For the very first time in the history of Track Trek, we had both the Society and PLC chairmen--Graham Aitken and Dick Fearn--as well as Society Vice-Chairman Steve Bigg, taking part.

There's still time to sponsor one or all of these gentlemen. Each set up his own dedicated sponsorship page, so let's see which of them wins the sponsorship race!

    *     Graham Aitken    
    *     Dick Fearn 
    *    Steve Bigg

Don't forget that a temporary reduced timetable is still in operation at the Railway due to a combination of factors, including planned engineering works. The November 2016 timetable can be found here.

Thinking about joining the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society? Your subscription will help the railway financially, and you will have the opportunity to be a volunteer working member in one of our departments. Full details will be sent to you when you join (and some are available on this webpage).

To join, you can buy new memberships online through the Railway Shop, or print out and fill in a membership application form and return it to: Membership Secretary, Sheffield Park Station, Nr. Uckfield, East Sussex TN22 3QL, or hand it to a Booking Clerk at any of our stations (instant membership is available this way, so you can benefit from discounts on the day of your visit).

Membership is valid for at least one year from the date of joining, with renewals subsequently due on 1 January, April, July, or October as appropriate. For more information about membership, e-mail the Membership Secretary Don Brewer.


A new electric train and a traditional steam train at Aldershot station. The electric train runs for 22 miles between Woking and Aldershot, Surrey, and the new track represents the latest advance in British railway electrification. (Taken on 5 July, 1937.)

Isn't modern technology amazing! Mike Anton provides a 360-degree view inside the cab of the SECR H class loco via "360 Cities." 

TITLE: Railway Men
ARTIST: Stephen Bone (1904-1958)
COLLECTION: Rugby Art Gallery and Museum
DATE: 1942
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas
SIZE: 64 x 102 cm
ACQUISITION: Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee, 1947

Do you know anything about this intriguing painting? The railwaymen depicted seem to be Southern Railway workers (clues: SR on some uniform lapels; ring arm signal), and the milieu could be Feltham Yard, a similar SR marshalling yard, or a composite of various places. If you have any ideas or knowledge about this piece, please contact us.


R. Billinton K class 2-6-0 No. 2339 (built 3/14; withdrawn 11/62) is seen in March 1946, well before Nationalisation. (One of Ben Brooksbank's earliest photographs.)


Writes Archivist Tony Hillman: "Some pictures of 8Fs from the John 
J. Smith and Alan Postlethwaite collections."





Stuart Pay's photo shows the Q class shunting ballast wagons at Horsted Keynes on 3 Nov., 2016. The loco is alongside the new "No. 5" point that was pre-assembled adjacent to the Ardingly Spur. This point is being installed at the north end of Horsted Keynes, beyond Leamland Bridge, at a position colloquially as "Leamland Junction".
There is an updated  Component Sponsorship List  for the Brighton Atlantic Project. Gift Aid can be claimed on such sponsorship.

An A H Martin film from 1966 of a steam-hauled trip from Belfast to Dublin, together with bus and trolleybus to Belfast City Centre and the short walk to Great Victoria Street station, with its grand portico still in place. Only a few years later radical change would see the station close and re-open again as a much smaller building.

Amiens Street station in Dublin has just been renamed as Dublin Connolly station. The train loco is a WT 2-6-4 tank loco.

Film notes: "Introduced in 1947 the Enterprise connected Belfast and Dublin with a non-stop service. The last "official" steam train travelled between the two capital cities on 29 Oct., 1966.

"In this same year UTA split into three state-owned companies. The Belfast trolleybus system was the second largest in the UK and the only one in Ireland, ending two years after this film.

"Built on the site of a former linen mill in 1848, Great Victoria Street was Belfast's first railway terminus. Two years after this film, it was demolished and the Europa Hotel took its place. In April 1976 the final rails were removed. There would be no railway services from here for nearly 20 years, until the present station opened in 1995."


In very poor weather conditions of persistent rain, 120 people assembled at Sheffield Park at 8 a.m. on 12 Nov., 2016, to take part in this year's Track Trek. They were bused to East Grinstead to join another 84 intrepid souls to start the Trek for the 11 miles to Sheffield Park at 9 a.m.

Later in the morning,they were joined by a further 20 Trekkers doing the shorter distance from Horsted Keynes. Unfortunately, the total of 225 was short of the 310 who registered to take part: the weather understandably took its toll on participant numbers.

The Trekkers were led by Dick Fearn, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Plc, and Graham Aitken and Steve Bigg, Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Preservation Society. Bob Mainstone, Mayor of East Grinstead, welcomed participants before completing the full distance himself.

The fastest Trekkers were Linda Attrell and Linda Wilkinson (see first photo below), who set a cracking pace and arrived in just over 3 hours. The last departure from East Grinstead was at 10 a.m. and the last arrival at Sheffield Park was just before 4 p.m.

The initial estimate of the money raised in sponsorship is £11,000, after deducting the £3,000 it costs to to stage the event. We hope there is more to come from Trekkers who have still to collect sponsorship. Money raised will be divided between the OP4 and ASH projects.

Please send your sponsorship money to the attention of Track Trek Administration, Sheffield Park Station, Nr. Uckfield, East Sussex TN22 3QL. If you planned to take part but were put off by the weather, we would still be happy to accept any sponsorship you have raised, if that is acceptable to your sponsors.

I wish to thank all who turned out in such weather conditions, be they Trekkers, marshals, station staff, or the many volunteers who carried out other roles to make the Trek possible. Your contribution to the Railway is greatly appreciated. Special praise must go to James Young for his management of the event. The time and effort he put in to see it run so smoothly was enormous. Well done James!

By Roger Kelly, Funding Director


First three by Roger Kelly; remainder by Mike Hopps.

Over time the Railway has raised more than £20,000 through EasyFundraising thanks to
a little less than 400 supporters. It would be great to increase this number and to raise funds in this painless way!

The scheme works by giving us a donation whenever you click through to purchase online, at common destinations such as Amazon and eBay, or when booking hotels, biuying DIY supplies, electricity, etc.  
Click here for more details!

Our regular and occasional media contributors have outdone themselves with their fine coverage of one of the Railways signature events: Giants of Steam 2016.


Derek Hayward captured one of the event's double-header trains.

At the end of the day you can't just turn a key and walk away! Juilan Heineman's atmospheric photo shows the clean up at 6 p.m. on 30 Oct., 2016.


By Chris Ward.
By Chris Ward.


By James Batcheler.
By James Batcheler.

By Daniel Gosling.
By Daniel Gosling.

By Bob Kershaw.
By Bob Kershaw.

By Philip Bull.
By Philip Bull.

By Martin Lawrence.
By Martin Lawrence.

The Football Competition (raising funds for the Maunsell Restaurant Car) shows that John Divine has picked up an early lead with 56 points, ahead of a pack of four on 60.

Well, our remarkable stretch of good weather seems to have come to a seasonal end, as some actual November weather descends. However, there can be no complaints. We have made so much progress during the last several months, that the Friends of Sheffield Park (FOSP) are "on top" of the outdoors task list to a much greater extent than we expected to be.

In fact, one of our regulars advises that until this week, we had enjoyed no fewer than 14 consecutive Wednesdays on which we experienced warm, dry weather, so no wonder many more things have been spruced-up!

To highlight a few items that we have dealt with recently ...  
  • The ticket printing workshop has received two coats of suitable wood preservative (and we took the opportunity to strip off the previously applied treatment that was the incorrect colour (thanks Sue!)
  • The "Wealden Dock" fence has received a fresh coat of Creocote (a poor substitute for creosote, but that substance is no longer available to us).
  • Similar treatment has been started on the fence around the viewing area at the north of Platform 1.  
  • We are engaged in the regular programme of maintenance of the Up Side running-in board, where the plywood of the lettering is delaminating; eventually, we expect to replace the letters with more authentic metal ones, but we are putting that off as they are likely expensive.
  • The loco storage shed window frame painting is progressing.
  • The door to a concrete hut used by the Loco Department for storing headboards has been re-hung on new hinges, pending possible replacement of the rotten door and frame. Preparations for hard-standings for some of the picnic tables are underway (we will use materials that should withstand the occasional winter flood).
  • Finally, brickwork pointing is another "Forth Bridge" enterprise that sees regular attention.

As winter arrives, we move indoors, and we have plenty of decorating tasks to attend to ...

We will decorate the "Harmer Room" and hall landing and stairs in the station house, and there are requests to deal in the Members' Room also. Some logistical planning will be needed here, as that room is fully occupied on Wednesdays, when we usually work.

In "front of house" areas, we will be sprucing up decor in Bessemer Arms and Platform 1 Gents' toilets, and the Ladies' Waiting Room fireplace hearth will be retiled as soon as we can source some suitable replacement tiles.

Behind the scenes, a significant new project is being scoped and submitted for formal approval through the Change Management process, and we hope to be able to make an announcement about this very soon (and we will be offering the opportunity for sponsorship, so watch This Space!)

By Chas Melton


Let's hope the children have been good this year, because Fr. Christmas will need all the coal he can get to power the Bluebell Railway's immensely popular Santa Specials!

To shop online for Santa Special tickets, click here to be taken to the Bluebell Railway Online Store.

Our Santa Special trains depart from Sheffield Park station (and from East Grinstead on 23 Dec., 2016) for a 10-mile round trip to the beautifully restored Horsted Keynes station with special Dickensian themed activities. 

Santa will be on board and will present every child with a special Christmas gift and a festive treat. Adults won't be left out, as Santa's little helpers will serve a free mince pie (and you'll have the option to purchase drinks). 
At Horsted Keynes, Santa will make his way to platform 1 where you can take your own photographs with him in his special cabin.

There also will be Christmas activities to enjoy, including Victorian street entertainers; fairground stalls (just 20p per go); Christmas Fayre (hot chestnuts and mulled wine); and much more. Plus, younger children can take a ride on the traditional fairground "juvenile" roundabout in the Sheffield Park station forecourt. 

All trains running for Santa Specials will be hauled by one of our vintage steam locomotives. 

Book now, as these specials are always top sellers: Call 01825 720806 or click the above link for online sales. For more information, including dates and times of service, visit this webpage.


It's going to be a busy festive season at the Railway this year, besides the Santa Specials, here are some other events happening during December:

Although the edible banana (from the botanical sub-genus Musa sapientum, "the fruit of the wise men") had been known in Great Britain since the seventeenth century, the fruit was first imported in quantity by Edward Fyffe in 1901.

Bananas grow on a large plant with a single flowering head which bears around 6 to 9 clusters or "hands" of between 10 and 20 bananas. Most of those sold in the UK used to come from the West Indies or the Canary Islands where the fruit had been grown, with the similar plantain, as a subsistence crop since its introduction at the end of the fifteenth century.

The easily perishable fruit is picked when green and unripe and transported by sea in ships with insulated and refrigerated holds. These vessels used to dock (depending on the customer or shipping line) at a variety of British ports. Avonmouth (Bristol), Hull, Southampton and Garston (Liverpool) were among them. A large trade with Britain existed in the 1920s and 1930s.

An average shipment would be 4,000 bunches, these being a large stem containing four or five hands. The bunches of most varieties had to be straw packed in returnable wooden crates, while the tougher variety from Jamaica could be carried loose. With the need to quickly transport a large volume of the fruit to the ripeners and wholesalers throughout the country, the railway was the obvious choice for many years.

However, the fruit required special handling and heating and ventilating conditions en route. Therefore, from the pre-Grouping days of the early 1920s, dedicated banana vans were designed by several railway companies (including the LNWR, GWR and LSWR) in conjunction with the trade to work in complete trains or rafts (groups of wagons) to carry the fruit by rail from the ports to its destination.

For most of their life, these vans were insulated and fitted with steam heating pipes on the ceilings and adjustable ventilators to allow the ripening process to continue en route. The sides were usually marked "Steam Banana". When the vans were emptied at the ripening shed (there was one at East Croydon and another, larger one at Lingfield), railway staff had to sweep them out and burn any loose straw left inside, always keeping a watchful eye out for any tropical spiders that may have accompanied the bananas! ... MORE

By Martin Skrzetuszewski

Richard Salmon's photo above shows the P class No. 178 travelling up the line with the Observation Car to convey a private party, taken on 5 Nov., 2016.
Remarkable old photos of the Bluebell Railway and related Sussex photos can be found on this Flickr site by "blue-pelican-railway". 
Martin Lawrence (2016): Martin's October and November galleries. The photo below shows the graphite lubrication stick on the rear tyre of No. 847. 

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
Bluebell Railway

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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