Roy Watts, Chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, yesterday announced:
“It is with deep regret that I have to announce the sad passing of our President, Bernard Holden MBE. He died peacefully in his favourite chair at his nursing home near Burgess Hill surrounded by his favourite railway pictures. Bernard was 104 years old.
Bernard was one of the leading figures in the creation of the Bluebell Railway, chairing the very first meeting of the then fledgling Society back in 1959. On retirement from British Rail he became “Superintendent of the Line” in 1971.
In recent years, by then as the Bluebell’s President, there was nothing more satisfying for him than to be bought over to the Railway to take a trip over the line and see the continual progress being made, and at least he had the knowledge that the infamous Imberhorne cutting had been broken through as the extension reaches its conclusion.
If there were two things that he always maintained a very keen interest in, it was progress on the extension to East Grinstead and his beloved “Brighton Saloon” carriage.
One thing that can be said was that he always followed Bluebell matters very closely, even in his later years, and there is a lot the railway owes to his foresight.
I am sure you will join me in offering the Holden family our most sincere condolences at this very sad time.”
It is such a shame that Bernard will not be able to ride the first train over the Northern Extension which is due for completion early next year, but I am sure he will be there in spirit. An obituary to Bernard has been published by the Daily Telegraph and can be read here.