Ready, Set, Play

Martin Lawrence's photo from 24 June, 2017, shows that the new playground at Kingscote is for kids of all ages!

If You Go Down In the Woods Today ...

Deep in darkest Coneyborough Wood bears are rare, but there is a bit of undervalued infrastructure lurking amongst the undergrowth. Between the trees, stands the now-closed Ketches Halt, made of the classic SR concrete prefab units, but my interest is in the adjacent Sheffield Park's Down Outer Home Signal (No. 19).

This signal protects Sheffield Park station from approaching down trains while shunting takes place within station limits. The signal's position--at the bottom of a long-falling, 1-in-75 gradient and secreted around a right-hand bend--means its prominence is very important.  

Currently, the S&T Department is refurbishing the signals at Sheffield Park, and this signal came under our detailed evaluation. Because it's close to the trees of Coneyborough Wood, it gets coated with a green slime seen on many road signs.

Although the signal arm and spectacle plate are regularly cleaned, the post is more difficult. It is of a lattice construction, which in the past was a common way of supporting semaphore signals, being lightweight and low in wind resistance but a trap for dirt and rust.

Overall, signal visibility can be improved by cleaning and painting the post, but with so many nooks and crannies on this lattice post, it is a very challenging job. But up stepped Alan Dengate and Belle (his canine companion) with his jet wash and paint pot.

The Friends of Sheffield Park loaned us their portable scaffold, and Alan got stuck in, camping out on site for each working day. What an amazing improvement he has made. Thank you Alan!

This signal is unique on the Railway. It has a "Stevens" arm and fittings, which are very heavy and identified by their cover over the green glass when the signal is "ON". The style was common on the LSWR but rarer on the LB&SCR and SE&CR.

An unusual feature of this signal is that it is adorned with a finial of LC&DR design and was originally painted red, a practice used on the GWR, but I was unaware that it was used in the south.

By Brian Hymas

Alan Dengate giving the final touches to the Sheffield Park Down Outer Home Signal. Photo by Chris Majer.

Doors Open on CCT Repair Work

A progress report from the 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society by Julian Heinemann on work related to the CCT Van:

The Saturday volunteers had removed the large north end double doors this weekend. The doors are now sitting on trestles under cover in the "new wing". Tony Clements has advised that they are in good condition and will need relatively little repair work.

Some of the bottom ends of the vertical wooden boards, where they meet the drop-board, may need replacing with inserts, but otherwise they appear to be in good condition.

Where there are splits in a few of the vertical boards, they can be repaired easily. The drop-board is also in good condition and requires minimal repairs, mainly where the top edge meets the bottom of the vertical boards and where moisture has got underneath the metalwork.
We plan to remove the south end doors next, but they will require much more repair/replacement work, owing to their much deteriorated state. Compared to the north end, the southerly doors bore the brunt of the weathering.

All the roof boards are back on, including the two new replacements for those that had shrunk. Almost all have been secured in place, but there were a few more to do. Painting was currently up to white undercoat.
Please note that Craft & Food Fair, planned for the first weekend of July, has been cancelled. We apologise for any disappointment this may cause. The Railway will still be open on that weekend, running a normal steam train service.
Exam Season

Photo by Andy Kelly.
A Camelot Locomotive Society update on the steam test for No. 73082 on 21 June, 2017
"Everything went well with the steam test yesterday. No problems at all with the firebox; there are a couple of minor jobs to be sorted out before returning to service. Thanks to Andy Kelly for his efforts along with the rest of the participating members of the Bluebell Railway Workshop Team."

Infrastructure Update : The Freshfield Saga

The top photo by Dave Wilson (of London Underground and 9F club fame) was taken during a legendary night (5 June, 2017) of infrastructure work, changing track and ballast at Freshfield Bank during an all-night downpour. This photo details track alignment using the 22-ton digger.

The second photo is by Andy Palmer. It shows the infrastructure team riding back at the end of the night on 6 June in the tamper, having completed the ballasting, tamping, aligning, and smoothing of the new track.

As a reminder, this job was to address "200 yards plus 35mm" [nice use of a hybrid imperial/metric measurement!-The Eds] at Freshfield Bank at the end of the temporary speed limit--in just one night!

"Yes," continues John Goff, "in one night, so trains were not interrupted at any time! Never attempted on Bluebell Railway before and probably never attempted on any heritage railway before!"

Immediately south of the new track laid three years ago on Freshfield Bank, there was a section of bullhead track on old BR concrete sleepers in very poor condition. This defined the end of the 10mph temporary speed limit, and it urgently needed correction.

What the team did next will amaze you!

Read the whole story on this remarkable infrastructure saga at this webpage .

The Railway is currently operating the Service 1 timetable Monday-Friday and Service 2 timetable on weekends . There is no need to pre-book, but there are "Bluebell Bonus" discounts if you do book at least eight days in advance (phone 01825 720800).
Job Vacancies: Competence Standards Managers

With the growing impact of legislation and a continuously developing Safety Management System (SMS), there is a requirement for two Competence Standards Managers, one to be responsible for the routine management of the Safety Critical Work training and associated competence management systems applicable to locomotive operations staff and the second for signalmen, guards, shunters and station staff.

The successful applicants will have a good knowledge of modern training and competence assessment systems and be committed to developing a strong culture of compliance to ensure the requirements of the SMS are met.

It will be essential to develop effective working relationships with functional inspectors and other key operating department players who are embraced by the SMS and the railway safety critical work (RSCW) regulations.

These posts could suit retired or partially retired trainers, assessors or indeed existing qualified inspectors who will probably already hold trainer, assessor, or similar qualifications and have experience of the skill sets in the disciplines concerned.

A keen desire to influence this important area of compliance using interpersonal skills appropriate to departments that consist completely of volunteers is essential.

These are volunteer posts that carry no remuneration or specific hours of duty, although the successful applicants will require sufficient time and flexibility to be present at the Railway to effectively undertake these roles.

Email Lisa Boyle if you would like to know more about these opportunities. More job vacancies can be found here
OP4: Drainage & Groundwork Progressing

An update to progress on OP4, with thanks to John Goff:

Operation Undercover Phase 4 (OP4)--aka the Horsted Keynes Carriage Shed Extension--has been quietly progressing. There were just enough people to split the gang between building the new track panels and progressing drainage and ground work in the OP4 shed.

The photo of the north end of the shed is "borrowed" from John Sandys' site. It shows second grade track ballast used to bring up the floor level closer to the required level suitable for the shed track work. This was recovered from the waterworks track relay earlier this year and is the darker material in the picture.

In addition, many of the gutter outlets have been drilled and spigots fitted together with the down pipes and are now carrying the rainwater away through the drains laid mainly last year. This will continue as a background project until all down pipes are connected and functional. We are carrying out this work as it will save a lot of contractor cost.

Here are some upcoming Bluebell Railway special events to fill out your summer calendar ...
"I liked the tunnel"

Warlingham Park School has been a regular visitor to the Railway over recent years, and the lead teacher, Mrs. Bedingham, wrote after this year's visit to confirm that they had had a wonderful time and had learnt a lot about the Railway. Among the dozen of so items submitted by the school was this charming drawing by Jade, a pupil in Class 1 at the school. It provides a fresh take on the locomotive leaving Sharpthorne Tunnel.

By David Cockram, Education Officer

Steam Through the Ages

On 23 and 24 Sept., 2017, the Railway will introduce its new Steam Through the Ages experience. Each station will be presenting a different "time zone".

Sheffield Park will recreate a Victorian era; Horsted Keynes will have a 1940s war time display; Kingscote will offer a re-creation of a 1960s restaurant; and East Grinstead will recreate the sounds of the 1980s. Travel tickets are valid all day so hop on and off the trains to explore what is going on at each station as much as you like.

Highlights include:

Sheffield Park
  • Victorian music
  • Locomotive sheds
  • Museum
  • Bessemer Arms
  • Gift shop
Horsted Keynes
  • Concert party shows
  • "Black Market" traders
  • Sussex Home Guard Displays, including Firearms, bayonet practice, and parades
  • Military vehicles
  • King George V Buffet serving war-time food
  • Carriage and Wagon viewing gallery
  • Gas mask making with Jacqui Sparkes
  • 1960s fun and frivolity more details coming soon (dig out your flower power outfits!)
East Grinstead
  • Sounds of the 80s!
  • Travel Centre
  • The Grinsteade Buffet Carriage will be open for refreshments and snacks
For more information, click here .

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?!"

Better Know a Heritage Railway: Old Voss

The Old Voss Line (Norwegian: Gamle Vossebanen) is a heritage railway between Garnes and Midtun near Bergen, the second largest city in Norway.

Originally constructed as the first part of the Bergen-Oslo main line, it opened in 1883 as part of a narrow gauge line from Bergen to Voss. Following the decision to complete the railway to Oslo as standard gauge, the line was upgraded to standard gauge in 1904.

Electrified in 1954, the line continued to serve as part of the Bergen-Oslo main line until two new tunnels in 1964 made the epic 30 km switch-back around mountains obsolete. The heritage line is part of this old part of the railway.

Today, the museum railway is operated by the Norwegian Railway Association (Norsk Jernbaneklubb) and runs on Sundays between June and September over a distance of 18 km between Garnes and Midttun, taking just under one hour.

The service operates with a type 18 steam loco. No. 255 was built in 1913, decommissioned in 1969, and restored by volunteers between 1981 and 1993 (see photo). It pulls a series of teak carriages built between 1921 and 1938. The loco is kept at the restored Garnes station that features a museum, engine shed, yard, and turntable.
Photo Gallery  
John Sandys : "The 01 looking fantastic in the sunshine at Sheffield Park this morning!"  

"Captain Baxter" on duty during Model Railway weekend, 24-25 June, 2017. Photos by Dan Green.

The dome of No. 263 is resplendent in this photo from Derek Hayward's 2017 gallery update .

Phil Horscroft's photo shows H class No. 263 north of Horsted Keynes with the 10 a.m. service to East Grinstead on 17 June, 2017.

Filming took place at Horsted Keynes on 21 June, 2017. No. 263 was used with the rolling stock in the photo for filming purposes, running into and out of a re-named Horsted Keynes on numerous occasions. Photo by Tony Sullivan. 

Brian Lacey's photo shows "Captain Baxter" with Victorian carriages at East Grinstead during the Branch Line Weekend on 13 May, 2017.

Richard Salmon published this photo of the Maunsell Q class with a goods train, on 17 June, 2017. Jonathan Hughes captured the 3:22 p.m. "unfitted freight" train approaching Mounteswood Lane bridge.

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


Please note that the eNewsletter is going on its summer holiday next month. It will be back on the 23 July, 2017. 
A hot day in June begins with a shimmering heat haze over the steels in this John Harwood video from 20 June, 2017. The video also shows the Q class on the service train at East Grinstead and Kingscote, the new children's play area taking shape there, and a quick look at work at progress on the OP4 shed at Horsted Keynes.

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!
Your Painting: Steam Engine Show

Full Title: A Day at the Steam Engine Show
Artist: Robert A. Gould
Date: 1985
Medium: Oil on board
Size: 60 x 74.5 cm
Collection: Epping Forest District Museum/Waltham Abbey

The Railway on 10 June, 2017, by "Train Fan 28".

Railway & Heritage News Briefs

Queen reveals love of trains as she recreates first Royal rail journey, 175 years on ...

A new station for Brighton's Volk's Railway was craned into position on 15 June, 2017 ... The Aquarium Station, on the beach close to the Sea Life Centre in Marine Parade, has been designed by Hove architects ABIR and built by Boutique Modern at its warehouse in Newhaven ... 

A VIP train service and the launch of a new exhibition will mark 10 years since the catastrophic storms and floods which threatened to close the Severn Valley Railway ...

Heritage rail to the rescue! Barry Tourist Railway helped out  Champions League special trains ...

America's Train Stations: An Architectural Explainer ... Long before America had a distinct sense of buildings as corporate branding, rail lines were busy laying the very track of the idea ... 

A major step forward for South Devon build of Britain's most powerful steam locomotive ...

Back in the 1970s boilermakers at Vickers in Barrow gave the Flying Scotsman a new lease of life and a decade later it was the turn of Sellafield apprentices to save a piece of steam railway history ...

The new Crossrail trains went live on 22 June, 2017. They're only running on the Liverpool Street to Shenfield part of the route at the moment, until the tunnels under London launch in December next year ...

The Department for Transport has announced the shortlisted bidders for the next South Eastern passenger franchise ...

From the BBC Archive: Go from London to Brighton with Noakes

I memory of beloved broadcaster John Noakes, here is one of his classic reports , first broadcast in 1966: 

" In response to viewers' letters about the scrapping of steam trains across the UK, Christopher Trace introduces a report from John Noakes aboard the Flying Scotsman locomotive as it takes a commemorative run from London's Victoria station to Brighton. Noakes begins the journey on the footplate, but soon gets involved with helping the fireman to keep the boiler stoked with coal."

For those wishing to attend Steam Through the Ages in September (see main column below) as a re-enactor or display/stand holder please complete and return this form to the Railway.
"Arrow at Kingscote" by John Harwood, 13 June, 2017.
From the RR Pictures Archive: SR Class 04 No. 996

Date: March 3, 1973
Photographer: Denis Chartrand
Location: St. Lambert, Quebec, Canada

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.
Going back in time about one year for a footplate ride on board No. 1638 (25 May, 2016), by "gguru1".

Dorset House School recently Tweeted this picture of Year Ones out and about at the Railway on 15 June, 2017. 





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