Highlights of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society 2017 Annual General Meeting

The 57th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society was held in Burgess Hill on 20 May, 2017, with more than 220 members attending.

At the Annual General Meeting on 27 May, 2017, Charles Hudson stood down as a Trustee after a remarkable 56 years. Charles will continue as Director of the Signals & Telecommunications Department and as a Society Vice President. The photo shows Charles "in his element"--the locking room at the Horsted Keynes signal box.
This was the first AGM to be chaired by Graham Aitken, and the format and running order had been revised to allow more time for presentations and interaction. There was no election for trustees this year, so Roger Garman, Robert Hayward, and Chris Hunford will therefore serve further three-year terms, but a stalwart Trustee--Charles Hudson, who has served for 56 years--stood down [see photo]. Nevertheless, Charles will remain a Vice President of the Society. His Trustee slot will be assumed by Ben Coughlan, who stood for election unopposed.

Ten long-service awards were delivered, two of which were for 50 years, with the combined service of the 10 volunteers recognised totalling 345 years! In addition to a presentation for Charles Hudson, the opportunity was taken to thank Sam Bee, who served as Vice Chairman up until last year.

Graham Aitken gave a summary of the tasks, challenges, and successes during his first year in office, and the size of the to-do list. The "One Railway" approach was a core theme, indicating the necessity for the BRPS, PLC, and Trust to share common goals, objectives, and priorities; our volunteer recruitment, training, managing, and thanking also need more attention. Additionally, the financial dynamics of running the Railway need to change. We should not expect donors to continue to cover running costs, so to bridge this gap we needed to attract more visitors. Value-added products continue to sell extremely well, but getting more passengers onto our service trains is a prime objective.

An update was given on the Accessible Steam Heritage (ASH) project [see below] and the audience was absolutely delighted with the presentations given by teenage members of the 9F club, giving an insight into their work on the Railway, specifically that being undertaken to repair lineside huts. It was an inspiration to the audience and a reminder of how important this generation is to the future of our Railway.  

The financial results for 2016 showed that revenue of £3.623 million was virtually on budget and up 4.8% on the previous year. This year's numbers will be boosted by the "Flying Scotsman" gala; however, the early months of 2017 got off to a slow start.

The "Flying Scotsman" gala proved the point on good planning and showed that the Railway team can pull out all the stops and deliver a top-notch event, which we were all proud to play a part in. What will our 60-year Diamond Jubilee bring in August 2020? We are hoping "Beachy Head" will be part of the answer to this question!

In the end, the new AGM format did not give us more time, but at the end of the meeting there was universal support for this new approach. The generosity of a Double Donations Dash meant that money raised at the meeting via the Friends of Sheffield Park buckets and refreshments will see nearly £2,000 go towards the new Bessemer Arms canopy.

By Roger Garman, Communications Director

Bring On the Branch Line!

A visual retrospective of Branch Line Weekend 2017 ...

Photo Gallery

"The slightly unlikely combination of nos. 323 and 73082 steam north from Three Arch Bridge on 13 May 2017," writes Derek Hayward. Many more of Derek's images here .

"Captain Baxter" shunting on 13 May, 2017, by Colin Tompson.

Coal Tank steams up Freshfields Bank on 13 May, 2017, by Colin Tompson.
What a great photo by Neil Munro-Thomson.


Just a taste! Many more Branch Line Weekend videos at this YouTube link . Plus, click here for a review of the event by Reuben Grace at the blog Totally Transport.

"Small locomotive takeover!" by Jon Barnes.

By "Joe Light Railway".

By "Bluebell-Railway Hawks".

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.  Upcoming 2017 dates:  23 June (Harveys Special);  21 July; and  22 Sept.  The cost is £37.50 per person.  Visit this webpage  for more information.  
"Flying Scotsman" Flying South: The Operations Perspective

Looking at this event from an Operations perspective, from the 13 to 19 April, the Railway ran 173 train journeys and provided cover for some 600 duties across the department over the seven days, in addition to providing un-rostered help. 

One might also draw attention to the number of already very familiar faces that were seen at the Railway for several days at a stretch over the event. Responsibilities ranged from engine driving to carriage cleaning, from seeing visitors over foot crossings to working signal boxes. 

Ops staff also helped in "non-ops" areas such as driving golf buggies or rescuing lost children (or being available to do so if needed). They tell us we attracted in the region of 20,000 visitors over the event and to cater for these, we ran services from 7:30 a.m. on some days and from 8:00 a.m. on others, with last trains returning home at up to 10:30 p.m. And for the whole of the period, we rostered staff to babysit engines over-night--truly a 24/7 undertaking.  

So, for Ops, it was a magnificent effort that helped to deliver the event after hosts of staff, behind the scenes, worked like Trojans to make the line ready to stage it in the first place. Readers in other departments should take their own credit for the work they put in, and must excuse me if, through this report, I address Ops staff especially--no lack of gratitude for your efforts should be inferred. 

For some of us the event started at 12:45 a.m. on the 12 April at Sheffield Park to see the guest safely over the threshold, and for others it ended at 4:50 a.m. on the 20 April at East Grinstead, as we bid her farewell with the wish that "lang may her lum reek ..." as she set sail for York and home. 

Our Railway ran like clockwork for the whole week, thanks in no small part to the "timetabler of the night", closeted in a lonely study in West Hove (actually), whose efforts in providing plenty of slack in the schedules to claw back the odd minute here and there helped ensure that we delivered a "right-time" railway overall. There were the expected odd minor faults with engines and carriages but these did not interfere with the main business of carrying our visitors, and they were dealt with where necessary by the engineers with minimum delay or disruption, so thanks to them too. 

And thanks to our S&T colleagues as well. There was just one glitch in the signalling right at the very end of the event as (for the first time in some months): we put the line into "long section" in readiness for the outward move the following morning. I suspect that the yellow token "pixies" in the equipment at Horsted Keynes resented being woken up. But they were soon placated thanks to the efforts of Brian Hymas, who went to Horsted House Farm just at the point when he was thinking it was safe to go home ... MORE OF RUSSELL'S REPORT HERE  

By Russell Pearce, Operations Director

Infrastructure Update: Fresh Panels for Freshfield

Track panels being assembled beside the Ardingly spur on 15 May, 2017.
The more observant of you might have noticed some track panels being assembled alongside the Ardingly spur during May. Infrastructure will be replacing 10 60-foot track panels at the lower end of Freshfield Bank in early June. Each panel has been made to exactly replace an existing panel to minimise the workload.

As the existing ballast is thinner than we would like, the new track will be laid on the old ballast once it is levelled. New ballast will then be dropped around the new track which can then be tamped. This modus operandi gives the simplest and quickest means of replacing the track and means that the changeover can be made in overnight shifts without affecting the timetable.

Tandem list by the Colmars to get the track panels onto trailers so that they can be transported to Freshfield Bank (24 May, 2017)

Transferring the new track panels to Freshfield Bank is a major effort and required two Colmar road-railers operating in tandem to lift the panels on and off trailers. The largest road railer available, Colmars will lift out old panels and lift in replacements.

The removed track panels will be taken back to Horsted Keynes to be used in OP4. Note that additional points are required in the Salt Yard to connect to OP4, and design work for these has started. The design will mostly use existing point sets, although some new parts are required. We also have some made-up track panels that will be used as a temporary road to get the carriages into OP4.

The new track panels on Freshfield Bank ready for the changeover, on 24 May, 2017.
Additionally, in between this work, the two new signal posts have been erected at SheffieldPark.

By Bruce Healey

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

As we hit the six-month mark since being informed of the Heritage Lottery Fund Award, the ASH Project has been gathering momentum. We are now pleased to announce the appointment of two new members of the project team: Project Manager Wendy Turner and Interpretation and Education Development Manager Ruth Rowatt. They will both work for the ASH Project and report to Gordon Owen.

Wendy comes to us with extensive experience of managing projects across the globe. She lives locally and thus has a vested interest in the success of the project in order that future generations can enjoy and benefit from the new learning experience at the Bluebell Railway. In Wendy's own words: "I truly feel very honoured to be part of such an exciting time at the Railway and look forward to working

Wendy Turner
with you all".

Wendy now has the task of bringing elements of the project together to deliver the new Exhibition in the summer of 2018. Key to this task will be the extension of the Running Shed, placing it under a new roof. Additionally, there will be the provision of the new Maintenance Shed, which will bring more locomotives under cover. At the last count there were six different contracts (both internal and external) that will need to be coordinated and delivered to make this happen.

Ruth is also a local resident and as a former teacher, and she knows the importance of engaging learners in creative and interactive ways. She has been impressed and enthused by the skilled, dedicated volunteers and employees of the Railway. Ruth will work with our current schools liaison team and build on their achievements.

Ruth Rowatt
Ruth says: "The Ash Project presents an exciting opportunity to combine my background in education with my creative skills to enhance the learning experience for visiting adults and children. I'm pleased to be contributing to the continued success of this beautiful Railway by educating and encouraging future enthusiasts! I'm looking forward to getting to know you all and being part of this fantastic project".

Ruth's mission over the next three years will be to deliver an extended education programme aiming at doubling the attendance figures from school visits and to provide a number of events needed to stimulate and increase visitor attendance from families, thus fulfilling our commitment on which our HLF award was predicated. The Exhibition, with its interactive exhibits, will be attended by volunteer stewards or "explainers", and it is the Education Manager's job to recruit and train them.

Whilst tangible evidence of the ASH project is still limited, visitors to the Railway will see the new Information Board that has been erected by Friends of Sheffield Park at the end of the Wealden Rambler Dock.

Most of the work continues behind the scenes, with the further strengthening of the delivery team through the recruitment of Sara Hancock (Commercial Director) to the Project Steering Group. The group now consists of: Chris Hunford (Chairman), Sam Bee, Gordon Owen, Sara Hancock, and Roger Kelly. The group has focussed its recent work on progressing the detail design, leading to Invitations to Tender for the various components of the Project.

We now have companies acting as our Quantity Surveyors and Electrical Designers in addition to the architects and engineers we used for the application to the HLF. We have also appointed the company that assisted in the success of that application to carry out the detailed design of the Exhibition.

As you can see, the pace of the project is accelerating. We are on target and the strategy moves into delivery as we issue tenders and place contracts for the actual work to take place during the quieter parts of this year, specifically when we are not running a midweek service.

By Roger Kelly, Funding Director
Representatives from Costain were recently enjoying themselves at the Railway, and getting the job done helping volunteers with new training and welfare facilities.

Three Exciting Full-Time Job Opportunities Announced


This is a unique opportunity for a machinist to produce high quality parts and fittings as part of our dedicated team carrying out maintenance and repair of the Railway's historic collection of carriages and wagons.

Applicants will ideally have either completed an engineering apprenticeship or other equivalent qualification, or have appropriate experience in relevant engineering work. Skills essential for this post include machining and fitting mechanical parts, with competence in the use of lathes and milling machines. This is a full-time post.

Pullman Car Restoration Fitter

A rare opportunity to work as part of the team involved in the restoration of Pullman Carriage "Car 54", focussing on the overhaul and manufacture of mechanical parts of the carriage bodywork, pipework, and fittings.

The applicant will ideally have either completed an engineering apprenticeship, although on-the-job training will be provided to otherwise suitable applicants. Skills advantageous for this post include machining and fitting mechanical parts, welding, fabricating, and pipework. This is a full-time post for a three-year fixed period.

Pullman Car Restoration Coachbuilder

Also an opportunity to work as part of the team involved in the restoration of Pullman Carriage "Car 54" focussing on the body restoration. Applicants will ideally either have completed an apprenticeship appropriate to the job requirement, or have suitable experience in woodworking which is relevant to railway carriages. This is a full-time post for a three-year fixed period.

All applicants should be self-motivated and self-managing but also team players and happy to work with both paid and volunteer staff alike. Previous applicants need not apply.

Contact Lisa Boyle at or 01825 724884 for an application form. Closing date is 30 June, 2017. More information and job vacancies here

Progress on the New Firebox for "Sir Archie"

After a recent visit to South Devon Railway (Engineering) to view progress in the construction of the new fireboxes for five Bulleid Light Pacifics, I can report that the jig for aligning the new inner firebox components for welding has been constructed.

Southern Railway built the fireboxes at Brighton Works, using the "manipulator" seen in the top photograph at right, which allowed rotation of the firebox to allow access to the components for greater ease of welding.

Today, with the improved welding techniques, such a set-up is not required, so South Devon has built the jig in the attached photograph, with laser precision alignment used for siting the components (next two photos). The firebox tube plate and the backhead are in place, with the side wrappers awaiting installation.

The first of the new inner fireboxes will be for No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair", with the fifth and final inner firebox for No. 21C23 "Blackmoor Vale".

By John Fry

Don't forget ... Bulleid Pacific "City of Wells" will visit the Railway during Southern Steam event--7-9 July, 2017--which also will mark 50 years since scheduled steam traction disappeared from the region in 1967. More information on the event here .
Roof Goes Back on CCT S2531

S2531 on 22 Jan., 2017, dismantled to its skeleton sides and the old roof boards being removed.

In 2015, following the completion of the 10-year overhaul on "Camelot", the 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society made the restoration of Covered Carriage Truck (CCT) S2531 a priority. It had languished in the siding at Kingscote for many years, but the Society recognised that they were just as much a custodian of the van as the loco.

Restoring a wooden-bodied vehicle is completely different to restoring a steam loco, but the Society felt that it didn't have the skills to do the work. Outsourcing the job to specialist contractors off the Railway was considered the only likely way forward.
At that point, a team of Carriage & Wagon Department volunteers, who also want to restore the unique Maunsell-designed restaurant car No. 7864, expressed an interest in doing the work on the CCT. (No. 7864 had originally been the static buffet at Sheffield Park, but it now required a total re-build if it was to run again.)

An agreement was reached, with the Society funding the cost of restoring the CCT to running order, a long-term aspiration of the owners. Upon completion of the CCT, the No. 7864 project will receive a donation to start its restoration. This arrangement is a win-win for both projects, and one more eye-sore removed from Kingscote, destined for greater things!

Recent Work

Julian Heinemann took this photo of the interior of S2531, the  BR (Southern) 10-Ton Covered Carriage Truck , during Branch Line Weekend.
A couple of new volunteers have recently joined the group restoring the CCT, and this has helped ensure that good progress continues to be made. Most of the roof boards have been removed and repaired and have now been placed back on the roof (albeit not yet fixed down). Two complete lengths of boards have needed replacement, which is considerably less than we had expected. 

This news demonstrates how helpful was the tarpaulin that covered the roof for many years, keeping the interior dry. Without it, we probably would have had to replace all of the roof boards, as the condition of the roof would have deteriorated quite significantly. Richard Salmon is machining up the replacement boards required.
A start has been made on preparing the floor boards for lifting. Here we are not as lucky as we were with the roof boards, and all of the floor boards will probably need replacing. The Railway has recently taken delivery of a water pressure blaster, and it is hoped that we can use this to clean the metal framework that will represent quite a saving over using outside contractors to grit blast the frame.
New volunteer Toby Staddon has dismantled the brake rodding and vacuum cylinder in preparation for the overhaul of the brake gear, and he has now turned his attention to preparing the north end doors for removal from the van. The north end doors should be suitable for re-use with some repairs, but the south end doors probably need complete replacement. A couple of midweek volunteers have made good progress in cleaning up various metal parts for refitting at a later date.
By Julian Heinemann
FOSP Update: Work Continues on Bessemer Arms Canopy

Although we don't have any big projects to report on for this Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) update, nonetheless plenty of jobs have been undertaken to keep our happy band of workers busy every Wednesday.

Indoor activities have dominated recently, and it's fair to say that interior decorating has been the main theme. Having vacated the Harmer Room for the GM, the Sheffield Park station masters had made an agreement with the Signals & Telecommunications Department to share its lobby space at the north end of the station buildings.

Inevitably, this agreement has meant yet another decorating job for FOSP. As with the recently completed Harmer Room, there was much filling of holes, and a patch repair was needed to cover a hole in the dry-lining where an S&T cabinet had been removed.

All the rooms in the station house have vertiginous ceilings, but fortunately it was possible to use the scaffold tower to gain access (both in this room and in Harmer). The SM/S&T lobby is now complete, to the general approval of the occupants, but--before we breathe too heavy a sigh of relief--we still have the hall landing and stairs within the station house to spruce-up, which we have just commenced doing.

Elsewhere, the Bessemer Arms canopy project has progressed through the planning stages, and with excellent progress in fundraising--supported most recently by the generosity of attendees at the Society Annual General Meeting--we are preparing to move forward with confidence. In the FOSP workshop, the first of the five decorative support columns has been completed (see picture); the second has been started; and the rest are expected to follow-on more rapidly as the lessons learned from making the first are applied.

The necessary platform levels survey work also has started, and we hope to be breaking ground very soon with the objective of casting the concrete foundation pads for the columns (and temporarily re-covering them) before the peak running season commences.

Regular rolling maintenance tasks continue as ever, with new locks for all the toilets on platform 2; constant retouching of the paintwork; general pointing; gate and fence repairs; and building new flat-pack picnic tables for the picnic area. We have just begun an investigation/rectification of some rot in the bottom of the platform 1 running-in board, which appears to be due to a lack of internal ventilation. It seems we are just in time to avoid a major problem.

As you can tell, there is no shortage of things to be done to keep our station looking its best. Anybody with decent general DIY skills is welcome to join us.  We meet every Wednesday morning (around 9:30 a.m.) in the Porter's Lobby at Sheffield Park, or you can contact or for more information.

By Chas Melton, Friends of Sheffield Park
From the Railway Archive

Tony Hillman: "Some pictures taken around what used to be called, prior to 1978, Whitsun. Being seven weeks after Easter, the holiday could fall in May or early June."


And let us not forget a famous poem about Whitsun, trains, love, and life ...

The Whitsun Weddings

By Philip Larkin

That Whitsun, I was late getting away:
    Not till about
One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday
Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out,
All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense   
Of being in a hurry gone. We ran
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence   
The river's level drifting breadth began,
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet ...  MORE

Photo Gallery  
John Sandys : "A very hot day [16 May, 2017] saw 'Camelot' working hard on the service train and the 09 wearing her new colour scheme in the Workshop."

John Sandys (18 May, 2017): "I managed to get some photos before the heavens opened at Kingscote, and the first outing of the 09 sporting her new colour scheme!"

Photos from 21 May, 2017, by Jonathan Hughes.
Derek Hayward : "No. 73082 in full cry at Medhurst Farm on 20 May, 2017."

A Facebook photo collection  from 20 May, 2017, by Josh McLove, of the Railway and Sheffield Park Gardens.
Derek Hayward's 2017 Bluebell Railway photo collection has been updated.

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


Brightening Up the Weekend

Two photos by Derek Hayward from the Bright Bricks Build-It event, 27-28 Jan., 2017.

"It was an event for children of all ages, but Andy Sabin from the workshops seemed to find it difficult: large engines are his specialty; small bricks are harder!"

An alert for our readers who use BT/EE webmail (Orange/Freeserve/Wanadoo email accounts).

These addresses will be shut down at the end of this month, so you must make plans to migrate your email to a new service.

There are many other services to choose from, but one option is to use the free Google mail , or gmail, service.
The Railway on 20 May 2017, by "Joe Light Railway".

2020 Vision for "Beachy Head"

Supporters of the Atlantic Group have been told that the completion of new-build Brighton Atlantic No. 32424 "Beachy Head" is scheduled for 2020, with it ready to run trials in about three years. Hopefully, No. 32424 will be a star of the Bluebell 60 celebrations!

Oh Happy Day!

Photos by Derek Hayward from the lovely wedding of Dave and Maria Jefferys on 20 May, 2017. The couple have allowed their photos to be shared. 

Dave is a Life Member and, as you can see from the photo, a Permanent Way volunteer. His PWay colleagues gave the bride and groom a guard of honour with their hammers and wrenches!

To learn more about weddings at the Railway, click here

The Railway is always popular with art-minded photographers looking for that perfect setting. Check out these photos sent to the Railway's Twitter feed by Rosie Jansen-Bowen. 
Kingscote Construction Commences

Scaffolding has been erected at Kingscote station for long-awaited investigative work on the state of the Up platform, as well as repairs to the toilet block roof following the theft of lead earlier this year. The work is expected to last four weeks. During the work, the station subway will remain open.

Something a little out of the ordinary from Mark Saville (15 May, 2017): "This is Plimsoll, my 1957 Series One Land Rover, fitted with custom-made, cast aluminum flanged railway wheels."

This video shows him trundling along the first five miles of Railway. "This was the third time I'd driven Plimsoll on rails. I hope to drive across the Forth Rail Bridge one day."

From the Getty Archive: Silver Link

(Sept. 16, 1935): "The new LNER Class A4 2509 Silver Link steam locomotive, with the covering flap over its nose raised.

"The streamlined locomotive will pull the Silver Jubilee express between London and Newcastle."

The Severn Valley Railway's Autumn Steam Gala will feature an ambassador from our Railway: P class No. 323 "Bluebell.
From the London Transport Museum Archive: The Elephant Will Never Forget

Fascinating and detailed footage about the last of the old double-decker trams at Elephant and Castle.

Simon Mulligan's footage from 21 May, 2017, with visiting LNWR Webb Coal Tank No. 1054 in action alongside No. 73082 "Camelot" and S15 No. 847.

Railway & Heritage News Briefs
Two popular heritage railways , including one based in north Norfolk, have teamed up to bring a new steam-hauled dining train experience to Cromer ... 

A reconfigurable train carriage system designed to allow trains to automatically switch between passenger and cargo modes is poised to undergo trials on the UK rail network ...

A community rail group in the Dales has helped to launch a national campaign to highlight the benefits of using the railway network to see some of the country's finest tourist sights ... 

Huddersfield Town fans will travel back in time when they journey to Wembley for the Championship play off final on 29 May, 2017, courtesy of a 1970s British Rail train. Retro Railtours is running the service from Huddersfield to Wembley Central station on matchday ...

The last of the "derided" train sandwiches? As from 20 May, 2017, there will be no more bacon-and-sausage baps for sale on the trains from London Marylebone to Banbury and Birmingham; no more ploughman's sandwiches or cheese-and-onion crisps; neither hot drinks nor cold. Chiltern Railways, which operates the service, is the latest train operator to abolish onboard catering ...

A public train service linking Dorset's heritage railway to Wareham on the main line begins next month - for the first time in 45 years ...

Your Painting: Front Window (of a K class?)

Full Title : " View through the Front Window of a Steam Locomotive "
Artist: Herbert William Garratt
Date: 1909
Size: 41 x 61 cm
Medium: oil on canvas
Collection: Museum of Science and Industry

A view through the front window of what may well be a K class 0-4-0 + 0-4-0 "compound/articulated" loco operated by the Tasmanian Government Railways.

The clue is that the artist was one of the engineers who developed articulated locos (a central boiler between two engines) for use on curved railways that would otherwise not enable the use of conventional locos.

Used predominantly in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America, examples of the Garratt K class (first built in 1909, the year of this painting) are preserved down under.

Our friends at Romney, Hythe, & Dymchurch Railway recently celebrated their 90th Anniversary with a steam and diesel gala. This video is from 14 May, 2017.

A photo via the National Railway Museum in York shows the Railway's P class No. 178 ready to do half term duty.





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