NEWS FROM THE BLUEBELL RAILWAY
17 May 2020
Welcome to this special eNewsletter with a round-up of important developments at the Bluebell Railway since our last publication at the end of March at the start of the lockdown. We hope everyone continues to be well. We have all had to reassess our lives during this pandemic and staying safe is the priority for everyone.

The PLC Directors, Society Trustees and Trust Governors have been in regular conversation throughout the last eight weeks, holding conferencecalls, online meetings and general discussions. The fact that we haven’t been able to meet face-to-face has not stopped us discussing thefuture of the Railway and working hard to ensure not only its immediatesurvival but its potential for thriving in the years ahead.

The government’s announcement for a phased easing of the lockdown has enabled us to hold some provisional discussions about the logistics and practicalities of reopening, but there are still a lot of unknowns and alot of assessments to be carried out before we can once again welcome visitors safely to our line. We’ll confirm our reopening plans when we are further down the track, if you will forgive the pun!

Talking of plans, the Railway has decided collectively to postpone the major events to mark the 60th Anniversary of running as a heritage line,which had been scheduled for 7-9 August. We are determined to keep “Steaming Through 60” and are looking at alternative ways to celebrate this August with the main birthday activities to be held in 2021. Steering group chairman Robert Hayward explains more below.

The main focus of everyone in the last few weeks has been on the emergency appeal to raise funds for the Railway. The aim is to bring in enough money to help in the recovery period to enable us to operate and make up the revenue which would have come in during our busy spring/summer season. Details of the appeal have been sent to all members of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, and fundraising organiser Trevor Swainson outlines the strategy in this eNewsletter.

By lunchtime on 16 May, more than 1,000 people had donated close to £100,000 of the £300,000 target“a great effort so far but still some way to go to provide enough funds to see us through the next few months and allow us to run trains once again.

The whole Railway has been saddened by the death of several prominent figures in the last few weeks. We mourn the deaths of Infrastructure Director Chris White, Driver John Padgham, former loco man John Scrace, Station Master John Wood, and former signalman Ken Deans among others. Full tributes will appear in other publications in due course.

There is happier news on the publicity front with the launch of new “Storytime with the Bluebell Railway” videos produced by volunteers fromthe Education Department and a lovely feature in Country Walking magazine about the Railway and surrounding countryside.

We all miss the Railway and especially seeing our friends and serving our customers. The Railway has always battled against the odds and has proved its collective will can overcome any hurdle. Now is the time for us all to show the same resolve.

We wish you continued good health and look forward to seeing you back atour beloved Railway whenever it is safe to do so. Please look after yourselves“and others“during these difficult times.

By Paul Bromley, Communications Director
Update on the Emergency Appeal

The Bluebell Railway Trust launched its appeal immediately after the COVID-19 closure was announced using Virgin Money Giving. We set a modest target of £25,000 to test the waters and we have been pleasantly surprised that we have exceeded that sum“more than £50,000 was raised inthe first seven weeks. Thank you for your support!

We are now extending the Appeal with the aim to raise at least another £250,000.

Letters have been sent to donors with an invitation to support the appeal. The chairmen of the Railway's three entities“PLC Chairman Chris Hunford, Acting Society Chairman Steve Bigg and Trust Chairman Vernon Blackburn“have sent a joint letter to Bluebell Railway Preservation Society members outlining the appeal. A separate letter has been sent toPLC shareholders.

There have been many people asking why we did not launch an immediate appeal to safeguard the Railway through the lockdown in the way that many other railways have done. It was a question of discovering where there was the greatest need for an appeal.

David Burch, still relatively new in post as Finance Director, was set the difficult task of deciding how much money the Railway had and what reserves could be drawn upon. He was also tasked with negotiating with our bank and deciding if we could survive through to the end of the lockdown, whenever that might be.

Surviving the lockdown is our first priority, but the recovery period once the Railway reopens is also critical. We will have little revenue, yet most of the payroll and overheads will be incurred. Therefore, it was decided to hold a major fundraising campaign to support the recoveryperiod rather than funding the survival period.

Another question is why the Bluebell Railway Trust cannot transfer fundsto the PLC. Unfortunately, this cannot be done because the majority of the funds held by the Trust were raised by donations and legacies for specific projects and, as such, they are restricted and cannot be drawn upon under the very strict rules of the Charity Commission.

Fortunately, the Charity Commission is taking a more pragmatic view at the moment, and whilst the rules have not been relaxed, we are able to use some of the funds to work on specific projects, thereby relieving the burden on the PLC.

By Trevor Swainson, Funding Governor, Bluebell Railway Trust
Nominate the Bluebell Railway for Ecclesiastical Charity Scheme

The Bluebell Railway Trust has a chance of being given £1,000 through a “nominate a charity” scheme run by Ecclesiastical, whichis a financial services company originally set up to protect Anglican churches and church buildings against the risk of fire.

If you would like to nominate the Railway at this link , the deadline is coming up soon: 24 May. The Bluebell Railway Trust charity number is 292497 and the Charity Type is “Heritage Arts”.

By Trevor Swainson, Funding Governor, Bluebell Railway Trust
Good Press

The Railway is well-known throughout the UK and beyond, not least for its role in the popular Downton Abbey TV series, and there has been widespread publicity for the emergency appeal.

Local press coverage reported on the initial launch, and there has now been publicity across the region and beyond for the new phase, described above:

60th Anniversary Event Postponed

The planned three days of events this August to mark the 60th Anniversary of operations have been postponed until next year.

Robert Hayward, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway’s Diamond Anniversary steering group, says, “The pragmatic decision not to hold the event as previously planned allows the Bluebell Railway to focus its efforts on reopening. We will be holding a virtual event this August, and we are currently working on various ideas for the event because we are still going to celebrate 60 years of operating as a heritage line.”

He adds: “New opportunities may be available to us in 2021 that are not possible now. Next year’s event will be on a date to be agreed. I’m sureeveryone will understand and appreciate the decision the Railway has reached.”

The "Steaming Through 60" weekend was scheduled to take place from 7-9 August (coinciding 60 years to the day“on 7 August“since the Bluebell Railway began operating as a heritage line). The Steering Group is now looking at virtual ways to celebrate the 60 years including online videos. Stay tuned for an announcement of the dates of the rearranged event in 2021.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: AllBluebell Railway events up until the end of August have either been cancelled or postponed. Events from the start of September until the endof December remain under review.
Down Memory Line: Video Edition
British Pathé: Bluebell Railway (1961)
Martin Lawrence's superb 2015 video "Sheffield Park to East Grinstead in 5 minutes ".
Official video of the opening day of the Northern Extension, 23 March, 2013.
It's Storytime!

TheBluebell Railway’s Education Department has produced a series of online"Storytime" videos for children, featuring books about trains.

The railway-related stories have been selected“and are read“by volunteers from the Education Department.

The clips have been edited and uploaded to the Railway’s YouTube channel and the Children's Section of the Railway's website.

“'Storytimewith Bluebell Railway' is a nice way to keep our younger visitors informed and to keep the Railway in their hearts and minds," says Ruth Rowatt (pictured) from the Bluebell Railway’s Education Department. " Iknow that many children are looking forward to visiting 'Stepney' and all his friends at Bluebell Railway this spring. I want to let them knowthat we at the Railway are thinking of them and looking forward to welcoming them when we reopen.”
The Railway's Online Shop continues to be operational for the purchase of books, gifts, models, and 60th Anniversary memorabilia.

The intention is that the shopwill be open for telephone orders between 9 am and noon every Monday and Thursday on 01825 720803, and orders will be posted that afternoon. 

Unfortunately, it is not possible to take off the members' discount through the website, so if members wish to take advantage of the discount, please phone the shop onthe days and times above with your membership number to hand.
For2020, the Railway“along with our friends at Dapol“has produced a OO gauge firework/gunpowder wagon, quite appropriate to commemorate the 60th Anniversary.

The wagon is unusual as it has two running numbers, 1960 on one side and 2020 on the other.

Available from the online shop ,this is a limited item, with only 115 available. It’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek model, but a fun way to celebrate our first 60 years. Perhaps we’ll see one of these wagons in our online gala (see below)!

Society News: Roy Watts Becomes Acting Vice-Chairman

Former Bluebell Railway Preservation Society (BRPS) Chairman Roy Watts has been co-opted as Society Acting Vice-Chairman.

“There is little doubt that age-related considerations will figure highly in any phased return to some form of societal normality," says Acting BRPS Chairman Steve Bigg. "With this in mind, I proposed that Society Vice-President Roy Watts be co-opted to the role of Acting Vice-Chairman for the duration of restrictions, and until an Annual General Meeting/Extraordinary General Meeting can be held to enable elections to take place for a new Society Chairman/Vice-Chairman."

“Roy has very many years’ experience leading the Society, as well as theadvantage of being comfortably under the age of 70, which I’m not," adds Steve. "Roy is warmly welcomed to his new role on the committee andwill provide valuable support during these difficult times.”
Bluebell News Now Online

The spring edition of Bluebell News was produced in adigital-only format because there was no guarantee that printers and mailing houses would be operational during the early days of the emergency lockdown and able to print and distribute the magazine.

If you are yet to read a copy, one can be downloaded here .

To ensure the magazine is still available for members, the summer edition will also be digital only and online at the same link. Businesses aren’t yet up and running, and there is still no certainty about printing and mailing the magazine.
The updated webpage for LB&SCR 5-compartment third No. 328 "Betty" shows progress with re-panelling and undercoating the exterior, scumbling (grain-painting) of the interior, preparation ofthe roof timbers, and more. 
The Bulleid Society has a new online report ,including some pictures taken earlier this year, showing stay fitting to the new syphons for No. 21C123 at South Devon Railway (Engineering).
For the Duration: The Bluebell Times

The Railway has been publishing a special fortnightly newsletter during the lockdown inspired by the actions of soldiers in World War One.

The Bluebell Times is based on The Wipers Times , which was a newspaper produced by soldiers in the trenches in World War I after theyfound an abandoned printing press. The paper helped to maintain morale during the fighting around Ypres in Belgium.

“We hope The Bluebell Times helps to keep up spirits in the same way," says Communications Director Paul Bromley. "It is designed to fill the gap for anyone missing their steam train rides or visits to the Railway. Although the Railway is currently closed, the lines of communication are still open."

Adds Paul: “It’s a publication for all“Railway staff at home, volunteersin all departments, members, supporters, visitors, friends, train enthusiasts, families, and general readers. It’s perfect for train-mad youngsters or anyone who wants a bit of light relief.”

Each issue includes news updates, information about the fundraising appeal, an in-depth profile of an individual at the Railway, a closer look at one of the locomotives, a "Guess the Year" puzzle, a word search, plus a special children’s section.

The Bluebell Times is being edited by Tom James, who is a volunteer in the Locomotive Department, and includes contributions from people across the Railway.

Four issues have been published to date and are available to download here .
Bluebell Railway Preservation Standards Manual Published

As many of you will be aware, we have been working to produce the first issue of the Society’s Preservation Standards Manual. Printed copies of the rather large document were circulated to the Railway late in 2018.

Copies are available at each station“please ask the station masters“and extracts also have been issued to the station friends’ groups and specialist departments.

In accordance with the wishes of the Trustees, an electronic version hasbeen prepared for the public. Unfortunately, we had some delays in getting the correct format for electronic distribution, which varies from the printed form, but it has been tested and inspected by the management team and appears to work without any major problems.

The PDF document can be read and downloaded here .This "live document" will be updated from time to time, so please checkthat you are reading the latest issue. It is likely that there will be an update this year and further updates in subsequent years.

Please remember that this information is specific to the Bluebell Railway; however, it will be very useful to modellers of all scales. Theformat will also be useful to other heritage railways who wish to produce their own standards documents.

We hope you find it useful and interesting. Should you find any errors or omissions“we expect many“please contact us, and include your source information. We have found that references to books written by others tend to cause confusion and cannot always be relied on as accurate. However, "sketchy" information is better than none at all!

If groups outside the Railway wish to discuss this document or wish to have a presentation on its background, please contact us at PreservationStandards, c/o Sheffield Park Station, East Sussex TN22 3QL, or email chris.saunders@bluebell-railway.co.uk .

By Chris Saunders, BRPS Preservation Standards Trustee
More updates have been made to webpages for our locos and rolling stock:

Work on V class No. 928 “Stowe” at Sheffield Park has temporarily paused during the lockdown.

However, workon smaller items continues off site and before the closure of the workshops work on the cab roof, brake rigging, steam heat pipework, and valves and valve heads had been addressed.

EG Model
Let Steam Flourish Online! Introducing the Bluebell Railway Virtual Gala

Lockdown in some form is likely to continue for a significant time, and we increasingly miss steam at the Railway“so how about we share a Virtual Steam Gala?!

Many of us will have model railways in various gauges and eras, and members are invited to send video clips of their models in action. We will then compile the clips into a film“or a series of short films“that can be viewed on YouTube.

From garden railways through to Z gauge, if it's live steam or steam outline (no diesels please), we're interested! In particular, we would welcome film of models of the Bluebell Railway’s engines to make us all feel like we are at the Railway.

  • Videos should be shot in landscape mode and be no more than two minutes in length. 
  • Save videos as mpeg files and send to lance705@btinternet.com via the free WeTransfer service (and not via direct email because of file size restrictions: WeTransfer allows files up to 2MB).
  • Include your full name, BRPS membership number, town or area of residence, and, importantly, the name of your layout if it has one. 
  • The fine print: We can't guaranteeinclusion and videos may be edited. The Bluebell Railway and its agentscannot take responsibility for any copyright issues arising. Material is submitted free of charge or obligation. 

We look forward to receiving your films and creating our own Virtual Gala. Floreat vapo r“online at least!

By Lance Allen
Rhapsody in Bluebell

Country Walking magazine, in its May issue ,features a six-page report on the Bluebell Railway. It outlines the history of the Railway and promotes walks through the nearby woods: "TheBluebell Railway in Sussex is one of the greatest heritage lines in thecountry“and perfect for a half-and-half walk if you’re a steam fan.”

The report points out that “this line, more than most others, lends itself to a walk-and-ride” and highlights the Horsted Keynes stretch as being “wonderful for a number of reasons“not least Horsted Keynes station itself.”

Sheffield Park station is described as “like stepping back in time” withvintage signs and colour schemes from another era. The article describes Sheffield Park in glowing terms: “This is the hub of the story: the aforementioned museums, engine sheds, exhibitions, and eateries effortlessly blend unfettered nostalgia with all mod cons.”

The report was spotted by loco department volunteer Rich Stanton who notes, “The edition also has a number of walks along abandoned or aroundcurrently used railway lines and is a recommended“if only by me!“read and potential planning aid for future walks.”
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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  newsletter@bluebell-railway.co.uk .

Sincerely, 
 
John Walls
Editor-in-Chief, eNewsletter
Bluebell Railway

© Bluebell Railway Preservation Society 2020