Locomotive Update: Getting Work Done Before Santa Arrives

The daily running season recently ended, and there's a small window during November before our Santa Season starts. This small window gives us the opportunity to catch up on some maintenance to the running fleet as well as tackle some of those heavier items.

One such "heavy" item is attention to the crank axle of Q class No. 30541. Recently the loco has been "knocking" under steam, so immediately after our "Giants of Steam" event, No. 30541 entered the Loco Works for some attention and maintenance to the crank axle, big ends, small ends, eccentric straps, and axle boxes.

As I write, the crank axle has been removed and the journals are being machined, using a specialist company, to remove the 12 thousands of an inch taper across the length of the journal. Once complete, this work will ensure there is no twist under steam on the connecting rod putting pressure on the small ends.

Other items we're attending to are new spring hanger pins, new bushes to the small ends, and re-metaling the axleboxes. The work will be complete this month in time for the Santa Season, and in the new year, the loco will re-enter the Works for attention to the leading and trailing driving wheelsets.

Alongside No. 30541, work has been progressing on No. 80151. The first phase of painting is complete, and once the boiler is installed and the loco fully assembled, the second phase of painting--including final top coat, lining, and varnish--will take place.

Work on the boiler has focused on the replacement of 60 no. crown stays, with all the old stays now drilled out and each hole tapped ready to receive the new stays. The palm stays have been riveted and screwed in place and some final riveting to the clack pads on the boiler barrel has been done. Once the crown stays have been installed, the boiler will be rolled upright and installation of flues and tubes will commence.

Measuring work also has been undertaken on No. 34059's boiler to determine the length of stays required and the first order for stays has been placed along with orders for the specialist drills, taps, and reamers required.

Schools class No. 928 "Stowe" reached a significant milestone in October when the chassis was re-wheeled for the final time. The crank axle is yet to be installed as this also needs the same specialist machining, and once complete it will be fitted using our wheel drop. In the meantime, work continues on the chassis with the finer items while the inner firebox is stored awaiting fitting.

The running fleet has performed well over the daily operating season while the usual round of boiler inspections and minor maintenance items have taken place. These performances set us up well for our Santa Season--I hope you've booked your tickets as they are almost sold out!

By Chris Hunford, Locomotive Director

Double Donations Dash Is Racing Away & the Deadline Extended!

After a slightly delayed start to the OP4 Double Donations Dash campaign, the pace of donations has increased rapidly. At the close of business on 7 Nov., 2018, the Railway had raised a magnificent total in excess of £175,000. This total includes Gift Aid to be recovered, as well as the matching funding offered by our generous benefactor.

Every last penny of this fundraiser will be spent on the new Carriage Shed and the Heritage Skills Centre. If we hit our target of £250,000, we will have taken a massive step to achieving our ambition of getting 25 carriages in a dry and safe environment while each one awaits its turn in the restoration queue.

We are nearly at 70% of our target, a magnificent achievement and one for which we offer our grateful thanks to each and every person who has made a donation, large or small. Project leader Barry Luck can't wait to put the donations to good use!

If you have not donated to the Appeal yet, it is not too late because we have extended the closing date to 31 Dec., 2018. Remember, you can send a cheque with a completed Gift Aid form or make a donation via BTMyDonate. Details below!

Please give to the Double Donations Dash  directly online at this webpage , or by cheque, including this Gift Aid form (note, however, that the deadline has been extended).
Post cheques to "Cash for Cover Double Donations Dash", Bluebell Railway Trust, Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL.

Thank you, as always, for your support!
OP4 Update: Turning Out

Work on OP4 has slowed a little in the past few weeks, following completion of the Heritage Skills Centre framework and roof, but there has been progress in the yard, with the completion of the turnout that will serve roads H and J.

A short length of track has been laid in the shed to complete H road, and there now remains only about 50m of plain track to complete this connection. We will not be laying track for the final road (J) until the east wall of the shed has been completed.

The Infrastructure Team is now very busy elsewhere on the Railway, completing more urgent work relaying sections of the main line, so progress in the yard will be slow over the next couple of months.

However, work is proceeding in the background finalising the last few details relating to construction of the skills centre floor and walls, as well as the walls of the main shed. Once these details have been agreed, we will be in a position to recommence on the skills centre, depending on resource availability and weather.
The two photographs show, above, the H/J turnout and, below, the stub of H road. Finally, a huge thank you to all those who have contributed so generously to the next phase of the project.

By Barry Luck, OP4 Project Manager

Santa Still Needs You!
Thank you to everyone who has volunteered their services to help out on the Santa Specials this year.
The response has been brilliant, but we still need dates filled. I know that many of you are thinking about it but wary of not volunteering as you have never done it before. Let me reassure that it is not only a breeze, but great fun as well. All you have to do is keep the customer happy!
The dates we need help on are:
From Sheffield Park, Departing 1140 & 1425 (Set Z)
  • Saturday 1 December
  • Sunday 2 December
  • Saturday 8 December
  • Sunday 9 December
  • Sunday 16 December
  • Saturday 22 December
  • Sunday 23 December
  • Monday 24 December  
From Sheffield Park, Departing 1045 & 1330 (Set X)
  • Sunday 2 December
  • Sunday 9 December
  • Saturday 15 December
  • Sunday 16 December
  • Saturday 22 December
  • Sunday 23 December
  • Monday 24 December
From East Grinstead, Departing 1235 & 1520 (parking provided)
  • Sunday 2 December
  • Sunday 16 December
  • Saturday 22 December
  • Sunday 23 December
  • Monday 24 December (Departs 12:35 only)
So forget about the shopping and Christmas paraphernalia and join us in putting smiles on the children's faces and in reliving the Magic of Christmas all over again!
If you or anyone you know would like to help, please contact me on and we will be delighted to have you on board.
You may even get a mince pie! Delicious.
By Keith Riggs
P.S. There are some volunteers who have yet to give me dates. Please do this asap so that I can finalise the stewards and everyone will know where they are. Thank you. 

Elves Needed Too!

Santa's elves are in a pickle this year as Mrs. Claus has just discovered there won't be enough to go round.

Four elves (young or old) are desperately needed for the East Grinstead trains on 2 and 8 December, working with the boss, Santa, to hand out presents to the children on board from approximately 11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Great fun is had by everyone! You don't need to be a Railway Member, so friends and neighbours are very welcome as well.

Further details from Commercial Manager Caroline Collins at 01825 720824 or Julia Pique at 01825 720810.

Christmas is coming! To find the perfect gift for the steam enthusiast in your life--including gift vouchers and memberships-- shop online here .  
Project 27 Update Part 1: Autumn Engineering

Heating up the horn guides and removing the old studs in preparation for their replacement. More recent project photos here
It's been a few months since we've had any significant news on the restoration front to share, not to say we haven't been busy, but it has involved countless hours upon hours of grinding the various faces of the frames square!

With this work now completed, and various alignment reference marks spotted, the two frame plates have been split, and we can hopefully accelerate now to finishing the prep work on the frames and erecting the basic frame assembly before the years end!

While all this activity has been going on, Sean has been busy grit blasting and painting up the horn guides and various other components in readiness for remedial work and refitting to the new frames.

Offsite, the work of machining the cylinder block should hopefully be well on its way at Statfold Barn, and it is hoped that by the end of the year we should, after collection, be able to setup the new block within the new frames!

All-in-all we should hopefully be on track to fulfilling our aims, from the beginning of the year, to having the frame assembly loosely erected before the years end.

Project 27 Update Part 2: The Daily Grind

The team and volunteers from the yard busy grinding mill scale from the frame plates.

Another weekend of unusually mild weather saw the team out with much help from other Locomotive Department volunteers, free on the day, grinding off the mill scale from the frame plates and apply a coat of Bonda primer!

With three sides now complete and one to go, following a few extra holes to be drilled in the RHS plate, we should be in a position to start erecting the new frames.

Meanwhile, offsite at Statfold Barn the machining of the cylinder block has been started.

Progress on No. 27 is at present going great, but we cannot hope to keep up the good work and see 27 run in the near future unless the funds keep coming in, so if you've enjoyed our progress so far and wish to help in any way, visit our fundraising page and donate today!

Visit the Project 27 Facebook page .

Some exciting Christmas Season events for your calendar:

Anymore for Any More?

Trains are quiet in November, but don't forget the Bessemer Arms and Bluebell Railway Gift Shop at Sheffield Park Station are both open!

Bessemer Arms
  • Weekdays:  10:00 a.m. - 3 p.m.
  • Weekends:  8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Gift Shop: 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Also, although the Horsted Keynes Buffet is closed in November, at East Grinstead Station, the vintage-style Grinsteade Buffet Carriage is open every day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

As John Sandys points out (and proves in his photo from 30 Oct., 2018), at the Buffet you can get tea served in a real cups and saucers!

Learn more about Refreshment Options at the Railway.
Footplate Tasters: Book Now for January & February 2019

Two participants for the Footplate Taster on 3 Nov., 2018 (photo by Neil Glaskin).

Are you looking for a special present for a steam buff or an exciting opportunity to try a new experience? Bookings are now open for Footplate Tasters on select dates in January and February.

Included in the £160 package is:
  • An individual one-hour, hands-on Footplate Taster with one of the Railway's experienced drivers.
  • Depending on the time of your visit, you can enjoy either a full English breakfast or a lunch.
  • A discount voucher for a Family Ticket to visit the Bluebell Railway on a date of your choice in 2019 on normal operating days.
  • A gift pack from the Bluebell Shop.
  • A year's membership in the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society.
  • A certificate on completion.

These are popular opportunities, so book now and snag that "perfect Christmas present"!

From the Archive
Tony Hillman, "With No. 75027 now on static display, let's have a look at some of its  
class mates at work. All from the John J. Smith collection."


No. 75065 at Broadstairs on 14 June, 1959.
Can You Help the C&W Department?

Let me describe how I spend a day and half each week volunteering at the Carriage & Wagon Department at Horsted Keynes, and then you decide.

Firstly let me list what I do not do:
  • Carpentry/Woodwork
  • Metalwork
  • Painting
  • Polishing
  • Varnishing
None of which are skills I have acquired. Basic DIY is OK, I can recognise most tools and processes used in the shed and listen when the experts describe a task. I have no background in railways; I never even had a train set!

So how do I help?

For a particular project I ask the experts to tell me what needs doing, how long it will take, when it needs doing, how much it will cost, and who should do it. The experts are the skilled people-the volunteers, paid staff, and managers in C&W.

Armed with all this information I make up a project plan. The plan is reviewed by the experts and confirmed as "do-able". The project then proceeds according to the plan. The experts can relax and produce the perfect results they are renowned for, secure in the knowledge that someone (me) is keeping an eye on progress and confirming that the next task is ready and waiting.

If things are not going to plan, I can meet with the experts and come up with a solution, adjust the plan, or add more effort.

So, I ask questions, listen to the answers, construct a plan, watch what is happening, and make sure that I stay one step ahead of the current work and produce a report each month to let everyone know the progress.

In other words, I am a Project Manager. We need more project managers.

If you have always wanted to be part of the Railway's restoration team but don't think you have any skills to offer please think again.

Can you talk to people, can you listen to people, can you speak up when the plan is slipping, can you spend time with us? If so, then you can look forward to becoming a valuable team member at the Carriage & Wagon Works.

Contact me by email , and we can arrange for you to visit and have a chat.

By John Knight

Photo Gallery  
John Sandys (3 Nov., 2018):"Today saw a pleasant coolish sunny day for 'Camelot' to host the Footplate Taster sessions; plus, another look around SteamWorks! and the loco shed and yard."

Ashley Smith's 2018 album .

Julian Heinemann (3 Nov., 2018): "Camelot" was in action for a footplate experience, with the LNW Observation Car attached. 
Peter Edwards' photo shows H class No. 263 at Town House Bridge with the Golden Arrow Luncheon train from Sheffield Park on 28 October. Preparations for the winter's track renewal are evident on the lineside. 

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

Ben Jenden's whistles are back! A September 2017 to October 2018 whistle compilation. 

From the Science & Society Picture Library: Brighton Tram

Brighton Corporation Tramways , Brighton, c. 1920s. Taken from the Whitcombe Collection at the Science Museum, London.

Your Painting: NUR Banner

Full Title: National Union of Railwaymen Smithfield Branch Banner
Artist: Unknown
Date: 1925
Medium: Oil on silk
Size: 264 x 290 cm
Collection: People's History Museum, Manchester
Acquisition: Gift, c.1980

This banner includes the phrase "Workers of the World Unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains", which is taken from the Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels.

It is not just mottos that appear on multiple banners. The image of the robed lady is inspired by the work of Walter Crane. The company George Tutill, which made this banner, often took inspiration from Crane's work and used such images on several banners.

NOTE: There are no trains running on the Bluebell Railway during November. During this month, the Railway will undertake track maintenance on our line at various locations.

Tim Parkin, Film Facilities Manager, alerts us to an advert for a Dreamboats & Petticoats CD filmed at the Bluebell Railway. Thank you to all who help with the Railway's filming tasks!

From the Glossary

A pipe for the collection of the steam from the top of the boiler, used on boilers where the regulator valve was not housed in a dome.

Some boilers were designed without domes, principally because it was thought that cutting a hole in the top of the boiler would lead to weakening the structure.

 In locomotives of this type, steam was collected in a pipe positioned at the top of the boiler barrel. The collecting pipe was perforated on the top side to allow the steam inside so that it could pass to the regulator valve.

In superheated locomotives, it was common to position the regulator valve in the superheater header instead of in a dome.

From No. 10000

Pioneer LMSR Co-Co Diesel No. 10000 at Derby in January 1948

The locomotive had just been built, at Derby Works in 12/47 i.e., immediately before the LMSR was nationalised.

Here it is working its first test train (12 coaches, with dynamometer-car), from Manchester Central to St Pancras, on 14 Jan., 1948. By Walter Dendy.

Caledonian Productions: No. 65 departing Sheffield Park on 25 Oct., 2018. 

 @ChiCopywriter Oct 31
A behind the scenes tour at @bluebellrailway revealed a ghastly ghost train as well as a workshop familiar! #HappyHalloween2018  

@RolandN Oct 27
Something different today at the Bluebell Railway
#bluebellrailway #historic #railway #train #art #sketch #drawing #illustration @bluebellrailway

@nicgoobrich Oct 27
Fun fact: The @bluebellrailway's NLR 75 class "Cromford" was used as a ghost engine in the 1967 movie "I'll Never Forget Whats-his-Name" and painted in full white.

@Jason_Prout_ Oct 28
Yesterday I treated the family to a day out on the @bluebellrailway in Sussex. They thoroughly enjoyed it, as did I, and I would recommend to anyone it's well worth a visit

@robnotso Oct 28
@bluebellrailway many thanks to the great staff on the Golden Arrow Lunch train today who made Dad's 90th birthday such a great day within the luxury of Fingall. Fantastic food, fantastic day ... And thanks to Julia Pique a good friend and who helped book and coordinate





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