OP4 Progress: HSC Coming Along Nicely

There has been a great deal of work on the Heritage Skills Centre (HSC) during the past few weeks, together with some progress on trackwork in the yard.

The first stage of cleaning and painting of the steelwork with protective paint was completed during July (photo #1). The second stage, to spray the steel frame with fire-resistant “intumescent” paint is almost complete, but slightly delayed, pending further deliveries of this specialist paint.

However, this delay has not stopped progress in other areas. The construction sequence for the external walls of the HSC has proved a little complex. The dwarf wall below the cladding has to be in place before the cladding can be fixed. However, the wall itself has to be tied to the internal studwork for stability, and the studwork has to be fixed to the cladding support rails. The sequence is therefore: support rails, studwork, dwarf wall, and then cladding, followed by windows and doors.

The fixing of the support rails has progressed alongside the fitting of the ground floor external stud work, and both are now complete (photo #2). Arrangements are in hand to complete the dwarf wall below the cladding (seven more courses of brickwork) which will then lead on to the fixing of the cladding during September.

The rear wall of the HSC is now 80% complete to first floor level, with two bays left open for the time being to enable us to bring in the materials for the first floor. Now that the perimeter walls are in place, the size of the building is more evident: approximately 250 square metres on each of the two floors (photo #3).

The final section of the concrete apron at the north end of E road (the maintenance area) is being prepared for concreting during the next couple of weeks, together with the floor for the new electrical distribution room at the north end of E road.

Outside the shed, more work has been done on the running-in road to complete the final turnout, as well as to reinstate the old headshunt (photo #4). B and C roads are now permanently connected, enabling stock to be shunted out of B road for the first time since the old pointwork failed a couple of years ago.

By Barry Luck, OP4 Project Manager (Infrastructure)
An Invitation to the Underworld

The Carriage & Wagon Department often receives accolades for the quality of its restorations, but it may not be obvious that the care and attention lavished on the vehicles above floor level is matched by that given to the below-floor areas. 

This often-unsung work is performed by our maintenance crew who largely work on E road, now protected from the rain in our rapidly developing shed extension. Their work comprises the commissioning of newly restored or overhauled vehicles, as well as routine maintenance on running stock.

Would you like to join them?

This very necessary work below the floor carries an interest all of its own. At present a small team of volunteers assists our maintenance staff by overhauling vacuum cylinders. Vehicle brakes need to work efficiently, and the many components which make up the braking systems need to be cleaned, inspected, replaced, or repaired if necessary—and then often painted—before they can be reassembled for use.

The buffers, buckeye couplers, and axle boxes are among other vital components that need to be cleaned before inspection. You will get to know how components work, and what to look out for in the way of defects. 

If you are not worried about getting dirty and would like to make a significant contribution to keeping our rolling stock running, then this could be the job for you. Tools, personal protective equipment and materials are provided, as are cleaning up facilities for when you've finished!

The maintenance area is being expanded and improved at the moment; more areas are being concreted, which means that there is more space available for the cleaning and overhaul of parts. This improvement makes it possible to prepare and store more components ready for use, making the whole maintenance operation more efficient.

If you would like to spend some time working in this area, learning about what makes our vehicles fit to run on the line, and contributing to the maintenance effort, please get in touch at You would be welcome to visit and have a chat with our friendly maintenance staff to see if this type of work interests you.  

I look forward to hearing from you!

By Sheina Foulkes, Supervisor, Carriage & Wagon Department 

The accompanying photo shows volunteer Derek Murphy cleaning a vacuum cylinder. 

Here are some autumn and winter event dates for your calendar ...

• 6 October: Vintage Bus Running Day
• 11-13 October: Giants of Steam Gala
26 Oct. - 3 Nov.: Witches & Wizards
• 30 Nov. - 24 Dec.: Santa Specials


The Railway's summer timetable extends until early September. The Railway's full September timetable can be found here . Note that apart from 2 and 3 September, there will be no trains running on Mondays and Tuesdays during that month.

The All Day Rover ticket allows you to hop on and off to explore what all our fascinating stations have to offer. Purchase a ticket at the link above.
Enter the Giants

Purchase your tickets for this year's Giants of Steam Gala, 12-13 Oct., 2019. For this year’s event, two very special locomotives will be visiting the Railway: BR Britannia class No. 70000 "Britannia" and LMS Princess Coronation class No. 6233 "Duchess of Sutherland".

It will be the first time these two engines have visited the Railway. While "Britannia’s" sister loco has visited, the "Duchess of Sutherland" will be the first Princess Coronation class loco at the Railway. Don’t miss the opportunity to see them in all their glory!

A special intensive timetable will be operating over the weekend, so there will be lots of opportunities to travel behind these magnificent Giants and to watch them in action.

The accompanying photo shows "Duchess of Sutherland" steaming past Monk Fryston in Yorkshire on 12 April, 2008. Photo licensed under Creative Commons BY 2.0.
The Redcoats Are Coming!

Brian Lacey took two photos at Steam Through the Ages on 10-11 Aug., 2019. Photo #1 shows the Redcoats drilling at a Victorian Sheffield Park, while the wonderful Bluebell Railway Band (#2) played at Sheffield Park on Sunday. Derek Hayward has a full gallery of photos of the event, including one of Viv the Spiv (#3).
"Sir Archie" Update: Staying the Course

Work has commenced on the re-staying of the firebox. The initial pilot stay holes, drilled by South Devon Engineering when the new firebox was fitted to the boiler, were of 1/2 inch diameter. These are being drilled and reamed to accept 7/8 inch diameter stays.

All the stay holes have been measured for length—i.e., the distance between the outside faces of the inner and outer firebox sides—and the numbers seen in the photographs are the code used for stay length. The figure 310 indicates that a stay of 5 3/8 inch length is required.

The green deposit around the inserted stays is the cutting fluid used for drilling and reaming the stay holes. After the stays have been screwed into the stay holes and to ensure a water tight fit between the stay and the boilerplate, the stays will eventually be "knocked over".

Work on the chassis has commenced with the removal of many items. These are being cleaned and overhauled where necessary and then labelled and stored ...

" 1855 Railway to Three Bridges Opened", East Grinstead Millennium Mural Team, Chequer Mead Community Arts Centre.
Steam trains in the South, 1940s.
The Earl and Countess ready to depart from Welshpool with the special train run over the W&LLR to recreate in preservation the SLS Special which was the last passenger train run over the line before original closure. 

Tickets are still available for the popular Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea service in October. This traditional Afternoon Tea includes a choice of luxury teas, accompanied by a selection of delicious sandwiches and mouthwatering cakes, tarts, scones, and shortbread. The train departs at 2:45 p.m. from Sheffield Park station for a return journey to East Grinstead and back. Read the tempting menu here .

Merchant Navy class No. 35028 "Clan Line" has arrived on the Railway to use the wheeldrop at Sheffield Park for a precautionary inspection and maintenance of her front bogie.

The Railway is pleased to accommodate The Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society for this important work. The loco may have limited public viewing accessibility, but it will not be hauling any trains.

Murder Mystery Evenings are coming up in September, October, November, and December. Witness the "murder", then board the Golden Arrow and steam through the Sussex countryside aboard the Pullman cars whilst enjoying a three-course meal and attempting to solve the heinous crime!

More information and booking details (book through The Company Upfront) can be found here .
Train Stops Play

Photos from the "Freshfields Test", played on 4 Aug., 2019, at the Scaynes Hill CC Freshfields ground adjacent to the Railway. Played in cloudy but fine conditions, this year's match saw SHCC score 151 in their innings. In reply the Bluebell Railway XI scored 84, but as the Railwaymen batted through their allotted overs, an honourable draw was decided.

The highlight of the day was the dropping off, via train, of some gifts—beer, wine, and cake—for our gracious hosts and neighbours. Martin Widdowson's photo (#1) shows the cargo being unloaded (safely) from the 4 p.m. ex Sheffield Park train that stopped briefly at Freshfields. Special thanks to the Railway's Trustees, Chris Haynes of Operations, and the catering staff for making this gift-giving happen.

The youngster batting in the helmet (photo #2) is the son of Team Captain and Loco Superintendent Stuart Marks. Adam (10) stoutly batted for 45 minutes, scoring 3: Geoffrey Boycott would be proud! Photo #3 shows Andy Kelly opening for the Railwaymen, while photo #4 sees a train stopping play—no moving behind the bowler's arm, please!
Project 27 Update: 400 Up

To the casual observer, maybe not much has changed, but with more than 400 holes previously drilled, we have slowly been setting up the frames over the summer.

We have been carefully aligning the various frame plates and reaming through and countersinking the appropriate holes. Over the course of three weekends or so, the team has started to rivet up the frames, mainly concentrating on the rear drag box.

With thanks to the Railway’s workshop staff and machine shop foreman, fettling and finishing off the final machining of our cylinder block has been carried out in-house. Following splitting the block into the LH and RH halves and carrying out some further machining, we will be ready to trial-fit the block back into the frames! This will represent a great step forward towards the completion of the rolling chassis.

Ian Furgeson, one of our volunteer machinists, has been busy machining our piston heads to size and re-bushing the spring hanger brackets in preparation for these being re-fitted in the appropriate places.

The accompanying photo shows the rear buffer beam with the initial rivets installed.
Summer on the Bluebell Railway, by Will Hawks. 
The Railway on 17 Aug., 2019, by Ben Jenden.
No. 09018 pulling the Wealden Rambler on 27 July, 2019, by Alan Black. 
Kingscote Barbecue Sees Best Turnout

The annual Kingscote Barbecue took place on 3 Aug., 2019. The evening brought station staff from Kingscote and East Grinstead together with the Friends of Kingscote. With 60 present, it was the best turnout yet. 

The weather held out yet for the fourth year, and the event raised £291 for the Friends of Kingscote volunteers.

Thanks go to my wife, Rachelle, for organising and providing the food, to Margaret and Keith Marriott for setting up during the day, to Mark Baker for the sounds, and to Simon Barker for the loan of the barbecue. Also, let me not forget the generosity of both Rusbridge Family Bakery, Southborough, and Southborough Butchers. Thank you to all who attended!

By Richard Clark, Senior Station Manager, Kingscote Station
If You Go Down to the Woods ...

Pete Catt's children Joe (7) and Summer (5) relax with their teddies on 24 Aug., 2019, after completing the treasure hunt during the Teddy Bears' Picnic: "Lovely day on the Bluebell!" writes Catt.
Coffee Morning, Cake Competition to Support Macmillan

Building on the success of the last two years, the Railway will once again be hosting a Macmillan Coffee Morning Train on 27 Sept., 2019.  

Last year raised £1,658.32, and we aim to double that this year by filling the Wealden Rambler with cheerful cake-lovers and by adding a separate challenge for working volunteers on the Railway, in the shape of a prestigious cake competition in the Bessemer Arms.

In the morning, we are challenging volunteers to bring cakes of all shapes, sizes, and substance to enter our cake competition. Submissions will be judged by 11 a.m., and a panel of expert judges—expert in eating cake that is—will make a decision on the winners of the following categories:

  • Yummiest Cake
  • Artistic Cake
  • Most Unusual Ingredient
As an added bit of spice to the competition, cakes will be classed as entries from East Grinstead, Kingscote, Horsted Keynes, or Sheffield Park. Which station will you support?! After judging, cakes will then be sold to volunteers and visitors in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. 

The Macmillan Coffee Morning Train leaves Sheffield Park at 11:25 a.m. A voluntary donation of £10 for Macmillan is payable on the day either in cash or cheques made payable to Macmillan Cancer Support. Passengers are asked to please donate some cake, which will be sold on the journey to raise further funds. Even if you are not booked to travel on the Macmillan Coffee Morning Train, head to the Bessemer Arms at Sheffield Park Station on the day and bring your cake, your fork, and a donation!

See you there!

By Ruth Rowatt, Interpretation & Education Development Manager

Eagle-eyed reader Roland Law alerted the editors to an error in the last issue of the eNewsletter: "The most recent newsletter says 'Jack Lamb's photo shows No. 80151 with her first passenger run since overhaul, on 26 July.' This is not true. No. 80151 substituted for No. 30541 on 9 July for the first trip (0930 ex Sheffield Park). That was definitely her first passenger run. I know because I was Driver."

Details and booking are now available for Festive Feast trains in December. Take a steam train ride from East Grinstead for a pre-Christmas lunch, with all the trimmings, at our restaurant at Sheffield Park.


If you missed the August Rail Ale Train, there are still tickets left for the 27 Sept., 2019, event.

Enjoy the first pint on the Railway. A sausage and mash supper and jazz band entertainment is also included.
A Tale of Two Answers

Tony Davies' question about the painting he references in his piece "Class T9 in Action Near the Bluebell Railway? Or, a Tale of Two Pictures" ( eNewsletter #184 ) piqued the interest of several of our knowledgeable readers ...

Mike Keeping writes, "The picture is a painting called 'Morning Delivery' by the late Don Breckon. The title is on account of the postman pictured. The history of the painting is described in one of the three books of his paintings. Sadly, it is in error in the sense that the Maunsell push-pull sets were never in use when the H class was in Southern livery.

"I have the large print on the wall at my home. I bought the print as my dad used to deliver the mail around Rowfant, where I first saw Wainwright H class tank engines and Maunsell push-pull sets in the early 1960s. No. 31263 went out of BR service from Three Bridges."

Life Member Glenn Morfill adds, "I have a copy of this painting having bought it over (I think) 15 years ago. I did check into its location at that time and believe the minor level crossing is on a private road to a farm, between Forest Row and East Grinstead, OS grid reference 407365. There is a footpath along that road going towards Horseshoe Farm."
FOG Clears Its Schedule for Maintenance Jobs

As the Railway reduces its services for the autumn and winter months, the Friends of East Grinstead (FOG) will be carrying out painting, cleaning, and repairs on Mondays and Tuesdays when trains are not running.

Planned work includes painting the Porters Lodge, information board and leaflet display refurbishment, a deep clean of the toilets, fence repairs and painting, and more!

If you would like to become a member of FOG and help out with these jobs, please contact me at or see either me or Roger Bell at the station.

By Roy Watts, Senior Station Manager, East Grinstead Station.
Event & Marketing Volunteers Sought

The Railway is looking for volunteers with the aim of forming a group of positive thinkers with "can-do attitudes" to assist with marketing and events. 

This volunteer work will involve event delivery, inspiring new ideas, photography and videography, advert distribution, car parking attendants, and gathering visitor feedback.

No age restrictions apply. To find out more, contact Marketing and Events Coordinator Charlotte Archer at
Neil Munro-Thomson caught nos. 80151 and 73082 in their matching BR black liveries on 17 Aug., 2019. As a bonus, a Golden Arrow Pullman wedding special was in action behind the S15.
John Sandys (22 Aug., 2019): "A very hot and busy Railway—great atmosphere and two great engines!"
John Sandys (15 & 16, Aug, 2019): "A dry day with 'Camelot' back in action, and quite a busy day with visiting coach parties mingling with many holidaying families."
Lance Allen: "With the Standard tank No. 80151 facing south, a variety of new shots arise. In this instance, she returns to Sheffield Park on 15 Aug., 2019, as seen from Withyham signalbox." 
Thank you for reading our eNewsletter. It's because of you—our members, volunteers, visitors, and supporters—that the Railway continues its success.

Please continue 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 twice-monthly 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 2019