Bluebell Railway founder Bernard Holden dies at 104

Bernard Holden with Dame Vera Lynn Bernard Holden was visited by Dame Vera Lynn on his 104th birthday

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One of the founding members of a West Sussex steam railway, which opened to the public more than 50 years ago, has died at the age of 104.

Bernard Holden was one of the leading figures in the creation of the Bluebell Railway and chaired the first meeting of the society in 1958.

Mr Holden, who was made an MBE for services to the railway, died on Thursday at a home near Burgess Hill.

The railway runs for nine miles from Sheffield Park to Kingscote.

Work to extend the line to East Grinstead is under way, and is expected to be completed in March next year.

Rebuilding the line is costing £3.5m, with much of the cash being used to remove thousands of tonnes of rubbish from a cutting at Imberhorne.

Roy Watts, chairman of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, said Mr Holden remained interested in the railway throughout his later years.

"There was nothing more satisfying for him than to be brought to the railway to take a trip over the line and see the continual progress being made," he said.

"At least he had the knowledge that the infamous Imberhorn cutting had been broken through as the extension reaches its conclusion."

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