Historic Day at East Grinstead
4th September 2010
© copyright photographs by Colin Duff

Blackboard at the Bluebell's East Grinstead station giving details of first train
Blackboard at the Bluebell's East Grinstead station giving details of fares Third class ticket for the first train

4th September 2010 was an historic day for East Grinstead and the Bluebell Railway with the departure of the first public passenger train south from East Grinstead since the line between there and Lewes closed in 1958. Forming an important part of the Bluebell's 50th anniversary celebrations, this was symbolic gesture with the journey only taking about 5 minutes to the current end of this part of the line "Imberhorne North" - the northern edge of the landfill site. This is currently being cleared in stages - by rail transport - to allow the Bluebell Railway to join this short stretch to the remainder of its line to Sheffield Park.

The first public passenger train from the National Railway network onto Bluebell metals will be on November 6th 2010 - a charter using Hastings Diesels DEMU unit 1001. Unfortunately I will not be able to travel on, nor record, this event.

GBRf Electro Diesel 73208 in the platform at East Grinstead (Bluebell) prior to the 10:10 departure

Operating a steam service in isolation of the rest of the Bluebell's infrastructure was not thought desirable nor viable, so stock for this special weekend was the Bluebell's own 4 Vep unit 3417 operated as a trailer set in push-pull mode by GB Railfrieght's electro-diesel 73208 "Kirsten" - a respectable Southern formation!

Here, before most passengers arrive, the electro-diesel awaits the 10:10 departure.

An original running-in board from East Grinstead high level station by 3417 The 4 Vep unit was at the country end and is seen here alongside an original running in board from East Grinstead High Level station.
4Vep 3417 at East Grinstead (Bluebell) prior to the 10:10 departure

3417 awaiting the 10:10 departure and is being given a last-minute clean before most passengers arrive.

The Bluebell's new platform was still being worked on the night before and as can be seen (left) was not totally complete. Not only were fence palings still be be fitted at the south end but part of the fence was awaiting atop coat of paint. Much regretted was that the station totems were not fitted as the back-boards were not ready. However, this is not to detract from the terrific effort to get the station ready for the public.

The Bluebell's station throat looking south towards Hill Place Viaduct The Bluebell's station throat looking south towards Hill Place Viaduct, also referred to as Imberhorne Viaduct. The lines left-to-right are as follows: run-round loop, platform road and (to the right of the platform) the connection to Network Rail, which is an extension of the Up Siding south of Network Rail's East Grinstead station. The conductor rail has not been extended! Maybe one day...?
Looking back towards East Grinstead from Hill Place Viaduct We begin the historic journey southbound and from Hill Place Viaduct look back towards the outskirts of East Grinstead - in this case an estate where the roads are named after writers.

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