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Posts Tagged ‘Bluebell Railway’

Hornby have today announced via their Engine Shed blog that they are to release, in 2016, Southern Railway 58ft non corridor brake coaches, to diagrams 99 and 418, that formed two-coach 2-Lav Sets Nos. 42-46, converted in 1936.  Also to be released are the diagram 98 six compartment Brake Third Lavatory (physically the same as the Diagram 418 but without first class branding and all third style seating) and the diagram 31 Third Lavatory, converted in 1935, that were used as loose coaches for strengthening trains, one example of the diagram 31 No 320 is preserved on the Bluebell Railway, having been one of the first two coaches operated by the fledgling line.
These coaches totally compliment the ex LSWR Adams class 0415 radial tank being released later this year as the 2-Lav sets regularly operated on the Lyme Regis and other Devon / Dorset branches between 1935 and 1958.

The potential release of such coaches was hinted at last Friday via their video released here of the Adams radial running sample that purposely and cheekily showed the engineering samples being hauled by the radial tank, prior to today’s announcement.

These coaches were made up from ex London and South Western Railway  (LSWR) 48ft bodies, originally built between 1894 and 1902, mounted on completely new 58ft underframes. Each of  sets 42 to 46 comprised of one eight-compartment Brake Third (Dia 99) and one six-compartment Brake Composite Lavatory (Dia 418). The bodies being extended in length accordingly. The new underframes were to newer standard dimensions, intended for a coach body 6″ wider than the ex LSWR coaches, the bodies were slightly widened and these rebuilds can be easily identified by the weatherboard strip along the bottom edge to keep rain out of the gap between the body and underframe. The new underframes had the SR standard 8’0″ steam bogie, therefore the bodies resembled traditional LSWR practice whilst the underframes resembled the SR’s Maunsell Restriction 4 stock (as already produced by Hornby).  

Hornby should be congratulated on the joined up thinking of producing suitable coaching stock for use with the previously announced ex LSWR Adams Class 0415 radial tank. This change in announcement policy follows on from unexpected announcements such as the original style Merchant Navy made earlier this year. It further demonstrates the positive progress being made by the Hornby development team, as I can personally vouch that they have been working on these coaches since last year, and some yet to be announced future products.

As I hinted in my summer comes soonest post on Saturday, this post was prepared prior to my vacation and was correct at the time of writing and I will amend and or provide additional information in due course.

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This is not only my 200th post on this here little part of the interweb blogosphere, but more importantly today marks the 50th and Golden Wedding anniversary of my Mum and Dad.
I offer them my most hearty congratulations and also thanks for sticking with it and coping with bringing up myself and my older Brother. Also of course it was Dad and his upbringing that gave me the interest in all things Southern Railway. I also have to thank them both for regularly assisting me with operating Fisherton Sarum at a number of exhibitions across the country from Wadebridge to Hartlepool.

So in addition to the joining in matrimony of my parents Ken and Wendy, 1963 was a notable year for a number of other things, I wont go into the politics of the time, dreams, or assassinations (as I definitely can’t remember where I was at the time as I didn’t exist!) however the following are railway related:

  • The year started on Monday 1st January when the British Railways Board took over responsibility for the running of the railways from the British Transport Commission’s Railway Executive.
  • On the same day all the Southern Region west of Salisbury, was transferred to the British Railways Western Region for the final time. This was really the first nail in the coffin of the old Southern Railway route to Exeter, North Devon and Cornwall.
  • 1963 also started with the worst winter conditions since 1946/7 and I am sure many of you will have the footage of railway locomotives stuck in the snow across the network. For example on the 8th February snow totally blocked the old Southern main line route at Meldon and no doubt many other place over that period too.
  • The 27th March saw the publication of the infamous Dr Beeching “Reshaping British Railways” Report as I discussed in my post here.
  • On Saturday 31st March the Railway Clearing House (RCH) was disbanded after 120 years and its functions and staff transferred to the Chief Accountant’s Department of the British Railways Board. The RCH had been apportioning railway receipts between the British railway companies since 1842.
  • A more sinister event took place on 8th August with what has become known as the “Great Train Robbery” (although not so great for Jack Mills the driver), I now drive past the farm they used as their initial hide out every day to and from work.
  • Metropolitan Railway Loco No.1, that so successfully returned steam to the UndergrounD this year to celebrate the the Underground’s 150th Anniversary was originally withdrawn from service in 1963 having taken part in the centenary celebrations earlier in that year.
  • In November the Bluebell Railway was just 4 years old when the line from Haywards Heath to Horsted Keynes was closed leaving them without a connection to the British Rail Network right up until earlier this year when the northern extension to East Grinstead was triumphantly reopened.

Finally: The Beatles released their first album “Please please me” and gained their first Number One with “From me to you” and later that year had Number One singles with “She Loves you” and “I want to hold your hand” all perhaps very apt for my parents starting their new stage of life together!

So to Mum and Dad, I say with love, congratulations and many thanks!

To regular readers of this blog, I thank you for your time taken to read my ramblings over the last 200 posts, I hope you found them to be informative and sometimes entertaining. I also thank you for the comments and messages received, I always try to respond to as many of them as I can. Whilst I can not expect you all to read every post it might be worth trying the random post button sometime as you never know where it might lead you…

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Further to my post yesterday that broke the news that Bachmann are to produce an 00 scale ex London Brighton and South Coast Atlantic H2 Class 4-4-2 I can now provide some further details.

The Bachmann press release is as follows:

The Atlantics were built to haul express trains between London and Brighton including the prestigious Pullman trains before completion of the electrification scheme on 1st January 1933.

32424 “Beachy Head” BR Black Early Emblem (Picture Courtesy Bachmann Plc)

32424 “Beachy Head” BR Black Early Emblem (Picture Courtesy Bachmann Plc)

They were designed by D.E. Marsh, who had been deputy to the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Northern Railway, H.A. Ivatt, for 10 years until he was promoted to the top job at Brighton in January 1905. Such was the urgency for express motive power on the Brighton line that Marsh, with the full support of his former chief, borrowed a set of Doncaster drawings and made a few amendments. The result was five H1 Class locomotives which were built by Kitson’s of Leeds between December 1905 and February 1906.

The second batch (Class H2) although to Marsh design was modified by his deputy L. Billinton. Billinton was Acting Chief Mechanical Engineer due to Marsh being absent on extended sick leave. In 1912 Billinton took over permanently when Marsh resigned, holding the position until Grouping in 1923.

2426 ‘St. Alban’s Head’ in Southern Railway olive green livery

2426 ‘St. Alban’s Head’ in Southern Railway olive green livery  (Picture Courtesy Bachmann Plc)

Six H2 Class locomotives were built at Brighton Works and remained on front line Brighton express work until the arrival of the King Arthur Class 4-6-0s in 1925. They were named after geographical features on the South Coast. The Atlantics then continued to operate other express trains and also boat trains to the ferries at Newhaven (for Dieppe, France) until the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939 brought the duties to a premature end.

The class continued to work secondary services after the war but there was less work for them and some were put into store. The first H2 Class withdrawal was No. 32423 ‘The Needles’ which took place in May 1949. The last to survive was No. 32424 ‘Beachy Head’ which was scrapped at Eastleigh following withdrawal on 24th April 1958.

The Bachmann Branchline OO scale model will be released in 2015. Two versions are planned initially which are;

31-920 H2 Class Atlantic 4-4-2 No. 2426 ‘St. Alban’s Head’ in Southern Railway olive green livery. Edit: Nov 2017 this model has now been changed to number 2411 “South Foreland”
31-921 H2 Class Atlantic 4-4-2 No. 32424 ‘Beachy Head’ in BR black livery with early emblem.

Models will incorporate a DCC socket. Prices will be advised in due course.

David Haarhaus, Bachmann’s European Sales & Marketing Manager said “We believe that the H2 Class locomotive will be popular with modellers and the emergence of the replica at Sheffield Park over the coming years will introduce the class to new generations of railway enthusiasts and modellers. We are working closely with the Bluebell Railway Atlantic Group and thank them for assisting us with this project”.

Sadly railway preservation was still in its infancy and ‘Beachy Head’ was scrapped before the formation of the Bluebell Railway in March 1959. This locomotive had worked part of the Locomotive Club of Great Britain Southern Counties Limited Rail tour on 24th February 1957 from Horsted Keynes to Brighton.

Beachy Head replica is taking shape at the Bluebell Railway. The driving wheels will be added soon

Beachy Head replica is taking shape at the Bluebell Railway. The driving wheels will be added soon.

In 2000, the Bluebell Railway Atlantic Group was formed to build a replica of ‘Beachy Head’ for use on the extended Bluebell Railway between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead. Since then the group has acquired many parts including a GNR ‘Atlantic’ boiler, tender frames and wheel sets. Other items are being manufactured and the project has now reached an advanced stage.

I had the privilege to view progress on the build yesterday during a tour of f Atlantic House. The frames are now assembled cylinders, slide bars, inside motion  and the start of the cab metalwork in place, the cross heads and sandboxes are ready to be installed along with some brake linkages. She will soon be ready for the finished cast and machined driving wheels to be fitted (the pony truck is also already complete). The ex GNR boiler is also substantially complete and awaiting tubing before the smokebox can be finished. I look forward to completion of the this project in maybe as little as 4 to 5 years.  If you would like to assist with this project you can sponsor a component here.

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Bachmann Europe Plc today, 31st August, have announced the addition to their range of an 00 scale ex London Brighton and South Coast Atlantic H2 Class 4-4-2

The announcement was made at their annual Bachmann Collectors Club members day that co-incidentally was taking place at the Bluebell Railway.

The new model will be released as:
31-921 – 32424 “Beachy Head” BR Black Early Emblem
31-920 – 2426 ‘St. Albans Head” SR Olive Green

Although none are preserved a replica of Beachy Head is currently being built on the Bluebell Railway.

Edit: just clarify this will be a general release anticipated to be available during 2015. Only the two liveries have been announced but maybe others will follow in due course.

In other news Model Rail magazine have today announced that their USA tank will now be produced by Bachmann rather than Dapol.

Further details will be posted later once I have returned from the event and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bachmann and the Bluebell Railway for the hospitality provided to myself and fellow members of the media, retailers and collectors club members that have attended. The day has included guided tours of the Wagon & Carriage Works, Locomotive Workshops and of course the Atlantic House workshop to see the progress being made on the replica, along with train travel along the entire line including the new Northern extension to East Grinstead aboard heritage rolling stock chartered by Bachmann.

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With respect to the Southern Railway Mogul 2-6-0 locomotive fleet most people probably immediately think of the Maunsell Moguls,  the N/N1 and U/U1 classes. Their origins lead back to the SECR for the 5’6″ driving wheeled N class followed by the later Southern built, also under the design auspices of Maunsell who was now CME of the Southern, the U class with their larger 6′ driving wheels.
The missing mogul in more ways than one is the ex London Brighton and South Coast railway (LBSC)  K class  designed by LB Billinton. First introduced in  1913 the eventual 17 members of the class were the first 2-6-0 locomotives on the LBSC and the first with a Belpair firebox, and like the Maunsell N class  also had 5’6″ driving wheels. They were generally seen as one of the most successful LBSC locomotive designs.
It is a great shame that no examples were preserved, hence the missing mogul.  It was a class of locomotive  on the wish list of the fledgling Bluebell Railway, as members of the class were still in service  when the Bluebell Railway was formed, however obtaining one was considered too expensive at the time.

K 2346_2

K Class number 2346 built from an old K’s white metal kit

Although  mainly employed on the central section for freight use they did occasionally wonder further west and east. I am not sure if one ever made it to Salisbury or not but the Brighton to Cardiff trains that changed engines at Salisbury could sometimes throw up a surprise loco from Brighton so it might have been possible.

A missing mogul both in preservation and also model kit or RTR form

A missing mogul both in preservation and also model kit or RTR form

My K class number 2346 shown left is built from an old Keyser (K’s) white metal kit, and makes an occasional appearance on Fisherton Sarum.

Sadly the K’s kit is not available anymore, so even in model form the class is still the missing mogul both in either Ready To Run (RTR) or kit form. Maybe now is the time to vote for a RTR K class in the current RMweb / MRE Mag wish list poll, along with perhaps voting for a few other Southern items at the same time. The results of this annual poll whilst not having a direct link to the manufacturers certainly is referred to by them when considering  their future plans.

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It is fifty years to the day when Dr Richard Beeching’s report “The Reshaping of British Railways” was officially published on the 27th March 1963. Beeching was at the time Chairman of the British Railways Board. The report identified 2,363 stations and 5,000 miles of railway line for closure, 55% of stations and 30% of route miles, with an objective of stemming the large losses being incurred during a period of increasing competition from road transport (that also had the support from the then Minister of Transport Ernest Marples whom it appears had connections to the road construction industry and had also appointed Dr Beeching in the first place).

The Reshaping of British Railways report published on 27th March 1963

The Reshaping of British Railways report published on 27th March 1963

Many of the ex Southern Lines especially in the South West of England, already coined the ‘Withered Arm’ were closed as a result of the report.  A few protests resulted in the saving of some stations and lines, but the majority were closed as planned and Beeching’s name is to this day associated with the mass closure or ‘axe’ of railways and the loss of many local services in the period that followed.

One such line that was included in the report for closure was the Tamar Valley line, however due to the poor road links in the area some of the line was reprieved and survives to this day between Plymouth, Bere Alston and Gunnislake. In fact there is currently a growing movement and support for the line to be reopened north of Bere Alston back to the south end of Tavistock.

In addition to the main report there were a number of maps included within Part 2 of the report  that diagrammatically showed data such as : Density of passenger traffic, Distribution of passenger receipts, Density of Freight Traffic, etc. and of course the main outcome of the report the map of Proposed Withdrawal of Passenger Services. I have reproduced part of a couple of these maps in this post showing the Southern Region area.

Map 3 of the report shows the Distribution of Passenger Traffic Station Receipts

Map 3 of the report shows the Distribution of Passenger Traffic Station Receipts (click for larger version)

Map9

Map 9 of the report shows the Proposed Withdrawal of Passenger Services (click for larger version)

Map 9 Proposed Withdrawal of Passenger Services shows the almost total eradication of the ex Southern Railway lines in the South West as already mentioned above, and a number of other lines in the South of England identified for closure. Happily some of these lines have now since reopened as preserved railways such as: the East Grinstead to Lewis line, now the Bluebell Railway recently successfully extended to reach back to East Grinstead from Sheffield Park.  Also the Alton to Winchester line that between Alton and Alresford now forms the Mid Hants Watercress line.

Although the Unions at the time released their own version of the report titled “The Mis-shaping of British Railways” a number of facts (although in some cases the basis of collection of some of these facts have been questioned) within the report appear compelling and it is perhaps not surprising that the conclusions reached were so wide ranging.
The report with respect to freight on the railways proposed the move to quicker, higher capacity trains, serving the main routes, transporting greater loads to hubs. Not with the then traditional wagons but trains loaded with containers. Does that seem familiar today?
Whilst Beeching is a much maligned name  for the passenger line closure section of the  report it is easy perhaps forget that this report dramatically modernised freight on the rail network promoting containerisation and long-distance freight haulage.

Who knows if the current growth and success of the railway network as it stands today would have been possible if some of the harsh decisions as a result of “The Reshaping of British Railways” were not taken…

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Today sees the official opening of the Bluebell Railway’s Northern Extension extending the line from Kingscote back into East Grinstead. This has been a mammoth undertaking both in terms of fundraising, obtaining the land from more than 30 different land owners who purchased the trackbed from British Railways after closure and the considerable effort involved in the removal the spoil and land fill from a long stretch of cutting that was infilled with refuse after the line closed, all of which has had to be carefully removed under current transfer of waste legislation.

bluebell-railway-logoA brand new station has been built at East Grinstead alongside the existing Southern station, and is even officially called platform 3! This also gives the Bluebell Railway a physical connection with Network Rail and will allow through excursion trains to be run on the Bluebell Railway, the first of which takes place on Thursday 28th March.

To mark this special occasion the Bluebell Railway are holding a two week opening festival with many different special events taking place from today until Sunday 7th April. The full diary of events over the next two weeks can be seen on the Bluebell Railway’s website here.

The Bluebell Railway and its team of many volunteers must be congratulated on the tremendous effort involved in this achievement.

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