Friday, 22 May 2015

No Restoration News Next Week!

New and old trams crossing at De Haan on the Coastal Tramway in Belgium
(Photo: Clive Emsley)
As I am off to study the wonderful metre gauge Belgian Coastal Tram next week, there will not be an update to the restoration progress until at least Friday 29th of May.
In the mean whilst I will be studying the trams hard, and also the beer, waffles, chocolates and pancakes! (not that I can indulge in them!!)

Have a good week till next week (as Kent Walton used to say)

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A Buffer conundrum

Ex SECR Loco No 27 at Eastleigh in the 1950s (c) B.K.B. Green
 At the Model Railway exhibition in Burgess Hill at the weekend, your "culprit" purchased a number of pictures of P tanks and 27 in particular.  Whilst gazing through the pictures at the AGM during the evening a member pointed out that it appears that the loco carried the SECR "conical" buffers right up until the time it passed through Ashford Works prior to delivery to the Bluebell! At this point a refurbished set of SR Standard buffers were put on.

SECR Conical Buffers in the mid 1950s

SR Standard buffers as delivered
 That was the story of the buffers, a shame that the original ones lasted until just before the loco was delivered for preservation but not left on the loco when it was preserved!

HOWEVER, another picture has now come to light which shows that 27 did have a different set of buffers added in the 1950s whilst the loco was on the South Western Division of the Southern Region, based, I believe at Eastleigh (I will need to do a bit more digging here!).
For the time it spent on the former LSWR 27 wore a set of Adams LSWR buffers! this can be seen in the heading picture and  the detail below.

LSWR buffer in the early 1950s
So, the mystery deepens!  Why were the LSWR buffers fitted?  Why were they changed back to SECR Conical buffers when the loco was returned to the South Eastern Division? Why were the conical buffers changed for the SR Standard buffers before delivery to the Bluebell?
I am sure that there are answers to these questions, and all I need to do is dig the archives for them.
In the meanwhilst a cunning plan will be hatched to replace the SR Standard buffers for a more historic type. 

Monday, 18 May 2015

Post AGM Update 18th May 2015

27 at Horsted Keynes July 1968 (Photo:Andrew Waller)
  There was no working party this weekend, but we did attend the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society AGM on Saturday Evening.  We had a good reaction to the improved display and had conversations with many members of the BRPS.  We ran the now traditional Champagne Raffle which is always a good way of raising funds.  I understand that the Muunsell Society, the Keep Up the Pressure Campaign and Covered Accomodation appeals also had good responses.

We were approached with potential offers of assistance on the restoration team by a few people, depending on a regular or notified working party attendance date. We are aware that we need to have committed working days in addition to the gang just being there. I will try to arrange this in the near future.

The display fetured an album of P Class locos (mainly 27 and 323) in virtually all of the liveries that the P tanks carried!  Major exceptions include SECR Large Number plain green and of course the ROD livery. Most of these pictures were purchased from a stand at the Burgess Hill Model Railway exhibiton in the morning and quickly put into an album during the afternoon in time for the AGM in the evening!
The commemorative plaque should have been placed on the loco tank displayed on Platform 1 at Sheffield Park by now, if not it will be shortly.  This gives a breif outline of the history of the tank and why it is in position here.

Look No cylinders! (photo: Clive Emsley

Above is a picture of the space where the cylinders have been removed from the frames and a temporary strecher placed in their place. The cylinders were removed a couple of Fridays ago and placed on a pallet adjacent to the Works.

The cylinders on a pallet outside Sheffield Park Works (Photo: Clive Emsley)

Normal working on the loco should, I believe, be resumed this comming Saturday.  If you are intending to give your time, please E Mail or get in touch with Stuart Marks at

We look forward to seeing new helpers in the future, so please keep in touch!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Southern at War Weekend

At the weekend, we attended Sheffield Park on the Sunday of Southern at War weekend with a sales and information stand.  I was in the signal box but Claire and Stuart manned the stand.  For a couple of pictures please take a look at Derek Haywards collection via the link on the Bluebell Railway web site.  We had a good time there with a reasonable amount being sold and much interest in the loco and the collection of military models displayed by Stuart.

There was nothing done restoration wise at the weekend, the crew taking a break following their efforts of removing the cylinder block on on Friday. Rumour has it that they were off looking at diesel locomotives! (don't understand that myself!).

This comming Saturday, we are again out with a stand, this time at the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society's AGM. We will have a newly updated display, which is unfortunately already a week out of date following the cylinder lift!  We also have the usual items for sale as well as the prints and original painting of 27 and 753 on the dockside at Boulogne in 1915.  The prints will cost £15 mounted or £25 framed.  The original can be purchased for offers in excess of £180.

We hope to see you at the AGM, please come and have a chat, it is always good to speak to our supporters.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Extra Update Saturday 9th May 2015

Monumentous step forward in the restoration of 27

27s cylinders being removed Photo: J. Parker
A monumental step was taken yesterday when the cylinder block was removed from the frames of the 105 year old SECR locomotive No.27. The picture above captures the moment when the cylinders were lifted clear of the frames.  This follows a few weeks of removing fitted bolts that were located in the 12 holes on each side to keep the cylinders firmly in place.

This is the last major part of the stripping down of the locomotive and work will start in earnest on the frames shortly.  It is likely that the cylinder block will be split into its two component parts in the not too distant future just to confirm that we will need a new set cast and to aid the design of a pattern for casting the new block.  Once a new block is cast, it should last another 100 years hopefully!

Please come back to see more pictures in a few days time!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Excitement at being pulled by "Captain Baxter"

We have recieved some feedback from a family who just happened to be at Sheffield Park on Sunday at the right time!  They just popped in to have a look round and take a trip to Horsted Keynes and back, when they found out that we were running a train that was to be pulled by young Oliver's favorite loco Captain Baxter!
We made sure that the family felt welcome and found them seats on the train so that they could experience the ride, we also sent on a few pictures of the evening.
I can say that I think we made a good impression judging by the thank you E Mail recieved yesterday!

A happy chappy and Captain Baxter

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Another Successful Event for PROJECT 27! (and Baxter)

The Baxter Test Train Sunday 3rd May 2015

The crew look happy before the first run to East Grinstead! Photo: C. Emsley
Another successful event which benefited the fund to restore SECR No.27 to working order.  The trains were comfortably loaded with a number of turn up and travel passengers. The weather was just about perfect for the runs to East Grinstead and the crew were really up to the job, and even had time for possing on the loco in a laid back manner before departure! Amongst the passengers on the first trip was a young lad who arrived with his family for a visit not knowing that his favorite loco was going to be working the special train.  We found the family a place on the train and the lad was really excited that he would be on a train pulled by his favorite!

The 6pm Departure from Sheffield Park Photo: C. Emsley
The train left Sheffield Park on time and made a good progress to Horsted Keynes, Kingscote and East Grinstead.  A stop was made at the intermediate stations to make sure the fire was ok and the boiler full of water before progressing and East Grinstead was reached in fine style.
While the train was having a good trip to East Grinstead and back, the passengers for the 8:15 train started to arrive and enjoy a splendid Chilli prepared by the Bluebell's own "celebrity" Chef, and jolly fine it was too!  We sold plenty of tickets for the raffle and raised over £75 by doing so, as they say every penny counts when restoration is taking place!

The train arrived back at Sheffield Park a full 10 minutes early due to less time for the run round at East Grinstead and less time spent at Kingscote and Horsted Keynes on the way back (plus it is down hill most of the way!)

The second trip to East Grinstead also went well, leaving Sheffield Park a few minutes late we travelled to Horsted Keynes where we arrived on Platform 3 where a short break was required to get the boiler back to full pressure for the slog up to Kingscote.

Baxter at Horsted Keynes on the second trip Photo: C.Emsley
We left Horsted Keynes after a few minutes and managed the trip to East Grinstead with just a 30 second stop at Kingscote, just to show we could start away again, in fine style, even arriving with just a little steam to spare.  After taking water from the column the loco run round it's train and got ready for the journey south again.

Baxter Taking Water at East Grinstead Photo: C. Emsley
We left East Grinstead slightly late, but as the run was down hill virtually all the way to Sheffield Park with no need to stop at Kingscote and just a short stop at Horsted Keynes, we made up some of the time lost on the up direction trip and the run round.

Waiting for the Right Away at East Grinstead Photo: C. Emsley
 The committee of the Fenchurch Fund-Project 27 would like to thank the generosity of the Bluebell Railway Directors responsible for the test train, Russel Pearce (traffic) and Neil Glaskin (retail) to allow PROJECT 27 to profit from the proceeds of the fares.  Thanks must also go the Loco crew, guard, signalmen and the East Grinstead Gateman for giving their time to make the evening go so well. Thanks also to the Chef and the ladies in the bar for giving up their Sunday Evening for us.  Finally we would like to thank those who spent their hard earned cash who supported the event by travelling, buying raffle tickets and purchasing the preserves and badges we had on offer.

Now for the Restoration News!

It appears that there are only three more fitted bolts to be removed before it is possible to remove the cylinders from the frames.  It is likely that the removal of the cylinders will take place this comming weekend, as long as there are not too many hold ups on Saturday.

Once the cylinders are out, it will be possible to split the block to see if there is any chance of saving it, or if we really do need to have a new set cast from scratch.

We will be having a small sales stand at Sheffield Park on Sunday 10th May (Southern at War Weekend) either outside the signal box (where I am Signalman) or adjacent to the ROD27 tank on Platform 1 (if we have enough volunteers to man it).

We will also be having the usual stand at the BRPS AGM on Saturday 16th May, where we will also be running the usual Champagne raffle with the kind permission of the BRPS Chairman and Committee.

Keep reading this page for up to date information on the restoration and fund raising activities.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Baxter Special Train

only two days left!

There is still chance to get your tickets for the Baxter Specials! I have some places left for the full meal deal at a price of £18 including one round trip and a meal.  When these have gone there will be a limited number of Travel only tickets available at £14. If you would like to join us on either the 6pm train or the 8:15 train, please
E mail us at to reserve your place. the fare can be paid upon arrival.