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Project information

Sir Archibald Sinclair Restoration


This project was part of the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2012. Thank you to hundreds of people who made a donation. Sadly we did not reach our target and still need £10,000 to complete the restoration.

March 2013 - December 2013

Charity information: Bluebell Railway Trust

Bluebell Railway Trust logo
  • Need


    The locomotive was restored to service from scrap yard condition in 2009, but after about 18 months use it developed cracks in part of the firebox which had not been replaced during the overhaul because tests had showed it to be sound. It would have been possible to continue repairing small areas, but that type of repair would not last long because the material is now found to be life-expired. Replacement of all of the remaining old material will give the locomotive a good service life.


    The main work will include new Thermic Syphon parts, and replacement of both lower sides of the inner firebox up to the height of the brick arch. The Centre part of the crown sheet will also be replaced with possibly the top corner sections (where the sides join the crown sheet). The work will require the boiler to be taken out of the frames, and it is estimated the repair will take up to 9 months.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To return the locomotive to operation in a condition to ensure successful running for many years.


    » Strip all the boiler and cab fittings from the locomotive, lift the boiler out of the locomotive in readiness for repair.
    » Cut out and renew the items as listed above in the firebox, weld in the various sections and conduct a non destructive test.
    » Lift the boiler back into the locomotive, reconnect and conduct a steam test before test running and return to service.

    What success will look like

    The locomotive will successfully pass it's boiler certification for ten years and become part of the Bluebell Railway's active fleet, continuing in service for many years.

  • Impact


    Large locomotives with a history such as this one are popular with both the public and enthusiasts. Success will be demonstrated by customer interest and satisfaction. Success will be measured by a specific question in the Railway's next consumer satisfaction survey, which will take place around two years after the opening of the East Grinstead extension, and also by assessing the locomotive's contribution to special services.


    Risks are low but are: (1) That the funding effort falls short. The Railway operating company will then be approached to fill any remaining funding gap, supplemented by further appeals. (2) That additional costs may be found upon commencement of the work. This is being addressed by careful examination of plate areas and active supervision of the repair work. (3) Finding appropriately qualified staff. This will be overcome by using qualified contractors to undertake some of the work.


    Noteworthy events associated with the locomotive will be publicised through our fortnightly electronic newsletter and quarterly journal. In addition, the locomotive has its own dedicated page on the Railway's website which will be kept fully updated.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £60,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £20,000 New Boiler Purchase of new boiler.
      £11,000 Materials Remaining material.
      £29,000 Staff Costs Professional Staff in addition to volunteers.

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Bluebell Battle of Britain Locomotive Society £10,000 Guaranteed
    Anonymous £8,500 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The Bluebell Railway runs nine miles through the heart of Sussex and was the first organisation to restore and maintain mainline steam locomotives. It is now one of the major tourist attractions in mid Sussex, attracting some 700 working volunteers and visitors from throughout the UK and abroad. The Railway is one of few able to tackle such a venture based on its experience, and has received numerous Heritage Railway Association awards. The Railway will shortly extend to East Grinstead.


    The visiting public will benefit from enjoying a historic locomotive in working order. Volunteers and apprentices will benefit from learning specific engineering skills associated with the repair. School children will benefit from learning about the locomotives history in the context of the Railway's wider educational efforts. The Railway will benefit from a further locomotive in working order, ensuring the Railway's commitment to steam only passenger service.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Bluebell has a long and successful history of repairing heritage locomotives and is uniquely placed to carry out this conservation work. A wide range of technical and traditional crafts are maintained and shared at its several locations. At a locomotive works at Sheffield Park station the team undertakes steam boiler making and repair, metal working and all other skills associated with locomotive restoration. Carriage and wagon building, and permanent way construction occurs elsewhere.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Lewis Nodes

    Lewis is the Director responsible for locomotives and rolling stock at the Bluebell Railway.

    Chris Shepherd

    Bluebell Railway Workshop Manager. Chris is a full time employee who will be responsible for overseeing the repair work from start to completion.

    Roger Cruse

    Roger is Chairman of the locomotive group and along with other members of the group will be responsible for supporting Chris and Lewis.

    Roger Kelly

    Roger is the Director responsible for fundraising and will ensure activities take place to promote the Big Give Challenge and obtain donations.

It is such a great honour to know that this tribute to my grandfather’s wartime service is being preserved for the public good

The Viscount John Thurso