Tag Archives: Salisbury

A view from the line #1. The little people…

Any model railway layout needs the little people to complete the scene. I try where possible to position them in natural groupings. This post, the first in a series of ‘views from the line’, looks at the little people on Fisherton Sarum.

My Grandfather on a break leans on his ballast fork with his colleagues as an M7 passes.

Alongside the typical Southern concrete platelayers hut next to the main line my grandfather can be seen taking a break. He is leaning on his ballast fork, with his co-gangers and linesmen, one of whom is sat reading the newspaper and another has a mug of tea in his hand. The look out flag man is just walking towards them to join them in their well deserved tea break. My grandfather in reality was a ganger for the Southern Railway, based at Salisbury for most of the period that I model before he gained promotion to Sub Inspector (permanent way) at Andover Junction during 1948.

My Dad and school friends try to bunk the shed

On the steps at the entrance to the shed my father in his younger, short trouser days, along with some of his school mates can be seen trying to bunk the shed. To gain entrance undetected involved ducking under the time keepers office hatch that overlooked the access steps from Cherry Orchard Lane. Once in the shed it was hoped that engineman that that they recognised as being friendly was about.

In and around the shed itself various locomotive crew are preparing for their next duty, obtaining items from the stores such as oil cans and engine head signal discs. The cleaners go about their role utilising ladders and platforms to reach the slab sides of Bulleid’s air smoothed pacific’s.

The Ash Pit gang hard at work as other staff walk past with 34004 Yeovil simmers behind

The ash pit gang are trying not to get the ash in their eyes as they remove the loco ash from in and around the pits into wheel barrows before it is loaded into a 5 plank open wagon that appears occasionally to take the ash away from the shed.

Also in the shed area couple of trainspotters,  armed with the letter of permission from the head office at Waterloo allowing them open access to the shed,  can be seen taking the opportunity to record the locomotives on shed being prepared for there turns.

Away from the shed and walking along the carriage siding a wheeltapper awaiting the next rake of rolling stock to ding the wheels in order to check their integrity.

School children watch in hope as the dog eyes up the postman

By the houses, a couple of school children heading home watch as  the postman has made a mistake of letting the household’s dog get between him and his bike (the postman’s bike not the dogs) which he has left leaning up against the railings at the back entrance to the shed. In one back garden the owner tends to his garden whilst in the other a gentleman rests on his bench watching, who we assume is, his wife hanging the washing!

At least this is what we see of the little people through the lens, what they do when we are not watching who knows….

Post war – pre nationalisation, why do I model it?

When one looks at the majority of steam era model layouts of the big four railway companies, or the subsequent British Railways regions, the majority tend to be set in either the 1930s or the 1950/60s this also tends to be reflected by the choice of models and liveries from the major ready-to-run manufacturers. Leaving aside the arguments of the least modelled and supported of the big four or BR regions the period that seems to most get overlooked in model form is the immediate post war to nationalisation period of 1946 to 1948.

I thought I would outline some of the reasons and influences for me in choosing to model this less than popular period, and also the Southern Railway with my layout Fisherton Sarum, putting aside the fact that perhaps it is really because I just like to be different….

The politics of the railways in this immediate post war period were fascinating; the railway companies were just coming out of the heavy workloads and lack of investment caused by the war.  Many were in a pretty poor, almost dire in some cases, shape financially.
The Southern Railway however was not in quite such a bad shape financially as some of the others. In reality the Government through the Railway Executive still actually had a strong element of control over all the railway companies that it obtained during the war and of course formal nationalisation was looming.

Malachite Green livery reappears on top link engines such as Merchant Navy 21C6 here

Despite all the gloom services are starting to get back to pre-war levels and following a particularly harsh winter in 1947 the summer season appears on the outside to be returning to normal.

The Southern Railway’s top link engines are now starting to appear back in the favoured lined malachite green livery rather than the austere wartime black scheme although the use on the black of Bulleid’s yellow and green ‘Sunshine’ lettering helped to lift the livery slightly. However, many of the less glamorous classes were destined to remain in a black livery for the rest of their service. 
Drummond T14 sporting an early British Railways lettering and number in Southern 'sunshine' style

By 1948 nationalisation has occurred and subtle changes to liveries are starting to take place. Interim renumbering has appears on some locos by simply putting an ‘S’ prefix in front of the Southern Railway number and instances of British Railways appearing on the side of some locomotives in a variety of font styles including the Southern ‘sunshine’ style or no ownership branding at all on the loco sides. Subsequently the new 3xxxx series numbers start to appear and sometimes these have been applied to locomotives that still retain their Southern branding.  From the middle of 1948 a number of the top link locomotive classes and a small amount of rolling stock appeared new experimental colours, such as lined apple green on Light Pacific 34011 ‘Tavistock which can be seen on Fisherton Sarum at the head of the Devon Belle.

34011 "Tavistock" in the British Railways early experimental Apple Green livery

One of the railway engineers I revere is O.V.S. Bulleid. As the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern Railway, he had an uncanny way of working around the previous wartime pressures and restrictions, and by 1946 he was really getting into his stride and an ever increasing number of light pacific’s and coaching stock were being introduced. Experiments to improve the smoke clearance and cab visibility of his pacific locomotives were in full swing and most versions can be seen amongst my rolling stock. Further engineering innovation (although others may call it something else) was to come with the unconventional Leader Class.
There is also a family connection with the Southern Railway at that time as my grandfather was a ganger for the Southern Railway, based at Salisbury for most of this period, before he gained promotion to Sub Inspector (permanent way) at Andover Junction during 1948. My father in his short trouser days used to spend many hours either stood by the railings at the London end of platform one of Salisbury watching the struggle to start the heavy London bound trains on the sharp curving and rising grade, or trying to sneak into the shed. 

With his Southern background my first engine given to me by dad in my younger days was of course a Triang Hornby M7 (which in a re-wheeled, detailed and repainted form still appears on Fisherton Sarum, along with the classic smell of its original X04 motor!)

I hope these ramblings give a further little insight into my reasoning’s for what I model.

Moving pictures – Fisherton Sarum

When exhibiting Fisherton Sarum at various exhibitions the arrival of a video camera being pointed at the layout usually precedes either a derailment or more likely an operator error, also aligning the turn table (currently still done by eye, although an automatic alignment method is on the drawing board) suddenly becomes tricky due to twitchy fingers on the control switch.

I am sure it is the red light of doom…if there isn’t already a  law about it then there should be, maybe Farnsworth’s law (Google if you haven’t heard of him,  I don’t always intend to always explain how my mind works….) 

However, despite the above, a small number of quite nice videos have made their way onto YouTube, below are some that I recommend. 

The first is one that I have actually uploaded myself. After Fisherton Sarum featured in the December 2007 issue of Railway Modeller magazine I was asked if they could film it as an extra feature for their annual CD-Rom and subsequently their DVD Xtra number 6.  The version I have uploaded here is an edited version of the full video available from Peco Publications on DVD Xtra 6.

Paul Birkett Gray has a large number of videos of layouts at exhibitions that he has expertly recorded and edited, the video here that he has taken of Fisherton Sarum is a combination of recordings from the Astolat Show in Guildford in 2011 and also the Warley Exhibition at the Birmingham NEC in 2009

In November 2008 Fisherton Sarum made its furthest trek west or south west to date when I exhibited at the Wadebridge show in Cornwall. A small but friendly exhibition that I can recommend a visit to if you are in the area. Fisherton Sarum was billed as the feature layout, and even made it into the local newspapers too. A couple of videos from this show have been posted. With this show being over the Remembrance Sunday weekend I positioned my model of N15x 2333 “Remembrance” on the front road of the shed specially for the occasion.

I hope you enjoy!

Introduction to Fisherton Sarum

Fisherton Sarum is a Southern Railway shed set between 1946 and 1949 . As this is basically a finished layout (if they are ever finished) this blog will concentrate on updates on its travels and also a few odds and ends that still need to be done to improve operation etc. 

An overview of Fisherton Sarum

Fisherton Sarum has appeared in the December issue of Railway Modeller (and in video format on their Annual CD Rom) and also the April 2009 issue of Hornby Magazine and most recently the December 2013 issue of Model Rail Magazine. Many of the pictures of the layout on this blog are courtesy of Hornby Magazine, Model Rail Magazine, BRM magazine and Chris Nevard and also Paul Basson. 

Having a varied collection of Southern locomotives I felt a way to display these was via the construction of a motive power depot type layout. Having looked at the plans for a number of Southern sheds a compromise was needed. Salisbury is the inspiration (as it has a family connection) and the basis for the structures on the layout. 
The name comes from the fact I wanted to retain the link to Salisbury without actually calling it Salisbury. The current station at Salisbury was originally called Salisbury Fisherton being on Fisherton Street. Old Sarum, of course, is the famous hill fort forming the origin of Salisbury.

A view across the front of the shed

The key elements taken from Salisbury were the Coal Stage and ramp, turntable, substantial water tower building with stores and engineman dormitories below. The LSWR style shed albeit reduced from ten roads to four has been transposed to the east and is accessed by a kick back arrangement rather than a fan of sidings to balance the space utilised. 

Locomotives arrive and depart to/from the station to the East, some can then be seen on trains on the running lines to the rear. Coal, ash and stores wagons come and go. There are a number of cameo scenes around the layout including representations of my Grandfather (who was a Ganger at Salisbury) and Father (albeit in short trousers) trying to bunk the shed. Feel free to ask any questions, except the one about where the GWR lines are!