Southern at War: 14-15 May, 2016 
Next Rail Ale Evening :  27 May, 2016
Model Railway Weekend : 25-26 June, 2016
Sussex Food Festival : 2-3 July, 2016
Seaside Weekend : 7-8 Aug., 2016 
Vintage Transport Weekend : 13-14 Aug., 2016
John Sandys' Periscope Broadcast from the 11:41 a.m. from East Grinstead on 28 April, 2016.
The Railway's loco roster for the remainder of May.

Last year, in July, the ad hoc Bluebell Railway XI played its first match against the Railway's neighbours Scaynes Hill CC. SHCC is the club whose cricket ground-- Freshfields-- next to the line helps to provide that authentic Sussex summer countryside atmosphere for our visitors.

The teams and their friends and family members had a wonderful day out, hosted by SHCC, and the match was followed by a fundraising barbecue at the club's HQ.

The teams would like to play another game this year on Saturday, July 16, 2016, and this time we would like to make the game a fundraiser for both the Railway and for SHCC. So, we are looking for cricketers of all ages and skill levels, ideally with a connection to the Railway (member, volunteer, staff, etc.), to play in our XI.  

If you would like to join in this friendly match (and barbecue afterwards!), please email me at j.walls1@btinternet.com before May 31, 2016. Thank you.

A South Eastern Railway Gunboat 0-4-4 Tank Engine. London, 1885.
Travelodge announces its £6.6 million hotel will open in East Grinstead in the summer.
Goods train day, by CP.

Rattling over heathland at Ambersham and Heyshott, our train calls at sleepy rural stations like Selham, Petworth and Fittleworth before reaching the mainline at Pulborough. We return by 'push-pull train' to Midhurst before continuing on to Petersfield, on the Portsmouth mainline. The film also shows a railtour's arrival at Midhurst on 6 February 1955 - where crowds gather to see one of the last trains of such length on their local line before its inevitable closure.
The Railway was named in the Daily Mirror's " The Great British Railway: The most epic train journeys around the country , " an article from April 26, 2016. 
Steam Fair 2012, by St. Ervan.
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 still searching for a suitable image.

Does any reader have one they could let us use? If so please contact me at tony.hillman@lineone.net .

Writes Tony Hillman, "A Hastings Diesel Unit is visiting on 7 May, 2016. Here are some pictures from the Alan Postlethwaite collection of these units."

East Grinstead Concert Band/Bluebell Railway Band plays "Luftwaffe" at the Horsted Keynes Food Fair

*Full Name: " Late Turn: Ready for the Road "
*Artist: John Myall (b. 1949)
*Collection: Hampshire Cultural Trust Headquarters, Winchester
*Date: 1991
*Medium: Oil on canvas
*Size: 54.6 x 84 cm

A Maunsell S15 locomotive, Southern Railway No. 828 at Salisbury Motive Power Depot, c. 1930.

Painted in 1991, when the Eastleigh Railway Preservation Society was restoring it, the locomotive has since been in use on some preserved railways and is currently being restored at the Mid-Hants Railway.


Photo by Ben Brooksbank   (7 April, 1951) : SR U1 class 2-6-0 at Stewarts Lane Locomotive Depot. No. 31905 is a Maunsell U1 (three-cylinder) 2-6-0, built 8/31 and withdrawn 12/62. The U1s were a more powerful version of the U 2-60s, normally employed on general passenger work, including specials. 
"Steam in South London," by Paul Plowman

Derek Hayward's photo from the recent Hastings Diesel Limited "Blue Belle" railtour shows No. 1001 at the Railway north of Sloop Bridge on May 7, 2016.

"Our train is known as " Unit 1001 " (and referred to by the Total Operations Processing System as No. 201 001), but actually it includes vehicles from several different units ... [it is a] a Diesel-Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) that worked on the London Charing Cross-to-Hastings route under British Rail between 1957 and 1986. Our train is commonly referred to as "Unit 1001," as the first "Hastings" DEMU (all six of whose vehicles we own) was so numbered. "
The ASH Appeal has reached £138,834 in a month. This is a great result. Furthermore, because it was always going to be necessary to raise partnership funding in addition to the Appeal target of £210,000, I am pleased to report that if the Round 2 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund is successful, Lewes District Council will be making an award of £12,000.  
Cllr Andy Smith, Leader of Lewes District Council (LDC), said "This is a fantastic project to convert the front part of the running shed into an exhibition hall, with digital technology where visitors can explore how steam engines work, and to provide the Railway with a new maintenance facility.  LDC is delighted to be supporting Bluebell Railway's bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund by granting £12,000 as a one-off contribution of 5% towards the match funding required for the build phase of this exciting project."
This LDC contribution recognises what the Railway gives to the local economy of the District. And the council also recognises the value of our volunteers' work, which is why it presented an award for volunteering to us last month. Thank you Lewes! 
By Roger Kelly, Funding Director
Please help us reach the ASH appeal target ...
  • Or by cheque with a Gift Aid Form downloaded from here
Listen to BRPS Chairman Roy Watts speak about ASH with Radio Sussex (from 54m 45s mark).

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

Loco availability has temporarily taken a turn for the worse in recent months with the H class and S15 in the Works for extended maintenance and the Q class withdrawn for its annual boiler exam. In addition to this the C class has been restricted to Sheffield Park station limits due to the leading driving wheel flange measurements being on the limit of the specification. 

This restriction is likely to be temporary, however, while we review the Southern Railway and British Railways specifications.

The scope of the maintenance work to both the H class and the S15 has grown in size after dismantling. Initially the H class required a couple of stays on the backhead to be changed plus a piston and valve (P&V) exam. After dismantling some loose rivets were discovered on the motion bracket, several leaves in a driving wheel spring were broken, and one of the small end bushes needed replacing. 

While in the Works, the opportunity has been taken to carry out some long-term maintenance work on the H, including re-metalling the axleboxes, re-profiling the driving wheels, and re-machining the eccentrics on the crank axle. The loco now is being reassembled with both driving wheels back in place, the pistons and valves completely assembled, and the second part of the loco's annual boiler exam in progress. The loco should return to traffic in approximately two weeks.

When S15 entered the Works for its boiler exam, ultrasonic testing equipment found a number of boiler stays to be either fractured or broken. These stays, installed by British Railways, have done a term in BR service plus a term and a bit in our service. The loco also entered for a P&V exam, with the existing pistons and valve having completed more than 55,000 miles. 

With the work to the H class taking priority, work on the S15 has focused on re-boring new cylinders and machining new piston heads and valve heads. A complete set of new rings also are on order, so when complete, the front end of the loco will be good for another 50-60,000 miles. The fractured and broken boiler stays have been removed, the platework tapped, and the new stays will shortly be installed. Unusual tyre wear has taken place since the loco returned to traffic, so it will shortly leave Sheffield Park for tyre profiling on a ground lathe. 

The Q class is being prepared for its annual boiler exam too, with the removal of fittings and pressure gauges ready for inspection and calibration. This work has meant the bulk of our services have been handled by nos. 73082, 473, and 323, with the C class on Sheffield Park pilot duties. The end of May will see the situation improve though, with the H class, S15, and possibly the C class back in traffic, and the Q class following in June.

Inside the Works, progress has continued on the frames of No. 80151, with the fitting of the new frame stretchers and painting those parts of the frames that don't require any work. Both the cylinders and valves will be re-bored in due course. Work on the boiler has continued, using our newly arrived Asquith drills that are taking out old stays ready to remove the firebox doorplate. "Stowe's" boiler work continues, focusing on the front tubeplate and, offsite, the new backhead is being pressed and formed at South Devon Engineering. 

At LNWR-Crewe, No. 34059's boiler repair has seen the fitting of the new outer wrapper sheet, and we are shortly to agree our final account with Crewe before the boiler is transported to South Devon Engineering for the manufacture and fitting of the new inner firebox.

The Diesel Gala--in association with GBRf--was very successful, and those who have recently visited Sheffield Park will note we're temporarily storing two class 73s and a class 20 for GBRf. These locos will leave Sheffield Park shortly once some technical issues with the class 20 have been resolved. From a motive power point of view, we're keeping our head above water, with all our resources focused on completing and out-shopping the H class and S15.
By Chris Hunford, Loco Director
The Brighton Atlantic Project has released an updated Component Sponsorship List

A different kind of vintage transportation visited the Railway on 23 April, 2016. These hot rods were photographed by Dave Clarke.

Phase 1 of Operation Undercover 4 (OP4) has seen steady progress since the beginning of the year, although the extremely wet weather in January and February caused inevitable delays in the foundation construction works.

By Derek Hayward
Since the improvement in the weather conditions, progress has accelerated, and the frame and roof are in place over the majority of the maintenance road. This has already brought rain protection benefits to the C&W maintenance team. The framework for the carriage storage shed is also well under way, and once completed the contractor's roofing team will be on site to fit the roofing panels.
The final stage of phase 1 construction will be the framework and roof for the Heritage Skills building that will be situated on the eastern side of the storage shed. Once fully completed, this building will provide much improved facilities for the C&W Department, as well as the Railway as a whole. In addition to providing new office and Trimming Shop facilities, it will also house large meeting and skills training rooms that will provide significant benefits for the training of volunteers and others in heritage skills.
The benefits of achieving the framework and roof over the carriage storage area can be realised once phase 1 has been completed. Track can be installed in the building, and, with a temporary connection to the running line, carriages for restoration can then be transferred into the shed. The side and end walls/doors of the storage shed can then be completed at a later phase as funds permit.
The "Cash for Cover"' fundraising campaign raised enough money to provide the framework and roof for the whole building, and this will complete phase 1. The focus of future funding initiatives will concentrate on providing side cladding for the south end of the maintenance road, to provide weather protection for the maintenance staff in the coming winter. In addition, funding priority will be given to the provision of side cladding, windows, etc. for the Heritage Skills building, to make this facility available at the earliest opportunity. 
By Stephen Bigg, OP4 Project Sponsor

With the imminent closure of the existing Salt Yard entrance at Horsted Keynes, the infrastructure team is putting the last finishing touches to the new entrance further down Station Approach.  

In the photo above, Matt and Mick are laying granite kerb stones along the side of the new entrance that have kindly been donated by contractor Colas after being removed to make way for new paving as part of the Uckfield Town Centre Highway Improvement Scheme. 

Although the security fencing is of a modern design, it is appropriate that we can use traditional materials when they can be found, and these stones look so much more in keeping with the heritage traditions of the Railway than their modern concrete equivalents.

Once all the steelwork for the second phase of OP4 is in place there will be no access to the bottom of the yard  where all the containers have been moved and where deliveries will be made at the new Infrastructure compound.

Some of you may have seen when passing in the train that the whole area is now a lot tidier, and a large turning circle has been created so that lorries making deliveries will no longer have to reverse out, which was often the case with the old entrance.  

The old trim shop--which has been converted into the new infrastructure mess room--is now getting a new roof, and the container that is now our workshop is sporting a new coat of Southern green. 

Once the new entrance is finished, we will be able to accept deliveries of rail for OP4 track laying and new point assembly for Leamland junction, which is due to be replaced later in the year.

By Mike Hopps, Infrastructure Volunteer

Poster  by Mike Hopps.

The Model Railway Weekend is being held on 25-26 June, 2016. Enjoy a steam train ride and/or explore each of our stations and exhibitions. Passengers holding a travel ticket gain free entry to any stations, while visitors wishing to visit the station only will need to purchase an admission ticket. 

Model and miniature railway displays will be at both Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park stations, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Service Two timetable will operate over the weekend, with extra trains running along side the normal departures.

Book travel tickets at least eight days in advance and take advantage of our discounted Bluebell Bonus tickets! Find out more here .
  • Traders attending include Invicta Model Rail, 75d Trading, and Carriage and Wagon Models.
  • Layouts attending include: Wantage "O" Gauge, Small "N" Working, and Sussex "N" Gauge Society.
  • Demonstrations by Oxford Rail and Bachmann UK.
Sussex Express : Kerbstones removed as part of a refurbishment of Uckfield High Street are being put to good use at Bluebell Railway (see Mike Hopps' article above). 


On 15 May, 2016, it will be 40 years since West Country class No. 21C123 "Blackmore Vale" officially re-entered traffic at the Railway. 

Enjoy this gallery of No. 21C123 throughout its life, gathered by the Bulleid Society. 

First runs of Blackmore Vale on the Bluebell Railway in March and May 1976.


So why replace the cylinders? The existing set of cylinders was cast in 1910 and installed into the locomotive, it is believed, or at least we have not seen any records to suggest otherwise!  

This, coupled to the locomotive being dismantled in the early 1980s for a "quick repair" and being open to the elements ever since, has had a greatly detrimental effect on them. We found that not only was the outside of the existing set pock marked and covered with surface rust, there were also delaminated rust and even a perforation within the castings.

As if it did not look bad enough in pictures, measurement and gauging took place and the worst was confirmed.  We would need a new set!  In all honesty, with recent experience on other locos a repair would be a false economy as the work would need to be carried out sooner or later, and probably sooner.

The original Ashford drawings were obtained for the cylinders and converted into a CAD drawing by Matt Holloway, who then produced the 3D CAD model ... MORE.
"The bluebells are glorious this year," wrote Richard Salmon on the Railway's Facebook page on 28 April, 2016 (I guess the rain is good for something!--The Eds.) Thank you to all who made the Bluebell Specials happen, including staff, volunteers, and especially our passengers!

One of the "sounds" of the railways of yesteryear (and some today in a few instances) was the ringing of bells. Bells were a very important form of communication and were used extensively for the signalman to communicate quickly and efficiently with both his fellow signalmen and, if sited at a station, the platform staff.

Probably the most frequent to be heard by visitors to Bluebell stations are the platform bells. By this means the signalman can inform the station staff of various matters they need to know. In a couple of seconds he can send his message which will be heard by all those on the station, saving the need for someone to answer a telephone and pass the message on.

The type of message sent this way will be to inform that an expected train has entered the block section, later that its arrival is imminent and, where appropriate, which platform it will arrive in. A further use of the platform bell is to quickly summon someone to attend the signalbox, should that be necessary.

Platform Bell Signals (some variations from station to station)
  • Train left Sheffield Park for Horsted Keynes (bells at HK) = 3-1
  • Train left Horsted Keynes for Sheffield Park (bells at SP) = 3
  • Train left Kingscote for Horsted Keynes (bells at HK) = 1-3
  • Train left Horsted Keynes for Kingscote (bells at KC) = 3
Train approaching:
  • Platform 1 Sheffield Park = 1
  • Platform 2 Sheffield Park = 2
  • Platform 2 Horsted Keynes = 2
  • Platform 3 Horsted Keynes = 3
  • Platforms 4/5 Horsted Keynes = 4
  • Main Platform Kingscote =1
  • Loop Platform Kingscote = 2
  • Attend at Signalbox = 6
... MORE

Three locos in steam today with "Camelot" on the main set; "Bluebell "on the Bluebell Specials; and the E-4 shunting.

Brian Lacey ( 27 April, 2016): No. 73082 approaching East Grinstead.

Steve Lee (24 April, 2016): No. 323 hauling a lightweight vintage train.
Martin Lawrence (May 2016): The start of Martin's May 2016 gallery.
John Sandys (3 May, 2016): " A lovely sunny and warm day for the return of the Bluebell Specials, with the E4 on Set A. The Railway is looking a real picture with the bluebells and primroses in full bloom, plus beautiful tulips."  

Steve Guess (1981!): "An album of my slides taken on a visit to the Bluebell Railway in 1981 (and recently scanned in)." Includes "Fenchurch," No. 75027 in steam, and a Bus Rally. 
Chrissie Knibbs on guard duty, 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