The Bluebell Railway is to hold a virtual celebration of its 60 years of operation in August.
The heritage line had originally intended to hold three days of activities and displays from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 August but has now postponed the major event until next year.
Robert Hayward, chairman of the Bluebell Railway’s Diamond Anniversary steering group, said: “The pragmatic decision not to hold the event as previously planned allows the Bluebell Railway to focus its efforts on reopening. We will be holding a virtual event this August and are currently working on various ideas for the event because we are still going to celebrate 60 years of operating as a heritage line.”
He added: “New opportunities may be available to us in 2021 that are not possible now. Next year’s event will be on a date to be agreed. I’m sure everyone will understand and appreciate the decision the railway has reached.”
The Bluebell Railway’s education department is also planning to produce a series of online ‘Storytime’ videos for children featuring books about trains.
The railway-related stories have been selected – and are read – by volunteers from the education department. The clips will then be edited before being uploaded to the Railway’s YouTube channel.
Ruth Rowatt from the Bluebell Railway’s education department said: “Storytime with Bluebell Railway is a nice way to keep our younger visitors informed and to keep the railway in their hearts and minds. I know that many children were looking forward to visiting Stepney and all his friends at Bluebell Railway this spring. I wanted to let them know that we at the railway are thinking of them and looking forward to welcoming them when we reopen.”
In addition, the Bluebell Railway is asking its members with a model railway layout to film locomotives in action in order to produce a virtual gala to replace the events which had been organised for the spring and summer this year.
The virtual gala will be posted on YouTube for members and supporters to view.
All events at the Bluebell Railway up until the end of August have either been cancelled or postponed. Events from September until the end of December are still under review.
The Bluebell Railway opened as a heritage line on 7 August 1960 as the UK’s first standard gauge preserved passenger railway operating steam-hauled timetabled services. It runs on 11 miles of track from Sheffield Park in East Sussex to East Grinstead in West Sussex.