22 March 2020
This is a special eNewsletter with the latest information about the Bluebell Railway.

Along with other businesses responding to the global coronavirus public health crisis, the Railway has decided to close until further notice. It is a difficult time for everyone, and people’s personal health is the most important issue. 

The closure comes just before the start of the Railway's busier period, and plans were to open five days a week from the beginning of April and then daily from May.

The biggest source of income for the Railway is general fares from the visiting public, so the closure has severely affected our finances. We were closed in any case during January and so only have the fares money from February half-term and a couple of weekends in March. 

So, along with other heritage railways, we have decided to launch an appeal (see below) for donations in the hope that anyone who wishes to continue to support the Railway can do so even if they can no longer visit. No-one knows how long the closure will last, so the more money the appeal raises, the better position we will be in when we eventually re-open.

Whilst we recognise, of course, that many may be giving extra to those support services and charities that need more help, we hope everyone understands why we have launched the appeal.

We wish all our staff, volunteers and visitors our best wishes during this exceptionally difficult period. Please stay safe and keep well.

By Paul Bromley, Communications Director
The Bluebell Railway, along with many other businesses in the leisure and heritage sector, has been forced to close to visitors due to the current public health crisis. Coming after the early part of the year, when trains are not running, our finances are already at their lowest ebb.

The Railway is therefore appealing for donations to help keep essential services running at a time when, unexpectedly, we have no income. In spite of our large volunteer workforce, we are also one of the largest employers in Mid Sussex, and we have many ongoing costs and expenses that do not stop when we're not running trains.

Thank you for your generosity.
Paul Lelew Appointed as Commercial & Marketing Director

The Bluebell Railway has appointed Paul Lelew as Commercial and Marketing Director. Paul has a commercial background and worked in the food business before retiring eight years ago. 

Paul started his working life as an accountant with Sainsburys and his last roles were as a director of various companies with expertise in turning them around. He will serve on the PLC board with oversight of the sales, marketing, retail and catering activities.

“What I’m looking to do is find new commercial opportunities at the Bluebell Railway and review existing operations with a view to building on the great success so far," says Paul.

He lives near Maresfield close to Ashdown Forest and is the volunteer finance director of Uckfield FM radio.
Order Online: Bluebell Railway Sixty Years of Progress

Written by Colin Tyson, the editor of Bluebell News , this book charts 60 years of progress as the Railway celebrates its diamond anniversary in 2020. 

The 1960s were dominated by raising funds to purchase the freehold of the line from British Railways, after which the Railway never looked back. 

The 1970s to 1990s saw growth in supporting infrastructure and tentativesteps to extend the line north a further six miles to join the nationalnetwork at East Grinstead, an ambitious project successfully completed in 2013.

Recent developments have included more undercover accommodation for its heritage assets and secondary railway-themed attractions to continue itsappeal to families and enthusiasts alike.
" South Grid Railway Sidings "(1962 British Railways poster artwork from the "Service to Industry" series) by Terence Tenison Cuneo, from the National Railway Museum collection. 
This amateur film joins the last leg of a Ramblers Railtour, organised by G.R. Lockie, on 20 April 1962 (UK only).
Pioneer LMSR Co-Co Diesel No. 10000 at Derby , January 1948, by Walter Dendy. This locomotive was built at Derby Works in December 1947. 
What's the Goods Word?

The running of goods trains, especially at times of scarce resource, is apotentially contentious issue. On the face of it there does not appear to be much of a return on the costs involved. But let us consider what it is the Bluebell Railway is setting out to preserve and thereby share with our customers.

Back in the day most stations had a small goods yard, the remnants of which are now generally the station car park. At a time when car ownership was not the norm and goods could not be ordered online, these small yards served the needs of the local community well.

Typically, houses were heated by a coal fire and the coal merchant worked from the goods yard, emptying the coal wagon bit by bit and delivering“in sacks scented with “essence de coal tar”“to homes via a horse drawn cart or Bedford OB lorry.

All manner of other goods were delivered or collected by rail using the ubiquitous van, vented or otherwise, with cattle wagons shifting livestock from the cattle dock and bricks delivered in open wagons. It was a way of life that facilitated the economy, albeit at a slower pace than today, but one that was veiled by the attention-seeking passenger trains. The shunting went all but unnoticed as indeed did the demise of these industrial backwaters, a demise that undermined the very existenceof the rural railways and their passenger trains.

So, there is an important story to tell here. The story can only be fully appreciated by a high degree of re-creation, but it has the potential to enchant, educate and fascinate our visitors. Indeed, failure to tell this story would constitute a significant omission from our presentation.

Picture a summer’s day at Kingscote: after the passenger train has left,a “pick up goods train” shuffles in, parks its guards van, drops off a few wagons, picking up the empties on its way back to the guards van. A quiet sojourn is enjoyed before following the next passenger train to Horsted Keynes.

And what of the cost of telling this story? Wagons need to be acquired, maintained and overhauled, likewise locomotives need to be available, fired up and crewed. All this at a time when the Locomotive Works and the Carriage & Wagon Works are busy and hard-pushed to deliver all that is required to run our passenger trains.

It sounds rather daunting, but consider for one moment how we are placedto rise to this particular challenge. We have a dozen or so wagons of various types and a couple of guards vans already in our collection. Thewagons are relatively simple beasts, ideally suited to being maintainedby volunteers, and we have a re-vitalised wagon gang ably led by David Rhydderch.

Suppose we run the goods trains on days when there is a Wealden Rambler service, so we can use the locomotive off this short turn of duty and hence do not need a locomotive specifically for the job. Suddenly the costs are marginal for telling such an important story and the goods train becomes a low cost, high return proposition!

So, spare a thought for the humble wagon that was once so important to our way of life, and, if David Rhydderch can get sufficient support frommembers, look for more re-creations of those historical scenes.

If you feel inclined, come to Horsted Keynes C&W Works and help us maintain the wagons that tell the story. We look forward to welcoming you!

By Bob Pamment, Rolling Stock Director
The Bluebell Railway Band/East Grinstead Concert Band play "Sussex by the Sea" in 2009.
John Harwood's drone video from 6 March 2020 ( taken according to guidelines )captures Jon Goff and team: "We are truing up the alignment of the rails and chairs on 'A road' points before drilling and screwing them down."
A birthday trip to the Railway, by Sunny Thomas Fan.
SETG Group: Fitted & Almost Fit for Use

Our efforts on 29 Feb 2020 were primarily focused on the Long Trailer No.70797. The past few weeks has seen the coach gradually brought back to life with lights, seating, window trims and quarter pads refitted. Slowly but surely the coach has gone from looking in dire need of attention to almost being fit for traffic.

However, there have been two major problems before we can ensure that the interior of the vehicle is ready for passengers. Firstly there has been a lingering fault that has prevented the saloon heaters from working. Secondly, we have the long-term problem of not having enough seat bases (seat cushions to those outside the railway) to fit out the coach.

Those that are fit for use have already been fitted, and so we are now stuck with how to revive the cushions water-damaged during the unit’s periods of uncovered storage at East Grinstead and Clapham. Fortunately for both problems, we had just the right Minions to hand ...

Keith Duke's gallery from 7 March 2020 shows the 01 and Standard 4 tank running. "Also a small group of tractors“plus a Green Goddess and an Austin 7!“met up at Sheffield Park before a road run."
Brian Lacey's photo from 29 Feb 2020 shows No. 80151 departing southbound from Kingscote.
Something to brighten our days in challenging times: springtime at the Railway , by John Sandys (12 and 14 March 2020).
Peter Edwards' captured No. 30541 on 8 March 2020 approaching Town House Bridge with a sold-out Golden Arrow Afternoon Tea train.
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 2020