Tag Archives: Clayton

Summer shortbread

This started out as another holding post, really, as things have been noticeably quiet on here. Partly this has been due to the usual pressures and diversions of life and to more pleasant things like holidays – and even with the summer we’ve had here, up until a couple of weeks ago, it’s hardly been the weather for working to deadlines.

But working to deadlines is mostly what oi aaarve been, for a commitment to take something resembling a layout to the excellent little  Thirsk show, which is held on a Sunday late in July.  After a slightly false start last year with thoughts on my Stoneferry Tramway project, this was to emerge as Blackhill Ferrya micro layout based on a single platform passing station, a genre which I’ve always been fascinated by the simplicity of.  The Stoneferry thing is still very much something I’d like to do, but for the future – it wasn’t long before I realised that the original micro concept as I’d envisaged it, at a mere 4’6 on its longest edge, would neither satisfy what I wanted from it nor do it justice.

They caught the last train for the coast, the day the music died…

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Overbridge west of Portgordon looking towards Spey Bay, August 2011

So, thoughts turned back to what was still a relatively recent infatuation with the GNoSR system, and particularly the Moray Coast line from Elgin via Buckie to Cairnie Junction.  The only thing with this was that the Coast line, despite its almost ‘light railway’ character, isn’t actually well suited to minimum space interpretations!  – the original idea having been for a slightly larger layout but that had kinda lost its way.

Quite apart from the  rolling landscapes and seascapes, most of the trains in diesel days seem to be composed of a minimum of four corridor coaches, often with added bogie vans.   Previous Scottish inspiration though had included examples such as Ballachulish Ferry and Grandtully on the Aberfeldy branch, both being very simple single track passing stations, and eventually everything came together when plate 152 in George O’Hara’s wonderful BR Diesel Traction in Scotland, plate 152 showed the Moray Coast station of Portgordon in a way that definitely had that ‘something about that’ factor.  Possibly the significant factor here, albeit one that wasn’t instantly obvious in my tortured mind, was that the NBL type 2-hauled train was composed of just two coaches.  So from this, thoughts changed again, towards  the eventual interpretation being something of a pastiche, a Coast Line-ish location but with shorter train formations.

The layout as was seen at Thirsk was obviously very much a work in progress, a sort of ‘operational demo’ really, with suitable descriptions and illustrations of what it will all look like when it’s finished and shown again next year.

Twixt Lossiemouff and Bannth…?

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Looking east into Portgordon, this view shows how the line sat between the village at just above sea level and the rising ground going inland.

I did long ago set up a standalone blog for Blackhill, partly as an experiment with the Blogger platform, but my original ideas for that and to back it up with other Scottish material have been altered by various factors over time.  And in any case, progress so far on Blackhill is not ideally suited to a blog, particularly as the concept is still evolving (which is a pretentious way of saying I’m making it up as I go along…).

Part of this ‘evolution’ is the supposed location.  At the moment, given the considerations of train length detailed above, I think I see Blackhill not as being on the Coast line proper, but as perhaps the last station before the terminus on a third branch off the Coast line.  That would render the short trains more plausible, and yet still redolent of the Scottish diesel era imagery that’s so prevalent in the common consciousness.  Not that I’m deliberately perpetuating any myths here of course, oh no, not me…

So anyhoo, I shall refer you to this thread here on Modellers  United  for associated further ramblings.  You can view MU without joining up as a member, although you wouldn’t be able to comment.  Future development will be posted possibly here, possibly there and possibly in other media, although the precise details are something I’m as yet undecided about.

In the meantime, thanks go to Peter Simmerson for accomodating the layout at Thirsk, to Ken Gibbons and Brian Sunman for assistance with pointwork, wiring and other practical tasks during the runup to the show, and all those who’ve shown general interest and support.  Also, the website of the Great North Of Scotland Railway Association is well worth a visit, being very probably one of the best of its type, and with the picture here being a large part of the inspiration for Blackhill.

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Filed under Heritage diesels, Off the beaten track, Scottish railways

Of claypits and colonies

A bit of a personal report from the recent Hull Model Railway show (10/11 November), featuring two layouts that, whilst having been around the block a bit, are none the worse for it.

A significant part of the weekend was spent operating the Hull MRS OO9 layout Barrowfleet Brickworks.  It’s hard to believe that this was the first time I’d done so in its 21-year history but as with  the ‘Bomber’, it’s a remarkably absorbing exercise.   The main part of the layout is based on the narrow gauge systems that used to exist on each side of the Humber, bringing in clay for brick manufactory, and as the name suggests, combines elements from former installations at both Barrow on Humber and Broomfleet.  This, for me, is one of those ‘one that got away’ subjects – in their prime, the Lincolnshire systems may as well have been in a foreign country, and even once the Humber Bridge was open, they just didn’t feature on the young Pennine’s radar.  It should be borne in mind however that there was nowhere near the amount of readily accessible information on industrial systems back then.

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now…

There are two operating sequences, both well thought out in typical HMRS NG style; a weekday one where the narrow gauge diesels busy themselves exchanging loaded and empty rakes of tipper wagons, and a weekend preservation sequence with predominantly steam traction.  In each case, appropriate BR traffic rumbles past on the standard gauge to the rear.

As well as the irreverently named Greta, Wes and Tern (and no, that’s not a typo…), the preservation sequence features a diesel whose driver has a habit of baling out of his cab if his  speed gets a bit too high!  Another endearing little quirk is the ‘phantom’ shunter, that can be heard, but not seen…

As always, the best part of a show is often the human element and on the Sunday, we were pleased to chat with one visitor who’d actually worked at the Barrow works, as a fitter and general factotum.  He recognised the dock in particular, where barges had once been loaded with clay for Wilmington cement works in Hull, and was able to provide snippets of previously unknown information to Paul Windle.

Also at the show, fitting into that same ‘off the beaten track’ genre and making its final appearance after 28 shows, was Pete Johnson’s Canada Road.  This represents a bank of sidings in a typical dockland area of indeterminate location, named (as is often the practice in such locales) after the principal trade routes served by the indigenous vessels.

With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

The above image of a TechCad Clayton class 17 on a short rake of 16T minerals is courtesy of Keir Hardy, whose ’emgauge70s’ website is linked in the sidebar and features a great deal of work by several prominent modellers of the BR era.  Canada Road naturally has its own page on the ‘Layouts’ tab,  but images of Pete’s locos and freight wagons  appear throughout the site.    He has a very comprehensive selection of stock and in keeping with the location of the show, had made a point of bringing along a couple of 03s, a class 14  and even a pukka Dairycoates EE type 3.

Canada Road’s retirement is largely due to some of the buildings being required to maintain progress on the replacement layout.  Canada Street will follow the same dockland theme, but in a larger L-shaped format incorporating a sharp linking curve that will provide an apposite setting for the smaller shunters in Pete’s fleet.  Many of these designs were acquired by BR in the 1950s and ’60s for just this sort of work, but were destined to have short lives as this sort of work dried up and the National Traction Plan sought to rationalise as far as possible in favour of the all-pervasive class 08.

Canada Road was awarded the Hull MRS NG section’s MK Memorial Trophy for the layout with the best atmosphere at the show, following the example set previously by fellow operator Ian Manderson’s  Easington Lane.  Ian returns to Hull next November with his Borders layout Hartburn, but we have told him that if the group wins a third time, they don’t get to keep the trophy!

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Filed under Heritage diesels, Off the beaten track

Capuccino for Mr O’Hara?

BR Diesel Traction in Scotland, George C O’Hara

And though my roving eyes always led me astray

Well I’m coming back home, Scotia don’t walk away

Published 2010 by Clyard Novella Ltd, 16 Garryhorn, Prestwick, Ayrshire KA9 2HU, tel. 01292 479407 or available from various booksellers on the exhibition circuit.

Almost 700 pics for £25 sounds like a bit of a bargain by any yardstick, and if this sort of subject matter interests you at all, then get your paws on a copy PDQ by whatever means possible.   I’ve never once regretted the £12.50 or so that I paid for this author’s Scottish Urban and Rural Branchlines in 1986, and that now commands very healthy prices on the secondhand market. Both of them could justifiably be subtitled George’s Big Book of Scottish Layout Ideas.  Strangely the companion Scottish Region Colour Album No 1 can be found for around a tenner; evidence perhaps that its unimaginative presentation didn’t win favours, despite the content being every bit as scintillating as the other books.

The period covered by this latest production is from the late 1950s to the 1990s, although there is a definite emphasis on the 1960s ‘green’ era; all shots apart from those on the cover are B/W.  Incidentally the front cover alone could have sold it to me, with a railbus in the commodious environs of Crieff station and an all-green class 20 coming off the ‘other’ Forth Bridge at Throsk.

There are several early treasures; the interior of Leith Central DMU depot, a 20 on the Ardrossan turntable and bizarrely, one of the SR/EE 350hp shunters on trial at Aberlour in 1958.  Personal favourites include three other Crieff-related shots showing diesels on the freight workings to Perth (which actually survived the railbus run to Gleneagles), and a nice selection of GNoS and C&O content. The latter includes some rare images of a demolition train behind an NBL type 2.

Apart from the motive power, the book is packed with other interest; period rolling stock obviously features prominently, but perhaps the book’s strongest suit is in showing the vernacular infrastructure and industry which has largely now disappeared – one particular gem is a Cravens DMU passing a Kelvinside mill at Partick. There are quite a few caption inaccuracies (such as shots being dated 1965 that show blue DMUs) and whilst that’s something that would normally irritate me (in the likes of say Modern Locomotives Illustrated), in a work as  unique and valuable as this I’m more than happy to overlook them.

Even two months after originally penning these words, I can still say that this really is a book which you can keep picking up and finding something new.  And at over 300 pages, it’s heavy – it’s not so much a coffee table book as one you could make a table from.  And there’s talk of a second volume…

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Filed under Heritage diesels, Scottish railways