It's a Hat Trick!

Trustee Robert Hayward announces that the Bluebell Railway has won the Siemens Signalling Award at the National Railway Heritage Awards Ceremony, for the third year in a row!

The awards were announced at a 5 December, 2018, ceremony held at Merchant Taylor's Hall in London.

This year, the signalling award was given for the LB&SCR signals at Sheffield Park. "It was also the only winning entrant in the South and was described by the presenter as 'absolutely excellent,'" reports Robert.

The award was presented by Mark Carne, the former Chief Executive of Network Rail (2014-2018), and Aiden Stell of Siemens Mobility. Representing the Railway and the signalling project were Gordon Callander, Andy Swain, and Alistair Bruce of the Signals & Telecommunications Department.

It's a hat trick of signalling wins for the Railway, which won the Siemens Award in 2016 for the Kingscote Signal Box and signals and in 2017 for the Signal Box and signals at Horsted Keynes.

Well done to the S&T team!

A Third Siemens Award Signals the Way Forward for S&T

Photos by Chris Majer.
The Bluebell Signals & Telecommunications (S&T) staff are very proud to have received the Siemens Signalling Award at this year's National Railway Heritage Award Ceremony.
This is the third consecutive year we have won. In 2016, we won for Kingscote Signalling, and in 2017 for the Horsted Keynes signal box. This year's award was for the restoration of the LB&SCR signals at Sheffield Park.

The judges were impressed with the modern methods used without affecting the heritage appearance. The original wooden posts were rotten at ground level. To extend the life of the replacements posts, steel feet were manufactured using identical methods employed on modern colour light signals.

The electrical connections were fitted at the base of the signals reducing the need for working at height. Anti-slip surfaces were fitted on all surfaces, and compliant handrails and kickboards fitted as appropriate.

The award demonstrates the sympathetic use of modern ideas and materials that can benefit safety, efficiency, and ambiance on heritage railways. We must not forget that our colleagues from the Friends of Sheffield Park, as well as Matt Crawford and Andy Palmer (with his carpentry skills), helped make this all possible. 

An important principle we have encompassed throughout all these projects is to refer to other heritage railways and their experiences of similar schemes, followed by discussion with the Bluebell Preservation Standard Group--a certainty is that no one person has all the good ideas. The story on the National Railway Heritage Awards detailing our success is reported in January's "Railways Illustrated" published on 29 November.

This year, the S&T team has been consolidating the improvements made over the last few years with a number of behind-the-scenes enhancements, while preparation for the additional token instrument at East Grinstead and the mandatory maintenance checks have continued.

We now have all the signal aspects lit by LEDs. This programme started a couple of years ago with experiments and discussions with other heritage railways. We used to spend a fair proportion of our faulting time on lamp changing, but since installation commenced, we have not had a single (LED) lamp fault.

Remote condition monitoring of power supplies and signal box status now takes place in the Horsted Keynes S&T mess room, resulting in some types of faults being attended to before they have been formally reported!

The continuing deterioration of the Sheffield Park point rodding has meant more patch and make-do repairs, but it is hoped that more permanent solutions can be agreed to in the near future.

By Brian Hymas

Double Donations Dash: We Did It!

Well, we made it! At first our target of £250,000 seemed a daunting one, even with the incredible offer of matched funding. We had a few delays at the beginning of the Appeal, and consequently extended the closing date to 31 December, but, as ever, the response was magnificent.  

Despite my misgivings that we would not hit the target, we sailed past £250,000 to reach £262,000 by 5 December. The rate of donations has begun to slow down but there is still time to raise the total by 31 December.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed so much, so quickly.

With the security of "money in the bank", planning has already started for the next phase of work on OP4. Work to complete the external walls of the carriage shed and the Heritage Skills Centre (HSC) with the remaining brickwork and cladding will soon be underway.

Hopefully, there will be no unforeseen problems to delay progress, but, all being well, there should be enough money to lay the ground floor concrete slab in the HSC and to undertake work leading to the eventual installation of new toilets and changing facilities for Carriage & Wagon staff.  

Future work will include the concrete path and ramp to access the HSC once the walls are up and laying the track for the last storage road. Future phases of work to fit out the carriage shed and HSC will follow as funds permit, but for the time being all thoughts are on the current phase of work.

By Trevor Swainson, Funding Governor, Bluebell Railway Trust

Please give to the Double Donations Dash  directly online at this webpage , or by cheque, including this Gift Aid form
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!
Point of Pride

John Sandys' photo from 29 Nov., 2018, shows the completed work on No. 7 point at the south end of Sheffield Park station.

Friends of Sheffield Park: A Review of 2018

At the start of the AWF project, insulating and dry-lining the external walls (Photo: R Lowe.)
Chas Melton offers an end-of-year retrospective of a banner year for FOSP, including work on the Bessemer Arms canopy, the Above Workshop Facility, and much more ...

As Santa's sleigh-bells jangle ever closer, we are reminded another year has nearly passed and it's time to reflect on the achievements of the Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP).

The year 2018 could probably be summarised as one of "two halves" as far as FOSP major activities and achievements are concerned. The first half was, or course, the Bessemer Arms canopy; the second has been (and still is) the Above Workshop Facility ("AWF") fit-out in the Loco Works building.

It seems incredible that this time last year we were beavering away doing much preparation behind the scenes and had only recently broken ground to install the new canopy column bases (and rapidly covered it up again, so as not to create trip hazards for Santa and his many visitors). But for that, there was otherwise scant indication of the impending major change to the face of the restaurant block.  

Immediately the New Year was behind us, a "considerable" scaffold was erected and construction proceeded apace, happily unimpeded by any adverse weather. For reasons of speed, efficiency, and practicality, we employed contractors to erect the structure and to glaze it, with FOSP volunteers doing all the rest. It was especially rewarding to complete the project both on-time--the scaffold being removed just days before the daily running season commenced--and within budget.
A formal opening ceremony was held once all the final finishing touches had been applied, and we enjoyed the glow of much favourable comment and publicity. It has been incredibly rewarding for the whole Friends team to have successfully delivered such a significant asset to the Railway, and it is a joy to see it so obviously appreciated every day by our visitors.  

Finally, it is once again appropriate to record our thanks for the support this project received, especially from a number of generous donors who responded with alacrity to our original appeal for funds, and to the Bluebell Railway Trust for their considerable contribution ...
Some of the Railway's 2019 event dates have been published . They include Branch Line Weekend, Toy & Rail Collectors' Fair, Trains After Dark, Steam and Beer Festival, Steam Through the Ages, and more.
C&W Year in Review: A Year of Understanding

Rolling Stock Director Bob Pamment offers a full round up of C&W Department activities for 2018, and a look forward to a busy and ambitious New Year ...

Speaking personally, this year has for me been a year in which I have consolidated my understanding of the great potential and great challenges associated with all aspects of what is delivered by our wonderful Carriage & Wagon Department.

The first area of achievement that I wish to recognise is that of the unsung heroes who keep the whole fleet safe and reliable, day in and day out, doing the maintenance tasks, as well as component overhauls such as vacuum brake cylinders that are now being overhauled ahead of requirements and are starting to appear as items in stock on the shelves.

The daily grind of maintenance is no mean feat, and it is sometimes successfully achieved against all odds. Without this unglamorous work being conscientiously undertaken, our running fleet would be much diminished.

This year's achievements culminated in a fabulous Christmas present for the operating railway in the form of BCK No. 21246 (see below). What may not be apparent to the casual observer is the extent of the overhaul it has been given, particularly in terms of what has been done below the sole bar.

This vehicle is the first to have been given a bogie and underframe overhaul that would match, and in some areas surpass, what was achieved in the old BR main works, and it represents the standard we need to achieve consistently going forward ... MORE

Testing Time

Martin Lawrence's photo shows newly overhauled Mk.1 Brake Composite No. 21246 undergoing a test run on 21 Nov., 2018, following a comprehensive overhaul which has been undertaken since the carriage arrived in mid-2011. It will be included in one of the Santa Special sets.

And she passed with flying colours, as John Sandys' photo from 4 Dec., 2018, shows: "The recently restored BR Mk1 Brake Corridor Composite No. 21246 gleaming on the Festive Feast service, leaving Sheffield Park."

Stuck for Present Ideas?!

With Christmas fast approaching you may be stuck for ideas for presents for your nearest and dearest. Don't forget the Bluebell Railway Shop can offer a great selection of gifts that can be purchased online or in person. So, if you have someone who is difficult to buy for check out the shop online or in person and see for yourself.
  •     Gift vouchers
  •     Footplate experiences
  •     Vouchers for on-board dining experiences   
  •     Model railway accessories
  •     A huge selection of railway books
  •     At Sheffield Park there is well stocked gift shop
Just in Time for Christmas!

By Martin Lawrence.
New 2019 dates have been added for all three of the Railway's driving, firing, and footplate experiences. Visit the individual webpages via the hyperlinks for full details and booking information.

Full Steam Ahead

Experience first-hand firing and driving one the Railway's fleet of historic steam engines. "Camelot" will be on duty for this exciting day over the entire length of the Bluebell Line between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead.

It will be a full day starting at Sheffield Park at 8 a.m. finishing there at around 5 p.m. A maximum of two guests per participant are welcome to join you for this exciting day!

New! Footplate Extra

A one-hour driving and firing experience under the guidance of a member of the Railway's loco crew, including one turn each of driving and firing. Plus, lunch in the Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park Station; tickets for up to two guests to accompany you in a carriage behind the loco; and more.

Footplate Tasters

Includes an individual one-hour "hands on" footplate taster with one of our experienced drivers. Plus, enjoy either a full English breakfast or a lunch in either the Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park or in the George V buffet at Horsted Keynes and a discount voucher for a Family Ticket to visit the Bluebell Railway on a date of your choice in 2019 on normal operating days.


To celebrate the season, Data Protection Manager Lance Allen offers this photo of a pint-sized "Bluebell", actually a Hatton's 00 gauge model, taking pride of place in his wintry "Country Shed" diorama.

"Separately, I'd like to mention, in my role as the Bluebell Railway's Data Protection volunteer manager, my thanks for the positive, can-do attitude of all the people I have dealt with on the GDPR implementation across the Railway. This has helped put the Railway and all its internal groups at the forefront in protecting everyone's personal data and the Railway's reputation."

Some Christmas Season events for your calendar:
From the Archive
Tony Hillman: "With all the talk of Brexit, here are some John J. Smith photographs from  


Taken on 3 March, 1958: No. 413 at Le Cheylard.
Photo Gallery  
John Sandys (29 Nov., 2018): "Track work now finished at Sheffield Park, and more Christmas preparations at Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park stations." 

John Sandys (4 Dec., 2018): "My album from a beautiful December day with not a breath of wind! 'Camelot' was on Festive Feast duty producing plenty of steam at Sheffield Park this morning as she pulled away in spectacular form! Nice to see the BCK in action, and I have also included some stills with kind permission of John Harwood off his video capturing some great shots of 'Camelot' crossing the viaduct at East Grinstead."

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

NOTE: This will be the only edition for December as the newsletter will be going on leave. Have a lovely Christmas season, thank you for your support, and see you in 2019!  

"Camelot" shunting the Santa Special, by "Heritage Railway Productions".

From the British Movietone Archive: Steam to Scrap
(Look away!) "The days of the good old steam locos are numbered, and the real veterans are being broken up . Here at Swindon, where many thousands have been built over the past 100 years or so, the old-timers are being turned into scrap. But they won't be forgotten, there's a big demand for the old number plates, as souvenirs for collectors."

Well done to Trevor Summerfield, who leads the pack approaching the busy Christmas football season.

View the Football Competition positions here , a fundraiser for the overhaul of Maunsell Restaurant Car No. 7864.
John Harwood: "Camelot" on the viaduct at East Grinstead and passing through Kingscote with the Festive Feast train, on 3 Dec., 2018. Note that this footage complies with the Railway's Drones Policy .

Your Painting: Newport Steam

Artist: Ray Clifford
Date: 1988
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 89.5 x 59 cm
Collection: Lawrence House Museum, Cornwall

There's been great progress on the Heritage Lottery Fund-assisted overhaul of the long-term-loaned Bulleid Open Third No. 1456, now at the Mid-Hants Railway.

This timelapse film shows the canvas roof going on the Bulleid. It compresses four-and-a-half hours of work into just more than one minute.

From the Glossary


* Barn | Shed (housing for rolling stock)

* Consist | Rake/Formation (of carriages, e.g.)

* Deadhead | Empty stock/light engine (empty train)

* Engineer | Driver (of a loco)

* Grade | Level (train crossing)

The latest locomotive duty roster shows the workload for December and January.

Black 5 No. 44871 hauling the Christmas Sussex Belle Railtour at Lewes on 27 Nov., 2018.

From the Stephenson Locomotive Society Archive: SNG

After Christmas, the Railway is running a normal public service of steam-hauled and steam-heated trains. Tickets available in advance or on arrival. 

"Smith Movies" has produced a three part miniseries about building a Lego steam engine: "I travel to the Bluebell Railway to find a new engine to build."

@WSFRSHHeath Dec 7
A worthwhile morning for personnel from @WSFRSHHeath and @crawley_fire volunteering on the @bluebellrailway Golden Lions Children's Trust Santa Special #NotJustFires #Community  [Thank you for volunteering!--The Eds.]

@NicolKinrade Dec 1
What an adventure!  Tonight I gave the address from the footplate of a steam locomotive for the @bluebellrailway Christmas Carol service at Horsted Keynes.  Thanks to Fr David for inviting me--one to remember.

@Gordon_3417 Nov 26
A Minion was at @LondonWaterloo this evening, leafing through a copy of @railexpress, and what did he find...? Amongst others, a picture of a train called Gordon .

@beeranddiesels Nov 19
66739 Bluebell Railway with the 6M60 1112 Whitemoor Yard L.D.C Gbrf to Mountsorell Gbrf passing through Peterborough this morning . @railcamlive #Peterborough @GBRailfreight @bluebellrailway #Class66





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