1 March 2020
60th Anniversary Update: Commemorative Headboards & Provisional Timetable Plans Announced

We’re steaming ahead with planning for the “Steaming Through 60” event, and mentioning “ahead” gives me the chance to make an announcement or two about the upcoming Diamond Anniversary.

First, we are ordering special commemorative headboards to go on the front of our trains. The final versions and colours are still to be sorted, but you’ll start to see the headboards on the trains in the nextfew months. 

There will be one headboard on the front of each of the steam locomotives in use over the “Steaming Through 60” weekend of 7-9 August.This will be a chance to take some memorable photos of our services in this special year of operation.

And mentioning the trains for the Diamond Anniversary weekend allows me to make a second announcement: the provisional timetable plan for the weekend offers the most intensive service the Bluebell Railway has ever run.

Specifically, there will be six trains operating on each of the three days so that during the middle of the day, three services will run between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes, and three services will take passengers between East Grinstead and Horsted Keynes.

There will be a train every 40 minutes from every station on the line. Now that’s something the founders of the Railway could only ever have dreamed about when the first trains ran on the short section from Sheffield Park to Bluebell Halt! It’s certainly far from the “sulky service” of 1958 before the line closed.

We anticipate the first train to leave Sheffield Park will be at 08:10 each day and the first train from East Grinstead will be at 09:10. The timetables will be slightly different on each of the three days, but there will be at least 12 hours of operation on the Friday and Saturday.All trains will stop at Horsted Keynes on Sunday afternoon for the spectacle of the cavalcade as the climax of the weekend of celebrations.

Full details of the timetable are still being worked out, and we will publish the agreed schedule well ahead of the weekend to allow people toplan their day(s) out.

We are also close to finalising the details of the music festival that will take place at Horsted Keynes. Keep an eye out for announcements about the line-up of bands that will be playing and the headline acts. There’ll be something for everyone, no matter what your musical taste.

The 󈬬 Things to See and Do” Passport was a great hit with children andfamilies during the half-term holiday. It was wonderful to see so many young visitors collecting their smiley face stickers for completed activities, from counting the number of wheels on a locomotive to discovering how signallers send messages to other stations. The Passporthas certainly brought a smile to the faces of all our visitors, as wellas staff and volunteers, at the start of our 60th year“long may that continue.

Don’t forget the Diamond Anniversary will require a lot of volunteer helpers to make it a success and we welcome all offers of assistance. Anyone interested in helping out should contact Don Brewer either at or on 01825 724893. Please give Don details of your availability and what role you would like to carry out. However, if you don’t want to wait to help us out in August, there are plenty of jobs around the Railway now!

Stay tuned for more updates throughout the year about “Steaming Through 60”!

By Robert Hayward, Chairman, Diamond Anniversary Steering Group
Infrastructure Report: Smoothing Out the Kinks

Work has restarted on the next stage of the Horsted Keynes down yard upgrade and OP4 trackwork. There is one old point left to be replaced: Aroad point. 

The photo shows the last bit of old trackwork and the clear necessity toreplace it. The pointwork in the foreground is on a new alignment of only nine inches to the west of the old alignment but is slewed across to the old A road point giving a horrible kink to the running-in line from the station.
In addition, the old point is a hotchpotch of different age parts, with the short blades and closure rails casting being Brighton-made in 1907! As it is all past its “sell-by” date this is one of the main reasons that large engines have been banned from entering the yard for some years now.
We have just taken delivery of the preformed rails required to make up anew set of A road points. We already had a good condition second hand left half-set (the left-hand point blade and its matching stock rail) but no right half-set.  

However, as we had enough castings and ancillaries in stock, we only needed to purchase the two half-set rails to complete the whole turn-outsection of the points. The next picture below shows Richard and Ian drilling and screwing down the left half-set to finish off the section. 

With the inclement weather, this work has been carried out on the stub of H road just inside OP4 in front of the Observation coach and next to the newly acquired Pullman Car 36. However, as there is as yet no door, the strong winds blowing straight in still made this a very wet job ... MORE

By John Goff
What's On?

2020 is the 60th year of steam operation on the preserved Bluebell Line.

The Railway was the very firststandard gauge heritage line to operate steam-hauled services, and we are celebrating with a very full programme of special events throughout the year.

Upcoming Spring Events

Steamworks! Awarded

SteamWorks!“the new accessible locomotive exhibition at Sheffield Park“has been given a runner-up awardby the Heritage Railway Association in the outstanding visitor attraction category.

The awards ceremony was held in Birmingham. Sam Bee (left) and Roger Kelly (right) were presented with the award.
Extra Full Steam Ahead Days Added

Have you always dreamed of driving a steam engine?

Due to popular demand, the Railway has added two extra dates for our Full Steam Ahead experiences.

The perfect gift for lovers of steam, this day-long experience allows participants to fire and drive anengine across our entire line from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead.

Updated Information About Lineside Photography

A new system of lineside photographic permits is to be introduced on a one-year trial basis for BRPS members effective today (1 March 2020).

The previous system was put in abeyance last year while a full review of the arrangements was carried out.

The safe operation of the Railway was the paramount concern and discussions were held with the rail regulator, as well as with the Railway’s insurers, to ensure we could continue to allow safe access to the trackside.

We thank all photographers for their patience while this review took place ... MORE
Landslips Cleared

With the very heavy rains we have had recently, over the Christmas period four separate landslips occurred in the cutting leading up to thetunnel. Fortunately, the slipped soil did not cover the tracks butit blocked the drains forcing all the rainwater over the track bed. 

To ensure the soil did not slip further and damage the track, nearly 1,000 tons of slipped earth was removed and redeposited in the triangle at Horsted Keynes by Darren, our L&W contractor.  

The slips left some big, very precariously placed trees at the top of the cutting, so these have been removed and the drainage cleared before public trains start running again.

By Brian Kidman
Branch Line Weekend Set for 3-5 April

Come along for a fun-packed weekend showcasing the Railway's small-but-powerful locos, plus some very special guests. A busy timetable will recreate the branch line feel of our Railway in its heyday.

Visiting Locos

Taff Vale Tank No. 85

No. 85 was built in 1899 by Neilson Reid for the Taff Vale Railway, which connected Cardiff with the coal mining industry to the north. Whenthe industry was nationalised in 1947, it became NCB No. 52 and remained in service until 1968. Following withdrawal, it arrived at Worth Valley Railway in December 1970. lt was re-built to its original outline by Worth Valley volunteers in the 1990s and served until 2010. No. 85 then entered Haworth workshops, re-entering service in 2016.

Ivatt Class 2 Tank No. 41312

An Ivatt LMS design introduced in 1946, No. 41312 was built in May 1952 at Crewe and spent its entire working career on the Southern region. Over the years, No. 41312 was associated with Faversham, Ashford, Barnstable Junction, Brighton, Bournemouth, Lymington, and Nine Elms. Withdrawn from service in 1967, she is visiting from the Mid Hants Railway. 

Taff Vale Tank No. 85
Ivatt Class 2 Tank No. 41312
Find Out More

Ever wanted to volunteer at the Railway? The next Find Out More Day is on 8 March. Meet in the Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park at 10:30 am for a tour behind the scenesthat will finish about 4 pm. For further information, email: .
eNewsletter Schedule

The upcoming publishing schedule for the eNewsletter is 29 March, 19 April and 10 May.

Thank you for reading and for your continued support!
No. 178 for 60

Good news for SECR P class No. 178. It recently had its boiler certificate extended, so it can continuein service through to the 60th anniversary celebrations in August.
Coaches by Road Instead

The Bulleid coaches being loaned by the Bluebell Railway to the Mid Hants Railway for their Flying Scotsman event left by road at the end oflast week after a change of transport plan.

The original intention was for the coaches to go by rail, but the landslip on the main line north of East Grinstead resulted in contingency plans being put in place.

The poor weather meant there was no chance of a trip by rail, so the coaches went by road instead.

By Paul Bromley, Communications Director

Photo: Harry Holmes.
Moment in the Sun

The Royal photographer of The Sun newspaper had the tables turned on himat Sheffield Park when he was the subject of pictures rather than the man behind the lens.

Arthur Edwards was at the Bluebell Railway for a feature article about being an evacuee during World War II.

His story was published in the The Sun newspaper and online on Saturday 15 February: "Arthur Edwards was just a tot when his parents tied a luggage label to his coatand sent him 200 miles away to Devon by train.

A Nazi bombing raid had destroyed his family home in London’s East End, and The Sun’s legendary Royal snapper did not see his mother again for nearly two years after he was forced to flee."

The article adds, "Arthur, now 79, has recreated his emotional homecoming by train to mark the occasion, this time on the Bluebell Railway at Sheffield Park station in East Sussex, which holds evacuee theme days."

The article was illustrated with photos of Arthur dressed up as an evacuee boarding a train with his suitcase and name label.
London Midland Electrification, Stafford Station (British Railways poster artwork, 1963), by John Greene (National Railway Museum). 
Birkenhead: The first tram to run in Britain runs again in 1927 to demonstrate progress in public transportation. 
Hastings-to-Walsall Express entering Willesden Junction, by Ben Brooksbank. Taken 25 Aug 1962. Loco is Bulleid Light Pacific No. 34101 "Hartland". 
Museum Update: The Main Line Display & Visitors in Droves

Continuing the winter Museum update, we have added 10 sheets of notes and pictures to the wall displayer about trains that have used the Main Line connection. We also obtained the smokebox numberplate from "Tornado" when it visited and that can be viewed above the wall displayer (photo 1).

We are starting to add displays to some cabinets to show pictures in a rolling sequence. The first of these is in the cartage display. It showsvarious cartage vehicles: horse, vans, goods yards and some trains (an example is photo 2). The second will be in the shipping display. There will be more to come!

Having finished the winter updates, the Museum opened its doors to visitors, and they came in huge numbers: 3,300 visitors for the half-term openings.

By Tony Hillman
Photo 1
Photo 2
The Friends of Horsted Keynes

It’s not been the weather for working on the platforms at Horsted Keynes, but some jobs can’t wait. Luckily there are skilled volunteers in the Repair Shop adjacent to platform 5.

Carriage & Wagon Department volunteers (L to R) Robin Steadman, Roger Jordan and Martyn Longstaff are seen working with care to restore the “Running-in Board” for platform 2. The main structure had been completed whilst the sun was shining, and the sign writing is being sorted in the dry workshop.

In addition, Cliff Palmer is the “repair man” responsible for the replacement toilet door on platform 5. Paul Sharp is working hard at restoring the coffin carrier, and Peter Bish is making a new door and frame for the cleaners' hut on platform 5 to improve its appearance for our visitors.

There are many people who give hours of their time to maintaining our stations, and we hope to bring some of these together to form the “Friends of Horsted Keynes” in the very near future.
Meanwhile the Repair Shop in C&W does its very best to keep things looking good.

By John Knight
John Harwood's video from 21 Feb 2020 includes some great drone shots (complying with the Railway's drone use policy) of No. 80151 during our hugely popular "Kids for a Quid" week.
A windy and rainy visit to the Railway on 18 Feb 2020 by "Joe Light Railway".
Museum Handling Table Added

The Museum on Platform 2 at Sheffield Park has introduced a "handling" table for visitors to pick upand examine various railway items.

The table proved popular with children during half-term as they found out more about the items by handling them and they had a chance to see how they work.

More items will be added over timebut the initial list included a carriage key, oil can, ticket clippers,hand lamp ... and the all-important tea can.
Volunteer Opportunities with the S&T Department

Signalling Designers

The Signals & Telecommunications Department is looking for volunteersignalling designers to help take the Bluebell Railway forward into itsnext 60 years. If you have held (or still hold) an IRSE Principles Designer licence and have had electro-mechanical experience, then you are the person we are looking for.

This role is well-suited to someone who is not able to visit the Railwayfrequently but has spare time at home. However, occasional visits will be necessary to liaise with installers and testers and to see the current installation that is to be modified.

Signalling design is a safety-related activity, and those volunteers carrying out such work for the Bluebell Railway must be members of the BRPS.

Please contact Lisa Boyle at if you are interested in volunteering.

Painting, Installing, Maintenance & Testing

The S&T Department is looking for new volunteers who are active and able to walk a mile down the track, can visit regularly (once a week, once a fortnight, or once a month) and would like to join us as a painter, installer, maintainer or tester.  

On-the-job training will be given to those with gaps in their knowledge and/or experience. No previous experience is necessary. 

Much of the work of the S&T Department is safety-critical but can becarried out by anyone under the supervision of a competent, qualified department member.

If you believe you can help, then either come and visit us at Horsted Keynes on any of our regular working days“Saturday, Sunday, or Wednesday(best before 10am)“or email quoting your interest in the S&T Department.
John Sandys (27 Feb 2020): "With shunting around Sheffield Park, and a couple of one of the Bulleid carriages off to the Mid Hants Railway." 
A John Sandys set from 19 and 20 Feb 2020. 
On 15 Feb 2020, the Railway hosted a photographic evening for Timeline Events, with the SECR O1 in steam, the Metropolitan carriages, and a dozen Edwardian re-enactors. View Dave Bowles' evocative gallery of photos here .
Keith Duke (17 Feb 2020): "A little collection from Sheffield Park on 17 February.Pictures of some of the flooding and the two locomotives in service."
Thankyou for reading our eNewsletter. It's because of our members, volunteers, visitors, and supporters that the Railway continues its success.

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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 2020