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.


Enjoy a traditional Sunday carvery in our relaxing friendly restaurant. Choose from a selection of locally sourced meats with all the trimmings. 

The Bluebell Carvery is located in the Birch Grove Suite at Sheffield Park station on the first floor (unfortunately there is no wheelchair access). 

Special discounted train travel with our Bluebell Bonus tickets plus a one or two course meal is available. 

Bluebell Railway in 1984, converted from S8 film, by
Bluebell Railway in 1984, converted from S8 film, by "BluebearRailway." The loco on the passenger train is the North London tank.


The Railway is offering a choice of different options for this year's Autumn Tints specials, which run on Monday to Friday from 3 to 21 Oct., 2016:

* Special return trips in the 1950s Lounge cars "Ashdown," "Chelwood," and "Balcombe."

* Watch the scenery from the ever-popular 1913 Observation Car (pre-booking is essential!)

* "Souper" steam/Steam & Cream: Autumn-vegetable soup at lunchtime or afternoon cream tea Monday through Thursday.

* Autumn Tints steam-hauled, two-train service runs Monday through Friday (steam hauled)


PLUS ... The Railway is operating the normal Service Two Timetable each weekend (no pre-booking is required for these scheduled services). 


More information on these specials, including ticket booking, is available here.


From the Dundee Courier: A restoration group has unveiled its newly restored naval store tank wagon: NS161.

"The wagon was once part of a fleet of hundreds used by the Royal Navy to transport fuel from bunkers to naval depots around the country, including the Royal Naval Stores Depot at Lathalmond."

* FULL NAME: Locomotive No. 325 "Abergavenny"
* ARTIST: J. Moorley
* DATE: c.1950
* MEDIUM: Oil on board
* SIZE: 24.5 cm x 37.7 cm
* COLLECTION: Sutton Central Library

The LB&SCR J1 and J2 classes were 4-6-2 steam tank locomotives designed by D.E. Marsh for express passenger services on the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway.

JI class No. 325 "Abergavenny" was built at Brighton Works in December 1910 and withdrawn in June 1951.

The Railway on 10 Sept., 2016, by Ben Jenden.
The Railway on 10 Sept., 2016, by Ben Jenden.


London, Brighton & South Coast Railway staff, 1881. (L to R) a ticket collector, a ticket inspector, a station superintendent, a station inspector, a guard, and a policeman.

Anglotopia Magazine's " Notes from an English Farm" is about the Railway and National Trust properties nearby.  

"Some pictures of "Braunton," a current performer on the main line, all from the Joe Kent collection."--Tony Hillman



Bluebell Railway volunteer Nicholas Owen recently joined his colleagues in Brighton to help celebrate the Volk's Electric Railway's end-of-service (for 2016) run. In addition to his volunteer work for our Railway, Nicholas is a volunteer driver for the Volk's railway.

A drone's-eye view of the Railway, by Adrian Hodge.
A drone's-eye view of the Railway, by Adrian Hodge.


Put some fun into your Christmas shopping this year and travel to the East Grinstead shops by steam train! A special Christmas shopping train will run on 5, 6, 12, 13, and 14 Dec., 2016, departing Sheffield Park at 10 a.m. and calling at Horsted Keynes at 10:15 a.m.

A special return third class fare of just £5 per person will apply for a return journey from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead.

Take time to visit the specialised shops in East Grinstead High Street; a number of famous chain stores along the London Road; and enjoy a light lunch in one of the many cafés and bars throughout the town, before returning by train from East Grinstead at 3:30 p.m.

Passengers wishing to have a return journey on the train from East Grinstead may travel on the 11 a.m. and return from Sheffield Park on the 2:30 p.m.

Also, make sure you visit Railway Approach and see the Christmas light steam train across the road. Sponsored by the Bluebell Railway.

Plus, for unlimited bus travel between the railway station and the High Street, purchase your Metrobus tickets for just £1 at any Bluebell Railway Booking Office, Travel Centre, or Sales and Information Office before you travel. Free car is parking available at both Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes stations.

Visit this webpage or call 01825 720800 for more information.
The Irish Times reports that the deluxe Belmond Grand Hibernian train has made its debut trip. Learn more here.

Spanning several decades this remarkable film by Eric J. Sparks, takes us along a number of rural railway lines in West Sussex. Beginning with the route from Pulborough to Petersfield via Midhurst before going to the line from Horsham to Shoreham. 
There are treats in store including several Brighton Atlantics on the mainline, Brighton Terriers crossing the road, and various tank engines engaged on motor-trains. A train carrying giraffes also puts in an appearance.
This film by the late Eric J. Sparks, provided by Robert Bamberough, features numerous M7s, D1s, and D1Ms; Ivatt Class 2 tank engines; Wainwright H Class engines; Drummond Bulldogs; Billinton Large Radial tanks engines; British Rail Standard Class 4MT tanks; a lone Brighton Terrier; and a number of the famous Brighton Atlantics speeding past on Southern lines. 
Many of the stations seen in the film have long since disappeared, though a number have been converted into domestic dwellings. The station at Fittleworth is one such example. Midhurst Station, however, has been completely erased and today the site it once occupied is covered by a housing estate.
With a nod towards its location and historical roots, East Grinstead pub Tommy Flynn's is changing its name to Flynn's At The Railway Tavern, combining its old name The Railway Tavern with its existing one.
Nene Valley Railway Southern Steam Gala Sunday 11th September 2016, Joe Light Railway.
Nene Valley Railway Southern Steam Gala on 11 Sept., 2016, by Joe Light Railway.


An engine driver and fireman (right) talk to American servicemen from the footplate of their locomotive, the King Arthur class locomotive, Sir Urre of the Mount, southern England, 1944.

From Herald Scotland: Full steam ahead for a tourism-led railway revival.  

(From the Mid-Sussex Times) Throughout the autumn, to complement the celebrations in Haywards Heath, Cuckfield Museum is devoting much of its display space to join in commemorating the railway station's 175th anniversary.

We look at why the line did not come through (or rather under) Cuckfield as originally planned, and we remember Joseph Flesher, the engineer responsible for our local stretch of the line, who built himself a grand house on Muster Green, who is buried in Cuckfield churchyard, and whose descendants still live locally.

As Haywards Heath was initially a terminus, the first passengers had to rely on coach travel to complete their journeys beyond Haywards Heath--the replacement buses of their day! ... MORE

The Railway makes an appearance up in this blog about a tea towel collection!

Up express passing Ashford with a SR "Schools": View eastward from the Up main platform, towards Folkestone and Dover; ex-SER London-to-Dover main line. Heading an Up express, Maunsell Class V Schools 4-4-0 No. 30931 "King's Wimbledon" was built 12/34; disfigured with a Lemaître blastpipe and double-chimney in 7/39; and withdrawn 9/61. The line to Rye and Hastings branches off to the right, past the Works. Photo taken in 1957.


Summer is nearing an end, but despite the hottest September for more than 100 years, activity in the Loco Works continues apace.

The first half of the year focused on maintenance of the running fleet, with work carried out on the S15 and Q and H class locos. Jobs included stay replacement, tyre turning, and piston and valve exams, plus routine maintenance items.

With the S15 having had a rebore, new piston heads, new valve heads, and a complete set of new rings, she's now like a new engine. The H class also had some front end work completed, including new "D" valves. After bedding in, we've adjusted the valve timing again, improving the loco's performance.

The Loco Works' attention at the moment is focused on the overhaul of O1 class No. 65. This sole surviving member of the class last ran in 2009 and was fully dismantled over the last few months.

Overall the loco is in very good condition, with work focussed on re-boring and fitting new valve faces to the cylinder block; fitting new piston heads and "D" valves; replacing life-expired pipework; re-bushing the valve gear; placing new springs; and painting everything in ornate SE&CR livery. The boiler is off-site, being tubed and having final work completed before boiler tests.

BR Standard 4 tank No. 80151 is also in the works for chassis and boiler attention. The chassis is almost ready to re-wheel, once new springs are delivered. Again, a full piston and valve overhaul is taking place, along with replacement of life-expired frame stretchers, platework, and pipework, and re-metalling of the axleboxes and overhaul of fittings.

Dismantling No. 80151's boiler is almost complete. Door and tube plates have been removed and are ready for specialist welding and insertion of new lap seams. Stay and throat plate removal also is ongoing, and we have ordered a new throat plate section due to internal cracking in the corners, something BR standard boilers are prone to.

Work on Schools class No. 928 "Stowe" continues in the yard, with the chassis being stripped, cleaned, and painted where required. Also, the boiler has recently been high-pressure cleaned to remove the scale around the crown sheet girders. The boiler is now fully dismantled, and work is progressing on fitting the new items, such as the throat plate and backhead. The new outer firebox sides were recently welded in place as well.

Off-site, No. 34059's boiler is under repair at the South Devon Railway. The last of her life-expired platework has been removed and boiler platework is being pressed. 

The Q class recently visited the Nene Valley Railway for their "Southern" themed gala, and she will be returning to Sheffield Park as you read this. Our next loco-themed special event is "Giants of Steam" at the end of October. Our special visitor will be the Midland and Great Northern Society LNER B12. This loco, based at the North Norfolk Railway, will be running all three days, alongside our own "giants" and another visiting loco.

I hope you can attend "Giants of Steam," and I look forward to seeing you at Sheffield Park soon.

By Chris Hunford, Locomotive Director


We have had a busy summer, with the usual mix of standard passenger trains, Pullmans, Wealden Ramblers, and demonstration goods trains.

All of these trains have been serviced thanks to the usual pool of faithful staff who turn up un-complainingly to open signal boxes, guard trains, staff platforms, and booking offices, and to crawl around underneath a steam engine at some unearthly hour. We thank them, as always.

Sadly, we have lost a couple of friends this summer, which many of you will have read about already. They are missed and mourned in equal number, and they will be hard to replace.

As has been reported, we have been trying to square the circle of running a "right-time" railway and making sure we capture as many connecting passengers from London via East Grinstead as we can.

I was a guard on 22 June, 2016, which proved to be a perfect opportunity to see just how our plans work out in practice, especially during table 2 days. It was plain to see that in order to achieve everything, staff had to be full on all day, especially during the early part of the morning.

In addition, we have had the speed restriction over Leamland Junction to cope with, so it is really good news that work has started on replacing the ironwork and on re-aligning it in time for Christmas.

This work means that in 2017, along with changes to the timetable, we hope to present a service that is easier to keep to time, while maximising ridership from the north. So look out for the 2017 timetable in due course.

As well as the usual trains, we hosted the Hastings DEMU once again this year (pictured). The trip started and finished at Hastings, via Sheffield Park and then Eridge on the way home. The scene at Kingscote as it came down in the morning was very much one of the great "might have beens".

We have purposely ran demonstration goods trains on a number of occasions this year, for two main reasons.

First, these trains show that railways were not all about passengers in days gone by. In fact, our line was opened to provide a means of transporting agricultural goods to market, with passengers a second thought! Indeed, the LMS carried 27 million tons of coal during the height of the depression in 1931, which shows how much more important goods was compared with people, even during a trade slump.

Second, goods trains provide a chance for us to train our staff in the mysteries of working unfitted trains and shunting. They also allow signalmen to operate signal boxes in ways that are less familiar--in doing so we build on our commitment to keeping alive the skills of yesterday, as much as we can.

Goods trains are not a source of revenue, but they add interest for the visitor, and they add to the scene. But chiefly they are fun, and while we are all about the visitor, we must have fun ourselves ... it's what keeps us going!

By Russell Pearce, Operations Director.


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.

John Sandys' photo shows the SR Maunsell Q class No. 30541 on its way to Nene Valley Railway on 5 Sept., 2016, for this railway's Southern Steam gala.

As part of the Railway's ASH project, we are recruiting a volunteer to carry out the role of Principal Designer under the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 for a period of up to 12 months. 
The post carries no remuneration or specific hours of duty, although the successful applicant will require sufficient time and flexibility to be present at the railway to effectively undertake this role. 
Reporting to the ASH Project Team, the post holder will be responsible for: 
  • Planning, managing, monitoring and coordinating health and safety in the pre-construction phase of the project, including identifying, eliminating, or controlling foreseeable risks and ensuring designers carry out their duties.
  • Preparing and providing relevant information to other dutyholders. 
  • Liaising with the Principal Contractor to help in the planning, management, monitoring, and coordination of the construction phase.
The successful applicant will have a good knowledge and understanding of building construction and is likely to have a architectural or construction background. 
If you believe you have the right qualifications for this job and would like to discuss the opportunity, please email your CV and contact details to lisa.boyle@bluebell-railway.co.uk

From 1  Sept. to 31  Oct., 2016, the Bluebell Railway is running the "Make it Snappy" photography competition.
Visit the Bluebell Railway at any time between these dates, take a photograph of anything or anyone around the Railway, and enter our competition to win a pair of Afternoon Tea vouchers that can be used to book a trip on the Wealden Rambler Afternoon Tea train.
Under 16s can enter too and win £50 of Bluebell Railway Gift Tokens that can be spent in the shop or restaurant or used for a trip on the train.
Pick up an entry form from the Sales and Information Office at Sheffield Park Station or the Travel Centre at East Grinstead and return it with your photo to either office with your name clearly marked on the reverse of the photograph. 
You will need to have proof that you have either purchased an admission ticket or travel ticket. Admission tickets are priced differently depending on which station you visit, or travel tickets can be purchased in advance at the special rate of £14.50 or on the day of your visit for £17.
Please remember to ask permission if you are taking a picture of someone, and under no circumstances should you enter any area other than those that you are permitted to! 
Winners will be chosen after the deadline and will be notified by email and the judges' decision is final. The Bluebell Railway reserves the right to use any photograph submitted for marketing purposes. The competition is open only to amateur photographers.

Online booking is now open (third-class tickets only online) for the always-popular Santa Specials leaving from Sheffield Park on 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 23, and 24 Dec., 2016 (telephone booking opens on 3 Oct.) 

This evocative photo by Ian Bowskill photo shows the Q class on its visit to the Nene Valley Railway, on 11 Sept., 2016. Another example of heritage transportation floats in the foreground.


This year, Giants of Steam will be over three days: 28 to 30 Oct., 2016. 

An intensive timetable will operate and, along with a visiting engine--LNER Society B12 (pictured) from North Norfolk Railway--the Bluebell Railway's own No. 73082 "Camelot", Q class No. 30541, and S class No. 847 will be on duty.

A free vintage bus service is planned from Brighton and Lewes to Sheffield Park on 30 Oct. The first journey will leave Brighton Pool Valley at 10 a.m. and Lewes Prison at 10:18 a.m. with the last return journey at approximately 5 p.m. from Sheffield Park.

The Atlantic House also will be open both days, so take this opportunity to look at the building of our brand new loco: Atlantic Class "Beachy Head".

More details about the event and ticket prices can be found here.

Autumn is a special time of the year at the Railway, when the trees of the beautiful Sussex countryside display their magnificent golden colours. For  more information on Autumn Tints specials and to book your ticket, visit this  webpage .

From the Project 27 blog: "The footsteps are all inside the Villa and are in generally good condition. Three are waiting to be stripped of paint and corrosion prior to being given a coat of rust inhibiting primer. The fourth one is in the painting area."


A southbound electric train of the Liverpool Overhead Railway approaches Seaforth Sands railway station in May 1951.

The Liverpool Overhead Railway (aka the Dockers' Umbrella) was an overhead railway in Liverpool which operated along the Liverpool Docks and opened in 1893 with lightweight electric multiple units.

The railway had a number world firsts: it was the first electric elevated railway, the first to use automatic signalling & electric colour light signals, and first to use electric multiple units, and it was home to the first passenger escalator at a railways station.

It was also the second oldest electric metro in the world being preceded by the 1890 City and South London Railway. In the early 1900s electric trains ran on the electrified Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway to Southport and Aintree. Special trains to Aintree for the horse race meetings ran twice a year after regular services were withdrawn. It was not nationalised in 1948.

Originally spanning 5 miles from Alexandra Dock to Herculaneum Dock, the railway was extended at both ends over the years of operation, as far south as Dingle and north to Seaforth & Litherland.

A number of stations opened and closed during the railway's operation owing to relative popularity and damage, including air bombing during World War II. At its peak almost 20 million people used the railway every year.

In 1955, a report into the structure of the many viaducts showed major repairs were needed that the company could not afford. The railway closed at the end of 1956 and despite public protests the structures were dismantled in the following year.

Listen to a podcast from Vintage Radio about the Liverpool Overhead Railway, a recording of a talk by Mike Murphy.

The Liverpool Overhead Railway in the 1950s.

The Liverpool Overhead Railway in the 1950s.


Rail replacement at Horsted Keynes on 12 Sept., 2016, by John Sandys.
John Sandys (5 Sept., 2016): "Another busy day for the first day of the one train service after the school holidays, with two locos in steam; S15 on the service train; and 'Camelot' on a driver experience special."

John Sandys (12 Sept., 2016): "A lovely summer's day saw the start of rail replacement works at Horsted Keynes and the S15 doing sterling service on the Service 1 schedule, which is in operation until the end of September. Also some new books in the shop."

John Sandys (15 Sept., 2016): "A busy time on the Railway for a September day with No. 178 on a test, No. 592 on shunting duties, and No. 847 on the service train, as well as track laying work continuing at Horsted Keynes."


Ben Simmonds captures the atmosphere of the Bluebell Railway Engine Shed, which is open to visitors every day of the year (except Christmas Day!)
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