All the Railway's Christmas and New Year's events have been added to the Special Events webpage.

They start with the annual Carol Service on 3 Dec., 2016.
John Harwood's video from 18 Sept., 2016, with the Hastings Diesel unit running on the Ardingly branch.
John Harwood's video from 18 Sept., 2016, with the Hastings Diesel unit running on the Ardingly branch.

The Bluebell Railway was featured again in the BBC series Railways: The Making of a Nation. The iPlayer repeat can be found here (UK only). 

This film records a steam enthusiasts' open day at Brighton Station in July 1974, where, under the glass roof dating from 1883, several preserved locomotives are seen. 

Among them is Bulleid's Battle of Britain class Pacific No. 34051 "Winston Churchill", as well as "Lord Nelson", the doyen of her class, carrying British Rail number No. 30850. Another doyen of her class is Bulleid's wartime Austerity Q1 class No. 33001, which is joined by a Beattie Well Tank.

( The national collection steam locos were stored at the former Pullman Car Works near Preston Park.)

The Railway is included in TripAdvisor's Holiday Lettings list of great UK travel experiences
"There and Back Again" features Standard 5MT No. 73082, before it regained its "Camelot" name plates, on a "theoretical" journey on the Bluebell Railway up and back between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead, by Nick Dearden. 

Press release from Hornby: "After much speculation in forums and the like, we are pleased to reveal the first of our 2017 range new toolings--the Wainwright H Class 0-4-4T!"
Writes Martin Lawrence: "A small selection of clips from around the Bluebell Railway during May, June, July, and August, which includes footage taken during the Southern at War and Vintage Transport weekends. 

"Locos include Nos B743, 847, and 592. The ending includes my own personal tribute to the late Colin Packham."


This amazing production by Eric Sparks features a panoply of Southern Railway action filmed when electrification was beginning to make an impact on the region's railways. 

There are steam locomotives aplenty at various locations, working between Brighton and Bognor Regis. Colour sequences show the famous deluxe Brighton Belle trains arriving and departing followed by amazing shots of engines at Brighton Works. We also see signalmen coping with rail and road traffic.

"Camelot" on 20 Sept., 2016, by John Harwood.


Rebuilt Bulleid West Country class 4-6-2 at North Kent West Junction, South Bermondsey: Coming off the Bricklayer's Arms branch is rebuilt Bulleid Light Pacific No. 34004 "Yeovil" (built 7/45 as No. 21C104 "Yeovil"; renumbered 5/48; rebuilt 2/58; withdrawn 10/66). The bridge behind carries the South London line. Photo taken 9 July, 1958.

Writes Tony Hillman: "Six photos of Southern named trains from the John J. Smith and Joe Kent collections."

The S15 on 7 Sept., 2016, on a slow climb out of Horsted Keynes, by
The S15 on 7 Sept., 2016, on a slow climb out of Horsted Keynes, by "Welsh Steam Productions."

Philip Barber is off to a blinder in the 2016-2017 football competition, raising funds for Maunsell Restaurant Car No. 7864. However, they say don't look at the table till November!
A day on the Bluebell Railway with the S15 in steam, by Mike Trodd.
A day on the Bluebell Railway with the S15 in steam, by "MikesMovies".


NAME: "Locomotive No. 591, 'Tillington'"

ARTIST: J. Moorley
COLLECTION: Sutton Central Library
DATE: c.1950
MEDIUM: Oil on board
SIZE: 26 x 37.7 cm
ACQUISITION: Bequeathed, 1999

The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway E5 Class was a class of 0-6-2T side tank steam locomotive designed by Robert Billinton. They were introduced in 1902 and were a larger version of the E4 Class intended for semi-fast secondary passenger work.

Notably, No. 591 worked the Grande Vitesse van train from London Bridge to Newhaven for many years.

October's loco duty roster is now available.
"Camelot" in steam on 20 Sept., 2016, by John Harwood.


A record by local amateur film maker, E.C Le Grice of the railway exhibition held at Norwich Thorpe station on 6-7 May, 1939.

A variety of steam engines and carriages are seen around the yard at Thorpe Station, as well as dignitaries making speeches at the exhibition's opening.

Locomotives include: a Claud Hamilton 4-4-0 used to pull royal trains to Sandringham; a tram engine used on dock lines; the steam locomotive 4489 Dominion of Canada; a Gresley A4 Pacific ... MORE

Martin Lawrence's video shows the delivery of ballast to Horsted keynes on 26 Sept., 2016. Great to see such a train on Bluebell steel!

Martin Lawrence's video shows the delivery of ballast to Horsted keynes on 26 Sept., 2016. Great to see such a train on Bluebell steel! Read about the latest infrastructure work below ...


Oh for those happy and uncomplicated days when you got your train set out of the box, pushed all the track together, wound up the engine and with any luck it would be tearing around the Christmas tree before teatime. 

Wouldn't it be nice if laying real track, albeit a little heavier, was so easy?
In fact when we laid track from East Grinstead southwards through the cutting, it was a bit like a train set because we made up all the panels beforehand. Initially, it was just a matter of putting them in place and connecting them up as we went along. Then rails were replaced with longer ones once sleepers were positioned. 

However, there was a lot of preparation work to do before we got anywhere near laying track, and this is what is now taking time at Leamland Junction in order to replace a worn-out point. The point is being assembled in sections in the triangle at Horsted Keynes, and it will then be carefully marked up and taken apart, ready for reassembly at Leamland. 

Before that can happen, an enormous amount of work has been undertaken, to improve drainage at the approaches to the point; to lay Terram to combat mud pumping through the ballast; and to update cable runs. Also, the S&T location cabinets on the east side of the line have been moved to the west side, where the path has been widened to give the required safe working area (the original position would now be in the way of the new formation). 

The existing point lasted a long time, but it was never intended for that location, and there has always been a certain awkwardness about the geometry of the formation, occasioning wheel wear and speed restrictions. 

The completely new point has been designed specifically for Leamland. It will result in more of a sweeping curve that positions the formation correctly, slightly more to the east, but that will be much better for running--and it will look nicer!
Eight new panels are being laid from the bridge to the point on both the main and the loop, and six panels from the point towards Kingscote. With all the S&T cables laid underground--which is now the practice as renewals take place--all the old concrete troughs are being removed to the Salt Yard, where they will be crushed and probably used in the foundations of the new access road at the side of OP4. 

Another advantage of our main line connection at East Grinstead is that ballast can now be brought in by rail rather than road, saving costs for the Railway and providing delivery to exactly where ballast is needed. There have been three trainloads this week, some unloaded directly at Leamland and the rest stockpiled in the triangle at Horsted Keynes in readiness for when 2 and 3 platform roads are re-laid in the New Year.

By Mike Hopps, Infrastructure Volunteer

Writes Communications Director Roger Garman: "The B12 locomotive is confirmed as attending the Giants of Steam event in October. It is the first time the locomotive has visited the Railway.

He originally added that, "It is our intention to have a second visiting loco in the line up, and as things presently stand, our hopes are that it will be Britannia class No. 70013 'Oliver Cromwell.'"

We since have been informed that "Oliver Cromwell" indeed will be a guest at next months Giants of Steam event!


Giants of Steam this year will be over three days. An intensive timetable will operate, and along with visiting engine--M&GN Society's LNER B12 from the North Norfolk Railway--our Railway's No. 73082 "Camelot," Q class No. 30541, and S15 No. 847 will be on duty.

Click here for more information and to buy advance tickets (and save £££!)


Anyone walking up the driveway to Sheffield Park station in the past couple of weeks may have noticed some changes in the picnic area.  The Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) are taking advantage of a grant, meaning we are able to do strategic improvement works at no cost to the Railway.
Early in 2016, we were made aware of a scheme to remove non-native plant species in the Sussex High Weald area, and to replace with native planting.  Grants to specific projects are available from a charitable foundation called "The Sussex Lund."  Full details of the scheme are available here.

Having made a preliminary enquiry, we were encouraged by the Foundation to make a submission relating to the Sheffield Park picnic area, for the removal of a number of cherry laurels that had grown up from modest shrubs into substantial trees on the embankment adjacent to the station drive and in other locations in the picnic area.

These trees are non-native. They were heavily shading the picnic area and were not very customer-friendly because they have poisonous berries that kill growth under the canopy and that pose a risk to our younger visitors.  

Happily, our project submission was successful, and we have received a substantial grant to cover the full cost of professionally removing the trees. There is also money for the purchase of appropriate replacement planting.

Earlier in September, 12 of the 13 targeted laurels were taken down. The 13th remains temporarily in place as it was found to contain a wood-pigeon nest with live young in residence (this tree happened to be the first to feel the chain saw on the day before being left alone). The tree surgeons will return imminently to complete the job, the baby birds having fledged and left.  

Meanwhile, FOSP is planning replacement planting. To help us in making appropriate choices, we have received assistance from the Head Gardener at Sheffield Park National Trust, who kindly agreed to act as a project consultant.  We are keen to plant attractive, appropriately sized trees and possibly get some autumn colour.

In addition, we will clear the embankment of undergrowth that will then naturally colonise with primroses. Wild daffodils also will be introduced.

The immediate effect of removing the laurels has been to allow more sunlight to penetrate. As the new planting is introduced and matures, we are confident the final result will greatly improve picnic area greatly, enhancing it as an attraction for our visitors.


The immensely popular Santa Specials 2016 will soon be steaming, and as Santa's (and the Railway's) Roster Clerk, I am reaching out to seasonal "stalwarts" and others who can help the Santa Specials this year.

Attached is a PDF file with the trains that we are running this year. If you cannot read the file, please contact me (at the email link below).

If, after reading the running list, you think you will be able to volunteer, please write to me with the following information:
  • Which days you are available?
  • For "stalwarts," whether you have a preference as to the train you will work on (X, Y, or Z)?
  • Are you prepared to act as a Train Manager (i.e., manage the team, float, and return of profits)?
  • Are you OK to manage and manoeuvre the trolley that sells alcohol on board?
  • Or would you prefer to just prepare the train and hand out treats?
  • Can you work longer hours on 23 Dec. (on the Z train)?
For more information, and to sign up to help, please contact me via email.
By Roger Sanderson, Santa Roster Clerk


With no trains running due to engineering works at Horsted Keynes, this years' Track Trek will cover the entire line from East Grinstead to Sheffield Park, covering a distance of 11 miles. The walk will take place on 12 Nov., 2016.

It will raise money for two appeals: Accessible Steam Heritage (ASH) and Operation Undercover Phase 4 (OP4).  For all details and how to sign up, click here.

Writes Finance Director Martin Widdowson (and his son Alex) on their personalized Track Trek donation page:  "We are taking part in the 2016 Track Trek for the Railway again and are looking for generous sponsorship towards the two good causes of ASH and OP4."

Lots of photos by Derek Hayward  of Kingscote Station, "
including the completion of the work to extend and refurbish the old station cottages." See the complete gallery here.


An 1931 oil on canvas painting of Sunny South Sam by William Ramsden Brearley, from the National Railway Museum collection.

Much information about this classic item of Southern publicity comes from Tony Hillman's informative Southern Rail Publicity website.

The publicity icon Sunny South Sam was created by the Southern Railway in the 1930s to be the helpful member of staff waiting to help you on arrival at an unknown location. 

An early version of what might be called today (and appropriately for railways) "cross-platform advertising," Sam could be found in posters, in newspaper adverts, in physical form, and more.

In fact, many Sams--usually ticket collectors or station staff--would be located around the SR system. A generic image also was used in graphic design to advertise various SR slogans, such as "South for Sunshine" and its variants, which can be seen on this page.

Advertising material played strongly on the fact that the SR could take you to the places that each year topped the sunshine league table:
  • "Buy British sunshine this year! Says Sunny South Sam."
  • "Better than Ever!" (says one version of Sam, holding up a sunshine league table--Hove, Eastbourne, and Worthing representing Sussex).
  • "The sun shines most on the Southern coast."

This Getty Images photograph from 1933 shows a Sunny South Sam statue offering some helpful advice to visitors to Brighton.

The Company Upfront has released its 2017 Golden Arrow Murder Mystery Evenings  line-up and dates for 2017, including Murder in the Pharoah's Tomb and Murder at the 19th Hole. More information can be found here.
John Ely kindly forwarded these photos showing celebrations marking the 175th anniversary of the Haywards Heath railway station, which saw an appearance by Bluebell Railway ambassador "Stepney."
Writes John Ely: "On 18 Sept., 2016, Haywards Heath held its first model railway exhibition for many years. As part of the 175th celebrations, the Dolphin Leisure Centre became an exhibition hall and 1,200 visitors streamed through its doors. The object of the show was to display the past on the Brighton mainline.
"Many locations were recreated, including Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill, Redhill, Tilgate, and Plumpton. Everybody had a great day, the exhibitors, the traders, and the public. Several mentioned that it should be repeated some time. Many LBSC locos were running and Southern Electric fans were treated to many examples."
Read this story from the Mid-Sussex Times for more on Haywards Heath 175.
This video from 18 Sept., 2016, comes from Martin Lawrence: " A compilation of railway clips shot during the events to celebrate the opening of the railway through Haywards Heath. Featuring views of the new station footbridge and modern and historic traction. The Bluebell Railway was also in attendance, taking 'Stepney' along to visit and there was even some smaller scale steam."

By Ben Jenden.

Ben Jenden (17 Sept., 2016): Including some atmospheric photos of No. 73082.

John Sandys (26 Sept., 2016): "A rather damp day with sunny periods saw the return of 'Camelot' after its spring replacement over the Weekend. With work continuing at Horsted Keynes and a fresh delivery of ballast due in the next few days."

Derek Hayward (September 2016): 15 new images in Derek's 2016 gallery.
Martin Lawrence (September 2016): Updates to Martin's September gallery.

Jim Barton takes charge of "Camelot," by John Sandys.

Thank you for reading our eNewsletter. Don't forget to pass it along to friends, family, and colleagues to let them know all the activities and opportunities--for young and old alike--that the Bluebell Railway offers. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have Railway news to share or if you have a question or comment.
John Walls
Editor-in-Chief, eNewsletter
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Bluebell Railway | j.walls1@btinternet.com | http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk
Sheffield Park Station
East Sussex
Near Uckfield, TN22 3QL