6 August 2020

Tomorrow is the big day!

We will be celebrating the Grand Reopening of the Bluebell Railway and our 60th birthday!

The picture above shows the scene on Platform 2 at Sheffield Park on 7 August 1960 when the first passenger trains ran on the preserved line.

The scene won't be quite like that tomorrow when the first train leaves at 09:00 because of the current circumstances — but there will bethe same level of excitement as the whistle blows and the wheels start turning once again.

It's been a long, hard road to recovery after 20 weeks of closure. Thank you to all the members, staff, volunteers, supporters and friends of the Railway who have kept the faith during the shutdown. We always knew the fires would be lit once more — and we have seen steam flourishing in Sussex again!

There's been a real sense of excitement around the Railway this week as everyone has pulled together to produce a spectacular reopening plan.

There will special guests and some major announcements so keep an eye on our website , Facebook , Twitter , Instagram and YouTube channels.

Now it's time to show our visitors and the wider world what we do best: giving people a safe, enjoyable and memorable day out.

  • Paul Bromley, Communications Director, Bluebell Railway
Special Headboards
All the trains for the Grand Reopening and beyond will carry special headboards to mark 60 years of operations.

The headboards will be in various colours and will be on the front of all the service and dining trains.

Webcam Live Streaming

Tickets for the first train of the day — the Members' Special — were sold out within 10 minutes of becoming available.

Those who managed to get tickets will be on board The Pioneer.

For everyone else, there's the chance to see the activity at Sheffield Park on two specially-installed webcams.

The live feed will have pictures from both Platform 1 and Platform 2 so that people can watch the departures and arrivals all day.
Virtual Event

The reopening also marks the start of the three-day Virtual Event to celebrate Steaming Through 60.

The event was planned as an online way of marking 60 years of operating as a heritage line when the major celebrations had to be postponed.

The virtual programme includes archive footage beginning with the story of "How It All Started in 1960".

And there are some e-greetings cards from some famous faces!

Watch out for an announcement tomorrow about how the Railway will celebrate with a bigger and better event in 2021.
TV and radio coverage
There has been a lot of press interest in the resumption of services and we are expecting the story to be reported on TV, radio, in print and online.

Burgess Hill Community Radio will be broadcasting live from Sheffield Park with two programmes: the 7am-10am Breakfast Show with Terry James and the 10am-1pm Mid-Morning Show with Tanya McCarthy.

BBC Radio Sussex , Uckfield FM , Meridian FM and Radio Redhill are also planning on live or recorded reports and interviews.

BBC South East and ITV Meridian may also include the Bluebell Railway in their bulletins. And other media organisations are likely to report on the Grand Reopening.

Virtual Model Railway Gala
The appeal for railway modellers to send in footage of their layouts has produced a bumper crop of clips.

Volunteer Lance Allen has now edited them into two episodes which will be shown over the weekend as part of the Virtual Gala .
You may just recognise some of the stations in the layouts.

There are some great sequences of trains arriving and departing at the miniature Horsted Keynes and East Grinstead.
Fireworks Wagon Back In Stock
Our special edition Bluebell 2020 Anniversary Wagon is back in stock.

This is a great way to celebrate our 60th birthday.
Souvenir Tickets
The special 60th anniversary souvenir Edmondson tickets are also available as a memento of this landmark achievement in preservation history.

All the proceeds go to the Emergency Appeal.
Emergency Appeal
The recovery appeal is continuing to raise money because of the uncertain future.

Thanks to the generosity of members, friends, supporters and the public, the plea for financial help has raised nearly £400,000 so far — that's been enough to allow the Railway to reopen but we are relying on visitors returning to provide sufficient money to see us through the autumn and winter.
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 .

Paul Bromley
Communications Director
Bluebell Railway

© Bluebell Railway Preservation Society 2020