Category: Bluebell Railway

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March 23rd, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

Photo courtesy of Roy Henderson

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March 20th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE volunteers on the East Grinstead in Bloom committee will be down at the Bluebell Railway beds by the town station from 10am this morning, so if you have a couple of hours to spare, nip along and lend them a hand.

 

Posted in Bluebell Railway, Environment, News Tagged with: , ,

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March 15th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

MORE than 9,000 hours of work over nearly four years have culminated in the official opening of the Bluebell’s new signal box at Kingscote.

As the Railway extended north towards East Grinstead a temporary signal box entered service at Kingscote on 27 April 1996.

Essentially built around a ground frame, this was expected to be in service for ten years.

The long-term plan was to bring into service the Box located at the North end of the down platform – the upper wooden structure of which had been rescued from Brighton Upper Goods.

This structure housed a Saxby and Farmer lever frame but it was soon found that size constraints were going to make its operational use impractical.

Attention turned to the alternative use of a Westinghouse ‘L’ style lever frame and the hunt was started for the component parts as well as the knowledge required to put them all together.

Initial sourcing included donations from, the Dartmouth Steam Railway (of parts ex Churston), a private collection from J Francis and the National Railway Museum.

The result is a 55 lever frame which will serve Bluebell’s current needs as well as provide scope for other developments in the future.

Though 2 ‘L’ frames remain in use on the main network at Liverpool Lime Street and Maidstone East this is the only ‘L’ frame in use on a Standard Gauge Heritage Railway.

The formal ‘opening’ ceremony was performed by Francis How – Fellow and Chief Executive and John Francis – Fellow of The Institute of Railway Signal Engineers.

Photos by Mike Hopps

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February 29th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

imageTHE Bluebell Railway and GB Railfreight have announced the details of their upcoming Diesel Gala on 15 to 17 April.

GB Railfreight (GBRf) is celebrating 15 years of operation in 2016 and Bluebell’s Deisel Days will be the first of several events involving their trains this year, where the money raised will be donated to charity.

Locomotives will be drawn from a selection regularly used by GBRf and it is planned (subject to availability on the day) to use examples from Class 20, 47, 66, 73/1 and 73/9.

Rolling stock will be a mix of the Bluebell’s own coaches and a 4-TC unit kindly provided by London Underground Ltd.

An intensive 3-train service for all three days is planned, with evening Beer Trains on the Saturday.

The line’s  resident Class 09 loco is expected to be making additional Brake-Van trips for a small additional charge.

A selection of sales stands will be in attendance, including a special GBRf stand selling  limited edition 15th Anniversary memorabilia.

A full timetable and loco diagrams will be published nearer the time.

See more at: http://www.bluebell-railway.com/event/diesel-weekend/#sthash.USJxTsTF.P

Photo top: East Grinstead station with the Alycidon diesel which visited the Bluebell last year, courtesy of John Sandys

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February 26th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

GORDON Owen has been appointed as the new General Manager of the Bluebell Railway.The post was created as part of the Railway’s recent review of its organisational structure to meet the challenges of the Bluebell’s expanded scope of operation.

Born in Newcastle, Gordon worked for five years with Procter and Gamble before moving to London in 1983 where he joined the Metropolitan Police.

Stationed primarily in South London his career ultimately took him into Royal Protection from which he retired after 32 years’ service, having attained the rank of Acting Chief Inspector.

Although not a railway man, his links with Heritage Steam can be traced back to his involvement with the Clan Line project in the late 90s. He has also been a regular visitor and supporter of the Bluebell Railway over a number of years.

Bluebell chairman Dick Fearn said “Gordon brings with him very strong organisational, leadership and interpersonal skills all of which are key ingredients in this mandate.”

Gordon, who take up his post on 7 March at the Bluebell’s Sheffield Park offices, said: “I am delighted to join such a prestigious steam railway and look forward to meeting and working with the Bluebell team.”

 

 

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February 4th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

AFTER one of its shortest hibernations for winter maintenance, the Bluebell Railway is back in action this weekend. Two engines are rostered for service – the LBSCR E5 tank no. B475 and the Southern Region BR Standard class 5 4-6-0 no 73082 ‘Camelot’.

Photo top courtesy of the Camelot Society.

Below: new no trespassing sign at Kingscote, © John Sandys

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Posted in Bluebell Railway, News Tagged with: ,

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February 2nd, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

Above: one of the Giants of Diesel at last year’s special event

THE Bluebell Railway will be hosting a Diesel Gala on the weekend of 15 to 17 April. 

Co-hosts GB Railfreight (GBRf) are celebrating 15 years of operation in 2016 and this will be the first of several events involving trains this year, where the money they raise will be donated to charity.

Locomotives will be drawn from a selection regularly used by GBRf and it is planned (subject to availability on the day) to use examples from Class 20, 47, 66, 73/1 and 73/9.  

Rolling stock will be a mix of the Bluebell’s own coaches and a 4-TC unit provided by London Underground Ltd.    

An intensive three-train service for all three days is planned, with evening Beer Trains on the Saturday.

The line’s resident Class 09 loco is expected to make additional Brake-Van trips for a small charge.

A selection of sales stands will be in attendance, including a special GBRf stand where limited edition GBRF 15th Anniversary memorabilia will be available to purchase. 

A full timetable and loco diagrams will be published nearer the time. 

Paul Taylor, GBRf Business Manager said “It’s a privilege to work with one of the country’s premier Heritage lines and we are looking forward to jointly running this event with them.

“We have enjoyed a special relationship with the railway since operating spoil and ballast trains in connection with the recent East Grinstead extension and it will be a pleasure to run a gala event that will raise money for both the Bluebell Railway and our own nominated charities.”

See more at: http://www.bluebell-railway.com/event/diesel-weekend/#sthash.1D8vBmpK.dpuf

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January 27th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE Bluebell Railway has announced its dates for volunteer recruitment, known as Find Out More Days.

These will be on:

  • 14 February
  • 13 March
  • 10 April
  • 8 May
  • 12 June
  • 10 July
  • 14 August
  • 11 September
  • 9 October
  • 13 November

Any men or women, skilled or unskilled, who can offer a day a month or more to the Railway are invited to “find out more” about volunteering in their various departments.

Anyone under 16, can gain experience in the 9F Club.

Book your place on an orientation tour, and get more information about opportunities, by phoning 01825 720800 or emailing bluebellvolunteer@gmail.com.

You can learn about becoming a Bluebell Railway Preservation Society member at:

bluebell-railway.co.uk/bluebell/membership.

Posted in Bluebell Railway, News

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January 27th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE Bluebell Railway was the star of the BBC’s Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo last night.

The show saw the former MP take the train from East Grinstead up to Sheffield Park where he helped to wash out a boiler.

To see the programme go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06z8lcp/great-british-railway-journeys-series-7-17-east-grinstead-to-guildford

Posted in Bluebell Railway, News

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January 20th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

AN episode of Michael Portillo’s TV show Great British Railways featuring the Bluebell Railway will be aired on 26 January on BBC2.

Photo Mike Hopps

 

 

Posted in Bluebell Railway, Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: , , ,

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January 18th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE Bluebell Railway is offering a range of season tickets this year which will make taking regular trips on the historic steam line cheaper. 

Valid until 27 November 2016, their Off Peak Season Ticket allows unlimited 3rd class travel on all Service One and Service Two timetable days (not including Special Events).

The freedom of the line between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead is yours to explore on all scheduled timetable trains in the 2016 timetable for just £50 for adults and £25 for children.

The Off Peak Season can only be purchased up to and including Monday 28 March.

The Rail Gala Season Ticket is a special offer for the enthusiast which allows unlimited 3rd class travel on the Bluebell’s three Special Enthusiast Events:

Branch Line Weekend: Friday 18 to Sunday 20 March

Diesel Gala: Friday 15 to Sunday 17 April

Giants of Steam: Friday 28 to Sunday 30 October

“Enjoy unlimited travel on our enthusiast events where visiting engines will perform alongside our own home fleet, these are a ‘must’ for the hardened enthusiast who loves the opportunity to ride behind each of the locomotives in service between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead,” said a spokesman.

Adult 3rd Class: £120

Child 3rd Class:  £60

The Rail Gala Season can only be purchased up to and including Sunday 13 March. 

To purchase Season Tickets call into the Sales & Information Office at Sheffield Park or the Travel Centre in East Grinstead, or call  Customer Services on 01825 720800

If you wish to travel First Class you can simply pay the difference between First and Third Class travel for the day of your choice in advance, or on the day.

See more at: http://www.bluebell-railway.com/event/new-season-tickets/#sthash.EQTNEnbf.dpuf

Photo John Sandys

Posted in Bluebell Railway, News

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January 14th, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

JOHN Sandys was at the Bluebell Railway this morning when he caught a lorry just about to set off for South Devon with a set of Standard Tank wheels on board which are due for refurbishment.

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January 1st, 2016 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE Bluebell Railway will be only be running its steam-hauled and steam-heated trains between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead until the end of Sunday, before closing down for the rest of January.

So if you want a New Year ride back in time through some pretty Sussex countryside, this weekend is your last chance for a while.

Photo John Sandys

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December 29th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

Above: Nicholas Owen filming the appeal ©John Sandys

THE East Grinstead Access Group, which campaigns to make life easier for those with mobility issues and in wheelchairs, has helped with a video shoot in the Bluebell Railway’s engine shed at Sheffield Park.

The historic steam railway was producing its video – fronted by TV newsreader and steam railway buff Nicholas Owen – in a bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

If successful, the money will be used to separate off part of the shed for use as an exhibition centre, with a replica of steam engine Stepney, which will be ramped and fully accessible to disabled as well as able-bodied children, who can pull levers and see the wheels rotate on a display screen.

At present children, and anyone in a wheelchair, can only gaze upwards at the static displays from ground level.

Access Group chairman Paul Johnson said his members including Stewart Cook who uses a mini scooter, and wheelchair bound ten-year-old Dominic Francillia, were delighted to help demonstrate how restrictive the present arrangements are.

Below left: Dominic can only crane his neck to see the displays. Right: Ginnie Waddingham, who has MS, with newsreader Nicholas Owen

 

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December 8th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE Bluebell Railway has sponsored a new Christmas lights decoration for Railway Approach in the shape of a steam train and carriages strung across the road.

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December 4th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

22866773613_21e842a70c_hTHE Friends of Sheffield Park have finished the repair of the station’s pretty entrance porch and restored it to its original condition featuring decorative mullion roof supports glazed with floral stained glass panels.

The new timber structure was machined and trial-assembled earlier in the summer and the glass panels ordered using photographs of the original to guide the design.

The Booking Hall entrance was closed for a week while Phase 1 of the project was carried out,  which involved propping up the roof while the lower timber structure was removed, and work done to level the walls and repoint the brickwork.

The roof structure was then slowly and carefully jacked up by approximately two inches to counter the effects of about 130 years of settlement, which allowed for the new wooden structure to be installed as far as possible square and level.

“The eagle-eyed will be able to see that the finished structure is not completely symmetrical, but this is of course a part of the character of historic structures,” said spokesman Charles Melton.

The porch is now decorated for Christmas and ready to welcome visitors to the various special events taking place in the run-up to 25 December.

Photos John Sandys

 

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Railway Approach Plan
December 3rd, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THIS week we have highlighted the work of Alex Eichner of The East Grinstead Project who hopes to revive and upgrade Railway Approach.

But Alex is not the first person to feel East Grinstead deserves a better gateway to the town centre from the railway station.

Back in 2008 the Town Council commissioned a study to look at the area in anticipation of the arrival of the Bluebell Railway into the town station.

With many more visitors expected to travel down from London to take a trip on the historic steam railway it was felt important to tempt as many as possible of them up into the town.

The artist’s impressions (above) envisaged new wide pavements, a parking-free zone and an avenue of trees to create a leafy boulevard.

The scheme was unveiled at East Court in front of all the major stakeholders who agreed on the considerable merits of the proposals.

But the idea depended on investment by West Sussex County Council for the road and pavement infrastructure, and the agreement of landlords of properties along the street to upgrade their individual premises.

And in the end, the scheme came to nothing.

We do have the attractive new Bluebell station, and a new railway station, and the new bus interchange will be finished shortly.

But with Councils watching their budgets it will probably require a major commercial developer to invest in what is still a somewhat blighted area of the town centre.

* What do you think of the scheme as it was proposed seven years ago?

Below: the plans which were well received at an East Court meeting came to nothing

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Posted in Bluebell Railway, Council, News Tagged with: , ,

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December 3rd, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

PHOTOGRAPHER Simon Stewart and Weddings and Special Occasions have an unusual “wedding dress” in the window of their Railway Approach store which will have brides “pining” to celebrate with a Christmas wedding.

Photo Roy Henderson

Posted in Bluebell Railway, Christmas, News Tagged with: , ,

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December 2nd, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE Bluebell Railway will feature in an episode of the BBC’s Brighton-based cop drama Cuffs on at 8pm tonight.

The footage was shot on the historic steam railway in June at the Imberhorne Lane bridge.

Photos of the Bluebell Mike Hopps: Cuffs, courtesy of the BBC

 

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November 27th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

Posted in Bluebell Railway, Christmas, News Tagged with: , , , ,

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November 24th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE Bluebell will be running steam hauled and heated trains between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead this weekend, 28-29 November, and Kids for a Quid is back.

  • This lovely gallery of the Bluebell’s very own Bluebell train is shared courtesy of John Sandys.

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November 10th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE Bluebell’s souvenir chocolate is popular with visitors to the historic steam railway line. But the latest batch may be less of a sweet treat than a collector’s item as the bars have acquired a certain oddity value, thanks to the misspelling of East Grinstead.

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November 6th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

LAST weekend saw the Bluebell Railway stage its Giants of Steam event which returned after a five year absence, and for the first time since the line was extended into East Grinstead in 2013.

The resident locomotives rostered for service were Southern Railway S15 4-6-0 ‘847’ and Q class 0-6-0 ‘30541’ plus BR Standard 5/Arthur Class 4-6-0 Camelot 73082 which had just returned to traffic after overhaul.

However the visiting locomotive line-up suffered a last minute change. Schools Class 4-4-0 Cheltenham 925 was scheduled to supplement the Southern line up but due to a technical fault the previous weekend BR Standard Class 7 4-6-2 ‘Britannia’ 70000 was unable to join the line up.

But fast footwork by the Bluebell’s Locomotive Director Chris Hunford and his team resulted in the appearance of LNER A4 Pacific 4-6-2 ‘Bittern’ 4464.

Chris said that this was “an amazing result” and he expressed his gratitude to Locomotive Services Ltd and the Mid-Hants Railway for making the visit possible at such short notice.

With this likely to be Bittern’s last outing before overhaul, its appearance was greeted with particular enthusiasm from fans of the steam giants.

Photographers were pleased to see an 18 wagon goods train scheduled on both days which was placed in the hands of two Maunsell goods locomotives, Q class 30541 and S15 class 847.

And an extensive timetable, behind the scenes tours, an array of steam motive power and good weather saw the visitors numbers rocket.

Saturday was the busier of the two days but overall visitor numbers totalled more than 3000.

Commercial Director Tim Baker was delighted with both the visitor numbers and the excellent feedback which, he said, will feed into the planning for next year’s event.

Photos courtesy of Martin Lawrence

 

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October 30th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline
THIS weekend, the Giants of Steam will be thundering up and down the Bluebell Railway.
This banner event will include (subject to availability) the visit of No. 70000 Brittania; the return to service of No. 73082 Camelot; a goods train; double-headed trains; Pullman cars Christine and Fingall plus views of the No. 32424 build and No. 27 restoration, model railways and films at Horsted Keynes and a free vintage bus service travelling via Brighton Pool Valley, Lewes Prison and Sheffield Park.
During “Giants Weekend” passengers will have the opportunity to sample Pullman travel for the price of a first class ticket. On each day, morning coffee, light lunch, and tea and cake will be served in the Pullman cars, while in the restaurant car the Harvey’s bar will be open serving Sussex Old and Sussex Best Bitter.
On Saturday Gordon Pettit and Nicholas Comfort will be signing copies of their new book on Regional Railways in the shop at Sheffield Park. 
Below: the mighty Camelot getting all steamed up in this video by John Sandys

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