2009-06-03 BlueBell

During our roundtrip through the UK on our 2009 holiday we settled at Danehill, Haywards Heath, one day. It proved to be coincidentally (honestly) just two miles from Sheffield Park, the main stay of the Blue Bell Railway. When my wife wanted to stay on the camping for a days rest, I grabbed the opportunity and dashed off to Sheffield Park
DSC01518  The volunteer run Bluebell Line was the UK's first preserved standard gauge passenger railway, re-opening part of the Lewes to East Grinstead line of the old London Brighton & South Coast Railway in 1960. Since then it has developed into one of the largest tourist attractions in Sussex, yet it still remains true to its objectives of the preservation for posterity of a country branch line, its steam locomotives, coaches and goods stock, signalling systems, stations and operating practices. DSC01501  Sheffield Park is the headquarters of the railway and home to the Locomotive Department. The station opened in 1882 at the request of the Earl of Sheffield, a local landowner and promoter of the The Lewes and East Grinstead Railway Act 1877 which authorised the construction of a line from East Grinstead to Lewes. The line was closed in 1958. DSC01559  The footbridge over the tracks DSC01653  View from the footbridge
DSC01508  When I arrived the first train of the day was ready for departure. In front the former GWR Earl/Dukedog No.9017, "Earl of Berkeley".     Nicknamed "Dukedogs" since they were an amalgamation a Bulldog and a Duke, the parts of this loco are thus actually older than the "building" date suggests. The 1938 rebuild of 3217 used the frames from "Bulldog" No.3425 (built 1906) and boiler and cab from "Duke" class No.3282 (originally named "Chepstow Castle" and built in 1899).   A few of the class carried the names of Earls, but 3217 did not receive its allocated name until preservation days. At the time the Earls in question indicated to the GWR that, if their names were to be used, they would prefer their names on something a little more prestigious, and so they were transferred to new Castle class locomotives.   This class of locos was widely used on the Cambrian lines. At the time this loco was saved for preservation the Bluebell was the only line where it could run, and it has been in Sussex ever since, apart from a few years spent at the Great Western Society, at Didcot. DSC01510  The brass rim on the stack DSC01511 DSC01514  Whistle and safety valve
DSC01520  A chat before the run DSC01525 DSC01530  Aha!! DSC01532  And away, with blowing cylinder valves
DSC01541  Nothing to indicate that this isn't in the thirties, except the fact that you're watching it via the internet DSC01562b DSC01581 DSC01599  Light pacific Battle of Britain class "Sir Archibald Sinclair". Built in 1947 and recently restored to operating condition    The identical "West Country" and "Battle of Britain" pacifics were built to provide increased power for use on the Southern's secondary main lines, especially those in the West country with weight restrictions. However, some of Bulleid's novel ideas, designed to reduce maintenance costs, proved troublesome. Therefore in 1957 a programme of rebuilding the locomotives along conventional lines was started. The rebuilding of the Bulleid light pacifics added several tons to their weight, but produced, to all intents, brand-new locomotives, whilst retaining the distinctive light-weight Bulleid-Firth-Brown wheels and his superb free-steaming boiler, along with many other of the successful innovative design features.   no 34059 was saved form Barry scrapyard in 1979 and returned to steam just this year (2009)
DSC01600  The impressive light weigt yet strong Bulleid-Firth-Brown wheels, very much akin to the more known Boxpok wheels in the US. Advanteges of these wheels over traditional spoke wheels: better balance and more uniform supprt of the wheel tyre. Disadvantages: heavier and restricted maintenance access to axleboxes and springs. DSC01619  Archibald Sinclair was the wartime Secretary of State for Air from 1940 DSC01634  The loco was in service though, obviously suffering from a hot bearing DSC01639  Hefty discussions on that subject
DSC01620  Shining smokebox door reflects the workshop DSC01601 DSC01603  The individual parts of the motion or valve gear DSC01604  Working the lathe
DSC01605  Wheels DSC01607  This is pretty much how far disassembly goes during restoration DSC01610 DSC01627  Boiler tubes
DSC01615  Smoke box saddle. DSC01643 DSC01652  A consist of Pullman coaches DSC01675  9017 returning from duty
DSC01682  Uncoupling DSC01691  Running round DSC01694 DSC01704  Taking water
DSC01722  And returning to the head of the train DSC01734b