman of the Horsham Model Railway Club, notes the club has more than 3,000 visitors to its Swan walk, Horsham, "pop up" shop and exhibit  in February. Planned for April is a one-day model railway show with 15 layouts at St. Leonard's Church Hall, Horsham. More information can be found at horshammrc.org.uk .
Service II on 25 March, 2016, by "Bluebell-Railway Hawks".
Are Plumpton Green, Chailey, and Wivelsfield Green the real-life trio of villages in the Trumptonshire series? (And was Lord Belborough's private railway inspired by the Bluebell Railway?!)

London, Brighton, South Coast Railway staff, Clapham Junction station, London, August 1889. Staff include a stationmaster--in the top hat--a policeman, guards, and porters.
For steamroller fans: Staff at Ditchling Museum have launched a fundraising campaign to take a 12.5 tonne steamroller on a printing tour across Sussex and beyond to help create giant artworks.

*Artist: Cuthbert Hamilton Ellis (1909-1987)
* Collection: National Railway Museum
* Medium: Oil on board
* Measurements: 24.9 x 36 cm
* Acquisition: Bequeathed, 1993

This loco was one of four built in 1909 by Stephenson. "Thundersley" is in the National Collection at Bressingham. A Great Eastern Railway loco is seen in the background.

Learn more about the London, Tilbury, and Southend Railway --now the Essex Thameside--and its locos .

This "Unseen Steam" video is rare footage of "Thundersley" in action.

"Two of the South East's major tourist attractions appear in this film from the early 1960s. Beginning at the Romney, Hythe, and Dymchurch Railway, we see several one-third size engines being prepared for their day's work and travelling along the more than 13 miles of narrow gauge track. 

"Next we arrive at the Bluebell Railway, one of England's earliest heritage railways, where daytrippers enjoy rides behind locomotives such as "Bluebell," "Birch Grove," and the Adams Radial Tank."
It was not the average day for Island Line (Isle of Wight) staff or passengers. First there were horses on the line; then, following a power failure, passengers went back in time to travel by steam!
Philip Bull's artful views of the loco shed.

Tony Hillman provides pictures from the Kent & East Sussex Railway, all taken by John J. Smith over the weekend of 10-11 April, 1954, 62 years from the date of this issue of the eNewsletter.

Retired Derby railwayman Ron Prince takes readers on a steam train journey to Carlisle in the 1960s. 
Service Two Timetable on 19 March, 2016, by "Joe Light Railway".

Photo by Ben Brooksbank : An "Atlantic Coast Express" from Padstow to Waterloo leaving Salisbury. " View westward, towards Exeter etc. on the ex-LSWR Waterloo--West of England main line. Rebuilt Bulleid Light Pacific No. 34109 "Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory" (built 5/50, rebuilt 3/61, withdrawn 9/64) slips violently, as is usual at this curving location--note the steam sanders at work, on the 0830 from Padstow, due Waterloo at 1523."

Enjoy a classic poster for the Atlantic Coast Express , archived by Getty Images . More memories of the ACE can be found here .

This photo --by Alan Edwards--shows No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair" carrying the "Atlantic Coast Express" headboard at Horsted Keynes on 21 Aug., 2009.  
BBC documentary from 1987: Barnstaple-to-Lynton Railway (part 1; find part two in the "up next" column). "Perchance it is not gone bit sleepeth" was the message left on a wreath attached to buffer stops at Barnstaple station upon closure.
The next generation meets steam. Enjoy this photo of the Bluebell Railway Museum and others from the blog Our Seaside Baby .
Watch the restoration of LMS No. 7828 in four minutes!

Kent Coast to Victoria Express near Bickley Junction: "View eastward, towards Swanley Junction branch for Otford and Maistone East, Rochester and the Kent Coast resorts on the ex-LC&DR main line from London Victoria, at the spot where this main line runs under and interconnects with the ex-SER main line from the Channel Ports etc. via Ashford and Tonbridge to London (Charing Cross and Cannon Street) ... The train, no doubt from Ramsgate and Margate, is headed by a Bulleid Light Pacific still in SR livery, but with 'British Railways' on the tender: No. 34069 'Hawkinge', built 10/47 as No. 21C169, renumbered 6/48, withdrawn (unrebuilt) 11/63."

This Battle of Britain clas s loco was named "Hawkinge" after the RAF airfield near Folkestone, Kent, which became famous during the 1940 air battle. It is now home to a museum , the "most important collection of Battle of Britain artefacts on show in the country."

The naming ceremony took place in front of Dover Priory station. At that time there was a siding where the loco could stand in the area where the parade could be held; no equivalent area was available in Folkestone.

In the photo above, a group of fighter pilots from the No. 32 Squadron at the RAF Fighter Squadron HQ at Hawkinge, Kent relax on the grass (Fox Photos/Getty Images). 32nd Squadron is celebrating its centenary this year! It is now a Queen's Flight squadron .

RAF Hawkinge was re-opened for the celebrated 1969 film Battle of Britain .

This appeal--for the Bluebell Railway's Accessible Steam Heritage (ASH) Project--is to provide £210,000 to match a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Round 2 grant we are seeking of £840,000. As previously reported, the project received approval at Round 1 of the HLF application process in 2015.

Therefore, every £10 donated is worth £50 to ASH (or £52.50 if we can claim Gift Aid)!

The ASH Project aims to:
  • Improve the Railway's capacity to operate steam locos, including additional undercover storage in a new maintenance facility.
  • Ensure the survival of a unique collection of steam locos.
  • Create an exciting exhibition and display area for a wide range of visitors to learn about steam heritage.
  • Provide the opportunity for steam loco history and operation to be easily understood.
  • Target new audiences to increase visitor numbers and encourage return visits.
These aims will be achieved by repairs to the Running Shed (including a new roof) and by permitting footplate access to some of the locos on display. Some space will be given to the interactive exhibits of the exhibition, including a mock-up of "Stepney".

This spatial change will more than compensated for with a new building where up to four locos may be stored or worked on under cover. The Running Shed will continue to provide space for loco restoration.

Watch this video find out more about the ASH project and appeal. BRPS members will get a DVD with Bluebell News .

To make a donation online, visit justgiving.com/bluebell-ASH  

Because the online charges are 4% of the donation, an old-fashioned cheque is preferred for donations greater than £10, sent to my attention at Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex, TN22 3QL. If you are a taxpayer, please download a gift aid form and send it along.

If the appeal reaches its target of £210,000, any surplus not required for ASH will be used to improve other buildings or provide tools and equipment for the Loco Department.

If the HLF grant application for £840,000 is not successful, any funds raised by this appeal will be used to carry out badly needed repairs and improvements to the Running Shed so as to protect, restore, and maintain our unique collection. Thank you for your support of the ASH Project!

By Roger Kelly, Funding Director

When I joined the Railway, I though it was a little sad to see our superb collection of locos effectively held in storage. I want to enhance people's enjoyment and understanding of our steam heritage, and I realised that with the mainline connection at East Grinstead, for many people Sheffield Park is the destination of their journey, not the starting point.

Recognising that we have a very worthy Museum there, the ASH Project will enhance Sheffield Park still further. I brought the plans for the development of the Loco Shed up the agenda, and we are very blessed to be granted the chance to apply for substantial Heritage Lottery Funding in Round 2 of our application.

By Dick Fearn, Chairman, Bluebell Railway PLC

The Operations Department has been very busy in the opening part of the year with preparations for the Diesel Gala, and, during January and February especially, with getting No. 592 and a train off the Railway for filming at Kings Cross. We are now facing the start of daily running in the wake of the Easter Holidays, and among other things, we are looking forward to the Bluebell Specials using the Observation Car and-we expect-"Bluebell" herself.

Arrangements for the Diesel Gala are being overseen by Paul Russell, the Diesel Traction Coordinator for the Loco Works. He has lead a team, comprising all the various stakeholders, that is pulling together the threads to make sure that everything goes smoothly. In particular, he has been liaising with GBRf, the operator whose motive power will feature over the weekend, and with London Underground, which is providing the 4TC set to work with the air-braked-only engines.

For our part we are providing all the timetabling, which reveals an event essentially centred on Horsted Keynes with engine changes and lots of activity there. The Locomotive Operating Department is providing conductors for the motive power and staff to work on the ground, helping with coupling and uncoupling as engines are rotated around sets for the sake or variety. Signal boxes will be double-staffed for at least part of the day each day, station masters have been recruiting platform staff, and the guard's Roster Clerk has been busy finding people for guarding duties.

So we are set for a busy weekend, and all that is needed is for enthusiasts and visitors to show up in numbers to help create that buzz that will help ensure a successful event! ...

To read the report in full, click here .

By Russell Pearce, Operations Director
On 7 May, 2016, the HDL Hastings Blue Belle railtour will make its first excursion of 2016 onto Bluebell Railway metal. The train will start from Hastings, collecting passengers at usual stops (plus Robertsbridge) to Tonbridge, with the last pick-up at Redhill. From there it will proceed via the Croydon area to East Grinstead and through to Sheffield Park. Expect a four-and-a-half hours layover at the Bluebell Railway before the return.

Some of the provisional loco allocations have been made for the Diesel Gala weekend on 15 to 17 April, 2016. Usual caveats apply: operational events between now and the gala might alter the allocations.

Diesels to be featured are: nos. 20901, 20905, 73107, 73119, 73136, and 73964. The Class 66 and Class 47 will be confirmed nearer the time.
  • An intensive three-train service for all three days is planned, with evening Beer Trains on the Saturday.
  • The lines resident Class 09 loco is expected to be making additional brake van trips for a small additional charge.
  • A selection of sales stands will be in attendance, including a special GBRf stand where limited edition 15 th Anniversary memorabilia will be available.  

The Royal Train returning empty from Tattenham Corner on Derby Day 1971. The loco is Class 73/1 Bo-Bo No. E6013 (later No. 73107--it will be featured during the Diesel Gala weekend). By Ben Brooksbank.

You are never far from the madding crowd at Horsted Keynes, but in October we hosted an altogether much younger Tom Hardy--the star of the Silver Screen--who arrived by helicopter and was filmed sitting in the Wealden Set, as the Sussex landscape rolled by and was viewed through the window. (There is also a view filmed of the Brighton foreshore rolling by, resplendent with beach huts, which is a clever trick to do if you know how!)

Hardy later walked down the platform in an atmospheric setting, helped by carefully planned steam escaping and aided by failing light. The film--done entirely in black and white--is an advert for a Korean credit card. After kindly posing for photos with the ladies from the office (who just happened to be there!), the actor departed again for the heliport at Battersea.  

We have been given permission by the producer to reveal details of the shoot. You can view the advert here .

Kings Cross may have the famous Platform 9¾, which we borrowed recently for filming C class No. 592 on holiday, but for a day in October we laid another track at Horsted Keynes, and as you can see from the photo we were able to say that we set up Platform 4½.

By Mike Hopps, Filming Facilities Department
The Railway is recruiting for Silver Service Waiting Staff to work on the Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train. More details here .  

The Southern at War Weekend  is back for 2016! Taking place on 14-15 May, 2016, the Railway will welcome back previous displays as well as new ones. Travel tickets are valid all day, so hop on and off the trains to explore what is going on at each station:

Sheffield Park
  • Military Vehicles
  • Afternoon band shows from 2 p.m.
  • Concert party shows all day
Horsted Keynes
  • Concert party shows
  • Sussex Home Guard Displays
  • More military vehicles
  • Spitfire Display on Sunday
Kingscote --New Childrens' Activities
  • Evacuation point, with Jackie Sparks
  • Entertainment from Brillo the Spiv
  • Picnic area
East Grinstead --More New Activities
  • Rose Lancaster, Vintage Vocalist
  • Harley Davidson motorbike display on Sunday
PLUS ... this year the Railway will be hosting an evening tea dance on 14 May, 2016.


(From the Bullied Society website) ... You will have no doubt either read or heard about the problems with the inner firebox from No. 34059 currently at LNWR at Crewe.

During January we were advised by Richard Watkins, boiler foreman at Crewe, that they had discovered flaws in previous welding done to inner the firebox. This had been discovered in the course of removing some platework, which had involved cutting through an old weld repair, the visual inspection of the joint then revealed flaws in the weld.

After discussion with Richard it was agreed that a full non-destructive test inspection of all the other welds in the firebox should be carried out. This was verified by two independent inspection companies and agreed by LNWR, the Bluebell Railway, and the Battle of Britain group.

As you can imagine this news came as bitter blow to the small gang who have worked on No. 34059 as this has not been the first time that problems have arisen.

As soon as the inspections had been completed, Chris Shepherd (Bluebell Workshop Manager), Chris Hunford (Locomotive Director), myself, and John Fry travelled to Crewe to discuss the position with Richard Watkins.

As a result of this meeting it was decided by both the group and Bluebell Railway that the most appropriate course of action would be to replace the entire inner firebox, rather than to try to salvage what good material remains with the need to add further welds to both old and new platework ...

By Roger Cruse, Chairman, Bluebell Battle of Britain Group

To read more and learn how you can help, click here .

This documentary--about the old Hundred of Hoo branch line in Kent--was started in 1994, but the film was not completed until 2005.

The Hundred of Hoo Railway (read more about this branch at this detailed Wikipedia page ) was opened by the South Eastern in 1882 to capitalise on the anticipated growth of Port Victoria on the Isle of Grain into a major continental port, in competition with the rival London Chatham & Dover Railway's operations on the Isle of Sheppey.

This plan never materialised, although the line was to prove worthwhile as local industry, particularly the manufacture of cement and later the oil terminal at Grain, developed.

An extension to Allhallows was opened in 1932, the Southern Railway hoping to benefit from the potential of the location as a new seaside resort for Londoners in North Kent. The Allhallows line diverged between Middle Stoke and Grain Crossing Halts and terminated a quarter of a mile from the seashore, almost directly opposite Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex.

The new line proved a success until the outbreak of World War II. The line was never to recover in the frugal years after peace, becoming freight-only in 1961, at which point the branch was closed.

This film depicts the flavour of traffic on the line during the years of decline: service trains of push-pull stock hauled or propelled by vintage H class 0-4-4Ts and semi-scheduled workmens' trains operated by class Q1 0-6-0s.

Today, Grain remains an active railway terminal as the forwarding point for granite shipped from Scotland. The line is freight-only and services run from Monday to Friday, with occasional weekend enthusiasts excursions or Serco test trains.

Approximately one train per hour runs on weekdays throughout the line. Class 66s are predominantly to be seen on the line, with occasional sightings of classes 59 and 60.

This film begins at Gravesend Central on the North Kent line, where we see a former South Eastern & Chatham Railway C class 0-6-0 taking on water. We see a typical service comprised of an ex-SECR H class 0-4-4T on a push-pull train, before embarking on an excursion headed by a BRCW Type 3 (later BR Class 33) "Crompton" diesel.
Peter May & Grandson Shoe Repairs & Key Cutting of Worthing have posted on Facebook about a rather unusual request they received from the Railway.


The Mid-Sussex Times has this remembrance of the 1988 public launch of the construction phase of the Railway's extension to East Grinstead.

Recalls Neil Cameron, "BRPS Chairman TC Cole and Bernard Holden welcomed Secretary of State for Transport Paul Channon, local mayors and councillors, and other special guests. The event occurred north of Leamland Bridge at Horsted Keynes on 13 March, 1988.

"With Civil Engineering Director Peter Cox and Extension Railway Engineer Steve Johnstone and team members attending, the event had been carefully planned and rehearsed, with areas graded by a JCB, pathways created, and a de-training point placed just north of Leamland Bridge.

"Shedmaster WJ Brophy drove the service train to Horsted Keynes behind No. 75027. Driver Gerry Butler, on the North London tank, took carriages to and from the detraining point, and after the event shunted the ex-Gorton and Newton Heath breakdown crane's relieving bogie and jib runner north of the bridge so the crane could be reassembled and disposed.

Paul Channon
"With the help of the crane team, Mr. Channon drove the railway's crane to lower the first track panel into position. He then wound in a golden track screw securing a rail chair, while the eldest and youngest BRPS members--Felix Cope and the young Michael Hawkins--attached fishplates to link the panel to the line.

"A large crowd cheered these events and enjoyed speeches. Much work had been done before this day in committee and during the planning process, described in Battle for the Bluebell by Colin Tyson, available on Kindle.

"The crane was a late addition, invited by Director Peter Thomas. It had been working in the area clearing buffer stops and rails, and lowering the panel was surely an improvement on a ribbon-cutting. It brought forth applause and cheering from the crowd, and there was much press interest."

John Sandys (31 March, 2016): My photos from Thursday, with the Q class and No. 73082 on the service trains, and more progress with the roof on the first half of the OP4 Carriage Shed extension.

John Sandys (3 April, 2016): "A few photos from my visit today including progress at Horsted Keynes & the first Bluebells making an appearance."

By John Sandys.

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