FOSP Update: Transforming the Harmer Room

On 8 March, 2017, I officially moved into my new office. There have been so many people to thank as they had been involved in some way.

I am grateful to all the station masters who kindly gave up their room to create the new General Manager's office; to Dave Phillips who also had to relocate; to Nikki and Dave for helping clear the room of unwanted items that had been collected over many years; to Matt Crawford's team who built the new battery room and converted other rooms to make accommodation for the S&T Department; and to the Museum for the loan of some fabulous artefacts.

But most of all I thank the members of Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP), who donated their time and expertise to create what is a really wonderful office. Whilst there is still a little work to be done, it has been transformed from a dark and somewhat neglected room into a bright welcoming office that truly highlights the skills, abilities, and professionalism of all the volunteers who contributed.

I believe in an "open door" policy and have already already invited many people in to my office to view the workmanship. Without exception all those who have been in the office have been very impressed. So well done to Chas Melton and the FOSP team for another job well done!

By Gordon Owen, General Manager, Bluebell Railway PLC

Many Members who have visited "behind the scenes" in the Station House at Sheffield Park will be familiar with The George Harmer Room. Over the years it has fulfilled many roles for the Railway, most recently as the Station Masters' Office, the previous office having been adopted by the Operations Manager.

The room also has been a small meeting area and a storage area. It would be fair to say the room was no longer a glory to behold, with much clutter, shabby decor, and tired fittings, all complemented by the inevitable cobwebs stained black by the sooty grime that "characterises" a steam railway.

Just a year ago new General Manager Gordon Owen joined the Railway, and the Harmer Room was identified as a suitable office for him. As usual, these things take time to realise, and a slow game of "musical chairs" began ... the station masters needed a new office, which was identified as the S&T "lobby", but as this area housed batteries and equipment related to signalling at Sheffield Park, an additional space would be needed to relocate this equipment.  

Hence, a metal shipping container appeared next to the printing works, and several months' activity was needed by the S&T Department to move all the equipment and connect it up (all done seamlessly, with no disruption to operations; inevitably, FOSP was called-in to apply paint). The contents of the Harmer Room were then sorted and "rationalised" as appropriate, in consultation with the various owners (where they could be identified!)

Finally, FOSP volunteers were able to gain access to a completely empty room to begin the process of redecoration. Having first removed all pictures and other items fixed to the walls, we filled a great many holes and cracks, then all the woodwork was re-treated with dark varnish. The walls and ceiling were given several coats of emulsion (working from our scaffold tower to access the surprisingly high ceiling).  

The wood floor also needed a spruce-up, so a noisy and dusty Wednesday was spent using an industrial floor sander, before we re-varnished three coats of dark stain. After a final clean, the new (mostly second-hand and very tasteful) furniture and soft-furnishings were introduced.

Finally, dressing was supplied, with some very fine pictures from the Museum archives. A couple of FOSPers even restored the fire surround/fender that was found to be made of copper and will polish-up very nicely (and Gordon Owen was duly presented with a can of Brasso for this purpose!)

There was a small dedication on 8 March and our GM now has an office of which he can be proud. Meanwhile the FOSP team has moved on to redecorating the new Station Masters' Office ... oh how we love painting!

By Chas Melton

A Donation, Rampant

From the Bluebell Railway Carriage Shop Facebook page : We are pleased to announce that on 5 March, 2017, the Carriage Shop proudly donated £1,500 to the Bluebell Railway Museum to fund the acquisition of an original 1865 London, Brighton & South Coast Railway artefact which is now on display in the Museum at Sheffield Park Station.

Peter Allibone (below, left) a long-standing Carriage Shop volunteer presented the donation cheque to Tony Hillman, Assistant Curator of the Museum. Thank you to all those that have purchased books, models, or other items from the Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes, which has made this donation possible.

Writes Tony Hillman:  The cast iron LB&SCR Coat of Arms would have been attached to a bridge or some other structure during the building of part of the railway in 1865. The original location of this item is unknown, although two still exist on the bridge that carries the Battersea Park to Clapham Junction slow lines over Battersea Park Road by the entrance to Battersea Park station (see photo at right).

The LB&SCR armorial bearings are: a cross (top), representing London; two dolphins (bottom) for Brighton; three half-lions/half-ships (right) for the Cinque Ports; and a star and crescent emblem (left), representing Portsmouth.

The Museum is very grateful to the Carriage Shop at Horsted Keynes that funded this purchase in full

Don't forget to book your place (phone 01825 720800) on an early morning, full-line brake van ride during the Diesel Gala (31 March to 2 April, 2017). Behind a class 09, the train will depart Sheffield Park at 8:10 a.m., and it will travel down Ardingly siding on the return leg. A breakfast roll and drink is included in the ticket price (£30).

"Driver for a Fiver" also will be available on the Sentinel Shunter on the Saturday and Sunday at Horsted Keynes, and there will be a raffle to win a cab ride on one of the afternoon trains. 

Click here for the complete range of events available during the gala.  
Updates: "Flying Scotsman" Flying South

Visit to purchase tickets for for general service steam trains during the "Flying Scotsman" Flying South Gala Event (as well as for the Bluebell Special and Bright Bricks Build It events).

Admission only (platform) tickets will be available to purchase during the event, subject to availability. These will be individual tickets for specific stations. Unfortunately these will not be available for East Grinstead Station due to the restricted space on that platform.

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

In order to make your "Flying Scotsman" experience the best it can be, passenger information can be found on this webpage , including how to get the the Railway, facilities at our stations, and accessibility.

Updates will be posted on the event webpage and in this eNewsletter. For specific questions, phone 01825 720800.  

Roll Up for the Mystery Tour
Where will you be going?! Join us at the Railway on 10 June, 2017, for a magical mystery tour . Alight a steam train at either East Grinstead or Sheffield Park stations then travel to Horsted Keynes, where you will transfer to a newly renovated, luxury 1960s vintage bus.

Then sit back and enjoy the ride to our mystery destination! You will have around three hours at the destination, which has a tea room, picnic areas, and a children's trail. Plus, we can offer a picnic for you in a traditional hamper, but please book your hamper in advance of the trip.

Travel on either the 12:15 p.m. train from Sheffield Park or the 12:05 p.m. train from East Grinstead to Horsted Keynes. After your mystery trip, the coach will return to Horsted Keynes in time for either the 5:25 p.m. train to Sheffield Park or 5:30 p.m. train to East Grinstead.
Prices: £37.50 (adult) and £24 (children). Price includes train fare, coach travel, and entry to mystery destination. Pre-booked picnic hamper is £8.50 per person. Phone 01825 720800 or email for more information ... but we won't tell you where we are going!

Directing You to the Saloon Car

A lovely 18 March, 2017, photo by Martin Lawrence , of John the Steward, reminds us that the Great Northern Railway Directors' Saloon runs the third weekend each month.

Travel on board is subject to available space. There is no need to pre-book, but a first class ticket is required (or an upgrade, payable on board).

There is at-table service of tea, coffee, drinks, toasted tea cakes, and home-made scones and cakes.

No. 73028 "Camelot" will be one of the featured locos at the West Somerset Railway's Steam Gala taking place from 5 to 8 Oct., 2017.  
OP4 Update: Lighting the Way

A short update on Operative Undercover (OP4): Concrete and lighting of E Road is now done and attention likely will be focussed next (in April) on closing gaps between E Road and the Carriage & Wagon Shed. Attention will then move to the project's remaining phases, including prioritising and funding these phases, with a view to getting stock under cover before next winter. Also, the Project Manager for OP4 has been chosen: Barry Luck.

Horsted Keynes Update: A Concrete Solution

A report by Bruce Healy from 8 March, 2017, on the work in Platform 3 at Horsted Keynes ...

With the concrete raft over the subway now setting, we have now laid out the sleepers (except either side of the subway) and some of the remaining rails for Platform 3. Some of the replacement sleepers are awaiting their chairs.

The rail across the subway will have to be taken up to remove the shuttering around the concrete and to put pads under the rail chairs which bolt down on the concrete. The concrete will be allowed to harden until the end of the month before trains pass over it.
Sparks Flying

This dramatic image , taken by David Jones and posted on the V class No. 928 "Stowe" Facebook page, shows the electric rivet heater in action on one of "Stowe's" new boiler rivets. Work continues on the boiler and the remaining sections of the ashpan.

Tickets for the Bluebell Railway Bright Bricks Build It! event (27-28 May, 2017) are now on sale . Enjoy a day at the Bluebell Railway and join in the fun building a mosaic, playing with Lego, or "Make and Take" a model engine. Fun for kids of all ages.
Play Away

Brian Lacey's photo shows the now externally complete BR(S) scenery van, which was modified on BR for the carriage of elephants, and which has now been totally refurbished with the help of an Arts Council England Resilience Fund grant. 

Most recently, it has been lifted using the new second set of carriage jacks inside the new OP4 shed to have the heating/air-conditioning units fitted. Work is now focused on fitting out the interior to act as a children's play area.

Website Gems: LSWR Ventilated Goods Van No. 5498

This vehicle was used on passenger trains for such traffic as milk, meat, fish and small (caged) livestock, where its ventilation was important. Of course, it also could be used for general luggage or parcels if required. On withdrawal from revenue service in 1941, it was converted to a mobile battery charging van, carrying a generator to charge carriage batteries and was allocated to Exeter Central.

Condemned at Newton Abbott in 1969, it was preserved by the Southern Locomotive Preservation Co. Ltd. Initially moved to Liss, on the Longmoor Military Railway, it was moved the following year to the Bluebell Railway.

An identical vehicle is finely restored to its original "salmon and brown" livery at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre , where it is stored under cover.

This vehicle is seen painted in BR carriage stock green, as it would have been when in BR departmental service. The van received an experimental form of roof covering in about 1993, which is hoped will be a more enduring alternative to the original painted canvas. It awaits a full overhaul ... MORE

Better Know a Heritage Railway: Victorian Goldfields Railway

In this new occasional series, we'll introduce you to some other steam heritage railways around the world, starting Down Under ...

Winding through forest and open land in Central Victoria, the Victorian Goldfields Railway is a remnant of the extensive branch line railway system which served rural Victoria from around 1880 through to the 1970s. Branchline railways, radiating from the main lines, reached into sparsely populated regions, providing transport for farm produce, tapping the natural resources and promoting the settlement of new areas ...

... Even prior to the closure of the Maldon Line, preservation moves were underway. The rapid demise of the branchlines throughout Victoria dictated that preservation of at least one line was vital. The choice would be governed by two main considerations, firstly the suitability of the line for restoration and ongoing maintenance by a volunteer workforce and secondly the line's potential as a tourist attraction.

Under this criteria the Castlemaine & Maldon Line presented itself as most suitable. Within the same month as the official closure of the line, the Castlemaine & Maldon Railway Preservation Society was formed at a meeting held at Maldon.
From the Railway Archive

From Tony Hillman: Another fascinating set of six glass slides from the John J. Smith collection ...

Photo Gallery  
Martin Lawrence's March 2017 gallery , including this photo of Simon with No. 30541 at Sheffield Park.
"Under a dramatic looking sky, the S15 simmers at Horsted Keynes before making a thunderous attack on the steep gradient towards Kingscote, at the 2016 Autumn Steam gala", by "VehicularBrit". Taken on 28 Oct., 2016.

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



Tim Baker's entertaining talk about the history of the Bluebell Line packed St Margaret's in West Hoathly on 16 March, 2017.

Philip Bull's video of "Bluebell" and more from 2016.

An updated locomotive duty roster can be found here .
Railway & Heritage News Briefs

The first Elizabeth Line passenger train was hauled to Ilford this week: "The passenger train will now be used for further testing and driver training before carrying its first customers on the TfL Rail route between Liverpool Street and Shenfield from May this year."

Ipswich train station was recently the focus of Days Gone By, with photographs showing how the area has evolved over the 157 years since the station opened on this site ...
Australia: Future of Sydney's vintage trains unclear as 3801 tour company evicted ...

The locomotive legacy of US Sugar: A piece of Florida locomotive history has come home to the sunshine state after being away for nearly half a century ...

Popular Mechanics : The Science of How Trains Turn Without Falling Off the Tracks.
An interesting tidbit from Rail Engineer , about the use of special "balloons" to test air pressure in tunnels at the Rail Innovation and Development (RIDC) test track at Melton Mowbray. "As part of the IEP [Intercity Express Programme] train acceptance regime, there was a requirement to fulfill aerodynamic and pressure pulse testing in a tunnel that didn't have any ventilation shafts, up to a maximum train speed of 125mph."

From The Statesman : "[R]ail transport has been experiencing a remarkable revival, with networks proliferating even in unlikely places like Tibet ... China has been at the forefront of this new railway age. It has delved into its own history to identify trade routes across Asia and try to re-establish them as modern versions of the ancient silk roads ..." 
From the Pathé Archive: Latest Diesel Locomotive (1959)

The new diesel locomotive "Scafell Pike " coming towards camera (Marylebone Station).

Inside the driver's cab we see the train driver at the controls. Dials on the control panel. Driver operating master controller and the independent air brake valve. C/U of the ATC vacuum horn, bell and indicator.

Great shot of an old type steam locomotive in the station. The driver and fireman looking out of the cab at the new train. The new diesel loco comes out of the station towards camera.

No. 30451 leaving Sheffield Park on 4 March, 2017, Shown in black and white.

Trains will be running throughout March to this modified timetable
From the Getty Archive: LMS No. 6399 "Fury"

The newly-built loco No. 6399 "Fury" , of the London Midland and Scottish Railway, leaving the Hyde Park works in Glasgow for trials, 7 Feb., 1930. "Fury" was an experimental express passenger locomotive using a high pressure steam boiler system, which proved impractical and led to the locomotive being laid up until 1935. It was then rebuilt with a conventional boiler to become No. 6170 "British Legion". Photo taken 7 Feb., 1930 (colorised).

Cathedrals Coming

Cathedrals Express is planning to run a through train over Railway steel in 2017.

On 13 July, 2017, a vintage diesel-hauled dining train will run from Victoria Station, departing at 1800 and returning to London at 2315.

Your Painting: Barton Gates

Full Name: Railway Crossing, Barton Gates, Gloucestershire
Artist: T.H. Griffiths
Medium: Oil on board
Size: 54.3 x 69.2 cm
Collection: Museum of Gloucester

Bluebell Railway's C class, in a positioning move under its own steam within King's Cross station (6 Feb., 2016).






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