8 January 2017 
HLF Green Light for Bluebell Railway
The Bluebell Railway is delighted to announce that its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the ASH (Accessible Steam Heritage) Project has been awarded a £1.1 million grant to revitalise the way the Bluebell Railway exhibits its locomotives.

Thanks to National Lottery players, the Project will see substantial repairs to the Running Shed, which will be partly converted and also extended at the side to create a new exhibition hall. This space will feature an exciting new exhibition of how steam engines work, plus footplate access by both pedestrians and wheelchair users to static locos. Visitors will also be able to take part in a footplate driving experience based on a mock-up of No. 55 "Stepney", alongside the original engine that was built in 1875.

These exciting developments also will mean more space in the Running Shed for routine locomotive maintenance, and a new maintenance facility over the wash-out pit, and adjacent siding in the locomotive yard. This will enhance the Railways' ability to maintain its loco fleet and also provide a better working environment for volunteers.

In addition to the HLF award, the Bluebell Railway will contribute £388,000 (including £214,000 raised from the Ash Appeal) in cash, plus a substantial amount of "effort in kind" to be put in by many members of its 700-strong volunteer workforce. The three-year Project will see the exhibition opening in Spring 2018 after which it will run for a further two years with extensive plans to utilise the exhibition to engage the public and support the growth of visitor numbers.

The Project also aims to increase the Railway's capacity to work with schools in developing their science, technology, engineering, and maths curriculum, with a target of increasing school visits by 150% by 2020. An Interpretation and Education Development Manager will be employed for an initial three-year period and applications are already being sought to fill this post.

"This project is key to the sustainability and growth of the Bluebell Railway," said Funding Director Roger Kelly. "Many visitors to Heritage Railways today, particularly younger ones, want more than a ride on a train. They wish to be entertained. This Project will not only do that but we hope ensure they leave better informed about steam power from the 19th to the 21st centuries."

"The Bluebell Railway is fortunate to be custodian of one of Britain's mo st varied and historically important steam locomotive collections outside the National Railway Museum. This award will enable us to display and interpret the collection for the enjoyment of all our visitors and to cherish and maintain it for the benefit of generations to come," said Dick Fearn, Bluebell Railway PLC Chairman ... MORE .

The Railway is hiring for two positions in the Bluebell Railway PLC (Infrastructure Director and Operations Director--both volunteer positions) and two positions associated with the ASH Project (Interpretation and Education Development Manager and Project Manager).

New Year's Message from the BRPS Chairman

I hope that you have enjoyed (indeed survived!) the Christmas and New Year's festivities and are now looking forward to an action-packed 2017 at our Railway.

Provisional visitor numbers for both the 2016 Santa season and the year overall are up by just shy of 3% on the previous year. This is an encouraging result, and it is imperative that the Railway focuses on further progress to generate consistent revenue increases.

2016: Travel 143,000 + Admission 16,650 = 159,650                                               
2015: Travel 140,000 + Admission 15,500 = 155,500

2016 Santa: 10,511
2015 Santa: 10,233

The Santa numbers do not include the Victorian, Festive Feast, and Reindeer specials, all of which proved very popular and will add another 2,817 to the 2016 figure. So a special thank you to all involved in delivering the Christmas experience to our customers.

Now to 2017 ... during Spring we hold our Diesel Gala (31 March to 2 April), which this year features two class 50s and a still to be confirmed class 37. Our own class 09 also will be in operation.

The biggest event of the year then happens when we host "Flying Scotsman" for seven days during Easter (13-19 April). There's already great excitement, and many volunteers are looking forward to being on duty during its visit. Detailed planning is already underway, and I urge everyone to see this iconic loco on our Railway for yourself. Keep an eye on our website for information about timetables and fares, and hopefully you can take part in what promises to be one of our highest profile events since the re-opening to East Grinstead.

Still in spring, our smaller locos will grab the headlines when we stage our Branch Line Weekend (13-15 May), with the aim of having our five South Eastern & Chatham locos in service, joined by visiting LNWR coal tank No. 1054.

This Summer we'll mark the 50th anniversary of the end of Southern steam (9 July, 1967) with a three-day event to commemorate this significant milestone. In addition to "Blackmoor Vale" and "Camelot", how many of you are aware that we have two other locos that were still operating during summer 1967: USA tank No. 30064 and standard tank No. 80151? Unfortunately, only "Camelot" will be in traffic at the event, joined by visiting un-rebuilt Bulleid Pacific No. 34092 "City of Wells".

It's too early to give definite information of what is being planned for Autumn, but another big event is in prospect, so watch this space!  

I'm confident you will agree that our Railway is looking forward to an exciting year with these major events joining our traditional events, all of which hopefully will contribute to raising funds for our never-ending list of projects.

While all our projects bring improvements to our Railway, one is essential if we are to continue operating as we do today: track replacement between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes.

On a personal note, I'm looking forward to being on duty either as a Guard or as Station Master at Sheffield Park during these major events, and I will be delighted to see you enjoying these events yourself, either as a volunteer or visitor. Finally, I wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.

By Graham Aitken, Chairman, BRPS

Special Events 2017

A list of Special Events organised so far for 2017 can be found at this webpage . Stay tuned as these events add details and ticketing information and as new events are added ...
  • Diesel Gala: 31 March-2 April
  • Flying Scotsman : 13-19 April
  • Shareholders Weekend: 22-23 April
  • Bluebell Specials: 24-28 April & 2-5, 8-10 May
  • Branch Line Weekend: 13-14 May
  • Lego Weekend: 27-28 May
  • Collectors Fair: 29 April
  • Fathers Day Event: 18 June
  • Model Railway Weekend: 24-25 June
  • Craft & Food Festival: 1-2 July
  • Collectors Fair: 29-30 July
  • Freshfields Test Match: 19 Aug.*
  • Steam Through the Ages: 23-24 Sept.
  • Autumn Tints Specials: 2-6, 9-13, 16-20 Oct.
  • Halloween Scream Train: 27 Oct.

* Charity cricket match between the Bluebell Railway XI and Scaynes Hill CC. Open to staff, members, and volunteers. To play for the Railway, contact John Walls .  

Please note that trains will not run on the Railway until 11 Feb., 2017. During the pause, the Railway will be re-laying 1/3 of a mile of track between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes. Thereafter, trains will run  daily from 11 to 26 February , and on  weekends in March .

The Grinsteade Buffet Carriage at East Grinstead station, and the Restaurant, Shop, and locomotive sheds at Sheffield Park station nevertheless are open daily, even on days when no trains are running. 
Let Reindeer Reign!

Derek Hayward captures a lovely scene during the Railway's Christmas events, of children greeting one of Santa's hardworking reindeer. For a full gallery of Derek's Christmas season photos, click here .
C&W Update: The Play Carriage (Elephant Van) Nears the Finish

Photo by Paul Cripps.

The Elephant Van has been resident in the paint shop over the Christmas period and attention has focused on finishing the exterior.

The details of the lettering have been kindly provided by Tim Robbins and Martin Skrzetuszewski as we were having difficulty finding photos showing this with any clarity.  The "SCENERY" on the NW and SE corners was signwritten by David Rhydderch, whereas the numbers on the opposite corners were transfers.  

After a final crimson top coat, the west side was treated to two coats of varnish, which is unusual for a van, but this one is special as it is going to perform an important role out in the open, and so hopefully will continue to look good for many years.  

The black ends have been similarly protected, and it is hoped that when the van returns to the paint shop in a few weeks for the flooring to be fitted, a second coat of varnish can be applied to the east side.

To provide cooling in summer and a degree of heating in the winter, air conditioning units are being installed in each end.  These are supported by two units mounted under the floor for which two steelwork cradles have had to be manufactured.

After the inner roof was lined with insulation, the printed "sky" panels designed by Matthew Cousins (with a little help from Roger Dean) were fitted.  These are now awaiting covering strips to give a uniform inner roof feature. 

The north end of the van is being treated as an area representative of the van itself, so the inner roof panels here are plain white, and the sides are lined with boards grooved to look like the van planking.  It is planned to have some educational material on the walls here.

There will be an enclosed circus tent-like area in the south end to provide a safe play area for very young children. The circular seating for this has been constructed and awaits the attention of the departmental trimmers.

Battens have been attached to the walls which have been insulated before the inner lining of ply panelling is fitted.  This will carry vinyl images and various activities.

By Sheina Foulkes, Carriage & Wagon Department Supervisor

Tickets on two of the Railway's special 2017 Golden Arrow dining trains are selling fast:
Atlantic Group Update: Boiler Work Heating Up

Fred Bailey supplies this intermediate update to finish off 2016 and make a start on 2017. In addition David Jones has just provided an updated component sponsorship list , since we're pleased to say that quite a few items have found sponsors in the last few weeks ...

As we start the New Year work is now well under way on the welding of the patches required to replace the areas around the old mud hole doors that had corroded in the years when it was out of use. Once this is completed and inspected, then we will be involved in riveting the bottom row of foundation ring rivets, prior to removing and replacing the row above. This is a normal procedure at the time of a 10-year boiler overhaul, as these rivets tend to suffer from the damp ashes and heat.
To go with this boiler work, we have now made the mud doors which are fitted (i.e. adjusted to fit accurately) into the new sections of plate, plus the large inspection doors that are on either side of the firebox above the level of the inner firebox crown sheet. 
Not yet photographed is the J-pipe which supports the regulator and connects the main steam pipe to the front tube plate, which is now bolted up finally in its position in the dome.
In this photo  are the 32 off, 16 foot long, 51/4" outside diameter flue tubes as they were delivered. The ends near to the roller shutter door are reduced in diameter and are threaded to screw into the firebox tubeplate. These threaded ends were welded to the main flues by a sub-contract coded welder. These have had their threads protected and been covered with a tarpaulin similar to the small tubes that are seen under their tarpaulin behind ... MORE .
The top side of the cab roof is pictured in  Fred Bailey's photo,  with the back removable section now in place, but without all the bolts securing it just yet.

Please also note that the project asks if anyone can source plain mild steel round head and countersunk screws 
Whitworth by 1" and 1 1 / 4 " long at a sensible price? The team needs about 200 of each type. Contact Richard Salmon if you can help.

Station Lamp Lights Up Museum

The Blue Railway Museum is always trying to enhance the collection with the acquisition of appropriate material, and items arrive in the Museum on loan, by donation, or purchase from Museum funds.

Recently, the Museum obtained one of the LB&SCR station lamps from Newick & Chailey station. The lamp includes the original LB&SCR reservoir and burner as well as the Newick & Chailey lamp tablet.

The lamp is shown on display in the Museum after being restored by Curator Tony Drake.

The Museum is very grateful to Barry Jones who brokered the deal to obtain the lamp and donated it to the Museum.

Click here to see the full list of recent accessions.
Photo Gallery  
Jonathan Hughes (28 Dec., 2016): "Today's 1:30 p.m. service from Sheffield Park approaches Lindfield Wood."
Dave Bowles (22 Dec., 2016): Photo update from 22 Dec., including SECR 323 'Bluebell' hauling the Victorian Christmas service.

Stephen Garratt (30 Dec., 2016): "S15 No. 847 heading the first train of the day at Sheffield Park. Weather for photography was atrocious and this image was only possible with mega tweaking in Lightroom 6."

Nick Burgess's photos from 17 Dec., 2016.

Keith Duke's pictures from the early part of Christmas Eve at Sheffield Park.

Peter Edwards' photo shows S15 No .847 climbing Freshfield bank with the 11 a.m. from Sheffield Park on 2 Jan., 2017.

Thank you for reading our eNewsletter; it's because of you-- our members, volunteers, visitors, and supporters --that the Railway continues its success. Please continue to support us by passing this issue onto your friends, family, and/or colleagues by clicking the "Forward this Issue" button below, or encourage others to sign up for the twice-monthly eNewsletter at this link .

If you ever have a question, comment, or contribution, don't hesitate to get in touch with me at
this email address .

John Walls
Editor-in-Chief, eNewsletter
Bluebell Railway

Santa Specials on 23 Dec., 2016, by Mike Anton.

Railway & Heritage News Briefs

The Heritage Railway Association will present its 2016 Awards at a gala night ceremony on 11 Feb., 2017, at Grand Central in Wolverhampton. The guest speaker will be Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail. 

Darlington Railway Preservation Society's restoration of loco No. 78018 has been shortlisted for an award. 

Colne Valley Railway Preservation Society has received a grant of £1,757,200 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for its "All Aboard" project. The award aims to provide long-term sustainability for the railway. 

The Dover sea wall and rail project has been completed and the line is back in full service, ahead of programme and under budget. 

A short report from November 2016 about a rail tour featuring a high-speed Hitachi Class 395 Javelin loco. The tour of Sussex and Kent was to raise funds for the Royal British Legion, hence the train's nickname: "The Poppy Express".
Hornby has announced it is recreating one of the Railway's first two coaches-- ex-LSWR full third No. 320 -- in Southern malachite with sunshine lettering.  Hornby and other models can be pre-ordered through  the Railway's Shop BRPS members receiving a discount.
Golden Arrow Christmas Special December 2016, by Gabriel Phillips-Sanchez.

The Bluebell Railway is pride of place at Number One on the Radio Times' list of " Nine scenic spots for trainspotting in the UK "!
The last day of the holiday season, by John Harwood (2 Jan, 2017).

From the Getty Archive: Re-opening the SER

Railway workers at the reopening of the South Eastern Railway, 9 March, 1877 . Photograph showing Edward Watkin, the chairman of the South Eastern Railway, along with other top-hatted men beside a Cudworth Class E 2-4-0 steam locomotive. The line had been closed between Folkestone and Dover following a landslide, and reopened on 9 March, 1877.
The next Photographers' Personal Track Safety course will be on 28 Jan., 2017. The cost for the training session and certificate (which acts as a lineside photographic pass) is £30. The course runs from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Sheffield Park Station. 
Your Painting: "George the Blacksmith, Dairycoates Engine Shed, Hull"

Writes Neil Cameron: "This is a significant choice of subject. Loco sheds usually had artisans working there as blacksmiths, coppersmiths, and perhaps tinsmiths, working alongside the fitting staff repairing locos. This is the first painting I have seen recording these men at work; rarely are skilled artisans portrayed in paint. Young loco cleaners at the sheds would spend several months with each of these trades, and a great deal of coal shifting too, before learning to be firemen."

Artist: George Whitaker

Date: 1949

Collection: National Railway Museum

The Best of 2016, by JS Rail Videos.






Bluebell Railway
Sheffield Park Station
East Sussex
Near Uckfield, TN22 3QL