Monday, August 16, 2021

 Making an exhibition of ourselves!

Farnham MRC 009 Open day, 15th August 2021

Heavily involved in operating the layout solo I took very few pictures and didn't manage to get round the other exhibits. Here we see the KS diesel engaged in some shunting at Ryedown Lane.

Model railway exhibitions are back on the calendar. Yes, after months of cancellations and postponements,  shows are starting to happen again. In particular we're seeing a few of the smaller, specialist, open day type events such as last weekend's 009 Society Wiltshire Group open day in Pewsey. I was unable to attend that event but I'd  already been invited to take Ryedown Lane to the Farnham MRC's first 009 section open day in Wrecclesham this weekend. I was very much looking forward to the day and I wasn't disappointed.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of exhibiting at small specialist 009 shows is the camaraderie of fellow modellers and the frequent temporary loans of locomotives and rolling stock. Julien Webb form the 009 Society West Midlands group turned up with this beautifully finished Avonside 0-4-0T (Dave Malton designed 3d print on a Bachman Percy N gauge chassis) which spent much of the day on shed or pottering up and down with every longer trains.

Having spent a good part of the previous couple of weeks cleaning and testing the layout and stock I was hopeful that everything would go well and I'm pleased to say that the layout performed well was just me that was rusty having not exhibited the layout since April of 2019.

                                                     KS 'Skylark' tank 'Alfred' on the passenger service.

It was a small event with five invited layouts (Matt Keen's wonderful Garreg Wen, John Wilkes' Coleford, Somewhere in France by Peter Capon, and three layouts from Wessex Narrow Gauge Modellers in the shape of John Thorn's River Crane Mill, Iain Morrisons's Kaninchenbau together with my own layout) plus the Farnham Group's impressive modular system and Dave Harrington's 'Whimsy'. I have to confess that I was so engrossed in operating Ryedown Lane on my own that I didn't manage to actually see any of the other exhibits properly (other than for the briefest looks at River Crane Mill and Kaninchenbau before the doors opened).

Silliness often descends towards the end of a show (in fact it tends to reign on my layout  most of the time if I'm honest) as illustrated by the appearance of the mini Crompton 33 009 late yesterday.

Other than the sheer delight of actually operating my layout as it is supposed to be the main thing about the show was once again being able to meet, chat and joke with like minded modellers. Ryedown Lane even received a visit from visiting motive power, an 009 exhibition tradition that I always enjoy.

Well done Farnham MRC and many thanks for the invitation.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


Locomotives of the Isle of Wight Railways

The railways of the Isle of Wight have always held a special fascination for enthusiasts. My own first encounters with the Island’s railway system, or what was left of it, were with the truncated Ryde – Shanklin section on annual childhood visits in the 1970s. I had a fascination for the London Underground anyway, so found the ex LT ‘Standard’ stock of great interest. However, it was only after my first visit to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway at Havenstreet in 1979, my first journey behind ‘Calbourne’ and the acquisition of the first of many books on the Island’s railways, that I really started to appreciate just what an interesting network it had once been.

Not to be confused with the excellent archive images to be seen in the book, this is my own photograph of Terrier W8' Freshwater'  on a train of four-wheel stock at Ashey on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway in August 2015.

No surprise then that Crecy Publishing’s new book on the subject of Isle of Wight locomotives has been added to my collection of Island railway books within a few weeks of publication. Written by a well-known group of Isle of Wight railway historians, it is I think the book that many of us have been waiting for for many years. Although there have been accounts of island motive power in the various individual line histories and several good books on the tube stock this is the first time we’ve had a proper locomotive history since D.L. Bradley’s volume from forty years ago.

                     24 'Calbourne' approaching Ashey with a train for Smallbrook Junction in August 2015.

This latest offering brings the story right up to date with delivery of the class 484 former District Line ‘D’ stock trains and some tantalising information about possible additions to the Steam Railway’s fleet. For me the strength of the book is in the detail on the pre-grouping company’s locomotives and the excellent illustrations. A number of older b/w images have been colourised. This may not be to everybody’s liking but there’s no denying that the colour images of the IWCR and IWR Beyer Peacocks in the early parts of the book are quite stunning, as are similarly treated images of locomotives in Southern Railway liveries. There is also a great deal of fascinating information and data contained in the appendices.

All in all a very worthwhile addition to the book shelf for anyone interested in the Island’s railway history. A snip at £25.00.

A site no longer seen by visitors to the Island arriving at Ryde Pier Head, former LT 1938 stock unit 006 in the summer of 2018.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

 Statfold Barn Railway, Trangkil 50 Event, 13 June 2021

Prince was busy all day working services on the high line.

My plan for June had been to spend a weekend in North Wales visiting the Ffestiniog Railway, my favourite line. Having not booked up early, due to uncertainties around the the lifting of lockdown etc, I was disappointed to discover that accommodation  n the region is at premium this year, with nearly everywhere booked up, remaining places charging prices beyond my budget and campsites still not open to lightweight campers without their own toilets etc. The trip was postponed until later in the year but I still needed my FR 'fix'. Then I remembered reading that the FR's England 0-4-0ST+T Prince was due to visit the Statfold Barn Railway for the Trangkil 50 event on 12/13 June. A ticket was booked and, having told friends in the Wessex Narrow Gauge Modellers (WNGM) of my plans, within minutes a small group had also booked for what would be our first gathering since March last year.

A typical Statfold scene as trains hauled by the Baganall 4-4-0T Isibutu and the visiting Prince pass at Oak Tree Halt. The standard gauge Hunslet 0-6-0st Hastings, newly restored at Statfold, is on the dual gauge tramway line.

The Statfold Barn Railway, near Tamworth, is quite simply a narrow gauge railway wonderland. A huge collection of narrow gauge locomotives and stock, much of it British built, gathered from around the world by Graham Lee and now in the care of the Statfold Narrow Gauge Museum Trust. This weekend's visit was my third. Each time I go some new development has taken place or new acquisition been made. The sale and scope of the collection is bewildering. If you have even the slightest interest in narrow gauge railways then Statfold has to be on your list of places to visit.

A pair of Penhryn Quarry beauties, Cegin and Marchlyn pass Statfold Junction signal box with a train.

I won't bore you with a long description of the day and will let the pictures do the talking.

                 Hudswell Clarke 'Fiji' waits for its next turn.

                                                 Isaac and Howard on shed.

Kerr Stuart Wren 0-4-0ST at work on the Garden Railway.

And the reason the event was called Trangkil 50? This locomotive, Trangkil No 4, the last steam locomotive built for commercial use in Britain, was completed by Hunslet in 1971. Whether or not any of the many other steam locos built since the FR completed the Fairlie 'Earl of Merioneth' in 1979 were also built for 'commercial' use is open to debate of course. The Beyer Garratt K1 is in the background.

Monday, May 17, 2021


Severn Valley Railway Diesel Bash

As the country continues to move slowly out of lockdown we’re starting so see a few more events on our heritage railways. We’re not yet back to full blown galas in the traditional sense, where we can jump on and off trains to our heart’s content but things do seem to be heading in the right direction. On Saturday I ventured up to Kidderminster to take part in what the Severn Valley Railway, recognising the limitations imposed by current restrictions, had dubbed the Spring Diesel Bash.

47773 ready for the 'off' at Kidderminster.

Severn Valley events have always been among the very best in terms of organisation and variety of motive power. This weekend’s scaled down ‘bash’ had four trains operating, each with a theme for its motive power. Thus, if you booked early enough, you had the choice of riding up and down the railway all day behind either Class 50s, diesel hydraulics, Sulzer or English Electric powered locos. All trains had two additional return trips to Bewdley thrown in during the layovers at Kidderminster, giving the opportunity for a run behind the Class 14 and the Class 17 ‘Clayton, newly out shopped in BR blue.

               Class 14 D9551 leads Class 17 'Clayton' D8568 away on one of the short trips to Bewdley.

I booked for Train 3 with Sulzer power, comprising of the resident 33108 (a few miles behind a Crompton being my main reason for the choice) and Tyseley’s 47773 which has recently been through some contract maintenance on the SVR. The Duff looked great in its new coat of two-tone green. The Crompton is looking a little more ‘authentic’ in its faded BR blue but sounded absolutely great when under power.


33108 prepares to leave Bridgnorth on the last leg of the the days' three round trips. the white cab surrounds at this end of the Crompton recalls the days from the early 1980s when several Eastleigh 33/1s displayed this feature.

Well done SVR, a really enjoyable day. Hopefully we’ll soon be able to indulge in a traditional gala with packed carriages and the mad dash to swap trains at intermediate stations.

           Surely one of the of the most stylish diesel locomotives ever? Hopefully I might get to experience                               D1015 Western Champion out on the main line again before too long.

Not what it appears to be. Despite the 500014 number and Warspite name this is 50007 Hercules, one of three Class 50 Alliance locomotives in operation for the Diesel Bash.

Monday, April 26, 2021


Back on the train

Life regained a little more normality this weekend. Last week my youngest son asked when we could go on steam train again so, with various railway now opening up, I suggested that we book a couple of seats on our local Mid-Hants Railway for the Sunday afternoon. What an absolute pleasure it was to be rolling through the English countryside behind a steam locomotive again after so many months in lockdown.

                                    Eastleigh's finest. The NRM's 30925 Cheltenham runs round at Ropley.

Like other lines the Mid-Hants is offering a somewhat different service from normal, with pre-booking of allocated seats on specific trains. Although this is much more restricted than what one would normally get for a full-line return (in reality a day-rover that can be used to travel and get on/off as much as one pleases) the railway has gone to some trouble to offer  the best deal it can in the current circumstances.

The two-train service offers trains starting from both ends of the line. We started our journey at Alresford and ran non-stop to Alton (that in itself was a first for me). After running round, the train returns to Ropley where a forty-minute lay over gives visitors time to have a look round the loco yard and buy refreshments etc. During this time the locomotive again runs round and the onward journey sees another run uphill to Medstead & Four Marks before the returning to Alresford. All in all a really enjoyable three hours and excellent value at £16.00 for an adult ticket.


Ivatt Class 2-6-2T 41312 passes with the second train service at Ropley.

The simple pleasure of train travel is one that I have never tired of but, given the months of lockdown, yesterday’s little trip was, perhaps, even more enjoyable than normal. Given the length of time without a steam ’fix’ I would have been more than happy with any locomotive hauling our train but the fact that we had Schools class 30925 Cheltenham making easy work of our five coach train really added to the occasion.


Interloper (1). Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust Peckett 0-4-0ST Kilmersden is now resident on the Mid-Hants.

Interploper (2). 64xx Pannier tank 6435, normally resident at the Bodmin & Wenford Railway, seen on shed at Ropley. The locomotive is a special guest for the railway's forthcoming Spring Steam Gala. 

Thank you Mid-Hants Railway, I hope a full normal service can be resumed soon.

Friday, April 9, 2021


Flashback Friday

Remembering the Plastic Pigs


                                 2420 in familiar surroundings at London Waterloo on 13th September 1992.

This week we learned that South Western Railway have taken the decision to withdraw their allocation of Class 442 EMUs. It seems the thirty year old units (despite being the subject of an extensive, and expensive, ongoing refurb and upgrade) have reached the end of the road thanks in part to the reduced demand for passenger travel caused by Covid 19. See story at

I won’t try to tell the history of the ‘Plastic Pigs’ here, there are far better online resources for that at and for example. 

The news has made me dig out a couple of  images of the class from what was arguably their heyday in the early 1990s.

Introduced from 1988 for use on the Southern Region’s Waterloo to Weymouth route which had recently seen the third rail extended west from Bournemouth. The new Class 442/5WES units were based on the BR Mk 3 carriage design and incorporated electrical equipment from the Class 432/4REP units which had provided the front tline motive power on this route since the end of steam in 1967. While they weren’t everybody’s cup of tea, replacing as they did the popular REPs and bringing to an end the practice of operating Weymouth bound trains with push-pull fitted Class 33/1s beyond Bournemouth, they gained popularity over the years that followed as they provided comfortable and efficient travel in modern, air-conditioned, surroundings.

2421 waist at Eastleigh on a London bound service on 28th February 1993.

Although built for the Waterloo-Weymouth route they also appeared on Portsmouth line workings as well, again proving a big contrast to the 4CIG and 4BEP units that normally operated fast services over the hilly route. It was on these services that I had the majority of my early experiences with the 442s. They provided a reliable service for BR’s Network South East sector until the onset of rail privatisation, after which they continued to work for South West Trains in the new era. Withdrawal from SWT services came as the 24 units were not compatible with the new generation of Siemans built  Class 444 and 450 units. Amazingly they went on to find a new lease of life on the Brighton line, operating the Gatwick Express Service for several years, before the plan to return some units to their old haunts on the Portsmouth Direct Line with the new South Western Railway franchise were announced. There was also a proposal to use some on a new open access service from Waterloo to Southampton.

It seems time has finally run out for the Plastic Pigs. Their non-standard equipment combined with the current down turn in passenger figures has finally sealed their fate. Perhaps it won’t be long before overcrowded trains on the routes from Waterloo will return and make those in authority regret this decision. Time will tell.

Monday, March 22, 2021


Ryedown Lane – Locomotives and stock part 3

Like a lot of modellers, I suppose my main interest has always been in locomotives. In the nearly two decades since I returned to the hobby seriously, I’ve built up a sizeable and varied collection of locomotives, mostly from kits, not all of which are ideally suited to an English narrow gauge light railway set in the 1930s. Carriages and wagons often take second place and I know one or two very talented modellers who will happily spend hundreds of hours building and fettling complex brass locomotive kits yet have little or no interest in building the accompanying rolling stock. Personally, I’ve found constructing the carriages and wagons used on Ryedown Lane at least as interesting as building the motive power.

The first carriages that I built in 009 were various Parkside Dundas (as it then was) four wheelers, including two or three of the Glyn Valley Tramway carriages. Nice as they are matched up with a Beyer Peacock tram engine, they weren’t what I had in mind for a light railway supposedly opened in the first couple of years of the twentieth century. I turned instead to the same manufacturer’s Vale of Rheidol bogie carriages, the prototypes of which were of course built for a genuine two foot gauge light railway.

                                                Vale of Rheidol carriage built very much as the maker intended.

Like the majority of Dundas kits, the basic carriage is a delight to build and looked good with the Vale  of Rheidol four-wheel brake van that I’d already built.  However, having built two of the kits as the makers intended, I decided that I really wanted to operate two car trains without a separate brake van, so looked at ways of bashing the kit to provide a brake compo. The matchboard sides of the prototype make the job of cutting and shutting relatively easy, especially if one also uses a mitre block. Using this method, I cut four compartments from a pair of carriage sides and spliced them to a pair of brake van sides, which gave a nicely proportioned brake carriage body of the same length as the chassis. Having constructed the two previous two carriages as all thirds I decided to provide at least some accommodation for the better off clientele of the Wessex Light Railway and installed a partition turning the new carriage into a brake compo.

               The brake compo bash, achieved by combining the V of R carriage with the four wheel brake van body                       on the bogie underframe.

The off cuts from the bogie carriage sides left enough material to match up with the ends, roof and underframe of the brake van kit to provide a rather neat four-wheel carriage.

                                 The four wheel carriage built from the carriage off cuts mounted on the brake                                                               van underframe. I quite fancy building some more of these .

This was an enjoyable kit bash. I’m far from being the first person to do this conversion and there are numerous different ways to cut the carriage and van sides to provide a plethora of different combinations. Currently I’m working on a permanent loft layout which incorporates an 009 section representing another part of the Wessex Light Railway and which will give me the space to operate longer trains so we may yet need to bash another brake carriage.

  Making an exhibition of ourselves! Farnham MRC 009 Open day, 15th August 2021 Heavily involved in operating the layout solo I took very fe...