English Electric Class 37 to Join Diesel Gala

Another loco has been added to the line up for the Bluebell Railway's 2017 Spring Diesel Gala, being held over three days between 31 March and 2 April, 2017.

Joining the two Class 50s already confirmed--"Ark Royal" and "Defiance"--will be BR Type 3 Class 37 D6700. Now part of the National Railway Museum's collection in York, this loco will arrive at the Railway via the connection with Network Rail at East Grinstead.

Entering service in 1960, D6700 was built by the English Electric Company at its Vulcan Foundry. It was the first of 309 Class 37s produced. Currently carrying BR Green livery, it is anticipated that D6700's duties will include the hauling of the Beer EX evening special planned for 1 April.

Timetabling for the event is still at the planning stages, so for the most up-to-date information, follow the event webpage

Class 37 fans will enjoy this article about D6700 by the National Railway Museum. 

OP4 Update: Concrete Progress

A pictorial update on Operation Undercover Phase 4 (OP4) by Dave Clarke ...

Concrete has been laid between the new jacking pad and the old shed. The concrete in the maintenance shed now stretches just about the full length of the old shed (22 Jan., 2017).

Lighting was installed in the maintenance shed late last year (4 Dec., 2016).

The main drain runs from left to right through the centre of the storage shed. Secondary drains run between the black chambers and will connect with downpipes on every third stanchion. The white chamber provides access to the plastic pipes carrying services through the new sheds.

Holywell Update: Tamping Down
The Bluebell Railway blog records a further update on current track relaying, with thanks to Matt Crawford and Bruce Healey.

As of 1 Feb., 2017, the new track was being tamped at Holywell. There have been 10 ballast drops already and another two will be required. If the relaying of a third of a mile of track does not sound a lot, the following items were used:
  • 29 track panels, each 60 feet in length
  • 795 concrete sleepers
  • 17 wooden sleepers
  • 1,590 insulating pads
  • 3,180 'biscuits' (which go between a pandrol clip and a concrete sleeper)
  • 3,200 pandrol clips
  • 240 holes drilled for fishplate bolts
  • 62 fishplate sets
  • 248 bolts
  • 28 bullhead keys
As the Holywell work is well ahead of schedule, the opportunity has been taken to start lifting track and sleepers at Horsted Keynes Platform 3, as seen in the photo below , taken by Bruce. 

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). 

The deadline for the ASH Project positions is 6 Feb., 2017.

Railway Announces Early Details of "Steam Through the Ages" Event

"Steam Through the Ages" is an exciting, new, multi-stage event for 2017 that is replacing "Southern at War" on 23 and 24 Sept., 2017.  

This new event will still include the flavour of the war years at Horsted Keynes Station, with concert party shows, "black market" traders, Sussex Home Guard displays, military vehicles, wartime food, and gas mask making with Jacqui Sparkes.

However, other stations will be used to recreate the look and feel of pre- and post-war eras.

The Victorian era will take centre stage at Sheffield Park, while at Kingscote you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the 1960s with refreshments, music, and entertainment. East Grinstead, moving closer to the present, will recreate the sounds of the 1980s.

For more information, visit the event webpage .

FOSP Update: In From the Cold

After the Christmas and New Year festivities, the Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) are once again working hard on several fronts to keep the station looking its best.

During winter there is opportunity to do certain jobs that would not be easy when the Railway is busy. January weather usually precludes much external decorating; nonetheless, we have been able to do some strategic spot repainting here and there. Inevitably, though, the main activities are indoors, and we have been busy redecorating.

One area that had previously escaped our attention was the ladies' toilet in The Bessemer Arms. This has now been refreshed and some damaged fixtures and fittings attended to.

A second major decorating project is taking place in the Station House, where the Harmer Room is being re-purposed from a meeting room/Station Master's office to become the permanent General Manager's office.  A full repaint is in progress, including sanding and re-varnishing the floor. When we have finished doing our bit for the GM, we will direct resources to repair/redecorate the space vacated by the S&T Department--this will become the new Station Masters' office.

Next, we turn our attention to the hall, landing, and stairs in the Station House, where the decor is shabby and the floor coverings require replacement.  Quite a few cans of paint will have been applied by the time Easter comes!

Meanwhile, we are preparing to erect a canopy around the Bessemer Arms. The various timber elements needed to manufacture the decorative support columns have been procured and are being pre-painted in our workshop. Design details for the four-column support pads have been prepared, and we expect to break ground soon, while the Railway is quiet.  Once the concrete pads are cast, they will be covered over and the platform surface restored temporarily to permit normal circulation.  

The major project will require careful execution to dovetail with the needs of the catering/commercial departments in order to minimise disruption. Also, we are advised there are plans afoot to resurface the southern end of Platform 1, so we must stay closely connected to that project to ensure synergy.

Since approval of the canopy project, we have received significant donations towards our target, and this support has encouraged us to move forward. However, we are far from the total required for completion, so if you can help us in any way or sponsor a needed item, please contact me ( ) or Neville Watts ( ).

Finally, if you are a competent DIYer--or have more advanced skills--and are free on a Wednesday, we would love to hear from you. Contact me or Neville to learn about joining our group.

By Charles Melton

Train services are due to resume on 11 Feb., 2017, with steam-hauled services and the Kids for a Quid half-term offer--every day until 26 Feb. to a modified timetable .
All "Q'd" Up

A great photo of Q class No. 30541 and its tender having arrived at the Great Central Railway's Winter Steam Gala (27-29 Jan., 2017). 

Loco Project Updates

Project 27 Update: Small Part Work, Big Results

This photo, by Matt Holloway at the Project 27 blog, shows progress on some "small part" restoration, in this case spring hangers are drying after having been painted with BondaPrimer. Other "small" work has been done on the steam reverser hydraulic lock valve cover and coupling storage hooks. Meanwhile, Matt reports that final touches to the CAD models and manufacturing drawings for the cylinder blocks have been finished and await final approval by Premier Patterns who will be manufacturing the new block. To follow this project, click here .

BR Class 2 Tank: Brake's Off

From the Loco Works, a new newsletter is available for the BR Class 2 No 84030 tank restoration/conversion project. The newsletter is compiled by John Jesson and Tony Sullivan. This artful photo, taken by Peter Wolfe, shows parts for the driver's brake valve which Peter is currently machining, along with the associated drawings.

V class No. 928 "Stowe": A Step Up


Lots of visual updates on Facebook to the "Stowe" project, including this photo showing completed repairs to the lower section of the drivers cab side: "the plate was heavily corroded where it meets the running plate. The old section was removed and new plate welded in. We continue to keep the paintwork in good order until space becomes available in the workshop. (We wont be painting the loco in this shade of green though.) 

Restoring the Camelot Society's CCT Van

Covered Carriage Truck (CCT) No. 2531 was featured in the last edition of this sNewsletter. It is both an important element of the Railway's van collection and historically interesting--the final design from a family of designs dating back to the SECR's 1922 Passenger Luggage Van (represented in our collection by SECR No. 153).  

This final design, still 32-feet long, had end doors for loading motor vehicles, etc., from a goods ramp, and it lasted in parcels and newspaper traffic until the 1980s. Built in 1955, with plywood sides (but still traditional planked doors), No. 2531 was purchased by the Camelot Locomotive Society in 1981 for component storage.  

35 years on, the van needs an overhaul. Its owners considered an external contract; however, a space in the carriage works, created by out-shopping SECR carriage No. 3188 and the availability of some Elephant Van volunteers, meant it could be slotted into the Carriage & Wagon Department's programme.

Work so far has concentrated around carefully dismantling the sides, doors, and roof. It's surprising how difficult removing the doors proved to be! But the steel structure is in good condition and will be treated to ensure this remains the case for 60 years, and whilst the doors need to be completely rebuilt, the roof timbers have survived very well. Although not rotten, some splits and areas around screw fixings will need repair, but very few roof timbers require replacement. They are currently having screws and pins removed.

New hardwood external planking for the doors is already being prepared. It's curious to find, in contrast to the simple half-lap boards on the Elephant van, built just a few years earlier, that No. 2531's boards have complex, tongue-and-groove joints. In the accompanying photo, the CCT's complex joints are on the left and the Elephant Van's on the right.

By Richard Salmon, C&W Department

New volunteer opportunities include those in the Commercial Department and Catering Department, both in anticipation of the visit of "Flying Scotsman" in April. To learn more about these and other opportunities, click here
From the Railway Archive

Six pictures of soon-to-be-visiting "City of Wells" from the John J. Smith and Alan Postlethwaite Collections, curated by Tony Hillman. 

Southern Electric Traction Group Update: Strawberry Hill Forever!

"At Last! We're into Strawberry Hill depot! 21 Jan., 2017, marked the first work day we've been able to arrange for nearly 12 months. I won't bore you with the drawn-out story of why and where, but suffice it to say that we have been impatiently waiting to finally regain access to No. 3417 for a very long time, and working very hard behind the scenes to make it happen" ... MORE

Special Events 2017

A full 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.
  • Kids for a Quid: 11 to 26 Feb.
  • Diesel Gala: 31 March-2 April
  • Bluebell Specials: 2-5 & 8-10 May
  • Branch Line Weekend: 13-14 May
  • Bright Bricks Build-It Days (aka Lego Weekend) : 27-28 May
  • Collectors Fair: 29 April
  • NEW: East Grinstead's Bus Running Day: 30 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.*
  • Seaside Weekend: 19-20 Aug.
  • Steam Through the Ages: 23-24 Sept.
  • Deltic Preservation Society Gala: 6-8 Oct.
  • UPDATED: Shareholders' Weekend: 14-15 Oct.
  • 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 .  
Photo Gallery  
Martin Lawrence has made a start to his January 2017 gallery , including this one of a new recruit for the guard's team--can we call him a Snow Guard?  
Keith Duke (28 Jan., 2017): "We got brave and traveled to the GCR all the way from Brighton! Inspired by the visit of the Bluebell Railway Q class, we thought we would go and have a look as well. A great railway and the gala itself featured nine or 10 working steam loco's and a DMU."

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

Shareholders' Weekend Moved to October

As announced at the Bluebell Railway PLC Annual General Meeting in 2016, the Railway's intention was again to hold a Shareholders' Weekend in 2017, and the dates had been set for 22-23 April. 

However, April not only sees a Diesel Gala and Easter Break, we also have the seven-day visit of "Flying Scotsman". So it has been decided to move the Shareholders' Weekend to later in the year. 

It will now be held on 14-15 October. This will then give an opportunity to provide, among other things, updates on progress with the ASH, OP4, and Car 54 projects, as well as a summary of the Railway's summer season. 

Full details of the October event will be sent to all shareholders in late summer.

Kristian Gough's coverage of Sunday at the GCR including our Q class in action.

Pop In to the Pop Up!

Peter Reed, Chair of Horsham Model Railway Club , informs us that the club is once again creating a "pop up" shop in Horsham's Swan Walk during half-term week, 17-25 Feb., 2017.

The club will have working layouts on show, along with other displays. It also will be displaying leaflets advertising local steam and heritage attractions and clubs, including the Bluebell Railway and Steam Dreams.

The pop up shop was very successful last year, with more than 3,500 visitors. Drop by this year, and say hello on behalf of the Railway!

Thank you to all our readers who have signed up to receive the eNewsletter recently-the 22 Jan., 2017, issue was sent to more than 7,000 readers! If you need to catch up on past news, Tony Hillman archives the emails here .
Railway & Heritage News Briefs

The renovated Battle of Britain class loco "Squadron 92" has had a steam test at Nene Valley Railway after a eight-and-a-half-year renovation.

"The Carlisle-Settle line is expected to be open in full on Friday, March 31. A 500,000-tonne landslip on a section of track at Eden Brows, near Armathwaite, has seen that part of the route closed for more than a year ..."

From ITV: "A multi-million pound project has been launched to bring one of Britain's most powerful passenger steam locomotives back to life. A team of engineers in the North East are working on an improved version of the P2 Mikado."

Memories of Anglo-Indian steam days in India, from The Hindu.

It has been 50 years since steam locos last serviced Barrow: "The Evening Mail of Tuesday, December 13 in 1966 announced the end of an era of steam which had started back in 1846 with the arrival of Coppernob for the Barrow-based Furness Railway."

More from India : Good news from UNESCO for the famous Darjeeling and Himalaya line.

From the BFI Archive: Diesel Power on British Railways (1965)

A feast of first generation diesel locomotives shows the variety of motive power employed by British Railways, from the small diesel shunter to the mighty Deltic locomotives of the East Coast Main Line ...

A look at the Railway's possible Western expansion: Mike Anton's video of various empty workings from the Hanson aggregate depot on the Ardingly branch.

East Grinstead Town Council has announced that the Classic Bus Running Day  will take place on 30 April, 2017, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Free rides all day. Hop on and hop off, and enjoy a lovely spring day in this classic Sussex town. 
Your Painting: Crewe Junction

Full Name: Crewe Junction, Evening (No.2)
Artist: Norman Wilkinson
Medium: Oil on canvas
Collection: National Railway Museum

South Western Main Line 1964: An excellent steam on the main line and fully interpreted video from Alan Snowdon.

An updated "Rules of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society 2003,
Amended 2008 & 2016" can be found on the society's website. 
From the BFI Archive: Snow & Flood

This film shows the blizzards on the LNER line running through Westmorland and Durham, over Stainmore, up 1,380 ft., in the winter of 1947. From on board a train we pass groups of heavily clad men, looking exhausted and almost defeated, against the huge walls of snow. Help is on hand with Rolls Royce Derwent Mk 1 jet engines attached to the front of a loco, blasting the snow from off the line (??!!-The Eds) ...

A Ride with the Bluebell Railway, by Georg Ragaz (August 2016).






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