A Scorching Start to the Season

Photo by John Sandys.
So here we are at the height of half term and passenger numbers appear to be very good. Certainly, my train on 31 July, 2018--the 11:10 from Sheffield Park--left almost full, and on arrival at East Grinstead, it then became full and standing.

On days I have been at Sheffield Park lately there certainly seems a good amount of people around. 

The soaring heat--I am personally not a fan--around the South East lately has proved challenging for staff; in particular, there have been a number of lineside fires. However, the attendance of the fire brigade has been limited as a result of the vigilance of the loco crews in detecting the fires and putting them out with the pumps supplied on the locomotives.

Also, I certainly don't envy the Loco crews on these very hot days, having spent a round trip on No. 30541 on the 24 July carrying out an assessment. I was glad it was just the one trip. Although I can vouch that guard's vans aren't exactly cool, I know where I would rather be of the two. Also, station platforms are not exactly cool either, and station staff and signalmen can be observed boiling away on the platforms too, but staff still seem to manage a smile for our customers and passengers.

On 6 Aug. we welcome Julie Jones as our new General Manager. I wish her all the best in her new position and for her career on the Bluebell Railway.

By Mike Ellis, Operations Director

Scenes for the Ages

Photo courtesy of Simply Spitfire.
Visit Steam Through the Ages on 11-12 Aug., 2018, for a chance to see a Spitfire up close at Horsted Keynes station.

Whilst at Horsted Keynes enjoy the live music from Jivin' Jim Dandy and the Perdido Players (on Saturday), take a look around the vehicle and military displays, and treat yourself to a delicious snack from the King George V Buffet serving a wartime menu.

In addition to World War II, Steam Through the Ages bring other eras from history to life with a different decade recreated at each station.

The LB&SCR, which began life in the 1840s, will be evoked at a Victorian Era Sheffield Park, while Kingscote will become 'Kingscote-on-Sea' for a classic post-War seaside holiday scene.

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

More information and tickets .

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 .
OP4 Update: Making Hay While the Sun Shines

Taking advantage of the continuing dry weather, we have now been able to start work on the dwarf wall around the eastern side of the shed. We are very fortunate in having skilled and willing bricklayers in our midst.

The top left photo shows the early preparatory work, and the first block in place. The top right photo shows the work a few days later, with good progress on the first two panels. The walls here will match the rest of the carriage works: SR green and cream cladding, with a dwarf wall below, and windows comparable with the existing shed.

The pointwork is also progressing, as and when time and materials are available. The bottom two photos show the next set of switch blades being positioned, leading towards the new shed. The trackwork to the left of the bottom left photo, leading towards the station, will all be relayed in due course.

The erection of the steel framework and roof of the Skills Centre commenced in late July. In the meantime, we are continuing to raise funds for cladding along this side of the shed. If you would like to contribute, please visit the Cash for Cover donation page .

By Barry Luck, OP4 Project Manager

Another Brick in the Wall

Nothing to do with Pink Floyd (for those who remember the famous lyrics) but instead a paean to more progress on the east side of OP4 now that the ground work is more or less finished and the levelling at the north end of "Dingley Dell" allows greater access for further works.  

We are waiting for the contractors to start work on the Heritage Skills Centre, but in the meantime our resident infrastructure brickies--Bob and Norman--have been busy building up the side walls in preparation for the fitting of the side panels that will eventually shield the stock from the elements.

At the moment, six bays between columns are being worked on, but this may increase once we actually know how far the skills centre actually stretches. No doubt someone, somewhere, has a drawing of it all, but it is not unknown for changes to be made at the last minute to accommodate things that hadn't been thought of, so it is better to be cautious.  

One thing that never changes is the need for more money to finish the project, so we continue to rattle the OP4 tin, ever hopeful for a bit of loose change. A link to the Cash for Cover donation page can be found in Barry's article above. Please contribute towards a few more bricks to keep Bob and Norman out of mischief--thank you!

By Mike Hopps

Full Steam Ahead is a very special experience for lovers of steam which gives the opportunity of both firing and driving one of the Bluebell Railway's steam engines. Only one date remains: 25 Sept., 2018.  The cost is £650 per participant and £30 per guest (maximum of two guests per participant). Book online here .
Horsted Happenings!

Graham Poulson and Tim Baker at work. Photo taken by Tony Clements.

Members of the Horsted Keynes station staff have been busy this summer sprucing up Platform 4.

All the canopy support brackets have been primed, undercoated, and glossed along with a complete wash-down of the building from way up high in the rafters down to the platform surface.

Next, the team of Graham Poulson, Kevin Leggett, and Tim Baker move into the toilets on Platform 5, where plans are being formulated for major plaster repairs to the building walls and a complete repaint in both facilities.

The team meets most Wednesday evenings at the station. If you would like to join us, please contact .

By Tim Baker, Senior Station Master
No. 84030 Update: A Sense of Achievement

John Jesson's photo below was taken during and after the lift of Standard Class 2 tank No. 84030's frames onto its coupled wheels on 26 July, 2018.

"On one of the hottest days of the year a 120-tonne crane arrived in the Sheffield Park yard to carry out a number of lifts, including the re-wheeling of the Standard Class 2 tank.

"The team rebuilding No. 84030 have been working towards this day for over two years, so it gave us all a great feeling of achievement seeing the engine now a rolling chassis and housed in the newly erected poly-shed."

Some exciting summer and autumn events for your calendar:
Pub Classics!

Tim Baker: "These 'pub classics' seem to be enjoying themselves at the Former Directors Reunion on 26 July, 2018, in The Crown, Horsted Keynes. The photo shows Tim Baker, Graham Flight, Chris White (who is still a director), Russell Pearce, Lewis Nodes, and David Foale finding something amusing ... what do they know?!"

Project 27: Taking the Plunge

With the weather firmly on our side the team has made great progress towards achieving its goal of working towards erecting the new frames by the end of the year.

With a few weekends and a couple of days holiday to spare, Matt and Ben have all but completed the drilling of all the holes in the new frame plates. Following on from this, the frames now need all of the horn slots machining square, and then we should be in a good position to erect the new frames.

Also at our last monthly working day in July, the team got together and finally took the plunge disassembling the remains of the old frames into a flat pack P tank. We also welcomed Russ to the team, who made himself most helpful drilling and shelling out broken stays in the front counterweight.

The opportunity also was taken to have a good clear up of our little site and set-up a new area with better forklift access for assembling the new frames. Temporarily, we have placed the cab in this area to help Clive and his team of Network Rail Employees who, on their charity works days, are cleaning up and helping to preserve the cab from any further deterioration from the elements.

Offsite, the cylinder blocks, as well as all of the fitted bolts and studs, will soon be machined at Statfold Barn with an expected completion date set for the end of October. So, hopefully, by "Giants of Steam" we should have the new block back on site and ready to fit.

We are progressing well, but we can only keep up the good work with regular donations from all you kind folk, so if you feel you'd like to help us, be it a small or large donation, then please visit our online donate page  and help us see No. 27 run once again!

Many more photos at the project's Facebook page .

A Mystery Visitor?

Reader Ralph Morgan recently sent the eNewsletter a mystery photo and asked whether the pictured Ivatt class 2MT tank No. 41312 has ever visited the Bluebell Railway. He thinks his photo was taken at the Railway, but he wasn't sure.

We know the answer, thanks to Richard Salmon and the excellent blog and archive he maintains, but do you? Answer at the end of the "The Branch Line" (right hand column). 

From the Archive
For the latest set from the Railway's magnificent photo archive, Tony Hillman has chosen six John J. Smith images taken during the Midhurst Belle railtour of 18 Oct., 1964.

USA class No. 30064 at Peasmarsh, photographed during the 1964 Midhurst Belle railtour.

Better Know a Heritage Railway: Cierny Hron (Slovakia)

The Cierny Hron Railway is a narrow gauge railway in the Slovak Ore Mountains, built as an industrial railway for logging operations.

Planning for the railway began in 1898 and building began in 1908. In 1909 regular wood transport on the railway started, between Cierny Balog and Hronec.

The railway was closed in 1982, but it has been granted national heritage status since. During the following few years it was repaired by enthusiasts and re-opened in 1992 as a heritage railway for tourists. The line is now 17 km long, from Chvatimech to Vydrovo.

At present the railway operates from 1 May till 30 September. The transport is provided with diesel-electric locomotives, dieselhydraulic locos, and two steam locomotives.

Like a scene from one of the Rev. W. Awdry's children's books, the line is believed to be the only railway in the world to pass through the middle of a football stadium, the tracks running along the front of a stand at TJ Tatran Cierny Balog's stadium. The video shows the players waiting patiently to take a free kick as the train chugs through regardless!

Photo Gallery  
A lovely study by Alan Platt, taken on 31 July, 2018.
John Sandys (2 Aug., 2018): "The incredible hot summer weather carries on as the 01 and S15 continue their excellent work hauling the Service Two trains. It was very busy today with lots of happy passengers enjoying the Railway."
Thomas Downing's portrait of SECR H class No. 263, from 13 July, 2018. 
John Sandys (26 July, 2018): "A short visit to Horsted Keynes on another scorching hot day, just in time to catch the arrival and departure of the two Lunchtime Service trains."

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


The "Service Two Timetable' on 25 July, 2018, by "Joe Light Railway".

Two After 909

During Shareholders Weekend--8-9 Sept., 2018--the Railway will be running an early train out of East Grinstead that will be a public service for those two days only. 

The train will be hauled by resident 09 diesel shunter D4106. The timetable is as follows:

* Depart East Grinstead at 09:09

* Depart Horsted Keynes at 09:34

* Arrive Sheffield Park at 09:50


So if you'd like an earlier start and a longer day at the Bluebell Railway that weekend, the 09 Special is for you. 

On the Sunday the timetable means that the 09 will depart at 09:09 on 9/9 ... how about that!

(Title with apologies to The Beatles--The Eds.)

From the Science & Society Picture Library: Brilliant & Beautiful

Poster produced in 1959 for the British Railways (Southern Region) to promote their services to the coastal resorts of Brighton and Hove in Sussex. Illustrated with a photograph of a woman holding a bunch of roses. Photographed by John Dixon. Printed at The Baynard Press.

The Railway's updated Who's Who page adds James Funnell and Mike Priestley as new Society trustees, appointed after advertising for applicants and subsequent interviews, and the Rev. David Howland now holds the position of Chaplain to the Bluebell Railway. Welcome to all!

 No. 66739 "Bluebell Railway" at Shildon on 31 July, 2018, by "WaverleyJohn".

From the Glossary

A device designed to alert a railway control centre that a train has become derailed or a part of the train is dragging on the right of way. Normally consists of a bar placed across the four-foot (between the rails) which will be broken if struck. Often used on remote heavy haul freight lines where it is difficult for the crew to detect a mishap of this sort.

Your Painting: Railway Tracks

Full Title: Railway Tracks
Artist: Steve Mason
Date: 1984
Medium: Oil on hessian
Size: 181 x 199 cm
Collection: Coventry University

The next " Find Out More Day " for new volunteers is on 12 Aug., 2018. Martin Lawrence's photo shows David Chappell with the Find Out More tour on 8 July.

Santa Specials run on 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, and 22-23 Dec., 2018, and on 24 December the Railway will run a new "'Twas the train before Christmas". Tickets are now on sale  for these hugely popular services.

A short video study of No.73082 "Camelot" from December 2017, by Philip Bull.

From the Huntley Film Archives: Cleaning Engines (1941)

Cleaning engines. Driver and fireman climb aboard (one has a tin helmet - this is during World War Two) Coal falls from chute into the train. Other driver and fireman climb into locomotive. Levers pulled. Coal shovelled into firebox. Smoking chimney. Tightening bolts on the loco. Steam being let off. Two shots of goods trains passing. Some shots of locos at depot. Train entering tunnel (viewed from rear). Close up shot of train passing by platform ... 

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). 

@Megatrainlover 5 Aug
Had an enjoyable day out at the @bluebellrailway. Rode behind Q Class and a SE&CR O1 Class.

@MrTimDunn Aug 4
I'm quite a fan of very old engines and very old carriages; this weekend we travelled in a carriage from 1922 and behind this engine from 1896. And with wine and gin in tins. @bluebellrailway is 1hr from central London; this is our train before we left and this is 100!

@Morris_Oxford Aug 4
\Hello everyone. Go to @bluebellrailway because it's really VERY super. Tidy stations, tidy track, clean carriages, beautiful scenery, gorgeous period rolling stock.. really VERY, very good.

@living_cheerful Aug 3
Baby's first Heritage Railway experience at @bluebellrailway she loved the train sounds and colours.

@Helena_Manana Jul 31
Beautiful day on @bluebellrailway followed by tea at my fave Heaven Farm nearby. #sussex

@OlympusUK Jul 31
All aboard! We're at @bluebellrailway today with a group of photographers to test and try the latest cameras and lenses - if you're with us today, tag us into your work with #OlympusUK. Have you visited this superb location with your camera?

@CllrRalphBerry Jul 29
Enjoyed that trek south to @bluebellrailway ..a collectors fair that led to me collecting..Simply superb day ..@DrMattStroh @thebashmash @rail

@john_sandys Jul 26
@AboutEG @Why_EGrinstead @SBCranford @Lizzieannie @jrussell46 @bluebellrailway A short visit to Horsted Keynes Station on another scorching hot day, just in time to catch the arrival & departure of the two Lunchtime Service Trains.

@sussexliving Jul 20
Steam through the Ages and travel through 100 years in one day this August, with the @bluebellrailway

@Jurgenblue Jul 21
When we came for the Netherlands to England so we could see the @bluebellrailway I really wanted to see 'Bluebell' and 'Nettle' so my dad asked and someone there took us not only to see them but also showed us the engine works. Just goes to show that asking can get you very far.

@donna_redding Jul 21
SR Maunsell Q class at East Grinstead 21 July. Very powerful engine. Has a bulleid coach in its formation. Carriage seats nice @bluebellrailway
The answer is yes. 

No. 41312 is normally based at Mid-Hants Railway, but she visited the Bluebell Railway in 2003 and again in 2005-2006, when she helped with the Northern Extension Project. 

A Railway blog entry  for 8 June, 2005, for instance, notes that, "The Ivatt tank ... is due to remain on the Bluebell until November, and will be used both on spoil trains and on scheduled passenger services."




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