Tracking Progress at Freshfield

Jon Goff's photo shows the road-railers are coming down the track, with the near one having some additional ballast to assist in "fixing" the formation before the ballast drop.
The relaying of 600 feet of track on Freshfield Bank went very much according to plan on the evenings and nights of 5 and 6 June, 2017.

The team started work after the last train on Monday. The weather started showery and ended up as a soak-to-the-skin downpour. The old panels were unbolted, cut into 30 foot lengths to ease handling, and craned to the side. 
The existing ballast was then levelled with a laser "dozer". Using tandem Colmar road-railers, each new 60 foot panel was lifted into place, the fishplates then fitted and bolted.

To fit the final panel, we allowed a bit extra in the overall length of track. This was cut back to a few inches too long to allow the correct length to be accurately measured. The final cut could then be made when the last panel was in place , the last set of holes drilled and the fishplates fitted. One ballast drop (60 tons) was carried out using the three ballast hoppers pulled by the diesel. The work was completed by first light Tuesday morning.

Andy Parsons' photo shows the track lifted. The laser "dozer" has finished levelling and the triple compactor can be seen in the background.
There was enough ballast to hold the formation in place with a speed limit for Tuesday's trains. On Tuesday evening, the final ballasting was done, and the tamper sent through. The tamper took out any minor wiggles that were introduced in the relaying process.

The relayed section has had the 10mph limit lifted, although the limit still applies at the foot of the bank towards Sheffield Park at the seven-mile post. Between trains on Thursday, the removed 30-foot panels were brought back to Horsted Keynes and stacked ready for use in OP4.

By Bruce Healey & John Goff

Going Under Cover

This photo of progress on Operation Undercover (OP4) at Horsted Keyens was taken by Bruce Healey on from 10 May, 2017.

It shows the upper side panels being installed to prevent rain coming in around the raised section of roof, which is above the carriage lifting jacks. More updates on this project can be found here .

A message from Nick Hill of Metrobus, a Railway Life Member: "Metrobus Route 270 now runs to both Horsted Keynes and East Grinstead stations on Sundays and public holidays from Brighton, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Lindfield, and Forest Row. If you are coming from the south coast on a weekend, it's a good idea to take a train to Haywards Heath and change on to a 270 for Horsted Keynes." More details about this Railway-friendly service at this webpage .
We're Hiring: Funding Director

As a result of the retirement of Roger Kelly from the PLC Board in August 2017, the Railway is seeking applicants for the role of Funding Director.

As a PLC Board member, the Funding Director has responsibility for raising funds from any source (other than commercial lenders), for the preservation, restoration, and further development of the heritage assets and activities of the Bluebell Railway.

Whilst previous experience in fundraising is an advantage, applicants who have work experience in putting forward business cases for support also will be very welcome. Training on specific fundraising processes and procedures can be provided.

Few heritage organisations can survive on day-to-day revenue alone, and this is an important, challenging, and very satisfying role. It is a volunteer post that carries no remuneration or specific hours of duty, but the successful applicant will have sufficient time to undertake the role, with exciting future projects to support and the Bluebell Railway's Diamond Jubilee Appeal to be organised.

If you are interested in this position, and you believe have the right skills or experience for the job, please send your CV to or contact 01825 724884.
Applications must be received by 30 June,  2017. The Bluebell Railway is an equal opportunity employer.

Brighton Atlantic: Taking the Tubes

Fred Bailey provides the following update from the Bluebell Railway Atlantic Group:

It has been some time since we provided an update on the Atlantic, because the progress that is being made is generally not very showy, but it does provide the basis for the next major stages. Obviously the boiler is our priority, but various small items have added up to a further delay.

The replacement plates with new openings for mud hole doors are now fully welded into position, the welds have passed their stringent examination satisfactorily, and new copper stays to replace those removed with the old plate are now in position and await final heading.

We are now ready to start riveting the foundation ring, but due to our team's more senior age profiles, we are awaiting a time when one or two of the younger, fitter, skilled boiler team members from the main works can assist us.

Unfortunately they are very busy working on boilers that are needed to provide the motive power to service the core business of the Railway. We hope to get underway in June with this work.

The first photo shows a sight not seen for a long time. We have cleared all of our material stocks off of the top of the tender chassis and put the larger components on one side to allow us to start preparations for tubing the boiler. We intend using a special coating on these tubes to give them a good start in life within our boiler.

There is quite a lot of work here as all 134 small tubes and 32 large tubes, all 16 feet long, need to be thoroughly de-greased and then given two coats of the preservative "paint". The first few tubes can be seen laying on the tender floor. We were initially intending to raise the boiler to tube it, but we have found that this will not now be necessary ...

To read the full report, click here .

Here are some upcoming Bluebell Railway special events to fill out your summer calendar ...
"Minions" Go Electric

No. 423417 "Gordon Pettitt" is the last operational 4VEP--"Wimbledon Park's pet unit"--owned by the Bluebell Railway and operated by the Southern Electric Traction Group.

This 2 June, 2017, photo shows some of the project's "minions"--actually volunteers from Southwest Trains, Southern, and elsewhere--donating time to bring No. 423417 back to life.


Rail Ale to Feature Harvey's on 23 June

As with all Rail Ale events, enjoy a steam-hauled train ride, evening supper, and live jazz at Horsted Keynes, plus everyone's first pint is free! Tickets for Rail Ale must be booked in advance and cost £37.50 per person.

On 23 June, 2017, all beers will be from Harvey's of Lewes, and there will be a connecting coach from the brewery's Sussex home town: tickets from Lewes, including coach travel, are additional £5 per person. Due to limited space, early booking is recommended.

A choice of Harvey's real ales will be available at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, and on board the train. The train will depart Sheffield Park at 5:50 p.m. and Horsted Keynes at 6:05 p.m., travelling to East Grinstead station.

For passengers wishing to join the train 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 to be entertained by a jazz band.

More information here .
A Fresh Coat for No. 65

From the Bluebell Railway Facebook page (1 June, 2017): "O1 No. 65 is coming along very nicely, thanks to Heritage Painting who are adding the icing to the cake that is an ordinary Victorian/Edwardian goods locomotive. Yes, this really is how the SECR painted its goods engines!"

No. 65 is being overhauled at Sheffield Park, as described on the Bluebell Railway website:

"Built at Ashford as an 'O' class locomotive, it received a rebuild to class 'O1' in 1908, and ran on until finally withdrawn in 1961. In 1963 it was obtained by Mr Lewis-Evans and kept at Ashford Steam Centre until its closure.

"Thereafter its location was something of a mystery until it was brought to the Bluebell Railway for overhaul and
returned to steam for the centenary of the amalgamation of the
SER and the LCDR in August 1999. 0-6-0s were the commonest locomotives in this country, and the railway now hosts a sequence of three unique survivors of this type, demonstrating their development through the first half of the 20th century: from the O1, through the SECR C class, to Maunsell's Q class, built by Southern Railway."
The middle right photo shows the tender, finished a few weeks ago ahead of the engine. Below right is one of the final photos of the No. 65 re-painting job, taken on 9 June, 2017. What superb work from Heritage Painting!

Writes Richard Salmon, "We're hoping to see the 111-year-old locomotive in service hauling our trains in a few weeks' time." 
Following the Bluebell Railway XI's very enjoyable matches over the past two years, we are pleased to confirm that this year's cricket match versus Scaynes Hill CC will be on 19 Aug., 2017. 

If you are interested in playing for the team (all with a Railway connection and any cricket ability--volunteers, members, staff--are welcome) please contact John Walls . The match takes place next to the Railway at idyllic Freshfields and our gracious hosts provide refreshments and host a fundraising barbecue after the game at the clubhouse in the village.  A very nice day out!

Come Back Soon No. 592!

Steve Lee's photo shows SECR C class No. 592 with a goods train on 29 April, 2017. This loco bowed out of service, just ahead of the end of its boiler certificate, on 13 May, 2017, during Branch Line Weekend. 

Writes Richard Salmon: "It is hoped that, with a new cylinder block and tyres in hand, its overhaul will not be too far into the future. The biggest challenge being that both of the boilers we have for this loco require new copper inner fireboxes."

Website Gems: Martin Ternouth & the Last Day

Memories of 16 March, 1958

I went on the last train of the second closure of what was then known as the Bluebell and Primrose Line.

My diary for the day records that someone pulled the communication cord during the journey to delay us for 20 minutes or so. I also remember a group of lads getting out at every station and attempting to pinch the destination boards that were slotted into brackets on the platforms.

I was only 10 years old, but remember there being lots of noise and steam and film cameras on East Grinstead station--a huge novelty in those days.

My father had taken me up the line the previous summer in anticipation of the closure. I remember my fascination with the split-level station at East Grinstead.

On the day of the closure my father went on in advance to one of the stations with his painting kit and from his sketches produced the painting. I believe (but am not sure) that the station is Newick and Chailey, with more passengers than it had seen for many a year. Hope this stirs some memories.

My father also made a major contribution to the Lewes Town Model (depicting Lewes circa 1890) on which the first part of the Lewes-to-East Grinstead railway line is depicted crossing the Cliffe High Street.

From the Railway Archive
Tony Hillman is in a holiday mood as he reviews the John J. Smith photo archive: "As holiday time is approaching, how about a trip to the Isle of Man?!"

Photo Gallery  
John Sandy's set from 30 April, 2017: "Tuesday saw a two-train service for the holiday week, with many excited kiddies enjoying the trains!"

Jonathan Hughes (2 June, 2017): "SR Q-class in service today."

A Twitter photo from 3 June, 2017, by Luke Ryan: "Wonderful day at the Bluebell Railway! First time visiting and it certainly won't be my last."
A comprehensive visual update by Derek Hayward: "Fifty images taken over the Bank Holiday weekend have been added to my Bluebell Railway 2017 collection. These include service trains; the decommissioning of the Kingscote (southern) signal box; repairs to the roof of the Gents at Kingscote following the theft of lead; the adventures of "Roger the Rabbit" at Horsted Keynes; the Bright Bricks event; and some shy and modest members of staff going about their daily jobs, Thanks also to the Friends of Kingscote for the repair of the seat on the 'hump' outside the station."

Julian Clark's photo shows the LNWR Coal Tank on its second weekend with us, seen here at West Hoathly with the vintage set, on 20 May, 2017.  

John Sandys (8 June, 2017): "A windy day at the Railway saw more maintenance work along the line and at Horsted Keynes. It was quite busy on the train service, with coach parties and school children enjoying the Railway."

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


A tribute to staff and volunteers, by Martin Lawrence: " A short slideshow depicting a year at the Railway (May 2016 - May 2017). Rather than lots of 'pretty' shots of steam locomotives, I mainly chose shots of projects, events, volunteers, and staff. Thank you all (especially those not able to be shown) for all your hard work."

Do you have a something to sell? We are looking for stall holders for our 1940s themed market on 23-24 Sept., 2017. Please contact for more information.
"A day at the Bluebell Railway," by "thecaretakerswebsite".

From the Getty Archive: King Class Locomotives

Seven of the new King Class steam locomotives of the Great Western Railway on 2 July, 1930.

The final positions for the 2016-2017 Football Competition have been tabulated. Congratulations to Andrew Sinclair who tops the table with 40 points. The total raised towards the restoration of Maunsell Dining Saloon No.7864 from this season's competition was £245. 

Many thanks to everyone who entered and to Deborah Salmon for organizing the competition. 
Your Painting: Second Class

Full Name: The Departure (Second Class)
Artist: Abraham Solomon
Date: 1855
Collection: National Railway Museum
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 87 x 115 cm

Railway & Heritage News Briefs

An article from The Guardian about the growing heritage rail industry: "Eight years before British Rail withdrew steam trains from regular service in 1968, the Bluebell Railway opened as one of Britain's first heritage lines, running between East Grinstead and Sheffield Park in Sussex. The popularity of steam trains has since led to many more such lines, dedicated museums and the reappearance of steam trains on what are now Network Rail's tracks ..."

A Victorian steam locomotive that featured in the theatre adaptation of The Railway Children has been unveiled at a Dorset heritage railway. Locomotive No 563, which hauled trains on the London and South Western Railway, has been given to the Swanage Railway by the National Railway Museum ...

Kenya has inaugurated its first major new railway for more than a century, running from the capital, Nairobi, to the port city of Mombasa ...

The development of the electric telegraph revolutionised our ability to communicate over longer distances. It aided the military and commerce and made the world a much smaller place by eventually enabling communications across bodies of water. However, much of the electrical telegraph's early development focused around its need in Britain's fledgling steam railway network ...

Isambard Kingdom Brunel's broad gauge railway dream came to an end 125 years ago last weekend as four thousand workmen ripped up 170 miles of track in a single weekend ...

A new train that runs on virtual rails was unveiled in China last week. Known as a Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART), the vehicle, which is around 30 metres long, is fitted with sensors that detect the dimensions of the road and enable it to follow a route without the need for any metal rails ...

From the Huntley Film Archives: Metropolitan Line Steam Locos

Archive film of Metropolitan Line Railway steam locomotives (Neasden, London).

Steam loco L95 (ex GWR Pannier class) shunting wagons. Neasden steam tank L52 shunting. Tank engine L44 (possible Metropolitan engine; now L1 in preservation?)

Modern electric Metropolitan train/worker for "Amersham", plus old oval window. District line stock steam train arrives at Rickmansworth (No. 42588, a Stanier two-cylinder loco) uncoupled and pulls away.

Electric loco No. 8 "Sherlock Holmes" takes over train. Leaves for Baker Street.

The Railway on 2 June, 2017, by Ben Jenden.

Better Know a Heritage Railway: Stoomtrein Goes-Borsele

A ride on a steam train from Goes through Kwadendamme to the scenic village of Hoedekenskerke will take you back to the days of 1930s Dutch railways and across the beautiful landscape of the province of Zeeland.

Enjoy either a steam train ride from Goes, through Kwadendamme, to Hoedekenskerke, or on certain days ride a railbus through `s-Gravenpolder, `s-Heer Abtskerke, Nisse, and Baarland also.

Rolling Stock
  • Locos: Five steam, seven diesel-electric, two electric
  • Two railbuses
  • Twelve carriages (1907-1933)
  • Forty-two wagons (1871-1948)

Nearby Attractions
  • Routebureau VVV Zeeland (hiking and biking trails)
  • "Goods Shed" restaurant
  • Kwadendamme Zoo




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