Loco Update: Time Well Used

It's been many months now since I penned a loco update. I'm not sure how the time goes so quickly but it certainly does. After all our special events, loco hire, maintenance, overhauls, special workings, employment, and family obligations, I've finally got the time to update you! It's only a small respite though, as the Deltic Preservation Society's 40th Anniversary Gala is just around the corner, and then we'll only be a matter of weeks away from the Santa Specials.
When you read this, final planning for the Deltic Gala will be in full swing. The original plan was to have the four working preserved Deltics visit, but unfortunately No. 50022 suffered a broken quill shaft in July ruling it out from participating. This is not an easy repair to undertake either, as you have to lift the engine out, remove the generator, remove the phasing case, and then you can access the quill shaft. All this requires cranes, labour, spare parts, laydown areas, etc. before the first nut and bolt can be undone. It is unfortunate, but these things happen--it won't spoil what is to be an excellent event with four Deltics: three working full size ones and a 7¼ in gauge!
This year has seen an unprecedented amount of loco hire for our special event weekends. It takes a lot of time and effort from a lot of people across the railway to organise the visit of a loco, be it steam or diesel. I'm very grateful to all those who assist me. From the initial "ask" to the signing of the invoice can be anything from 12 to 18 months, and discussions are already well underway on what interesting and different motive power can visit us next year. So watch this space for news on potential four-cylinder and/or double chimney locos that might be visiting! 
While all these special events have been taking place, work has continued in the Loco Works and the highlight so far has been the out-shopping and return to traffic of the SE&CR O1. The loco has now completed its running-in period and is fully released to traffic, and what a picture it looks in the SE&CR livery. It's now regularly rostered for the "A" duty and easily handles our medium trains to East Grinstead.

Work on BR Standard class 4 Tank No. 80151 is proceeding very well with the loco now re-wheeled, valve liners removed, new pistons being machined and brake, lubrication, and injector pipework being fitted. Work on the boiler has seen the first of the new inner firebox sides welded in place and the second side in the process of being welded as you read this. Once complete the new throat plate and outer firebox sides can be fitted and welded, before the long task of marking out, drilling, taping, and fitting of the hundreds of stays can start, not to mention riveting the doorplate, tubeplate, and foundation ring together. Once complete, work can then focus on tubes, flue tubes, superheater elements, fittings, etc. before the boiler can be placed back into the frames. With a fair wind behind us, the plan is to outshop No. 80151 around the middle of 2018.

Schools class No. 928 "Stowe" was lifted from its wheels for the first time in preservation recently and now sits on the accommodation bogies in the loco yard. This is a significant milestone for the project and releases a huge amount of work on the frames, while also allowing the driving wheels to be sent away for tyre turning and attention to the journals. The front bogie is stripped into its component parts and is now undergoing cleaning and repair before reassembly. Offsite work on the boiler continues, with the specialist welding of the caulking grooves and assembly of the doorplate and tubeplate to the inner firebox crown sheet.

Off-site work is progressing very well on the new inner firebox for No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair", with the last of the new components, the throat plate, and combustion chamber being readied for pressing. There has been a delay to this work due to the difficulties in finding a company that can cast the huge die required, the solid piece of metal which you bend/form the new boiler plate over. Fortunately, Premier Patterns and Castings of Birmingham were able to 3D print and cast this huge item, which is now sitting at the South Devon Railway. No. 34059 will be the first platework to use the new die. Currently the boiler is scheduled to arrive back at Sheffield Park by the end of this year, where the long task of installing the 1000+ stays will start.
With most of the team focusing on overhauls, our maintenance team have been busy with washouts, machining scored blowdown valves, replacing broken springs, packing glands, and the many other maintenance tasks that are undertaken to keep the running fleet in operation. With daily running now reduced to a one-train service, the pressure is very slightly off!
All the above work couldn't happen without people, and some recent changes have taken place within the team. I'm pleased to announce that Simon Blaker has joined the team as Boiler Supervisor. Simon completed an apprenticeship in the Works many years ago before working for the family business. Simon also owns and runs traction engines and brings a wealth of experience to the team. In addition to this, Henry Mowforth has re-joined the team as Leading Boiler Fitter and again brings a wealth of loco engineering experience to the Railway, having served his apprenticeship with us many years ago. Simon and Henry will focus on the boiler aspects of loco overhauls, while the other members of the team focus on the mechanical aspects of loco overhauls. I'm also pleased to announce that Harry Spencer has joined the Loco Works to serve a three-year apprenticeship.
If you have visited the Railway recently, be it for our normal train service or one of our special events, I do hope you enjoyed yourselves, and I look forward to seeing you in a few weeks for the Deltic Gala--and remember: keep an eye out for visiting motive power announcements!  
By Chris Hunford, Locomotive Director

Santa Specials Are Looking for Helpers

Santa The Commercial Department has listened to our passengers and staff members at East Grinstead, and the result is that all of this year's Santa Specials will operate from both Sheffield Park and East Grinstead on all nine days of their operation.

Specifically, Santa Specials will operate on 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, and 22-24 December this year, with the East Grinstead trains replacing the Reindeer Specials of previous years. All passengers will still be able to visit Santa's reindeers this year because they are being relocated from Kingscote to Horsted Keynes, the destination of all the specials.

Whilst these changes are intended to increase visitor numbers overall, and particularly from East Grinstead, they mean that the increased number of Santa Special trains will require an increased number of on-board stewards and train managers.

The role of the stewards is to serve refreshments and look after our visitors during the train journey to and from Horsted Keynes whilst being a friendly face of the Bluebell Railway. Once our visitors have arrived at Horsted Keynes, we will need further volunteers to help with the attractions provided there.

Our current hard working and dedicated volunteer stewards will need help to cope with the additional workload, so we need to recruit YOU to help us meet this need!

Therefore, we are holding a Recruitment Drive on 14 and 15 Oct., 2017, and invite you to Sheffield Park station between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. either day to meet Julia Pique, of the Commercial Department; Roger Sanderson, the Santa Train Manager; and me. We will be on Platform 1 outside the shop to answer any questions you may have and hopefully welcome you as a Santa Volunteer.

The invitation is open to all Members, particularly those of you who have considered becoming a volunteer before but haven't got round to it, as well as volunteers from other departments who would like to try something different for a change and add an extra skill.

Over the nine days of the Santa Specials, with three trains operating each day, there will be a total of more than 200 on board steward turns of duty to cover, so you should appreciate why we need extra help. Volunteers are also needed on some midweek days during December when special trains are operating, as well as during November and January when Christmas decorations need to be put up and then taken down again.

As many of you will have experienced during the visit of "Flying Scotsman", when our Railway takes on a challenge it rises to the occasion and puts on a great show that creates a special buzz among visitors and volunteers alike. This great show and buzz is exactly what we are planning to achieve this Christmas.

As BRPS Chairman, as well as an active volunteer, I urge you to take the plunge and join me, Julia, and Roger to find out what being a volunteer is all about. Trust me, being one of our volunteers is very rewarding and not all about hard work, there is also time for fun as well! And who knows, next year you might want to be that "special person" in the red suit!

Can't wait to sign up? Contact Julia Pique at to register your interest.

By Graham Aitken, BRPS Chairman

The Railway's annual Track Trek sponsored walk will be held on 18 Nov., 2017, with the aim of raising £15,000 to buy one replacement 60-foot track panel. 

The Trek will be along the entire length of the line between East Grinstead and Sheffield Park stations, covering a distance of 11 miles. It starts from East Grinstead between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., with registration and safety briefings at East Grinstead from 8:30 a.m. 
Please secure your place by emailing  with your name, address, phone number, email address, the number of people taking part, and whether you require the bus to East Grinstead in the morning or at the end of the Trek.    For more details on Track Trek 2017, to download a sponsorship form, and to learn how to create your own fundraising page on BT's MyDonate, visit .

To help advertise Track Trek 2017, Mike Hopps has created a colourful poster that you can download and print out at this link . If you can display this poster in a shop or other public place, we'd be very grateful!
A Fond Farewell

Directors past and present were among those invited to a farewell dinner hosted by Bluebell Railway PLC Chairman Dick Fearn on 22 Aug., 2017. Russell is handing over the reins of Operations Director to Mike Ellis, who was formally appointed to the Board at the Annual General Meeting on 24 Aug.

The dinner provided the opportunity for Dick and others to express sincere thanks and gratitude for the work done by Russell, especially in his roles as Operations Director and, before that, Retail Director. His wise counsel and historic knowledge of Bluebell Railway matters was also recognised; he has been a member for 43 years and has held numerous other roles and responsibilities, not least of which was serving as Chairman of the BRPS between 1994 and 1997. Words of acknowledgement also were delivered by Chris White and Bill Brophy.

As a thank you and recognition for his service to the Board, Dick Fearn presented Russell with a limited edition print of the painting commissioned by Sir William McAlpine in 1975, when he secured the safe return of "Flying Scotsman" from the United States, depicting the famous loco passing the halfway marker on the East Coast Main Line.

In his acceptance and farewell speech, Russell delivered some highlights and history of his experiences at the Railway. His retirement from the Board does not mean his withdrawal from the railway-with fewer meetings to attend, he wishes to focus on his duties as a Driver and a Guard!

By Roger Garman

North End Progress


Julian Heinemann took some photos on 9 Sept., 2017, of further progress on the repairs to the north end doors and the drop boards for the CCT van, currently at Horsted Keynes C&W facility.

A Quizzler : Brian Hymas asks if our readers can recognise a bit of LB&SC infrastructure seen from an unusual view point? Answer at the bottom of The Branch Line (right hand column).

Vintage Bus Running Day 2017: Timetable Published!

Bus fans should have their appetites whetted with this photo, by Paul Llewellyn, of just one of the vintage buses to be featured on Vintage Bus Running Day, taking place on 1 Oct., 2017. 

The Bluebell Railway and local bus preservationists are joining forces for the day to recreate several local bus routes in the Sheffield Park and East Grinstead area. David Morgan has kindly provided timetable details that can be viewed in this PDF document .

The free bus services will be operated by a variety of heritage vehicles dating mainly from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and originating from local operators such as Southdown, London Country, London Transport, and Maidstone & District.

Additionally, it is planned to run some local trips from Sheffield Park station using a Southdown 1956 Guy Arab and from East Grinstead station using a London Transport Country Buses RT type AEC Regent from the 1950s.

More details can be found here

OP4: A Hive of Activity

More updates to the Railway website's infrastructure page can be  found here  
The southern end of what will become the headshunt for the new carriage storage shed has been lifted and levelled using the laser dozer. The headshunt will be relaid with used flat bottomed rail.

The tramroad in the maintenance area alongside E road is almost complete, the remaining task is to float some concrete into the flange slots to ensure that drainage is adequate.

The track lifted from the headshunt is being reused for H road (and can be seen in the photo). One panel of track has yet to be assembled. Along the far wall of the shed can be seen the progress on casting the headwalls.

In some bays the headwall is complete, in others the shuttering is visible. Beyond the shed, the tree surgeons are felling trees in preparation for the access road around the south eastern corner of OP4 ...
Editor's Note: Readers may wish to note that the headline on OP4 in the last newsletter should have read "OP4 Tramway Almost Complete". The entire multiphase project is, of course, far from completion!

Some autumn dates for your event diary. All event listings can be found here :
Paint Shop Proud

Stuart Pay's 15 Sept., 2017, photo shows the Maunsell droplight open third No. 1336 in the paintshop, where she has received two coats of paint to her roof and a much-needed touch-up and revarnish on the sides.

Last Orders for Rail Ale

Only one more of our popular Rail Ale evenings is available this year, on 22 Sept., 2017. As always, enjoy a steam-hauled train ride, evening supper and live jazz at Horsted Keynes--plus everyone's first pint is free!

There will be a choice of real ales available at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, and on board the train, which departs Horsted Keynes for East Grinstead at 5:45 p.m. For passengers wishing to join 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. The train returns passengers to East Grinstead at the end of the evening.

Book online here

From the Archive

John J. Smith is still enjoying his trip through Wales, and this set, curated by Tony Hillman, starts with a photo of "Prince" and the 9:30 a.m. special to Pen Cob, taken at Portmadoc on 28 June, 1958.

New Skin for an Old Coach

New pictures--taken by John Fry--of the overhaul of No. 5768 have been uploaded to the Bulleid Society's website . This photo shows the outer skin has been painted with a brushing filler and awaits rubbing down with an air-driven sander prior to the undercoat being applied.

Cranks & Eccentrics: A Project 27 Update

The eccentrics that were removed from the crank axle a few weeks back have now been thoroughly cleaned and the parts reassembled on the bench ready for machining. 

The reason for this work is that the eccentrics were worn and slightly oval. When they have been turned this ovality will be removed. It is hoped that this will be carried out within the next few weeks and then the non bearing surfaces will be painted before being reassembled onto the axles.

Tata Steel has told us that the cutting out and marking up of the frames is due to commence during the week beginning 18 Sept., 2017. The technical team will be on site to see the process at some stage during this time. This will be a major step forward in the restoration, and should ensure that the chassis will be fit for a minimum of another 100 years' service.

The progress with the cylinders is at a similar state and again the technical team will be visiting the Premier Patterns factory to view the progress on the same day as the visit to Tata Steel ... MORE

Photo Gallery  
Julian Heinemann (9 Sept., 2017): "Camelot" with a goods train ("With thanks to Fraser Hutchinson, the goods guard, for allowing me to ride with him today").
John Sandys (11 Sept., 2017): "A few photos from my visit today, an autumnal day and quite a chilly breeze! 'Camelot' in charge of the service train with many passengers boarding at East Grinstead."

Keith Duke : No. 323 was used with a pair of Maunsell carriages on 2 Sept., 2017. 
John Sandys (7 Sept., 2017): "A nice autumnal day with two locos in steam, the S15 on the main set and "Camelot" in charge of a Camelot Society special. Plus, the 09 shunting."

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


The Bluebell Railway has introduced a new online ticketing option. 

Click here for tickets for the Rail Ale train, the Deltic Anniversary, Hallowe'en Scream, Santa Specials, and more!

Ben Jenden: Bluebell Railway Whistle compilation, April-August 2017.

Your Painting: Travel in 1915

Full Title: Travel in 1915
Artist: Cuthbert Hamilton Ellis (1909-1987)
Date: 1951
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 29.9 x 70.6 cm
Collection: National Railway Museum

British Railways carriage print artwork. Obtained as a result of a direct claim of redundant material from the nationalised railway, 1968.

The Bluebell Railway is supporting the Macmillan Cancer Charity Coffee Morning on 29 Sept., 2017. 

Bring along your cakes and for a donation of £10, we will provide a cup of tea on the train and your donated cakes will be sold on the train for this good cause. 

The special train departs at 11:15 a.m. from Sheffield Park.
Railway & Heritage News Briefs

Iconic steam locomotive the "Union of South Africa" visits Hampshire ...

A host of Metropolitan Line steam locomotives ran between Amersham and Harrow-on-the-Hill for on 9 Sept., 2017 ...

An historic locomotive--GWR Class 2-8-0 No. 2818--considered to be "very important" in the development of the railways is returning to the town in which it was built ...

Clair Mowbray: Town that gave us "Mallard" can rebuild railways

Transpennine Express (TPE) and CAF have released the first image of the new Civity UK EMUs under construction in Spain for the British franchise operator ...

In a laborat ory at Heriot-Watt university, researchers are pounding a stretch of German high-speed track using a machine that can create a year's worth of traffic in a single day ...

Hey, Wickham fans! The newly-established Rail Trolley Trust is dedicated to tracking down and restoring the little machines ...

The first of the Beacon Rail-owned Class 68 locomotives which TransPennine Express is to sublease from Direct Rail Services has received the passenger franchisee's branding ...

The East Grinstead Concert Band will be playing as the Bluebell Railway Band on 23 and 24 Sept., 2017, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Sheffield Park station during Steam Through the Ages !

Learn more about the band here .

From the Getty Museum Archive: Railway Yard in Crimea, 1855

Roger Fenton's amazing salted paper print of a railway yard in Balaklava, from a series of early photographs taken during the Crimean War in the spring and summer of 1855.

Alexander Chopra: "Camelot" at work.

Hattons has announced the release of its SECR P class 0-6-0T models in OO guage, including variation No. 323 "Bluebell"!

ICYMI: Lost Railways investigates the history of railways in London and the South, including a visit to the Bluebell Railway.  

From the Huntley Film Archive: Barmouth Station

Barmouth Station in steam days with family on holiday in Wales.

Following the appointment of some new directors at the recent Annual General Meeting of Bluebell Railway PLC, there's an update to the  Who's Who page .
Answer to the quizzler:
It is in fact a bird's eye view of one of Sheffield Park's down home signals finial.

Explains Brian, "I am not sure who benefits from having the embossed name, but Chris Majer took advantage of the scaffolding to take this curious picture."





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