SOUTH FOR ‘SULKY SERVICE’: TRAINS HEAD FOR NEWICK & CHAILEY
Trains departed southwards from Sheffield Park towards Newick & Chailey for the first time in 60 years at the Bluebell Railway’s ‘Sulky Service’ weekend of March 16-18. Marking six decades since BR closed the Lewes-East Grinstead route on March 16 1958, the event recalled the preceding two-year period in which BR was forced to run a minimal timetable over the line, after a campaign led by Madge Bessemer resulted in the initial 1955 closure being declared illegal. With Maunsell ‘Q’ 0-6-0 No. 30541 and ‘S15’ No. 847 in steam, trains from East Grinstead arriving at Sheffield Park on the Saturday then continued southwards for approximately 250-300 yards on the line towards Newick & Chailey, now a carriage siding. Corresponding northbound trains also started from the siding before calling at Sheffield Park. The ‘Q’ carried a replica of the headboard worn by BR ‘4MT’ 2-6-4T No. 80154 on the final train in 1958, the 4.28pm East Grinstead-Lewes. Although the Riddles tanks (along with LBSCR ‘C2X’ 0-6-0s and ‘E4’ 0-6-2Ts) were the usual motive power during the ‘Sulky Service’ era, one ‘Q’ – No. 30540 – was recorded on the line on April 1 1957. The railway marked the actual anniversary with a special service for passengers who travelled on the last train.
Maunsell ‘Q’ 0-6-0 No. 30541 approaches Imberhorne Lane with the 9.30am Sheffield ParkEast Grinstead on March 18, complete with a replica of the headboard carried by the last train in 1958.