Branch Line Weekend: Mixed Weather But a Resounding Success!

The Bluebell Railway’s 2019 season of special events kicked off with a three-day Branch Line event from 15 to 17 March. The event came earlier in the calendar this year, but despite "mixed" weather, it was very wellsupported.

Friday proved the most popular day, and indeed it provided the unique opportunity to see the cavalcade of no less than four ex-LSWR locomotives“Adams Radial No. 30583 and B4 No. 30096 "Normandy"“together with visiting W24 "Calbourne" and Beattie Well Tank No. 30587. Many thanks go to the Isle of Wight Railway for the loan of "Calbourne" and to the National Railway Museum for the loan of the Beattie Well Tank forthis event. Other steam motive power included resident SECR H class 0-4-4T No. 263, 01 0-6-0 No. 65, and SR Q class 0-6-0 No. 30541.

The Adams Radial, which earlier in the year underwent a repaint from LSWR green for the first time since 1983 to British Railways lined black, looked resplendent in her new livery, and she was much photographed while on static display at Horsted Keynes following movement up from Sheffield Park as part of the cavalcade. The support ofSteam Railway Magazine, Heritage Painting, and Bluebell Railway Trust for the repaint is much appreciated.

An intensive timetable was operated and carriage sets included the ever popular "Chesham" set of four Metropolitan coaches. The timetable was challenging, but in the main it was followed and technical problems werefew. It was unfortunate, however, that No. 30587 had to be withdrawn from duties early on Sunday afternoon.

Visitor numbers over the three days totalled 3,044 which was 30% up on the event last year. The number of visitors turning up on the day to purchase tickets was broadly the same as 2018, with this year 47% starting their journey at Sheffield Park, 28% at East Grinstead, and 25%at Horsted Keynes. Advance ticket sales were significantly up, at 802 compared with 176 the year before.

On the catering front revenue was up 50% on the same event last year, with Saturday proving the busiest day. Similarly, sales in the shop hit arecord for the Branch Line event with Saturday also proving the busiestday.

Overall, it was a great start to the season, with the event proving popular with both families and enthusiasts. Our thanks go to all those who made it possible.

By Roger Garman, Communications Director
Little Wonders: Branch Line Weekend 2019 Retrospective
In addition to these pictures, a full photo report of Branch Line Weekend, with photos by Julian Clark, can be read here . And another photo essay can be found @bluebellnutter's (cool handle“The Eds) SmugMug gallery .
A wide-angle shot by Mike Anton from 16 March: "Andy Kelly is in 'Calbourne' and Charlie Ralph on the Beattie. The Q class is far right taking on water."
John Sandys' photo catches the Isle of Wight O2 class W24 "Calbourne" and Beattie Well Tank No. 30587 as they leave Horsted Keynes with the first train of Branch Line Weekend, on 15 March, 2019.
The very lucky footplate winner Phil Self in the cab of the Adams Radial tank, on 15 March.
Julian Clark: "Getting 'arty' with the Adams" on 15 March.
Filling the tank ( Keith Duke , 15 March.)
Mike Anton (16 March, 2019): "Mervin and Joyce look after the foot crossing at Horsted Keynes come rain or shine. They worked the whole Branch Line weekend. I saw them in the rain yesterday and spent a few hours with them in the wind and rain today. They support the railway with a ready smile."
John Sandys' video from the first day of the Branch Line Gala.
Julian Clark: Second "up" of the day (15 March)
A photo from Neil Munro-Thomson's first-day gallery .
The Metropolitan coaches were back in action during the gala. Here's John Sandys' photo from 17 March, 2019. See more of John's photos from day three .

"The Southerner's" video from 15 March.
The gala on the 16 March, by "SatNavDan".
Branch Line Weekend final day (17 March) by "Joe Light Railway". 
Chatty1Chatty1: "A full timetable and unusual workings made for a excellent weekend."
"Preserved Railway": A visit to a blustery Branch Line Weekend at the Bluebell Railway. 
A little more than 60 years ago“on 15 March 1959“a meeting was convened in Haywards Heath by four students, who invited Bernard Holden to take the chair. It was Bernard's50th birthday. The meeting concluded that an attempt should be made to save the Bluebell Line and run a train service upon it. A committee was elected, and the first members of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society were duly signed up.
An impressive amount“more than £25,000“has been raised and distributed to Railway projects by The Bluebell Railway Trust, through EasySearch and EasyFundraising .

Click on the links above to check out this extremely effective way to contribute to railway preservation.
Teachers! The Bluebell Railway Education Department facilitates school visits, which can be tailored tomeet specific teaching needs relating to the National Curriculum; to provide experience of specific events, such as World War II evacuation exercises; or to mark special occasions, such as enrichment days. Download the schools visit leaflet .
Bluebell Families at Branch Line Weekend (Photo Essay by Mike Anton)
Mike and Ruth Lee: “Continuing their respective family traditions, Mike and Ruth have volunteered at the Railway for more than 20 years. They were married at Horsted Keynes station in 2011.”
Jim and Michelle Barton: “They have been at the Railway for more than 10years. Jim works in the loco department and Michelle was recently involved in the re-livery of Adams Radial No. 488.”
Mick Blackburn and Heidi and Henry Mowforth: “Mick started volunteering at the Railway in 1961, and, along with his wife Heidi, he has run the Stepney and 9F clubs for more than 30 years. Their son Henry has been involved with the Railway for most of his life and is currently a boilersmith.”
C&W Update: Wagon Group Progress Report

The Bulleid wagon has now been lifted off its wheels in preparation for grit blasting. The two Medfits (B461224 and B458525) have been examined and serviced by Laurie Anderson. Both wagons will require some additional work, including needle gunning, treatment of corrosion on theunderframes, and repairs to the ends, along with a re-paint in the verynear future. Hopefully, the wagon team will be able to tackle this in the next few months.

Preparation for future work on the Queen Mary has continued with the overhauling of spare brake hangers and brake block carriers. They have had the old bushes removed and have been grit blasted and painted up into Bonda primer. However, on the van itself, a number of floor boards will require replacing along with work to one of the doors.

The Wagon Group is hoping to make the second Saturday and fourth Sunday of every month its regular working days. If you are interested in joining the group, please drop me an email at

By David Rhydderch
Terriers and Class 66s have arrived at the Bluebell Railway Shop and are available to purchase.BRPS members get 10% discount. If you wish to reserve a loco, phone theshop on 01825 720803. A £25 deposit will be required for a reservation. 
The Railway's Chesham set will once again be featured as part of Steam on the Underground festivities.

The London Transport Museum will be running heritage steam trains through Central London to celebrate 150 years of the District Line in June.

The trains run across 22-23 June, 2019, from Ealing Broadway and High Street Kensington. Pulling thecarriages will be Met No. 1 and electric locomotive No. 12 "Sarah Siddons".

"Mayflower" in March

John Sandys captured "Mayflower", a very special visitor to the Railway, pulling a Steam Dreams charter on 23 March, 2019.

This was a great opportunity to see "Mayflower" in action on the Railway. She sadly couldn't make it to the Giants of Steam gala in October 2018.
Fair Winds: OP4 Progress Report to 20 March, 2019

Very little physical work has been carried out on OP4 during the winter months, while the infrastructure team has been engaged on work on the running line. 

However, the time has not been wasted. The last few months have been focused on planning the work for the forthcoming year and the finalisation of some outstanding detailed design. With the completion ofthe work on the running line, the team has now restarted work on the carriage shed.

The response to the ‘Wall-to-Wall’ appeal last autumn was fantastic. Thank you to all who contributed. The main focus for the appeal was to complete the wall cladding all around the east/north side of the shed, as well as the Heritage Skills Centre (HSC). However, because of the generosity of our donors, we also will be able to complete the cladding on the western (railway) side of the maintenance road as well as the southern face ... MORE
Interior of Restaurant Car with Diners Looking out over Beach (British Railways poster art by Val Archer).
" Silver Jubilee " train makes a record run.
Bury/Rochdale/Oldham MBRO tram locomotive No. 84 , in the Whitcombe collection. 
Digital Coordinator Sought

The Railway is seeking a Digital Coordinator to help develop and expand its online presence, better engage with online audiences, and assist theplanning and delivery of an extensive calendar of events. The ideal candidate will be passionate about the power of digital marketing to reach and engage audiences and will be up to date with the latest trends, tools, and opportunities.

The successful candidate in this hands-on role will be responsible for producing superb content for our social media accounts, email platform, and website, as well as offline marketing opportunities; helping to create and deliver publicity and marketing campaigns; and overseeing dayto day digital activities.

Essential skills and experience:
  • Writing creative, engaging copy with an eye for detail
  • Managing social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • Experience updating websites

Desirable skills and experience:
  • Graphic design 
  • Uploading digital content with a Content Management System, ideally WordPress
  • Experience of gathering and implementing user feedback to improve the look, usability, and structure of public-facing websites

Salary dependent on hours and experience. 40 hrs per week. Please contact Lisa Boyle at 01825 724884 or for further information. Closes 5 April, 2019. 
Taken by John J. Smith on 25 March, 1960: 0298 No. 30587 at Dunmere Junctio n.
From the Archive
Tony Hillman references Branch Line Weekend with six relevant archive photos taken from the John J. Smith and Colin Hogg collections. 

More photos from John Sandys' visit to the Railway on 15 March, 2019: "a very blustery day".
Steve Lee took this portrait of the Maunsell Q class, which has just returned to steam after major mechanical maintenance over the winter. She's north of Vaux End with thefour Bulleid carriages, including newly overhauled composite carriage No. 5768 on an 18 March, 2019, photo charter.

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

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