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2 August:
5 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60 – we had test trains running today!


80151 with the 'ghost' train - Phil Jemmision - 2 August 2020

  • Ghost Trains running today – Phil Jemmision was on duty in the signal box at Horsted Keynes today, and took this great photo of No. 80151 hauling a “ghost train” consisting of the Metropolitan Railway carriages, in preparation for our reopening on Friday.
     
    These ghost trains are not carrying passengers – they are for staff to refamiliarise themselves with their duties and operations as well as for training ahead of reopening to the public. Please note all Bluebell Railway premises, including our stations and car parks, remain out of bounds to all until we re-open, and then are open only to pre-booked ticket holders – book your tickets now.
     
  • Our reopening trains will be formed using these Victorian Metropolitan Railway carriages hauled by the SECR O1 as “The Pioneer”, with dining services formed of our Lounge Car set hauled by No. 80151.
     
  • Kickstart your day with a full English!

    Due to popular demand, we will now be serving cooked breakfasts on some days on our Breakfast Belle services – book here.
     

  • After an interruption caused by some virus or other, the football season has finally ended, and the FA Cup Final took place yesterday. So we now have the final positions in the 2019-20 Football Competition. The competition is raising funds for the forthcoming overhaul of Southern Railway Maunsell Restaurant/Dining First No. 7864.
     
  • On this day in 2014 our Metropolitan Railway “Chesham set” carriages were in action on London Underground to celebrate the Hammersmith & City Line’s 150th anniversary. They are seen in Dan Hamblin’s photo below at Westbourne Park station with Metropolitan No. 1 leading.
     
  • That very same day, 2 August 2014, the visiting ‘Tornado’ was photographed at Sheffield Park by Laurel Arnison.


Met 1 and our carriages at Westbourne Park - Dan Hamblin - 2 August 2014 Tornado at Sheffield Park - Simon Jeffs/Laurel Arnison - 2 August 2014

1 August: C-class with Golden Arrow at Leamland Bridge - Nigel Sealey - 1 August 2017
6 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Ten years ago, on 1 August 2010, Nigel Sealey photographed our SECR C-class with the Golden Arrow Luncheon Train at Leamland Bridge, on the “double track” section just north of Horsted Keynes. Whilst the thought of seeing the Atlantic on such a train in a couple of years time is enticing, the prospect of eventually having an SECR E-class 4-4-0 on that service is positively mouth-watering.
     
  • During July 2020 there were 41,445 hits recorded on this page from 20,605 unique visitors.
     
  • Three years ago, on 1 August 2017, Brian Lacey had the chance to spend some time at West Hoathly. Below we see the SECR H-class and Birdcage Brake on the 2.45pm service from Sheffield Park, and the S15 bursting out of the tunnel with the 1.30pm service.


H-class and Birdcage Brake at West Hoathly station site - Brian Lacey - 1 August 2017 S15 No.847 bursting out of the tunnel - Brian Lacey - 1 August 2017

31 July: Bluebell Times - Edition 10
7 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

7 days to go both to our 60th Anniversary
and to the resumption of services.

  • News Update Issue 10 of The Bluebell Times is now available, with details of the Grand Reopening of the railway and the virtual and real 60th anniversary celebrations. There is also a round-up of what’s been happening at the various stations and in different departments to prepare for welcoming back visitors and members.

    The newsletter also has a special message from the Bluebell Railway’s chaplain about the importance of working together to operate a preserved steam railway.

    In Issue 10:

    • Find out why there’s more to being a Train Guard than waving green flags and blowing whistles
    • A closer look at one of our industrial locomotives which featured in the 50th anniversary celebrations
    • An explanation of why train crews regard the line as effectively a staircase
    • A themed Word Search puzzle to coincide with the 60th anniversary
    • New puzzles as well as the regular favourites
    • … and much, much more.

    You can download the latest edition here.
     

  • With the very kind help of Eric Kemp, Derek Hayward has completely revised his gallery for East Grinstead (Low Level) Station, which now covers 1968 to the present day. There are 33 new images, mainly, but not exclusively, on pages 2 and 3. The gallery first looks south towards the Bluebell Railway station and then moves to the northern end.
     
  • We have just released tickets for our Pie & Mash (9 October) and Curry Special (30 Ocotber) trains! Book Your Tickets now.
     
  • We are extremely pleased to see our Golden Arrow Pullman service featured in yesterday’s Daily Mail article about Britain’s loveliest train journeys!
     
  • The Railway Hub has an article celebrating 60 years of the Bluebell Line.
     
  • The two photos show a range of Pacific super-power on the Bluebell. The first photo from 6 years ago, again shows ‘Tornado’, this time photographed by Peter Edwards at Holywell with the 2.45pm train from Sheffield Park on 31 July 2014 during the week long Summer Festival in 2014. The second photo, by David Haggar, shows matching Malachite green Bulleid Light Pacifics, our own ‘Blackmoor Vale’ with the visiting No. 34081 ’92 Squadron’ on 29 July 2001.



'Tornado' at Holywell - Peter Edwards - 31 July 2014 Blackmoor Vale and 92 Squadron - David Haggar - 29 July 2001

Tornado approaches Imberhorne Lane Bridge - John Goss - 30 July 2014 30 July:
8 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Another photo here of ‘Tornado’ which swept in for seven days of action on the Bluebell six years ago. The new-build LNER A1 pacific No. 60163 is seen here on 30 July 2014 as it approaches Imberhorne Lane Bridge with a 7-coach train, in this photo by John Goss.
     
  • Derek Hayward’s photo below was from the Toy and Rail Collectors Fair weekend four years ago, showing H-class No. 263 approaching New Road Bridge on 30 July 2016.


H-class approaches New Road Bridge - Derek Hayward - 30 July 2016

Dukedog north of Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 24 February 2011 29 July:
9 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Nigel Sealey’s photo shows “Dukedog” No. 9017 ‘Earl of Berkeley’ just to the north of Horsted Keynes station on 24 February 2011. The current issue of Steam Railway magazine has an article about how this hybrid GWR interloper became one of the Bluebell’s stalwarts.
     
  • MORE DATES ADDED!
    We have just released more dates for our popular services, including The Pioneer, Cream Tea Riviera, Fish & Chips Special and the Wealden Rambler traditional Afternoon Tea!

    Please see our full list of services.
     

  • News Update Update to the Infrastructure News, with the latest on the OP4 carriage shed, preparations (as seen in Bruce Healey’s photos below showing one of three main spans, and two of four sill beams) resuming for the rebuilding of the bridge forming Palmer’s Cattle Creep, and about some infrastructure volunteer gangs returning to their duties along the line.


One of three main span sections - Bruce Healey - 15 July 2020 Sill sections ready for loading - Bruce Healey - 15 July 2020

Tornado at West Hoathly station site - Nigel Sealey - 28 July 2014 28 July:
10 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • No. 60163, LNER Class A1 Pacific ‘Tornado’ at West Hoathly station site during its visit to the Bluebell 6 years ago, 28 July 2014 (photo Nigel Sealey).
     
  • Update to the overarching web page for the various phases of Operation Undercover, our 20-year (so far) campaign to get all our locomotives and carriages under cover, along with a revised format for the News page for OP4.
     
  • Update to the non-traffic vehicle section of the Carriage Stock List, adding the four Mk3 Sleeping Cars (and photos of each) which have arrived to replace five of the existing sleeping cars used for staff accommodation.


Steam Railway Magazine - July 2020 27 July:
11 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • The latest Steam Railway magazine features the Bluebell across an amazing 51 pages around our 60th birthday!
     
  • With 11 days to go until our reopening, the railway was busy with activity this weekend preparing to welcome our visitors back on 7 August (the exact date of our 60th birthday!). You can book tickets here. We can’t wait to see you all again!
     
  • The updated Loco Roster indicates that it will be SECR O1-class No. 65 hauling “The Pioneer” (formed of our Victorian “Chesham” compartment coaches), and BR Standard Tank No. 80151 hauling the various dining trains (Breakfast, Lunch, Tea and Evening Meals).
     
  • The first set of photos (by Mark Baker) below shows some of the volunteer station team preparing Kingscote, over the weekend.
     
  • The second photo, by Dave Bowles, records that the Sunday PW gang were out for the second time yesterday. One gang, north of West Hoathly, were greasing fish plates and the second gang (pictured) were fettling the track alignment at Vaux End. P-way work is one of the easier jobs to do whilst maintaining social distancing, outdoors.


Preparing Kingscote for reopening - Mark Baker - 25 July 2020 Sunday Gang members at Vaux End - Dave Bowles - 26 July 2020

Bluebell Railway Preservation Society 26 July:
12 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60


 

We are bringing all our content together in one handy place.

All the information for the visiting public and the
railway enthusiast is now on one website (bluebell-railway.com).

The original BRPS site (bluebell-railway.co.uk) will maintain the blogs archive and
other historic content but all new contributions from across the Bluebell Railway are now here.

There is a new editorial email address, at the top of this page, with details of how you
can send in submissions. So we look forward to continue to receiving your news updates.

Dismantling the LBSCR First - Ian White - 26 July 2011

  • Nine years ago today, on 26 July 2011, a Bluebell C&W team dismantled and recovered the body of an LBSCR (Craven-era) first-class carriage from the 1860s, from a garden in Bexhill in Sussex. Ian White provided these photos showing the dismantling (the original carriage roof went many years ago, replaced by the pitched roof seen below), and the first photo below shows why the owner was unaware that his garden shed was a railway carriage until he started to clear it out. Ian has also created a web page about the carriage, detailing the discoveries made so far in clearing the undergrowth and removing the body, and the montage photo showing the more complete side of the vehicle, complete with LBSCR garter.
     
  • Links to BRPS, Locomotives, Carriage & Wagon and Signalling pages are in the “About” menu tab at the top of each page. Links to this Blog, and to other departmental news reports are under the “News” menu tab, and How to Help Us, BRPS Membership, Volunteering, and the 9F and Stepney Clubs come under “Join & Support”. The Search Function covers both of the websites.


LBSCR First - Ian White - early June 2011 LBSCR First - Ian White - 26 July 2011

LBSCR First - photo-montage - Ian White - 26 July 2011

C-class waiting to leave Horsted Keynes - Steve Lee - 25 July 2015 25 July:
13 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Steve Lee’s photo from exactly 5 years ago shows SECR C-class No. 592 waiting to leave Horsted Keynes with a wedding special. In the background, appropriately accompanied by a Bulleid carriage, is the out-of-ticket 21C123 ‘Blackmoor Vale’.
     
  • Below we see Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes from the air (of particular note are the new locomotive maintenance building at the South end of Sheffield Park, and to the right of the Horsted Keynes photo the vast new OP4 carriage works/shed extension), photos taken by Keith Duke during a helicopter flight arranged by a fellow Bluebell volunteer on Tuesday this week. Keith’s gallery of aerial photos provides many more views of our line, at high resolution.


Sheffield Park from the air - Keith Duke - 21 July 2020 Horsted Keynes from the air - Keith Duke - 21 July 2020

23 July: 263 on a test run - Peter Edwards - 23 July 2012
15 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Peter Edwards’ photo shows H Class No. 263 at the head of a test train which left Sheffield Park at 3.30pm on 23 July 2012. If you look closely you can see that the SECR lining on the loco has not yet been completed. The locomotive, once completed, entered service on 28 July with a ceremony at Horsted Keynes. Over the last year it has had a lot of work done on it, including machining of the driving crank journals.
     
  • The photos below are both by Brian Lacey, taken on this date but a few years ago. The first shows the SECR H-class on a goods train on 23 July 2016, about to give up the token to the Horsted Keynes signalman, and the second from a year later, on 23 July 2017, showing visiting Bulleid light pacific No. 34092 ‘City of Wells’ at West Hoathly.


263 with goods train - Brian Lacey - 23 July 2016 'City of Wells' - Brian Lacey - 23 July 2017

22 July: Birch Grove approaches Horsted Keynes from the north - Nigel Sealey - 8 June 2003
16 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Nigel Sealey’s photo shows LBSCR E4 No.473 ‘Birch Grove’ approaching Horsted Keynes from the north on 8 June 2003. With the completion of the overhaul of Brighton Bogie First No. 7598 in 1999 (the first carriage on any heritage railway to return to service having been recovered as a grounded body and fitted to a bogie underframe) this pre-war Southern-liveried set was advertised as our Vintage Train for a number of years. The brake van seen here was later replaced in the set by the overhauled SECR “Birdcage” and LSWR brake coaches, and is currently nearing the completion of an overhaul to enable it to be used as a support vehicle for filming work (in place of the goods brake van which is currently frequently used).
     
  • Due to high demand, and the initially advertised trains having sold out, we have just added two more Fish & Chip Special services on 14 August.
    This service includes a steam train journey and a Fish & Chip meal, including dessert and tea or coffee.
    We have traditional, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and dairy free menus – just let us know which you would like when you book.
    Tickets cost £30 per person – tables for 2, 3 or 4 available.
     
  • News Update The Bulleid Society’s Latest News page has two more photos of work at South Devon Railway (Engineering) on 21C123 Blackmoor Vale’s new inner firebox where work is progressing on fitting the front diaphragm ends of the thermic syphons. Photos are thanks to John Brodribb. The firebox appeal is still open since a lot of further work on the firebox still has to be paid for!


21 July: 1638 at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 27 May 2013
17 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Nigel Sealey’s photo shows Maunsell U-class No. 1638 departing from Horsted Keynes on 27 May 2013.
     
  • The two photos below were taken 9 years ago today – 21 July 2011:
    – John Sandys provided the first photo, showing C-class No. 592 awaiting its departure from Sheffield Park.
    – Tony Sullivan’s photo shows the loading of a Waste by Rail train at Imberhorne Tip that day. At that point we just had 8 months left to beat the end of the Landfill Tax exemption, but still another million pounds left to raise.


592 with the 11am departure from SP - John Sandys - 21 July 2011 Loading the Waste by Rail train - Tony Sullivan - 21 July 2011

20 July: Standard Tank 80064 at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 4 May 1986
18 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Nigel Sealey’s photo on the right shows BR Standard Tank No. 80064 at Horsted Keynes on 4 May 1986. The view here today is rather different, following the ambitious 12-year-long volunteer project (started in 1992) to rebuild the canopy and buildings on the further platform, which had been removed in 1913.
     
  • Two photos below from 7 years ago today, 20 July 2013, on the occasion of one of our Toy and Collectors’ Fairs, with two visiting locomotives:
    – Steve Lee captured Prairie tank GWR 5521, running as L.150, moving away after a pause at New Road Bridge, with six carriages all in Southern Railway Olive Green livery.
    – Phil Horscroft’s photo shows 9F No. 92212 at Leamland Bridge,


L.150 moves away after its pause at New Road Bridge - Steve Lee - 20 July 2013 92212 at Leanland Bridge - Phil Horscroft - 20 July 2013

19 July: 847 and 73082 at Kingscote - John Sandys - 19 July 2016
19 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • It’s the 19th July, and there are 19 days to go to the 60th anniversary of our first train service, and 19 days to go until we re-open after lockdown.
     
  • John Sandys’ photo from Tuesday 19 July 2016 shows the S15 on a timetabled service train and 73082, on a 10-coach special for a war veterans’ visit that day, at Kingscote.


18 July: Bluebell Times - Edition 9
20 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • News Update Now available: Issue 9 of The Bluebell Times.

    The return to work at the Bluebell Railway after four months of closure and the preparations for reopening are featured. There is also information about the new service and dining trains as well as the measures being taken for increased hygiene and enhanced cleaning.

    The newsletter is for everyone – railway staff, volunteers in all departments, members, supporters, visitors, friends, train enthusiasts and general readers. It’s perfect for train-mad youngsters or anyone who wants a bit of light relief.

    Contents include:

    • Details of the limited edition 60th anniversary souvenir Edmondson tickets
    • Learn more about the married couple who cover everything from footplate turns to filming liaison
    • A closer look at the oldest locomotive at the Bluebell
    • Find out how Sheffield Park station got its name
    • What goes on inside the museum
    • New puzzles as well as the regular favourites
    • … and much, much more.

    You can download the latest edition here.
     

  • News Update In addition, we have another edition of the Bluebell newsletter today, providing detail of the very different variety of services, which suit parties from 2 to 10 people in different ways, and the safety measures in place to protect both visitors and volunteers/staff.
     
  • Update to the web page for Maunsell Composite Brake Carriage No. 6686, with one new and one re-scanned photo (below, showing the coach following overhaul – photo taken by Klaus Marx on 2 April 1997).


Compartment side and brake end of 6686 - Klaus Marx - 2 April 1997

16 July: Video - Steam returns to Bluebell Railway
22 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Find out about all our safety measures in the new age of social distancing in this special video with commentary by Martin Clunes which we have made in preparation for our re-opening on 7 August.
     
  • Sheffield Park is starting to come back to life. The locomotive works team spent today preparing Q-class No. 30541 and BR Standard 5 No. 73082 ‘Camelot’ for the annual boiler exams, and the team from aivaf were putting the finishing touches to the access to the footplate of SECR C-class No. 592 in our Steamworks! exhibition.


15 July: LSWR 488 on its first day at Sheffield Park - David Pool - 15 July 1961
23 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • We re-open on 7 August.
     
  • Tickets are now on sale.
    We are Good to Go on 7 August
     
  • See also the Covid-19 Safety Measures we are putting in place to protect our visitors and staff.
     
  • 59 years ago today: David Pool’s photo shows the LSWR Adams Radial Tank No. 488 on the day it arrived at the Bluebell, 15 July 1961, at Sheffield Park at the head of the Chesham set.
     
  • The tickets for the Members’ Train (9am departure from Sheffield Park on 7 August) will be available to book (first-come-first-served) from 22 July. The seats will be for BRPS members only and free of charge.

 

14 July: 323 'Bluebell' with the extension shuttle - Nigel Sealey - 14 July 1990
24 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Reminder that tickets for our service trains, and some breakfast, lunch, tea and evening trains go on sale at 11am tomorrow. All tickets available online only. See also FAQ for our re-opening on 7 August.
     
  • Thirty years ago, on 14 July 1990, P-class No. 323 ‘Bluebell’ is seen with the push-pull extension shuttle, waiting to leave Horsted Keynes for Horsted House Farm, the first section of our Northern Extension to open – photo thanks to Nigel Sealey.
     
  • Mk3 SLEP No. 10526 was delivered this morning, as part of our programme to replace the current staff dormitory carriages with new ones – see this photo. The first two, with short swing-link bogies were delivered by rail, but this had to come by road because of its long swing-link bogies which are barred south of London.


13 July: No. 3 Baxter at the 25th anniversary gala - Nigel Sealey - 13 July 1985
25 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Looking back 35 years today, No. 3 ‘Baxter’ hauls our 6-wheeled Southern Railway Milk Tanker at the Cavalcade of Steam event on 13 July 1985, in our 25th anniversary year (photo by Nigel Sealey).
     
  • We have a new deal with Strathwood Publishing, which means Bluebell Railway customers can enjoy a 10% discount on all books (including those from Irwell Press) ordered through the Strathwood website!All you need to do is enter BLUEBELL into the discount code box at the checkout, and in addition to your discount, the Bluebell Railway will also benefit.
    Find out more here.
     
  • The photos below, also taken during the cavalcade the same day (exactly 35 years ago) by Nigel Sealey, show Southern Railway Maunsell Schools class No. 928 ‘Stowe’ at Horsted Keynes with then recently restored Maunsell open third No. 1309 immediately behind the tender.This locomotive is currently under overhaul as a joint effort between its owning group and the Railway (you can see a recent updates on the work on the Maunsell Locomotive Society website and on the Project’s Facebook Page). Whilst there’s a lot of work still to do, a huge amount has already been completed over the last six years, and it should be running again before too long.


Stowe and 1309 at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 13 July 1985 Stowe and 1309 at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 13 July 1985

12 July: Bluebell Newsletter - 12 July 2020
26 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Details here of our re-opening plans for 7 August. Tickets go on sale at 11am on 15 July.
    It also includes details of the “ghost trains” which are provisionally to run on Sunday 2, Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 August departing from Sheffield Park at 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00 and running up the line to Kingscote and back. These trains will not be carrying passengers. They are for staff to refamiliarise themselves with their duties and operations as well as for training ahead of reopening to the public. The trains will be empty other than the necessary crew and staff. There will be no access to the Bluebell’s car parks, stations or facilities on those days. We will not be arranging any formal photographic facility and regret we will not be able to accommodate accredited lineside photographers. Anyone who wishes to photograph these trains should do so from a place of safety on public land and does so at their own risk. Further details here.
     
  • News Update The latest edition of our e-Newsletter is now available.


11 July: We are Good to Go on 7 August
27 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • We’re Good to Go! We are Good to Go on 7 August
    We are really pleased to announce that we have achieved the Visit England certification to show that we have followed Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.
    We will be reopening on Friday 7 August, and timetables will be available soon. Tickets for a range of services will be on sale from 11am on 15 July.
     
  • The photo below, from Nigel Sealey, shows our BR Standard 4MT No. 75027 near Holywell on 11 June 1988. The carriages forming the train are appropriate to our area, since rush-hour trains on the Oxted lines (East Grinstead, Forest Row and Tunbridge Wells West to London Bridge) were in the latter years of steam typically formed of Bulleid corridor carriages strengthened by one or two ex-SECR “Hundred Seaters”.


75027 near Holywell - Nigel Sealey - 11 June 1988

10 July: 34028 as 34021 - 10 July 2007 - Tony Pearce
28 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 


9 July: 488 and 541 at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 25 September 1988
29 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Here we see LSWR Adams Radial Tank No. 488 and SR Maunsell Q-class No. 541 at Horsted Keynes on 25 September 1988, in another of Nigel Sealey’s photos.
     
  • News Update The Bulleid Society’s Latest News page has two photos with thanks to Richard Elliott of SDR(E) showing 21C123 Blackmoor Vale’s new inner firebox, now with the foundation channel welded into place. The firebox appeal is still open since the fundraising for this project is still ongoing.
     
  • Apologies that yesterday’s update transposed two digits in our Emergency Appeal total, which has actually now raised a magnificent £385,205, a huge vote of confidence in the Railway from over 2,400 members, supporters and well-wishers.

 

8 July: Loading wagons at the tip - Pat Plane - 8 July 2011
30 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • A photo taken 9 years ago today by the late Pat Plane serves as a reminder of the enormous effort it took to remove the rubbish tip from Imberhorne Cutting to complete our extension to East Grinstead. The waste trains were formed of 20 wagons, and here wagons 9 and 10 of that day’s train are seen being loaded. The rake was split into two halves (10 wagons), and then, since we could fill up to 4 wagons at a time, further divided down into 4 and 2-wagon sections for filling. This was the fourth day of a 3-week run of trains (the third sequence of waste trains), with another 5-week run taking place later that year.
     
  • Please DonateOur Emergency Appeal has now raised £358,205, but further donations are still needed to help us retain our skilled engineering/maintenance/restoration workforce over the coming months when our income will be much lower than normal.


6 July: 21C123 Blackmoor Vale at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 6 July 2003
32 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Following on from the news report in the 24 June update, covering the work on its new firebox, here we see Bulleid “West Country” Pacific No. 21C123 ‘Blackmoor Vale’ 17 years ago today, north of Horsted Keynes on 6 July 2003 in another of Nigel Sealey’s photos.
     
  • News Update Yesterday saw the publication of the July edition our e-Newsletter. It includes a farewell note from the e-Newsletter’s outgoing editor, John Walls, who with his brother, Martin, have produced the newsletter for the last eight years.


5 July: 80151 with the Golden Arrow Dining Train - Nigel Sealey - 30 March 2003
33 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Nigel Sealey provides this photo of BR Standard Tank No. 80151 with the Golden Arrow Dining Train, taken on 30 March 2003 just north of Leamland Bridge at Horsted Keynes.At that time, as well as two 1920s Pullman Cars and our LMS six-wheel brake, the train included Met-Cam 1960-built ‘Eagle’ which was on loan from the National Railway Museum, and the privately owned LNWR Semi-Royal Saloon No. 806.


4 July: Stepney with an engineers train north of Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 20 December 1987
34 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Today was scheduled to have been the third Goods Train running day this year. In place of that, we have several of Nigel Sealey’s photos from the 1980s. On the right “Terrier” No. 55 ‘Stepney’ is seen with an engineers’ train at Horsted Keynes on 20 December 1987. The wagon immediately behind ‘Stepney’ is DS 27730, a 10T Ballast Wagon constructed on the Isle of Wight in BR days on a 1928-built SR wagon underframe, which we subsequently donated to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. In 2007 they rebuilt it, including the creation of a replacement timber underframe, to its original SR-era Isle of Wight condition. As usual, you can click on the photos for enlargements.
     
  • With our provisional reopening planned for 7 August our count-down to the 60th Anniversary of our original opening in 1960 is also acting as a countdown to our post-lockdown re-opening.
     
  • The other two photos, below, from Nigel Sealey, show LSWR B4 No. 96 ‘Normandy’ at Horsted Keynes with one of our SR Bo-rails on 7 September 1986, and the North London Railway Tank No. 58850 at Holywell on 10 May 1987.


Normandy at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 7 September 1986 North London Tank at Holywell - Nigel Sealey - 10 May 1987

3 July: Bluebell Times - Edition 8
35 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • News Update The success of the Virtual Track Trek and the financial contribution it has made to the overall Emergency Appeal are featured in Issue 8 of The Bluebell Times.There are also several tributes to Dame Vera Lynn who was a great friend of the Bluebell Railway and a frequent visitor to Sheffield Park. The newsletter is for everyone – railway staff, volunteers in all departments, members, supporters, visitors, friends, train enthusiasts and general readers. It’s perfect for train-mad youngsters or anyone who wants a bit of light relief.Contents include:
    • A report on the reopening after the pandemic of our twin railway in the Netherlands
    • TV coverage of one of our locomotives … in a programme about paintings
    • What a Running Foreman does at the railway
    • The second and final part about living on the site of a former railway station
    • A personal rundown of the top 10 railway films
    • New puzzles as well as the regular favourites
    • Special kids’ section with a new challenge
    • … and much, much more.

    You can download the latest edition here.


2 July: Wednesday Gang South near Sloop Bridge - Deborah Carver - 1 July 2020
36 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • The lineside clearance volunteers of our Wednesday Gang (South) have been back at work (in the open air, distancing easy to achieve!) for a few weeks now, and are seen working near Sloop Bridge yesterday.
     
  • Derek Hayward has made a major upgrade to his photo galley for Barcombe Station to reflect changes being made during the current refurbishment. 60 new photos are currently at the start of the collection but will be re-ordered later. Please note that this is private property and cannot be seen from any public viewpoint. Images were taken by invitation and with the consent of the owners. Barcombe Station is on the long-closed section of line between Sheffield Park and Culver Junction; it is not in the village of Barcombe, and is actually at Barcombe Cross.


1 July: Summer 2020 Bluebell News
37 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 


30 June: Fenchurch with GN Saloon at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 28 September 1986
38 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Stroudley Terrier ‘Fenchurch’ shunts the GN Saloon at Horsted Keynes on 28 September 1986 (Nigel Sealey). Famous as the oldest operatonal locomotive on British Railways in the late 1950s and early 60s, LBSCR No. 72 will be 150 years old in 2022, and we hope to have it back in steam for that occasion.
     
  • A new web page has been created to record the present overhaul of Pullman Car 54.


29 June: 35027 Port Line at Holywell - Nigel Sealey - 18 June 1988
39 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Nigel Sealey’s photo shows No. 35027 ‘Port Line’ at Holywell on 18 June 1988. The Bulleid “Merchant Navy” class Pacific had only arrived at the Bluebell three weeks earlier, and at that time was just expected to stay for 6 weeks for running in, but we must have made the owning group feel welcome, since the locomotive actually stayed with us for 12 years!
     
  • The photos below show pre-lockdown progress with two volunteer-run projects in the Carriage & Wagon Works. Firstly Hastings-line Restriction 0 Maunsell brake third No. 3687 is seen with the painting into undercoat progressing, on 18 March. The second photo shows the doors and glazing ever more complete on the west side of LBSCR Stroudley brake third No. 949, back in January. By 18 March, the internal quarterlight (window) mouldings had been fitted to No. 949, as seen in the third photo.


Maunsell 3687 in the Carriage Works - Richard Salmon - 18 March 2020 Stroudley 949 in the Carriage Works - Richard Salmon - 5 January 2020
Interior of Stroudley 949 in the Works - Richard Salmon - 18 March 2020

28 June: 9F No. 92240 at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 16 September 1990
40 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • The Bluebell’s mighty 9F locomotive, No. 92240, was the first of the BR 9F 2-10-0s recovered from Barry scrapyard to be steamed in preservation. Nigel Sealey’s photo shows it the day after after it returned to traffic whilst running round its train at Horsted Keynes, on 16 September 1990.To help raise funds for its next overhaul, our “Awake the Giant” Appeal was launched last year.
     
  • Newick & Chailey was the first station you would have come to travelling south from Sheffield Park on the now closed section of the line. Derek Hayward has added some photos he took in 2014 of the platform remains at Newick & Chailey Station site, with the permission of the property owner, to his Photographic Tour page for that station. Please respect the privacy of the residents and enjoy Derek’s photos rather than attempting to visit the properties for yourself!


27 June: Virtual Track Trek
41 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • It’s Virtual Track Trek day! The fund raising from it has now reached over £5,400 online, including Gift Aid. It’s not too late to sponsor the walkers listed here.
     
  • Roger Kelly and Maureen did their 4.5. miles non-stop local to their home in 1 hour 35 minutes with rain and forces 6 winds, and have raised £1.3k.
     
  • Paul Lelew, Steve Bigg and Vernon Blackburn completed their 4.5 miles by going backwards and forwards on the path beside the Railway between Horsted Keynes station and Leamland Bridge. The East Grinstead Mayor, Cllr Danny Favor and his wife Maribel did their Trek around council grounds at East Court. Both he and the Bluebell team were filmed using a drone, and we await the edited video. The money raised on the Bluebell and Mayor collective VIP fundraising page is to date £1,012. More sponsors welcome!
     
  • News Update The SETG report two days of work on our 4VEP unit at Strawberry Hill.


26 June: 30777 Sir Lamiel at West Hoathly - Nigel Sealey - 16 October 2010
42 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Nigel Sealey’s photo shows the visiting “King Arthur” No. 30777 ‘Sir Lamiel’ at West Hoathly on 16 October 2010.
     
  • On Tuesday we lit up the first loco to steam on the Bluebell for three months, as P-class No. 178 was given a fitness to run exam. Its extended boiler certificate should see it running through to October.
     
  • Please DonateOur CV Emergency Appeal has now raised £351,183, but further donations will help us to survive, and retain our skilled engineering/maintenance/restoration workforce, for the rest of the year with what is certainly to be greatly reduced income.
     
  • Finally, please do sponsor the walkers taking part in our Virtual Track Trek tomorrow.If you don’t know who to sponsor, why not support our Official Trek Team, Councillor Danny Favor, The Mayor of East Grinstead; Stephen Bigg, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society; Vernon Blackburn, Chairman of The Bluebell Railway Trust, and Paul Lelew, Commercial and Marketing Director, Bluebell Railway plc.


24 June: J52 and H-class on a service train - David Haggar - June 1997
44 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Another of David Haggar’s photos from June 1997 as the visiting J52 pilots the H-class on a service train.
     
  • So far the Virtual Track Trek has raised over £3,000 online, including Gift Aid. It would be really good to double that by Saturday, the day of the event. It’s not too late to join in and the same link also provides a list of individuals who can be sponsored.
     
  • News Update The Bulleid Society’s Latest News page has further pictures, showing work on 21C123’s firebox, which were taken earlier this month at South Devon Railway Engineering.


23 June: 178 on the Edwardian Weekend - Chris Rigby - 23 June 2013
45 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Chris Rigby’s photo, taken using a lineside pass, shows SECR P-class No. 178 at Holywell with four centenarian carriages on the Sunday of the Edwardian Weekend seven years ago today.
     
  • Celebrate 60 years of the Bluebell’s Locomotive Department:
    Saturday 24 October 2020
    A reunion for all those who have been connected with the department over the years. Open to current and former loco department members, family and friends. See poster here. Further details to follow.


22 June:
46 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60
1618 at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 9 April 1988

  • Southern Railway U-class No. 1618 was the first locomotive rescued from Barry scrapyard to steam on the Bluebell Railway. It is seen here at Horsted Keynes in Nigel Sealey’s photo from 9 April 1988. Currently carrying BR black livery (it was repainted after its tender was loaned to the Mid Hants Railway a few years back), it is expected to be the next locomotive overhauled by its owners, the Maunsell Locomotive Society, once Schools-class No. 928 ‘Stowe’ is in service.
    Virtual Track Trek
     
  • Martin Cresswell and Keith Duke are joining the Virtual Track Trek on Saturday, and so anyone who’d like to sponsor them would be most welcome. It’s not too late to sign up to participate if you feel inspired to join in.


20 June:
Donate to our emergency appeal 48 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Please DonateOur CV Emergency Appeal has now raised £335,000, but further donations will help us retain our skilled staff through the forthcoming period when income will remain severely restricted – as you will have seen from yesterday’s announcement, whilst we hope to reopen in August, initially we will be very restricted in terms of our operations.
     
  • The two photos below show the state of work on the overhaul of Pullman Car 54 at Horsted Keynes just days before work stopped with the lock-down in mid-March. Funding for its overhaul is ring-fenced in a restricted fund in the Bluebell Railway Trust, along with money contributed by the Department for Transport to enable wheelchair access, and work can therefore re-commence once the works re-opens.


Pullman Car 54 in the Carriage Works - Richard Salmon - 22 March 2020 Pullman Car 54 ceiling - Richard Salmon - 18 March 2020

19 June: Furness Railway No.20 at Sheffield Park - Peter Edwards - 19 June 2012
49 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Provisional Reopening Date – 7 August announced. The statement includes comprehensive FAQs.
     
  • 8 years ago today: Peter Edwards’ photo on the right shows Furness Railway No.20 at Sheffield Park for filming work on 19 June 2012.
    Bluebell Times - Edition 7
     
  • News Update The seventh edition of The Bluebell Times, our newsletter for members, staff and supporters is now available.
    Contents include:

    • Meet the couple who live on the site of a former railway station
    • Find out how a loco was rescued from the scrapyard and restored
    • Read about ‘A Day in the Life’ of a senior station master
    • New puzzles including a Spot the Difference challenge
    • Special kids’ section with a carriage shed shunting puzzle
    • … and much, much more


18 June: LCDR 3188 relaunch - Alex Morley - 18 June 2016
50 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Four years ago today London Chatham & Dover Railway carriage No. 3188, recovered from a bungalow in Devon, was launched into Bluebell service (photo – Alex Morley – 18 June 2016). This is the same vehicle seen in the entry below for 15 June.With the train also including LCDR carriages 3360 and 114, and our SECR C-class locomotive, the entire train consisted of vehicles built at Longhedge Works in Battersea.
     
  • Another three trekkers have created online fundraising pages for our Virtual Track Trek on Saturday 27 June. Please help to get their fundraising off to a fly start by sponsoring them:

     

  • We are pleased to report that the main CV Emergency Appeal has now raised £334,805. The Virtual Track Trek is also raising funds for this vitally important appeal.


17 June: Standard tank 80064 at Holywell - Nigel Sealey - 20 April 1986
51 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Another of Nigel Sealey’s photos today; BR Standard tank No. 80064 is pictured at Holywell on 20 April 1986.Virtual Track Trek
     
  • A reminder to sign up to participate in our Virtual Track Trek taking place on 27 June.
     
  • Stewart Moon has also created a fundraising page for the Virtual Track Trek, and can be sponsored here.


15 June: LCDR 3188 in the works - Richard Salmon - 15 June 2011
53 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 


14 June: North London Railway tank at Horsted Keynes - Nigel Sealey - 5 March 1988
54 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Nigel Sealey has submitted some great photos from the 1980s, and today we are taken back to 5 March 1988 when the sole surviving locomotive from the North London Railway, No. 58850, was captured departing southwards from Horsted Keynes on a passenger service.Virtual Track Trek
     
  • Please do sign up to join in with our Virtual Track Trek taking place in two weeks time, on 27 June.


13 June: Dukedog with the Grouping-period Goods Train on the Saturday at Tremains - Derek Hayward - 8 April 2006
55 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Today would have been one of our regular “Goods Train” days. So we take you back to 2006, when an entire weekend event was held celebrating the memory of how goods were moved in times past, and Derek Hayward’s photo shows the Dukedog with the Grouping-period Goods Train on Saturday 8 April 2006 at Tremains. There was another goods train running, using pre-grouping vehicles, and further photos can be seen here.
     
  • If you are unable to participate yourselves in our Virtual Track Trek, then why not sponsor our Official Walkers, The Mayor of East Grinstead, Councillor Danny Favor, Stephen Bigg, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, Vernon Blackburn, Chairman of The Bluebell Railway Trust and Paul Lelew, Commercial and Marketing Director, Bluebell Railway plc, via this page.


12 June: J52 with the GN Saloon at Leamland Bridge - David Haggar - 6 June 1997
56 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Back in June 1997, Great Northern Railway (GNR) J52 No. 68846 visited us to help celebrate the centenary of our resident GNR Directors’ Saloon, and the centenary special is seen passing Leamland Bridge in this photo by David Haggar.
     
  • Please DonateOur CV Emergency Appeal has now raised over £325,000, and further donations will enable us to continue steaming forward through what will undoubtedly be a very difficult remainder of the year.


11 June: H-class and C-class ready to leave Sheffield Park - John Goss - 11 June 2014
57 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 


10 June: Stowe at Sheffield Park - Martin Read - 1980s
58 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • Martin Read has very kindly given us permission to use his photo of Schools class No. 928 ‘Stowe’ at Sheffield Park, which was taken during the early 1980s.The locomotive is currently waiting for the overhauled copper firebox to be refitted to its boiler, and we are all very much looking forward to seeing it running again.


9 June: Ivatt tank No. 41312 at Kingscote with spoil train - Jon Bowers - 6 June 2005
59 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60

 

  • It’s now just over 15 years since we ran the first spoil extraction trains to complete the extension to East Grinstead. Jon Bowers’ photo shows Ivatt tank No. 41312 at Kingscote on 6 June 2005. Jon’s report from that day includes many more photos and three videos. That was the first of many trains removing soil down to Horsted Keynes, prior to the extraction of the rubbish tip itself to other landfill sites.
     
  • News Update Sunday saw the publication of a new edition our e-Newsletter, which includes Chairman Chris Hunford setting out the Railway’s initial plans for reopening and the process being followed to allow visitors and volunteers to return safely.
    The Emergency Appeal has now reached its initial target of £300,000, and fundraising organiser Trevor Swainson sets out how the money will be used, and why we need to keep the appeal open, since we still need to raise more. It also reports that Chartered civil engineer Barry Luck is to join the board as Interim Infrastructure Director, and Jan Kozminski has become Treasurer Designate of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society.You can subscribe to the e-newsletter here, and also access the archive of past newsletters.
     
  • Updates to the Who’s Who page with the changes outlined above.
     
  • Virtual Track Trek Since 2013 the Railway has often run a Track Trek (that is a sponsored walk along all or part of the running line) to raise money for variety of causes. This is not possible during Coronavirus Pandemic conditions and with the Railway closed. Even it were open a Trek would not be possible if social distancing were to be observed.

    We are therefore inviting our supporters to raise money for our CV Emergency Appeal by participating in a Virtual Track Trek by obtaining sponsorship for walking 4.5 miles, the distance from Sheffield Park to Horsted Keynes at a location of their choice (but not at the Railway itself). Ideally this could be at home or nearby where the social distancing can be achieved without inconveniencing the public. However if there is somewhere imaginative where you can safely carry out the Trek please do, and let us know. Full details of how to participate.
     

  • Updates with either new or re-scanned photos for Bulleid Brake carriage 2515, Esso Tank wagon 1921, Maunsell Corridor Third 2356, Maunsell Corridor Composite 5644 and LSWR Ventilated Luggage Van 5498.


8 June:
60 days to 60 years
#SteamingThrough60 – Counting Down: 60 Days

 

  • Today is 60 days until the Railway’s 60th birthday. Every day, running until 7 August, there will be a special post on the Railway’s social media channels to mark 60 years of operating as a preserved railway. The posts will include fun facts, archive videos, and photographs from yesteryear.

    There will also be a series of new videos called “60 seconds with …” which, as the name suggests, are one minute long and feature people talking about a different aspect of volunteering at the Railway. These were all filmed and edited before lockdown.

    All the posts will use the hashtag #SteamingThrough60 and will appear on Facebook, our Twitter feed, and on Instagram.

    There is also a special webpage for the countdown that will include the plans for a virtual celebration of 60 years of operation. The major celebrations of 60 years of operating as a heritage line have been postponed until next year.
     

  • Bluebell Times - Edition 6 News Update The sixth edition of The Bluebell Times, our newsletter for members, staff and supporters is now available. Contents include:
    • The initial plans for a phased reopening of the railway
    • Closing in on the fundraising target for the Emergency Appeal
    • Details of a ‘Virtual Track Trek’ sponsored walk
    • The start of the 60-day countdown to the Railway’s 60th birthday
    • New puzzles as well as the regular favourites
    • Special kids’ section with a new puzzle and evacuation story
    • … and much, much more


     

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