Stop Press: Track Re-Laying Complete

The Autumn re-lay was completed on 21 November with a final tamp. The photo , taken by Clive Whitcroft on the 20 November, shows the completed line and the L&W track brush.

The initial ballasting and tamping process involves an excess of ballastwhich then needs to be removed. The L&W device uses a revolving brush to dump excess ballast on the shoulder of the formation.
Infrastructure Update: Autumn Track Re-Laying

The autumn track re-laying involves 13 panels of track beyond Leamland Junction at the north end of the Horsted Keynes station area. 

During the history of the line, this section has suffered numerous slipsand the northern end (Fire Slip) has recently been showing signs of instability. Both Southern Railway and British Railways had repaired theembankment with ash and cinders which is hardly the most stable building material.

The embankment had a lot of work done on it back in 1991, and this month's attention is to deal with some minor residual problems.

The track also has been realigned, moving by around a foot to the west, in preparation for which the adjacent signal post was replaced earlier in the year. The wooden sleepers, laid more than 30 years ago, are now being replaced with concrete, and the second-hand rail installed at thattime replaced with new.

Eleven panels were initially re-laid from the end of Leamland Junction. The last two panels required excavating a metre down and stabilising theembankment. Work started on 4 Nov., 2019, and by lunchtime on 13 November the line was reconnected, ready for ballasting and tamping.

By Bruce Healey

The photo from 13 November shows thereis only the flat-bottomed-to-bullhead transition panel to re-lay. This view looks north from the first panel. The recently replaced signal can be seen in the middle distance.
Car 54: A Top Job on the Toplights

When Car 54’s previous owners started restoration work at Carnforth, oneof the tasks they embarked upon was the toplights. They were stripped into component parts, and glass, handles, and rain strips were removed from some of the fixed sections.

When we acquired the Pullman, one of the first jobs was to make sure we had a complete set of toplights. This was important because we do not have any suitable spares. These toplights are bigger than on any of the other cars for which we do have spares.

The first job was to remove the green scale that had built up as a result of them being exposed following stripping of paint and lacquer bythe previous owners. Next, we polished the inner brass frames. They took a lot of work as we found some bad areas of corrosion that requiredremoval before proceeding further. We then re-tapped the screw holes. As the screws were the same size as those found on the other cars, we still had some left following previous restorations.  

After this work, we had to make wooden patterns for the new glass. Once we had the glass and acquired the putty, the long job of reassembly started, as well as making sure the screwheads line up, which is a challenge in itself. 

We are repolishing the inner brass sides, which will then be waxed instead of lacquered. A coat of etching primer is being applied to the exterior side, which will then have undercoat and topcoat applied beforefitting. As part of the restoration of the toplights, we are also remaking the missing handles, catches, and rain strips.

By Derrick Warner

Here are some exciting winter events for your calendar ...

  • 30 Nov. - 24 Dec.: Santa Specials
  • 30 Nov. - 23 Dec.: Golden Arrow Christmas Dinners
  • 2 - 11 Dec.: Festive Feasts
  • 31 Dec.: New Year on the Golden Arrow


2020 will be a banner year for the Railway, as celebrations of the Diamond Anniversary take place. The list of Special Events for next year can be viewed at this webpage .

@WillReeves71 Nov 16
Childhood dream to drive a Steam Train completed with Footplate Taster @bluebellrailway
Halloween Was Spook-Tacular!

Well, Halloween at the Bluebell Railway was a fantastic nine-day event!

It was a delight to meet so many of our visitors, many dressed in costumes and taking pictures for our fancy dress competition. Face painters were busy most of the day producing ghosts, witches, and other creepy characters.

Our transformation spell was a huge hit, as well as an icebreaker after alighting the train on to the spooky platform. Children searched for allthe hidden ingredients around the platform to complete the spell to earn a special treat!

Despite a few cold and wet days, our coal fires kept everyone warm whilethey spent time making, painting, sticking, and creating hats, masks, and artworks. The adults certainly enjoyed the event too, especially getting their hands dirty in the crazy custard!

We look forward to seeing everyone again at our next Halloween event, from 28-31 Oct., 2020.

By Charlotte Archer, Marketing & Events Coordinator
The webpage for GWR Dukedog No. 9017 "Earlof Berkeley" now has details of its storage in Oswestry Works after withdrawal, as well as its acquisition and subsequent service history onthe Bluebell Railway.
MyLondon reviews the Bluebell Railway Santa Specials: "Join Father Christmas and his elves on a magical steam train to a Victorian fairground just outside of London". 
Congratulations to John Divine and Damian Smeaton, currently sitting atop the 2019-2020 Premiership Competition table and helping to raise funds for the Maunsell Restaurant Car No. 7864.
Christmas Joy at the Bluebell Railway

A host of magical events are planned for the Bluebell Railway during the festive season. Learn more and book tickets at for:

  • Santa Specials
  • The Carvery at the Bessemer Arms
  • Christmas Dinner on the Golden Arrow
  • Festive Feast
  • New Year on the Golden Arrow
  • Annual Carol Concert
Leon Kossoff (1926�), Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
The launch of Australia's first streamline locomotive.
An "atmospheric" or "pneumatic" railcar built in 1860 by the Pneumatic Despatch Company for the transport of small goods, particularly mail.

While tending the Museum, Stewards speak to many visitors and often hear fascinating railway stories. Some of these stories are now being added to the "Your History"section of the Bluebell Railway Museum website, as a "living history" archive. 

Visit the "Your History" webpage here , and if you have stories or information about our railways that you think might be suitable for the archive, please email them“attaching any supporting photographs“to .  

Tickets for our 2020 Wealden Rambler services are now on sale . Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea as you steam through the Sussex countryside.

It’s a perfect way to spend an afternoon with friends, family, or to celebrate a special occasion!

Bradt Travel Guides recently included the Bluebell Railway in an article on the best steam railways in Britain .

It describes the Railway as “one of the oldest and prettiest of Britain’s preserved steam lines" andobserves that Horsted Keynes station is “particularly well kept". 
Snapshot on “Invincible”

Tony Davies provides another of his "snapshots", this one evoked by a short Movietone film of little "Invincible" ... 

It was the British Movietone archive film“on “Invincible,” in E-Newsletter No.188“that inspired this Snapshot! 

There was also a report“in the November 2019 Railway Magazine (p.76)“that this Hawthorn Leslie 0 4 0ST was currently under overhaul. This little engine normally lives on the Isle of Wight system and sometimes operatestrains there. 

I will not go into too much detail of how I happened to be at Bluebell Railway on 16 June, 2002. It was a Thomas event, and I was at Horsted Keynes all day with my younger son and elder grandchildren! And“see Bluebell News Autumn 2002, p.17““Invincible” had been borrowed for the occasion. It was a real pleasure to watch the shunting! The Movietone film gives some of the background, and there are other references to this engine’s previous home at Farnborough ... MORE
C&W in Pictures: Car 54 & the Hastings Brake
Pullman Car No. 54 is pictured in the Carriage & Wagon Works on 26 Oct., 2019. In addition to the toplights (see above), recent work includes fitting the southern gangwayfaceplate and buffers, with help given by the Alf Brown Group.
The east flank of the Hastings Line Maunsell brake No. 3687 is shown , with old paint stripped off and the lower panel removed to inspect the structure beneath.
Bluebell Railway 2019: "Camelot" storming out of Horsted Keynes, by Heritage Railway Productions.
By "Littlewood Junction": "On a cold November day we took to the Bluebell Railway for a ride and a look at the engine sheds, and it was worth the two-hour journey!"
Opportunities at the Bluebell Railway

The Railway currently has openings for the following positions:

  • Carriage & Wagon Fitter: An opportunity to work as part of the team involved in the maintenance, repair and restoration of the railway’s historic collection of carriagesand wagons ... MORE
  • Carriage Painter: The successful applicant will work on the preparation and painting of the Railway’s fleet of historic wooden- and metal-bodied carriages ... MORE
  • Pullman Car Restoration Fitter: An opportunity to work on the restoration of this historic Pullmancar and overhaul and manufacture of mechanical parts, brake gear, pipework, and fittings ... MORE
  • Locomotive Footplate Inspector: An opportunity for a candidate with strong footplate skills and workingknowledge of the operational requirements of the Loco Department, including the Railway’s SMS ... MORE
In a Good Frame

Laurie Anderson's photo from 6 Nov., 2019, shows the underframe for No. 12058, a Southern Railway Bulleid 5-plank open wagon. 

This frame has changed colour many times this year but it is now a lot better looking than it was at the beginning of the year! It is currentlywaiting to be lifted back on to its wheelsets so further restoration can be carried out. Many thanks to the Bulleid Society, which has fundedmaterial costs.

The Wagon Gang has been rekindled over the past year, and it is looking for new volunteers to help restore and look after the wagon fleet. The gang wants to bring back goods trains in 2020, and hopefully No. 12058 will be joining the set. If you are interested in joining the gang, please contact David Rhydderch at
Tight Squeeze

Phil Hamerton submitted this snapshot of a carriage on the move ...

On 29 Oct., 2019, the East Somerset Railway Permanent Way Gang (both of us!) had just unloaded materials for the re-lay later in the week, when the BRPS Buffet Coach S1838 arrived on its way to Cranmore Traincare & Maintenance Services. The driver had to pull into the Tanker Sidings behind Lawsons Haulage to let traffic through for the Halloween Steam Specials! Hence, he then had to reverse out into the lane, to allow Lawsons to leave. Note how tight the clearances are down in Cranmore compared with the Bluebell Railway.

Click the photo below for a high resolution version. The video is hosted at Dropbox .
John Sandys (7 Nov., 2019): A lovely, sunny day and a stop by the Bluebell Railway shop.
John Sandys (16 Nov., 2019). A Footplate Taster with No. 178, plus Christmas preparations, a look around the shop, and the 09 shunting in the Loco Yard.
Thankyou for reading our eNewsletter. It's because of our members, volunteers, visitors, and supporters that the Railway continues its success.

Pleasecontinue to support us by passing this issue on to your friends, family, and/or colleagues by forwarding using the social media links above, or encourage others to sign up for the 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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