Thinking about joining the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society? 

Your subscription will help the railway financially, and you will have the opportunity to be a volunteer working member in one of our departments. Full details will be sent to you when you join (and some are available on this webpage ).

To join, you can buy new memberships online through the Railway Shop , or print out and fill in a membership application form .

In honour of our top news story, here's video of No. 4472/60103 "Flying Scotsman" on her running turns at Bury Bolton Street and Bury South on 7 Jan., 2016.

Heather Brice writes about her visit to the railway on her blog "It's All About the Photos."

The Croydon Advertiser writes about Track Trek 2016 in its 16 Nov., 2016 edition:

... Organiser James Young said being able to offer a walk along the full length of the line proved popular with participants.

He said: "Numbers were a lot higher than last year. While in previous years we'd held the trek on bits of the line, this was the first time we'd organised a walk the full distance which offered a bit more adventure and was what people wanted."

Bluebell Railway communications director Roger Garman, who helped register participants at Sheffield Park before acting as a marshal at Horsted Keynes, said walkers were undaunted by the soggy weather.

"Watching them go past at Horsted Keynes, I never saw a single glum face or heard anyone grumble. Everyone was smiling despite the rain, which shows the spirit of the walkers and organisers" ...

The Railway on 19 Nov., 2016, by "Southern Steam Productions".

The Railway and the Giants of Steam gala are featured on the blog "Pete's Favourite Things."

Clamber aboard this steam tour double bill by amateur film maker A. H. Martin. Share in his passion, hanging out the windows of moving trains or relishing the details of the steam locomotives. 

After your tour of the harbour hop aboard the 186 which starred alongside Sean Connery in 'The First Great Train Robbery'. Enjoy watching swarms of train enthusiasts jostle for position each capturing their own version of events. The field of caravans announces our final destination.

The meeting between Connery and the 186 train was as dramatic as the script. During filming the crew misjudged the train's speed, combined with blinding smoke causing him to slip and nearly tumble off the moving carriages. 

The BFI player features several of A.H. Martin's personal films which capture the lost gems of public transport in Northern Ireland.


Writes Archivist Tony Hillman: "Some pictures of 8Fs from the John 
J. Smith and Alan Postlethwaite collections."

The "FeasttoWest" blog has a nice entry about afternoon tea on the Bluebell Railway's Wealden Rambler.

To book your afternoon tea, click here .

Ben Jenden's 23 July, 2016 "whistle collection".


* Name: Golden Arrow (Famous Trains Series)
* Artist: Terence Tenison Cuneo
* Date: 1984
* Medium: Oil on Canvas
* Size: 49 x 74 cm
* Collection: The Postal Museum
* Acquisition: Commissioned by the Royal Mail as artwork for its "Famous Trains" stamp issue

The Hornby Engine Shed blog announces that the H class model is up and running !
With winter on its way, here's a look at how locos and trams deal with the snow in other parts of the world.


Three heritage railway companies--The Bluebell Railway, Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, and West Somerset Railway--will be hosting the world famous " Flying Scotsman " locomotive in 2017.

After weeks of negotiations, the heritage railways selected were informed on 18 Nov., 2016, after a selection process undertaken by the National Railway Museum in partnership with Riley & Son (E), Ltd.

Paul Kirkman, National Railway Museum Director, said: "It was a tough decision with a consistently high quality of bids submitted from a wide range of Heritage Railway companies. After a successful tour in 2016, we weren't surprised with how many bids we received to host 'Flying Scotsman'. We hope the public who will journey to view or travel behind the loco will join us in welcoming 'Flying Scotsman' to these historic railways."

Colin Green, Director at Riley & Son (E), Ltd, added: "The selection panel were inundated with bids to host Flying Scotsman but the chosen three impressed us in the bidding process. After working with the loco for the last year, we understand the popularity and attention that the loco brings to the rails, something that we saw earlier this year and hope to continue to see in 2017."

Bluebell Railway Chairman Dick Fearn, said: "The Railway is delighted to have secured the services of 'Flying Scotsman' for a special week of operations. Since opening the line to East Grinstead in 2013, the appearance of 'Flying Scotsman' will give thousands of people from London and the south east a chance to enjoy this renowned loco in the delightful surroundings of the Sussex countryside."

Further information on dates, times, and tickets will be provided soon. (Please note that tickets will be sold via the Bluebell Railway rather than NRM for the loco's visit south.)

Full press release here .


It's going to be a busy festive season at the Railway this year. Here's a summary of the events happening during December:


Stuart Pay's photo above shows the Sentinel shunter with hoppers during a ballast drop on the relaid track work to the north of Horsted Keynes on 16 Nov., 2016.

The Sunday Permanent Way gang worked on the relayed track on 12 Nov., clipping up the new rails, while the S&T gang were to be found working on the new point in Sunday's slightly better weather conditions.

In Dave Chappell's 13 Nov. photo below, note the signal wire running though the base of the relocated S&T location cabinets.


On 15 Nov., 2016, at about 2:30 p.m. there was a rather momentous event, not quite as significant as the white fishplate event in the cutting three years ago, but equally important in operating terms ... but Santa can now go by rail to Kingscote instead of relying on his sleigh!  

After two very busy weeks, which included the recent closure for an engineering possession, preceded by months of preparation that were detailed in the 2 Oct. newsletter; Leamland Junction is now fully operational with all the lines joined up, ballasted, tamped, and ready for the Christmas specials.  

Point No. 5 was put together in the triangle at Horsted Keynes, and with all the sleepers and rails carefully measured and marked, it was originally thought that it might be necessary to take it all apart before installation at Leamland.  

However, our ever-helpful and resourceful colleagues at L&W had other ideas, and after splitting the assembly into three pieces, a much quicker outcome was achieved with three tandem lifts.

The Railway teams responsible--Infrastructure, Signals & Telecommunications, and Permanent Way--have to be congratulated on a job well done, and it's hard hats off again to the "Orange Army". Well done lads, and Barbara, who was present on this occasion but who declined the offer to tighten up the last fishplate !

By Mike Hopps


Mike Hopps adds some more information about the workforce engaged on replacing the Leamland points, courtesy of Ben Coughlan ...

Ben advises that through Community Investment work with the Prince's Trust, the charity that assists getting unemployed 18-to-25-year-olds into paid work, Costain has been helping five candidates work towards attaining PTS accreditation for use on network rail.

What better way to help in this undertaking than giving some hands-on experience at the Bluebell  Railway. These candidates, together with two Costain engineers, visited the Railway on 11 Nov., 2016.

The visit was a confidence boost for the candidates and an opportunity to improve their work and social skills, and it provided a constructive contribution to our volunteer-led organisation.

Photo by Ben Coughlan

The December 2016 timetable is now available. In the lead-up to Christmas, pre-booked special trains are being run on most days. However, there are trains running on Boxing Day, 27 Dec., and 2 Jan., 2017. These special timetables and details about festive specials can be found here
The Friends of Kingscote (FOK) lineside gang have been in action all year, keeping the areas around and south of the station neat and tidy. In inclement weather this is the work of a most dedicated team. A cutter bar mower has been donated to FOK which makes much shorter work of the long grass.
The platform gardens require constant attention, and it is gratifying to receive so many complimentary remarks. We are always looking for additional gardeners and a warm welcome awaits newcomers (even in deep winter!) The grass in the picnic area needs regular attention during the summer, and we have just purchased a grass collector for the ride-on mower to try to improve the look after cutting.
The biggest task by value this year has been the replacement of the handrails in the downside subway staircase--they have been much admired, and we were most fortunate that this job was funded by sponsors.
The usual platform/station maintenance continues. The variety of tasks is considerable, and the following list gives some idea of the diversity:
  • 8 benches/trolleys refurbished (bench refurbishment is akin the painting the Forth Bridge!)
  • 3 lamp heads repaired/refurbished
  • A fence erected around the east side of the picnic area
  • All unpainted wooden fences painted with wood protectant
  • 3 planters refurbished
  • Lawns scarified and seed sown
  • Down canopy walls washed down
  • Refreshment signs for Well House completed
  • The upside running in board has been repaired (wood rot) and repainted, and it will be reinstated very shortly.
Preparations for the Kingscote Goods Yard Project included removing all the tall fir trees bordering Vowels Lane and then repairing the fence and then emptying and knocking down the Giraffe House. As these tasks have opened up that part of the station, the PMV and Brake Van are now being cosmetically restored, the PMV being particularly unsightly.
We have recently been joined by three new working members, and we warmly invite others to join us.
Going forward, we hope that there will be attention to the provision of a drain in the forecourt to prevent flooding in the Booking Office after heavy rain, as well as significant repairs to the up canopy.
At the time of writing, we "only" have 10 outstanding items on the "to do" board, so there is no shortage of work!
By Richard Hill
Learn more about volunteering at the Bluebell Railway here .


Not to be confused with a certain television program, but in terms of popularity, the Bluebell Railway is fast becoming the film location of choice for producers and directors who appreciate the outstanding facilities and what is virtually a walk-on set at all our stations, which require a minimum of dressing to recreate the atmosphere of a period.  

If a scene needs a train, then the Railway is often the first port of call for location managers who know that in terms of organisation we have an excellent track record--no pun intended. We are relatively close to London film studios, and we can offer rooms for costume and makeup, quiet areas for digital imaging, and full catering facilities for smaller, low-cost productions.  

Recent programmes featuring the Railway have been the very successful "Full Steam Ahead" series produced by the BBC and "Railways: The Making of a Nation". Plus, we have hosted Alan Titchmarsh and Chris Tarrant recently, although quite how extreme the Railway will appear remains to be seen.  

Tarrant did some takes to camera at Horsted Keynes for his new series that will appear in the Spring, and he was also seen near the smokebox of No. 30541 being trained as a cleaner, under instruction by Mick Blackburn and properly dressed in a boilersuit (pictured).  

The rather intriguingly named "The Terrible Tale of Henrietta Tate"--also known as "The Gummer Gooseberry Bubble Beverage Incident"--also was filmed recently on Platform 2 over four days at Sheffield Park while the Railway was closed. This show is a very visual 15-minute short that will be released next year, and it will feature Railway volunteers among its extras.  

By Mike Hopps

For more information on Bluebell Railway film and location services, click here .


Surveying equipment company The KOREC Group blogs about donating a Geodimeter 600 to the Railway ...

Volunteer  Les Haines uses the Geodimeter 600.

... The railway is managed and run largely by volunteers and is fortunate to include Les Haines in the team. Bringing extensive survey experience from his time at Croydon Council, Les was part of the team that put together the Parliamentary Bill to authorise the Croydon Tramlink project and, at the end of the project, facilitated the donation of Croydon's Geodimeter 408 to the line.

The 408 was used regularly for track alignment during the extension of the line to East Grinstead which was completed in 2013. However, whilst the 408 was still mechanically sound, when Les needed to undertake some new survey work in 2016, the firmware in the instrument was no longer supported and he contacted KOREC to see what could be done. The KOREC stores held a Geodimeter 600 that was checked and calibrated, found to be in excellent working order and consequently donated to the railway.

Back in the 1990's the Geodimeter instruments prepared the way for the Trimble S Series that we have today by introducing several new technologies, all unique at the time. These included Tracklight technology, an alpha-numeric keyboard, servo, one-person operation, a detachable keyboard and user defined programs for data collection and setting out.

The Geodimeter's functionality is as useful today as it was 20+ years ago and Les reports that the 600 is due to be used on two new tasks: Where the line runs up hill towards East Grinstead, engine drivers need to know the change of slope which is marked by posts indicating the gradient. Since the laying of the line, the gradients have altered for various reasons and the 600 will be used to determine any changes between the designed and as-built gradients which can then be applied to each post. These posts are being cast in concrete to a 1930s pattern by a volunteer at Kingscote Station.

For the refurbishment of the Kingscote Station goods yard, which will be tidied up to provide the public with a display of how it would have looked and functioned in the 1950s. A map has already been created with the 408; the 600 instrument will be used to update that survey, establish levels, and set out new features.

"Geodimeters have been responsible for surveying the whole of the Kingscote Station environs and carrying out many other tasks around the Railway," explains Les. "Over the years, these instruments have performed reliably and without fail in every situation and every weather condition. KOREC's looked after us well and with the gift of the Geodimeter 600, we have an instrument that was clearly built to last" ...

To read the full blog, click here .

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
Bluebell Railway

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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