2019 Running Season Off to a Strong Start

The 2019 running season began at February half-term, with the new-style Service Two garnering a number of favourable comments from our passengers:

  • I was guarding on 19 Feb., 2019, and had 33 passengers“adults and children“on the first train from Sheffield Park, with a few joining at Horsted Keynes.
  • The earlier start was appreciated by passengers from East Grinstead.
  • The even, two hourly service was a “good idea”.
  • That adults got off with children to play in the play area at Kingscote while the train went to East Grinstead, and the Kingscote passengers re-joined the train upon its return.
  • Some passengers got off at Horsted Keynes to look round the C&W Department, have a drink in the buffet, and let children visit the Elephant Van. The feeling from some passengers was that they could spendan hour or so at Horsted Keynes and then continue on the return train for another trip.
  • All stations had passengers joining or alighting from the train at various times.

Thus, it was a good start for the new Service Two, with some positive feedback, so hopefully the new timetable will be a winner.

The first event of the year starts with our Branch Line Weekend from 15-17 March. We welcome visiting locomotives 02 No. 24 “Calbourne” (thanks to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway) and Beattie Well Tank No. 30587 (courtesy of National Railway Museum). 

Friday will feature through services from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead with an increased frequency. Saturday and Sunday services willfeature through services plus changes of locomotives at Horsted Keynes,again with a revised and packed timetable.

It will be a nostalgic and exciting display of LSWR locomotives over thethree days, so come along to the Railway to enjoy a busy weekend with a“branch line feel”.

By Mike Ellis, Operations Director

Mike’s photo shows Adams 02 No. 24 “Calbourne” at Havenstreet.
FOSP Update: With AWF Finished, On to the Next Job!

It has been a little while since I penned any update on Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) activities. The reason is not, of course, that we have been inactive“far from it. But there are only so many times I can write about our activities in the Above Workshop Facility (AWF). Just saying the same thing over and over but in different ways wouldn't be very entertaining!

So, finally, I can announce that we have finished. We have cleared all our tools from the building, and it has been handed over, with some of the facilities being brought into use imminently. There are still one ortwo items of "snagging" that we shall be attending to in the coming weeks, but otherwise FOSP has "left the building". I should also say that we have left the building in pristine condition; we fervently hope that all users will respect it and make every effort to maintain things as they are.  

We have expended hundreds of hours over the past nine months on this enterprise, and, although everyone in the group has enjoyed having such an important and large project to undertake, we recognise that other areas of the station have begun to suffer from a lack of attention. Thisyear we will focus on some of the "smaller stuff", and hopefully we shall soon have everything looking ship-shape once more. 

So, what are we going to attack next? As well as the aforementioned general catch-up on maintenance, we have two more substantial projects before us. Firstly, half of the Newick Siding walkway“used by carriage cleaners to access sets for cleaning while they are berthed in the siding“requires replacement as some of the timber structure is now life-expired. We have just been given consent to procure the materials, so work should commence soon, with a view to having it done before the main running season is upon us.  

Secondly, we are gearing-up to repaint the water tower tank. This requires a scaffold of considerable proportions to gain the necessary access, and it will need to remain clear of the Railway loading gauge ofthe adjacent Pump House Siding, which must remain operational during the works.

At present we are reviewing quotes for the scaffold (quite expensive), then we have to decide whether and when to proceed. No doubt there will be some interesting photographic opportunities when we finally get up there, and I'm curious to know whether or not we will find any fish swimming in the tank, as I have been assured we will“it's not April 1st yet, is it?!

By Chas Melton
S&T Update: Easing the Curve

The Railway plans to realign the track north of Leamland Junction a short distance to the west to ease the curve. This work requires the Horsted Keynes up advanced starter signal to be moved to provide clearance, achieved by adding a new signal and then decommissioning the old one.

The new signal post, in traditional Southern Railway rail-built style, was made in summer 2018 by Mike Hopps and painted by Alan Dengate. Mike notes, “I set myself a challenge to see how quickly I could do it. I cutsome scrap rail to length one week following the previous relay, then cut the tubes, cleaned up the rails, drilled the holes, and bolted it all together on the following Wednesday. Five hours total; very pleased.Darren delivered it to S&T the following week, and Alan painted it."

At the end of February 2019, the new post was installed by the Thursday Gang. It will be bought into commission by the Signals & Telecommunications team.

Photo by Tim Crump.
2019 Spring Events

  • 15-17 March Branch Line Weekend  
  • 18-22 April Easter Weekend/Easter Egg Hunt
  • 11 May Toy & Rail Collectors' Fair

To view all event dates, click here .

Welcome "Calbourne"

John Sandys snapped a photo of visiting loco O2 W24 "Calbourne" in the Loco Yard at Sheffield Park in the afterno on of 9 March, 2019. She will be one of the visiting locos featured during Branch Line Weekend on 15-17 March.

Unfortunately, P class No. 323 "Bluebell' has been withdrawn from service with immediate effect. For a small engine, she has worked extremely hard since returning to service in 2011, and she now requires a full overhaul. This decision means that "Bluebell" will not steam during Branch Line Weekend. (More details about No. 323 are in the loco report below.)

However, the gala will see the return to service of Bulleid composite carriage No. 5768 after an extensive overhaul, as well as the return to service of all four of our Metropolitan carriages.
Locomotive Report: Much Maintenance in the Works

February has been unseasonably warm. In fact, this time last year we were suffering the effects of the "Beast from the East" but fortunately there has been no snow this year, which has meant 2019, and in particular our half-term service, has got off to a great start. The S15 has been the loco taking care of our core passenger trains while the H class has been in charge of our other services, such as the Wealden Rambler.

Since services finished at the very beginning of January to enable the infrastructure works to take place, the Locomotive Works has focused on maintenance activities to the running fleet, plus preparing BR Standard 4Tank No. 80151 for its boiler exams.

The key focus in the Works has been the completion of mechanical maintenance to Q class No. 30541. Work has centred around re-metalling and machining the 6 no. axleboxes and 12 no. horn guide faces on the driving wheels, machining new spring hangers, machining the journals on the driving axle, and re-metalling the eccentrics. The cross-head slippers have been re-metaled, the leading axle has had new springs fitted, and all the spring buckle hangers have had new bushes fitted

In addition to this work, the opportunity was taken to complete a pistonand valve exam (P&V), where a new set of rings were fitted. Unusually for a piston-valved locomotive, the Q class has “outside admission”. That is, the high pressure live steam is admitted at either end of the valve chest and exhausted at lower pressure between the valvefaces (the more usual arrangement is the other way round). This system makes the glands subject to full steam pressure and therefore especiallyprone to leakage, so the opportunity was taken to also machine the valve rod spindles and re-pack the glands ... MORE
No. 34059's boiler showing marking out for the stays (Photo: Tom James).
New drain cock valves and front spring for No. 541 (Photo: Tom James).
Any Old Iron?

When rails reach the end of their working life, it is often assumed thatthey will naturally go for scrap, but there is much value in even really old and worn rail. It can be put to a variety of other uses.  

Southern Railway rail-built signal posts immediately spring to mind on the Railway, and they are also made into buffer stops, sign posts, and reinforcement for concrete structures when piling or for supporting old sleepers holding back embankments. 

There are even old rails embedded in the ventilation shafts of Sharpthorne Tunnel to support the structure.

So it is no surprise to learn that the Infrastructure Team also uses oldrails as fence posts because they are likely to outlast anything else. Holes are drilled to take the high tensile wire that is used on fences all along the railway and tensioners are bolted to end posts to take up the slack. 

The posts are placed in a suitable hole by the road-railer, which can then give them a tap into the ground for good measure whilst also liningup the top edge. A dry mix of concrete is then tamped down to fill the remainder of the hole. After a day or two the concrete has set hard enough that tension can be applied to the wires. All that remains is re-tensioning at a later date once the wires have settled because of changes in temperature. Wires installed during the winter months are naturally going to be a bit slack in the summer.

During the winter relaying job at Rock Cutting last year, Tremains Crossing had to be rebuilt, and it was decided to upgrade and improve the approach for pedestrians at the side of the line. Fences using rail posts have been installed at both sides of the formation to guide walkers safely to the crossing point, and sleepers have been installed as steps to make access easier.  

Walkers are now better protected behind a physical barrier whilst waiting for a train to pass, and they will no doubt feel safer as a result. As with many infrastructure jobs, there is always unfinished work that has to be attended to later, and this was the case with the crossing at Tremains, which has only just been completely finished in a slack time between other important jobs.  

The photos show the Infrastructure Team last week working on the west side approach fitting wires to posts that were installed some time ago. 

By Mike Hopps
Gearing up for Branch Line Weekend 2019 with a re-cap of the 2018 event, by Bluebell-Railway Hawks. 
A short journey on the Railway (22 Feb., 2019), by Stephen Smith.
Due to the incoming Steam Dreams railtour , expected to be hauled by London & North Eastern Railway B1 class No. 61306 "Mayflower", a special timetable will operate on 23 March, 2019. This will accommodate both the incoming train's timings, and offerits participants their own reserved Bluebell Railway train.
Still stuck for an idea for Mother's Day? You can now book in advance for a special three-course Mother's Day (31 March, 2019) carvery at the Bessemer Arms. All mothers dining on the day will receive an exclusive gift! Just £25 per adult. Book online here .
Timber Time

Jon Goff reports on work on Sheffield Park 7B points ...

In November 2018, due to time restrictions, only the centre section of 7B points had its timbers replaced. The old softwood timbers were life-expired as are the timbers under the crossing nose. Therefore, we are correcting this issue before the full weekday running season begins.

In addition, we are lifting and putting in drainage for the 60-foot-longpanel from Road 1, which has been slowly sinking into the mud. The photos below show the progress at the end of the first day (4 March, 2019) with the rails pulled out and the base under the crossing nose almost dug out.

The left-hand photo was taken standing on the section renewed in November. Unfortunately, an old monument had to come out as two 20-foot-long timbers that need to be replaced were sitting one on eitherside of it.

In addition, Jon Goff provides a recently updated report on this winter's track relaying projects.
Behind the Tapestry

Fred Bailey offers an update on the Brighton Atlantic Project and work on the boiler and the tender ...

Below left is a picture of the pipework under the front end of the tender. To the right, painted black is the air brake cylinder. All the smaller pipes are part of the air brake system. The larger one at the very top is for steam heat to the train. Unseen here, the steam heat pipe is tucked up under the outside valance running down the left hand side of the tender,and the vacuum train pipe follows a similar route along the right hand side.

Below right ,more pipework, basically as in the previous shot, but including one of the many support brackets. These are all individually made to fit in specific places where it is convenient to support the pipework.

A lot of work“-all completely forgotten about but vital to the security of the pipework systems ... Read the full update .
" Farewell !" by Robert Alexander Hillingford, from the National Railway Museum collection. 
From a static start, a train moves into railway tunnel as another train emerges. After being in the tunnel for a short time, the train emerges at the other end. Filmed in the 1890s.
Q1 class No. 33027 at Clapham Junction with a set of carriages while on Waterloo empty stock duties, on 30 June, 1964. By Keith Widdowson.
Collectors’ Fairs Set for May & July

The collectors’ fairs at Horsted Keynes Station have been regular bi-annual events for more than 40 years, the first events taking place in the late 1970s.

In 2019, there again will be two fairs, taking place on 11 May and 27 July and starting at 9:30 a.m. There will be a large number of traders offering model railways, railway relics, books, and associated collectable items.

The event is free to members, and non-members can attend by buying a platform or travel ticket on the day. Members with a surplus of collectable items to dispose of can book a trading space by contacting Joe Lock or Colin Penn on 0781 0513576.
Lineside Split

For a number of years the Lineside Management Wednesday Gang has been split into two teams.

WG (South) is currently working in the Lindfield Wood area , while, in recent weeks, WG (North) has been working between Black Hut and the south entrance to the tunnel.

Brian Kidman's photo, taken on 20 Feb., 2019, shows the 12:30 p.m. trainfrom East Grinstead passing the gang as it exits the tunnel.
Snapshot of a Beattie on the Main Line

Gearing up for Branch Line Weekend, Tony Davies offers us this snapshot of Beattie loco trips he has known. 1874-built Beattie Well Tank No. 30587 is visiting the Railway for the gala …

Those of you who managed a ride in the brake van of the daily goods train from Wadebridge to Wenford Bridge, in Cornwall“during the latter-day heyday of that line“were lucky.

On my own run in August 1961, Beattie 240WT No. 30585 went along quite gaily on the outward run of some 15 minutes or so up the Camel valley. Athree-mile stretch, which included a short 20 mph slack, was covered atan average speed of 33 mph.

So while we hoped for “a bit of a gallop” on the way home, alas, we had to stop to service the wayside level crossings on the way! Then, of course, there were the many chance workings from Wadebridge to Padstow with the Bodmin branch train in an emergency. A browse through magazinesof that period may help recall … MORE

The photo, taken by Tony, shows a Beattie at Wadebridge Junction on 7 Aug., 1959.
The historical photos of Ian Nolan have been added to the main web page for the Adams Radial Tank. This photo below was taken in February 1962. It shows the remnants of No. 488's last BR livery, revealed as the paint was stripped back for repainting into LSWR Drummond Green.

The Adams features in the latest issue of Steam Railway magazine, including on the front cover, in an editorial, and in a nine-page spread inside.
Taken by John J. Smith on 25 March, 1960: 0298 No. 30587 at Dunmere Junctio n.
From the Archive
Tony Hillman foreshadows Branch Line Weekend with six relevant archive photos taken from the John J. Smith and Colin Hogg collections. 

Brian Hymas notes that the Spa Valley Railway in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, will run a special train named “The Roy Belle” on 30 April, 2019, in memory of Roy Bell MBE who passed away on 18 Oct., 2018. 

Writes Brian, “Roy Bell was a unique career railwayman, although professionally he held senior positions in the S&T he was respected by everyone who met him, bottom to top. He had hands-on experience of every signal box he was involved with, old and new, and he used this knowledge to improve the conditions for the signalmen and travellling public. He also travelled widely with drivers using his expert knowledge to influence good practice.
“As a Bluebell Railway member, he supported me on the building of Kingscote Signal Box both with adviceand financially. His only condition was not to make this public“sorry Roy! He was also an active member of the Spa Valley Railway, living nearto the line. It will be a fitting memorial to run a special train in his name with all his friends and colleagues raising a glass to his memory.”
Sixtieth anniversary clothing is now in stock at the Bluebell Railway Shop:

  • Polo Shirts (Navy Blue and Sky Blue): £18.99 each
  • Rugby Shirts (Navy Blue): £25.99 each
  • Sweatshirts (Navy Blue): £19.99 each
  • Fleeces (Navy Blue): £30.99
  • Reversible Fleeces (Navy Blue): £39.99 each

John Sandys (6 March, 2019): "A very busy day at the Railway with wood work renewalon the points just south of the platform and finishing work on the instruction rooms, plus more work continues on the running/maintenance shed."
Michael YK Chung had a "fun, sunny day out on the steam trains" on 24 Feb., 2019. 
Brian Lacey's photo shows H class No.263 arriving at Horsted Keynes with the Wealden Rambler set, which was forming the train for a wedding reception on 2 March, 2019. S15 No. 847 waits patiently to depart with the 2:55 p.m. toSheffield Park.
Via the Southern Electric Traction Group Twitter feed (25 Feb., 2019): The lights are on in the 4VEP No. 3417 "Gordon Pettitt".
More dates have been added in May 2019 for the Railway's Footplate Tasters. These "turns on the footplate" have proven incredibly popular, so hurry before these dates sell out too! Learn more here .
Thankyou for reading our eNewsletter. It's because of you--our members, volunteers, visitors, and supporters--that the Railway continues its success.

Pleasecontinue to support us by passing this issue onto your friends, family,and/or colleagues by forwarding using the social media links above, 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 Preservation Society 2019

Confirm that you like this.

Click the "Like" button.