Loco Update: Progress On- and Offsite

Summer arrived early (well, we had three nice days in April) then winter returned, and finally summer arrived again in May, with a glorious bank holiday weekend!

But despite the beautiful weather, I still had to scrape the ice of the car early one morning! It has been quite a few months now since I wrote an article for the eNewsletter so here's a roundup of what's been happening.

The Loco Works have been busy with both overhauls and maintenance work, and in particular maintenance to the running fleet. S15 suffered an issue with the brake ejector exhaust pipe back in April causing water to be exhausted from the ejector. After removing the exhaust pipe, which runs internally through the boiler of the loco, both ends of the pipe have been re-brazed and the pipe hydraulically tested.

The pipe is now re-fitted to the loco, which was an arduous and time consuming task as we need to thread the pipe through the crown stays of the boiler. As I write the final fittings and preparations are taking place for the boilers hydraulic test.

Unfortunately, our most reliable locomotive--No. 73082 "Camelot"--failed in mid-April while working the service train. After the loco arrived back at Sheffield Park and the cylinder covers were removed, it became clear something had happened to cause the piston heads and cylinder covers to crack. The exact cause is unknown, but new piston heads and cylinder cover castings have been ordered and these should be with us in a few weeks' time.

A significant amount of machining is then required for the cylinder relief valves, for stud holes, and to get a tight fit to the cylinder block. With both these locos out of traffic, the Q class has borne the brunt of the heavier trains, and she will be back in service after her boiler washout. All other trains have been hauled by either the O1, the H class, or No. 323 "Bluebell".

Offsite final welding to the inner firebox of "Stowe" is underway, and once complete the inner firebox will be riveted up and returned to Sheffield Park. No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair's" inner firebox is complete and has been trial-fitted to the boiler and removed again while the final adjustments take place to the throat plate. Once all the dimensions--such as tube plate to tube plate length, water leg widths, and firebox position--have been checked, the inner firebox will be lowered back into position for final welding.

Onsite work is progressing very well with the boiler of No. 80151. The repetitive task of drilling, reaming, taping, and fitting the boiler stays is now on-going, with the throat plate area complete and right hand side 70% complete. Work has now started on the left hand side, and once 70% complete then attention will turn to the backhead.

The chassis is now 95% complete, with the slide bars, crossheads, pistons, and piston valves installed, including both the front and back cylinders covers bolted into place. The rods and remaining valve gear will be installed, then the chassis can be pushed outside to await the boiler.

No. 928 "Stowe's" frames and wheels are progressing well. The overhaul of the front bogie is complete, the driving wheels are undergoing prep and painting, and the frames are being cleaned, prepped, and painted on both the inside and outside. Inside the machine shop, the axleboxes are being machined. Once complete, they will be trial fitted to the driving wheels ready for scraping. Our plan is to re-wheel the loco in the next two to three months.

In the loco yard, improvements have been made to the area where the Class 2 No. 84030 is being constructed, with levelling and concreting of the area and construction of a canopy. This improvement will allow the wheels, pony truck frames, and axleboxes to be fitted ready for the frames to be lowered onto the wheels.

With the Railway now into the daily running season, and a number of special events coming up, I hope you can make time to visit, travel on a train, and see the progress being made across the whole railway.

By Chris Hunford, Locomotive Director

Update from Shed 75H: How the Trains Run

To purchase your Shed Plate Badge for Project 27, contact Clive Emsley at .

Sheffield Park loco yard is a proper Locomotive Shed, and for many years we have fancifully thought of it as part of the old Brighton Locomotive District. For a long time, the loco works door bore a painted replica of a shed plate for the mythical 75H Shed. So, when Clive Emsley came up with the idea of a lapel badge, as shown here, to help raise money for Project 27, he was backing a winner. Hurry and buy yours while stocks last!

But while you reach for your wallets, Mr. Editor has asked me to see if I can pen a few periodic words to update gentle readers on the work of "75H". So here is the first bite sized chunk ...

The work entails, as it did in any shed, providing crews to run the train service and carrying out back office functions that ensure engines are presented to the Traffic Department ready to go and on time. Running a two-train service, with its usual additional "Wealden Ramblers" and "Pullmans" on a typical weekend, requires the department to provide five drivers for three engines on five diagrams; firemen the same, along with cleaners to assist in preparation and disposal and get "on the job" training (we call them "third men").

The work doesn't end there because we also have to roster a spare crew to work as required, provide relief for personal needs (especially that all-important breakfast, available in the Bessemer Arms at very reasonable prices), and assist generally. But mainly they are there to cover for any "no shows" for whatever reason, or in the event of some unforeseen need.

Besides these considerations, we also try to roster two or three additional cleaning staff to do what it says on the tin and get engines off shed in the kind of state that makes us proud--with sparkling clean paintwork and polished bright metal.

This latter task has become more difficult as we have to keep everything in the open and exposed to the sun, which ruins paintwork over time, and rain, which tarnishes brass and rusts steel. We have been doing quite well lately, but every time an engine comes back from wash-out or a period out-of-use and in the weather, it is a task to get it back up.

Those cleaning and spare staff don't all retire to the Mess Room once the engines are off-shed, because next is the task of emptying pits of ash, breaking up wood for lighting up, tidying the yard, and doing anything else that needs to be done. We also provide additional staff to help the works staff with maintenance tasks, especially washing out boilers and tube cleaning.

The work of all these staff is coordinated by a Running Foreman. On a Saturday, we need two of them on a split day. It's a long day from first thing in the morning to seeing the "Golden Arrow" engine out and the "A" engine back again. So, to make a weekend two-train service happen, we need to field about 20 staff each day.

Then there is the work of the midweek railway. Although it's a (mostly) one-train service, midweek still requires three footplate staff daily to discharge the work comfortably. These crew must prepare their engine, which includes keeping the tide of dirt and grease at bay, as well as discharge any ad hoc shunting which may arise, empty the ash pit behind them, and leave the yard in a reasonably tidy condition.

Three hours is allotted to do all this, so it's a 7 a.m. start in summer (and 6 a.m. in winter). Given the last train gets back at 5:25 p.m., this is a long day for a crew, which is why we build in a longer break between trains. Not to do so would breach our rules on the management of fatigue and thus require an additional crew.

So, to run a train service through the year we need to fill something like 3,000 days of volunteer effort to provide the locos that make the service happen. And by and large we manage it. Now that sounds like a proper loco shed, doesn't it?! Next time, a glimpse of what it means when we say "Preparation and Disposal".

By Russell Pearce, Driver

Trainee Fireman Katy Brown fires "Blackmore Vale" in 2002.

Important Notice About "Tornado"

Unfortunately, No. 60163 "Tornado" will not be able to visit us in August as we had hoped. All customers with bookings for the original visit dates in May, and any who transferred to the proposed alternative dates in August, will be contacted by our Customer Service Team as soon as possible.

Paddington Bear will still be visiting on 28 and 29 May and our Teddy Bears' picnics will still be running on those days, with our own locos heading the trains.

We do still have some availability on the Teddy Bears' picnic trains, and also on other trains running on the through 29 May. Call our Customer Service Team at 01825 720800 for details.

Hail Fellow, Well Met

Reuben Smith's photo shows No. 323 hauling two Metropolitan coaches during a test run on 15 May, 2018. 

The Metropolitan carriages return to service after a period of maintenance, which has seen split panels on the brake coach removed and repaired, work on the electrical systems, renewal of worn components in the door locks, and considerable work on brake cylinders which had recently been causing some concern.

These two carriages, dating from 1898 and 1900, originally returned to service after major overhaul 19 years ago. The third and fourth of these carriages (the composites) will now be attended to, to return the set to its former strength.

Progress on BY404: The Generator Van for Filming

It has been some time since we have been able to work on the Parcel Van BY404. Last year after a lot of repair work to holes in the roof, we were able to get two coats of paint applied, and this has allowed the inside to dry out really well.

However, despite easing all the doors, burning off the paint, and sanding down the panels on the east side, we made no further progress because of the weather. There was also a problem with access to the van when my pals in the Infrastructure Team decided to tear up and relocate the engineers siding in the Salt Yard as part of the OP4 access improvements! This work also meant that we had to remove and store the scaffolding.

With no further progress possible in the Salt Yard, we have now shunted the van to a position behind the signal box at Horsted Keynes where there is room for the scaffolding, and where, hopefully, we will be able to get on with a bit more work. In replacing one of the side panels, we discovered a problem where the floor had buckled, and it revealed a bit of rot in the side frame. This area has now been exposed, and steel reinforcing will be fitted before the floor is attended to and the panel is replaced.

New galvanised steel panels for the guards doors are being made off site, as well as wooden backing panels for the new destination boards. New hardwood corner mouldings that protect the ingress of water to the side panels also have been machined and will be fitted before painting. Ongoing work to the exterior (as seen in the photo) concentrates on burning off the original paint, filling cracks and holes, then sanding prior to applying a paint finish.

It is difficult to set up particular working days because of individual personal commitments, and we are also rather weather-dependent when it comes to getting anything done to the exterior. But if you would like to help with the project, please get in touch. For those already involved and anyone else interested, I will be setting out a schedule of things which need doing, now that we have started work again.

For those who are unfamiliar with this project and have only recently started reading the eNewsletter, I have saved the previous reports to this pdf file . For more information and offers of help with the project, please email .

By Mike Hopps

Little Wonders: Branch Line Weekend Review


A large gallery of photos by " Rail Focus ".

Derek Hayward's gallery from the Gala.

If only Ant Harrison had mentioned at which station this photo was taken.

No. 813 with the first-of-the-day on 18 May, 2018, near Tremaynes ( by Julian Clark ).

Dan Green's photos from 19-20 May, 2018 .

Tom James' gallery from 19-21  
May, 2018 .


By David Wadley.
By "kinetic.rail".

By "Mac Lifter".

By Nick Dearden, taken with his new camera!

There will be a few changes to the annual sponsored Track Trek at the Bluebell Railway this year.

The event has been moved from November to mid-summer, and it will now be held on the evening of 30 June, 2018. Organisers are hoping that this will bring brighter, warmer, and drier weather. Also, instead of the whole line, the walk this year will start at Horsted Keynes at 6 p.m. and cover the five miles to Sheffield Park. Arrangements are being made for free transport of all walkers, by train, back to their original arrival point at the Railway.

Money raised will go towards track replacement work on the Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes section. More details here .

GDPR & the Bluebell Railway

With the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force across Europe and the UK, many businesses, charities, and other organisations have been busily contacting their customers or members with updated privacy policies and associated procedures.

So how has GDPR affected the Railway?

Back in January a steering group was formed to help guide the Railway for the new data protection needs. The Preservation Society, Bluebell Railway PLC, and the Bluebell Railway Trust are represented, working to a "One Railway" solution and determined to ensure that all personal information is protected and used only as intended. One key factor is that the Railway will never sell or provide personal details to outside organisations for their own use. Nor will we use your details to bombard you with unrelated advertising.

It quickly became apparent that the Railway has more than 80 databases of personal data, from the main membership register to customer contact lists, volunteer and friends groups, operational rosters, and other associated preservation groups, as well as the distribution list for this eNewsletter. The steering group is working to meet with each and all groups to review their data processes and security. This marathon is now 75% complete, and still progressing actively.

Meanwhile a new Privacy Policy has been written and is now publicly available on the Railway's websites and via the eNewsletter (see top of the left hand column). This policy may be updated from time-to-time.

A key question is, "Do we need to obtain fresh 'opt-in' consent from everyone who is already on one or more databases before the GDPR start date of 25 May, 2018?" After careful assessment, using GDPR guidelines, we have established that it is not necessary to trouble everyone to provide new consent, but that the personal details are held on the legal basis of "Legitimate Interest". Naturally everyone has the right to opt-out (as you do from the eNewsletter mailing list), and we will respect that choice, but in practical terms a person could not become an anonymous member of an organisation or work roster.

Looking ahead, new online customers and new society members and other appropriate groups will be asked to "opt-in" to enable us to hold their data. So if your name is on one or more of our databases, you can be assured that your personal information will be:
  • Used lawfully, fairly, and transparently.
  • Collected for specific and limited purposes only.
  • Adequate, relevant, and minimised to what is necessary.
  • Held for no longer than is necessary.
  • Held in a secure and confidential manner.
By Lance Allen

The CCT Starts to Go Back Together

Work on the Camelot Society's CCT continues apace. The entire frame has had three coats of undercoat and is now well on it's way to receiving the first top coat of crimson red thanks to the mid week gang.

The roof has now been sanded down with the belt sander and is now ready for canvassing. The new canvas is on order (and it may have been received by the time you are reading this eNewsletter).
Chris Broadbridge has nearly completed the second set of side doors (only two more pairs to go, and we'll have a complete set of side and end doors).

However, the roof needs canvassing before we can fit the side doors because the canvas is fitted above the top of the door with a metal strip, and this needs to be in place before we can get the exact vertical alignment of the door correct.

Although the end doors are ready for fitting, we may also delay this job to allow more light inside the van when we are replacing the floor and sides.
Thanks to Matt from the permanent staff, the testing of the draw gear was done very promptly, so the draw gear has now been reassembled, and the centre gutter for the floor is back in place.

The opportunity was taken to remove and repair the sills below the drop down end flaps (which had been trapped by the centre gutter) and these are also now back in place along with the drop down flaps at both ends.
Both the south end buffers have been removed, the wooden packing pieces replaced, and the buffers cleaned up and re-fitted. All the buffers have now been removed and re-fitted.
As can be seen in the above photo, much is starting to go back on the van--always a satisfying part of any restoration project.
By David Rhydderch

Some exciting summer events for your calendar:

NOTE: TrackFest (16 June) has been cancelled. All events listed here

Go "Behind the Scenes" at Horsted Keynes
As part of the Railway's ongoing plans to develop the visitor attractions at Horsted Keynes, the Carriage & Wagon Department will be running Behind the Scenes tours of the carriage works every Saturday at 2 p.m. starting on 26 May, 2018, and running until the end of September (except on Model Railway Weekend, 23 June).  

This is an opportunity to see ongoing restoration work to our historic collection of carriages and wagons in areas that are not normally open to the public.

This is also an opportunity for visitors who wouldn't normally get off at Horsted Keynes to make their acquaintance (or re-acquaintance) with what is probably the largest station on a Heritage Railway in the British Isles. The opportunity fits in well with the strategy of offering much more than just a train ride and ensuring that visitors can make a whole day (or more) of it at the Railway.

The tour is timed so that visitors can eat lunch at Sheffield Park or East Grinstead and then hop on the 1:30 p.m. from Sheffield Park or the 1:15 p.m. from East Grinstead to Horsted Keynes to see what's going on in the workshops.

The tours are free, although donations towards the Maunsell Restaurant Car are always very welcome! We look forward to seeing you in the C&W works!
From the Archive

Tony Hillman: "The theme this time is Whit Monday. Whit Sunday was the seventh Sunday after Easter, with Whit Monday being the following day, which therefore moved around from the end of May to beginning of June. From 1972 this bank holiday changed to always being the last Monday in May, called Spring Bank Holiday. These six John J. Smith pictures were taken on Whit Monday from six different years."

Tony's theme puts us in mind of a great poem by Philip Larkin, recalling a tradition of this holiday and a train journey, "The Whitsun Weddings":

That Whitsun, I was late getting away: 
    Not till about 
One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday 
Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out, 
All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense    
Of being in a hurry gone. We ran 
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street 
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence    
The river's level drifting breadth began, 
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet ...
Better Know a Heritage Railway: Kamloops

The Kamloops Heritage Railway is a steam railway in Kamloops, British Columbia (between Vancouver and Calgary) in the west of Canada. The railway operates throughout the year running trains pulled by restored steam loco Canadian National Railway No. 2141 "The Spirit of Kamloops".

No. 2141 is one of a group of 25 engines (numbers 2130 to 2154) built by the Canadian Locomotive Company in Kingston, Ontario, for the Canadian Northern Railway. Her classification is "Light Consolidation" because of her 2-8-0 wheel configuration.

In 1994, the 2141 Steam Locomotive Restoration Society was formed to restore and operate the engine on behalf of the city of Kamloops. The engine and tender are owned by the city and the citizens of Kamloops.

The rolling stock is owned or leased by the KHR. The stock includes open air cars, a café lounge car, and No. 403 "Riverside Park" an ex-CN/VIA passenger coach.

Learn more here .

Photo Gallery  

The Q class crossing the River Ouse bridge with Bulleid carriages are seen in Derek Hayward's photo of 18 May, 2018.

No. 30541 standing at Horsted Keynes as the Fireman looks down the platform, taken on 21 May, 2018, by SJMC Photography .

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 

John Walls
Editor-in-Chief, eNewsletter
Bluebell Railway


If you wish to safely unsubscribe to this eNewsletter, please click on the link in the email's footer. 

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Special Visitors

Brian Lacey's photo shows GWR Saddle Tank No. 813 hauling a packed special train on 18 May, 2018. The train was run in memory of Dave Phillips . The train included representatives from our twin line-- Museumstoomtram Hoorn-Medemblik --so the train carries both British and Dutch flags. 

STOP PRESS: The visit of GWR Saddle Tank No. 813 has been extended, and it will be running until 29 May, 2018. 

The Railway is very grateful to the Severn Valley Railway and the GWR 813 Preservation Fund for this last-minute arrangement.

Branching Out With STEM

The Railway attended "STEM in the Park" in Crawley on 12 May, 2018.

Bluebell Railway Volunteer Guides brought a taste of our Locomotive Works to celebration. Families learned about the role of a cleaner and investigated using mechanical advantage to lift heavy engine components.

The Railway saw a steady stream of visitors, especially those who could not resist the lure of big spanners!

From the Glossary


A system for feeding coal into the firebox, removing the need for it to be done manually by the fireman. It was generally accepted that a grate area over 50 sq. ft. required mechanical firing as it was too large to be manually supplied.  Mechanical stokers appeared in the US from 1905.

Most systems were steam powered and were controlled from the cab.  Some consisted of a chain belt and some operated with a steam jet.  The most successful was the Archemedian screw type which appeared from about 1918.  In all cases, the coal had to be broken into small sizes to enable it to be used.  In the UK, mechanical firing was not tried until after World War II and then only a few locomotives were fitted.

Check out the Railway Museum's listing at .  
Your Painting: Trains of Our Times

* Title: Trains of Our Times (poster)
* Artist: Vic Welch
* Date: 1949
* Medium: Oil on canvas
* Size: 81.8 x 119 cm
* Collection: National Railway Museum

A special Father's Day offer: on 17 June, it's Father's for a Fiver. Learn more
In the News ... 

From the Huntley Film Archive: Metropolitan Steam

Steam locomotive L95 (ex-GWR Pannier class) shunting wagons. Neasden steam locomotive L52 (tank engine) shunting. L44 tank engine, possible Metropolitan engine L1 now 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 locomotive), uncoupled. Pulls away. Electric locomotive No. 8 "Sherlock Holmes" takes over train. Leaves for Baker Street.

The Camelot Locomotive Society has published the Spring 2018 issue of Footplate , the award-winning magazine with a low subscription rate that helps support the loco.  
Brooksbank: Hither Green Diesel

View NE in the Locomotive Yard. No. 15202 was one of three pioneer 0-6-0 diesel-electrics built to Bulleid/English Electric design for the Southern Railway in 1937. The type was in use quite extensively on the LMSR, with also a few each on the LNER and GWR before and after the war: another 25 were built by the SR in 1949-1952. They were the precursors of the 1,200 Class 08 built for BR up until 1962. By Ben Brooksbank (12 March, 1960).

The Railway is now a Blue Peter Badge Attraction Blue Peter badge holders are eligible for free one day unlimited travel.




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