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Track Action (Traction) Appeal 2017

Regular readers of this newsletter will know that we recently launched our Tr(ack) Action Appeal to speed up track repair.

If you have travelled on the Railway recently, you will have noticed there are sections of the line where the journey is a little uneven due to track wear.

Tr(ack) Action will help the Railway accelerate its programme of track renewal. In addition to improving passenger comfort, the renewed track will reduce maintenance costs on locomotives and carriages.

Parts of the railway's track dates back to before the Preservation Society was formed. It is a tribute to those who built the track--as well as our maintenance teams over the years--that it has lasted this long. It will last even longer, but at a cost not only in the ride passengers get but also in the wear on locomotive and rolling stock springs and wheels.

Many people are unaware that steel wheels have steel tyres. These tyres wear through use, particularly going round curves, and there are very few straight sections on our Railway! The cost of a new set of tyres on a carriage can run to five figures and for a loco, to six. Therefore, new and smooth track can save a lot of money.

The video below gives a valuable insight into to what is involved in track and wheel repair ...

Our target for the Appeal is £250,000 to replace more than half a mile of track north of Freshfield Halt. If the target is met, the work will take place in February 2018. If the Appeal exceeds its target, any surplus will be used for further track maintenance work.

To make a donation to the Traction Appeal, please

    ▪     Send a cheque payable to The Bluebell Railway Trust at Sheffield Park Station, East
         Sussex, TN22 3QL using this Gift Aid form
    ▪    Or donate online via BT MyDonate
    ▪     More information about giving to this appeal can be  found here

In the short time the Appeal has been open we have raised £32,000. My thanks to those who have donated so generously. Please support this worthy and necessary appeal if you have not already done so.

By Roger Kelly, Funding Director

"Flying Scotsman" DVD Released

Six-year-old Charlie Cook is featured on the "Flying Scotsman" video package. A guest of the Railway on 24 Oct., 2017, he is pictured with a copy of the disc.
Over Easter 2017 the famous steam locomotive "Flying Scotsman" visited the Bluebell Railway.

Now the official event video has been published, with narration and interviews by Nicholas Owen, covering the excitement of those who rode behind the loco, the hard work of 750 Bluebell Railway volunteers and staff who made the event happen, as well as our own exclusive drone footage of the visit, the historic reunion with "Typhoon", and the history of the "Flying Scotsman".

The full 50-minute DVD is available to purchase for just £9.99 from the Bluebell Railway's own shop, and can also be ordered online here .

To launch the video, the Railway has planned a special "Evening with Nicholas Owen" on 2 Nov., 2017 ...


Tickets On Sale for an Evening with Nicholas Owen

Join us on 2 Nov., 2017, for a very special event at Sheffield Park Station.

Your evening starts with a drink and canapés in the Bessemer Arms before taking your seat in the Birch Grove Suite, where Nicholas Owen will be interviewed about his life as a journalist, author, and keen supporter of The Bluebell Railway.

Copies of the "Flying Scotsman Flying South" DVD will be on sale and Nicholas will be available to autograph them. The DVD was commissioned to record the historic visit of No. 60103 "Flying Scotsman" to the Railway in April this year.

The bar in the Bessemer Arms will be open throughout the evening. Places are limited so advanced booking is essential. Price is £20 per person and includes canapés and a welcome drink.

Limited tickets are still available online .

The Railway has been named to the shortlist for a Sussex Business Award in Leisure & Tourism. Read about the awards here .

A Very Deltic Weekend at the Bluebell Railway

It was a diesel lover's delight at the Railway from 6-8 Oct., 2017, when D9009 "Alycidon", No. 55019 "Royal Highland Fusilier", and D9002 "Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry" visited for the Deltic Preservation Society's 40th Anniversary Gala.

Here's a re-cap in sound and vision ...


Julian Clark: D9002 chugs out of HK with the 1030 ex Sheffield Park.
Martin Lawrence : Some of the many admirers.

Julian Clark: A token exchange at Kingscote as No. 55019 "Royal Highland Fusilier" arrives with the 1500 ex East Grinstead.
Julian Clark: D9009 approaches Nobles/Three Arch Bridge with the 1200 ex Sheffield Park.

It can get a bit noisy! Photo by Gary Silver from 6 Oct., 2017.
Mike Anton's 7 Oct., 2017, photo sees driver Steve Squire ready to take D9002 out of Sheffield Park on day two of the gala.

Derek Hayward's collection of class 55s, including one showing the good turn-out to see the Deltics gleaming in autumn sunshine.


Quite a sight: a Deltic convoy passing through Marholm and Arlesey on its way to the Railway, by "D1002 Western Explorer".
A good compilation of Deltic motive power: the trio on the Railway on 6 Oct., 2017, by "JS Rail Videos".

The Deltic Roar, by "Chatty1Chatty1".
Keith Harcourt at the Gala on 6 Oct., 2017.

Reindeer to Fly In to Horsted Keynes

The Railway will have a family of reindeer visiting this Christmas. Reindeer Specials depart on 21 Dec., 2017, from East Grinstead at 1:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.

On arrival at Horsted Keynes children can visit Father Christmas in his parlour and receive a gift. Adults receive a free mince pie and children will each receive a chocolate treat.

The reindeer family will be at the station with their sleigh and you will be at the station for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, which will allow plenty of time to enjoy the animals, visit Santa, play in the "Elf House", and more.

Plus, you can book your own private compartment on the train and seats are also available in the unique 1913 Observation Car which gives panoramic views of the beautiful Sussex countryside.

For more details and to book online, click here .

Is It Really There? "Lidar" & Visual Effects Filming at the Railway
A Lidar scanner being used on a carriage in Horsted Keynes down yard.

There is a lot of filming going on at the Railway, but we are not able to give you full details of what is happening until after the films are released because of commercial sensitivity. 

However, there are certain goings-on we can disclose that you might find interesting for a number of different reasons. For instance, it will be obvious to most cinema-goers that the days of shaky painted backdrops in studios are a thing of the past and have been replaced by computer-assisted, state-of-the-art visual effects that can blend acting on normal sets with background scenes that appear completely real, even though they aren't really there. 

For films generally--and for films featuring the interior of railway carriages in particular-- green screens have been used outside carriage windows for a long time. In fact an episode of Downton Abbey was filmed in a Pullman carriage at the Railway, but what you saw passing by in the window was filmed at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR), which more suited the fictional journey. The NYMR footage was substituted later, projected onto the green screen, but it must be difficult for actors to imagine what is outside without seeing what is actually seen there after editing.

"Chroma key" (green screen) technology works for one window at a time, but last year a new system was tried out and perfected with the help of the Bluebell Railway Film Department. This new technology allows for a view down the length of the carriage with a real time view showing at all the windows. This system is much more realistic, and it is about to appear on the silver screen very shortly. 

When films use mock ups of carriages in a studio, these shots have to be "blended" or rendered digitally with footage of the real carriage on the location shoot. It is obviously very important that you not see the join, so to speak, so the real carriages are scanned using the " Lidar process " that creates a completely accurate 3D digital model for the visual effects team to work with.

Lidar is exactly the same process that is used by model companies when they are developing the tooling for many of the highly accurate locos and coaches now on sale in the Bluebell Railway Shop. Because the process does away with the need to work from drawings, the models are an exact replica of the real thing, with the only argument likely to be the colour of the paint!

For a film job recently, three of our carriages were scanned, a process that involved setting up the scanner at five-metre intervals all the way around, with each scan taking about five minutes, roughly an hour for each carriage. The resulting data is then processed by very clever software to produce a 3D image that is accurate down to the nearest millimetre, with the only downside being that of making rivet counters redundant!

By Mike Hopps

Adds Tim Parkin: "I also scanned No. 847 on 1 Sept.,2017. It took all day and involved no less than 55 separate scans. Considerable more details were required here than with the rolling stock, hence the time and number of scans."
From the Archive
To accompany Tony Davis's article below, Tony Hillman has sourced photos by John J. Smith and Colin Hogg, who were both in South London and environs in September 1954 to film C class No. 31576 servicing the "Palace Centenarian" train.  
(Almost) Good as New

Andy Kelly's photo shows No. 73082 "Camelot" looking almost good as new after a "lot of recent cleaning and polishing".

Another One Comes Home

Writes Tony Hillman, "Another smokebox numberplate from a Bluebell Railway engine has returned to Sheffield Park and is on display in the Museum.

"'Stowe' has returned and has been added to the six we already have. We thank the family of Stuart Burrell for donating this lovely item to
the Museum."

Christmas Specials for Schools & Nurseries

This Christmas season, the Bluebell Railway is delighted to announce a very special service for younger visitors from local schools and nurseries.

On 4, 5, 11, and 12 Dec., 2017, travel through the beautiful Sussex countryside on a steam-hauled train from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead and back with a "very special visitor" on board! All adults can enjoy a complimentary mince pie and all the children will be given a satsuma and, of course, a present from Santa Claus.

Departure from Sheffield Park Station is at 12:15 p.m., and the journey will take around one and three quarter hours. There also will be a children's entertainer on board to keep the children amused. This special Christmas service is for schools and nurseries, but we also welcome bookings from child minders.

Ticket price is £10 for adults and all children aged 2 and older, to include the journey, visit from Santa, a mince pie for adults, and a satsuma for children. Booking is essential--contact 01825 720800 to reserve your seats.

Update on Sheffield Park Down Inner Home Signals Works

Many hands make light work. This photo shows the threading of the preformed handrail through the support eyelets keeping clear of the maze of scaffold tubes.
The final components were refitted to Sheffield Park's Down Inner Home signal on 18 Oct., 2017, allowing the contractor freedom to remove the scaffolding as soon as possible.

The work has taken longer than expected, but a small team has spent all its volunteer days full-time on the project, if not on site then refurbishing the components back at the depot. A number of enhancements have been included in the work. The original structure had a number of dangerous access features that we have designed out without any major changes to the overall appearance.

One of the improvements was to widen the platform and add additional handrails. Mike Hopps kindly assisted in designing, modifying, and building these features for us. We recently helped Mike fit these tubular handrails, which was an amazing exercise in threading the rails between scaffold poles and through the eyelets in the supporting posts, a three-dimensional puzzle.

The unpainted handrails in position and a view of the restored signalling infrastructure ready to be commissioned.
We also have improved the optics of the "oil" lamps. They were converted a number of years ago to low voltage battery fed incandescent lamps, but these still required regular replacements. Modern technology has allowed us to upgrade to LED bulbs, and a trial was held during the reconstruction period to confirm reliability. With the trial proving successful, the four arms have been fitted with the new system, and we will monitor their performance before installing Railway-wide.

The refurbished signals have been fully tested so that once the scaffold has been removed, we can bring the signals back into work in a very short time and the prefab temporary signals can be
removed and stood aside ready for recovery.

A view of the LED lamp seeming rather insignificant but sitting at the focal point of a large bulls eye lens.
That job will only leave the ladder and handrail to be painted, along with any touching up from bruising that will occur from the scaffold removal and replacement of the signal post telephone.

By Brian Hymas
All photos by Chris Majer.

Tickets for Santa Specials are now on sale online . This year we have far more of these seasonal trains starting from East Grinstead, and all visitors now have the opportunity to visit Santa's Reindeer   at Horsted Keynes station, as well as a new "Elf House" for our younger visitors.
A Memory of a Fawkham C Class

Reader A.G.S. (Tony) Davies dips back into his 1954 diary to re-capture this memory of C class shunting close to the end of steam operation/at the beginning of electrification in Kent ...

The idea for this short article stems from browsing my 1954 diary (yes!), created in my early working days when commuting to Victoria from Fawkham (now Longfield) in Kent.

Acknowledgments are due to Tony Hillman and Roger Merry-Price for their assistance with Stewarts Lane Duty Lists! My train was the 8:09 a.m., and every morning there was a C class sitting in the sidings, usually rather grubby and work-worn. The number was noted, and one morning early in September we had a "shining spotless" No. 31576. Aha, prior to the "Palace Centenarian," the special train to mark closure of Crystal Palace High Level .

But, we digress! On 10 April, 1954 I caught a later train, at 09:39 a.m. And, arriving early, a C class came up the line (or "down the hill") with a brake van. This was smartly shunted to the up line and then into the goods yard. Then our EMU (HAL stock of course) arrived. Apart from an entry in my diary, I thought no more, until discovering that same note in Year 2017. Think! Well up the hill from Fawkham were Longfield Hill sidings, in use by the then-Borough of Southwark as a refuse tip. But, those sidings were on the up side of the main line. Fawkham was on the down side; Meopham up side ...  MORE
Project 27 Update: A Trip to Tata Steel & Premier Patterns  
On 16 Oct., 2017, a small group of Fenchurch Fund and Project 27 volunteers went to see the progress on the frames and polystyrene patterns at Tata Steel. We arrived mid-morning and the first sheet of material was set up on the plasma cutting machine.  This was one of the thinner sheets of steel for items such as the valance ends and plates to go behind the buffer beam ... MORE
Website Gems: Dogfish Hopper Wagon DB993348

DB993348 is a 24-ton vacuum-braked Ballast Hopper Wagon to diagram 1/587, designed by British Railways and codenamed "Dogfish".

The wagon was designed specifically for the use of the Civil Engineering Departments to carry new track ballast from quarry to work site and to drop it at a controlled rate over track which was to be machine-packed or "tamped". It has three independently controlled chutes, one on each side and one in the centre. These are operated by large hand wheels mounted at one end of the hopper, a platform with guardrails being provided for the operator. All Dogfish wagons were built with vacuum brakes and carried the "DB" prefix to their numbers from new.

DB993348 is one of 161 vehicles built between March and November 1957 under lot 2823 by Metropolitan-Cammell Ltd. at their Saltley Works, near Birmingham. Initially it was allocated to the Western Region and was based at Cheddar, Somerset, for Batts Combe limestone quarry, limestone being one of the materials regularly used for track ballast. The SR mainly used granite from Meldon Quarry, Devon ... MORE
Some winter dates for your event diary. All event listings can be found here :
Photo Gallery  
No. 847 on 18 Oct., 2017, on an Autumn Tints service at West Hoathly ( photo thanks to Brian Lacey). Richard Salmon: "Although, as the very last S15 built as part of the final batch of the design, it always ran with smoke deflectors, earlier examples of the class ran without them at first. Having been removed for filming work last week, it's understood it may remain in this condition for a couple of months." 
John Sandys' Oct. 26 photo shows No. 323 pulling a 2:45 p.m. half-term train out of Sheffield Park.  

John Sandys (3 & 5 Oct., 2017): "A lovely autumn day with the Autumn Tints specials running and a lot of work going on in the workshops, with new springs and paintwork for the H class and work on Q class bearings. Also, preparations for the Deltic Weekend."

Keith Duke (9 Oct., 2017): "A hectic morning on Monday ended suddenly when the train I was cleaning was removed to Horsted Keynes. However, that gave me chance for a wander round with the camera. Some more shots of "Bluebell" and the S15, and a bit wildlife as well!"
John Sandys' set from 1 Oct., 2017, includes photos of Vintage Bus Day.

Peter Edwards' photo shows No. 65 approaching Town House Bridge with a Wedding Charter at around 1 p.m. on 31 Sept., 2017.

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


Join us for Track Trek 2017 on Saturday 18 November

With no trains running due to engineering works between Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park this year's Track Trek sponsored walk will again cover the entire line from East Grinstead to Sheffield Park, a distance of 11 miles.

The target for this year's Trek is to raise £15,000, which will buy a new 60 foot track panel.

Numbers are expected to be high so it is best to secure your place by completing  this entry/sponsorship form , or email .

The minimum sponsorship is £25 per person and £40 for a couple or family (two adults and three children aged between 7 and 16 years).

For more information about Track Trek 2017, how to take part and how to support the Trekkers, click here.
The Best of Bulleid 2017, by "VehicularBrit".

Due to the popularity of the Festive Feast event, the Railway has added a new date : 1 Dec., 2017.
Railway & Heritage News Briefs
Teesside train buff buys his own steam engine to use on North Yorkshire Moors Railway ...

Rio Tinto completes first fully autonomous rail journey in Western Australia ...

DfT approves £60m upgrade to Felixstowe branch line ...

Hornby has released two new locomotives to its range of model trains, the locomotives are Class 71 ...

Crowds gathered on platforms at Worthing railway stations today to watch a 90-year-old steam train pass through ...

A train driver has retired from duties at the Gloucestshire Warwickshire Railway after 80 years as a railwayman ...

Channel 4 has announced they have commissioned a new railway series which will be presented by train enthusiast Peter Snow ...

Fascinating photos reveal the very plush interiors of the UK's most exclusive train through the ages ... 

Hitachi unveils first UK-built trains at Co Durham factory ... 

Enjoy a traditional Sunday carvery in our relaxing friendly restaurant. Choose from a selection of locally sourced meats with all the trimmings.

The Bluebell Carvery is in the Birch Grove Suite at Sheffield Park station on the first floor (unfortunately there is no wheelchair access.)

Special discounted train travel with our Bluebell Bonus tickets plus a one or two course meal is available. Booking is essential with a £5 per person deposit. 
Your Painting: Cleaning Yard

Full Title: St Pancras Cleaning Yard
Artist: Cliff Rowe
Date: 1956
Medium: Mixed media on board
Size: 61.2 x 79.3 cm
Collection: National Railway Museum
Acquisition: Gift

Started your Christmas shopping yet? Don't forget that Railway gift vouchers are available for most services. They make ideal stocking stuffers for your Railway-loving friends and relations!  
The Railway on 21 Oct., 2017, by Ben Jenden.

From the Glossary of Railway Terms ...

Monobloc Wheel --A railway wheel cast in a single bloom and machined to the required profile. Unlike the traditional spoked wheel, the tyre is integral with the wheel and cannot be separately changed.

Planning a wedding for next spring or summer?

A wedding at the Bluebell Railway can give you and your guests a unique day to truly remember, including a private train with your own loco plate. Consult with our Wedding Advisor today !

From the BFI Archive: Along the Line (1947)

Jobs galore on the railways! The engine driver may be every school boy's hero, but as this railways recruitment film makes clear, the job of station master, signalman, parcel porter, or shunter is just as important.

Made at a time when the rail industry was modernising--with electrification and mechanisation replacing steam power and manual labour--the film seeks to reassure potential recruits with the promise of a secure "job for life".

NOTICE: The only public timetabled services before the Santa Specials season will be on the 4 & 5 and 25 & 26 Nov., 2017 ( Service One ).
No. 46100 "Royal Scot" hauls "The Bognor Belle" on Oct 21, 2017, by "Bluebell Railway Hawks".

From the Archive: V Class at Bricklayers

V Class No. 916 at Bricklayers Arms c. 1936.

Martin Lawrence's photo shows Find Out More Day participants learning about station duties on 8 Oct., 2017.

Want to be a Bluebell Railway vounteer? The next Find Out More Day is on 12 Nov.

Congratulations to Richard Salmon and the Bluebell Railway blog . As of this week, it has been continuously published for 20 years, making it practically a World Wide Web pioneer!

Re-live the 1997-1998 Bluebell Railway at this archive page .




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