Update on the Visit of "Flying Scotsman"

Work continues apace for the delivery and event management team covering the seven-day visit of "Flying Scotsman" to the Bluebell Railway in April 2017, during the Easter Holidays.

Preparing Dormans station in Surrey for the journey south of "Flying Scotsman".
Early release of tickets for the Pullman breakfast and dining trains were snapped up very quickly and all are now sold out. In addition to these dining services, "Flying Scotsman" will--as part of the three service trains it will operate on each of the seven days between 13 and 19 April--haul a rake of seven coaches, plus the Great Northern Directors Saloon (tickets for the saloon are being offered to the corporate sector).

An extensive service will be on offer, although final details of the operating timetable are still to be released.

Online sale of tickets for services hauled by No. 60103 started on 13 Feb., with nearly two-thirds of the more than 8,000 seats available sold on the first day. As of this weekend fewer than 100 tickets remain at
Tickets for the other service trains operating over these seven April days, hauled by the Railway's own motive power, will go on sale via the same online provider on 27 Feb.
This event will be an excellent opportunity for the Railway to showcase itself to a wider audience.

Flying Scotsman will, of course, be arriving at the Railway via the connection with the main rail network at East Grinstead. In this regard, some consternation has been expressed outside the Bluebell Railway about pathing and gauging issues. However, Roger Garman, the Railway's Communication Director, confirms that a Network Rail source says:

"Flying Scotsman is a railway icon, and we know many people are looking forward to seeing it on the historic Bluebell Railway. We're carrying out work at a number of stations to make sure the route is clear for 'Flying Scotsman'--which is taller and wider than today's passenger trains--most recently at Dormans station , where a team of 40 worked over the course of a weekend to alter the platform. Work also needs to be carried out at Oxted and Lingfield, and once this is done, we'll be ready for Flying Scotsman to make its journey."

Much more information about visiting the Railway for this exciting event can be found at this webpage .

From a Railway Carriage: School Visits Programme 2017

The school visits programme got off to an unusually early start this year with a visit by some 30 Year 3 children and their accompanying adults from Blackthorns Primary Academy, Lindfield, on 14 Feb., 2017.  

The school was taking advantage of the fact that we were running services over two weeks because, unusually, the East Sussex and West Sussex half term dates didn't coincide.

The theme for the visit was "The Impact of the Railways," and discussions with the lead teacher before the visit provided the class with a series of leads on this topic, including the likely impact on Lindfield had the Ouse Valley Railway project been completed .

The weather was cold but dry on the day, and our team of Guides accompanied the party throughout the visit, conducting them through the Loco Shed and the Museum and visiting the signal box at Sheffield Park.

Once again, the highlight of the day for many of the children was the opportunity to visit the footplate of the loco. Our thanks go to the crew for their usual good grace when responding to the many questions posed. Because of the cold weather and the fact that the Birch Grove Suite was unavailable on the day, lunch was taken on the train on the return trip.

Sally Carr, of Blackthorns Primary School, wrote after the trip that "The children absolutely loved it and have written some lovely work about it."

Bookings are now coming in from schools for both the General and the World War II Evacuation Exercise visits, commencing with a special charter train on 3 April for Greenway Academy, Horsham. This school will be bringing some 185 years 3 and 4 children, plus accompanying adults. The theme will be Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "From a Railway Carriage."

For those not familiar with the poem, here it is ...

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches,
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and grazes;
And there is a green for stringing daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!
By David Cockram, Education Officer

Corporate charters on the Great Northern Directors' Saloon are being offered for the visit of "Flying Scotsman". More details can be found here .
S&T Update: Sheffield Park Signals Are Go

 Looking north from Sheffield Park Station the casual observer may not notice a subtle change that has taken place over the January period. While our infrastructure colleagues were busy relaying track at Holywell, we took advantage to commission two replacement wooden signal posts, it is unusual for the Signals & Telecommunications guys not to get involved in major Permanent Way work, but this was one of those occasions.

At the beginning of last year, the conditions of the existing posts was starting to give us concern. In the past, traditional wooden posts had been buried in the ground, and as a consequence, rot was occurring at ground level. Experience on traditional methods of wooden signal post construction was a bit lacking among the current volunteers, Charles Hudson being the only team member who could give us advice.

We therefore started by looking for wider guidance and made contact with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which has a lovely collection of wooden signals. Their advice helped to make some important decisions. It was also important to balance between maintaining Victorian style and using modern construction techniques to ensure a future long life.

We also wanted to keep expenditure to a minimum, and luckily we had sufficient replacement parts in stock to dress the posts and provide operating cranks, so refurbishment on these items got underway immediately. We then spent considerable time on finding a timber supplier who could provide the correct wood at the right price and had the facilities to cut the subtle taper required.

The Railway now has a policy to not bury wooden posts straight into the ground. Therefore we developed an interface between the concrete foundation to the wooden post that is safe, long-lasting, and does not conflict with the heritage style of the finished article.

The solution may seem ironic: we used standard Network Rail design for the bottom 18 inches of a modern colour light signal. This solution fulfilled all our needs, the supply contractor had all the prepared material in stock, and these had been approved for the mechanical loadings that we expected. The cross section was the same as the wooden post, and when painted it is impossible to tell the difference between this steel boot and the post.

Matt Crawford installed concrete bases in the revised position, and the boundaries of the track circuits were moved to their new positions, thus allowing future platform extensions to take place. The wooden posts were prepared by Andy Palmer, who cut the rabbets and chamfers. Dave Phillips followed up with his paint brush.

Brian and Andy with the Sheffield Park No. 2 road up starter signal (photo by Martin Lawrence).
We borrowed the KGT (road rail crane) to erect the posts in their steel boots, and the Friends of Sheffield Park loaned us their scaffold tower to allow us to dress the posts with the pre-prepared fittings and arms. The signal wires were extended and cables rerouted in preparation for commissioning, the date of which was published to ensure our operating colleagues were aware of the changes.

Once the new signals had been tested and brought into work, we used the KGT to remove the old signals, one of which was donated to the Museum. After restoration, it is hoped to connect it to the Withyham signal box.

Finally, work is continuing on finishing the Down Home bracket signal, and progress should soon be apparent.

By Brian Hymas

Right on Track

Track work at Holywell is coming to an end, with new rail now aligned, ballasted, and tamped, as can be seen in Bruce Healy's photo above. The line now has the correct cant for 25 mph operation.

Via the Railway's blog , Matt Crawford and Bruce report on work at Horsted Keynes platforms 2 and 3, where S&T improvement tasks include burying cables, drainage repair, and avoiding the odd water pipe. Stewart Moon's photo below shows platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes, as of 5 Feb., 2017.


The Railway is transitioning its online donations to BT's MyDonate. To donate to the Accessible Steam Heritage (ASH) Appeal via MyDonate, click here .
Q Takes the M

A cool photo by Carl Cox for Reid Freight Services-the Q class returning from the Great Central Railway to the Railway on the M1, just south of Leicestershire on 8 Feb., 2017. 

A Little Tenderness

The Camelot Locomotive Society announce that winter maintenance on No. 73082 has begun, focussed on the tender and firebox. Having run 12,994 miles since returning to traffic in late 2015, the tender wheel sets have been sent to the South Devon Railway for re-tyring.

Andy Kelly's "Camelot" Facebook group photos show work on the tender components, which have been released so the tender wheel sets can go off-site. Andy and the team have been preparing and painting brake gear adjusters, brake pull rods, horn stay keeps, and the castings that sit on top of the roller bearings.

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
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
  • 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.
  • 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 .  
Backhead Front & Center
This visual update from the Facebook page  of V class No. 928 "Stowe" includes this 13 Feb., 2017,  photo of t he new boiler backhead, which has been attached to the repaired gussett stays using temporary bolts to ensure the correct alignment.

From the Railway Archive

In October 1958, John J. Smith traveled to Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. The images below come from his visit to the station where the rolling stock was still in situ following the closure of the station a year earlier. 

The stock was left for a year to see if any further use could be made of it. The loco "Enniskillen" was being cut up and John obtained the nameplate. The nameplate was still in John's ownership when he died, and it is now on display in the Headhunters Railway Museum in Enniskillen. 

Down Memory Line: Harry Tilbury, Sunny South Sam, & the Famous Poster

Our previous Down Memory Line article on Sunny South Sam proved of great interest to our readers, including Rowan Gibbs, from Wellington, New Zealand!

Rowan is writing a history of "Hamilton's Panoramas", an acting troupe, and realized his research had filled in more of the puzzle of "Who was Sunny South Sam"?

Rowan wrote the following to Tony Hillman ...

You may know this, but the actor who was used for the photo of "Sunny South Sam" was one Harry Tilbury, who was on stage mainly in comic roles from at least 1890. He died 22 March, 1930, and was buried in Hendon Cemetery. On 2 May this article appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post ...



Sunny South Sam is dead. That is the tragedy behind thousands posters depicting a jolly railway guard who gives the holiday crowds his smiling send-off from every station on the Southern Railway system.

"But who is Sunny South Sam?" is the question which a million travellers have asked. His mates were certain they had seen him somewhere; there was not a station where he had not been searched for.

Many many times he had been reported discovered, but Sam never did a day's work for the Southern Railway except when he posed for his photograph. In real life Sam was Mr. Harry Tilbury, a Lancashire men and actor. While on tour in Edgar Wallace's "The Squeaker," in which took the part of Collie, a reporter, he was suddenly taken ill. He was taken to the Middlesex Hospital to undergo an operation, under which he succumbed at the ago of 65.

"We never revealed the identity of 'Sunny South Sam' for the simple reason that it would have spoiled a happy illusion," said an official the Southern Railway. The least we could do in consideration of the widow's feelings was to remove the picture from the hoardings." [... but they seem to have used him for later posters.]

There was also a song about him, archived at The British Library and discussed in the theatrical paper The Era on 7 May 1930 ...

The writers of the song, after seeing the notices of the death of Mr. Harry Tilbury (who, by the way, was a member of the Actors' Association) the original of the Sunny South Sam poster, whose happy face gave them the inspiration for the song of the same title, have decided to hand to the widow the whole of their royalties from the sale of the copies of the song. Will E. Haines and Leo Bliss paid a visit the widow and made her the offer personally.

Mr. Jack Hylton, who had received a copy of the song from the publishers a week or so ago, will be featuring the number when he returns from his Continental tour on May 25th. He has congratulated the writers on this well-written song, and has also expressed his willingness to assist them all he can in their efforts on behalf of the widow. All artists and bands wishing to feature this original song should write to the Publishers, the Cameo Music Publishing Co., 4, Denmark street, London, W.C.2.

"Harry Tilbury" was a stage name, and I'm still trying to find out his real name. He's listed in the 1911 census under his stage name, saying he was born Salford c.1865, married actress "Belle Tilbury" c.1887, and they had a daughter Arline, also an actress, born in Elland c.1890.

Arline acted under the stage name "Arline T. George" and was later Arline Richardson, but that seems to have been a married name. Belle, who previously acted as "Eva Allen", died in 1931 and Arline in 1933.
Website Gems: BR 12-Ton Pipefit B741381 Dropside Open Wagon

This is an example of a BR diagram 1/462 12-Ton capacity "Pipe VB" or "Pipefit" wagon, designed to carry steel pipes from the steel mill to a customer or to the docks for export.

Photo taken in 2007 by Andy Prime.
It has fixed ends but both doors on each side drop through 180 degrees and the centre stanchions can be removed.

The genealogy of this particular design is principally from the LMSR; the first lot (to diagram 1/460 with handbrake-only) being built in 1949 in the former LMSR Derby workshops.

The LNER had a similar design of wagon, which was fitted with vacuum braking and known as a "Longfit". Two lots to BR diagram 1/461, having LNER style brake gear and vacuum braking, were built in 1949 at the former LNER Faverdale (Darlington, County Durham) workshops.

Diagram 1/462 vehicles included detail differences to the earlier diagram 1/460 underframe and were fitted with vacuum braking from new.

B741381 was built in 1956 at Wolverton Works (Buckinghamshire) under Lot No. 2712, which covered 350 wagons (B741000-741449). Its tare (empty) weight was 7 Tons 15 cwt. and it would have been turned out in BR Bauxite livery ... MORE  
Photo Gallery  
Dave Bowles' notable photo from 1 Feb., 2017, shows the Railway's Q class No. 30541 (here numbered 30543) at the Great Central Railway re-creating a long mineral wagon train, as part of the Windcutter Project , an effort to preserve BR 16-ton mineral wagons.

An evocative photo by Richard Paice, a professional photographer who took this picture during the Bluebell Railway wedding of Toby and Jo. Click here to see more photos from this joyful day, and learn more about weddings at the Railway here .

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 , 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


Catering Concessions Opportunities During "Scotsman" Visit

The Bluebell Railway is seeking expressions of interest for the provision of additional catering concessions during the visit of "Flying Scotsman". Concessions will be awarded by competitive tender.

Catering outlets will be required to operate daily between 13 and 19 April, 2017.  Opening hours will be detailed in the tender document.

During the visit the Bluebell Railway anticipates up to 6,000 visitors per day. To express your interest or for further details and receive a tender document please send an e-mail to Neil Glaskin , Retail Director.

Tenders must be submitted by 1 March, 2017.

Stay Tuned for Ticket Information for 2017 Diesel Gala

The 2017 Bluebell Railway Diesel Gala takes place between 31st March and 2nd April. 
Joining the two Class 50s already confirmed--No. 50035 "Ark Royal" and No. 50049 "Defiance"--will be the BR Type 3 class-pioneer D6700 (later numbered 37119 and 37 350). Now part of the National Railway Museum's collection this locomotive will arrive at the Bluebell via our connection with Network Rail at East Grinstead.
Stay up-to-date at this webpage .

The Railway on 11 Feb., 2017, by "Welsh Steam Productions".

The Railway's ever-popular Kids for a Quid special offer is running until 26 Feb., 2017. Other dates this year are 29 May to 4 June and 23 to 29 Oct.  More details .'s best of Bluebell Railway 2016.

Railway & Heritage News Briefs

A return to steam in the age of green tech? Germany unveils a high-tech, zero-emissions train powered by hydrogen, that only emits water. 

Trainspotters have lined the route of one of Britain's most spectacular railways as a steam train delivered passengers on the Settle to Carlisle line on scheduled services for the first time in decades.

Train lines closed under the controversial 'Dr Beeching' cuts are set to be re-opened and serviced by "no-frills" trains . It is understood a £4 million trial will be launched within the next two years using cheap, low-speed trains built from 'lightweight' materials. And the new vehicles could be trialled on the Northern Rail network between Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle.

Network Rail will soon be trialling new "formation flying" engineering trains that will not only save the company £250,000 per week but passengers will also benefit from faster trains and less disruptions.

Why trains run down grizzlies : "After six years of study, Parks Canada, Canadian Pacific blame the bears."

In preparation for this year's Diesel Gala (31 March-2 April), here's a compilation from 2016's gala, featuring GBRf motive power, by Nick Gorrell.

Receive a 20% discount off Bluebell Railway travel tickets when you travel to Horsted Keynes or East Grinstead via the 270 Bus service. The 270 Metrobus operates weekdays and Saturdays. The schedule can be found here .  
From the BFI Archive: Constructing the Locomotive

Roll up, roll up! Step inside Crewe's famous railway works to witness a steam locomotive taking shape before your eyes.

In 1905, actuality images of production processes, normally hidden from view, were still a novelty for cinema audiences.

Revisited today they are invaluable artifacts of early filmmaking, building blocks for what later became documentary film. They're also precious industrial records - in this case, of the vanished world of early 20th century railways.

Your Painting: East African Railway

* Artist: Leslie Carr
* Collection: Glasgow Museums Resource Centre
* Medium: Oil on board
* Size: 36.8 x 49.8 cm
* Acquisition: 1965

The East African Railways and Harbours Corporation (EAR&H) is a defunct company that operated railways and harbours in East Africa from 1948 to 1977.

It was formed in 1948 for the new East African High Commission by merging the Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours with the Tanganyika Railway of the Tanganyika Territory ...

Part One of a nice series for fans of stationary steam engines. Here, Wayne Nauschutz visits the London Museum of Water & Steam and its Boulton and Watt engine.






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