It has come to our attention that the last issue of the eNewsletter may have ended up in the spam (unsolicited email) folders of some of our readers' email accounts. We are working with Constant Contact on this issue.  


Meanwhile, you can attempt to adjust the "spam filter" in your email service preferences, to authorise messages coming from the Railway. Gmail was particularly affected. Read this article on how to "unspam" messages from the Railway in Gmail. 

Bluebell Railway on parade in 2010, by Nick Dearden.
Bluebell Railway on parade in 2010, by Nick Dearden.


This year's Track Trek will take place on the evening of 24 May, 2015, going from Kingscote to Horsted Keynes. Led by Roy Watts and Dick Fearn, it will start just after 5:30 p.m.


The 4.5-mile walk includes 731 yards through Sharpthorne Tunnel, the longest tunnel in preservation.

Funds raised will be equally split between the Ke ep Up The Pressure and Cash for Cover appeals. The minimum sponsorship is £25 per person and £40 for a couple or family (up to three children between 7 and 16).

Pre-registration is advised by e-mailing tracktrek@bluebell-railway.co.uk with the names of the members of your party. Please indicate which members are children.

You can download a sponsorship form with additional information at tinyurl.com/track-trek. You also can set up your own sponsorship from at this JustGiving page.


Films shot at the Bluebell Railway feature in this "23 Films You Probably Didn't Realise Were Filmed in Sussex" story from Crawley News. 

Captain Baxter shunting at Horsted Keynes in March 2015.
Captain Baxter shunting at Horsted Keynes in March 2015.

The popular Monday Club is available to residents in the locality of East Grinstead Station who are older than 60 years of age.

On Mondays from April 2015 through to September (except Bank Holidays) travel from East Grinstead on the noon train to Sheffield Park for lunch in the Bessemer Arms Restaurant. The two course lunch will consist of a main course and dessert, with a selection of meals to choose from.

While at Sheffield Park station, explore the engine sheds, museum, and shop before taking the return train from Sheffield Park at 3:45 p.m. on Service One days and 2:45 p.m. or 4 p.m. on Service Two days. 

Passengers will be issued a membership card to use every time they attend Monday Club!

Return travel and the two-course lunch is just £17 per person! Due to the Monday Club's popularity, advance booking is essential. Call 01825 720800 or drop into the Travel Centre at East Grinstead or the Sales and Information Office at Sheffield Park. 
The Deltics, counting down to the Diesel Weekend in April.
The Deltics, counting down to the Diesel Weekend in April.
Southern Electrics in Green, by Southern Railway Films.
Southern Electrics in Green, by Southern Railway Films.

Easyfundraising and EasySearch are two very convenient ways to fund the Railway, while you search and shop online.  

Groundbreaking Southern Railway WWII film, featuring its wartime women workers.
Groundbreaking Southern Railway WWII film, featuring its wartime women workers.

Returning on 9 and 10 May, 2015, the Railway is delighted to welcome back previous Southern at War displays, as well as some new ones. In fact, there will be displays and concert shows all along the line, so use your travel ticket all day and hop on and off trains to explore what is going on at each station.

On both Saturday and Sunday we will have flypasts over Horsted Keynes Station. We will be visited by a Harvard and a Hurricane (which plane will be visiting on which day will be confirmed shortly. Flypasts are subject to weather, so fingers crossed!)

More details about timetables, displays, shows, and what's on where will be available nearer to the event. However, we can announce that on the evening of 8 May, 2015, there will be a specially themed VE Day Golden Arrow Pullman run to celebrate 70 years since the Allied Victory in Europe.

VE Pullman passengers will be served on board with a three-course dinner as they travel through the Sussex countryside reminiscing of days gone by. Why not make an evening of it and dress in a 40s theme! For more details, contact 01825 720800.

Enjoy this archive story about an elderly former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, a local resident of Birch Grove, on a visit to the Bluebell Railway on 15 March, 1980 to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the BRPS (from the East Grinstead Courier).

A good turnout of the Loco Department gave H class No. 263 an extra special shine. "Pip" Stevens was the Driver. The Horsted Keynes Station Master seen in the photograph is Alan Whitbread.

A Railway archive photo of the notable event can be seen here.

This wedding blog entry shows just what a beautiful nuptial day can be had at the Bluebell Railway. To start planning your atmospheric wedding, click here


Starting an occasional series highlighting Age of Steam, rail, and similar paintings gathered at the BBC's Your Paintings website.

* Artist: George Heiron
* Date: 1969
* Oil on canvas,;74.5 x 105.1 cm
* Collection: National Railway Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

A right-side profile view of 4-6-2 locomotive No. 21C2 "Union Castle" waiting at Salisbury station in about 1946. (Click painting twice to see it full-frame.)

(Click here for the five-inch gauge model of No. 21C2 by John Lloyd.)

Uckfield News reports that Chancellor George Osborne has pledged £100,000 towards a new study into reopening the Uckfield to Lewes rail line.


Visiteastgrinstead.com has details on these springtime events and more, so why not make a date in your calendar to enjoy the lovely town at our northern terminus.

12 April, 2015: Vintage Bus Running Day. A number of bus routes based on the High Street will be operated by vintage bus and coaches.

26 April, 2015: St. George's Day Parade on London Road and High Street (1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.) Roads will be closed for this traditional annual parade, so to get there, travel by train from Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, or Kingscote.
2 May, 2015: Mid-Sussex Marathon Weekend. An amazing three-day marathon in East Grinstead, Haywards Heath, and Burgess Hill. 2 May is East Grinstead's turn.
4 May, 2015: Lions May Fair 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Another spring tradition, the annual Lions Club Fair will put out stalls and entertainment in the historic High Street.

This will make steam enthusiasts confident for the future: two Age of Steam-inspired London shows are drawing in the crowds: The Railway Children (Kings Cross) and Platform 9 3/4 (Warner Bros. Studio). 

7 March, 2015:
7 March, 2015: "Bluebell", a two-train service, and "Captain Baxter" in a loose-coupled goods training exercise, expected to continue on first Saturday of each month, by South Eastern Steam.

Six archive photos, by John J. Smith, curated by Tony Hillman: "I thought we would try some Q1s this time as there's so much talk and pictures of its older brother!"
Maunsell Q Class in action, by Nick Dearden.
Maunsell Q Class in action, by Nick Dearden.

Kent Online reports on a planned extension to the Kent & East Sussex Railway. 


Actor Colin Firth signs signatures for locals near Horsted Keynes Station while filming Kingsman: Secret Service last year.

To read the East Grinstead Courier's round up of the Railway's recent location work, click here. Photo by Grant Melton. 
Baxter and goods wagons on 7 March, 2015, by Martin Lawrence.
"Captain Baxter" and goods wagons on 7 March, 2015, by Martin Lawrence.

When it comes to British weather, like good Sussex folk, we wunt be druv: John Sandys' photo from 19 March, 2015 shows progess on the canopy at East Grinstead.


Rolling Stock Director Lewis Nodes addresses the Railway's Carriage Strategy Review in the next issue of Bluebell News: "The Society's Long Term Plan gives guidance on everything we could possibly achieve, but for planning the work to be carried out in the short term we need to know the medium term requirement, so this review aims to set a strategy for the next 15 years or so."

In the detailed article, Lewis addresses:
  • Current requirements, including sufficient corridor carriages to always have a set of six available for service, a Pullman set of approximately 100 seats, a "Lounge Car" set of approximately 100 seats, and more.
  • Difficulties meeting the current requirements.
  • Aspirations, including the need to improve reliability of carriage provision and to conform with the society's Long Term Plan.
  • Current projects and plans, for the Bulleid and Mk. 1 fleet; the Maunsells; a mixed-origin, six-car set; and an overhaul of Pullman Car No. 307 "Carina".
  • Medium-term and some long-term planned projects, such as the overhaul of Bulleid brake third No. 2515 and Pullman brake vehicle No. 157 Car No. 54 and the completion of the Maunsell train.
  • Resource limitations, such as funding, workshop space, the number of volunteer and employed staff, and the capacity of the maintenance pit to process carriages.
"Achieving the proposed strategy," writes Lewis, "is going to depend on finding ways to fund it."

The Bluebell Railway is joining forces with partners to promote Kingscote Valley, which is the area south of East Grinstead and based around Weir Wood Reservoir.

East Grinstead Town Council, East Grinstead Business Association, Mid Sussex District Council, and a number of local attractions have been working together to promote the valley's attractions, which include Backland Farm Activity Centre, Weirwood Sailing Club, East Grinstead Sports Club, NT Standen, Kingscote Vineyard, Gravetye Manor, and the Railway.

Kingscote station will form a gateway to the valley with walks and hikes organised from the station through Gravetye Woods to West Hoathly and East Grinstead on selected dates (these will be advertised shortly at bluebell-railway.com and a new website planned at kingscotevalley.co.uk).

Kingscote Valley Partners has received two grants from Mid Sussex District Council, one to create the new website and one to produce leaflets and to fundraise.

In addition, starting at Easter, visitors will be able to hire bicycles at Kingscote station to bike around the valley and woods. The bikes can be returned either to Kingscote or to Deer's Leap in Saint Hill Green. More information will be forthcoming on the websites.

The Railway considers this project an excellent encouragement for visitors, and further opportunities will be developed over coming months. Louise Duncton and I represent the Railway on the project, while Stationmaster Richard Clark and his team will oversee cycle hire at Kingscote.

By Tim Baker, Commercial Director

(From the BBC) A 33-year-old man has become the youngest steam train driver to qualify on the mainline for nearly 50 years. Jim Clarke "passed out" as a qualified driver after he drove the Belmond British Pullman from London Victoria to Guildford, Surrey. It is believed he is the youngest person to qualify since 1968. (The ITV version of the story can be found here.) 


No. 47 is seen on a gauging run at Horsted Keynes on 20 March, 2015 in this John Sandys photo.

This project is now well underway thanks to the generousity of so many people in 2014.

Both a Steering Group and Delivery Team have been established. The Steering Group will set the strategy and objectives for the project, and it will manage the funding strategy and approve all major expenditure and timescales against which delivery will be measured. The Delivery team will coordinate and manage all the work on site. The first objective will be to erect the roof and get carriages under cover.

However, the scope of this project is far larger than that. OP4 includes not just a carriage shed but a two-storey building alongside the shed to accommodate offices, a meeting room, and trim and varnish shops. It also includes a separate building to be used for materials and parts storage. The project will be planned from the start to permit subsequent phases--to fully implement all the facilities in OP4--as finances are raised.

The initial activity will be clearing the area for the construction of the roof and supports. This means the relocation of existing parts storage containers, plus the provision of some new ones and temporary offices and workshops. This work is under way, and it will be completed by the end of the summer. Also, detailed drawings and a specification have been developed for the building works.

Furthermore, discussions are under way with the preferred contractor, and site works are expected to commence in September. This contract is for the roof over the maintenance road and the four storage roads as defined in the Cash for Cover Appeal for which the target was £350,000. This amount has been exceeded and now stands at £366,000. If, by September, it reaches £385,000, we will be able to afford the roof supports and section of the two-storey building for the facilities described above.

For more information and to donate, click here.

By Roger Kelly, Fundraising Director

On 3 May, 2015 the Fenchurch Fund will be raising funds for Project 27 by offering a ride on a special test train hauled by No. 3 "Baxter."

For a fare of £18, passengers are entitled to a meal in the Bessemer Arms plus one return trip from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead with a choice of 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. departures.

For more information, contact Clive Emsley at thefenchurchfund@gmail.com. Please note that this test train may be subject to last minute re-scheduling.

Click here for more details.

Steam preservation and gaming collide remarkably in this Train Simulator 2015 online (and literal) platform, featuring a rendition of our Railway. Must be a steamcommunity.com subscriber to download. 


Final plans are now being made by Roger Price for his tour of the Czech Republic and Germany, which will take place from 8 to 18 Oct., 2015. Suitable for couples looking to visit a beautiful part of Europe--not to mention the rail interest--this tour is likely to be popular--so book now!

The tour features a few days in Prague, with main line steam specials and visits to tourist sights; continues with four days on the Harz Mountain railway, with a special historical train on the Brocken line; and concludes with a weekend in Dresden, with travel on the narrow gauge railways and paddle steamers and a visit to the famous "Church of Our Lady" in the rebuilt Old Town.

Contact rogertprice@aol.com or phone 01737 767874 for more details.

For those not familiar with this project ... [t]he engine originally started life as a tender engine number 78059 before, after a very short life, it was scrapped as part of the British Railways modernisation programme.

A Standard Class 2MT Tank Engine on Display at Willesden Shed
The engine was secured by a group of people for the Bluebell Railway from Woodam Brothers scrapyard in Barry in 1980 some 17 years after it was initially scrapped, by this time it no longer had a tender and quite a number of items had been stripped off.

As there were already a number of Class 2MT tender engines in the preservation world, it was decided to covert the engine into a tank version as none of these had made it into preservation, and they had been used on the Southern Region of British Railways, whereas the tender version had not ...

To read the full report, click here.

By Chris Wren

Jeremy Seigal, CEO of East Grinstead's White Stuff, will be the guest of the East Grinstead Business Association on 18 June, 2015 at Chequer Mead. Seigal will discuss his experience opening a retail outlet in the town, and no doubt the impact of the Railway and other tourism initiatives. More information here.


The South Eastern had got to Folkestone in June 1843 and crossed the Foord Viaduct to Folkestone Junction in December that year. The company acquired the harbour in 1844 and immediately set about improving it. The well-known swing bridge was constructed in 1847 though track was not taken across it until December 1848 when the harbour station and the branch were opened following Board of Trade authorisation for the latter's use by passenger traffic that month.

Sandling Junction: The tracks to the right are the subject of Jeremy's article; the tracks straight on are the main line via Folkestone Junction, where a reversal and very steep descent was the only rail access to Folkestone Harbour. Click here to see a PDF version.
Still tidal at this time, the harbour entrance was kept clear of the west-east shingle drift by a massive stone groyne along which track was extended in 1863 to the "pier" station. But "tidal" services continued until 1865 when further improvements permitted steamers to berth at any state of the tide. (One of the last "tidal" workings was involved in the Staplehurst disaster of that year. Charles Dickens was among the passengers.)   

However, very early in the Harbour's history, working the branch was proving a trial, not simply the need for sufficient motive power on the sharp gradient but time consumed in reversal and shunting at the junction.

A postcard of Sandgate railway station. Click here to see a PDF version
Worse, by 1861 the Chatham had got into Dover, travelling a route 12 miles shorter than the South Eastern's thence through the Warren. At least Folkestone was theirs alone, but the Chatham was proving a real threat to the SER's domination of continental traffic that it had enjoyed up to this time ...

Click here to read the full article.

By Jeremy Clarke

June 2015 will see 50 years since closure of the last BR steam depot in Sussex, at Eastbourne. This series looks at each of the loco depots in turn, thanks to the Sussex Motive Power Depots website.

Three Bridges loco shed was opened in July 1848 by the LB&SCR (Shed Code 3-B), and the Three Bridges Branch of ASLEF was opened on 17 May, 1913. On 27 Jan., 1964 the steam shed was closed, and the steam depot became a mixed traction depot, which closed in April 1969 along with Eastbourne M.T. and Feltham depots.

With electrification in 1932, a new motorman's depot opened at Three Bridges, along with Reigate motorman's depot.

"I first started my Railway Career in 1944, retiring in February 1995. It was May 8th when I started as a Temporary Fitter's Apprentice at Three Bridges, at the age of 14 years. I worked with Mick Burwell (fitter), Perce Edwards (mate), and Ben Worsley (fitter). I cannot remember what his mate was called, but I do remember that he had close cropped grey hair with a tight curl on his forehead; apparently he was in the cavalry in the First World War.

"We also had a fitter and his mate from Brighton Perce Pringle and Cyril Wallis. We also had the Brighton Steam Crane based at Three Bridges because of the war; the crane' driver's name I can't remember, only his nickname of Wee Legs, as he was only about 5 feet tall ..."

Click here to read the complete story.
Southern Steam: Tunbridge Wells to Three Bridges.
Southern Steam: Tunbridge Wells to Three Bridges.

From the Mid-Sussex Times: Plans for a special historical celebration are on track as Haywards Heath gets ready to mark the 175th anniversary of the first steam engine arriving in the town.


Seeing the nostalgic photos of railway life in a recent Brighton Argus was much appreciated. Particularly, it was the photo of "Nellie the Elephant" I noticed, approaching Brighton station ticket barrier from the platform side,  having arrived in a Southern Railway specially converted Elephant Van, unloaded through the end doors. There is one such van in preservation on our Railway: No. 4601.

In the 1920s and 1930s, theatre productions often toured with specialist scenery and props. Although similar in construction to other SR vans, scenery vans were designed with a high arched steel roof and end doors to allow as much height clearance inside as possible, while conforming to SR Restriction 0, to give maximum route availability.

No. 4601 is one of three that were later fitted with a steel floor under the floorboards and used for elephants in the Chipperfield and Bertram Mills circus trains during the 1950s. (It should be noted that the use of live animals in circuses is becoming a thing of the past. Recently, storied US circus company Ringling Bros. announced it would no longer use elephants.)

A Dover Carriage & Wagon Examiner--Reg Cloke--once told me, years ago, of the fright he had while examining (for defects) a recently arrived train in the reception sidings. It was a dark and lonely place that night. Shunting was not taking place and waves were battering the nearby beach. Then suddenly he heard a snorting noise and sound of movement behind him, which made him jump!

Further examination--and another slight movement of the vehicle's side springs--led him to one particular wagon. Reg would have had a hand lamp to examine the train, and having seen the wagon move again, he must have checked its label on the side framing. He would have seen the load described and known that inside was a sleepy pachyderm settling down on the floor! 
The elephant was occasional cargo--normally conveyed with passenger trains--making an overnight transit. In 1962 the end of common carriage duty on the railway led to such cargos disappearing, seen as uneconomic loads, not to mention the waning interest in circuses by the 1960s.

By Neil Cameron

The Committee for the Kingscote Valley has set up a new Meetup group, where they will post details of walks, cycling, outdoor and sporting activities, hunting,  fishing, archery, shooting, and more.


This powerful goods locomotive was designed for shunting in the docks served by the NLR (principally Poplar Dock and the West India Docks) and for hauling the goods traffic emanating from them to warehouses along the NLR's 14-mile main line, plus transfer work to and from other companies' yards.

Photo by Lewis Nodes.
The North London Railway subsequently became part of the London & North Western Railway and, at the grouping in 1923, the LMS. Several locos from this class became celebrities thanks to their use on the LMS's very steeply graded Cromford and High Peak line in Derbyshire.


Our locomotive was built under Works Order No. 181 as loco No.76 in 1880 at the NLR Bow works in East London. The first loco of the type built was No. 75, so the 30 locos of this type were known as the 75 class. It was renumbered in 1891 to No. 116 on the NLR duplicate list to free up the number 76, which was then given to a new locomotive built in October 1891. No. 116 was rebuilt at Bow Works in October 1897.

Following a working agreement in 1909, the NLR was run by the LNWR, becoming part of that company in 1922. In 1909, No. 116 was transferred to the LNWR and was renumbered 2650 in August 1909.

The LNWR became part of the LMSR at the Grouping in 1923, our loco gaining the LMS number 7505 in December 1926. In June 1934, it was renumbered 27505. BR renumbered it 58850 in May 1949.

From at least 1935, it was allocated to Rowsley shed in Derbyshire (LMS/BR 17D), which is the main shed for the Cromford and High Peak line. This was a freight-only line with steep gradients (one of which was rope-worked) and at least one very sharp curve.

When 58850, the last one of the class, was withdrawn from traffic in May 1960 (formally condemned in September 1960), it was kept at Derby until being sold to the Bluebell in working order in 1962 for £890. In fact, BR fitted an overhauled boiler to the loco prior to its sale.

It was hired to the contractors responsible for lifting the line from Ardingly to Horsted Keynes and Horsted Keynes to East Grinstead, ending up at East Grinstead. The loco was returned to Sheffield Park by road. Since its last overhaul, it has been used in the rebuilding of the line towards Kingscote, as part of the Bluebell's northern extension to East Grinstead ...

Visit the webpage here.
THANK YOU for supporting the Bluebell Railway, whether you are near or far from Sussex, young or not-so-young, a volunteer or visitor, or new to steam or an old hand. Don't forget to pass this newsletter on to family and friends, and see you trackside! 
John Walls
Editor-in-Chief eNewsletter
Bluebell Railway
Railway Information

Timetable & Fares

Special Events

Special Offers

Getting to the Railway

Online Shop

Disabled Access

History of the Railway

Frequently Asked Questions

Contact Us 
The Stations
Sheffield Park

Horsted Keynes


East Grinstead

Line Map
Train Roster

Loco Roster

Museum & Archive

Sheffield Park & Garden

East Grinstead Attractions

East Grinstead Events

Discover Mid-Sussex

Bluebell Railway Walks

"Railway Children" Walks (WalkScene)

2015 Hotel Packages

Other Local Accommodation
Special Trains
& Services
Catering Services

The Golden Arrow

Murder Mystery Evenings

Afternoon Tea/The Wealden Rambler

Railway Weddings

Services for Groups

Educational Services

Corporate & Film Services
Funding for the Future

Keep Up the Pressure

Cash for Cover


Unity Lottery

Other Ways to Give
Want to Volunteer?

9F Club (Young Volunteers)

Stepney Club (Our Littlest Fans)

Bluebell Railway Band

Job Openings

Lineside Photography
& Safety

Bluebell Railway | j.walls1@btinternet.com | http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk
Sheffield Park Station
East Sussex
Near Uckfield, TN22 3QL