Category Archives: General

Smoke & Steam, new quarterly ‘bookazine’ includes a number of Southern related articles

A brand new quarterly ‘bookazine’ from Warners called ‘Smoke & Steam’ is published on 30th April.  It features some of the most famous – and not so famous – routes, featuring locomotive legends. With in-depth articles, including a few Southern related, explaining some of the most important moments of Britain’s railway history from a variety of eras and regions, accompanied by rare or never-before printed photography.

The contents include:

  • Following the Flagman – Dover’s seafront railway – Paul Isles
  • Forgotten Railways – The Peak District mainline – Graham Nicholas
  • Iconic stations: Exploring Salisbury – Graham Muspratt
  • Travelling in style: The Cornish Riviera Express – Adrian Vaughan
  • Mallard: A Pictorial Journey – Tony Wright
  • Semaphore Signalling – Why the GWR was different – Mike Romans
  • There’s only one Edinburgh Waverley – Ian Lamb
  • Restoring an SR Merchant Navy – Graham Muspratt
  • Goods locomotives of Buckingham – Tony Gee
  • Moving Into BR – the GWR becomes the Western Region  – Mike Romans
  • Modelling coal and how to weather a locomotive – Phil Parker

Available digitally or on high-quality paper, Smoke & Steam should make an ideal coffee table companion.

It will be on sale from 30th April – you can pre-order your copy here. Initially, this bookazine will only be available mail order, but once things start to return to normal in the news trade, it should be appearing in good newsagents.

Despite including my articles, having had the opportunity to review some of the excellent other contributors articles from which I have already learnt new things (everyday is a school day) I think it will be a cracking publication.

 

Daffodils and Easter wishes

The daffodils are in bloom this Easter as LSWR B4 ‘Guernsey’ in early Southampton Docks lined green livery shunts at Canute Road Quay.

May the angels protect you, may the sadness forget you, may goodness surround you and may your God always bless you. The budding trees, the new flowers, and birds that sing, whisper to me that it’s Easter,  and that the supermarkets full of chocolate of all shapes (many irrelevant), sizes and special offers!

Here is wishing a warmth in the firebox of your soul on Easter & always!

58 years since “The Reshaping British Railways” – the Beeching report

It is fifty eight years to the day when Dr Richard Beeching’s report “The Reshaping of British Railways” was officially published on the 27th March 1963. This is a sneaky repeat post from eight years ago on the fiftieth anniversary, buts its still spoken about, with many opinions to this to this day, and currently in connection with the proposed reopening of some lines (including Exeter to Okehampton), so my thoughts below are still relevant.
Beeching was at the time Chairman of the British Railways Board. The report identified 2,363 stations and 5,000 miles of railway line for closure, 55% of stations and 30% of route miles, with an objective of stemming the large losses being incurred during a period of increasing competition from road transport (that also had the support from the then Minister of Transport Ernest Marples whom it appears had connections to the road construction industry and had also appointed Dr Beeching in the first place).

The Reshaping of British Railways report published on 27th March 1963

Many of the ex Southern Lines especially in the South West of England, already coined the ‘Withered Arm’ were closed as a result of the report.  A few protests resulted in the saving of some stations and lines, but the majority were closed as planned and Beeching’s name is to this day associated with the mass closure or ‘axe’ of railways and the loss of many local services in the period that followed.

One such line that was included in the report for closure was the Tamar Valley line, however due to the poor road links in the area some of the line was reprieved and survives to this day between Plymouth, Bere Alston and Gunnislake. In fact there is currently a growing movement and support for the line to be reopened north of Bere Alston back to the south end of Tavistock and even through to Okehampton to complete the Northern route to counter the issues sometimes experienced along the ex GWR coastal route via Dawlish.

In addition to the main report there were a number of maps included within Part 2 of the report  that diagrammatically showed data such as : Density of passenger traffic, Distribution of passenger receipts, Density of Freight Traffic, etc. and of course the main outcome of the report the map of Proposed Withdrawal of Passenger Services. I have reproduced part of a couple of these maps in this post showing the Southern Region area.

Map 3 of the report shows the Distribution of Passenger Traffic Station Receipts (click for larger version)

Map 9 of the report shows the Proposed Withdrawal of Passenger Services (click for larger version)

Map 9 Proposed Withdrawal of Passenger Services shows the almost total eradication of the ex Southern Railway lines in the South West as already mentioned above, and a number of other lines in the South of England identified for closure. Happily some of these lines have now since reopened as preserved railways such as the Alton to Winchester line that between Alton and Alresford now forms the Mid Hants Watercress line.

Although the Unions at the time released their own version of the report titled “The Mis-shaping of British Railways” a number of facts (although in some cases the basis of collection of some of these facts have been questioned) within the report appear compelling and it is perhaps not surprising that the conclusions reached were so wide ranging.
The report with respect to freight on the railways proposed the move to quicker, higher capacity trains, serving the main routes, transporting greater loads to hubs. Not with the then traditional wagons but trains loaded with containers. Does that seem familiar today?
Whilst Beeching is a much maligned name  for the passenger line closure section of the  report it is easy perhaps forget that this report dramatically modernised freight on the rail network promoting containerisation and long-distance freight haulage.

Who knows if the current growth and success of the railway network as it stands today would have been possible if some of the harsh decisions as a result of “The Reshaping of British Railways” were not taken…

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society @35011gsn feature in the latest Railway Mania podcast @railwaymanianet. Also a chance to become a Trailing Truck Transformer

Railway Mania Podcast

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society feature in the latest Railway Mania podcast, episode 17. The 90-minute podcast features myself and two fellow Society Trustees,  Andrew Collett and Steve Rapley (CME) with Corwin Bainbridge discussing our project to restore 21c11 / 35011 back to original condition complete with Bulleid’s chain driven valve gear and air smoothed casing.

The Podcast looks at our ambitious project in detail, we the Trustees answer questions and discuss: the history of 35011; the main issues arising from the project returning her to original condition including: the missing crank axle, replacement middle cylinder, the work being undertaken in cooperation with Loughborough University and the University of Birmingham students on drafting and smoke clearing arrangements; visibility from the cab; the potential liveries and dispels some of the myths associated with casing fires.

More information can be found about the project and how you support and can get involved on my page here or in more detail on the GSNLRS own comprehensive website here. 

35011 Trailing Truck Transformers

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society are offering the chance to become a member of an  exclusive club and aid the overall restoration of 21c11/35011 General Steam Navigation by becoming a Trailing Truck Transformer.

The Trailing Truck currently with 21c11/35011 is unique in preservation as being one of the later fabricated type that replaced her original cast type in 1955. All other preserved Merchant Navy locomotives have the cast type. The Trailing Truck  was removed from the frames at the same time as the successful boiler lift on 2nd October 2020. The estimate for the full refurbishment, overhaul and certification of the Trailing Truck by specialist contractors is £15,000.

The GSNLP Society are offering a maximum of 30 members to purchase a ‘Lot’ for £500. Members are welcome to purchase as many ‘Lots’ as you wish up to the maximum target amount. Lots can be purchased as a single payment of £500 per lot or by five monthly payments of £100 each lot.

Members of the Fund Group would receive a number of benefits including:

  • Certificate of membership of the ‘Trailing Truck Transformers’
  • Name engraved on a suitable brass plaque attached to the refurbished Trailing Truck
  • Regular updates on the refurbishment of the Trailing Truck
  • invitation to a VIP day at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway to see the completed Trailing Truck once it is returned to the railway.

The dedicated page for the Trailing Truck Transformers Fund Group here, will be updated the members Roll of Honour and also provide updates on the progress of the restoration of the Trailing Truck itself.

Many thanks on behalf of the Society if you are able to support the Trailing Truck fund. Other ways in which you can support the project however great or small can be found here.

Christmas in lockdown at Canute Road Quay

It is certainly going to be a different Christmas for many this year, it is not cancelled but just needs to be celebrated in a different way, especially if like me you have gone from Tier 2 through to Tier 4 in less than 48 hours!

It’s a cold, crisp and frosty December morning as we approach Christmas at Canute Road Quay and the crew on board ex LSWR Adams B4 Class No. 100 try to keep warm whilst shunting on the quay as flurries of snow start to get heavier.

As the festive season and New Year break is upon us, please make the time to contact your friends and family, especially those whom might be alone, and not able to be in the company of others at this most unusual of times. It is good and OK to simply ask “Are you OK?” and likewise it is “OK not to be OK” and reach out for assistance. The one good thing, if anything, this year has been the kindness and generosity of others to help and support each other, and long may this continue.

I just wanted to say very many thanks to all of you whom have taken the time to read this blog over the past 12 months. I hope you have found such ramblings interesting and informative.
I have always enjoyed corresponding with many of you that have made contact me via email or the comments field on my various posts. I look forward to corresponding with you again in the New Year.

A further flurry of activity will be taking place at the start of the new year with Hornby (January 5th) announcing its 2021 range followed a few weeks later by Bachmann making the next of their now quarterly range announcements.  I will bring you all the Southern Railway / Southern Region related news on here as soon as their announcements are made.

Seasons greetings, whatever your faith or beliefs, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all! Fill up your life with as much love, compassion, tolerance, peace, happiness as you can and hopefully some time for modelling!

Finally, remember a dog is for life… not just Christmas…

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today #Remembrance #lestweforget

Marking the occasion will be somewhat different this year due to obvious circumstances. If you so wish, wear a poppy with pride today, but please pause respectfully for two minutes at 11 am this Remembrance Sunday and for Armistice Day on Wednesday remembering all those, both service and civilian personnel whom have given their lives for the freedom that we all enjoy today, and should you feel so inclined, especially in these times, support the sterling work of the Royal British Legion.

Marking 102 years since the end of the ‘Great War’, unfortunately not the war to end all wars, and although this post is mainly written to commemorate this especially poignant anniversary it is also dedicated to all Railway companies across the country and indeed the world that lost many staff; not only those drafted into the military services, but also those lost whom continued their duties on the railways keeping the networks up and running, we should honour and remember them all.

When You Go Home,
Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow,
We Gave Our Today

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Locomotive 333 was built originally by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway, designed by Billinton, as an L class 4-6-4 ‘Baltic’ tank. She was given the name Remembrance and became the companies War Memorial engine and carried a plaque with the inscription:

“In grateful remembrance of the 532 men of the L.B.& S.C.Rly. who gave their lives for their country, 1914-1919″

In 1934, under the auspices of Maunsell they were rebuilt as Class N15x (an appropriate Brighton-style suffix) 4-6-0s, and fitted with standard Urie LSWR tenders along with smoke deflectors. Now number 2333 ‘Remembrance’ retained its name, plaque and status within the Southern Railway.

This year also marks 100 years since the body of the British Unknown Warrior arrived at London Victoria station after being transported by ship and train from the fields of France, on 10th November 1020, and lay overnight at Platform 8 before internment at Westminster Abbey the following day on  Armistice Day.

 

Inscribed on James Scott’s Victory Arch, at Waterloo station: “Dedicated to the employees of the Company who fell in the war.” and the names of those London and South Western employees who gave their life are honoured within the arch.

And just to end this post, as written by Paul Hunter – the poppy is more than a one time of a year symbol:, 

I am not a badge of honour, I am not a racist smear,
I am not a fashion statement, to be worn but once a year,
I am not glorification of conflict or of war.
I am not a paper ornament a token,
I am more.

I am a loving memory, Of a father or a son,
a permanent reminder of each and every one. 
I’m paper or enamel, I’m old or shining new,
I’m a way of saying thank you, To every one of you.

I am a simple poppy, a reminder to you all,
That courage faith and honour,
will stand where heroes of all kinds fall.

Hornby Magazine September issue 159 – Modelling Guide – Southern Region

Published today is the September issue of Hornby Magazine no.159. included with the main magazine is a 32 page supplement “Modelling Guide – Southern Region.”

The initial 6 page article settinging the scene and historical background to the Southern Region has been penned by yours truly!
It was quite a challenge to keep such a wide subject within the word count and give an overview of the Southern, but hopefully I have managed to provide a suitable introduction…

The guide also includes useful articles such as:

  • typical Southern Region train formations that can be modelled using ready to run stock,
  • an explanation of the Southern Region Engine Head Signals and some examples of their use,
  • 20 Southern top tips highlighting the signatures of the Southern and how to model them, including EMUs, concrete, pull push, third rail,named trains, art deco / odeon architecture and more
  • a comprehensive motive power survey detailing all the ready to run locomotives currently available or due for release soon.

Hopefully the Magazine that also looks again at editor MIke Wild’s own extensive Southern Region layout Twelve Trees Junction, that I had the pleasure to operate at exhibitions, and the modellers guide will be of interest and use for modellers of the Southern as well as the Southern Region.

 

Bachmann Product Announcements – Autumn 2020 – introducing a new brand EFE Rail

Bachmann Europe advised at the start of the year, before the advent of Covid-19 a change to the way they make product announcements and that they would take place every quarter revealing new items that would be actually available in the following three months. The aim was that they would hold a product showcase event for members of their Collectors Club. Whilst Covid-19 has stopped the physical showcase event taking place Collectors Club members were able to get a sneak virtual preview of today’s announcement earlier this morning. Although no stand out new tooling has been announced we do see the launch of a new brand.

A new brand – EFE Rail

Bachmann Europe launch its all-new brand EFE Rail. The led by a new motorised version of the popular EFE 1:76 scale (OO) London Underground Tube Train. This much requested model is joined by a number of other Great British Model Railways to complete the launch range for EFE Rail.
The diecast model range Exclusive First Editions (EFE) has been part of the Bachmann Europe portfolio since 2016 and the new EFE Rail brand is an extension of this brand and sees an initial range includes numerous OO and N scale locomotives and wagons which have been produced in collaboration with third parties, such as Kernow Model Rail Centre and Heljan, to make these products accessible via Bachmann Europe Stockists for the first time.

The EFE Rail Motorised 1938 stock

The range in 00 initially includes six versions of the J94 0-6-0t  (reworked with a new coreless motor by The Kernow Model Rail Centre), four Class 35 Hymeks, and a number of JIA and PBA Wagons (also in conjunction with The Kernow Model Rail Centre.)
The N gauge range includes 12 versions of the Class 17 Clayton and 14t Mermaid side tipping wagon.
The majority of the new EFE Rail items are due to be released later this month with more to be added to the range in due course.

Bachmann 

The LMS 10000

The main new additions to the range include a class 40 with modified tooling and sound, and relevant to BR(s) modellers the missing LMS twin adding 10000 to run alongside the previously announced 10001 and will be available in BR Black with the early emblem.
A number of Class 66s, BR VBA and VDA wagons,   and also sound fitted Midland 1P 0-4-4 tanks (even as a southern modeller I can’t help but think they are delightful little engines!) top up the range.
Included within the August expected deliveries are the three versions of the Class 414 2-HAP 2-Car EMU 6061 BR (SR) Green, 6063 BR Blue & Grey and 4308 BR Network SouthEast that were first announced back in 2016.
Expected in October are the six versions of the 12t SR Box vans including both Plywood bodied, bauxite pristine and weathered; and 2+2 planking in LMS grey, BR grey weathered, bauxite weathered and GWR Grey.

Graham Farish

The Graham Farish range sees only the addition of two new livery Mk1 coaches including the Brake Composite in BR Intercity Charter livery. The brand new tooled LMS 8F will arrive this month along with the class 170/3 2 car DMU in South West Trains livery. The previously announced BR Mk1 Tourist 2nd open coach in BR(s) Green will arrive this quarter along with three versions of the SR 12t box van in SR Brown, LMS grey and BR bauxite.

Woodland Scenics and Scenecraft

Scenecraft N Gauge wooden engine shed

These ranges continue to grow with new additions to the woodland scenic range including grass tufts, a range of fencing types and different types of pre cabled wooden power poles and lines.
The N gauge Scenecraft range is further expanded with some scaled down versions of the 00 models and the addition of a wooden engine shed with cream and green paintwork that would not look out of place on a small Southern branchline.
The 00 ranges sees the reintroduction of the popular quayside stone walls.

The Bachmann announcement video can be viewed here and the full range and announcements can be seen on the Bachmann Europe website here.

COVID19, exhibitions, mental health and life changes…

I will start by apologising that this post is not really about model railways (but a little creeps in along with 12″ to the foot railways!)

Restrictions due to COVID19 has prevented model railway clubs and societies having their usual meetings, let alone model railway exhibitions from going ahead. This meant that appearances of Canute Road Quay at shows including the Epsom and Ewell MRC show back in April fell by the wayside. This week I was advised that the Beckenham and West Wickham MRC show on 17th October has also understandably been cancelled, this along with previously announced cancellation of the excellent Chiltern Model Railway Association show in Stevenage in January next year means Canute Road Quay will not be leaving the cottage for some time. Details of any exhibitions booked for next year and still at the time of writing going ahead can always be found on my Exhibition Diary page here.
The loss of these exhibitions is understandable but a great shame, although a number of virtual shows have taken place its not the same and for most model railway clubs and societies they were an important source of income, so once they are back up and running hopefully next year, please support your local show!

A tease of a “Making Quay Changes” post to come
A view of the cottage in my “view from the cottage series of images
My local Jay sits atop my LSWR boundary marker

It does mean that I have been able to do a photoshoots for my Making Quay Changes series which I hope that you are enjoying, there are at least three more in the pipeline so watch this space, and I welcome any requests.

Like many people I have been furloughed since the start of April and whilst I initially kept myself busy creating a new look and feel along with writing many pages of new content for the General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society’s  website that can be seen here, check out the History & Archive pages along with the Technical and Education Centre pages. If you really want to look smart whilst helping support the project we have a new clothing range available here.
As restrictions eased we have been able to start our working sessions on No.11 again which has been good both physically and mentally.

As lockdown rolled into May and beyond, as experienced by many, keeping ones headspace on the straight and narrow was sometimes a challenge.
I remembered the adage “it’s ok to not be ok” and “seeking help is a positive not a negative step”, people are there to assist, and your local front line NHS such as your GP is a great starting point, mine was fantastic!

I took the opportunity to make use exercise time to enjoy the lovely part of the Chiltern Hills that my cottage is set in and undertake more photography, ranging from: scenic views, sunsets, the splendid Red Kites that now once again grace the area, other birds, visiting animals and some arty views and angles to take in texture, foliage and clouds etc.
I posted many of the photographs on my twitter feed @grahammuz with the hashtag #viewfromthecottage but have now also created a gallery of some of my favourites on my gallery page here, check them out if you have a few minutes spare.

Catching up on kit builds

I also managed once the mojo had returned to catch up on some simple model making and build a few wagon kits that had been in the will do sometime pile for well quite some time. They are at the painting stage now and will likely appear in a workbench post soon.

In other news after 15 years in the Road Safety and Traffic Management, I decided to apply for voluntary redundancy, so am now in furlough for my notice period that finishes at the end of September.
I then start a new job that by of a tease before it is officially announced will be in… wait for it… the model railway industry!
It’s all pretty exciting really and will definitely improve my work life balance and I am really looking forward to getting my teeth into the new role, so again watch this space…

In the meantime stay safe and well, both physically and mentally, it’s good to talk!

Operation Dynamo; not just small ships…the Southern Railway played its part…80 years on

Following on from marking the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe day earlier this month on 8th May, today marks 80 years on since the evacuation of Allied soldiers commenced from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940. This is essentially a repost from 5 years ago but the sentiment remains true and strong.
The Dunkirk evacuation, code named Operation Dynamo, was decided upon when large numbers of British, French, and Belgian troops were cut off and surrounded by the German army. The event is renown for the use of a flotilla of 800 small ships used to assist in the ferrying of some 338,226 soldiers to safety.

The Southern Railway played very much an unsung role in Operation Dynamo, as once back on English shores the soldiers that did not require immediate hospitalisation or were already based at local South Eastern England barracks were dispersed across England away from the main reception ports of Margate, Ramsgate, Folkestone, Dover, and Newhaven. During the nine period of Operation Dynamo the Southern Railway laid on and coordinated an amazing number of special trains comprising of : 327 from Dover, 82 from Ramsgate, 75 from Margate 64 from Folkestone and also 21 ambulance trains.
These trains, known as ‘Dynamo Specials’ moved 180,982 troops, many of these services were routed via  Redhill, Guildford and Reading, in order to bypass the capital and avoid congestion. Where possible during this period the Southern Railway maintained its usual passenger services with the except of some ‘omnibus replacement services’ to free the most heavily utilised routes between Guildford, Redhill and Tonbridge. Not only was coordination required of the departing trains but also the routing of the return empty stock workings and the necessary prepared engines required to keep the transportation of soldiers as quick and efficient as possible.

The Southern Railway mustered at very short notice nearly 2000 additional carriages, many borrowed from other railway companies including 47 complete rakes from the LNER, 44 from the LMS and 40 from the GWR.  Also 180 engines and crews were required from across the network, to operate these services.

To avoid delay at Dover and Ramsgate it was decided that the soldiers, many of whom had not eaten properly for days, would be fed on the trains. Just simply feeding the men provided Southern Railway with a major logistical problem,  therefore certain rail stations were designated feeding stations. These stations included Headcorn, Tonbridge and Paddock Wood Although the Royal Army Service Corps were primarily responsible many local Women’s Voluntary Service members were involved to provide food and drink, much of which was also donated or paid for with monies rasied from the local communities. Due to the number of trains involved only an eight-minute stop for soldiers to be provide with food and drink that bearing in mind this could have been 550 per train, was again an impressive feat.  Trains often had to pull into a siding at these food stops to ensure that any ambulance trains had priority over the use of the main lines.

Given that Southern Railway had practically no time to organise and plan such an activity, what it achieved without the use of modern day communication systems was very impressive; improvisation and word of mouth were the order of the day. One unknown Army general was famously heard to say: “I wish the Army could operate with as few written instructions as Southern Railway does in an emergency.”

The Southern Railway, as well as coping with troops from Dunkirk, was also evacuating no less than 48,000 school children from the coastal areas due to fear of a German invasion. It should not go unmentioned that a number of the Southern Railway’s shipping fleet and crew, varying from cross channel passenger vessels, Isle of Wight ferries and cargo vessels were actively involved out on the channel itself,  with a number being either badly damaged or lost to enemy action.

We should also pause to remember the 68,000 of our soldiers whom didn’t make it home safely from this particular French campaign.

I hope this post goes just a little way to remember and honour the part that the Southern Railway played in the overall success of Operation Dynamo out of what was a defeat in military terms in Flanders.