WEATHER history repeated itself as the Bluebell Railway held a special 60th anniversary commemoration of the closure of the Lewes to East Grinstead Line in 1958 over the weekend of March 17-18.
The significant event on Saturday was the recreation of trains running on to and arriving at Sheffield Park from Newick, the next station down the line towards Lewes.
Also marking the occasion was a recreation of the headboard carried by the locomotive that made the final trip south from East Grinstead on March 17, 1958.
SR Maunsell Q 0-6-0 No. 30541 of 1939 had the honour of bearing the headboard and hauling most of the Saturday’s trains. Before the weekend, the Bluebell Railway ran a ‘Sulky Service’ timetable as a start to the Diamond Anniversary celebrations.
The timetable used by British Railways in 1958 was so known because it had the minimum number of trains that had to be operated to meet a statutory legal obligation and not for the convenience of the public, who had campaigned for the line to be reopened after it was first closed in 1955.
Shortly after closure, Madge Bessemer of Chailey discovered in the 1877 and 1878 Acts of Parliament, which authorised the building of the line, the clause relating to the “Statutory Line”, and demanded BR reinstate services. So very reluctantly, on August 7, 1956, BR reopened the line, with trains stopping only at stations mentioned in the enabling acts.
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