Published 12th March 2012
The Bluebell Railway has launched a ‘Double Donations Dash’ match funding effort towards its Northern Extension Project. Donations, via the Bluebell Railway 50th Anniversary Appeal, between March 24-30 will be doubled by matched funding provided by appeal sponsors up to a limit of £35,000. With Gift Aid, each £1 donated will be worth £2.50. Donations can be made by cheque mailed to arrive during these dates, or made online via a link to be provided on the Bluebell’s website.
The Bluebell Railway is developing plans for a turning facility at Horsted Keynes utilising the surviving stub of the old Ardingly branch. Construction will utilise much of the clay capping removed from Imberhorne cutting (the material which covered the waste which has been removed in a separate operation) as part of the Bluebell’s Northern Extension Project.
The triangle would enable visiting main line locomotives, expected to arrive via East Grinstead when the northern extension is completed, to be turned.
The Bluebell Railway has also submitted a planning application to construct a double arch bridge to replace Sheriff Mill viaduct (demolished in 1968) on the Ardingly branch from Horsted Keynes station to Haywards Heath. This does not imply there are immediate plans to rebuild the branch (the railway bought the trackbed in 1997) but signals its long-term intentions.
A full-barrier level crossing with lights over the Swanage Railway where the line crosses the access road to the railway’s Norden Park & Ride station and Wytch Farm oilfield is to be financed by oil company, BP. The £500,000 of funding for installation and maintenance is a 'legacy' donation following BP’s sale of its majority shareholding in the Wytch Farm oilfield to Anglo-French oil company Perenco in December. The new level crossing will be built by contractors with completion due in May 2013.
Upgrading the crossing is a crucial step towards achieving the Swanage Railway’s long-held ambition of running regular services between Swanage and the main line station at Wareham. The remaining stages to be completed are the re-signalling of Worgret Junction on the main line near Wareham (which Network Rail is due to complete by May 2013) and upgrading the three-mile NR single line between Worgret Junction and the end-on link with the Swanage Railway at Motala, near Furzebrook.
The April 8-9 Medway Festival of Steam & Transport at The Historic Dockyard Chatham should feature four locomotives in steam. These should include privately owned Barclay 0-4-0ST 2199/1945 Victory, visiting from the Colne Valley Railway, to make its first public appearance in steam after a three-year overhaul. Victory originally worked at Chatham’s Royal Navy Dockyard until withdrawal in 1969.
The other locos in action are expected to be dockyard resident RSH 0-4-0ST Ajax (3042/1941) which has spent its entire working life at Chatham, along with Aveling Porter 0-4-0GT Sydenham (3567/1895) and Peckett 0-4-0ST 1903/1936 plus the dockyard’s F.C. Hibberd 0-4-0DM Rochester Castle (3738/1955), also at the dockyard since new.
The Festival also features historic road vehicles and a Guild of Railway Artists exhibition. For more information see www.thedockyard.co.uk/steamandtransport .
In mid-February, the boiler for NRM-owned No. 925 Cheltenham went back in the frames of the loco, which is being overhauled by a Mid-Hants Railway team at Eastleigh works. The boiler was overhauled and steam tested at the MHR’s Ropley works. The overhaul to return Cheltenham to steam remains on schedule for it to appear at the NRM’s June 2-10 ‘Railfest 2012’.
Meanwhile, No. 3717 City of Truro has been moved from Locomotion to York (‘Black Five’ No. 5000 went in the opposite direction as part of the same movement) and is now being fitted with new tubes in the NRM’s ‘Works’.