Announcing the Cash for Cover "Wall-to-Wall Double Donations Dash"!
Donations Doubled Through 30 Nov., 2018

An artist's rendition of the future Trimming Workshop.
Substantial progress has been made on Operation Under Cover 4 (OP4) since the Cash for Cover Appeal started in 2014.

It took a year to clear the site at Horsted Keynes, but construction work on the shed to cover rolling stock commenced in 2015. In mid-2017 infrastructure volunteers were laying permanent track within the shed, and temporary track in the yard enabled vehicles to be moved under cover. The first carriages were shunted in on 30 Nov., 2017, and by the end of March 2018 a second road (G Road) was also filled with vehicles.

A major obstacle to further progress was soft ground at the south-east corner of the shed, as well as the embankment leading down to the stream (affectionately known as "Dingley Dell"). 2018 started very wet, but by mid-April this ground was drying out, enabling remediation to proceed. In a little over two months, the earthworks were substantially complete. This monumental work by the infrastructure team and volunteers saved well over £100,000, compared with the costs of engaging contractors. With the ground stable, more track-laying is now underway.

Whilst this work is progressing, JJ Hatfield & Co. has been working on the design of the Heritage Skills Centre (HSC). The next construction phase also includes securing carriages by putting up walls along the eastern and northern sides of the shed, together with the four walls of the HSC. These walls will mirror the appearance of the rest of the carriage works: cream/green cladding with a dwarf wall below (our bricklayers have started work on the dwarf wall along the eastern side).

This is where a new Cash for Cover Appeal comes in. Over the years the generosity of our Cash for Cover supporters has been substantial. But we need your help to make even more progress on OP4.

The Railway is seeking £250,000 for OP4's next phase. The first £180,000 will be used to build and install walls, windows, and doors around the eastern and northern sides of the storage roads and the HSC. If a further £70,000 is raised, the floors and stairways, plus external access ramps and steps, will be installed in and around the HSC. This work will permit the phased fit-out of the HSC as funds become available.

When complete, the Skills Centre eventually will house workshops for trimming and varnishing, as well as basic skills training. It also will provide storage for valuable drawings and offices for C&W management.

Importantly, a generous benefactor is providing matching funding for the first £100,000 donated to this Wall-to-Wall Appeal, if made by midnight on 30 Nov., 2018. In other words, it's another Double Donations Dash! 

During the Dash, every £10 donated (and eligible for Gift Aid) will be worth £22.50 to the project.

You can give today online at BT MyDonate or by cheque, including this Gift Aid form . Post cheques to Bluebell Railway Trust, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL.

Your contributions, no matter how big, are always greatly appreciated!

By Barry Luck, OP4 Project Manager (Infrastructure)

OP4 Update: Onward and Upward

Stevenson's have now completed the Heritage Skills Centre framework, and as shown in the left-hand photo below, the roof is now on. There is a little bit of tidying up to be done, but apart from that this phase of the work is now complete.

As the story above indicates, the project is continuing to raise funds for the next stage, which will enable us to complete the walls around the Skills Centre and this side of the shed.

In the meantime, the Infrastructure Team has been working in the yard, laying trackwork into the shed. Two roads, F and G are complete (right-hand photo below), and work has started at the southern end of the salt yard on the next turnout which will lead into roads H and J.

Nature is helping out, with the beginnings plant life showing on the embankment face!

By Barry Luck, OP4 Project Manager (Infrastructure)

Not long now until the Giants of Steam gala on 12-14 Oct., 2018!

Visit the Railway in October to see the giant Gresley A4 Pacific class No. 60009 "Union of South Africa" (courtesy of the Cameron Trust) and the giant LNER Thompson class B1 No. 61306 "Mayflower" (courtesy of David Buck). Remember, this is your last chance to see the "Union of South Africa" in steam at the Railway before her retirement.
A Steamworks! Preview

The Railway is proud to present a video preview of the new SteamWorks! locomotive display and interactive exhibition at Sheffield Park station.

Narrated by volunteer Nicholas Owen, the video explores some of the features of this new attraction, which opens this autumn. The re-roofing of the shed and construction of the exhibition has been funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Bluebell Railway Trust, and generous donations from our supporters and members. Thank you all, and enjoy the video.

Steamworks! Family Festival Set for 20-21 Oct., 2018

The Railway's new innovative, interactive experience will open on 20 Oct., 2018, at Sheffield Park station!

For the past three years, and in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sunninghill Construction Ltd, RFA Design, and Aivaf Ltd, the Railway has been hard at work to bring this exhibition to life.

Situated in the locomotive shed, SteamWorks! uses touchscreen displays, colourful information boards, and interactives to bring the science and mechanics of steam to life.

The star of the show is an interactive model of a locomotive. Based on our very own Terrier Class locomotive "Stepney", this special engine will feature a display showing how the boiler works, as well as a special driving experience simulator in the cab that will enable visitors to experience what it's like to drive "Stepney" on the Bluebell Railway!

Visitors will now be able to get close to some of our beautiful static display locomotives. Special walkways and platforms will enable visitors to examine the engineering involved in a loco and even to climb onto the footplates of some engines!

To celebrate the opening of SteamWorks! a special two-day Family Festival will be held on the 20-21 October.

There'll be plenty of other exciting things to see and do besides:
  • "Blast Science" will be putting on their fabulous "Family Forces" science show, with interactive live experiments and lashings of comedy.
  • "Weald Technology" will offer hands-on activities: capacitors, batteries, solar power, circuit boards, wind turbines, electric cars, and more!
  • The "Cultural Carriage" will be full of fun experiments, music making, book readings, and objects illustrating the science & mechanics of steam.

Learn more here.

The Railway has added an intermediate Loco Driving & Firing Experience: Footplate Extra , on 3 Nov 2018. This is a rare and exciting opportunity to experience first-hand firing and driving one the Railway's fleet of historic steam engines!
"Camelot": On the Road Again

Julian Heinemann's photo above shows "Camelot" behind No. 37688 at Clapham Junction on 18 Sept., 2018.

"Camelot" is being featured at the West Somerset Railway's Autumn Steam Gala in October, and her move west was a significant event because she was towed on the mainline, via the Northern Extension, rather than being moved by road. Moreover, this is the first time that the loco has left the Bluebell Railway since she arrived from Barry scrapyard.

A transfer by rail is more expensive than by road, but it was considered preferable, causing less stress to the loco. The Camelot Locomotive Society offered thanks to Locomotive Director Chris Hunford, who helped facilitate this historic trip.

The video below shows No. 37668 pulling "Camelot" at Norton Fitzwarren.

Sam Bilner's picturesque photo below shows the train on the outskirts of Bath.


Andrew Crampton provides the next photo: No. 37668 hauling "Camelot" at Dormans Park:

Julian Heinemann took the photo below on 27 Sept., 2018, at West Somerset Railway: the 2:45 p.m. about to depart from Bishops Lydeard towards Minehead, pulled by "Camelot". More photos of "Camelot" can be found in this gallery , by Bob Woodland.

Tony Hillman provides this photo of "Camelot" on the turntable at Minehead during the loco's first ever visit there.

A full-resolution video of "Camelot" being turned at Minehead, by Julian Heinemann:

Real Time Trains has details of "Camelot's" return journey on 1 October. She runs chimney-first (60mph) as far as Willesden, where she reverses, and the diesel runs round. Then she'll run tender-first (45mph) through Clapham Junction (est. 10:21 p.m.) down to East Grinstead, so the loco is then facing up the prevailing gradient out of Sheffield Park.

Some exciting autumn events for your calendar:
Anymore for 404?

I suppose it's inevitable that with all decorating jobs, things go fine until you strip all the paint off and find the problems lurking underneath.

It is no different with BY404, the van we are refurbishing for filming work. We could see the obvious things that really needed work after it had been laid up for a long time getting damp, and with the inevitable deterioration of some timbers, but as time has gone on, it is obvious that more work is needed than originally thought.

Never mind, now that we have a dedicated slot in the Ardingly siding behind the signal box at Horsted Keynes, it is much easier to get on with the work, and things are moving again. Several members of the Infrastructure Team have been busy stripping paint, filling, and priming that which is still sound, and I have been busy replacing those parts, both wood and metal which are beyond redemption.

The rather large hole in the floor of the south cabin also has been attended to in readiness to fit the new floor with shuttering ply and aluminium checker plate. This area is where the generators will stand when in use for filming. The two guard's doors are getting a bit of a makeover as well; previous repairs have not stood the test of time, so as well as making new sheet metal door skins for the outside, I have also fitted new tongue and groove planking on the inside.

All the doors to the other cabins have been eased, and the droplights will be taken out for painting and servicing. There is a bottom foot board to replace on the west side and new edge mouldings have been machined up to replace those past their best. One final job before the outside is painted will be to fit the new metal destination plates that I made some time ago. These plates also will need new hardwood backing boards, but machining those will be left to the last minute before fitting in order to minimise any movement.

Getting the van back into traffic is still some way off, but once the outside is painted, we can offer it to location managers for film jobs so it can start to earn revenue. Offers of help with painting and decorating are still needed and any volunteers looking for a bit of a change are welcome to come along and help with the project.

There are no particular set working days; everything needed is stored in the van and available as and when. We also have power tools available for sanding, an electric drill, an angle grinder, a hot air gun for burning off paint, and ready supplies of sanding discs, wire brushes, and pots of filler. The infrastructure mess room is always available for cups of tea and somewhere to eat your lunch.

If you think you might be able to offer some time to this worthwhile project, then please get in touch. You can email me at for further details. Thank You.

By Mike Hopps

Snapshot of a C Class on the Main Line: Making Time from Eastbourne to Hastings!

In the Bluebell Railway Museum and, indeed, perhaps elsewhere, one can see film of a C class working a passenger train. The following text tries to convey just what it could be like! Probably my earliest run with a C class was in January 1954, when I was making my way to Headcorn for the last day of regular operation on the old Kent & East Sussex Railway (K&ESR). 

The early morning and evening trains on the Maidstone West line--from Strood through to Paddock Wood--were usually a set of three South Eastern & Chatham carriages, headed by a C class rather than the usual two-carriage, push-pull set with an H 0-4-4T.

So, on the 2 January, nos. 31681 and 31692 were working the 7:17 a.m. and 7:37 a.m. from Maidstone West to Tonbridge respectively. These engines, then based on Gillingham Shed, were ideally suited to such a task, since their duties could also include participating in the heavy freight traffic of the Medway Valley.

Later on, in March 1959, 1 had an even earlier run, on the 4:33 a.m. from Strood. This, of course, was the connection with "the paper train", the 2:55 a.m. from Holborn Viaduct; C No. 31244 (a Tonbridge engine) put up a pretty insipid performance. Like the late Norman Harvey, with his Newhaven boat train ("Journal" of the Stephenson Locomotive Society, January 1964), one only did this sort of thing once!

However, like the farewell to the K&ESR (as it then was), 23 Aug., 1955, was another most memorable day. I travelled down to Margate by the 5:10 a.m. ex-Victoria. This was then a steam-hauled train that called at all stations between Swanley and Rochester.

This journey was to experience a through run to Reading General on "the Birkenhead", a train which ran from the South Coast to and from that destination until about 1961. L 4-4-0s nos. 31776 and 31780 were in charge of the Kent portions, and newly-built Standard C1.4 2-6-0 No. 76056 worked the combined (Kent and Sussex) train from Redhill to Reading, with No.76058 coming back.

The, having seen D440 No. 31577 shunt the Margate portion at Ashford in the morning, I found N. 31737 waiting at Redhill to work the southbound Hastings portion (three carriages) forward to Brighton. This was my first, and only, service run with a D class.

This article is, however, about the C Class, so all we will say for now is that it seemed "as though all the world had stopped to see us go by" as we sped southwards. At Brighton, N 2-6-0 No. 31825 worked us forward, with three extra carriages, to Eastbourne via Lewes.

Here the drama began, so far as the C class was concerned.
Eastbourne had, in fact, been reached four minutes late, and it was clear that the crew of C class No. 31721, of St Leonards Shed, Hastings, were going to do something about that. The blower was on, and there were dense clouds of smoke. We were actually six or so minutes late away, and still with a six-carrlage load of 194/200 tons.

The engine was driven hard out of Eastbourne, reaching 40 m.p.h. before Hampden Park, and she was then taken easily round the curve to Stonecross Junction (some boiler recovery was taking place here?) Then, down the short 1-in-220 descent to Pevensey Bay, the engine was really "whipped into speed", with dense clouds of smoke and a crackling exhaust note.

For mile after mile--so it seemed!--they blazed away, but the maximum was only 51 m.p.h. after Normans Bay, and the effort gradually petered out on the rise past Cooden Beach.

So there was only a half-minute gain to Bexhill and, after another determined effort (47 m.p.h. past Galley Hill), a further half-minute was gained to St Leonards Warrior Square. However, for just more than half an hour "it was fun while it lasted"!

In a much later year (1985), I enjoyed a sprint at up to 85 m.p.h along the stretch past Normans Bay, behind a Class 33 diesel on the morning paper train.

By Tony Davies

From the Archive
The subject of this set of photos, chosen by Tony Hillman from the Alan Postlethwaite collection, is the journey Smallbrook to Newport.

Taken on 16 April, 1960 (Easter Sunday), 02 class W33 at Ashey.
Coffee & Choir

John Sandys' photo shows members of inChoir performing at Sheffield Park this morning as part of our Macmillan World's biggest coffee morning, on 28 Sept., 2018.

Website Gems: Signals, Signalling, & the Bluebell Railway

The upper quadrant Inner Home signal controlling entrance to Horsted Keynes station from the south. Photo by Chris Majer.
This article (slightly modified from the one which appeared in the Winter 1998 edition of Bluebell News) is not intended as an in-depth highly-technical review of signalling practices, more a source of general information about this complex subject and how it affects the Bluebell Railway ...

In the earliest days of railways, trains were not really regulated at all--they were despatched at intervals with a minimum time allowed between them.

As railways grew and technology improved, both the number and speed of trains increased, leading to inevitable mishaps. To try to regulate things better, Railway Policemen were employed, and they were literally a form of human signal, policing the traffic on their line and endeavouring to keep the trains a safe distance apart. (They were, naturally, nicknamed "Bobbies", a name which was subsequently inherited by Signalmen and is still in use to this day).

The human knack for misunderstanding and error soon led to the development of a form of mechanical signalling controlled from a central point, the signalbox.

Much improved as this system was, there were still plenty of opportunities for error, leading to many well-documented accidents, so that eventually Parliament had to intervene and formally regulate the various railway companies to make them safer.

There have been many, many different Acts of Parliament covering all topics of safety but probably the most important was the Regulation of Railways Act of 1889 which made compulsory: block working (making it impossible for more than one train to occupy any one "block" of track); interlocking (making it impossible to set a conflicting route, or signal a route other than the one set); the locking of facing points and the continuous train brake.

This meant a lot of work for some of the railways, such as the Cambrian, which had (through their dire financial conditions) been unable to make much effort to improve the safety of their lines. The LB&SCR was one railway at the forefront of railway safety, having had the misfortune of some spectacular accidents early in its life! ... MORE .

Photo Gallery  
John Sandys (27 Sept., 2018): A beautiful warm day saw the Q class in charge of the well populated service train.

John Sandys (20 Sept., 2018): "A very windy but dry day with the Q class in charge of the Service Train; also a few shots of progress on the OP4 site."

Martin Lawrence's photo of the rear of the Q class goods train, from 15 Sept., 2018.

John Sandys (17 Sept., 2018): "Another sun filled day saw the Q class in for the S15, also the Class 37 diesel arrived off the main line to escort "Camelot' to the West Somerset Railway."
Brian Lacey's photo (15 Sept., 2018) shows the S15 arriving in Platform 3, passing the Q class in Platform 2. The H class with its train is just visible on platforms 4/5.

360° View: No. 263 Approaches Kingscote

Mike Anton has produced some more 360° views of the Railway, including this one of No. 263 driving into Kingscote on 31 Aug., 2018. The views are uploaded to Google street view.

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

TheSoutherner: "It's not often that a preserved railway breaks out a demonstration freight set without there being an event or gala ongoing. So with a scheduled Goods run at the Bluebell Railway, it was an opportunity not to be missed."

From the Science & Society Archive: "Wild Swan"

No. 4467 "Wild Swan", c. 1939 .

Locomotive departing King's Cross Station, hauling the "Northern Belle". This was a cruise train similar to today's "Royal Scotsman". The service started in June 1933 and lasted until June 1939. The itinerary lasted one week. It began with a Friday evening departure from King's Cross, and ended the following Friday morning. The composition of the train was 14 vehicles, six of which were first class sleeping cars.

A note about "Captain Baxter":  
She returned to the Railway on 20 Sept., 2018, following a very successful and well-received working visit to Didcot.  
The Captain will have one or two final steamings on the Railway before her boiler certificate expires, then she will then enter the Steamworks! exhibition pending an overhaul.

A fun day at the Bluebell Railway, by "Photographer Jamie".

From the Huntley Film Archive: Somerset and Dorset Railway, 1950s

Somerset and Dorset Railway from Bath To Evercreech Junction.

Nice shots of steam trains and workings of the railway. Shepton Mallet Charlton Road railway station. Train man, driver or fireman checks wheels of locomotive No. 53807.

Good shot of front part of engine as it starts in steam. Bath Junction signal box. Clear shot of signalman preparing trackside apparatus, possibly for single-line working. Device on engine of goods train collects ring-shaped object, or key ...


A wedding with us at the Bluebell Railway will give you a day to remember as never before.

Imagine the charm of a marriage ceremony in our Waiting Room on the platform where your own private train will pull in to take you gently through the delightful countryside to enjoy your very special wedding breakfast on board--a wonderfully unique experience for you and your guests to treasure forever.


An afternoon dining experience, by "Amery Junction".

From the Glossary

The term used as a shortened version of "collector shoe" to denote a third rail current collection device mounted on the bogie of a direct current electric train. Shoes are normally distributed along the train and connected by a power train line cable to avoid loss of power at gaps in the current rail.

7 Oct., 2018, is annual Vintage Bus Running Day. You can now download timetable information for the nine free vintage bus routes on which vehicles will be operating.
Your Painting: "Union Castle"

Full Title: Southern Railway Merchant Navy Class "Union Castle" at Salisbury Station
Artist: George Heiron
Date: 1969
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 74.5 x 105.1 cm
Collection: National Railway Museum

A right-side profile view of 4-6-2 locomotive No.21C2 "Union Castle" waiting at Salisbury station in about 1946. The locomotive is partially in shadow underneath a footbridge, and behind are a water tower and station buildings.

A railwayman walks alongside the engine, holding an oilcan, while a porter pushes a luggage trolley over decking laid across the tracks. There are two men on the top of the tender shovelling coal.

No. 66739 "Bluebell Railway" pulling an engineering train at Broadstairs 01:48 a.m. on  23 Sept., 2018.

In the News

Affordable trains, expensive infrastructure

Steam locomotives bring welcome relief from Northern rail woes

Meet the man who operates Yorkshire's most remote railway signal box

@mhewba Sep 28
Tomorrow I am at the @LDNScouts Conference and my eldest son is at @bluebellrailway for @croydonscouting Beavers Chief Scout Bronze Award celebration. Both of us looking forward to an inspiring day #iScout #topawards @UKScouting

@MattHowling Sep 26
Finally got to ride the famous @bluebellrailway used as a period location in countless #film and #TV productions #steam #train #eastsussex #filming

@MarkAshleyG Sep 26
The late September sun gives a warm autumnal glow to the Bluebell Railway this afternoon. I chased the steam service from Horsted Keynes up to East Grinstead and then back down the line to Sheffield Park. #bluebellrailway #drbeeching #steamtrains @bluebellrailway

@ChiCopywriter Sep 24
A behind the scenes tour at @bluebellrailway revealed that a train restoration workshop has plenty of story-worthy characters!

@Lincoln_Sausage Sep 23
#rainyday activity at the @bluebellrailway #dogfriendly got my ticket

@AboutEG Sep 23
The @NPASRedhill's photo of Imberhorne (Hill Place) viaduct yesterday reminded me that we almost lost it in 1967. Thank goodness we didn't. The @bluebellrailway would never have returned to East Grinstead if it had been demolished.

@rossbpowell Sep 22
Today, in the rain, was a family trip on the @bluebellrailway - still a lovely steam ride of nostalgia

@CWM_YSXW Sep 19
Your Sussex Wedding #VenueOfTheDay: @bluebellrailway - As well as offering the romantic Golden Arrow dining service, The Birch Grove Suite at Sheffield Park station can accommodate up to 65 people for a sit down meal or up to 80 for a buffet style celebration.

@comporhys Sep 17
Thanks to @MrTimDunn's tweets, I went to @bluebellrailway today. It was terrific. Everyone should go

@huldatheprophet Sep 15
Great to be @bluebellrailway today. Thanks to helpful volunteers in the C&W works

@NeilofSussex Sep 15
A brilliant day on the goods @bluebellrailway

@JiveDancer99 Sep 16
A very enjoyable day visiting the @bluebellrailway with the @RCEAssoc learning about the operation of the railway.





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