The Education Department's Half-Year Report

As has been well-publicised in both the national and local press, schools are facing serious and increasingly difficult financial pressures, and this was highlighted in an email to the Railway from one Kent School.

After an initial enquiry and an apparently enthusiastic booking, the teacher responsible wrote to say that the Head had asked her to work on reducing the cost of the visit. The real culprit was not the Railway's fare of £9.50 a head (with five free adult places) but the cost of transport to and from the Railway. Adding on the charge for coach hire, the cost per child doubled to more than £20 a head. Unfortunately, the school cancelled the booking. Despite this set-back, after a lot of hard work liaising with schools, the number of visits arranged to the end of July will be only just short of last year's figure.

Given that schoolchildren represent our future customers--both short term, in their ability to persuade parents to visit, and long term as our future adult passenger base--the Railway must continue to provide not only value for money for the schools but also a memorable experience for the children.

In that context, a very welcome email was received following a recent visit:

"I would just like to say what an amazing evacuation trip we had on Monday. In my 22 years of teaching, I think that it was my best ever. The gentlemen who led us throughout the day were knowledgable, friendly, and made the day really special. The role play ensured that the children really had the feel of the experiences the children in 1940 went through."

The teacher went on to say that the children were writing recounts of their day, and we'll arrange for some of these to be published in due course.

The arrival of Ruth Rowatt as the full time Education Manager has provided a significant impetus in terms of improving the school experience. Building upon the popular elements of the earlier evacuation exercise, she has introduced--as only a schoolteacher can--a series of teaching exercises, including writing postcards with old fashioned knib pens, an amusing if messy exercise to watch!

Further improvements will emerge from the rapidly completing ASH project in the autumn.

By David Cockram, School Liaison Officer

To book a school trip, visit

Students from Marian Vian Primary School in West Wickham, Kent, meet with a "Billeting Officer" during a school visit and evacuation exercise in June 2018 (photo by @mvprimaryschool).

OP4 Update: Down the Down Yard

Now that the earthworks are all but complete, we can turn our minds to the next task, relaying the down yard.

The top left-hand photo shows one of the turnouts being placed in position, and the top right -hand  photo shows the same scene a few days later with the turnout in its final position.

The bottom left -hand  photo shows another turnout in the Ardingly triangle. This will be broken down into several component parts before being moved across the line to its final place. Relaying the downyard will cause a degree of disruption to the workings of the C&W maintenance routine, so it will require careful planning between C&W and Infrastructure.

The bottom right -hand  photo shows the Ardingly triangle being tidied and levelled after the removal of the spoil heap to fill the embankment.

By Barry Luck, OP4 Project Manager

IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT "GIANTS OF STEAM": Two carriages on each of the trains hauled by No. 60009 "Union of South Africa", during the "Giants of Steam" Autumn Gala on 12-14 Oct., 2018, will be reserved for pre-purchased ticket holders, at a charge of just £1 extra.

This is to ensure those who wish to guarantee travel behind this Gresley A4 Pacific class loco, before it retires to a museum, will get a seat. The other carriages on its trains will be unreserved as normal. More information here .
Safety Trek

Martin Lawrence's photo shows Roger Garman giving participants a safety briefing at the start of Track Trek 2018. This year's Trek has so far raised more than £5,000 towards the cost of relaying two quarter-mile sections of track over the coming winter. Further donations to the TrAction Appeal may be made here .

Infrastructure Update: All Points Bulletin

Now that the earth moving is more or less finished at Dingley Dell, the Infrastructure Team have turned its attention to what it knows and loves best: track laying. Providing access to the whole of OP4 would be something of a challenge with the existing siding layout of the Salt Yard, and as many of the carriages will not be moving for some time, permanent connection to each road would be a very expensive option, and really not thought even necessary.

But of course, as always, there is a cunning plan to get the stock moved and stored safely. Many hours have been spent designing a new layout for the yard, which not only provides the necessary access to OP4, but also offers an improvement for shunting into the Carriage and Wagon works. In addition, a new engineers' siding has already been created, and there is also the possibility of turning the existing headshunt into a lengthened and much-needed storage road, which will be relaid at the correct level to prevent stock from running away into the buffers!

Normal sections of track are quick and easy to lay, but it is the extra pointwork required which complicates matters, and this, of course, comes at a cost both in terms of capital expenditure and many hours of volunteer labour. However, the overall cost can be offset to a certain degree by using recycled rail, chairs, and other specialist components that we already hold in stock for such occasions. Using standard drawings and measurements, we can cut this recycled rail to the correct length for stock rails, point blades, crossing noses, and check rails, which are then sent away to a specialist in South Wales for shaping and bending as required.

One particular point that is exercising minds at the moment is a three-way point--otherwise referred to as a tandem point--which will save space in the overall plan. In conjunction with other points being built, this plan will allow for smooth curves right from the headshunt through to all the roads from B to F. Having this tandem point made specially would cost a small fortune, but luckily we have some parts already and are sourcing those still needed, as well as sending rails away to be profiled.

Those of you familiar with a similar model in the Bluebell Shop will have realised by now that the point needs three crossing noses, four point blades, and four check rails. It is not a task to be undertaken lightly, but it will provide great entertainment value as it is all being set out. If you have ever laid hand-made points on your model layout, you might want to give us a hand !

By Mike Hopps

Ashes and Dust

How Russell likes to leave his footplate at the end of a day: clean.

This is t he third in Driver Russell Pearce's series in what it's like to be a driver on the Bluebell Railway, a fascinating behind-the-scenes look ...
The last time I wrote from the shadowy recesses of shed 75H, I lifted the curtain on what it takes to get an engine ready at the beginning of the day, saying that in most cases a crew must prepare their own locomotive. I also said that on the whole they would have to put it away at the end of the day, a process called "disposal". At some sheds it was referred to as "squaring away".
None of these P&D tasks is to be undertaken by someone for whom lifting a cup of tea is a trial. In truth, there is more to be done in the morning on the whole, but we approach the preparation having had a night's sleep, and in summer particularly it is warm or cool, or at any rate not boiling hot or freezing. However, while there is less to do at the end of the day, this work follows a day out on the road, and, in the near tropical temperatures we have been enjoying lately, it truly comes as a last gasp at the end of the shift.

So what do we mean by "disposal"? ...  MORE

An updated, pocket-size quick reference guide to the locomotives, carriages, and wagons preserved on the Bluebell Railway is now on sale at the Bluebell Railway Shop and online. Produced by Michael Philpott, this new edition (April 2018) lists 207 items of rolling stockL 35 locos, 89 carriages, 28 vans, and 55 wagons. Read more about the Bluebell Railway Stock Book .
Progress on Pullman Car 54

There has been significant progress on Car 54 in the past few months. The body, now back on the underframe, was braced and the metal roof hoops labelled according to their positions before removal for cleaning up. They were then treated with rust converter.

The body showed a distinct lean to the west, particularly at the north end, so it has been pulled back into alignment. The distortion was probably due to the fact that the bulkheads had been removed before the car was stored under tarpaulins for an extended period, and the weight of these caused the top of the body to spread. Hopefully, the body will now remain straight. The new cant rail sections have been morticed and lap-jointed together to give two completely new cant rails along each side. The metal roof hoops have been reinstated and replacement ash roof hoop sections are being cut ready to fit.

The characteristic curved end roof sections have been replaced with new ones made of ash. The new roof boards, which were delivered a while ago, are being stored underneath the vehicle to allow them to dry out prior to fitting.

Four new luggage door posts have been machined and fitted. It is important that these posts are sound as the weight on these doors is considerable. Underneath, the newly constructed battery boxes have been fitted.

Inside the vehicle, the bulkheads are being refitted to hold the structure together and make it more stable. We have had a visit from A. Dunn and Son to assess the amount of marquetry work needed, and a sample panel has been taken away for a trial restoration to be done.

Various jobs are being done alongside the heavy wooden structural work. One is the cleaning of the brass components, such as luggage rack brackets, by covering in a mixture of flour and vinegar. After a week, the paste is removed and the brass component washed off and polished. 

Additionally, the sidelight blinds have been overhauled, and the lavatory cathedral light has been restored; the top lights have been renovated; and the brass wire grilles for the luggage racks have been ordered from a company in Acton. Seat components have been cut, an initial batch of seats constructed, and our team of trimmers has started on the skilled task of trimming the seats.

Derrick Warner has been sorting out components and determining what needs to be replaced. This is a major task, and we are grateful that he is happy to do this for us; his knowledge of the detail of Pullman cars has been extremely useful.

An analysis has been made of the luggage area of the vehicle to decide how it can best be configured. The Catering Department was consulted on what would be desirable to install in the area, and their ideas were considered, together with the need to provide disabled access lifts and an electrical cupboard. We have to make sure that this area is redesigned to give a pleasant environment as it is to become accessible to our visitors.

By Sheina Foulkes, Carriage & Wagon Department Supervisor

Bluebell Railway on the Box, Among Other Items

It seems the last week or so, whenever I have turned on the television, I have encountered the Bluebell Railway.

My first instance was on a very good channel by the name of Talking Pictures, where I came across a film called The Innocents. Low and behold there is Sheffield Park with a P class and what looked like two Metropolitan coaches coming into view from the direction of Newick and Chailey, the giveaway being the water tower in what is now the pumphouse siding. The action then switches to the down platform ticket barrier with the signal frame surrounded by railings, and that's about it. The film was made in 1961 in black and white, and it has been repeated a couple of times since.

The following evening we switch to Downton Abbey. The C class is seen with the vintage set and the Queen Mary brake at the rear at Horsted Keynes Platform 2. Later on the same evening on the NOW music channel, I came across the Pet Shop Boys and the music video for "Always on My Mind", in which a number of animals are seen being walked across the foot cross, again at Horsted Keynes.

If, of course, you're a film/televison buff, you can find out these details in the excellent book The Line to the Stars by Heidi Mowforth, available in the shop at Sheffield Park. It is quite amazing how much has been filmed on the Railway. And, of course, this work brings in a lot of revenue for the Railway!

As we move towards the busy season, there are more training opportunities arising, and volunteer staff promotion courses and a new Signalman course have started. These classes will be followed shortly by a guards course, and along with continued station staff and Locomotive Department promotion courses, it's certainly a hectic training period. Those members of staff working towards their NVQ assessors' course are also hard at work. Good luck to all those involved with their promotion courses!

By Mike Ellis, Operations Director

Update on the Stroudley Five-Compartment Third

Great progress is being made on the Stroudley Five-Compartment Third No. 328. The interior is being painted, and has so far received two coats of undercoat, as show in the bottom left hand photo.

The bottom right-hand photo shows the east side of the carriage, with about half of the exterior panelling completed and a trial fit of one the doors. The timber for the roof has been delivered, so this will be the next major piece of work.

By The Stroudley Group

Some exciting summer and autumn events for your calendar:
  • 28 July:   Toy and Collectors' Fair , a second chance to enjoy "railwayana" and collectibles at Horsted Keynes station
  • 5 August: Freshfields Test (Bluebell Railway XI vs. Scaynes Hill CC--details at right)
  • 11-12 August:  Steam through the Ages , travel through 100 years of history in one day
  • 8-9 September: Shareholder's Weekend
  • 19 September: Sussex Belle service
Steam Through the Ages in August

On 11 and 12 Aug., 2018, travel through 100 years of history in one day! This event will bring different eras from history to life with a different decade recreated at each station.

The London Brighton & South Coast Railway, from which the Bluebell Railway evolved, began life in the 1840s, and it is the Victorian Era that Sheffield Park will depict. Horsted Keynes will give a flavour of life during the war years of the 1940s, while Kingscote will become 'Kingscote-on-Sea,' recreating a classic 1960s seaside holiday.

Travel tickets are valid all day, so hop on and off the trains to explore each station throughout the day.

Other highlights include:

Sheffield Park (Victorian)
  • Live Music from The Daisy Bells
  • Victorian re-enactment and memorabillia
Horsted Keynes (WWII)
  • Static Spitfire and Military Display
  • Children's Craft Activities
  • Street market traders and entertainments
  • Vinyl DJ - Jiving Jim Dandy
Kingscote (Seaside)
  • Donkey Rides
  • Seaside activities
  • Giant Games
Full details and booking can be found here.

Ring in the New

Tickets are now on sale for the New Year's Eve Gala Golden Arrow Pullman.

With luxurious Pullman Cars "Christine" and "Fingall", and First Class dining carriage "Ashdown", this train recreates the famous Golden Arrow which once linked London and Paris. Exemplary service, style, and attention to detail combine at the Bluebell Railway to evoke one of the most glamorous and famous trains in the world.

Your evening will begin with a sparkling wine and canapé reception before boarding your train. Once on board, sit back and relax in the nostalgic atmosphere whilst your delicious 5-course gala menu is served by our attentive, liveried staff. Adding to the atmosphere will be a magician who will be on hand to entertain you throughout your evening.

Then welcome in the New Year with a lovely glass of fizz to the chimes of Big Ben and Auld Lang Syne at Horsted Keynes station! This service is extremely popular so book early to avoid disappointment.

For more information, click here .

From the Archive
Tony Hillman has chosen six images taken by John J. Smith on 22 July in different years ...

A1X No. 32678 at Bishopstone Beach Halt with the 0835 Seaford-to-Newhaven on 22 July, 1963.
Photo Gallery  
John Sandys (21 July, 2018): "My first visit for awhile on a very warm day saw the start of the Summer Service 2, with the 01 and Q class running on the two-train service. Also, a look at the Carriage & Wagon Workshop that Richard Salmon kindly showed me around in exchange for my promise to purchase a jar of Redcurrant Jam! A very busy Railway indeed, especially noticeable on the services out of East Grinstead Station."

Brian Lacey's photo was taken at the Atlantic House open day on 8 July, 2018. The boiler has been lifted onto a trolley ready for wheeling out of the shed on a temporary trackway for its hydraulic test.

Brian Lacey's photo , taken on 8 July, show "Camelot" outside the loco works. Its new piston heads are being machined, and its cylinder bores are being examined, prior to fitting the new cylinder heads. All being well, the locomotive will be back in service in August.

Martin Lawrence has completed his June photo gallery and started on the July gallery . This photo shows a gauging run next to the ASH Project on 21 June, 2018.

Dave Bowles' set from a two-train service and a demonstration goods train, on 14 July, 2018. 
Steve Lee's photo shows class O1 No. 65 on the first service of the day on 14 July, 2018, climbing between Horsted Keynes and Horsted House Farm.  
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


Bluebell Railway Privacy Policy


Part two of Nick Dearden's video compilation "Best of Bluebell Steam 2007-2017: Visiting Locomotives".

Your Painting: Forth Bridge

Full Title:
Forth Rail Bridge (Opening Ceremony)
Artist: Unknown
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 74.3 x 112 cm
Collection: Glasgow Museums Resource Centre
Acquisition Method: Gift from British Rail, London, 1967

From the Glossary

The process by which ballast is packed around the sleepers of a track to ensure the correct position for the location, speed and curvature. Can be done manually or mechanically by special "tamping machines", usually independently powered track vehicles.

The Railway still has some sales pitches available at our event Steam Through the Ages on 11-12 Aug., 2018. Pitch fees apply.

All enquiries should be made to:
From the Railway Images UK Archive: No. 30069 & No. 30064

USA class nos. 30069 and 30064 running round the LCGB "Hampshire Branch Lines" railtour at Fawley before returning to Totton, on 4 Sept., 1967.

 A demonstration goods and the Wealden Rambler on 14 July, 2018, by railwayimages.

The annual Freshfields Test Match 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 on the team. 
The Google Map for the Scaynes Hill CC 3rd XI Cricket Ground (aka Freshfields)  can be seen here
Join the Bluebell Railway on 28 Sept., 2018, to support Macmillan Charity. Bring along your cakes, and for a donation of £10 we will provide a cup of tea or coffee while you travel to East Grinstead and back on our stylish Wealden Rambler carriage set. Your donated cakes will be sold on the train for this good cause.

Booking is essential. To book your place contact Ruth Rowatt on 01825 720800 or .

No. 65 arrives at Horsted Keynes on 15 July, 2018, by
Jamie-Lee Harley Thornton.
From the British Pathé Film Archive: Railway Breakdown Crew At Work (1941)

Signal men working levers in signal box. Local steam passenger trains passing camera. Various good shots of repair gangs at work on bombed section of railway track. They fill bomb crater and replace sleepers, etc.

Various shots of railway workers using cutters and cranes removing a wrecked signal gantry from across main line track. Several shots of wrecked rolling stock. More good shots of railwaymen at work on bomb damaged track also aided by heavy lifting equipment.

(Via the the film archive).

Following the success of the Railway's Footplate Tasters in 2018, 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). 


@AshdownForest1 Jul 16
High Weald Dairy is an award winning and internationally renowned cheese maker, based in Horsted Keynes. They make a fantastic range of cheeses which are sold across the area in delicatessens, supermarkets ...

@wil_forever Jul 14
@bluebellrailway 30541 is a marvelous engine; from her whistle to her livery. A little over a month ago I visited for the very first time, and I strongly recommend that you visit them. The volunteers enjoy helping you understand the railway, and they helped me learn a lot!

@worthschool Jul 12
Ninety of our students completed the inaugural Worth Bluebell Walk as part of Worth in the Community Day. They all had a great day @bluebellrailway -

@KingfisherVG Jul 11
For such a laid back city, there's an awful lot going on in #Brighton
@StanmerHouse @LewesCastle

@BHPrepKS1 Jul 11
What a magical day at the @bluebellrailway !! Year 1 have learnt so much about beautiful steam trains and were treated as VIPs getting to stand on the footplate and operate signals! #schooltrip #endoftermtreat #steamtrain

@LewesBandBGroup Jul 11
More Lewes B&B Group Retweeted Bluebell Railway
Definitely worth experiencing the @bluebellrailway. If you need a place to stay check our range of B&B's and self catering in Lewes and the surrounding countryside:

@OutdoorPip Jul 10
A great day out today with a journey back in time on the @bluebellrailway and a pleasant bimble around @sheffieldparkNT

@jrail92 Jul 9
Super day out exploring #Sussex & the @bluebellrailway such atmospheric stations & rolling stock. Thanks to the friendly volunteers John & Barbara for showing me round #STEAM #summer #railway #heritage #heritagerailway





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