Keeping the Show on the Road

Personally, I find that the level of craftsmanship deployed everyday in the C&W Department is truly inspiring. This craftsmanship is reflected in the range of carriages--from the Victorian age, the 1920's opulence of the Pullmans, and through to the BR steam era--that ply their trade up and down our Railway.

Writes Richard Salmon: "Our next major carriage overhaul, which has just entered the works, is this early Mk1 TSO, which was obtained recently with the intention that in the longer term it should replace the ex-Travelling College TSO with its more modern style of interior."
We put on a unique and historical show, and the fleet now comprises in excess of 30 carriages. What an achievement by all concerned--volunteer and paid staff alike, and restorations have been a significant contributor in getting us to this point. This diverse show of carriages is an essential part of what attracts customers to our Railway, and it is vital to our future that we keep this show on the road.

So what needs to be done to keep the show on the road? On a continuous basis, each of our carriages will need a 30-year overhaul (upstairs and downstairs), a 15-year overhaul (mostly downstairs), and a seven-and-a-half yearly door and lock attention, plus routine maintenance.

With the number of vehicles in traffic, this schedule will need us to undertake around one 30-year overhaul, one 15-year overhaul, and two door attentions each year, plus maintenance. This is a mammoth task that we currently are not well placed to achieve.

So how will we attend to this "steady state" work load? Building on the good work done to date, we need to organise ourselves in a way that approaches some form of conveyer belt system, with material ordered and bogies, dynamos, brake cylinders, and brake gear etc. overhauled, where possible, in advance of a vehicle stopping.

Of course, this work must be done without losing the individual flair and craftsmanship that is a vital part of the art form we put on show. In terms of facilities, the OP4 Project has given us a second jacking pad, and it will soon deliver a hard standing and tramway on which to progress bogie overhauls.

Richard Salmon's photo shows the bogie overhaul area in the new C&W shed. "The lifting jacks have recently been used to fit overhauled Commonwealth bogies to Mk1 Buffet Car No. 1818." The bogies released from under No. 1818 will now be dismantled and overhauled to go under another coach."
In addition we plan to acquire a water medium grit blaster that will save much of the current hard endurance associated with needle gunning and make us significantly more productive. Some more crane capacity to move bogies about will hopefully be the icing on the cake when funds permit.

In terms of organisation, we are looking to expand the numbers and skill base of our merry work teams. The aspiration is to develop skills and to match planned work to skill sets accordingly. We intend to have defined skills on a matrix linked to people's attributes, thereby helping us plan work to match the teams of people available.

We are working up procedures that clearly specify all the work needing to be done, breaking it down into work packages that match various skill sets. We hope this "work package" approach will greatly enhance the feeling of a worthwhile job well done in all participants.

All these plans are not intended to preclude restoration projects, which will of course continue to enhance our show. However, keeping the show on the road via the delivery of such projects would require the completion of around two restorations per year to match those vehicles coming out of service for overhaul, and that would be a big ask indeed, even if it were desirable.

If you are interested in getting your name on the C&W Department skills matrix and in helping to keep the show on the road, contact me at . I will be very pleased to hear from you.

By Bob Pamment, Director, Carriage & Wagon Department

"Flying Scotsman" Flying South This Month
13 to 19 April, 2017

Writes Roger Garman: "All of the 'Flying Scotsman'-hauled passenger trains over the seven-day visit, including the special breakfast and evening dining Pullman trains, have been sold out, but you can still visit the Railway to see this iconic loco and enjoy a day 'rover' ticket covering all trains hauled by our resident locos. To avoid disappointment, booking in advance is advised, although as sales currently stand, there will be tickets available on the day.

"At East Grinstead, no platform tickets will be sold due to the size of this platform and expected numbers of visitors with tickets for trains. At all other stations, platform tickets will be sold subject to crowds and availability, with decisions to release platform tickets made daily, even hourly. Therefore, it is a better option to purchase a travel ticket for £25 and gain access to all stations."

Watch the famous "Flying Scotsman" at close quarters and enjoy unlimited travel all day on our own trains for just £25 (children aged 3-15 years half price)--beat the queues and book ahead

Important information ...
  • If driving to the Railway, please park your car at Horsted Keynes (RH17 7BB). Limited parking may be available at Sheffield Park, but car parking at that station is mainly intended for those holding tickets for "Flying Scotsman" trains.
  • Or arrive at the Bluebell Railway by train at East Grinstead.
  • Or catch the specially arranged Compass Service 22 at Haywards Heath, Scaynes Hill, etc. 
If you just want to look at the trains via a platform ticket, admission to the stations will be mainly at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, and Kingscote (see Roger Garman's comments above about platform tickets at East Grinstead). Platform tickets will be available on the day at £10 per station, but you can stay as long as you like.

Photo by Getty Images (1927). The 150-ton "Flying Scotsman" LNER Pacific class loco used to pull the train of the same name. Alongside is the 8-ton "Typhoon" of the Romney, Hythe, and Dymchurch light railway which is one third its size.
Additional attractions during this gala will include the visit of the miniature "Typhoon" loco from the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway . Known as "Kent's
Mainline in Miniature", the RH&DR runs one-third full size steam and diesel locos through Romney Marsh to the Dungeness nature reserve. 

"Flying Scotsman" and the miniature "Typhoon" were the subjects of a famous 1927 Getty photo (reproduced here), and this photo will be re-created during the gala.

And, of course, food, drink, and picnic areas will be available, and the Museum and Loco Shed at Sheffield Park will be open, along other attractions. Further information about the event is available here .
Bullied Society by the Numbers: Updates on Nos. 21C123,  34059,
96, & 5768

Readers might be wondering what is happening to the two Bulleid Light Pacifics on the Bluebell Railway. Although both have been out of traffic for nine and six years respectively, behind the scenes the Bulleid Society--owners of No. 21C213--and the Bluebell Railway Battle of Britain Group--custodians of No. 34059--have been progressing the return of the two Light Pacifics to traffic.

John Fry, visiting South Devon Railway (Engineering), took this photo of the No. 73082 "Camelot" tender wheelsets. In the background, a wheelset has had the wheel centre section machined (note the shiny surfaces), while the wheelset in the foreground awaits similar work.
Since both were withdrawn with firebox problems, with the fireboxes dating from BR days, piecemeal repair of the fireboxes and thermic syphons was not considered to be a viable proposition. Among the surviving 20 Light Pacifics, similar firebox problems have resulted in an order for five new inner fireboxes placed with South Devon Railway (Engineering). This bulk order gives all the loco owners a suitable discount.   

South Devon Railway (Engineering ) has the ability, coupled with the advice of Paul Pridham, to press appropriate inner firebox components such as the foundation channel sections, tubeplate, firebox doorplate, and thermic syphons, and to fabricate the steel inner firebox for the Bulleid Light Pacifics.

Two of the five new inner steel fireboxes that have been ordered are for the Bluebell Railway Pacifics, with the one for No. 34059 to be fitted to the locomotive's boiler at South Devon. Both fireboxes will have the stay holes pilot drilled by the South Devon Railway, with the stay fitting on No. 34059's to be undertaken when the boiler is returned to our Railway in the early summer.

The completion of the boiler work and the refitting of components on No. 34059 will hopefully see the engine back in traffic in 2018. The new inner firebox for No. 21C123 will be fitted to the engine's boiler and then fitted with stays at the Bluebell Railway when its overhaul is underway. We hope that both engines will see a period of time in traffic together.

To give an indication of the amount of work required on each firebox, there are nearly 2,000 steel stays, 200 monel stays, and 280 crown stays required with each pilot hole awaiting drilling and tapping to 5/8" before the firebox stays can be threaded in place. After completion of the firebox staying, the 115 small tubes and 32 flue tubes and 32 superheater elements will be fitted.

The Bulleid Society's other engine, B4 class No. 96 "Normandy", was withdrawn from traffic in July 2006. The stalwart of the initial work on the northern extension and a shunting favourite, the engine requires new tyres and boiler work and awaits its turn in the overhaul queue.

Bulleid coach CK No. 5768 is nearing the end of its first major overhaul since arriving at the Railway in 1971. All the exterior cladding has been replaced along with structural timber and steel selections. The coach has been rewired, seat trimming is underway, and a number of compartments are now complete. We hope that the vehicle will return to traffic next year in Southern Railway livery.

Readers can assist the financing of these projects by purchasing books and railway memorabilia from the wide-ranging selection at The Bulleid Shop on Platform 2 at Sheffield Park station. Further information on nos. 21C123, 34059, and 96 and coach No. 5768, as well as membership in The Bulleid Society, can be found at

Lastly, the Bluebell Railway will again echo to the sound of Bulleid power when No. 34092 "City of Wells" visits the Railway in the summer!

By John Fry, Chairman, The Bulleid Society

Branch Line Weekend is coming in May. This two-day event (13-14 May, 2017) will see five of the Railway's SE&CR locos take centre stage alongside the LNWR Coal Tank No. 1054, visiting from its base at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. All engines will be running passenger trains throughout the day scheduled to an intensive timetable.

Here Come the Diesels!

Some early photos and video from this year's Diesel Gala ...  

Steve Lee : "Stars of the show (well they were for me) Class 20s nos. 20205 and 20189 pass Vaux End on their first trip north."

Jonathan Hughes : "Visiting shoeboxes: nos. 73119 and 73107, courtesy of GBRF (thanks all) to replace "failed" No. 50035. Basking in the evening sunshine, the 73s are ready for the beginning of the weekend's gala."

Julian Clark's photo shows nos. 20205, 20182, and 50049 on arrival at East Grinstead mainline station.

Chris Ward captures more of the 2017 Diesel Gala, an "English Electric event" as he calls it!

A short video from 31 March, 2017, by "mrtreebus".

Honouring Dame Vera 

Last Saturday, I had afternoon tea with Dame Vera Lynn and members of her family and presented her with a card signed by the directors, officers, trustees, and members of the Holden Family to mark her 100th Birthday.

Dame Vera was a very close friend of the Railway's late President Bernard Holden, actively supporting him and the Bluebell Railway, most recently at the launch of our 50th anniversary appeal.

The house was full of many flowers and plants, and naturally there were hundreds of cards, including many from the Royal family and well known stars from the world of show business. Among the cards was a model of the WD 2-10-0, carrying her name, from the owning group. This loco is now subject to an appeal for its restoration.

You will be pleased to learn our card (thanks to Derek Hayward for his kind assistance) took its place among the good and the great! The Society also will make a donation to her childrens' charity.

By Roy Watts, Vice President, BRPS
An Electrifying Visit

On 18 March, 2017, the Southern Electric Traction Group (SETG) entertained members of the Bluebell Railway board at Strawberry Hill, including "very, very special guest Mr. Gordon Pettitt or as I like to call him 'Sir.'" Learn more about the very special day for SETG at its blogsite .

SETG is the group looking after 4VEP unit No. 3417. It is currently raising funds to restore it to full working order. The current fundraising appeal ("buy a pint for the 4VEP") runs until 3 April, 2017.

No. 423 417 is a unique piece of railway heritage. It was preserved by the Bluebell Railway in 2009 as the last example of a 4VEP, which moved millions of commuters each year. Trains like these were woven into the fabric of the working day in the South of England for half a century. Like "Flying Scotsman", No. 3417 is the last of its class.

SETG is a small group of railway staff from across the South of England who are working with the Bluebell Railway to restore No. 3417 to running condition. The intention isn't just to return the unit to private railways, but eventually to return the unit to where it belongs: the main lines of the Southern Region.

"We want to see the sparks fly at 90 mph again. We want to hear English Electric 507 traction motors howl again. We want to make the roof of London Waterloo station echo to the sound of slamming doors again ..."

To donate, click here .

Planning a getaway? The Railway's "Sheffield Park Package" includes an overnight B&B stay, fine dining, steam travel, and a day at Borde Hill Garden, Wakehurst Place, The Priest House in West Hoathly, Sheffield Park Garden, or Standen House & Garden. The Golden Arrow dining train departs on Saturday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes and you may choose either day in the package to suit best. The package is £175 per person (a £25 pp supplement if booking sole occupancy) and includes: a three-course meal on the Golden Arrow ; B&B at the Felbridge Hotel in East Grinstead or the Buxted Park Hotel; two consecutive days unlimited travel on the Railway; and admission to one of the attractions listed above. More information here
Finding Out More

Have you ever wondered how to become a volunteer, what it entails, and whom to contact? 

" Find Out More Days " are on the second Sunday of each month-the next one on 9 April, 2017. Meeting time is 10.30 am, at Sheffield Park station, and the day should end around 4.30pm. Learn more here .

Photo by Martin Lawrence.

On the Road Again (Horsted Keynes Update I)

An update covering more of last week's work on the trackwork though platforms 2 and 3 at Horsted Keynes, with thanks to Jon Goff and the Bluebell Railway blog  ...

More atrocious weather demonstrated the need to install the drainage under the tracks when everybody just wanted to go home and dry out.

So lunch break was forfeited in order to reach the day's target and go home early. However, the afternoon brightened up, and we ended up staying later than normal, achieving reconnection of road 3 and putting in the drainage under road 2 north of the subway and ballasting it ready for the next panel to go back.

Work then concentrated on the shuttering and the reinforcement for the concrete over the subway. This proved to be quite intense but with help from "the little people", this work was completed on Thursday together with dropping all the studs (316 stainless) to be set into the concrete for the rail chairs.

To do this the rails were supported slightly higher than the finished height so that an extra nut could be fixed under the chair to stop the studs wobbling around during the concrete pour.

While this was going on further digging out, levelling, drainage and ballasting on a waterproof membrane was carried out on road 2 with two-thirds now done.

Friday was the critical day as the concrete had to be laid then to give it a long enough hardening time before trains can use it over Easter. After some final gauge and position checks (to the millimetre) the concrete was poured and allowed to settle before being given a final float finish by Matt and Mark in the evening (see photo).

The foot crossing at the platform end was also reinstated as it was required for wheelchair access the following day. It has been redesigned so that it can now be removed easily for tamping and other track maintenance.
On the Road Again, Again (Horsted Keynes Update II)

Another update on the impressive infrastructure work at HK, from 29 March, 2017, with thanks to Bruce Healey and the Bluebell Railway blog ...

A close-up of the tamper in operation on Platform 3 road. Note the track lifter to the right and the pair of tines either side of the rail. The ballast is only compacted under the rails.
Following from Jon Goff's last report (above), a big thank you to the infrastructure volunteers who turned up in large numbers to ensure that the deadline of pouring the concrete over the Platform 2's subway was completed at the end of last week.

Friday is usually a quiet day for volunteers, but their dedication ensured that the concrete had the weekend to cure thus not losing us several days against our schedule.

On Wednesday, the remaining number 2 road trackbed was scraped, and the drainage trench, Terram/polythene/Terram sandwich, drainpipe, and ballast base completed.

We almost finished grading and compacting the ballast.

Platform 3 has been tamped again and passed back to operational use, as can be seen in the photo of one of the visiting diesels.

From the Railway Archive

More example glass slides from the John J. Smith collection ...


Photo Gallery  
A happy crew--Bob, Ali, and Paul at East Grinstead. For more of Martin Lawrence's March 2017 gallery, click here .

Mike Anton's photo from 24 March, 2017, shows the Q class and S15 basking in the spring sunshine at Sheffield Park.

A wedding charter for Jamie and Marc, photographed by Jonathan Hughes. To learn more about booking the Bluebell Railway for your wedding, click here

Another lovely portrait from Martin Lawrence: guard and staff at Sheffield Park.

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


All Hail Rail Ale

Rail Ale evenings begin in May. Enjoy a steam-hauled train ride, evening supper,  and live jazz at Horsted Keynes, plus everyone's first pint will be free!

A choice of real ales will be available at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, and on board the train. 

The train departs Horsted Keynes at 5:45 p.m. and travels to East Grinstead station. For passengers wishing to join at East Grinstead the train will depart at 6:40 p.m.

You will then travel to Sheffield Park for an evening supper of sausage and mash before returning to Horsted Keynes station for the jazz entertainment.  

On June 23, the Rail Ale evening will be a Harvey's Special--come along and enjoy a pint of Sussex ale.
The cost is £34.50 per person. For dates and more information, click here .

Nick Dearden's "Winter steam on the Bluebell".

The Eastbourne Herald heralds the impending arrival of "Flying Scotsman" in this story.
Railway & Heritage News Briefs

Steam engines could be arriving and departing from Timperley station again if an ambitious £30m plan comes to fruition ...

Flying Scotsman will be one of the first trains to ride along the Settle-to-Carlisle line since journeys were halted by a landslip more than a year ago ...

The historic Kyle of Lochalsh railway line is to see £3.5 million worth of work carried out on it by railway contractors QTS Group ...

Network Rail has joined forces with regional train companies Great Western Railway (GWR) and Heathrow Express, to create a new joint supervisory board to drive improvements, in the latest stage of the companies'  commitment to working closer together to improve passenger experience ...

Heritage news from the Isle of Wight : The crossing gatehouse and stone-built water tower at Ballasalla station, and gatekeeper's hut at Four Roads, Port St Mary have been added to the protected buildings register following submission by the IoM Steam Railway Supporters' Association ...

Germany: The world's first zero-emissions train that only emits steam completes its first test run . Coradia iLint is expected to run on the Buxtehude-Bremervorde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line in Lower Saxony ...

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, based in Utica, NY, contends that a plan  to remove 34 miles of railroad tracks  and thus divide the state-owned Adirondack Rail Corridor into an 85-mile rail segment and a 34-mile trail segment is illegal ...

It is 50 years ago this month that Ripon railway station closed . Half a century on, a campaign to reconnect the North Yorkshire cathedral city to the railway network is gathering steam ...

New interpretation panels have been unveiled detailing the historic route of a former steam railway on Hayling Island thanks to a partnership project between Havant Borough Council, Hampshire County Council and Hayling's BEST volunteer group ...

Video by Ted Polet: "In March, 2017, I made a trip over the Bluebell Railway behind ex-Southern Railway Q class No. 30541. Several views taken from the train during the climb to East Grinstead, followed by the SECR C class No. 592 departing from Sheffield Park."

St eam-hauled trains between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead  run daily 3 to 12 April to our revised 2017  Service 2 Timetable . Book at least eight days in advance for  Bluebell Bonus discount .
Your Painting: Railway Yard

Full Name: Railway Yard
Artist: Richard Weisbrod
Collection: Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery
Medium: Oil on board
Size: 60 x 122 cm

A really cool "hyperlapse" video by Mike Anton.

From the BFI Archive: Taunton Train Yard

The lightweight diesel locomotives with hydraulic transmission known as Hymeks were the choice of their day in 1955 under the British Railways Modernisation Plan.

The Hymeks were given a more elaborate livery than many of the contemporary British Railways diesel classes, but between 1971 and 1975 they were withdrawn from service among fears some diesels had been hastily rushed into service. The diesel engine quietly awaits its fate alongside a steam engine named "Vulcan".

Martin Lawrence filmed nos. 20189, 20205, and 50049 arriving at Sheffield park on 29 March, 2017.






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