Tag Archives: narrow gauge

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

Spring shows

A couple of recent shows, at Nottingham and York, have provided some enjoyable and varied opportunities for playing trains.

Cully sallies south

First up, Culreoch’s second trip back south of the border, in the capable hands of its new owner Jamie Wood and co-operator Dave Franks (of Lanarkshire Models & Supplies note).   It was pleasing to be able to give them an hour or so off on the Sunday, and also to make reacquaintance with the layout, which looks well and now has the benefit of some lovely 1960s stock, marshalled into authentic and thoughtful formations.

I don’t often do badges, not when I’m theoretically a punter anyway, but it’s good to know they were there.  Rather than another layout shot, I’ll provide a loco portrait to showcase  one of Jamie’s own lovely Black Fives, although Dave had brought one or two of his own exquisite creations, including another Five, a 4F and a very nice kitbuilt Fairburn tank.   Good use was also made of Jamie’s Standard 4 tank, recreating the image of ‘the Mad McCann’ at Creetown which will be known to Port Road afficionadoes!

Bomber jacket required

During March I also took an opportunity mooted for some time of training on the Hull MRS ‘Stealth Bomber’, so named because of its unusual shape and the ‘cockpit’ arrangement of one of the operating positions.  This was something very different for me; I’ve obviously been used to being around the creations of our narrow gauge section since joining the club as a teenager, but have never operated them at a show.  The ‘Bomber’ or to give it its correct name, ‘Crumley and Little Wickhill’, is a very well thought out layout in all aspects, and with the standard of scenery, a real pleasure to operate.

The above shot is courtesy of Steve Flint and the Railway Modeller, and is of the intermediate station Little Wickhill.  In the near distance, a goods train is dropping down the hill to the crossing point, and hidden to the right is a further incline down into Crumley.  A siding runs past the abandoned tipdock to the right and also serves a cattle dock, and is probably my favourite spot on a very atmospheric layout.

Last train from Bonchester Bridge

Finally, a farewell to Brian Sunman’s second exhibition layout Bonchester Bridge, a North British terminus station located in the Borders of Scotland, about equidistant from Jedburgh and Hawick.  The layout is now over twenty years old and featured in the first volume of British Railway Modelling, although because of the pre-digital nature of the available images, I’ve not been able to feature it here before.

Having once been retired, ‘Bonny’ has over the last few years made reprise appearances at a few shows.  The time comes though to move on, other projects come to assume prominence, and the layout will shortly be in the hands of a new owner.

We had to have a wee dram of course to see the old girl off, and pictured above are some of the people who have been associated with her in some way or other over the years.  Left to right, they are Ken Gibbons (who, most importantly, provided the Scotch), Steve Flint  (editor RM), Brian himself, your scribe, Mal Scrimshaw (taller), York Show acting manager, and Paul Windle.  Not shown, being behind the camera, is Paul Derrick; the three last-named gents  being instrumental in the construction of the ‘Bomber’.

Brian originally ran the layout with early 1960s steam power, including a B1, V3 and N2, but in recent years a slight shift to the later ’60s made sense, using the proprietary diesels with superior mechanisms that had been easily converted to EM for use on Peffermill Road.  

The pic above shows a class 26 clearing the last few wagons from the yard, in just the way that must have happened on so many branches like this in the 1960s and ’70s.  And now, with mention of Spring and the inspiration glands recharged, it must be time to at least think about doing some modelling!

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Filed under Scottish railways, Uncategorized