A Midsummer Night's Steam: Track Trek 2018

The sixth annual Track Trek event took place on 30 June, 2018, and this year involved a mid-summer's evening walk between Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park covering five miles.

This year we offered the walkers a new section of track to walk along that has never been trekked before; namely, the Up Yard sidings at Horsted Keynes station. This route gave the walkers an opportunity to view at close quarters some of the Railway's historic steam locomotives, including London and South Western Railway B4 class No. 96 "Normandy," South Eastern & Chatham Railway class No. 592, and British Railway 9F No. 92240.

After the cold and wet weather during the past two Track Treks, the change to a mid-summer's evening proved a good decision, with a temperature of 24°C and bright sunshine and not a cloud in the sky.

With the Railway operating a passenger train service in the daytime, the Trek had to take place after the last train reached Sheffield Park. Just after 6:10 p.m. the 111 walkers, led by Bluebell Railway PLC Chairman Dick Fearn and Bluebell Railway Preservation Society Vice Chairman Steve Bigg, together with East Grinstead Town Mayor Cllr. Rex Whittaker, set off from Horsted Keynes station.

Feedback from the walkers was very positive, with a number saying that this was the first ever Track Trek they had done. Through the generosity of sponsors, the total money raised after expenses (so far) stands at a little more than £5,000, which will go to the Railway's Tr(ack) Action Appeal that is being used to support the cost of re-laying sections of the track between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes.

The event was again managed by volunteer James Young, who expressed his sincere thanks to all of those who chose to not only spend their Saturday evening at the Railway but also help with the funding of the Railway's track renewal programme.

Yet again the success of the event was in no small part due to the army of volunteers who helped James with setting up and managing the event. This year the event convened a volunteer team of 31 members from across a wide variety of the Railway's departments. Thank you all. 

No. 5768: Upholstery Update & More

John Fry reports that, "Progress continues with coach No. 5768 with much of the interior completed. Photographs provided by Richard Green show examples of the completed first and third class compartments. The exterior painting also progresses, and with the bogie overhaul now well underway, perhaps it is time to book a place in the undercover storage at Sheffield Park for the return to traffic!"

Buy your tickets online for the Giants of Steam Autumn Gala, 12-14 Oct., 2018. Confirmed visitors are No. 60009 "Union of South Africa" and B1 "Mayflower." Up to five locos will be steaming each day, plus brake van rides, a Harveys Brewery Beer Tent at Horsted Keynes station, and more. Purchase tickets in advance and save money .
OP4 Update: Rolling Along

The reconstruction and stabilisation of the embankment east of the carriage shed into so-called "Dingley Dell" is now complete, bar a little bit of tidying up, and filling and re-grading of the top few inches, which will use excavated material from the Skill Centre footings.

The first photo (starting top left and going clockwise) shows the area immediately south of the carriage shed levelled and compacted ready for track laying into the eastern two roads, H and J.

The second photo shows the view from the south, and the third shows the east side of the carriage shed with the pile tops partly exposed. The "dimples" in the soil in the foreground are made by the heavy "sheep's foot" roller used to compact the soil.

By Barry Luck, OP4 Project Manager

Footplate Tasters Back for 2019

Following the success of the Railway's Footplate Tasters in 2018 (now all sold out), new dates for 2019 have been announced.

During January and February 2019, these popular footplate experiences will be held at either Sheffield Park or Horsted Keynes stations, and you will enjoy a turn on the footplate of "Bluebell" (or another loco should No. 323 not be available).

The £160 per person package includes:
  • An individual, one-hour, "hands on" footplate taster with one of our experienced drivers.
  • Either a full English breakfast or a lunch in the Bessemer Arms or George V Buffet (depending on an a.m. or p.m. footplate session).
  • A discount voucher for a Family Ticket to visit the Railway on a date of your choice in 2019 (on normal operating days).
  • A gift pack from the Bluebell Shop.
  • A year's membership of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society.
  • A certificate on completion.
Click here for all details and to book .

If you live in a community close to the Railway, would you be willing to display boards advertising the Steam Through the Ages event in front of your home? These boards--similar in size to estate agent boards--ideally will be displayed from 12 July, 2018, till the event date of 11-12 August. If you can help, please contact or phone 01825 720800. For window display, download the flyer here .

Thank you for helping the Railway!
Bulleid Society Loco Update: No. 34059's Boiler Nearly Complete

Progress with the boiler overhaul of No. 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair" is now nearing completion. The back head has been pressed and awaits final welding and then the marking out and drilling of stay holes. As can be seen from the photograph, the new outer wrapper on the fireman's side has been marked out and stay holes drilled.

It is hoped that progress on the remaining welding, marking, and drilling for the stays will be completed in the next few weeks with a return to the Bluebell Railway eagerly awaited.

On 23 Oct., 2013, the boiler departed for Crewe where some work was undertaken, before a move to South Devon Railway in 2016, where the decision was made to replace the inner firebox and outer wrapper rather than undertake remedial repairs to the boiler plate.

South Devon Railway (Engineering) completed the first new inner firebox for No. 34027 "Taw Valley" in 2012 and that for No. 34059 will be the first of the current production, with four more new inner fireboxes awaiting construction for nos. 21C123, 34039, 34046, and 34101.

Hopefully, the sights and sounds--such as that pictured below, of No. 34059 at Horsted Keynes in April 2011 hauling Bulleid coaches--will be returning to the Railway in the foreseeable future!

By John Fry

Camelot Locomotive Society Update: Piston Heads

No. 73082 "Camelot" is presently stored in the carriage shed at Sheffield Park following the Model Railway Weekend, but it will be moved into the workshop in the next week or two.

This move will enable the valves to be removed to check that they were not damaged by the piston head failure back in April. At the same time some other maintenance jobs will be done, including replacing a cracked cab side window and two small sections of the grate assembly.

The new piston head castings have been received and are being machined: one is almost finished and the other is being worked on at present. The photo, courtesy of Peter Gibbs, shows one of the new piston heads bolted onto the machine table.

We are still waiting for the replacement cylinder covers as these are being cast and machined off site but the intention is to get Camelot back into service as soon as possible ...

Follow progress on the Society's Facebook page .

Project 27 Update: "I found something out at the weekend!"

Whilst discussing the machining of the holes on the frames at the weekend with Matt, I learned something about the way the holes are being machined. I understood that the holes were being machined with cutters and not drills in the normal sense, but hadn't quite appreciated the subtleties of the process.

The point seen on the tool [pictured below left] is on a moveable spring loaded centre, this locates in the centre punched mark and ensures a true location for the hole (so the triple checking of the hole positions pays off!) As the cutter produces the hole, a pellet is formed which is connected to the frame plate until the cutter breaks through.

The use of this type of cutter ensures the quality and verticality of the hole. It is not unknown for a "conventional" twist drill to wander off centre or produce an oval hole, both of which would prove disastrous to the quality of the frames. When the holes have been machined, and we are ready to start the erection of the frames, the holes will be reamed to final size and the fitted bolts or rivets will be inserted.

A small group of volunteers will shortly be spending a week cleaning and applying protective paint to the cab structure [pictured below right], currently stored on the top of one of the containers at Sheffield Park. This is to arrest any further deterioration and will help in the restoration at a later date.

The work to be carried out on the cab will be purely protective but will allow us to make important decisions when it comes to the final restoration of it. As the work is done, notes and pictures will be taken to assist Matt and the team later. ...

Follow the progress at the Project 27 blog .

Some exciting summer and autumn events for your calendar:
No, Not That "Mallard"

A group of actual mallards have taken possession of Sheffield Park's platforms this year. Pauline Lacey's photo shows them, and some of our visitors, relaxing there on 18 June, 2018.


The annual Freshfields Test Match--a fundraiser between the Bluebell Railway XI and Scaynes Hill Cricket Club--will take place on 5 Aug., 2018, starting at 1 pm.

The Railway's cricket team will once again be captained by Loco Superintendent Stuart Marks, with the team made up by staff, volunteers, members, and other friends. We encourage our readers to turn out to cheer the team on for what will be another well-contested match against our neighbors in a bucolic setting, with steam trains a-plenty.

The Google Map for the Scaynes Hill CC 3rd XI Cricket Ground (aka Freshfields) can be seen here

Website Gems: 13-Ton Steel Mineral Wagon

PBA59685 is one of less-than-a-handful in preservation. It is a 13-ton capacity steel mineral wagon built by the Cambrian Wagon Works Limited, probably in 1943 at their works in Cardiff.

These were built for private owner customers. This design was significant, even though comparatively few were produced, as a step in the progress towards the eventual "standard" 16-ton steel mineral wagon ... MORE

From the Archive
Tony Hillman: "Six images from the Meon Valley line from Alton to Fareham from the
John J. Smith and Colin Hogg collections."

No. 30308 with the 7:38 a.m. Alton-to-Fareham train, taken at Droxford on Easter Monday (19 April, 1954).
Photo Gallery  
Lovely photo from what John Watts notes was a lovely day out at the Railway on 24 June, 2018.

John Sandys (3 July, 2018): " An almost tropical hot day saw the S15 doing stirling service hauling a very busy Service One train; plus, good progress on the ASH Project."
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 

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Editor-in-Chief, eNewsletter
Bluebell Railway


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Brian Seaman: Model Railway Weekend at the Bluebell Railway, 24 June, 2018, on a hot and sunny day.

From the Huntley Film Archive: Bradford in the 1890s

Very early films are a specialty of this fascinating archive. In this short clip, we are invited to a scene outside Bradford Town Hall sometime in the 1890s. Possibly a festive day, we see a brass band, plenty of people, and horses and carts. Then at about :20 seconds, the fleeting glimpse of a double decker steam tram.

From the Glossary

Coupling between vehicles provided for normally fixed formation train sets like multiple unit, consisting of a bar linked to the adjacent car underframes by pins. This form of coupling is usually only disconnected in a workshop.

Rail Ale events continue through summer and fall. Enjoy a steam-hauled train ride, evening supper, and live jazz at Horsted Keynes, plus everyone's first pint will be free!

A choice of real ales are available at Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, and on board the train.

For full details, dates, and booking, click here .
Your Painting: High Speed Trains

FULL TITLE: High Speed Trains
ARTIST: Richard Hollis
COLLECTION: Royal Free Hospital
DATE: 1987
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas
SIZE: 39 x 48 cm

Looking for a Relaxing Way to Spend a Sunday?

Enjoy a traditional Sunday carvery in our relaxing friendly restaurant. The Bluebell Carvery is served in the Birch Grove Suite at Sheffield Park station. It offers a choice of one or two course carvery meals; choose from a selection of delicious locally sourced meats with all the trimmings.

Booking is essential with a £5 per person deposit. You can book a table between noon and 2:30 p.m. by contacting our Customer Service Team at 01825 720800 or call into the Travel Centre at East Grinstead Station or the Sales and Information Office at Sheffield Park.

The Sunday Carvery is available every Sunday except during some Special Events or if booked for private hire. Call ahead!

Prices and mouth-watering photos at this link .

It's coming to the Bluebell Railway ...

Entry forms for the 2018-2019 Football Competitions (Premier League and FA Cup), raising funds for the forthcoming overhaul of our Southern Railway Maunsell Dining Saloon No. 7864, are now available.

Both games are simple to enter and require no knowledge of either football or railways. In the 22 years the competitions have been running, they have raised more than £9,100 for various projects around the railway.

Stuart Cragg: Model railway Weekend 2018

Have you ever wondered how to become a Bluebell Railway volunteer, what it entails, and whom to contact?

No matter whether you are male or female, skilled or with no previous experience, can offer a day a month or more, why not find out what volunteering in the various different departments on the Railway entails.

" Find Out More Days " take place on the second Sunday of every month from February until November. The meeting time is 10:30 a.m. at Sheffield Park Station, and the day should end around 4:30 p.m.

Upcoming dates:
  • 12 August
  • 9 September
  • 14 October
  • 11 November
For more information, email , or call 01825 720800.
From the RR Pictures Archive: Train for Life

During September 1999 a train ran across Europe hauled by three ex-BR (now DRS) Class 20 locomotives taking aid to Kosovo. The Class 20s are seen here in Decin Yard in the Czech Republic. By Charles Woodland.


@glenthompsett Jul 5
Great to be reading the news for the delightful Nicholas Owen on @ClassicFM today. Much talk about @bluebellrailway

@UKinbound 3 July
A warm welcome to new member @bluebellrailway in Sussex, which offers a journey back to the Golden Age of Steam with a large fleet of steam locomotives & carriages, some dating back to the Victorian era!

@TBB_SouthEast Jun 27
@bluebellrailway are fixing things up here at the #BigBangFairSE

@OlympusUK Jun 24
All aboard! Join us on July 31 at the world-famous @bluebellrailway for an afternoon of photographic inspiration! You don't have to be an Olympus owner to join us - but with only 20 spots available, you'll need to get your name down fast ... ...

@suspol_heritage Jun 23
I had a superb day at @bluebellrailway yesterday with @shorehamfort so much to see and do, fantastic work going on, thankyou.





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