Easter Experience 2019: Fair Weather & Fun 

The sun shone over all four days of the Easter weekend, and this good weather helped the Railway to deliver another successful event. 

Much effort had been put in to having activities and attractions at all stations and thus encouraging families to not only ride the trains but also see what each of our stations has to offer.

The four days saw a total of 2,858 travelling customers, supplemented bya further 367 station admissions, making a total visitor count of 3,225. Of those travelling on the trains, 43% purchased tickets in advance and online.

The busiest day was Easter Saturday, and for the other three days numbers were pretty evenly spread. It was great to see the "Mets" out, but seating capacity on the Metropolitan set was indeed strained at times. For those buying tickets to travel on the day, 58% started their journey at Sheffield Park and more than 75% of the Station Admission tickets were sold at Sheffield Park.

The fact that there were activities at all of our stations certainly helped spread our visitors around the Railway and give them a taste of what they might be returning to see in the future! Costs of delivering the Easter experience for our younger visitors were not that high, meaning the Easter Experience was a very useful contribution to the Bluebell’s bottom line.

Thanks go to all staff and volunteers who helped deliver this successfulevent, with a special note to Ruth Rowatt and her supporters for the egg hunts and other special activities. Overall numbers for the two-weekEaster school break will be compiled with the April monthly data but initial indications for these numbers are indeed encouraging.

By Roger Garman, Communications Director

Photo: A still from "Joe Light Railway's" Easter Monday video (see below) shows a good crowd at East Grinstead station.
Important Information About the Society AGM/EGM

Society members by now should have received the papers for an Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society (BRPS), taking place on 18 May, 2019, at the Burgess Hill Academy, Burgess Hill, commencing at 7 p.m.. Doors open at 6 p.m. for members to sign in. Please bring your membership card.

This year's meeting is an important one for the future of the Society asit is being proposed that the Society should convert from an unincorporated Society into a Company Limited by Guarantee, in which themembers liability will be limited to £1.

As currently constituted, the Officers, Trustees, and Members all have unlimited liability. In the event of a failed claim against the company,they could, in theory, look to the Society instead as we are the majority shareholder and set the overall policy for the company. 

So the EGM, which precedes the AGM, will propose a new Rule 30 that willallow the Trustees to proceed with incorporation and“subject to the Society membership approving the Articles of Association at another meeting, hopefully later in the year“transfer the assets and members to the new company and then wind up the Society.  

If the motion for Rule 30 is passed, which I hope it will be, there willbe a handful of consequential rule amendments that will then allow all members to take part in the final vote.

The AGM itself will include a discussion about the new timetable and thereduced number of running days, with an explanation on the thinking behind this change. There are no contested elections this year, so all BRPS officers are returned unopposed, as is Chris Saunders as a Trustee.We will welcome the four new Trustees, James Funnell and Mike Priestley“who were co-opted as Trustees last year“and John Knight and James Young.

By Graham Aitken, Chairman & Director, BRPS
BRPS to Review Long Term Plan

Bluebell Railway Preservation Society (BRPS) Members should have received Annual General Meeting/Extraordinary General Meeting (AGM/EGM) notices through the post. Included in the packet is a notice asking for submissions to the Long-Term Plan (LTP).

This document was last revised in 2013 after several years’ work. Many of the aims have been reached and some are nearing completion, so the Railway is looking for new ideas! The next issue of the Points and Crossings newsletter for Members will have further details, and a methodof submitting your suggestions is set out in the LTP section of the AGM/EGM documents.

We hope to get the process completed before the end of the year, so please make sure your submissions are with logged with us in August.

By Chris Saunders, Trustee, BRPS

Here are some exciting spring and early summer event dates for your calendar ...

  • 11 May: Toy and Rail Collectors' Fair
  • 25-27 May: STEM Fair at Sheffield Park
  • 9 June: Classic Vehicle Show at Horsted Keynes
  • 14-16 June: Road Meets Rail, plus the Sussex Ales Beer Festival
  • 29-30 June: Model Railway Weekend

Friends of Grinstead: With Fog Lifted, Painting Begins

The good members of Friends of Grinstead (FOG) have taken advantage of mist-free days to start work on sprucing the station up, so some eight years since the last coats of paint, planned work has begun.

To start with, there has been a slow procession of benches to the platform canopy to enable them to be repainted and replaced along the length of the platform. The task is to restore and repaint the platform,forecourt, water column lighting columns, and the running-in board.

With the weather improving, attention will be paid to the white line along the platform edges. The next task will be to work out how to tackle that rather long line of fencing, as there is rather a lot of it and “undercover” resources to tackle this job are rather primitive, if not non existent!

The team of Jon Kateley, Jonathan Springall, David Turquand, Clive Cotterell, and Harry Holmes welcome anyone who would like to join this active team, which meets on a regular basis. Oh, and they are working tothe colours set out in the newly launched Preservation Standards Manual. Other plans include cleaning out the gutters and drains to remove all the debris that has accumulated over the winter.

By Roy Watts, Station Master, East Grinstead
Mirror, Mirror

Our friends from Heritage Painting are back at the Railway "pushing No. 80151 to conclusion". This photo , from Twitter on 26 April, 2019, shows Teriann in the paint reflection: "Not bad for hand-painted!"
Fish & Chip Special Tickets Are Selling Out!

The Fish & Chips Special is a perennial favourite at the Bluebell Railway. Enjoy fish and chips and a dessert on board one of our historicsteam-hauled trains. 

Departing from Sheffield Park Station at 6:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. on 20 Sept., 2019) the return journey to East Grinstead through the beautiful Sussex countryside takes 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Some dates in spring and early summer are already sold out, but tickets remain for upcoming dates on 31 May, 5 July, and 26 July, as well as other dates later in summer.

" Devon Belle ", by John Landsill, National Railway Museum (1967). 
Five miles of cable and a 85,000 lb. pull is needed to drag damaged S48 from the water to a repairing shed.
Cable being pulled by an 0-4-0 saddle tank at Blaydon Main Colliery.
S&T Update: Field Trip to Ecclesbourne

Recently two Bluebell Railway Signals & Telecommunications (S&T)members accepted an invitation to visit the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway. We were not invited by the heritage railway volunteers but by Park Signalling. Park Signalling is a specialist company that among other services, designs, manufactures, and repairs specialist signallingand telecommunications equipment worldwide.

At Duffield Station they had set up a demonstration of their latest product, believing it to be of particular interest to the heritage railway fraternity. Their product will be immediately recognisable by Bluebell Railway signalmen and footplate staff, but to us S&T guys, it is a step change in engineering.

Their product is a modern version of the Tyers Key Token as used on the Bluebell Railway to maintain safety on the single line sections and to prevent head-on collisions. The new product uses the same principles, aninstrument that looks similar and uses identical keys to our well-proven system. What is completely different, however, is the internal technology: modern “off the shelf” components controlled by bespoke electronics provide a new flexible and easily installed system, and the communication links between instruments can use most state-of-the-art systems.

At Duffield Station, over coffee and biscuits, we were briefed on the system and shown an instrument linked to Wirksworth Station, the northern terminus of the line, via the internet. After a very informative question-and-answer session, we were whisked off to Wirksworth on the Ecclesbourne’s Railway "Bubble Car" (see photo below right).

At Wirksworth the techy parts of the instruments were on display, and wehad the opportunity to try and break the system. I am glad to say we could only get one key out at a time, to everyone’s relief. The system has been approved by Network Rail, but it is awaiting approval from the software security specialists.

After being treated to a lunch in the stationary restaurant car, we weretaken back to Duffield and the main line connection. One question that was not answered was how much will a system cost? It will not be cheap, but it is likely Park Signalling may offer a leasing arrangement.

Ecclesbourne is a very friendly railway with a large selection of rolling stock, worth a visit if you are in the area.

By Brian Hymas 
Full details now available for the Toy and Rail Collectors' Fair on 11 May, 2019, which will feature a huge variety of stalls at Horsted Keynes, both on the station and in the car park field.

You’ll find model railways (newand secondhand), die-cast models, collectables, railway books, emphemera, railwayiana, photographs“the list is endless. A second fair will be held on 27 July.
Is dear old dad a rail fan?

Father's Day is on 16 June, so why not browse the Bluebell Railway Shop online and pick him up a book, or model, or DVD, or print, or gift voucher, or BRPS membership ... ?!
Easysearch means easy fundraising for the Bluebell Railway. Easysearch combines results from several of the internet's top search engines to help ensure you find what you are looking for. It costs you nothing, but every time you use it, you earn a small commission for the Railway.

Every little bit really does count! Visit this link to make Easysearch your default internet search engine.
Lush Bluebells & Golden Arrows

Graham Henley's photo from 26 April, 2019, shows that the woodland bluebells next to the "Bluebell Line" are quite superb this year! It also shows the O1 pulling the Golden Arrow Pullman Dining Train.

The Golden Arrow dining train is the perfect setting for a special meal with friends or an intimate evening for two. With Pullman Cars "Christine" and "Fingall", as well as first class carriage "Ashdown", the train recreates the fabulous Golden Arrow/Flèche d'Or that once linked London and Paris with the style and panache that made it one of the most glamorous and famous trains in the world.

On board you will enjoy fine food and wine served to the standards of yesteryear. Learn more about the train and the on-board menu, and book your tickets online .

Bluebell Specials also are running throughout May. Travel in the unique Observation Car and see how the Railway earned its name!
STEM Fair: A Family Day Out with a Difference

Education and fun for kids of all ages, 25-27 May sees the return of the STEM Family Fair at Sheffield Park Station. 

Learn about the science, technology, engineering, and maths behind steam, and much more! The Railway has put together fantastic activities,including building and testing gravity cars, bridge building, music workshops, and steam-themed interactive science shows.

PLUS ...

  • Meet our workshop apprentices, and find out what it takes to build a steam locomotive from scratch in Atlantic House. 
  • Explore SteamWorks! the interactive exhibition found alongside our impressive collection of steam locomotives. 
  • Free entry with the purchase of an All Day Rover Ticket. 

Accidents & Incidents Volunteer Sought 

The Railway's Safety and Assurance Team is looking for a volunteer to help collate accidents and incidents information, produce reports, file information, and provide general support across a whole range of day-to-day safety and assurance administration tasks.

This is a volunteer role. Availability and hours are subject to mutual agreement; however, some weekly help would be useful but not essential.

Applicants will need to be computer literate, organised, and ideally knowledgeable of spreadsheets and metrics. Those interested should emailLisa Boyle at
Project 27 on the Road

Learn more about Project 27 at these upcoming events:

The Railway on Easter Monday, by "Joe Light Railway".
"South East Rail Productions" took a birthday trip to the Railway! (Published on 27 April, 2019).
History and heritage Facebook group Sussex Flag gave the Railway a shout-out the other day.

Gary Coxall's photo shows the martlets (heraldic swifts) proudly waving over East Grinstead Station.

This traditional flag (also known as St. Richard's Flag after Richard of Chichester) represents the whole of Sussex and wasregistered by the Flag Institute in 2011. Six golden martlets on a Pantone 286 blue background symbolise the six traditional rapes (subdivisions) of Sussex.
Have you volunteered at the Railway for 10 years or more? Details of the BRPS 10-year volunteer awards are now available to download.

As part of the review of the Railway's volunteer benefits and recognition programme, it was agreed that recognition should start with a 10-year Service Award. This award will be given for the first time in 2019. 

If you are a volunteer with 10+ years' service, but have not yet reached the 25-year-level, visit this webpage to learn how your service can be recognised. 
Taken on 30 March, 1964 (Easter Monday): NBR No. 256 at Edinburgh Blackford Hill
From the Archive
Tony Hillman: “During Easter 1964 John J. Smith visited Scotland on the Stephenson Locomotive Society (Scottish Area) Scottish Rambler No. 3 Rail Tour ."

Owls of Approval

Roy Watts writes, "The observant visitor to East Grinstead will note a rather unusual 'bird' sitting on top of the station canopy. Since becoming guardian of the platform, our resident owl has deterred other birds from settling on the white shades of the lighting columns, especially after the Friends of Grinstead have cleaned them."

Brighton and Hove Albion supporters might not like this, but being a Crystal Palace fan, Roy says he was hoping for an eagle deterrent ratherthan an owl.
Julian Clark (20 April, 2019): Saturday morning at Sheffield Park.
Brian Lacey's photo from 27 April, 2019, sees SECR class O1 No. 65 being prepared for duty on the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea service.
Steve Lee's photo from 13 April, 2019, shows No. 65 with a Footplate Extra driving and firing experience, working north of Lindfield woods.
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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