Initial Numbers: "Flying Scotsman" Tickets Flew Out the Door!
The highly successful one week visit of "Flying Scotsman" to the Bluebell Railway over the Easter break attracted almost 20,000 visitors, more than 8,500 of which travelled on the services hauled by No. 60103, including the special Pullman breakfast and dining services.
More than 80% of visitors started their day at Sheffield Park, which was higher than initially expected, but car parking and other logistical planning met the need. Provisional numbers show ticket and admittance revenue for the week at £475,000.
Although it was initially hard for the Railway to estimate availability of platform admission tickets (i.e., non-travelling customers), these tickets proved very popular and accounted for around 25% of visitor numbers. Both the shop and catering also report record levels of activity, and into the revenue mix still has to be added items such as programme sales and brake van rides.
The costs of staging the event also are still being finalised, but a net surplus
of around £250,000 would be a tremendous result, says Bluebell Railway PLC Chairman Dick Fearn. This surplus will, of course, contribute to meeting the ever-increasing demands for cash in running a heritage railway such as ours.  
By Roger Garman , Communications Director 

Branching Out

Roy Watts and Derek Hayward supply photos from the first day of the Branch Line Weekend, 13-14 May, 2017.

Roy's first photo is of the first train on Saturday, hauled by the visiting LNWR Coal Tank. You will notice that she met a friend from "up north" in the LNWR Observation Car.

Seven locos in all were on duty during the gala, including 1877-built Fletcher-Jennings 0-4-0T "Captain Baxter", which was given shunting detail.

Writes Roy, "It was a busy day for us at East Grinstead with well-filled trains doing some interesting workings. People seemed to like the journey, "splitting" because you had to change trains at Horsted Keynes. What was noticeable for us was the numbers that arrived by train and who's journey had originated north of the M25, from places such as Milton Keynes, Bletchley, and Bedford.

"Unfortunately there is a major engineering possession on the East Grinstead branch from early Saturday evening through Sunday, necessitating bus transfers that might deter visitors. This gala is definitely a down-to-earth change from the lengthy trains we saw during the 'Flying Scotsman' visit!"

The weekend was also a chance to see the C class before she is retired from service for a 10-year overhaul. In fact, late on Saturday, Roy sent the editors a poignant note: "That picture [second photo, above] I sent of the C class was in fact its very last trip as it was failed at Sheffield Park and is now withdrawn."

Lastly, a marvellous photo from Derek shows the Coal Tank at West Hoathly.

Drive a Steam Train With Our Full Steam Ahead Programme

Ever wanted to drive a steam train at Bluebell Railway? Then our Full Steam Ahead day might just be what you are looking for!

The Railway will be running some a very special days for lovers of steam on 17 May, 13 Sept., and 22 Sept., 2017. Experience first-hand the firing and driving of one of the Railway's fleet of historic steam engines. No. 73082 "Camelot" will be on duty for this exciting day, operating over the entire length of Bluebell Line between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead.

The train will comprise four carriages for the exclusive use of participants. Included in the price of £650 pp is the opportunity to both fire and drive the engine, plus breakfast on arrival at the Bessemer Arms and a buffet lunch on board. It will be a full day, starting at Sheffield Park 8:30 a.m. and finishing at Sheffield Park at around 5 p.m. A maximum of two guests per participant are welcome for an additional cost of £30 per guest.

So, are you looking to grant that special birthday wish, or give the perfect retirement present, or think outside the (fire) box with a corporate team-building exercise--or is this just the chance for a dream to come true? If so, we have the answer!

For more details or to book call our Customer Service Team on 01825 720800 or visit us at the Sales Office at Sheffield Park Station or the Travel Centre at East Grinstead Station. Please note we can only accept bookings for participants aged 18 to 75.
The Railway's Commercial Department is looking for volunteers to lend a hand when setting up major events. If you were at "Flying Scotsman Flying South", you'll have noticed how crucial volunteers are to the running of an event, and how appreciated the Railway is for the help.

Upcoming events that particularly need help are the Bright Bricks Build-It Weekend on 27-28 May, 2017, and the Seaside Weekend on 19-20, Aug.

Email Caroline Collins, Commercial Manager, at for more information and to sign up.
Upcoming Events Spring/Summer 2017

Now that "Flying Scotsman" has departed us, there's plenty of other wonderful events at the Railway to fill your spring and summer calendar ...

Rail Ale on Tap!

Enjoy a steam-hauled train ride, evening supper, live jazz at Horsted Keynes, and a choice of real ales available at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, and on board the train during our Rail Ale evenings.

Everyone's first pint will be free!

The "ale and hearty" train departs Horsted Keynes at 5:45 p.m. then travels to East Grinstead station. For passengers wishing to join us 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 band entertainment. The train finally will return passengers to East Grinstead at the end of the evening.

Upcoming 2017 dates: 
  • 19 May
  • 23 June (Harveys Special)
  • 21 July
  • 22 Sept.
The cost is £37.50 per person. Visit this webpage for more information.

A family bike ride to the Bluebell Railway at East Grinstead will take place on 11 June, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information contact .
A First for EG

Roy Watts was recently on the double with his camera: "As part of a photo charter on 7 May, 2017, East Grinstead was visited by a steam-hauled ballast train for the first time (and a very rare non-passenger train). The last one was diesel-hauled, so a nice about-turn!"

See Dave Bowles' gallery from the photo charter here .

Location, Location

Southern Parcel Van BY 404 is back on track. Well to be more precise, down at the end of the Engineers' Siding in the Salt Yard at Horsted Keynes.  

You may remember that we acquired the van for use in transporting a generator when film companies need power while a train is moving during film shoots. Because the roof was leaking badly, the interior was very damp, so very little could be done until the roof was patched and water tight. This goal was achieved by November, and the roof got its first coat of paint which sealed the patches. Some preparation was done to the ceilings and several windows were left slightly open over the winter months to effect an airing.

Now we have some dry weather, work has started again. A second coat of paint has been applied to the roof, and happily the interior is now completely dry, even dusty! Work has continued off-site during the winter, making replacement parts for vac pipe supports, electrical plug pockets, and eight new destination plates.  

Two new door skins for the guards doors are also in preparation, and this week one of the replacement end rails was fitted along with work to ease all the doors that have suffered from the damp and lack of use.  

Although this is a cosmetic restoration, rotten timber is being replaced as the work proceeds before any painting can take place, plus de-rusting those affected areas of the metal framing and door fittings that are showing through where the paint is flaking.  

Members of the railway modelling fraternity will be familiar with the expression "hand shunting"--well, we are doing this in 12 inches to the foot! Scaffold towers have been erected at the side of the van, and instead of moving the towers, we simply move the van back and forth using a strop attached to the bucket on the small digger. It's quite safe to do as 404 is fitted with a hand brake.  

If anyone is interested in helping to get this vehicle back into service, then please get in touch. The more people we have working, the sooner it will (literally) start earning its keep. You also will be able to say you had a hand in helping a star of the silver screen! Contact me for more information at

By Mike Hopps

Kids for a Quid! Special half term offers on selected dates for children ages 3 to 15 years old to enjoy unlimited travel throughout the day for just £1 each!  There must be at least one paying adult travelling within the group. Next dates: 29 May to 4 June, 2017. 
Project 27 Update: Good as New!

 There is plenty of small component restoration and overhaul going on at the moment, much of which is not immediately visible!  

Matt and his trusty paint brush have been busy transforming age weary and dirty items into sparkling almost new looking items.  

One example is shown here, the steam reverser change-over valve cover, top-coated (but before varnish), a photo taken by Matt to show off his work!

Keep up-to-date with this project at .

Part-Time Opportunity: Customer Service Assistant

The Railway has a part-time temporary vacancy for a Customer Services Assistant. 

The successful applicant will work in either our East Grinstead or Sheffield Park office, to sell and book our products at the Bluebell Railway, including our dining trains and travel services.

Applicants should be self-motivated, enthusiastic, have an excellent educational standard. Previous customer service experience is desirable. Applicants must be a car driver. The role will require flexible mid-week and weekend working. Hours to be discussed.

Previous applicants need not apply. 

Contact Lisa Boyle on or phone 01825 724884 for an application form or for further information. The closing date for applications is 2 June, 2017.

From the Railway Archive

On 16 March, 2017, the planning permission for the reinstatement of the
railway line from Robertsbridge to Bodiam was approved. Tony Hillman provides a set of images from Robertsbridge and Junction Road, what will be the new piece of Railway, from the John J. Smith collection.


From Kent Online ...

Plans to connect Tenterden's Kent & East Sussex Railway with the London-Hastings main line have finally been approved.

The next stage now is to seek the required Act of Parliament to secure the final go-ahead for construction of the missing two-mile link to begin.

Once that is achieved money is in place to start the work and if everything progresses to plan the entire 14-mile route from Tenterden to Robertsbridge could be up and running in two years' time ... MORE


Photo Gallery  
Dave Bowles: Goods and service trains from 29 April, 2017. More here .
Andrew Shapland: Maunsell Q class No. 30541 passing Holywell on 29 April, 2017, with the 4 p.m. service to East Grinstead.

Derek Hayward: No. 30541 north of Sloop Bridge with a goods train, on 6 May, 2017. Many more 2017 photos from Derek can be seen here .

A portrait of Clive Groome, by John Sandys. More of John's photos and videos from 4 May, 2017 can be found here .
John's 9 May gallery features " A two train service with 'Camelot' on the service train and No. 323 'Bluebell' on the bluebell specials."
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


Nick Dearden's "Spring Steam on the Bluebell Railway 2017", with bluebells, song birds, brake van rides, trolleys, observation cars, and much more. 

The Railway hasn't won an Oscar (yet!), but we're often on both the big and small screen. 

In fact, some of our rolling stock was used in the forthcoming Wonder Woman movie, which will be released on 2 June, 2017. You might recognise a few carriage roofs in the official trailer .
Dear Editor:
Along with many thousands of others, as clearly evident from your latest eNewsletter, my wife and I and several friends and family very much enjoyed our trip behind "Flying Scotsman" and seeing her from the vantage point of nearby footpaths, etc.

However, I happened to visit Sainbury's on May Day at just the right moment to see H Class No. 263 rejoin her neat little four-coach train after running round.

What a lovely sight that was. I actually found I got more out seeing that "understated" little branch line train than from seeing "the most famous loco in the World". How lucky we are to live so close to the Bluebell Railway!

Jeremy Ledger


And speaking of the H class ... Hornby is releasing an intricately detailed SE&CR H class model : "It has been a challenge to get all the lines and the emblems correct, and we are extremely proud of what has been achieved." 
A crossover at Kingscote, by John Harwood (May 11, 2017).

From the LIFE Archive: School on Wheels

Full Name: Canadian School Teacher
Date: 1954
Photographer: Cornell Capa

"Joe Light Railway": " A brief midday visit to the Bluebell Railway for the one-day Toy and Rail Collectors Fair plus, a demonstration freight train running."

Did you know? The Bluebell Railway and Sheffield Park Gardens offer a joint ticket priced at £22 pp. This ticket includes a 1 hour and 45 minute return journey on the train at the Railway plus entrance to the Gardens. (The Railway is approximately one mile away from Sheffield Park Gardens.)
Ben Jenden: The Railway on 30 April, 2017.

James Funnell's 5 May, 2017, photo shows the arrival of LNWR Coal Tank from its base at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. It is visiting the Bluebell Railway for the Branch Line Weekend on 13-14 May.

Your Painting: Blue Train

Full Name: Blue Train at Bowling Harbour (1965)
Artist: Terence Tenison Cuneo
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 94 x 119.5 cm
Collection: Glasgow Museums Resource Centre
Acquisition: Gift from the British Railways Board through the Heritage Railway Commitee, 2009

Peter Reed informs us of a talk by Geoff Burch, scheduled for 30 May, 2017, called "The Ramblings of a Railway Man." Geoff was a fireman and steam driver at Guildford shed until it closed.

There is more information on the Horsham Museum and Library web sites. The tickets are £3 each from Horsham Museum. The talk begins at 7 p.m. at St. Leonard's Church Hall, Cambridge Road, Horsham RH13 5ED.

The talk is sponsored by Horsham Model Railway Club.  
John Harwood's video from 4 May, 2017, shows the Bluebell Specials at Kingscote and on the viaduct, plus work progressing towards getting track laid to get 25 vehicles under cover in the new shed at Horsted Keynes. 

Railway & Heritage News Briefs
First direct train from UK to China arrives in eastern town of Yiwu after 7,500 mile journey ...

A recreation of a wartime train which carried troops the length of Great Britain has steamed through  the Highlands ...

Test trains for the new fleet of Intercity Express Trains on the Great Western Railway (GWR) in the South West have left Japan , heading for the UK ...

Twelve new railway stations could be opened in Wales if the plans are judged to be viable ...

A stretch of railway hidden beneath London's streets will open to the public in July. The Postal Museum including the "Mail Rail", a 22-mile long electric railway line once used by the Royal Mail, has announced it will be opening its doors ...

A new BBC Yorkshire documentary gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the moment a British-built steam engine hit 100 mph for the first time in 50 years ...

With more and more people using the railways in Britain, the country clearly needs greater capacity. Developments like Crossrail, which will open in 2018, and HS2 will help, but could revisiting magnetic levitation technology hold the answer to cutting journey times between nearby crowded UK cities? ...

First it was cows ... now llamas reportedly disrupted people's morning commute in Kent on 7 May, 2017. Southeastern services between Hildenborough and Sevenoaks were delayed after a number of llamas were seen near the tracks just after 8: 30 a.m. ...

From the National Library of Scotland Archive: Steam's Best

Filmed by the Rev. John Jackson, this is an amateur tribute to steam trains, both real life and model versions. It includes footage of the East Coast line after electrification, the Bo'ness Birkhill railway extension, Duns Garden model railway, and Heatherslaw Light Railway. Filmed between 1979 and 1993.

"Train Fan 28": The Railway on 1 May, 2017. 





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