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If you wish to communicate with me about steam trains, railway art or related jigsaw puzzles, please email David, at : platt.precology@gmail.com

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Bluebell Railway

Today's post, 5th August 2015, features pictures of two jigsaws, each showing an early locomotive of the Bluebell Railway.

A short history.

The Lewes and East Grinstead Railway Company was formed to build a railway in 1877 but a year later the line was acquired by the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) and completed in 1882. 

The 18 mile line from Lewes to East Grinstead was closed by British Railways in 1958. The Bluebell Railway Preservation Society was formed a year later and initially leased the Sheffield Park-Horsted Keynes part of the line from BR.

The Society ran its first train on 7th August 1960 - the first preserved, standard gauge steam-operated passenger railway in the world to operate a public service.This first train was headed by locomotive No.55 ‘Stepney’ followed by two coaches and locomotive No.323 ‘Bluebell’ (on the rear). Both of these locomotives are shown below in the jigsaws depicted. At this time a trip on the line was a return trip between Sheffield Park and Bluebell Halt but by the end of October the railway had carried thousands of passengers. The Railway was finally allowed to operate into Horsted Keynes in October 1961 - Kingscote station was re-opened in 1994. 

From 2003 the Railway laid track in the direction of East Grinstead and seven years later a Bluebell platform was opened at East Grinstead station. In March 2013 a steam service ran the 11 miles from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead and all trains now operate this complete journey.

Today the railway is managed and run largely by volunteers. Having preserved a number of steam locomotives even before the cessation of steam service on British mainline railways in 1968, today it has a large fleet (over 30) ranging from small 0-6-0 tanks to large 4-6-2 Bulleid 'Pacifics' 













The first picture (left) features the ex Brighton & South Coast Railway 'A1X' class 0-6-0T tank locomotive, No.55 Stepney. Known as 'Terriers' the locomotives were designed by LB&SCR Locomotive Superintendent, William Stroudley, in 1875. The jigsaw is a 500-piece example from Hestair titled Bluebell Railway Engine. The jigsaw photograph appears to have been taken on an 'Edwardian Day' at Sheffield Park Station, as volunteers are dressed in period costume.

The second picture (right) shows the ex South Eastern & Chatham Railway (SE&CR) 'P' class 0-6-0T tank locomotive, No.323 Bluebell. She was built in 1910, one of eight designed by Locomotive Superintendent, Harry Wainright, as improved 'Terriers'. The jigsaw is a 100-piece example from the Hestair Puzzler 100 series, simply titled Bluebell Railway. The station name is not included in the photograph, but if you know for sure which one of the four it is, (Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, Kingscote or East Grinstead), please let me know.