Scenes from the 2016 Diesel Gala, by Chris Ward.
A nice blog entry from BritishRailways.tv, about a visit to the Railway on 9 April, 2016.
John Sandys' photos shows the new tiled floor in the Sheffield Park porch. For more photos from his 21 April, 2016, shoot--including progress on the carriage shed-- click here .

Steam Trains in Victoria Station. 1 Jan.,1887, LB&SCR side of Victoria: note Willesden Junction train on left.
A statue honouring railway engineer Sir Nigel Gresley has been unveiled (via itv.com). 

Spanning almost 20 years of Bluebell history, this film begins with a well attended open day at the railway, featuring a variety of locos at work, speeches and a replica of Stephenson's 'Rocket' taking centre stage. We also see volunteers attending to track maintenance and a tamping machine at work.

A pair of steam survivors rescued from Barry scrapyard make their way on low-loaders along the M4, through tight turns in small towns to end at the Sheffield Park workshops.

This film shows a wide variety of resident and visiting motive power at work on the Bluebell Railway. Some of the locomotives, like the replica Stephenson's "Rocket," were loaned by the National Railway Museum while others are part of the Bluebell's collection.

The film also records the journey of two locomotives, BR Standard class 4 tank No. 80100 and ex-Southern Railway S15 No. 30847, purchased by the Bluebell, making their way gingerly by low-loader from Barry in South Wales to the railway's workshops at Sheffield Park. The former is still awaiting restoration while the latter is currently operational. Kingscote was finally reached in 1994 and in 2013 the line's extension to East Grinstead was completed.
John Harwood: The arrival of Northern Belle, 12 April, 2016.

Writes Tony Hillman: 
"To go with diesel photos in the April newsletter, here are six from John J. Smith!"

Nos. 73082 and 473 in steam on 21 April, 2016, by John Rumming.

*Full Name: A Diesel Train on the Shore of Bassenthwaite Lake, near Keswick, Cumberland
*Artist: Barber
* Collection: National Railway Museum
* Medium: Oil on canvas (poster art)
* Measurements: 86cm x 133.7cm
* Acquisition: gift, 1988

The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway (CK&PR) was incorporated by Act of Parliament on 1 Aug., 1861, for a line connecting the town of Cockermouth with the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) West Coast Main Line at Penrith.

Arrangements for the use of the stations at either end--Cockermouth was already served by the Cockermouth and Workington Railway (C&WR--were included. Traffic was worked by the LNWR and (originally) by the Stockton and Darlington Railway (later the North Eastern Railway), both of which had shares in the company.

The line was 31.5 miles (50.7 km) in length, and had eight intermediate stations.

British Rail Derby Lightweight diesel multiple units , were the first such trains to be built en-masse for British Railways. The units were built at BR's Derby Works from 1954 to 1955.

The units were built in various formations, including 12 power-twin two-car units; 84 power-trailer two-car units; and four four-car units. The two single car units were originally built as a two-car unit and then split two years later when demand came about.

A proposal to reopen the Penrith-to-Keswick line.

By Ben Brooksbank : Down Continental Boat Express from Victoria at Factory Junction (1953). View northward, towards Victoria (Eastern) on the ex-LC&D Victoria-Kent Coast main line, the lines coming in on the left being from Longhedge Junction and the West London Extension Railway. Battersea Power Station is in the background. The locomotive is the unrebuilt Bulleid Merchant Navy class 4-6-2 No. 35030 "Elder-Dempster Lines" (built 4/49, rebuilt 4/58, withdrawn 7/67).
The damaged stretch of railway between Dover and Folkestone will re-open in mid-December with the £44.5 million project needing a full re-build (via Kent Online).

A real labour of love, this film is a fine demonstration of how amateur filmmakers could play a part in campaigning for local services. With the impending Beeching Report of 1963 there could hardly have been a better plea for the retention of the Settle-to-Carlisle Railway and all its services than this traversing of the whole length of the line by train and by foot, stopping off to reveal its many wonders and recording the fascinating history of the line and of those who built it.

This award winning film was made by members of Halifax Cine Club, founded in 1938 and having at its height nearly a hundred members (and still going). Although not overtly a referring to the impending Beeching Report, the film makers clearly had this in mind in making the film, highlighting the plight of the 6,000 navvies who built the line ... MORE .
From the Path√© Archive (1962): Golden Arrow to Boulogne, steam hauled in France. Very good train interior shots and Trianon bar.

Jonathan Hughes' lovely photo shows a brake van ride through a bluebell field during the successful Diesel Gala weekend, with No. 09018 doing the work. 

Bluebell Specials continue their run on 3-6 May, 2016. To book your place on the Observation Car,  click here .

On the weekend of 15-17 April, 2016, the Bluebell Railway successfully hosted a Diesel Gala in partnership with GB Railfreight Ltd (GBRf). This gala coincided with a number of other events celebrating 15 years of GBRf operations.

GBRf supplied a number of locos that provided enthusiasts with a diverse selection of motive power. The final line-up was two class 20s, three 73/1s, one 73/9 (super ED), a four-car TC set, a class 47, and a class 66. As always, a small number of photographers were ahead of the game and arrived at East Grinstead earlier in the week to watch and photograph the transition of our diesel guests from mainline to Bluebell Railway metals.

While the weather wasn't exactly spring-like, I am very pleased to report that visitor numbers (in excess of 1,500), visitor satisfaction, and passengers carried all exceeded last years' event. In fact, takings across the whole of the Railway were up on last year, with a 2% increase in catering sales and ticket sales topping £34,000.

Most passengers and visitors arrived by train to East Grinstead, which at one point saw queues out of our gate and heading past the disabled parking spaces. With so many of our customers arriving at East Grinstead, issuance of tickets created a pinch-point that we will continue to look at reducing, especially for special events.

Paul Russell, Railway project leader, noted that "the event went very well, and we have received good feedback on the various preservation forums. I was pleased to see so many people enjoying themselves, which made all the effort in planning the event worthwhile. Changing the locomotives at Horsted Keynes provided an interesting spectacle. Although there was a hiccup with the class 20s, some smart thinking by the operations team kept the trains running and even provided a bonus of some unusual pairings for enthusiasts, thus saving the day."

Paul Taylor, GBRf Industry and Infrastructure Business Manager, added, "we were delighted by the number of passengers who travelled over the three days. Our sales stand was very busy too and this led us to look at increasing our range of items. Our volunteer staff all had a very enjoyable time and are amazed by the money raised by ticket sales."

All in all, and despite the weather, the gala was a resounding success. I thank all those involved in the planning and delivery of this gala and, of course, our loyal supporters for participating in one of the Railway's special events.

By Gordon Owen MVO, General Manager, Bluebell Railway PLC

Launched only two weeks ago in the eNewsletter the Accessible Steam Heritage (ASH) Project Appeal for funds to match a possible Heritage Lottery Fund grant has reached £105,500 (50% of total).  That is a very good start, but there is still a long way to go to reach the target of £210,000, which, if exceeded, will make more funds available for improving conditions in the Loco Works area. 

The ASH Project will provide additional undercover working for three locomotives. The project also will enable vital repairs to the Running Shed, including a new roof. The shed will continue to be used for the repair/restoration of locos while also housing a new interactive exhibition on how steam locos work and what it is like to operate them, provided by the Project. 

The purpose of the exhibition is to supply an educational resource to encourage additional visits by schools and something new to attract more visitors. Visitor numbers have held up over the last two years, but as with many other heritage railways, they are well down on where they were only six years ago, i.e., before the Northern Extension was completed.

Because they will help generate an HLF grant, contributions to the ASH Appeal will be worth five times the value donated. Our thanks to those who have already made a donation and to those who plan to do so.

To make a donation, click here .

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

By Mark Saunders

Put the Diesel Gala down as another one of the Railway's photogenic treats. Enjoy this surfeit of photos from contributors old and new ...

By Andrew Wood

By Tony Ashcroft.
The Railway has now received a total of more than £18,000 from EasySearch and EasyFundraising! This webpage explains you can help with this and other fundraising opportunities. 

What do you do if you want to erect an enormous marquee on the lawn at Kingscote, but you can't manoeuvre all the heavy bits down the stairs and through the subway.  

Simple: you build a footbridge! That was the challenge for the organisers of the 2015/16 Daily Telegraph Travel Awards, which the railway hosted recently, and yes, for a matter of hours on two days after the last down trains had been waved off, we had a footbridge at Kingscote.  

Some four hundred delegates were transported on the Northern Belle Pullman direct from Victoria and enjoyed a glorious afternoon in the Sussex sunshine while the awards were being presented by Gyles Brandreth. Ranks of liveried waiters sprang into action (see Tim Parkin's photo), the champagne flowed, Gyles gave a typically witty speech, and in little over an hour they were back on the train being wined and dined on the way back to London.  

The awards shows was another successful corporate event hosted by the railway, with many boxes ticked, some funds in the coffers, and certainly another very good reason for spending all those long, cold days digging out rubbish in the cutting.

By Mike Hopps, Filming Facilities

(From talyllyn.co.uk) Following on from the success of our '150th Party" gala last year, we are delighted to announce Talyllyn Railway will be hosting its first standard gauge locomotive in steam for its "GrandFinale" gala over the weekend of 1-3 July, 2016.

Built by Fletcher, Jennings & Co., like the Talyllyn Railway's own original locomotives "Talyllyn" and "Dolgoch," "Captain Baxter" will be joining its two narrow gauge cousins for a gala which celebrates "Dolgoch's" 150th anniversary and concludes the railway's 150th birthday celebrations. "Captain Baxter" will be running on a specially laid section of track at Tywyn Wharf station, offering a unique opportunity to see standard gauge steam in action on the railway.

"Captain Baxter" is based at the Bluebell Railway, which is the world's first preserved standard gauge passenger carrying railway. It started operations in 1960 from Sheffield Park station in East Sussex and now extends to East Grinstead. However, it was inspired in part by the success of the Talyllyn Railway, which became the world's very first preserved railway in 1951, inspiring a movement that now spans the globe. Therefore, it is appropriate that the two railways are working together to make this event happen.

Built in 1877 by Fletcher, Jennings & Co. "Captain Baxter" was delivered to the Dorking Greystone Lime Co. Originally it was their locomotive No. 3, but was later named "Captain Baxter." It was persevered when the quarry closed, and moved to the Bluebell Railway in 1960, being returned to steam in 1982 ... MORE .

The Bluebell Railway Museum recently purchased a mounted transfer "Oxted Line" carried on the side of trains between London and East Grinstead in NSE days.

With the description we would like to include a picture that clearly shows this logo on the side of a train--but we are having some difficulty finding
a suitable image. Does any reader have one they could let us use? If so please contact me at tony.hillman@lineone.net .

By Tony Hillman
Read the Railway's rules  on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (aka drones) near the line. 

With work on the footbridge complete, and with slightly better weather of late, it was an ideal opportunity to get the foundations dug for the piling and associated concrete plinths to be installed ready for the new platform starter signals at Sheffield Park.

Piling is required because it is effectively made-up ground on what were the banks of the river in the days before the railway came to town.  The new tapered signal posts have arrived, and are waiting in the yard for the pre-fabricated and galvanised metal bases that will support them.  

Once fitted together, and with the posts painted, the signals will be "dressed" by the S&T Department using refurbished spare parts and some fittings from the original signals that are being repainted.

The whole assembly will then be lifted into place and bolted to the studs set in the concrete foundations. With the road-railer on hand to mix large volumes of concrete in the trailer, we also have taken the opportunity to cast the concrete abutment for River Bridge so that we can terminate the new handrails on the southern end. A new abutment at the northern end is not quite so urgent, so this can be done at a later date. 

By Mike Hopps, Infrastructure Volunteer

During her year in office Chair of Lewes District Council  Ruth O'Keefe wished to recognise work put in by volunteers in so many walks of life within the LDC area.  She therefore invited nominations for an Unsung Heroes Award. 
Fifty-two such nominations (one for each week of her term of office) were made for a variety of organisations. This included one in recognition of the efforts of the 700 volunteers at the Bluebell Railway. The awards were made by Deputy Lieutenant of East Sussex Kathy Gore on 16 April, 2016, at Newhaven Fort. 
Bluebell Railway Funding Director Roger Kelly accepted the award (and a cheque for £100) on behalf of the Railway.

Having an unusual surname can have its advantages. Recently Neville Green, a senior resident of East Grinstead, was reading his daughter's copy of the eNewsletter and noticed my name against an article.

Through the eNews editor, Neville's daughter Christine got in contact with me to see if I was the same Brian Hymas who had first met him in 1962. Back then, we had both worked at the old and new London Bridge signal boxes, and he wondered if I would be interested in a meeting to talk about old times. I willingly agreed to meet Neville, a now spritely 90-year-old, and spend a day with him on the Railway.

What a day down memory lane that was. We started with tea for two in the East Grinstead Buffet, where I quickly met his daughter for a photograph. Then we enjoyed a trip to Sheffield Park and the museum. Following our lunch we visited the Kingscote Signal Box.

It turns out that Neville has a number of connections with the Bluebell Railway. He worked at East Grinstead on the platform, and his first signalman's position was at St. Margaret's Junction (just north of East Grinstead). He also worked the original Kingscote Signal Box.

Moreover, Neville's grandfather lived in one of the Horsted Keynes cottages along with his wife and eight children, and he worked as signalman in the North Signalbox, but sadly his wife found him dead one day whilst he was on duty. Neville also had family who lived in a little cottage above Sharpthorne Tunnel close to one of the ventilation shafts.

With a combined Railway service of 99 years, we parted company agreeing that if we had our time again we would still work on the railways!

By Brian Hymas
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