Railway Appoints New Commercial Director

I am delighted to confirm that an appointment has been made to the vacant post of Commercial Director on the Bluebell Railway PLC Board.

We had a good number of applicants following the advertising of the vacancy, and we then embarked on a very thorough selection process. I was ably assisted in that process by Steve Bigg, Roger Garman, Gordon Owen, and Lisa Boyle, and I am very grateful to them all for their help and guidance.

The successful applicant is Sara Hancock. Sara lives in Crawley Down, near East Grinstead, with her husband and 10-year-old son. She graduated from the University of London in 1988 and has since worked for nearly three decades in marketing, business development, and market research, primarily (but not exclusively) in the food sector.

Sara is currently taking a break from full-time corporate employment, preferring at this stage in her life to work part-time. She also has been looking to take on a voluntary position in a local organisation, and she is therefore delighted to have been offered the post of Commercial Director at the Bluebell Railway.

Sara is very happy to commit to whatever time input is necessary to fully discharge the responsibilities of the role, and she will join us during March. We will co-opt her to the Board at our next meeting, scheduled for 23 March, 2017, and then nominate her for appointment to the Board at the 2017 PLC Annual General Meeting, in the normal way.

I trust you will join me in welcoming Sara to the Bluebell Railway when she joins us next month.

 By AR Fearn, Chairman, Bluebell Railway PLC
Updates: "Flying Scotsman" Flying South

Tickets to travel on general service trains behind Bluebell Railway locos during the visit of "Flying Scotsman" (13-19 April, 2017) are now on sale .

You can hire our 1897-built GNR Directors' Saloon for private or corporate parties on "Flying Scotsman"-hauled services.

An important notice regarding platform tickets:
During the "Flying Scotsman" event there will be no platform tickets issued at East Grinstead. At Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes, platform tickets will be sold on the day subject to crowd number/space considerations, and the decision to sell such tickets may vary throughout the day. Any platform tickets that are sold will be priced at £10 (£5 for children 3 to 15 years old) and the ticket will be location specific and not usable for access to any other station on the day of issue.

The timetable for trains during "Flying Scotsman Flying South" has been released . In this PDF, the "Scotsman" is No. 60103.

Compass Bus has released its timetable for service 22 (Haywards Heath-to-Sheffield Park) during the visit of "Flying Scotsman."

For more updates and information about this very special event, click here .

Diesel Gala Special Programs & Timetable Now Available

Early morning full line brake van rides during the Diesel Gala (31 March to 2 April, 2017), behind the class 09, will depart Sheffield Park at 8:10 a.m. and include a trip down the Ardingly siding on the return leg. Tickets include a drink and breakfast roll. Phone 01825 720800 to book.

Plus, "Driver for a Fiver" will be available on the Sentinel shunter at Horsted Keynes station (on Saturday and Sunday only). The Diesel Gala timetable is now available at this link .

For this event, trade stand enquiries are welcome (here will be a pitch fee). Contact the Railway's Sales Office at 01825 720800 for more information.

For BRPS Members: Download the notice of the 2017 Annual General Meeting here . The AGM will take place on 20th May, 2017, at the Burgess Hill Academy (formerly Oakmeeds Community College), Station Road, Burgess Hill RH15 9EA.
Horsted Keynes Update #1: On the Road  

Stewart Moon's photo below, taken on 18 Feb., 2017, shows track lifted in no. 3 road at Horsted Keynes as the S15 departs in stormy conditions from Platform 4/5.

By Wednesday, 22 Feb., the track base for Platform 3 had been lowered by the required four inches with only a small amount of spoil yet to be removed. As the feed pipe for the water columns at the north end of the station and the original drain occupied the space between nos. 2 and 3 roads, a new centre drain was not an option. Instead, a smaller drain will run under the track of both platforms 2 and 3.

Much of the feed pipe for the water columns has been uncovered, and so far it looks in good condition. The feed is far from level as it wends its way over the underpass and round three catch pits.

The drain under no. 3 road has been started, with the very northern end having the Terram/polythene/Terram sandwich laid, the drain pipe in, and (so far unlevelled) ballast down.

The opportunity has been taken to renew the wooden walkways on the Platform 1/2 up starting signal, with Matt Crawford doing the difficult bits. The walkways on the up signal on Platform 3/4 will be similarly renewed in the next few weeks.

For more photos and updates from this project--via Bruce Healey, Stewart Moon, and Matt Crawford--browse the Railway's blog page .
Horsted Keynes Update #2: Subterranean Goings On
The Victorians were really good at infrastructure, but someone must have been having a bad day when they drew the original plans for Horsted Keynes Station.
Things were going really well for the relaying of platforms 2 and 3 until it was decided to correct the rail height to platform edge height while we had the opportunity. Platform 3 has never been too bad, but with Platform 2 being some eight inches too low, it has always been a case of "Mind the Step" rather than "Mind the Gap"! 
Some have commented that platforms were always lower in the old days, but we now think that the subway wasn't ever subterranean enough to start with and the crown of the three courses of brick work gets in the way of the sleepers! Add also into this equation an old supply pipe for the water columns, old drainage catch pits, and new drainage down the length of each road, and there was a big problem waiting to be solved.
We can't lower the subway, and raising the platform edges would be very costly and look a bit odd, so another solution has been found which hopefully will do the trick. To take the loading, the sides of the subway crown are being excavated and solid reinforced concrete beams will be cast either side of the crown on top of which the chairs will rest.
Three metre-square steel slabs already have been laid to protect the crown and spread the load. The two existing brick catch pits had to be demolished to make way for the new structure, but it won't affect drainage as the new pipes--integrated with the now familiar Terram/polythene/Terram sandwich--run away from the subway crown to the existing catch pits, which empty into the cross platform culverts underneath.
The supply pipe to the water columns is unaffected by all this work, but whether it will be ever used again is a matter for speculation. At the time of writing, ballast is ready to be graded on Platform 3 either side of the subway, and once the concrete slab has hardened, then track laying can begin.  Unless other problems are found, Platform 2 will be dealt with in the same way. 
In the photos, you'll appreciate that the catch pits took some demolishing, and in Jon Goff's photo taken the following day, you can see the 20mm thick steel plates set in place on the concrete slab. The rings were for lifting, and they will be ground off.
By Mike Hopps, Infrastructure Volunteer

Horsted Keynes Update #3: Step Forward

Barbara Watkins photo from 2 Feb., 2017, shows the start of track laying in Horsted Keynes' Platform 3 road. This track is being laid four inches lower than previously, and--as described by Mike Hopps above--the track in Platform 2 will be eight inches lower than at present.

This work will bring both roads down to the same level and significantly reduce the step down from the carriages to the platforms, which may see the Railway make greater use of Platform 2.

Congratulations to The Company Upfront for a successful start to its 2017 Murder Mystery season. Learn more here
A "Golden" Dining Experience

Steve Lee's  photo   shows the SECR H class with the 26 Feb., 2017, Pullman Luncheon Train approaching Horsted Keynes. 

Tickets for this train, which offers fine dining in beautifully restored 1920s Pullman cars, tend to book up well in advance! Details of the
dates of operation are available here.  

Because of the current engineering work at Horsted Keynes, the lunchtime dining trains are currently doing two complete round trips of the line, rather than the normal one-and-a-half.

Wheely Good Progress on Project 27

Matt and Georgie needle gunning the backs of the wheels on the driving axle (Photo: Rueben Smith).
From the P27 website: At the weekend, Matt and his merry band of mainly willing volunteers spent a few happy hours working on the wheel sets.

The first thing to do was to needle gun the years of paint and surface corrosion from all the nooks and crannies. This is a very noisy and not particularly pleasant job, but vital to the looks of the finished product!

The needle gun consists of a series of rods which are fired back and forth by compressed air in a similar way to a chipping hammer or cold chisel would if doing it by hand. It is much quicker, more fun, and definitely more interesting!

Following the needle-gunning, the surfaces were cleaned and degreased before a coat of red oxide paint was applied. The aim is to get the wheels up to a top coat before the "Flying Scotsman" event so that we can show what the loco will look like when it is finally painted in the Maunsell Lined Southern Green livery ... MORE

Matt and Georgie needle gunning the backs of the wheels on the driving axle (Photo: Rueben Smith).

The Railway's 9F Club supports the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society (BRPS) by allowing young people between 9 and 15 years of age to take an active role in helping to run the Railway. Members work in small groups under experienced adult supervision. Learn more here .
New Museum Accessions: LB&SCR Notice, Battery Torch, More

At a recent auction, the Bluebell Railway Museum was able to buy two historic Railway-related items.

Firstly, we purchased the original framed LB&SCR notice dated 1900 from the Signal Box at Sheffield Park. The notice states that there is one signalman and his hours of duty are 10:30 a.m. till 8:00 p.m. both on weekdays and weekends.

Also, an early battery torch is coming home. It was not made by the Southern Railway but the front is engraved SHEFFIELD PARK. It probably dates from the 1920s or 1930s and was used in the signal box.
By Tony Hillman   
Other recent museum accessions, which can be seen here ,
  • The presentation photograph of Schools class "Dulwich", which was given to Dulwich College by the Southern Railway when the loco was named. It is a large framed photograph--over 4' x 2'--and will hang in the Record and Research Centre.
  • A sweet dish showing the Southern Railway Electric Flash logo. Such items would be used on the Southern Electric Pullman services.
  • A sugar bowl of unusually plain and functional design, showing the usual Southern Railway logo.
Volunteer at the Railway: We Need You to Help Us!

The February 2017 "Find Out More Days" tour takes a look at the Elephant Van in the Carriage & Wagon Department (photo by Martin Lawrence).

The  successful running of the Railway depends largely on the voluntary efforts of the society's members in a wide variety of duties. Whether you are male or female, an active senior citizen or a younger member, whether you can attend regularly, or now and then, a welcome awaits you.

You will meet plenty of new people and perhaps learn new skills and widen your experience. Obviously, some jobs are more popular than others--you cannot walk straight into an engine driver position, which can take some training, but we all started from scratch. The more you learn about, and work on, the Railway, the more likely your chances of finding your niche.

Most departments accept people from 16 years of age, and our oldest working members are in their 80s. Working members only can enjoy travel benefits on other selected private railways.

By joining the Society, your subscription helps the Railway financially. You also have the opportunity to be a volunteer working member in any of our departments. Details on some of these departments are found here , including links to some departmental recruiting pages.

Another way to learn about the Railway is on one of the "Find Out More Days" tours. Book your place on the tour by contacting the General Office at 01825 720800, or just turn up at Sheffield Park on the dates found here . The next date is 12 March, 2017.

Still Going!

Vernon Blackburn sent in a remarkable photo taken in Ambala Junction, Northern India, of a still-operating SECR brakevan. "We ought to have it to go behind the C or O1!" says Vernon.

From the Railway Archive

Writes Tony Hillman: "The John J. Smith collection contains a box of official pre-grouping glass slides. A small selection is shown below ..."

Photo Gallery  
Brian Lacey's photo shows the S15 on the service train at West Hoathly on 24 Feb., 2017.

This photo from Brian Lacey shows the S15 framed by the two new platform starters at Sheffield Park. The bases of the existing LBSCR-pattern signals had rotted. As part of their renewal, the signals were moved about 30 yards north, allowing for the planned platform extensions to permit seven-coach operation.

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


Re-laying track at Horsted Keynes on 20 Feb., 2017, by "Cashpot".

Performing ambassadorial duties this month is SECR P class No. 323 "Bluebell", visiting the Winter Steam Gala at Churnet Valley Railway in Staffordshire. 

Who's Up for a Curry?

On 28 April, 2017, the evening supper train will feature a Curry Evening .

Departing from Sheffield Park Station at 6:30 p.m. for the return journey to East Grinstead, enjoy a main course and a dessert on board one of our historic steam-hauled trains.

Booking is essential (phone 01825 720800) due to limited seating capacity. A selection of drinks are available for purchase on the day.  

A visual OP4 project update, by John Harwood.

Railway & Heritage News Briefs

More than 5,000 people travelled on the first timetabled steam train service on the Settle to Carlisle railway line in 50 years, Northern Rail has said.

The parliamentary bill for the first phase of the High Speed 2 project received Royal Assent on February 23, marking the final legislative step before full civil works can begin.

Plymouth is to get a new railway station after the Government included the project as part of a £43.57million cash boost for the South West.

This is the wonderful moment  a steam engine that spent 15 years on the scrapheap hauled passengers for the first time in five decades following a £750,000 restoration. The Standard Four No. 76084--dubbed the "Lancashire Lazarus"--thundered across Greater Manchester on Saturday following its transformation.

After 12 years out of action, the Dartmouth Steam Railway is proud to announce the return to service of its BR STD Class 4 locomotive No. 75014 "Braveheart" ...

Severn Valley Railway driver uses steam engines to prepare dishes : It may seem unusual to those of us more used to the electric hob but using the steam from the train's engine, Mr. Christie regularly cooks up a variety of dishes with a difference ...

Japanese manufacturer Hitachi is building a new fleet of 93 trains in County Durham and Italy, 36 of which will serve lines from London into Devon and Cornwall ...

From the BFI Archive: "View from an Engine Front: Barnstaple" (1898)

This 'phantom ride' along a stretch of partly elevated track through the Devon town of Barnstaple and its main station is an oddly haunting experience. 

Aside from two briefly-glimpsed London & South-Western Railway employees waving flags, no human activity is apparent until the train reaches the main railway station - an earlier platform is mysteriously deserted. 

However, this allows a greater opportunity to appreciate what are still clearly recognisable Barnstaple locations, with good views of the town as the train approaches the station.

UK Drone Club at the Bluebell Railway, 19 Feb., 2017.

For information on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles ("drones") and other aircraft systems in and around the Railway, click here
"Kids for a Quid" event from 16 Feb., 2017, by "Train Fan 28".

LMS Archive Film: Trains in Engine Shed (1938)

The London Midland & Scottish Railway takes us inside an engine shed to show us how to improve safety in the workplace while working on trains, and also increase productivity by avoiding wasteful work practices. 

Bob Kershaw's video from 13 Dec., 2016, showing the "only train in Sussex" because of the Southern Rail industrial action on that day!

The Bluebell Railway is in frequent demand as a film, television, and video location. For your next location project, discuss requirements with Chris Knibbs at the Sheffield Park office or call 1825 720811. 
A tour around the Bluebell Railway Loco Shed at Sheffield Park, by "Steam and Speed".

Mike Anton: Ardingly Station then (1962) and now (2017).






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