Circus Van Takes Center Stage as New Play Carriage

Photos from Horsted Keynes by Keith Duke taken on 5 Aug., 2017, cover the launch of the Elephant Van in its new role as a children's play carriage, with "Captain Baxter" doing the honours as motive power. This new facility will be open daily from Tuesday onwards.

No. 4601 began life as a Covered Carriage Truck, one of three of its kind fitted with a steel floor to carry circus elephants in the Bertram Mills Circus train during the 1950s.

After its life in the circus, it became a General Utility Van used by BR until 1980. It was then purchased by the Bluebell Railway to store signalling equipment and to act as a workshop.

In Spring 2015 it was announced that the C&W Department had been successful in its grant application to the Arts Council Museum Resilience Fund, with £84,150 being awarded for the "restoration and adaptation of a railway vehicle as a play and educational facility." The Bluebell Railway Trust contributed a further £9,000 to restore and refurbish the van.

To learn about the restoration of the van, visit this page . General information and the history of No. 4601 can be read here .

Congratulations to all involved in the project!

Martin Lawrence's photo shows the opening ceremony for the new Play Van on 5 Aug., 2017.

The van before receiving a little bit of TLC ... and then some!

Carriage Shop Donates to Class 2 Tank Project

On 30 July, 2017, the Carriage Shop proudly donated £1,000 to the British Railway Standard Class 2 Tank Locomotive No. 84030 Rebuild Project . Carriage Shop volunteers Barry Jones and Neil Bridle presented the donation cheque to John Jesson and Tony Sullivan.

The aim of this project is to rebuild BR Class 2 No. 78059 into a representative of the tank engine version of the class. No examples of a British Railways Class 2 Tank Engine survived into preservation, so this venture aims to recreate the lost class of locomotive.  

No. 84030 should be a good fit for the Bluebell Railway's operations in terms of its versatility, power, and reliability. Additionally, though the tank versions were common on the Southern Region, the tender versions were not "native" to the region.  

When acquired from Barry Scrapyard, No. 78059 had already lost its tender, so if the decision had not been taken to convert it to a tank engine a complete new tender would have had to be built from scratch.

FOSP Update: Bessemer Arms Canopy Project Continues

Column construction underway (all photos by Chas Melton).
For those who thought things had gone quiet, following the Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) "tin-rattling" razzamatazz at the Society Annual General Meeting in May, this short update should reassure you that our volunteers have been very active on the canopy project on a number of fronts.

As some will recall from previous bulletins, the construction of the decorative timber moulded support columns has been underway in the FOSP workshop for some months. This is an intricate task, and the care and attention taken with the first column is repaying us with detailed knowledge that is expediting the completion of the remainder (and, hopefully, this process will result in them all looking identical).

Secondly, being buoyed by the generosity of donors, and being pretty confident of achieving our funding goals, we have committed further monies to the procurement of the 112 hardwood decorative valance boards that will adorn the canopy edges, matching the existing ones on the main platform canopy structures.

These valences are being pre-painted to a first gloss coat. Pre-painting them during summer makes the task so much easier, as the job can usually be done outdoors. Eventually, they will be put in storage until the main structure is nearly complete, and then we will have near-complete valences to use, a major boon to progress.

So far, so good then, but we have also had some set-backs to overcome.

On the actual construction front, it had been our intention to commence groundworks so that we would have column foundation bases cast and in-situ ahead of the main peak running season. Indeed, some may have noticed that we marked on the ground the location for the column centres. Having made the locations apparent, we quickly received feedback from several quarters that the column nearest the main restaurant entrance door was going to be a problem. It was felt it would obstruct free-circulation during busy times.  

Hence, we have had to re-think design with respect to column positions. Alternative proposals were reviewed with the Railway's Civil Engineer in late July, and we now have a proposal that we believe will satisfy all, with the offending column relocated. The revised column locations should shortly be marked-out.

Valance boards painting production line.
A further consideration is the prospective resurfacing, by the Infrastructure Department, of the Down platform at the south end of the station. This work is necessary to overcome the issue of unevenness/trip hazards and a tendency for puddling to occur. A full levels survey has been completed, and this will be used to design a revised surface profile. Our team must remain closely connected with this process, so that our canopy works can be dovetailed-in, as much as possible, and so that neither party compromises the other's finished product.

So, in summary, there indeed has been plenty of activity this summer, and we expect to be breaking ground for some foundation bases soon after peak running season is over.

By Chas Melton

The Bluebell Railway has introduced a new online ticketing option. Currently, tickets for the Santa Specials and the Hallowe'en Scream Train are available, but more choices--including day tickets--will be added soon. 

Learn more at .
Two New Items for the Museum

Another Smokebox Number Comes Home

The smokebox numberplate from our C class locomotive is now on display in the Museum. It joins the other five Bluebell Railway smokeboxes already on display. The Museum is very grateful to Barry Jones who has loaned us this item.

1935 Experimental Insulator Pot

The Museum has recently put on display an experimental glass insulator pot believed to come from the opening of the Seaford branch in 1935.  

If anyone knows more about these pots, please get in touch with Tony Hillman . It would be interesting to know how long they lasted, why they were replaced, and so forth.  

Looking for Somewhere for the Children to Let Off Steam? Try Summer Fun 2017!

There's some summer fun for everyone at the Bluebell Railway during the school holidays this August.

At Horsted Keynes
  • Mondays (7, 14, 21 Aug.): Sports and games equipment available in the paddock for everyone to enjoy.
  • Tuesdays (1, 8, 15, 22 Aug.):  Children's entertainer in waiting room on platform 3 and 4 throughout the day with a show for younger visitors.
  • Wednesdays (2, 9, 16, 23 Aug.):  Sussex Falconry will stage a display of birds of prey in the paddock.
  • 16 & 23 Aug.: Unleash your creative side with The Nature Art Club . (A small charge of £3 per person will cover materials.)
The above activities are included in the price of with your travel tickets or station admission ticket.

At Kingscote
  • Thursdays and Fridays (3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25 Aug): Meet friendly farm animals at the Children's Farm in the picnic area. Activity included in your travel ticket.  
Timetable Service 2 will be in operation, so come early and stay late as there will be plenty of trains through out the day.

Plus ... a special offer:

Keep your tickets and show them on your next visit to Horsted Keynes and throughout August pay only £1pp for admission. (Not valid for travel.)

More information here .

Lighting the Fuse

A photo from a Facebook progress report by the 73082 Camelot Locomotive Society, courtesy of Andy Kelly: "The engine had a washout over the weekend (29 and 30 July, 2017). They managed to get a bit more than just some scale out, along with some routine maintenance and inspection of the two fusible plugs, gauge glasses replaced, and cleaning of the boiler tubes."

Christmas in July?!  It's never to early to book your place on our most popular Yuletide trains ...
  • Booking is now open for Christmas Dinner on the Golden Arrow Pullman train, on 2, 3, 8-10, 14-17, and 20-23 Dec., 2017.
  • This year you can choose to start your journey on our  Santa Specials  from either Sheffield Park or East Grinstead. They run on 2 & 3, 9 & 10, 16 & 17, and 22-24 Dec., 2017. Third class tickets can be purchased now . First Class tickets and phone booking will be available at a later date.
Deltic Preservation Society 40th Anniversary Planned

A diesel lover's delight! 2017 is the 40th Anniversary of the foundation of the Deltic Preservation Society, and in conjunction with the NRM/KOYLI Group and Beaver Sports, the Railway is delighted to host the very special Anniversary Gala on 6-8 Oct., 2017.

The event will feature four working Deltics: D9002, D9009, and nos. 55019 and 55022.

There will be an intensive timetable throughout the weekend, with a 12-car set due to run on the last train of the day on both Friday and Saturday evenings.

Tickets on sale online!

Other planned events during the weekend:
  • Brake van rides--includes a bacon butty!; £15 pp; must be booked in advance at 01825 720800.  
  • BeerEx Train--A special brew from Harveys of Lewes will be available on board, and pie and mash will be available in the Bessemer Arms.
  • Cab visits at Sheffield Park.
  • Photoshoot with a four-loco line up on Friday.
  • Driver for a fiver on Saturday and Sunday (subject to confirmation).
More information here.

W ebsite Gems:  SR Lavatory 3rd No. 320

This carriage started life in 1900 as a 48-foot eight-compartment third built by the LSWR. By 1934 the ex-LSWR 48-foot stock was nearing the end of its working life and was in need of some major attention. In addition, much of it was built on wooden underframes, and some was still gas lit.

Despite the stock being both tired and obsolete, the SR considered that there was significant useful life left in the bodies and instituted a programme of refurbishment, which was undertaken during 1935 and 1936 at the railway's Lancing Works.

The SR diagram 31 lavatory third class vehicles were created by cutting the original 48-foot third class body into two sections and mounting them at each end of a new 58-foot Maunsell underframe, running on SR standard bogies. A 10-foot section was inserted comprising a single compartment with two lavatories, side by side. In the resultant vehicle only the middle two compartments of the vehicle had access to a lavatory. The diagram 31 vehicles were not renumbered from their pre-conversion SR number.

SR Head Office Order No. L801 of March 1934 authorised the work, which was carried out between January and April 1935. A prominent feature of all these rebuilt vehicles was the triangular-section weatherboard that ran the length of the body, disguising the join (the 48-foot body being narrower than the 58-foot underframe).

In service No. 320 ran as a loose carriage, being allocated to the Southern operating district of BR(S) during 1957-59 (Eastleigh, Southampton, Bournemouth, etc.)

Arriving on the Railway in May 1960 as one of our first two carriages, No. 320 saw use until withdrawn (for what were thought to be light repairs) after a decade in service. Considerable work was undertaken on the interior  ... MORE .

Better Know a Heritage Rail road : Cass Scenic Railroad

Cass Scenic Railroad is a heritage railroad dating back to logging and paper mill days located in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, USA.

The Cass State Park consists of the 18 km-long railroad, which is now owned by the state of West Virginia, the former logging company town of Cass, and a portion of the summit of Bald Knob, highest point on Back Allegheny Mountain.

Founded in 1901 by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company (WVP&P), Cass was built to serve the needs of the men who worked in the nearby mountains cutting spruce and hemlock for the West Virginia Spruce Lumber Company, a subsidiary of WVP&P.

In 1901 work started on the railroad. In June 1942, WVP&P sold its Cass operation to Mower Lumber Company, which operated the railroad until 1960.

Following closure, the rail line was sold to a holding company. Eventually local businessmen convinced the West Virginia legislature to make the railroad a state park. In 1963, the first tourist excursion train left Cass depot for Whittaker Station.
  • Rolling stock : Shay, Climax, and Heisler locomotives (unlike standard locos, these engines are driven by direct gearing to each and every wheel. The smooth, even flow of power enables the engines to negotiate twisting mountain grades.) 
  • Railroad and state park map
  • More on the history of Cass and the logging industry 
Some late summer and autumn dates for your event diary. All event listings can be found here :
From the Railway Archive
John J. Smith is still on his tour of Great Britain, and in this set chosen by Tony Hillman, he has left the Isle of Man for a trip around North Wales ...

Photo Gallery  
John Sandys  (25 July, 2017): " A lovely summer's day after a chilly start saw, the 01 gleaming in the sunshine and the S15 on the second service train. Also quite busy in the workshop with "Stowe" and No. 80141 progressing nicely.   

Photo by Derek Hayward , taken on 15 July 2017, shows the crew of the O1, which entered service that day.

Derek's 2017 collection has been update- view it here .

John Horrocks (23 July, 2017):  "A day at the Bluebell Railway to see visiting No. 34092 "City of Wells" and newly overhauled O1 class No. 65."
Daniel Green (29 Juyl, 2017): " Images from Saturday featuring nos. 34092, 847, and old friend 65."

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



John Harwood's video from 1 Aug., 2017, shows some of the Friends of Kingscote's current activities, the H class and the S15 on the service trains, work ongoing on the OP4 shed at Horsted Keynes, and the Wickham trolley in action!

The Bluebell Railway XI v Scaynes Hill CC cricket match has been re-scheduled for 2 Sept., 2017.

Once again, the Railway's team will be captained by Stuart Marks of the Loco Department. 

All cricketers of any experience and skill, with a connection to the Railway, are welcome to play.

Contact John Walls for more information.

Philip Bull: No. 65 back in service.

Railway & Heritage News Briefs

Investigation launched following collision between steam engines at Swanage Railway ...

Railway returns to Northumberland village more than 40 years after it closed ...

Quirky US-French museum to offer night on Orient Express ...

Full steam ahead for plans to bring heritage trains to Leek ...

London's "Secret" Underground Mail Railway opens to public ...

How northern rail connections have hit the buffers ...

See inside the upgraded Transpennine trains running between Scunthorpe and Manchester ...

Auctioneers begun to liquidate the former Canberra Railway Museum during heated scenes on Wednesday despite efforts to halt the sales ...

Your Painting: Leeds City Trams

Full Title: Leeds City Trams
Artist: British School
Medium: Oil on board
Size: 46 x 68 cm
Collection: Armley Mills, Leeds Industrial Museum

The upcoming dates for the Photographer's PTS course are 21 Sept., 21 Oct., and 21 Nov.  The Personal Track Safety training and certificate acts as a lineside photographic pass. The course runs from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  at Sheffield Park Station. To book and for more information call 01825 720800 or email
From the British Pathé Archive: Invincible?

" Invincible ", which used to work for Ministry of Aviation, is to be scrapped (Farnborough, Hampshire, 1967).

SECR O1 class No. 65 returns to service on the Bluebell Railway , by "VehicularBrit".

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.
From the Getty Archive: Engineering Drawing 1904

Something a touch different from the Getty Archive this time: a general arrangement engineering drawing of a Sligo, Leitrim, & Northern Counties Railway 0-6-4 tank loco, circa 1905. A fine example of "machine art" if you will.

Want to volunteer at the Railway? The next Find Out More Day is 13 Aug., 2017. Learn more here .
"City of Wells" last trip on the Railway, by John Harwood.  

@CompanyUpfront Jul 26 Our latest #murdermystery winners from our show @bluebellrailway! Spaces still available for our show 11.08.17! Call 01732 862353 for info!

@Lawlled Jul 26 @forzagaribaldi day of volunteering at @bluebellrailway - looks like a good family day out if weren't already aware of it

@TerryBarnes72 Aug 1 lovely afternoon with my son at the bluebell railway. They were very accommodating of his wheelchair and helped with access. Great work.

@OrbitJames I'm in steam heaven here at the Bluebell Line engine sheds! Largest loco to ever run on mainline duty.

@BirchHotelHH Aug 3 #DowntonAbbey fans! The real life Downton Station is just 6 miles from us, on the lovely @bluebellrailway Stay over?

A good spot by webmaster Richard Salmon: for those thinking about a career in railways, Real Skills Training specialises in the education, training, and assessment of personnel to the UK railway industry.




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