Latest News

27th Oct 2020

Quite a bit of activity lately, but mostly cabinet diorama progress, trying to get a set of six into a presentable state.  They are only representations of locations due to a number of factors, such as size limit, and they have also been designed to use mirrored ends.  You have to be careful with horizontal and vertical alignments, and elements like signs and numbers naturally read backwards unless you keep them out of the reflection!

This shows a ‘Chiseldon’ station building scene in late Victorian times.  Neil Podbery has modelled a curtain of trees behind the station platform fencing, and Detailed Miniatures have provided a group of posed station staff figures having their group photograph taken. I’ve made it so the the figures should align with the front of the displayed locomotive, which will, of course be the main focus. Display cabinet designs can be interesting, but their purpose is to provide a mini stage set, primarily accommodating the star of the show.

The station staff having their group photo taken.

Another of the six cabinet inserts depicts a running shed, and this is the interior, similar to the old Swindon stock shed. I put my old Metropolitan Railway 4-4-0T in for scale, and this display is the only one from this set to have more than one road.

I have managed to put in a few days of on site work at Kingswear, so please do keep up with our latest progress at the dedicated website…..

There has been a fairly recent update, and a visit from Norman Solomon to see how his original tracklaying was holding up.  It was very rewarding to meet up and talk over some of the unknown history of the model.  It turned out that the fully landscaped approach that we have produced would have been Norman’s favoured presentation in the first place.

A few sample photos follow here, mainly to show the scenic cover, which has had to be done in order, starting at the back of the presentation, then working forward to avoid any risk of damage to foreground.  The ballast, and river detail will be done once everything behind is complete.

Mind The Gap! ….. this ‘in progress’ view shows the 3D backscene surface in place, with the rear panel done to skyline. It is now the only remaining section to require scenic cover, between the Higher ferry ramp and the wooded chine near Coombe Cottage, just to the left of Hoodown.

A view of houses built on the lower slopes of Ridley Hill, looking out over the English Channel in the direction of Jersey and Guernsey.

The Greenway Bath House is now surrounded by trees

Another nice view of Britannia Halt with the fixed distant signal temporarily in place (and lit!), with some telegraph poles, helping to complete the scene. Again, a little more work remains to be done on the slipway, shoreline and some general tidying up. Even now though, I think, that this shows that it’s going to be a very convincing cameo in its own right. and it will provide additional operating interest with local trains pausing to drop off churns and supplies for the inn.

Britannia Halt and the Inn, with trees behind. This does still need a little more work but it’s taking shape now, with pavements, telegraph poles and signals. The background is getting there as well, but Neil still wants to spend a few more hours on the scrub land above the treeline.

We’ll be including this small river barge – from the very fine Artitec range, with some detailing and a coal load yet to be added.  Just posed in position for now, with the tide half out, and sitting quite low in the water as well, it looks dwarfed by the quayside. A much larger vessel is needed here and plans are afoot – watch this space… There is a notable absence of the station building and goods shed in the background, as these structures have been temporarily removed for some weathering work to be undertaken by Neil.

There has been a great deal of progress on the locomotives, but I’ll leave the descriptions to the experts who are undertaking the work, such as re-wheeling to P4, detailing, researching and painting, but we are very pleased that Gordon Gravett has agreed to help out the project by sending us some GA drawings and reference for a bulk cargo coaster to go alongside the timber wharf. 

This drawing is actually 1/8in = 1ft (1:96) so it will need to be re-scaled. One small point about ships dimensions: the length is usually given as BP (between perpendiculars) and this is not necessarily the overall length. You will see the Aft Perpendicular noted on the drawing as AP and the forward one as FP – it is between these references that the length is measured.  Gordon Gravett

Michael Casey, (the original layout owner) chose the M.V. ‘Alacrity’ because it was one he remembered from his time at Kingswear, so this will probably become the prototype, but there are GAs for three other ships, which were F. T. Everard vessels from the London docks at Greenhythe.  

A scan of one of Gordon’s original photos of the ‘Alacrity’ that he produced for Kingswear some years ago. These bulk cargo coasters were typically between 167 and 200 ft in length, and the book that Gordon originally used for reference was ‘Everard of Greenhythe’ by Captain K C Garrett.

Stephen Phillips recently contacted me regarding a book he is compiling on Geoff Williams’ EM gauge LNWR Aylesbury High St panoramic model.  The new account will describe the ground breaking model and its builder in detail, written by Geoff’s son Bob, drawing on family archive material.

It was suggested to Bob that it might be good to include some detail of the backscene conservation work in the content, and I agreed to contribute a few paragraphs covering this aspect, adding a little to the story of the layout.

Stephen still has a dog-eared 1971 Model Railway News with the original feature, and he remembers Jack Nelson’s work as an influence when training as a technical illustrator way back in time, like me, studying the conventions of vanishing points, foreshortening and eye level horizon.  All of this takes me straight back to my college days of course, and I will keep you informed of progress and a publication date.  

The forced perspective representations are still impressive even now, so it really was a pioneering work. Rather like George Iliffe Stokes, I think Geoff had the ability to capture atmosphere, and interestingly, he knew J. K. Nelson, who also did much experimental work with perspective models and dioramas. Perhaps they both took influence from museum dioramas and went on to adapt the technique to railway backgrounds. It’s hard to believe this all took place in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The Missenden Abbey online Autumn weekend event has now taken place, and thanks are due to all those who contributed and participated.  It has done a great job of raising awareness of the Railway Modellers courses, and we expect this to stand us in good stead in the future. Well done to Mick Bonwick, Chris Hopper, Mark Riddoch and Simon Roberts. for keeping the enthusiasm alive and well!

This is typical of many backscene study areas we normally apply to test sections at a Missenden Abbey spring weekend. A sketch with apparent size reduction of both land surface features and sky underside also appearing to recede to distance. The tick marks to the right provide a guide to indicate progressive layer spacing.

Andrew Hicks sent in this link to Oxrail 2020, which has plenty of content, such as layout features and video clips.

A frame from one of the layout videos, depicting shunting on ‘Old Parrock’

This would normally go into Michelle’s CPL blog, which we hope to get refreshed soon, but I thought it might be interesting to include it here because of the superb build quality.

Dave Thomas has done this superb G.W.R. Diagram N11 horse box, detailing it with CPL cast brass and etched components.

I may well be putting in some time on a marvellous 7mm scale model of Bourne End station and its surroundings.  This was about half way along the line between Maidenhead and High Wycombe, and the time period shown will be the late 1950s.  The Wycombe section from there was closed in May 1970, but oddly it still remains as a junction station for the Marlow Donkey branch which headed west for a little over three miles, following the low lying northern Thames riverbank.

The Thames at Marlow, just a short distance upstream, and we are considering a similar river scene for the left hand end of Bourne End, although probably presented in 3D. Amazingly, the Marlow Donkey still runs today and the ‘modernised’ terminus can be found a little further to the right of this popular view of the church and river from the lock.

Researching the surroundings of a railway model thoroughly always pays off in the end, as the less you have to guess, the better the end result will be.  It’s still early days on this one, but I have already found some very helpful local contacts in the Resident’s and Community Associations. 

The Marlow Donkey passing the Marina level crossing, which will become a necessary scenic break at the left rear view of the scenic section.

Barrie Penfold is the managing editor of ‘Target’ magazine, who I approached for help, and she has very kindly lent me a copy of ‘The way it was’, which is a compilation of photos from members and friends of the Bourne End Residents Association. It’s this kind of record that really helps to take some of that pesky guesswork out of the landscaping of a model. There are dozens of pictures that have never been published elsewhere, so while this is 24k gold for me, the trick is to just keep searching. One of the next steps will be to view and copy as many relevant period photos as I can from the local history section of the library.

I’ll be doing some ally rear panels soon for a permanently installed layout of Bluntisham, which is still in progress. The model will actually be a composite of features on the line between Ely and St Ives, and the landscape view will be looking southward with Ely cathedral on the horizon, seen beneath a big sky, with rolling clouds.  Fen villages are founded on rock outcrops poking up above the peat, and it’ll be at the end of summer, with cut wheat , growing sugarbeet and cabbages. Some fallow ground can also be included with ‘black’ peat soil.

This is the kind of sky I’m thinking of at the moment, but we’ll talk it over to make sure we get it right.

A scenic break will appear to left arranged as a road bridge, adjacent to the station  and there is a good possibility to mask the fiddle yard transition at the other end with a sugarbeet factory or similar. The alloy backscene panel curve at that end is a good, practical 2ft radius.

I haven’t been able to attend any of the Bucks Hill gatherings of late, which is a pity, as I thoroughly enjoy them, so here are a few archived lineside pictures, along with one or two from other models.  We do have an idea to make ‘Bucks Hill – the movie’ and I have done some preparatory work on this, writing voice over copy and finding still frame images, but it’s quite time consuming!

Class N15 ‘King Arthur’ class 4-6-0, No 30740 ‘Merlin’ from 71A Eastleigh shed in early B.R livery.

Lee Marsh Stanier Jubilee No 5593 ‘Kolhapur’ passes by with a rake of L.M.S suburban carriages in lined crimson lake livery. The lined black locomotive was built by the North British Company in 1934.

Kolhapur again with great exhaust retouch, at Sydney gardens.

An open cab pannier tank engine stands in the Bucks Hill yard while a steam roller is delivered in the sidings behind.

G.W.R. Collett 58xx class tank engine approaches the bay platform at Bucks Hill with a mixed branch line train from Hay-on-Wye. No 5818 was permanently on hand to run the daily branch line duties up and down the Golden Valley line until its eventual closure. The 0-4-2T was built in August 1933 and soon became the favourite of the resident driver Charlie Smith who had a habit of taking photos of the day to day activity up and down the line with his black & white camera. The model was built in 2005 from a Modern Outline kit with the usual refinements of detail, using a Zimmo sound chip. John Hayes then applied his painting skills for the finishing touch. Original by Barry Norman

A G.W.R Auto Train pauses at the up main platform ready to cross onto the Golden Valley branch line to Hay-on-Wye. The locomotive is a 517 class tank engine and the train wears the garter livery.

Ex G.W.R. Collett Prairie Tank No 4177 passes Bucks Hill with a single Southern Railway bogie brake van. The engine was built at the end of 1949 and by this time was allocated to 88F Treherbert shed.

Detail of an L.M.S. tank locomotive at Westcott

The famous Dean 4-4-0 ‘City of Truro’ passes by on the up main, seen here in the wonderful panelled monogram livery. The engine was originally built in Sept 1906.

A British Railways Standard 4MT Mogul No 76056 passes Ewyas Harold with a goods train.
The locomotive was built at Doncaster works in May 1955.

The American Pie dragster has made its last pass down Santa Pod Raceway for this season, and like all dragsters, it must now hibernate until March. The usual storage safeguards include standing the chassis up at both ends, blowing up the slicks to 9lbs (to keep their shape), dismantling the valve gear to even the valve spring loads, unpacking the chute and draining the fuel and oil out. There are a few other tasks to attend to, but no major work is required, as we have decided that the relatively few passes this year doesn’t warrant a full inspection teardown.

I’m in the background with my fingers in my ears, because I always forget to put my ear defenders on when we’re at the startline!     Original by Callum Pudge Photography.

At some point in the new year, I’ll be helping Neil out with some ally rear panels for a 7mm scale loft layout with some influence from Truro.  For the time being, I’ll just go through the usual process of seeing what would appear in view, and from there, we can then make any necessary changes.

The ‘Generate a Panorama’ view looks south, with an 80 degree directional frame limit to both east and west.

This is the panorama we get, which clearly shows the Truro River valley to the left. This only flows a short distance into the Tresillian River, then another confluence with the river Fal, and the south coast at Falmouth

A handy period map crop gives us the basic building blocks……

A modern street navigation helps to identify the surviving structures.

Thanks to Martin Finney, Paul Karau and Philip Hall, I will soon be able to update the Semley section of my site with some much better photos left over from their brilliant MRJ collaboration.

Looking north over the station with the tower of St Mary’s at East Knoyle to the left, and towards Fonthill Abbey, (just obscured by the raised ground to the right)

Ian Statham’s engine shed interior now has a lighting system based on light shades supplied by EMA, reamed out to take a 3mm LED. These are mounted on a channel section, 4 per bay, with the wires running along the channel and through the rear wall to connect to a 12 volt supply. Ian just has to build another seven of these now!

Richard Ellis of Monks Gate models is working on this excellent cutting diorama for Ian, and Neil Podbery will be doing the ground surfaces and foliage once it is painted. If you do like the look of this, there’s a possibility of doing similar versions to order, now all the laser cut templates are worked out, so by all means get in touch for more details.

Robin Ash has been working on another Wainwright D class he has obtained recently. It has a beautiful paint job, almost as good as a Lee Marsh, but it didn’t run at all well so the chassis was stripped down and fitted with painted and lined Slaters wheels and plunger pick ups including tender and it’s now much better. The pier section of the layout has now been moved to allow a 3D backscene, possibly including the ferry, so it certainly promises well.

10th Sept 2020

Work progresses apace on Kingswear, and with all the sky panels now in place, the clouds done over the joins, and the Greenway House and gardens scenic break pretty much complete, I can now confidently leave Neil to finish the remaining sections of 3D backscene work.  It’s mainly the scenic section between Higher Ferry and Hoodown that requires landscape cover, and once the rails and ballast are tested and complete, the foreground can be represented, which will be the exposed silt and low water at ebb tide which should make for an interesting study.

Some very handy reference, showing us a great deal more cleared land surface than today’s near continuous tree canopy. The slopes behind the Higher ferry will include garden allotments and patchy scrub land, just as it used to be.

To the left hand side of the Greenway scenic break, we have represented a facade of the famous house, and, as intended, it is now surrounded by trees with a small part of the formal gardens appearing on the slope below the lawn.

This view is taken from under the tree canopy, just a little distance away from the pleasant wooded paths that thread around the grounds. You can only just make out the south facing wall of the house through the undergrowth

A few more craft to populate the Waterhead Creek backwater, with still more to be added Some smaller ones will be placed further up the shore and in the boathouse behind.

First photo of the sidings and completed background, with a single LED strip on just behind the pelmet. Great even warm daylight and no pesky shadows.

3D backscene work above the cutting & tunnel scenic break, showing low relief farm buildings, hedgerows and colour matched trees.

The approach cutting to Greenway tunnel has recently had its scenic cover done and No 9643 emerges bunker first with a short train of brown stock. No less than eight new engines now await detailing, re-wheeling and weathering, so that will be an ongoing project over the next few months, along with the signalling which has now also begun. Please do refer to the ‘Kingswear for Dartmouth’ website to keep up with these aspects of the project.

This lovely print was saved in a folder a while ago, as I’m sometimes lucky enough to stumble across such things while looking for backscene reference.  It’s from the ‘Devonshire Illustrated’ series, published in 1832 by Fisher, Son & Co, from a very small engraved steel plate done by Thomas Allom.

Aside from its its lovely overall character, a number of things caught my eye, having just done a later period view in roughly the same direction.  The composition originally struck me as romanticised, but looking more carefully, as you navigate across to the Dartmouth bank, the headlands do visually appear to close together like this.  Of course it’s all down to the viewpoint, which changes the outlook depending which bank you are closest to, and it’s why ‘Generate a Panorama’ is such a useful device for confirming the land surface and sea level.

Even as a monotone print, the scene is bathed in wonderful light, and I think this is just after dawn on a winter’s morning.  It would have been pretty cold out on the water as the Sun rises due east and sets due west, but continues it’s journey southward until, at the winter solstice, it rises as far to the south as it ever does. This is what we see here, and Kingswear would be illuminated, while the facades of Dartmouth remain in shadow,

The bird in the foreground is a delightful touch, and It looks as though the tower of St Petrox church still had a spire at the time, and although it seems to be completely removed from the railway age, it was only going to be 32 years before the first trains appeared at Kingswear.

A progress pic of a diorama cabinet insert, done to represent the platform shelter side of Chiseldon Station, which opened on 27 July 1881 on the Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway. Through trains eventually came from the Midlands to the south past Chiseldon after an 1884 amalgamation forming the M&SWJR, and it is this period that we have chosen to represent. Some of the houses in this display have been reduced in width, allowing enough room for a view to distance between them.

This is a ‘Combe Halt’ diorama,which shows a platform scene about half a mile from its village (to the NW) and the hamlet of Combe East End (to the NE). It was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1935, and amazingly It survives today, still occasionally serving it’s Oxfordshire villages on the modern ‘Cotswold Line’.

Laurie Barber has done some panelled CPL coaches for his marvellous 1930s period Trowbridge layout, and he sent a few photos in. The backscene is his own work, and I’ll put the carriages in Michelle’s CPL update when we can get round to it, There’s already quite a backlog. Laurie Barber,

I recently did a couple of backscene idea sketches and some contour work for a coastal terminus with sidings and a passenger quay.

It’s coming along well, the pier is done and it includes a wonderful Lee Marsh Wainwright locomotive. With that, I thought the ideal location would be the south coast and as luck would have it I found a SE & CR steamer called the SS Engadine.

The SS Engadine was a fine looking vessel, and it was built by William Denney & Co. Dumbarton, for the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Company, for service on the Folkestone to Boulogne route.

What could make a better backscene than a 1911 ferry for a fine Edwardian engine on a pier? Let me know if you just need your backscene sketched out.  This idea would certainly lend itself to a semi relief presentation.

Ian Statham’s running shed is taking shape, with end walls and supports going in. Next job is to detail the floor surface with soot, oil and puddles!

Neil and I will shortly be paying a visit to an extensive loft layout under construction, based on Truro, to see what can be done in terms of surroundings and scenic cover.

Pat Humphrys sent in a picture of his latest tree in situ, just temporarily planted for now, and not scenically blended in yet. A tangled old hedgerow would provide a good grounding for this one.

Tim Thistlethwaite of MBS Models needed an early coupling chain and hook for a broad gauge Rover class locomotive and sent us this marvellous photo from Eupatoria, A lovely reproduction, developed from a plate glass negative. We managed to find another plate glass side view confirming that indeed the tender has the same coupling fitted.

Tim will fabricate the boss that is recessed into the buffer beam and send us some photos of the finished installation, but probably a little later in the year when the build will be finished

We managed to assemble enough parts to do the job, and we do supply Finney 7 with CPL couplings from time to time, including the Swindon GWR Screw shackles that were fitted to the Rover engines in later years.  Please do take the time to see their superb range of 7mm scale kits here……

The CPL pre-grouping style bufferbeam safety chains have done well and there are some installed build progress pictures on the way for those as well.

A few unpublished pictures, mostly monotone, and some from previous Bucks Hill sessions, some old, and some more recent. 

Sepia study of Stirling ‘Single’

Passengers at Bucks Hill up platform, looking north.

A Steam roller arrives in the yard with a water tank wagon.

No 3405 ‘Empire of India’ heads west with brown vehicles.

The station building and platform with figures

Our Lee Marsh ‘Duke of Connaught’ at Bristol old station.

The Summer Fields School project ‘Randolph’s yard’ at night, which now has stars as tiny points of light, constant ambient sounds, and window lights winking on and off. The chimney uses a cold water vapour effect to represent smoke while an animated crane loads and unloads a lorry at periodic random intervals. A working beam engine can be seen in the boiler house, and I’m sure before long they will think of even more additions to include as well as the usual train movements. Andrew Hicks.

This photo by the very talented Callum Pudge has captured American Pie in motion, nine seconds after its launch & still travelling at about 140mph with the brakes gently applied.  This is Santa Pod’s well maintained ‘shutdown’ area which is an asphalt surface extending for nearly half a mile beyond the quarter mile finish line, allowing plenty of safe slowing distance for eight second cars like ours.  (It’s a little less forgiving for the 6 and 5 second entries!)

The single 175mph Stroud parachute has deployed perfectly, with the pilot chute just visible behind. Callum Pudge.

A great clip from 1965, showing AA Fuel dragsters at the very spartan Fontana Raceway, a few miles to the west of San Bernardino CA, in the days where they went 7s at 200 and nobody had even heard of a computer!



26th July 2020

Mostly working on dioramas at the moment, and I’ll see if I can get a decent photo of one or two of these perhaps for next time.

We have now done a couple of mob days at Kingswear, working on the station forecourt and bay platform surfaces, with Paul making progress on locomotives and stock.  A few more newly finished landscape elements have gone in around the Greenway area and the sky panels are being fitted as well.  There’s still a lot to do.  

Paul has also done the level crossing surface and check rails at Britannia Halt, which gives us the ferry ramp level and the approach road surface height. As a result, we have been able to tack the small row of buildings into place along the Higher Ferry Road opposite the rear wall of the signal cabin. This job requires the use of a small spirit level, as virtually all the structures in the Dart valley are constructed onto sloping plots

A ‘warm daylight’ dimmable LED strip has been temporarily fitted in behind the pelmet above the Waterhead creek area.  It worked really well, giving the scene a superb even illumination with no unwanted shadows anywhere. The only things which might be worth adding in would be a second strip to increase the available intensity, and maybe a ‘sunlight’ spot effect to reflect off the rippled creek water surface, which the LEDs seemed to flatten out a bit.  All in all, a terrific effect,  The wiring for the building lights is virtually finished now (apart from signals which run from track current).

The last sky panel will be trimmed and fitted in next time, and even at 2.4m long each, they are still quite straightforward to install by just dropping them down behind the 3D backscene, aligning to the previous panel, and drilling it below the skyline for a nut and bolt through the upright.  Paul has positioned the top pelmet panels all the way round now, and they can just be temporarily set aside while we finish the sky and fill over the joins.

The stairs and ground surfaces surrounding the Greenway Bath House are now done, the old gun emplacement is located, as well as a section of wall surrounding the Camellia garden. Once all the foliage and tree cover goes onto the riverbank, most of these features will be obscured by undergrowth, the idea being that we only see them by looking beneath the tree canopy, leaving them just barely visible in dappled shadow.

The exposed silt will be seen at low tide beneath the Bath house, and Neil can bring this to life with pebbles, sand and layers of deposited seaweed.  I found a useful picture with layering for this foreground area, and we could include the eroded area at the back edge of the ridge.  This could be represented by adding some nearly dried out plaster just for a subtle effect which, once smoothed over a little, would look natural.  Maybe it comes about when the high tide level comes over and runs down the back making rivulets as it does so.

One of my favourite photos of sunlight glinting onto the water surface of the creek, and the well used rails.

In the locomotive department, It looks as if we’ll be able to confidently model a curved framed ‘Bulldog’ 4-4-0 No 3313 ‘Jupiter’, and No 6045 ‘King Richard 1’ as well, so we’ll be seeking reference on these, and keeping an eye out for any other candidates.

The ‘Kingswear for Dartmouth’ website is ready, and it looks quite interesting from a research project point of view, by all means have a look at the page via the link provided,

This is the home page pic for now, but we’ll change it as soon as we have a railway view. Thanks to all the enthusiastic modellers for their supportive comments and genuine interest, both on Facebook, the ‘RM Web’ forum and the ‘Western Thunder’ site.  Some copy has recently been added describing the materials and methods used to do the foliage work in the landscape page.  There are many others who have contributed their time and effort to this build along the way, so there’s a debt of gratitude to them as well, and there will be quite a bit more to come as the build progresses.

Here are a few pictures and captions for now……

Next to the locomotive is the No 2 wagon of William Beer & Co, one of five coal merchants in Kingsbridge, Devon.  The yard was in Fore Street, which was the principal thoroughfare of the town, running the whole length, with houses, shops and formed gardens to either side.

This is how the transition from village to woodland used to look, but this area now is a great deal more built up with rendered modern housing.  The decorative brick Victorian houses seen here still remain, dotted among the later additions, sometimes close to their original condition, and sometimes ‘modernised’.

‘Cordon’ gas tank wagons were often seen at Hoodown sidings in readiness for the daily task of re-supplying the ‘Torbay Express’ carriages.  The running line can be seen (freshly ballasted) behind the carriage, with the steeply sloping scrub land rising up behind the rails.  The siding in the foreground used to continue further along, and had formerly been ‘Forwoods’ coal siding serving an old jetty.  Owen Job, one of the signalmen, kept a basket alongside the Hoo Down carriage siding on the other side for waste food from the ‘Torbay’.  He used the scraps to feed animals on his smallholding, collecting it with a horse and cart.

Driver of Pannier tank 9643 stops for a word with the signalman before returning ‘light engine’ to Newton Abbott.  The Collett 57xx class was first introduced in 1933, and No 9643 emerged from Swindon works in early 1946.

The lights are working, but they are turned right up here. As they are dimmable, it’s going to be a question of adjusting them to achieve a subtle balance between the daylight and the evening intensity so everything looks understated.

Pannier tank No 9682 pauses briefly on the bridge at Waterhead Creek, with a guards van destined for an outgoing coal train for Torbay Gasworks. There is a long siding on the left, and shorter sidings on the right which are crossed by the Hoodown Crossing, giving access to the Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority workshop on the right, and to a road on the north side of Waterhead Creek. After crossing the Waterhead Viaduct across Waterhead Creek, the running line curves gently to the right as it approaches Kingswear station.

Riverside Wharf, Brixham Road and Ivydale.

Mick Bonwick has sent an update regarding the temporary situation with the Missenden Abbey Modeller events, so I’ll include it here in slightly abbreviated form.  He has come up with a proposed on-line substitute resource, and thats a great Idea that I will be happy to contribute to.  I’ll post any progress on this here as soon as I know more.

He has also reported the recent sad passing of Bob Alderman, who was a supporter of many railway projects, a tutor at Missenden, and a friend of mine…. R.I.P.

After much deliberation it has been decided that the Missenden Abbey Railway Modellers Autumn Weekend for 2020 is cancelled, however, instead of you coming to Missenden Abbey, we hope to bring a little of the Missenden experience to a computer near you.  We are looking to provide a ‘virtual’ weekend with an on-line selection of tutorials, articles and projects that can be accessed during the weekend of 16th – 18th October.  A full programme will be distributed soon, and if there is anything that you would like to see included, then please let us know via the ‘Contact Us’ page on the website.

We have put in some time lately developing a kit for pre-grouping style bufferbeam safety chains.  As we have had a few supplier difficulties, there are only a few kits currently in stock, but we expect to have full availability of these new products hopefully within a few weeks from now.  Of course, these did vary from company to company, so we have tried to include enough parts and spare components to enable different variations to be made quite easily.  I have included some copy from the instruction leaflet and a simple exploded view on the CPL site, and there are some limited stock 4mm scale detailing accessories listed, as well as a set of 7mm scale dining car bodies in partial kit form.

The kit includes:
4 Lost Wax Brass top shackles,
4 Lost Wax Brass cast hooks,
8 intermediate links,
1 length 20 thou extra link wire,
1 piece 40 thou plastikard.

CPL Safety chain details

Work has now begun on a mockup of a 3D backscene for the 7mm scale ‘Rosedale’, which is an exhibition layout under construction, depicting a Midland Railway branch line terminus c1900, located in the limestone hills of Derbyshire. 

This preliminary sketch shows an aspect of a typical village as seen from it’s station, looking along a valley with high peaks beyond.  This will be a good example of including a 3D landscape into an area of the layout where there is space allowed for well researched landscape features and authentic examples of local architecture.

This is the section where we can recreate the proposed scene in 3D.

Ian Statham sent in a few interesting items, and to start with, he has kept himself busy over the last 2 months building a Connoisseur kit of a LNER Class G5

No 67248 approaching Tunstow station with a local service.  The Worsdell 0-4-4T was completed at Darlington Works at the end of August 1900.

Ian has started making a running shed diorama by building the rear wall first, (see photo) and this is pretty much how I did my shed, painting the main components before final assembly.

A few unpublished pictures from previous Bucks Hill events again, some old, some more recent. I’m still looking forward to the next gathering of course for a good catch up.

A Double framed Dean ‘3252’ class 4-4-0 No 9083 ‘Comet’ passes Ewyas Harold on the down main with a short goods train. The locomotive was built at Swindon at the end of March 1899.

Dean single No 3039 ‘Dreadnought ‘ in the wonderful panelled ‘Monogram’ livery heads a down passenger service.

Churchward 2-8-0 No 3805 heads an up coal train. The loco wears the unlined goods livery with a simple shirtbutton roundel, and was built in August 1939 at Swindon.

Collett 4-6-0 No 5007 ‘Rougemont Castle’ was finished at Swindon in June 1927.  The origins of this highly successful design date back to the Star Class of 1907 which introduced the basic 4-cylinder 4-6-0 layout.  The Castles were about 10% more powerful than the Stars.

Adapted and cropped from a Model Rail Magazine feature photograph, this Chris Nevard study has been rendered in monotone and features GWR 4-4-0 curved frame Bulldog which was built in 1900. The model of No 3331 ‘Pegasus’ was built in the late nineties from a Martin Finney kit, with full inside motion and it uses a Portescap/ABC combination.  John Hayes painted and weathered this one, which features CPL combined name/number plates and couplings. The train has just entered the scenic section of Bucks Hill and is about to round the short curving embankment to the south west of the station. A tumbledown barn appears to be nearly surrounded by trees on the hillside behind. Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine

A study of a six wheeled tank wagon built by Phil Gomm.

Phil Gomm’s photogenic Collett 1400 class 0-4-2 No 1473 with an auto trailer.  The locomotive was built at Swindon in April 1936, and these were a familiar sight on many Great Western branch lines.  In later BR days, some of them were painted in fully lined out passenger green livery.

This photo of my first dragster came to light recently, and I had no idea it even existed.  It’s different in configuration to American Pie, because it has the motive power positioned behind the pilot.  This type is known as a back motor dragster, and it has a Hilborn injected 302 cubic inch Chevrolet V8 with a 350HP output  We managed a 9.4 second elapsed time with this car.

This interesting photo appeared recently on Instagram, and it shows the right bank of our Plymouth V8, which contains cylinders Nos 1, 3 ,5 & 7.

Credit for this image goes to 

This view of Amersham old town appeared in a Buckinghamshire ‘Little Guide’ which was given to me recently.  These charming little hardback pocket books were originally compiled by E.S. Roscoe in 1903, but I have an example of the seventh edition, published in early 1950.

This photo looks like pre-war Amersham, so it hasn’t been updated, and presents a pleasant, less cluttered place, as a pose to the current attractively framed car park!

4th June 2020

Working on a batch of dioramas at the moment, with several on the go at once, including a variety of different scenes, ranging from open rural landscapes to busy depot scenarios with townscape backgrounds.

Paul Woodward has also been making steady progress with the Kingswear project and he is receiving a great deal of encouragement and support from the modelling fraternity.  I am very pleased with this, as it really keeps the enthusiasm topped up, and we’ll be able to pick things up again very quickly when the time comes. There’s plenty to be getting on with, and lately some more of the underside wiring has been connected to enable the lighting of the buildings.

Once there is a little more rolling stock sorted out, I’ll provide a link to the new website and it can then strike a happy balance between the architectural and historic research aspects of Kingswear, and the specific railway content.  The model will eventually feature a prototypical stable of locomotives representing the Forties period, but it’s very much an ongoing project at the moment.

A second careening berth has now been made for the shoreline approaching Brittannia Halt and Kingswear Signal Box is now finished, and temporarily rested in place.

A few of the details may need modifying slightly in due course but Paul has captured the overall character very nicely. Some more detail can be added, such as the timber walkways covering the point rodding, and a hedge at the far end, which Neil will no doubt have fun with, along with a missing telegraph pole.

We are part way through a set of labelled pics of Kingswear houses as Paul is keen to publish these eventually as a record of the research that went into the townscape.  The upper half of the steep riverbank is still wooded, but the lower trees have long since been cleared away for houses and gardens.  Small lanes and narrow paths have been cut, and stone retaining walls now provide step plateaus for the houses and hotels.  Cleared gardens are simply represented as a patchwork quilt running down the steep sides of the creek.

At the other end of the model, we have included a representation of Greenway, and this 1854 OS map of the estate has come in quite handy,  showing gardens, orchards and cleared meadows beyond. Five walled gardens were set out around the house between 1791 and 1839 with the Camellia Garden set to the south west in an irregular walled enclosure with an east-west path. A stepped path from the Camellia Garden leads east to a circular walled seat, and another leads south to the Saluting Battery, and the Bath and Boat house which is done.  I’ll get a photo of that up once Neil has blended it into the tree covered lower riverbank

The Saluting Battery is indicated to the west of the bath house, with a sales document of 1851 stating that there was a ‘battery of nine-pounder saluting cannons’ upon a semicircular platform enclosed by a low crenellated stone wall with extensive views north-west and south along the River Dart.  The Battery appears to have been part of the defences of the Dart estuary constructed during the Napoleonic wars.

Summer sky and the furthest visible headland on the Dartmouth side.  Done from reference, the sloped fields rise up from Warfleet creek, and over Weeke Hill (at centre).

In the meantime, as we wait to resume progress, Neil has been undertaking weathering commissions as well as making headway on his own diorama work, and here’s a good example of a preparatory sketch for one end of a mainline cabinet diorama.  This is still in the planning stage, but it always pays to sketch and mock up the job in order to visualise the scene before committing to the actual nuts and bolts. Neil Podbery

Another example of specific weathering work in this study of a 10 ton Southern Railway open.

Andrew Hicks has sent an update on ‘Randolph’s Yard’ which is a small shunting puzzle and diorama layout he has been building with the boys of Summer Fields School.

The idea was to develop a curriculum to expose the boys to the best of the hobby, sufficient to inspire them, as well as giving them the confidence to start off on their own.  The working historic model project also makes a point of including new technology, all of which ties into school curriculums for DT, physics and art, among other subjects.

The Randolph’s Yard diorama started with an introduction to perspective and backscenes, (which I was happy to help out with), as well as making a practical start on Scalescenes paper kits with Andrew. The 3D backscene has come out very well indeed, blending really well with the scale models in the foreground and it’s based on the layered townscape exercise we did in the first work session. The windows are lit in three groups, independently controlled to come on and off at random during night sequences.

This has been such a success that Andrew, and his teaching colleagues at the Summer Fields School are to be congratulated on their effort, and the building of Randolph’s Yard will eventually be published in Railway Modeller Magazine in two parts.

This is a small townscape section in progress, that will be visible between two larger foreground buildings in a display diorama cabinet. To the right will be a typical coaling stage/water tower, while an industrial building obscures the view to the right.  It’s only about an inch and a quarter in depth, and a row of 6mm scale loco coal wagons appear just below this (at the top of the incline).  A ‘King’ class locomotive will eventually take centre stage.

I’ll include a few examples of ready made 2D backscenes in this update from a variety of sources, because one of them really did give me a good idea for a diorama project.  The old style illustrated backscenes do take quite a bit of criticism nowadays, and they can suffer from the awkward combination of a perspective image in 2D and a moving observer, but the main reason why these otherwise very well presented backdrops fail the illusion test is because the opportunity to include them as the furthest visible element of an otherwise 3D scene is rarely, if ever, taken up.

It’s not the quality of the illustration that is the problem, because having done a few of these, I’d say most of them are well rendered.  With a progressive relief applied to other, similar facade buildings in the foreground,  as well as some cutting and layering, these could be persuaded to form quite a good backdrop, especially if care is taken to obscure those pesky foreshortened viewing angles by using view blocking devices at either side.  It might be fun to try an experiment and see what could be achieved, because it would be simple and inexpensive to just buy one, then get it scanned and reprint it colour/size adjusted to suit the rear panel of a card mockup.

The famous village 2D backdrop looks a bit like Pinner High Street, and is another one of those images that I’ll occasionally browse.  It may be seen as ‘old hat’ but it could still give very good service on an older style freelance when applied creatively, and many of the 2D perspective issues could be brought to heel by considering it as a potential backing panel of an otherwise 3D presentation.

Here’s another old backscene example, but again it’s actually well drawn and could be very successfully applied, especially with care given to the viewing height and again, the image can be augmented with 3D detail in front to bring it to life. With dock cranes and other vessels, it’s going to be really susceptible to shadow problems so be really careful with the lighting.

This advert appeared in a 1980’s Railway Modeller magazine and it gave me a bit of an idea for a background for a ‘boat train’ diorama that I started a little while ago.  I’m looking at etches to do the jibs of the dockside cranes and other small scale warehouses, as well as being part way to doing two 7mm scale ships for the foreground and a dockside crane.  It’s not something I can get round to for a few more months, but it would be a terrific cabinet diorama subject. 

This would make a different diorama, and you could alternate between seeing posh boat trains with prestige passenger locomotives on the quayside, or goods trains shunted by industrial and dock engines just as well.  I have made a fair bit of progress on it now, partly because it’s a little different and most model dockside scenes depict smaller vessels moored against high harbour walls, with the trains seen above and behind them.  This one has larger vessels behind instead, and the trains can be seen in front.  Between the stern of one ship, and the bow of another, a liner can be seen, with the jibs of cranes visible behind it.  I think this one might look good at night, with the shadows of the cranes and slowly moving wagons making patterns on the cobbled dockside.  The scene would benefit from a convincing sound track loop as well, with old fashioned ship/crane sounds and gently lapping waves.  It could be arranged with fiddleyards and taken to exhibitions in an estate type car for amusement.

The new range of Peco backscenes are photographically generated, but as they are lucky enough to be located in a very beautiful part of the country, it was only natural that they would look close to home for their first subject.  This lovely panorama was taken by the bank of the picturesque River Axe

Obviously, we haven’t been to any gatherings at Bucks Hill lately, but I can still post a few previously unpublished images from Bucks Hill and some from Phil Gomm, who has very kindly sent in some pictures of his latest projects, which are well worth a look.

The first one is Holden J15 0-6-0 No 65390.  The ex Great Eastern Railway 0-6-0 was built in 1900 at Stratford Works, and like many of Phil’s models it has a link to the G.C. London extension line in its last years, being allocated to 34E Neasden shed.  Phil Gomm

Phil has made this Brake van recently which would accompany No 65390 on it’s travels, and there is a Modelu figure of our old friend Paul Glover sat on the bench seat!  Phil Gomm

A study of Ex L.N.E.R. Gresley corridor carriage No E3367E

This Thompson B1 class 4-6-0 No 61028 ‘Umseke’ is another one from Phil’s collection. The locomotive was built at Darlington Works in the summer of 1947, and it’s shed allocations were Neasden and Woodford Halse, both located on the ex Great Central Railway London extension. Phil has done his own weathering from photographic reference.

Maunsell Schools class No 30925 ‘Cheltenham’ was built in summer 1934 at Eastleigh works, and it appears on the down main at Ewyas Harold.  These were the last locomotives in Britain to be designed with this wheel arrangement, and were the most powerful class of 4-4-0 ever produced in Europe.  All 40 were named after English public schools, and were designed as intermediate express passenger locomotives for lines which could cope with high axle loads but had short turntables.  The basic layout of the class was influenced by the existing ‘’Lord Nelson’’ class 4-6-0 design, but the use of the round topped firebox enabled Maunsell to design the cab’s curved profile to fit the gauge restrictions of the Hastings line while still allowing adequate forward visibility. The short frame length of the 4-4-0 locomotive also caused very little overhang on the line’s tight curves.  ‘Cheltenham’ was used on the old GC line between Marylebone and Woodford Halse for a week or so after a railtour as well as some passenger duties and returns from Banbury on milk tanker empties. As usual, Phil has weathered, and presented this locomotive from his own photographic reference.

Phil has also just finished this MOK kit build of a 9F BR Standard 2-10-0, which represents No 92132.  The loco was built at Crewe Works in 1957.

This is an overview of Tim Peacock’s excellent High Wycombe station area, not including the goods sheds and sidings in the immediate foreground, which Tim is currently working on.  The suburb of Totteridge occupies the southern slope of Amersham Hill rising directly behind the station as we look north, and Tim intends to reproduce this as part of the 3D backscene to complete the surroundings. Tim Peacock

Here is the first test section rested in position with the various prototypical commercial buildings and residential roads as they appeared at the time.  This is a great opportunity to see a well researched and mapped out test section like this doing its job.   It provides not only a historically accurate townscape presented in relief, but also enables a quick visual to check the environment and the relative balance in comparison to its scale model below.  I find it helps to just leave a mockup in place for a while just to get used to the transformation of the view, as it’s a shock to the system to go from no backscene at all to a full on 3D scene to distance.  If you are considering a 3D effort for your layout, this is the very best way to approach it. Tim Peacock.

Ian Statham sent in this view of his ‘Tunstow’ station facade rested in position on the brick overbridge scenic break at the right hand end , and it’s working very nicely.  The slightly under scale reproduction of Stone station in Staffordshire has been produced with moulded architectural carved limestone detailing all done in Ian’s favourite Das clay,including the capping as well as all the window mullions and arched portico entrance.  The window glazing bars have been successfully included by using strips of self adhesive vinyl sheet, so we are still gainfully using what used to be known as sticky back plastic!

No race activity at Santa Pod yet this season, and so along with the rest of the Wild Bunch, I have no choice but to wait, and anticipate a return………  We’ll get adequate notice from WB to enable the preparation tasks to be done without panic.  This Gary Colman photo shows us backing up American Pie to it’s optimum place at the startline after it’s burnout, but we didnt get it quite right this time!  I’ll settle for the chance to improve later on this year and keep you posted.

A little while ago, Tony Geary took on a CPL 7mm scale Diagram N16 and also obligingly researched the correct type of lamp top which we didn’t have at the time,  along with quite a few other details.  As always with Tony’s craftsmanship, the end result is stunning.   Here’s a good photo which appeared in a post on the O Gauge Scale Modellers Facebook page which was then passed on to us by Dave Thomas.  Tony’s build was expertly painted by Paul Moore.

We do have one more of these in stock and they will be coming complete with lamp tops next time! I’ll speak to Tony about the other missing components to complete the job as soon as soon as I can get round to it.

3rd May 2020

Just quietly working away this month, I have an endless amount to do with many dioramas to design and build, and no excuse not to get on with them!  I’ll just put a few captioned pics up here from all over the place for now, but I’m really looking forward to getting back on site to finish my responsibilities at the Kingswear P4 layout.  There are still plenty of jobs to do around the Greenway and Britannia halt areas, as well as aligning, fitting, and invisibly joining all the sky panels to form a continuous diorama. 

The station backscene is now done, and because the baseboards are quite wide at this point, it means that all the station structures and detailing can now be permanently fitted into the foreground.  Paul is making good progress on this, with work on the canopy structure, as well as ongoing research into signals and telegraph arrangements.  We have now begun to populate the Kingswear website with reference photos and maps, and although it’s a bit too soon to publish, it’s coming along quite well.

This sky panel will appear above the Hoodown riverbank and it features a breezy look, with the cloud tops dissipating, and a subtle high altitude mackerel vapour layer behind.

Neil has managed to catch up on his backlog of weathering commissions, and here are a few examples he sent over.

Kevin Wilson’s Masterpiece Clan

Rose Smith & co 8 plank open wagon

Autumn sunlight on Neil’s siding diorama, with an ex G.W.R. pannier nearly finished, and a gabled building in the middle distance.

Pannier cab & bunker monotone study

Ian Statham has been working on the factory facade for the left hand fiddle yard side. weathering down of the lintels and sills.

The final lettering/signs have now been added by printing the words onto stiff paper and cutting out to make a stencil.

Ian is also having a double track diorama built to display his Saint class G.W.R. Atlantic, No 185 ‘Peveril of the Peak’ (Sir Walter Scott’s longest novel of 1823) with an accompanying carriage. It will feature a tunnel portal at one end and an over bridge at the other, with the loco being fully out in the open and the rear end of the carriage being concealed inside the portal,  A low retaining wall will appear below track level at the front with a high wall rising well above track level behind. 

Thirteen of these were built as 4-4-2s and six as 4-6-0s. However, by January 1913, Churchward was persuaded by the superior adhesion provided by a 4-6-0 and they had all been converted to this wheel arrangement. The new locomotives were numbered 172–190 with twelve of them named after characters in the novels of Sir Walter Scott.

The liveries and crests are consistent with either 1906-1908 as Atlantic No 185 was converted in about 1912.  It was originally allocated to Westbourne Park (Paddington) and latterly to Landore (Swansea). so the location of the scene cold be either be between South Wales and London Paddington, but possibly also the West Country to Bristol and beyond to Exeter.  In May 1906, Charles Collett, then assistant manager of Swindon Works, supervised a demonstration run of number 2903 Lady of Lyons, newly released from the erecting shop. By mile-post timings observed from the engine and from passing times recorded at Little Somerford and Hullavington signal boxes, 4 1⁄2 miles apart and with a descending gradient of 1 in 300 between them, a speed of 120 miles per hour was noted.

Because of the variety of shackles and trunnions on the CPL 7mm scale coupling kits, we sometimes get enquiries whether we can assemble types from other railway companies, and here are a couple of examples. 

Ken-de Groome’s superb Metropolitan Railway Bo Bo uses a modified CPL coupling.

Cambrian Railway Co 0-4-4T No 8 stands at Aberwstwyth.  A 3-link & loose screw coupling recently  supplied for a private scratchbuild.

By all means get in touch if you have a pre-grouping, or foreign design that differs from the existing kits, and we’ll see what we can come up with.

A few unpublished pictures from previous Bucks Hill events, some old, some more recent. Everyone is naturally looking forward to the next gathering, which will be absolutely mobbed with attendees and a mile long queue of wonderful newly finished locomotives!

A ‘2883’ class 2-8-0 passes the up platform ends at Bucks Hill with an up coal train.  No. 3806 was built in summer 1939, and it appears in the austere Great Western livery of unlined Brunswick green with just a shirtbutton roundel on the tender.

Designed by Richard Maunsell for the Southern Railway in 1930, the ‘V Class’, better known as the ‘Schools’ Class’ were essentially a modified ‘Lord Nelson’ locomotive.  Maunsell used the round-topped firebox from the ‘King Arthur’ class, which had the useful side-effect of making them  narrow enough for routes such as Tonbridge to Hastings with it’s restricted loading gauge. No 926 ‘Repton’ was completed at Eastleigh in May 1934 and spent most of it’s working life in the Bournemouth area.  The superb model in it’s BR livery was brought along by the well known painting & lining expert Ian Rathbone.

I sent a few photos of No 2924 ‘Saint Helena’ to Chris Gates a few weeks ago. he used to own the locomotive but didn’t have a record of it.  Once Chris has done his house move, he’s going to start a scenic layout based on the Dart valley which I’m really looking forward to seeing. The 77 ‘Saint’ class locomotives were built with some design influence from a De-Glehn Compound Atlantic in four production series between 1905 and 1913, and St Helena emerged from Swindon Works in September 1907

No 102 ‘La France’ at Ewyas Harold wearing it’s fine lined black livery.  There are certainly some similarities in proportion between these and the Saints.  It might be interesting to overlay the GA drawings to see what lines up.  Original by Richard Chetland

A 57’ toplight seven compartment corridor third passes by on the up main.  No 7745 was built by John Petcher using Trevor Charlton etched sides. Original by Barry Norman.

The G.W.R ‘Grange’ class 4-6-0s were effectively a smaller-wheeled version of the Hall Class, and although built to a thirty five-year old design, they proved to be reliable performers. They could handle most duties on the network, with their smaller driving wheels giving them a higher tractive effort than the Hall Class. They were often used for the haulage of perishable goods, such as fruit and broccoli, and for excursion trains. No 6829 ‘Burmington Grange’ was built at Swindon in the late 30s.

Four prototype 4-4-0 double-frame locomotives were built at the Swindon Works of the Great Western Railway in 1894, becoming known as the ‘Armstrong’ class.  At the end of the 19th century the four locos ran between London and Bristol, but after about 1910 they were moved to Wolverhampton and worked north from there. Rather later, between 1915 and 1923, all four were rebuilt with 6 ft 8.5 in (2.04 m) driving wheels and Standard No. 2 boilers, becoming members of the Flower class. Here is a detail of the attractive splasher arrangement of No 16 ‘Brunel’

Pristine Lee Marsh on the down main at Ewyas Harold

Sepiatone of Lee Marsh carriages standing at Temple Meads. The example in the platform road is in the 1912 lake livery.  Lee Marsh

Roof detail study of Temple Meads old station

Dean Single & Clerestory carriage. Cliff Williams

Norman Solomon has been keeping up with the Kingswear progress, as he originally laid the rails, and once we get a bit further along, he’ll pay us a visit.

Norman sent in this superbly made assembly of pointwork he has just done, and although it looks like a P4 panel it’s actually done in OO.  Norman Soloman.

One of Norman’s reference photos

American Pie is pretty much ready, so it’s all revved up and no place to go!  As soon as the revised event calendar is finalised, I will re-assemble the valvegear, fit a new ignition battery and load the van using my trusty dog eared checklist!  I’ll post a link to the relevant info as soon as anything is released….. come along if you need a break from modelling, but bring some earplugs!. @Hemidragster (facebook)

Nowadays, every drag race event is oversubscribed, and this year will be even worse than normal.  As a result, there are only a few scheduled passes in a day for each entry, so the ‘Pie’ spends most of the time getting fussed over in it’s designated Wild Bunch pit area while we wait for the marshalls to call us, and our competitors into the fire-up road.  Mark is changing one of the two flow restriction jets (known as pills) that allow him to adjust the air/methanol ratio.

This shows one bank of the engine, with a valve cover removed for maintenance.  It clearly shows the ally replacement ‘hemi’ heads which were cast using resin bonded sand cores in the Edelbrock Foundry, San Jacinto CA. These are much lighter than the original Plymouth iron versions, and they come fully machined for combustion chamber ‘O’ rings as well as other improvements like sturdier port roofs for heavy duty valvesprings.  The Ray Barton roller bearing valve gear, has individual rocker shafts, (unlike most hemis), and these are exclusively produced for them by T&D Machine of Carson City, Nevada.

In order to obtain greater passenger accommodation, the GWR built a great many different types of trailers to pair up with the new steam rail motors and later auto trains. We do have a few of these listed as 15 thou etched sides, ends and other components in 7mm scale, and they can be found here :

The Wikipedia resource, has quite a useful reference table that goes some way to help identifying these, while also dating rebuilds as well, which continued well into the BR period and the mid-fifties.

The ‘L’ tools have just been dispatched for new batches to be made in 4 & 7mm scales, so let us know if you would like one, and trade enquiries are most welcome.  Please do bear in mind that we have A27 Trailers in 4mm as well, so e-mail or call whichever you prefer.

Here are a couple of scans of the Edwardian GWR trailer Diagram ‘L’ , which a few modellers are now beginning to build as part of one of the original combinations of railmotor and trailer.  The first six of these 70 ft vehicles were constructed in 1906 as lot 1108 and numbered 29-34, and they do differ to the much shorter Dapol Auto trailer which is to Diagram N of 1907, and again to the Great Western Society’ restored 1912 steam railmotor trailer No 92 which is 70ft, but is built to Diagram U.

 17th March 2020

The Missenden Abbey Modellers Spring Weekend has now taken place, and as usual, it turned out to be a success.  I would like to thank the participants for their encouraging feedback on the backscene course and I’ll include a couple of project test sections.  Other examples of course work will be published on their newly updated website in due course.

Nigel Phillips attended the Abbey, and did this section as part of the preparation for his new project.  It’s going to be a model of a lineside depot on the approach to Penzance station, and the landscape must represent the layered contours of the Cornish coast, looking inland directly north. 

Tim Peacock wanted to put together a 3D test mockup for his High Wycombe layout, and this excellent folded card townscape was the result.  The front row of buildings in this view correspond to the period mapping, while the subsequent layers appear in progressively reduced scales.

Kingswear is still making good progress, and as with many layouts, we have had to provide a scenic visual ‘break’, and some scale compression of the line has been necessary to allow this.  The obvious local feature to do the job was the southern portal of Greenway tunnel, so we chose to include some of the landscape features that surround it.

No one knows exactly when Agatha Christie first spotted Greenway, (which is sited just above and to the west of the tunnel mouth) but what is known is that she immediately fell in love with it, buying the house for their holiday home together with 35 acres of grounds for £6,000. Both Agatha and her husband Max Mallowan were keen gardeners, and here together they continued the traditions first established by Roope Harris.  Max Mallowan was knighted for his services to archaeology and later Agatha Christie was made a Dame of the British Empire.  The house facade is seen here at skyline, represented in reduced scale.  Neil Podbery.

This Royal Navy bus will probably take it’s place alongside Britannia halt, waiting for the higher ferry, (probably going over to drop off the laundry from the naval college).

In our reference file, we noticed a row of horizontal timbers at the waterline by the creek bridge, and these were used for ‘careening’, or ‘heaving down’.  This was the practice of grounding a sailing vessel at high tide, in order to expose one side of its hull for maintenance and repairs below the water line at ebb tide.

The process involved securing a top halyard to the sturdy timber uprights to pull the mast over as far as possible.  As the tide went out, maintenance jobs could be performed, possibly damage repair, tarring the exterior to reduce leakage (caulking), or removing fouling organisms, such as barnacles, to increase the ship’s speed.  We’ll have see if it’s best to model this practise or just leave it unused.

Paul sent me this more recent shot of the scenic break feature, with his addition of period motor vehicles, and it’s great to see these detailing touches breathing life into the scene, some 3mm nominal trees in front of the house will eventually add another focal layer to help ‘frame’ this scene.  Dame Agatha gifted Greenway to her daughter Rosalind in 1959 and passing away 17 years later at the age of 85.  Rosalind and her family eventually agreed to give this historic place together with Lower Greenway Farm (which we have represented a little to the east) to the National Trust.  Paul Woodward

Looks as if it might be cancelled….. check the RM web, and the official link below.

There was a most enjoyable gathering at Bucks Hill recently, with a good number of visiting locomotives, so here are just a few studies, courtesy of Dave Thomas.

No 1165 pauses outside Bucks Hill cabin. These small 0-4-2T tank engines were designed by George Armstrong for local passenger work on the Great Western Railway, and were built at Wolverhampton Works. Earlier ones were rebuilt from saddle tanks while the later ones were built as side tanks from the beginning, and as late as the 1920s, members of this class were still to be found in almost all parts of the GWR system. Dave Thomas.

Ex G.W.R. Collett 2-6-2T No 4105 in early period British Railways black livery passes Ewyas Harold with loco coal empties. The original was a member of a modified design of the 5100 Class introduced in 1929, and this particular example was built at Swindon at the end of September 1935.  Dave Thomas.

Pristine Lee Marsh Collett 5101 Class prairie tank locomotive No 5109 passes with a down van train.  This member of the class was finished at Swindon at the very end of 1929, and is shown here in as built condition wearing the unlined Brunswick green livery.  Note the correct pattern G.W.R. Instanter coupling with it’s distinctive forged centre link on the first van.  Dave Thomas

Fowler Patriot 4-6-0 No 5538 was built at Crewe in 1933, and received the name ‘Giggleswick’ in 1938. In this view, wearing the attractive lined black livery, it heads east with L.M.S. corridor stock.  Dave Thomas

A view over Bucks Hill goods yard, with Callow Hill Wood behind.  A variety of vans and an open cab pannier tank locomotive rest in the sidings.  Dave Thomas

Monotone study of G.W.R. open cab pannier no 1873 in typical early 1920s condition. Dave Thomas

Clean ex L.M.S. No 45428 passes Ewyas Harold with open wagons. This particular locomotive was built by Armstrong Whitworth at the end of 1937, and by the time it gained the British Railways livery, it’s home depot was Carlisle Upperby.  In their early days these locomotives were known as ‘Black Staniers’ from their livery, in contrast to Stanier’s other class of 4-6-0, the ‘Jubilee’ Class, which were painted crimson (and originally referred to as ‘Red Staniers’). Only later did the nickname of the former became ‘Black Five’, referring to the power classification.

Study of a 517 class No 568, which was built at Wolverhampton in 1869/70

517 class No 1165 leaves Bucks Hill’s bay platform with its branch line passenger train, passing under the lower quadrant bracket signal.  Alongside, the signal for the up main is also off, so the slow moving local train will soon be passed by an up main line service. Dave Thomas.

L.N.W.R. 4-4-0 No 106 ‘Orion’  This fine looking class were introduced by George Whale in 1904 and 130 examples were built by Crewe Works up to 1907. Their introduction allowed Whale to phase out his predecessor Francis Webb’s unreliable compound locomotives. They were essentially a larger version of Webb’s LNWR Improved Precedent Class. As built, they were saturated, though some were later superheated. Unfortunately, none were preserved.  Dave Thomas.

Aside from the day job, I must start to get on with the list of jobs to get the American Pie Dragster ready for the Wild Bunch season.  The car needs a new on board ignition battery, along with a list of other tidying up chores.  In the week before the first event, I must re-assemble and carefully check the valve gear, and finally,  I have also produced a lever jack stand for the chassis front that looks like a cross between a scaled down medieval siege engine and a Zimmer frame….very appropriate for us!

Here’s a great shot of ‘The Pie’ at the end of last season.  It shows the car in the last few seconds before launch, and the parachute safety pin has just been removed by me ready for Dan to press the deployment pedal in approximately eight seconds time.  Only a few minutes ago, in the staging lanes, the slicks have had their air pressures balanced to exactly six P.S.I. each, enabling an even leave, and as straight a pass as possible. Thanks to Gary Colman for the pic.

I remember airbrushing the cover header for ‘Forward’, the Great Central Railway Society’s quarterly journal years ago, based on the lined out continuous splasher of a Director class locomotive. The Society exists to promote an historical interest in the (GCR) which existed until the Grouping of 1923, and ‘Forward’ (which was the company’s motto) is still is sent to all members




I also designed a flyer leaflet for shows to explain the activities of the society, by adapting a promotional poster of the period for the cover to fit an extended portrait format like a tourist leaflet.

I used to place gouache paintings in local galleries when I lived in Rayners Lane, and the original of this historic view of Pinner was sold a only few weeks after it was done.  This printed copy is all I have left, and it shows the oldest part of the village, looking up the High Street towards the fourteenth-century parish church of St. John the Baptist. This view is in the early victorian times before the tall telegraph poles were put up, with the Temperance Tea Rooms to the left and the Butchers shop to the right.  The top end of the High Street is a lot more overgrown nowadays, but other than that, the location still retains much of its old character.

The village expanded rapidly between 1923 and 1939 when a series of garden estates, including the architecturally significant Pinnerwood estate conservation area (encouraged by the Metropolitan Railway) grew around the old village.  From this period, the locality assumed much of its present-day suburban character, and the area is now practically continuous with all it’s neighbouring suburban districts such as Northwood and Eastcote.

24th January 2020

Most of the southern end of Kingswear’s backscene is now done, but a few final levelling jobs and attention to panel joins still need to be done on site, along with fitting some reduced scale facades among the trees on panel 5.  Neil will be taking care of the trees to skyline on 3 & 4, and most of the sky rear panels are now painted including a partial mackerel sky to distance. Paul has also started work on the facia with the pelmets done in curved lightweight aluminium sheet, so there has been a lot of progress lately.

The Waterhead Creek section of Kingswear’s backscene is basically there now, only needing some continuation of cloud cover to the left and a few more small craft beached on the tidal mud, along with their mooring ropes.  A handsome Great Western Railway train rumbling across the metal bridge on it’s way inland will eventually complete the picture.

These buildings have all been adjusted into final position with one of those new fangled laser beam spirit levels, so once the panel joins are done, I’ll take some wider format pics.  I have started compiling a Kingswear section for this site, but only with thumbnails so as to leave the train subject views for magazine features etc.  Paul is currently building a collection of stock which would have been seen at Kingswear, but I’ll leave those descriptions to the experts!

The aluminium rear panel for the Greenway tunnel scenic break has been scurfed, base blue painted and high, layered clouds appear now from horizon, to break their formations while still over far distance.  These will be partially obscured by the skyline trees growing from the high contoured land surface above the Greenway tunnel mouth.

This section is done now, although it has had to be foreshortened a little.

The small four windowed building at the centre of this thumb is the school, and it’s right hand gable was extended over the wooden brackets that hold the bell top pivot.

The Hoodown locality to the east of the line is now being represented, and the Higher Ferry must be researched and scaled.  Paul has done a great deal of the contouring work already and the next session will describe the natural slope of the riverbank and the engineering cut into the tunnel approach at Greenway.

Michelle has been tidying and adding content to the CPL website, with news updates, and a secondhand ‘for sale’ section has been added along with a list of lost wax castings.

These cast crankpin nuts are now directly available on her new Ebay link. If you are not familiar with these, they have been designed to replace the conventional hex 12BA fasteners supplied with Slaters type coupled wheelsets.  This particular profile was originally designed for Swindon engines, but they do a good job of replicating the typical coupling rod retaining collar nuts on many other locomotives from the turn of the last century to the end of steam.

Crankpin link

On behalf of Kevin Wilson, we’d like to remind folks that the 7mm Aberayon and Chilton layout is still available and and it can either be permanently installed or re-instated as a portable exhibit.  The layout has appeared in Model Rail magazine.

The small coastal terminus station has two platforms, with a typical yard of goods sidings sited opposite for local coal deliveries. To the nearside, a narrow gauge feeder line climbs from a gravel quarry up a steep gradient to arrive at an elevated platform alongside a siding with chutes to direct tipper wagon loads into waiting main line wagons shunted into the siding below.

Alongside the station throat pointwork, a small single road locomotive shed is sited for servicing, and another small fan of sidings out in the opposite direction to provide van access to the red brick goods shed. A G.W.R. signal box is placed opposite this and it is quite easy to shunt both yards prototypically, separating and sorting the wagons in between the passenger timings.  Photo by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine

For further details, please click the link provided and call Michelle either on 01296749070 or 07704917623 and click on the link below for further info and photos.  We are really only looking for a new home for this, and there’s a considerable amount of equipment and well detailed modelling on the layout as well.

We also need to find a home for the Westcott  layout and this 7mm scale terminus model has had all the trackwork professionally renewed lately including the tramlines.  It has a full townscape backscene and a good deal of scenic reworking has also been done of late including the addition of trees.  The layout was featured in Model Rail magazine No 232, as well as a gallery feature on ‘Let’s go Loco’

As with Aberayon, the layout is complete but comes without stock, so please do get in touch if this is of interest and you would like a ready made 7mm layout.

Picture courtesy of Chris Nevard / Model Rail Magazine. For further details, call Michelle or Paul on 01296 749070 / 07704 917623.

This view shows the beginning stage of an excellent project which will eventually depict a Midland Railway branch line terminus in the Derbyshire Peak district at around 1900

This is Rosedale, and there’s plenty of room for scenic layering, particularly behind the corner section.  It’s a perfect diorama space between two areas of higher contoured ground surface and it’s going to allow a well researched view to distance, over the Derbyshire hills and dales. Keith Newton

A local Derbyshire viewpoint provides an initial guide for the progressive layering of the contours.  The reference for land cultivation, woodland and other elements can be superimposed in reduced scale onto the ground surface, and it’s this study that we regularly apply to different landscapes at the Missenden Abbey Spring weekend.

Diorama presentations like Rosedale enable landscape modelling to be carried out without without any foreshortening issues, similar to the correct visual survey shown in the top plan view which allows the observer to evenly view the scene from a central viewpoint.  The plan below illustrates the more commonly encountered linear configuration, and while this does save space, it also introduces an unrealistic foreshortening angle for the same centrally placed viewer.

It’s very encouraging to see the Missenden Abbey Spring weekend filled up to capacity in quite a short time.  Well done to Mick Bonwick and his excellent team of administrators for continuing in the footsteps of Chris Langdon, who very kindly gave us all a copy of his book of watercolour paintings.

One of Chris’s watercolours shows Bath Green Park in the 1960s era in the depth of winter, with a three coach train waiting to depart for Templecombe.  Chris Langdon

This was one of our Christmas cards this year, and it features the Bernina Express (also by Chris Langdon).  It’s a train that connects Chur (which is Switzerland’s oldest town) on the Rhine in the east of the country, to Poschiavo (still in Switzerland) and then Tirano in Italy by crossing the Engadin Alps.  You need a thick winter coat, gloves and a woolly hat to view some of Chris’s watercolours!

One of my friends has just picked up this lovely 1966 Stingray from Summerville Georgia.  It’s a very well optioned car, so it’s referred to as ‘loaded’ with a factory fitted dual quad 427, a four speed, a ‘posi’ rearend, sidepipes and a hardtop.

The most important historic value with these collectors cars is that all the original components with their factory registered numbers are retained during restoration,  You could just build a similar car with an equally high standard of finish but this one is what’s known as a ‘numbers matching’ example.

Railway Modeller magazine has featured ‘Semley’ Martin Finney’s fabulous P4 scale replica of Shaftesbury’s nearest station on the London & South Western main line to Exeter.  There’s the usual excellent photographic work showing some of the trains in situ, as they reproduce the L.S.W.R. timetable of the 12 July 1912. completing the scene to the very highest standard of presentation.

The last of the ten stylish Drummond T14 class ‘Paddlebox’ 4-6-0s No 462 heads a down train past Semley’s small coal yard, and is about to pass under the brick arch of Bridge 267 which carries the minor road in the background from the village towards the bottom of the steep hill up into Shaftesbury.  Martin Finney

Lee Marsh sent me this photo of the pilot sample model for the Great Western Railway 850 class.

This was an extensive class of small 0-6-0 saddle tank locomotives designed by George Armstrong and built at the Wolverhampton Works of the Great Western Railway between 1874 and 1895.  This is actually the Wolverhampton livery, and for further details please visit the link provided.

Lee Marsh G.W.R. 850

Stewart Fowler is a retired architect and an aficionado of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway.  He sent in a couple of pics of this excellent station done in 7mm scale.

He has built this excellent 7mm scale model of Rishworth station building, as can be seen in the photos, having found some difficulty actually sourcing the components to build the glazed canopy.

Charles Rudder has a few CPL carriage etches waiting to take their turn in his queue of projects but sent in this photo from near Sydney, Australia.

He has installed a set of CPL L.N.E.R. Cab Gauges into his latest 7mm locomotive project
and it’s quite unusual to see the preserved condition modelled.  Flying Scotsman is running well and sounding good!  Charles Rudder.

Tim Peacock is doing a very fine model of High Wycombe station in 4mm scale at the moment, and he is going to be starting his backscene work soon.  The station was originally the terminus of the Wycombe Railway line from Maidenhead, which was later extended to Aylesbury and Oxford.  With the building of the Great Western and Great Central Joint Railway in 1906 the station was again rebuilt with four lines between two staggered platforms, a branch line bay and a passenger subway.

High Wycombe’s water tower is sited at the western end of the up platform, and Tim has recently produced a study article covering GWR standard water tanks published in MRJ Magazine issue 274 . Tim Peacock.

The subway has now been replaced with an ugly modern footbridge to the offset up platform, but here’s the roof as it used to look (just rested in place for now). Tim Peacock.

Ian Statham has been working on a structure to complete the scenic break at the left hand side of his ‘Tunstow’ layout, and the picture below shows a flint calcining kiln.  This was a pottery industry installation to roast the flint before it was ground up and mixed with clay to make a hard paste. Many prototypes still exist in the Stoke area, and this is a representation of a typical example. The interior of the rusty roofed shed to the left of the kiln will feature a scratch built crusher and a little conveyor belt to take the crushed flint into the building.

The structure effectively obscures any view into the fiddle yard on this end to end layout, so it’s a perfect example of a view blocking device that also incorporates local interest. The forced perspective backscene shows the cottages and red brick viaduct in middle distance.

This is an old gouache on board illustration I found in the pocket of a portfolio while tidying the spare room the other day.

In 1981 Yamaha launched one of the most technically advanced motorcycles of its time, the big XJ 750 Seca around a sweetheart of an engine, an enlarged version of 1980’s 650 Maxim model. The 750 was understressed but still produced 82HP and it was the narrowest engine in it’s class upon its debut, thanks to the alternator and ignition being placed behind the cylinders.  These can just be seen behind the cylinder barrel casting, but the unusual cardan shaft drive is out of sight from this particular angle.

I was recently given this Hornby Dublo 28 page 1962 catalogue, and the cover features an English Electric Deltic D9002 ‘The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry’ which was finished on the 19th March 1961.

These locomotives were assigned to Finsbury Park in London, Gateshead near Newcastle, and Haymarket in Edinburgh, and they arrived from the manufacturer painted in two-tone green, with the dark BR green on top, and a narrower strip of a lighter, lime green along the bottom, helping to disguise the bulk of the locomotive body. The cab window surrounds were picked out in cream/white. Although delivered without it, they all soon gained a bright yellow warning panel at each end common to all British diesel and electric locomotives, to make them more conspicuous, but to my eyes they were far more attractive without. Very soon, all were named, with the Gateshead and Edinburgh Haymarket locomotives after regiments of the British Army from the North-East of England and from Scotland, respectively, while Finsbury Park followed the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) tradition of naming locomotives after winning racehorses.  The location looks like Loughborough on the Great Central.

No 46245 ‘City of London’ has the 2 rail supply and was numbered 2226 in the 1962 catalogue.

This OO gauge Hornby Dublo Coronation class locomotive & tender is in the British Railways Crimson lake livery.  It’s in good condition with only a few handling marks, so if there are any Dublo collectors that would like to give this a good home, please do get in touch.

This link takes you to a short clip of the the Arborway, TT & North Western Railroad which is 15-inch gauge, with a 10-ton steam locomotive, five [real] miles of track, two tunnels, a wood trestle, automatic block signals, two diamonds, a ten-stall roundhouse and a 40-foot turntable!

Arborfield movie


12th December 2019

A very busy spell, mainly working on Kingswear’s panels 3 and 4, and struggling to find the time for updates.  It’s going fine, with the building facades of panel 3 now all fitted, wired and levelled.  The stone retaining walls and narrow roadways are going in between the buildings, (some are merely footpaths), and the cleared gardens are simply represented as a patchwork quilt running down the steep sides of the creek.  I’ll come up with a list of the various buildings and as much history as possible as soon as I can, but in the meantime panel 4 will be taking up most of my working time until Christmas.

The British Railways period at Kingswear.  This view was taken from the wall at Fore Street, showing the platform ends below, the Dart to the left, and Waterhead Creek to the right.

This 150 ton river barge will probably be moored alongside the coal wharf with one of the two electric cranes nearby. (These are stored away for safe keeping while work on the station area is still in progress).

It looks as though we will be reproducing the Dart Higher Ferry, which appears as a level crossing where the trackbed follows the river below Hoodown, hugging the shore and occasionally re-engineering and straightening the shoreline itself. Neil will be taking care of this section of line, using Paul’s research and mapping, 

A ‘Generate a Panorama’ profile, looking north up the Dart valley.  The line runs along the shoreline of the headland in the right foreground, with Hoodown to the right of this view, eventually curving round and just out of sight for a moment from this viewpoint as it deviates briefly inland to cross Noss Creek before re- emerging again to continue along the lower riverbank to the next headland before climbing to the North, away from the river, to disappear into the portal of Greenway tunnel.

Greenway tunnel portal and its surroundings will form the scenic break for this layout and this satellite crop shows the line as it heads underground for 495-yards, emerging again near the historic Greenway estate and the historic home of Agatha Christie on its way towards Paignton (a little under 5 miles to the North)

A few figures and vehicles will be added to Kingswear’s 3D backscene, and probably the Higher Ferry cameo as well, so I’m constantly on the lookout for good ways of cheating when it comes to these finishing touches!  The obvious source of ready made ‘under scale’ accessories for a 4mm layout landscape are at 2mm, but some of the HO products can be adapted to work well near the line, particularly figures, structures and vehicles.  A recent diorama feature in Model Rail magazine featured some perfectly sited underscaled dwellings in the background of a 2mm scale railway scene.  If I do come across any handy under scale detail additions, I’ll put links to them if you are planning a scenic model.

This HO scale 1929 BMW could be modified to represent a 30’s British Austin or similar small saloon.

HO vehicles

Neil is doing most of the scenic dressing on Kingswear at the moment, but he has weathering, and other projects on the go at the same time, and here are a couple of examples…

A Lee Marsh G.W.R. 517 class 0-4-2T No 831 rests on the autumn diorama after weathering.

There is still quite a bit of scenic work to do on this 7mm scale layout staged in South Devon, and this ‘in progress’ view shows an occupation overbridge in the landscape foreground with the rolling hills to the west of Newton Abbott represented as a 3D backdrop.

I have submitted a couple of new articles for the Railway Modeller Magazine, so thanks to Steve Flint and the editorial team at Peco for taking an interest. Obviously, with the huge amount of content available to them, there is an understandable lead time before they can edit and publish.  I’ll keep you posted as I know more.

Peco UK

I’m all for railways in the landscape, but this cover photo by permission of the RM staff is one of the best quality technical stills I have ever come across.  It helps to have a premium subject as well!  Railway Modeller Magazine/Lee Marsh Model.

A gathering took place at Bucks Hill over last weekend and I have a few photographs to include here….

British Railways 2-10-0 Standard Class 9F No 92223 running light on the up main. This does remind me of an Ivo Peters Somerset & Dorset study.  Dave Thomas

Phil Gomm sent in a shot of his ex G.E.R. Holden J15 as it appeared in the British Railways era.  No 65390 was built at Stratford Works at the end of October 1900, and by this time was shedded at 32A Norwich Thorpe.  Phil Gomm

Lee Marsh Stanier Jubilee No 5600 ‘Bermuda’ stands at Bucks Hill.  The 4-6-0 was built at North British at Glasgow in February 1935.

Same locomotive front end detail (at Sydney Gardens). On 29 April 1935 no. 5552, the first of this class, permanently swapped identities with No 5642 which had been named Silver Jubilee on 19 April 1935 in recognition of the Silver Jubilee of King George V on 6 May of that year. This change gave the name to the rest of the class.

Another Jubilee, No 5686 St Vincent is ready to depart with it’s train of lined out L.M.S. carriages.  This one was built at Crewe in early 1936.  Dave Thomas.

Bucks Hill closely represents the locality surrounding the Herefordshire villages of Pontrilas and Ewyas Harold, and was only a little distance from Grosmont, in Monmouthshire, Wales.  It was located on the Welsh Marches Line between Hereford and Abergavenny, and was the junction for the Golden Valley Railway which ran through to the Midland Railway line at Hay on Wye. This view shows passengers and platform detail, with the up main line in the foreground.

This L.C.D.R. 0-4-4 side tank came from the first of a trio of locomotives purchased from the estate of Phil Coutanche, a former British Railways engineer who was instrumental in ‘saving’ the Severn Valley line as well as being an accomplished modeller.  These locos were not unlike Johnson’s Midland design, and both Neilson and Vulcan provided nine examples each.  Reaction from the crews was mixed, with drivers appreciating the power, but firemen were often less enthralled with the heat generated in the enclosed cabs, especially when working in tunnelled stretches.

Ivatt 4F-A 2-6-0 No 43156 at Ewyas Harold with an up local.  The loco was built at Doncaster in January 1952, and had recently moved from Melton Constable to 38A Colwick shed.

L.M.S. Stanier Pacific No 6200 ‘The Princess Royal’ was finished at Crewe on the 27 July 1933.The loco appears here in the lined black livery.  Dave Thomas.

G.W.R. Churchward Saint class No 2924 Saint Helena heading east.  The 85C Hereford locomotive was built at Swindon in 1907

The G.W.R. 2884 class 2-8-0s were designed for heavy freight work and were a development of the earlier 2800 Class. The 2884s differed from the original engines in a number of respects, the most obvious being that a more modern Collett side window cab was provided and they were also built with outside steam pipes.  No 3805 was built at Swindon in 1939.  Dave Thomas

Michelle has now taken on some of the CPL work, which allows me more time to progress the awaiting landscape & diorama projects.  There are now some updates on the CPL catalogue site and we can look forward to a few revisions and a better index for finding products.

A CPL component line illustration of a Southern Railway three link coupling.

Clan Line has the later design of three shackle coupling as the type illustrated.  We have also finally sorted out cab gauge faces for typical ‘Big Four’ era steam locos, and British Railways Standards as well.  These have been done by traditional darkroom methods to avoid any unrealistic ‘pixellation’ issues.

I came across a short movie clip showing the Spanisch-Brotli-Bahn which is near Zurich Switzerland.  They run a pair of early locomotives from time to time to celebrate the early years if Swiss steam powered rail transport.

It’s all done with a rake of vintage open and closed carriages for the public, and the whole show is amazingly well presented.  The crews and staff all wear period dress, and thoroughly enjoy themselves so it seem that genuine railway fans are the same the world over……Take a look here..

Spanische Brotli Bahn movie

Ian Statham has sent in some more progress pictures from his current project.

Ian has drawn up a slightly modified and simplified front elevation of Stone station which he is thinking of including as a facade above the right hand scenic break to eventually become Tunstow station. This project can come along to the backscenes course at the Missenden Abbey Spring Weekend , but there’s quite a bit of preparation that could be done in the meantime, profiling the carved limestone cornices and producing the columned portico entrance.  Ian Statham.

This is one of the locomotives that will appear on Tunstow’s 7mm scale foreground.  No 5322 is a detailed and weathered Heljan G.W.R. Mogul.  Ian Statham.

Chris Walker has now had his Lynton and Barnstaple layout featured in Model Rail Magazine with a fantastic series of Chris Nevard studies.

This one was taken by Missenden Abbey tutor Mick Moignard some time ago when we paid Chris a visit.

I came across an old photograph in a bookcase upstairs and it took me straight back to when I used to do racing car bodies.

This one was originally for a customer who wanted to progress straight from a 9.90 second Super gas car to a low seven second Pro Modified entry.  It’s a 1937 Ford Coupe, which would eventually be reproduced in fibreglass sections.  We are just looking here at what is known as a buck and this would dispatched to a contractor who specialises in moulded fibreglass work like amusement park rides, ice cream vans and of course boats.  A couple of these art deco style pro-modifieds are still running to this day, I am happy to say.

4th October 2019

Another very busy month, making progress on Kingswear 3D backscene panels 3 and 4. These sections depict the mostly Victorian/Edwardian expansion of the village to the north, where more of the buildings are constructed from semi-glazed red brick with yellow brick quoins and window framings.  These are sited upon levelled plots set between narrow contour roads as they step up the eastern bank of Waterhead Creek.  Their width to depth ratios reflect the natural slope of the ground, and with the added benefit of a pleasant view across the creek, all the frontages are conveniently layered and more or less in parallel.  Although there are quite a few buildings to do, this does make my life quite a bit easier, so here’s to Kingswear!

This is the section I am doing at the moment, with the carriage sidings near the shoreline to the right and just a few houses encroaching into the tree lined upper part of the riverbank against the sky.  See how relatively small the trains appear in the landscape.

A small section of the sunny side of the Dart valley above the retaining wall for the station cut as it was.  The gardens and allotments are nearly all built over now, with posh holiday homes reaching almost to the tree line.

Kingswear has grown from a small fishing settlement with merchant’s houses, sail lofts and sheds mostly clustering around the western mouth of the Creek, into today’s largely residential village with buildings dispersed right over the headland. The population of the parish was 1332 in 2001, an increase of nearly 350% in 190 years, an increase derived from the redevelopment following the arrival of the railway in 1864 and the increased marine activity from the ferry pontoon and the coal wharf.  The present character is far less industrial and many of the frontages have been rendered and painted in bright colours giving the village a very distinctive character and they stand out, especially when viewed from Dartmouth.  As the reference indicates, there was far less of this evident in the 30s, with exposed grey natural stone rubble buildings and retaining walls, and later decorative all brick structures.

Neil Podbery has been working on-site, detailing the tidal creek from reference, and both he and Paul have visited South Devon recently (for intensive research gathering and pub lunches) The first boats are coming in now with a barge on the way, and some kits for the smaller beached craft at Waterhead Creek.

Carlton House has changed a bit since the 1930s, but only the top floor, and it still remains sitting on a slope at the north end of Higher Street.

The old rubble walled ‘Ship Inn’ was lime washed quite early on and it has also survived the years without any horrible add ons.

A gathering took place recently at Bucks Hill, with a sizeable attendance and some very photogenic visiting locomotives.  These pictures come from the camera of Dave Thomas who did a great job of recording this particular running session. The captions might well be a little short due to time pressure!

A great shot of Gresley B17/1 4-6-0 No 61613 ‘Woodbastwick Hall’ leaning into the elevated curve at Ewyas Harold on the down main.  The loco was built for the L.N.E.R at Darlington works in late 1930 and was allocated to 31A Cambridge shed.  Dave Thomas

G.W.R. 70 ft Steam railmotor No 74 rests in the Golden Valley branch line platform.  It was designed by the Chief Mechanical Engineer, George Jackson Churchward, and two units were manufactured for trials.  They entered service on the same route on 12 October 1903, and further 44 were built during 1904 and 1905 and by the time production finished in 1908 the fleet numbered 99 carriage units…. Dave Thomas

A clean Class ‘G1’ 0-8-0 no. 2057 (later LMS No. 9371) wheezes past on the down main in the attractive lined black L.N.W.R. livery…Dave Thomas

Ex L.N.W.R George Whale designed ‘Precursor” 4-4-2T takes a rake of L.M.S. coaches through Bucks Hill on the up main.  There were 50 of these attractive ‘Atlantic’ side tank locos turned out of Crewe works between 1906/9 …Dave Thomas

This close up shows some of the detailing work on British Railways Standard class 9F No 92223, one of Kevin’s recent M.O.K. kit builds, now running and weathered by Neil Podbery. The Riddles 2-10-0 was turned out of Crewe works in June 1958 and moved from 84C Banbury Shed to 11A Carnforth…Dave Thomas

Dave Thomas wanted to try this Pannier Tank locomotive out, and he wasn’t quite satisfied with the running, but it looks fine in front of Bucks Hill cabin.  No 1731 was rebuilt from a July 1892 Dean Saddle tank at Swindon in 1909, and it did remain there at the famous 82C shed…. Dave Thomas.

This double headed goods train ran for some time with a lovely pair of G.W.R. 4300 class 2-6-0s brought along by John Edwards, with No 7310 as train engine, and No 7304 as pilot.  The leading engine is fitted with an automatic token catcher (which I do have castings for, just in case anyone does need this unusual fitment)  No 7310 was the last engine turned out of Swindon in the year 1921, and its companion emerged just a month later…. Dave Thomas

Ex L.N.E.R. Class O1 No 63806 2-8-0 is a David Andrews kit built and painted by Graham Varley and weathered by Neil Podbery. The locomotive was Introduced in 1944 as a rebuild of the famous Robinson 8K design by Thompson with 225lb/sq in Superheated 100A boiler, new 20″ x 26″ cylinders with piston valves, Walschaerts valve gear and an impressive Tractive effort of 35,520lbs. The 1948 shed for this workhorse was 62A (Thornton Junction) and the model is displayed on Neil’s Autumn siding diorama… Neil Podbery

This Gresley A3 Pacific No 60065 ‘Knight of Thistle’ is a Finney7 build recently completed by Richard Lambert and weathered by Neil Podbery.  The original was built for the L.N.E.R. in mid July 1924 at The North British Locomotive Company, Glasgow…  Neil Podbery

This old sectioned view came my way from a collection, and I think this might have been airbrushed in inks using a Doncaster General Arrangement drawing.  The worn ‘map’ type fold out is titled ‘4-6-2 Three Cylinder “Pacific” Express Locomotive… designed by H.N. Gresley C.B.E…. Chief Mechanical Engineer, London & North Eastern Railway.

Virtue and Company Limited, formerly of 19, 20, and 21 Thavies Inn, Holborn Circus, London, EC1. was a publisher of illustrated books, employing the best artists and engravers, and this particular rendering for their Locomotive Railway Carriage and Wagon Review series was done by Mr W. Wilkinson.

Tony Geary came along to Bucks Hill, and he has nearly finished a CPL  Paco ‘C’ Diagram N16
I now have etches in 4, and & 7mm for this 1937 built horsebox, and I have assembled a partial kit for the 7mm version.  The etch is really comprehensive with compensated W irons and fully detailed brakes.  The only items missing are the roof vents and lights, and the underframe tanks, cylinders and wheelsets.  It does come with a separate detail ironwork strapping etch, both steam & vac pipes, screw couplings, sprung buffers and handles ….Tony Geary

My next door neighbour Dave Cooper very sadly passed away a few weeks ago. He was born on the 25th May 1936, and I attended his funeral service at the parish church of St John the Baptist in Stone.  A number of Princes Risborough Model Club members also came to pay their respects because Dave was a regular member, a font of railway knowledge and an all round excellent chap.

He would build the pre production G.E.Mellor (GEM) Kits to see if anything needed to be revised for production, and there are well over 200 models that Dave put together over his career.  Perhaps the most extraordinary fact is that he persevered in doing all of this as well as producing albums full of photographs of preserved steam from all over the British Isles and even some from Africa.  Now Dave chose to do this even though he had to manage with one arm, but it just goes to show you cant keep a proper railway enthusiast away from his hobby.  I’ll miss our over the fence chats and my genuine sympathy goes to his wife Linda and the rest of his family.

Just one of the many engines that worked day after day on Dave’s permanent upstairs layout. Its an old school cast whitemetal Holden T26 (later L.N.E.R. E4).  No 7464 was built at Stratford in 1900, and T26s were often to be found on passenger trains to the Norfolk Coast, particularly Wells and Cromer, as well as the movement of horses by rail to and from Newmarket Racecourse, and this one was allocated to 31C Kings Lynn Town.  After the 1923 Grouping, the class received the mixed traffic livery of black with single red lining and red buffer beams, and this lasted until the early 1940s when unlined black was introduced.  The surviving locos carried this livery until their withdrawal.

The American Pie dragster has made its last pass down Santa Pod Raceway for this season, and it will now hibernate until March. Safe storage includes standing the chassis up at both ends, blowing up the slicks to 9lbs (to keep their shape), unloading all the valve springs, unpacking the chute and draining the fuel out. There are some other tasks to attend to, but no major work is required, and that’s great news.

Side view of the last pass of 2019. The car is travelling at about sixty MPH here in low gear, at around the sixty foot track mark, and it is approximately one second into a full pass.  The car will shift into high gear in another second at about 6500 RPM and the slicks will start to centrifugally grow to a 15% increase in diameter by the time they cross the finish line.  This occurs in a further seven and a half seconds, and it affects the final drive ratio, dropping the RPM by the same amount.  All dragsters have to include this progressive ratio change in their numerical choice of rearend gear set.  Original by Alice Fairhead Photography.

Dave Alexander very kindly took me on a tour of the London Transport Museum at Acton, and I found myself completely absorbed in the restoration work, both the completed projects and the ‘in progress’ jobs.  If you do like old electric trains, be certain to keep an eye out for open days, it’s well worth a visit and you can donate directly to restoration projects.

The Museum has rescued a 1904 built driving end car which, which, like much of the Edwardian electric stock has something of an American subway look about it, as well as being a stylish English open saloon. The car has a Monitor roof, four foot end platforms with side metal gate entry, and the long sets of opening fan light windows gave the spacious open interiors a near continuous light source.  It has suffered a fire and is quite heavily damaged, but it’s not beyond repair, and I really had to fight off an urge to roll up my sleeves and make a start!.

An 0 gauge Mersey Railway Driving Trailer First from about the turn of the last century, brilliantly scratchbuilt by Mr G. Redmayne Hosking and featured in the album section of the March 1964 issue of Model Railway News.  It’s similar to the District Railway 1905 ‘B’ stock, and the whole vehicle, even the signwriting is pure U.S.A. style.  It wasn’t just London that took American transport investment, and I’m surprised they didn’t call it the Mersey Railroad! …Brian Monaghan.

Simon Roberts has updated me on the forthcoming 2020 Missenden Spring Weekend, and it seems the backscene/scenics course has managed to fill to capacity in just two days! This is very encouraging, and I understand the enrolment numbers have been high for the other courses as well.

A 2D backscene for an Exmoor scene.

3D period landscape for a Devon coast scene.

15th August 2019

Quite a bit of activity lately, with lots of running about to keep up with it all, but it’s fine, I could do with the exercise!  As usual, Kingswear takes priority, and it is now rewarding us with some visible progress.  The Waterhead Creek area is shaping up and the Royal Dart Hotel has been re-configured slightly to fit into place while still allowing room for the Dartmouth ferry slip and some 3D backscene facades in the lower levels of the village. I’ll put a couple of photos here but most of the work is still ‘in progress’ and this will be so for some time to come, so a few other items follow which I hope you find interesting.

The Royal Dart Hotel was formerly known as the Royal Dart Yacht Club and Family Hotel, overlooking the river to the south west, and is built upon a stone outcrop adjoining the railway station building. Built circa 1850, as an Italianate style stuccoed hotel, the river front of the main block (pictured in progress here) has a low pitched hipped bitumenised slate roof with over-sailing and bracketed eaves. Below, a wide splayed two-storey bay is attached, with a cast iron balcony with tented roof upon iron columns. A two storey wing to north is carried over the carriageway with first floor supported on iron columns forming a covered way to the railway station platforms and quayside.

The Royal Dart Yacht Club originally established a base in 1866 on the Kingswear side of the River Dart in two rooms of the hotel and invited like-minded people to apply for membership at the cost of a guinea a year. In 1881, they moved into to this new clubhouse (centre foreground) just beyond the Dartmouth ferry slipway, where they remain today, organising Regattas and races. Slipway House and the shops facing the square appear to the left of this view, but bear in mind that part of this backscene layer will be obscured by the eventual placing of the hotel.

There was a recent gathering of enthusiasts and guests at Bucks Hill, and I managed to get a few pictures from the afternoon running session.

Kevin has recently finished a G.W.R. City class 4-4-0 for his collection and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to get a picture.  Apart from coal and crew figures No 3434 City of Birmingham is shown here in Garter livery, with fully lined Brunswick green with black painted frames lined out in crimson.

Built at Swindon works as No 3434 in May 1903 ‘City of Birmingham’ was subsequently renumbered No 3711 in 1912. The City Class had the large No 4 tapered boiler and belpaire firebox from new, but received an extended smokebox, top feed and were superheated in November 1910. When built these locomotives represented the state of the art of the double frame, inside cylinder technology and they were used successfully on the Great Western Railway’s crack expresses, but with a few years the outside cylinder 4-4-0 Counties and the larger 4-6-0 locomotives would result in them being gradually reallocated to secondary duties in the Northern Divisions. No 3711 was allocated to Leamington shed until withdrawn in July 1930.

Ex Midland Railway Johnson 3F 0-6-0 No 43762 heads west with cattle empties at Ewyas Harold. The locomotive was built at Neilson & Co at the end of August 1902, and rebuilt by Fowler from 1916 with a non superheated Belpaire boiler. This particular loco was allocated to Mansfield in the early B.R. period.

Away from the lines, this row of trees forms part of the backscene. A narrow country lane can just be seen winding between the trees on its way from Kentchurch to Ewyas Harold, and a 1930s era cast iron 3-way fingerpost signs a ‘T’ junction accompanied by a wooden telegraph pole.

A Stanier Black Five heads east with open wagons. British Railways No 45428 was built in October 1937 as LMS 5428 in by Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth Engineers Ltd at their Scotswood Works in Newcastle-on-Tyne. Fortunately this one was preserved, and now resides at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway named ‘Eric Treacy’

BR Class 4/2 Mogul No 76052 on the down main with an engineers train. The locomotive emerged from Doncaster works in August 1956 carrying the lined black B.R. Livery.

Gary Smith contacted me recently in connection with the Kingswear project, having just read an article in one of the old GW Journal’s about wartime memories of Britannia Crossing, which is just up the line to the north.

Branchstow are specialist railway booksellers, with a particular emphasis on high quality books produced by small independent publishers, and with this approach, they are able to offer railway books that are not widely available, so for top quality reference please do visit….


I made a point of Including Panorama Mesdag in one of the introductory chapters of the book because although it doesn’t have a railway in its foreground, in some ways it is the ultimate backscene.  It’s housed in a purpose-built museum in The Hague, and it’s essentially a cylindrical painting (also known as a Cyclorama) more than 14 metres high and about 40 metres in diameter (120 metres in circumference). From an observation gallery in the centre of the room the cylindrical perspective creates the illusion that the viewer is on a high sand dune overlooking the sea, beaches and village of Scheveningen in the late 19th century. A foreground of fake terrain around the viewing gallery hides the base of the painting and makes the illusion more convincing.

Mesdag was a notable marine painter of the Hague School; in 1880 he was engaged by a Belgian company to paint the panorama, which with the assistance of his wife Sientje Mesdag-van Houten and some student painters (including George Hendrik Breitner), was completed by 1881. However, the vogue for panoramas was coming to an end, and the company went bankrupt in 1886. Mesdag purchased the panorama and met its losses from his own pocket. The panorama is now the oldest surviving panorama in its original location and it really is worth a visit if you find yourself in The Hague.

I found an old brochure in English from 1966 and here is a comparative ‘then & now’ picture from Seinpost dune showing the view of Scheveningen looking north at the time of Mesdag and the subsequent additions by ’66

Mesdag cleverly captured the scene by placing this glass cylinder on top of the dune, ducking inside and painting the scene’s outline onto the inner surface. Panorama_Mesdag

We attended the Dragstalgia event with American Pie. intending to try our 25% nitro fuel, but found the nozzles weren’t capable of flowing the increased volume. The timing advance was adjusted from 36 to 46 degrees to anticipate the slower burn, but the risk of piston damage from a ‘lean’ fuel/oxygen ratio was too high for comfort.  We just switched back to Methanol and ran all weekend.

There are only two more events for us to attend before the Fallnationals & season close but we got a thumbnail pic in the Custom Car Magazine event coverage.

On the social side, the Wild Bunch were inducted into the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame, and a couple actually got engaged while on the race track!

My wife Michelle took this picture of the dragster’s garage a little while ago. The long trailer is stored between the two fences behind the garage leaving the car on stands for maintenance work between events. A pot of gold would definitely come in handy for parts and fuel during these waiting periods, but I’ll just have to settle for a rainbow instead….could be worse!

Brian J Roberts of Sebring Florida is a 77 year old ‘railroad nut’ who grew up in Worcester, and his first job was a Signals and Telegraph engineer for GWR based out of Shrub Hill station. 

Brian now has his own ‘ride on’ railway with lots of American rolling stock, and here he is setting up a goods train in front of the engine shed. This is headed by a propane fired live steam engine, but to be different, he has come up with an idea to build a G.W.R. AEC Diesel Railcar which he always admired. Riding these became an obsession (a GWR railpass funded the journeys), and the miniature version could be powered by golf cart batteries either at 24v or 36v pulling a suitable riding car. Brian Roberts.

I came across this old multi layered cellophane cutaway pamphlet tucked in between research volumes but it’s quite difficult to display.  Basically it consists of a thick paper cover with registered double sided transparent leaves, each printed with a progressively deeper sectional view.

The subject is a 3,300 H.P. Class AL5 25kV AC Electric Bo-Bo locomotive designed for the newly refurbished West Coast Main Line, from Birmingham, to Crewe, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool and later Preston. By 1965, the electrification had spread south to London Euston.

The British Railways Class 85 was an electric locomotive built during at Doncaster in the early 1960s, as part of BR’s policy to develop a standard electric locomotive. Five prototype classes (81-85) were built and evaluated, which eventually led to the development of the successful Class 86 locomotives.

Forty of these were built from 1961-64 by BR at Doncaster Works and I do remember seeing them speeding through Kenton and Harrow & Wealdstone as a young lad. E3061 survives as the sole representative of the 40 strong fleet.

Dave Alexander always knows what’s going on, and we met up with him at an open gardens day at one of the local villages.  It’s a beautiful place, and they have a miniature railway which is currently being extended.  We were taken on a tour of the workshop, and here are some of the items.

This old style O gauge layout has been preserved, along with the original stock. Scratchbuilt Metropolitan and Great Central Locomotives and some later L.N.E.R. engines that used to work past Wendover and Amersham.

This miniature signal cabin was rescued from Mill Hill on the Grittenham Light Railway.

Metropolitan Railway luggage van No 3 was built in 5″ gauge, and would go well with Dave’s “H” class 4-4-4T. A rake of Dreadnought carriages would complete the 1930s picture very nicely, but we’ll have to see about that!

Ian Statham usually sends in his progress photos, and this view now includes the first stages of the 7mm scale layout in the foreground.

Considerable progress has been made on the track and wiring, with a few bugs to sort out but it works reasonably well. Next major work stream will be the scenery on the layout itself. There will be a carriage shed and industrial building on the left hand side and on the right, a bridge over the lines and the entrance to a station.

This caught my eye a few weeks ago.  It’s a reconstruction of the city of Rome in the age of Constantine (fourth century AD), and it was created between 1935 and 1971 by Italo Gismondi. He was a trained architect, and carried out numerous projects, including a plan of the Imperial forums in Rome in 1933; the restoration of the northwest portion of the Baths of Diocletian in1927 and also work on the Planetarium.

The reconstruction, at a scale of 1:250, integrates information from the marble Forma Urbis (the large plan of Rome created in the early III century AD) while also incorporating data from archaeological remains and other ancient sources.

Museo della civilta Romano (google search)

I also found an excellent but quite shocking 3D sequence of the destruction of Pompeii.

Jonathan Marcus is considering a diorama model based on the widened lines near Farringdon. I did a 1mm scale mockup some time ago to show the some of the possibilities, so we’ll see. It’s a really interesting location not just because of the rich history, but also because the lines are at multiple levels.

Jonathan has recently found an A2 Class 0-4-4T No 79 which ran into Farringdon Road in this livery until the SER/LCDR merger in 1900.

It used to be fashionable to hand draw ‘cutaway’ views of vehicles and you do still see the occasional computer generated modern equivalents, sometimes even 3D animated versions. That’s something we could never achieve with the old ‘airbrush on board’ technique, but a forum exists to catalogue and view the old style drawings, and I found one of mine still on there. I took a copy of it, because of course, I completely forgot to when it was submitted to the publisher! 

The VW Beetle does have a massive cult following, but it’s certainly not a favourite of mine. This was a reasonable commission, and I needed the work. The subject is a 1970s bug, with horrible orange paint and the rear view shows the gutless 1300cc flat four engine in situ.

Andrew Hicks has written another 4-page spread on the 3D backscene for Ealing Road, and this has now been published in the Sept edition of Railway Modeller Magazine (pp754-757), It includes extensive and very positive mention of the Missenden courses, and Mick Bonwick has asked me to take another ‘Spring weekend’ backscene and scenic course…..For more information on this, please check…. missenden-abbey/


http://www. uk/

Please do come along if you want to update your backscene or do a test section for a new layout, and keep an eye for the booking date as there’s only room for eight projects.

The Ealing Road layout, with it’s clever scale reduction progressing to distance.

3rd July 2019

Kingswear’s second backscene panel has been this months main priority, and it’s coming along fine.  Quite a bit more scenic work has been carried out on site by Paul and Neil, and we’ll all get together for another day in mid July to try the second section into place.  I have come across quite a bit of local history and first hand written memories of Kingswear, but I’ll wait until the layout is done and edit the content to match the finished pictures.

Neil is doing the tidal flats at Waterhead Creek, and one of the next steps will be to paint the exposed creek bed from reference in all its subtle colours, with mud deposits and seaweed etc.

This panel has been laid up in plaster bandage by Paul, and it will eventually accommodate the last few house facades of Kingswear village. These will be at reduced scale, and I need to finish some more of the second panel before work begins on the detailing.

Sepiatone of Carlton House and Lodge as it used to look. The small double fronted lodge house to the extreme right is now rendered, but a few dwellings like this were constructed in distinctive red brick and terracotta in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some good examples of slate hanging still in the conservation area, and these are included as facades on the layout. Exposed stone rubble construction is often associated with public use such as the church and almshouses in the village centre and also with the ubiquitous stone walls. The stone used typically is a mixture of grey limestone, the local shillet and Paignton red sandstone. One material common to nearly all the buildings is the slate roof. Chimneys are of brick or rendered with individual clay pots. This element is important as the roofs are frequently on view due to the steep valley sides. There is still some work to do, and the structures are just rested temporarily in place.

A few weeks ago, Malcolm Mitchell sent in this monochrome photograph of one of his recent builds. The superb 7mm model in question is of Collett G.W.R. No 6856 ‘Stowe Grange’ which was built at Swindon in late 1937 as a variation of the ‘Hall’ class, with smaller driving wheels and incorporating some parts from withdrawn 4300 class locos.

The ‘moderne’ style monogram was irreverently referred to as the ‘Shirtbutton’, and it replaced the existing lettering on both tender and tank sides for a few years. In other respects, the locomotive liveries continued the practices of the previous era, but the logotype also found it’s way onto ashtrays, clock faces, stationery, travel posters and tea sets. The first known application of the famous roundel was on the 1st of June 1934, and as luck would have it, I do happen to have 7mm scale transfers of these in both yellow and gold.

Please do visit Malcolm’s well maintained website to celebrate those beautifully engineered locomotives of the G.W.R. 

Dave Alexander is a noted expert on the Metropolitan Railway, and he has somehow managed to get his hands on a wonderful 5″ gauge ‘H’ class 4-4-4T.  I have a signwriting job to do on the bunker rear plate and front bufferbeam, and after this is done, it will be going away to have injectors fitted.  Once it has couplings, and a few other small detailing jobs are knocked off the list, it can be steamed.

They must have looked great at speed out in rural Bucks with a rake of varnished teak ‘Dreadnought’ bogie carriages…..A lovely engine, and one of my all time favourites.

Added number, with black dropped shadow

Dave also has a collection of original postcards and photos from the thirties and forties, and here’s a scan showing No 110 at work. It was the last of the eight ‘H’ class built by Kerr, Stuart & Co of Stoke on Trent in 1920. These could do 75mph heading the express passenger trains on the outer section of main line between Harrow (later Rickmansworth) the change point from electric locomotives, and Aylesbury or Verney Junction.

A scanned page from Dave’s rare and complete original Metropolitan Railway blueprinted company stock list, which includes all the electric motor cars and trailers, with their specifications and wiring diagrams, as well as the fleet of steam engines.

The 2019 Railex exhibition took place a few weeks ago now, and we met up with Neil Podbery and Martin Finney (who was exhibiting his new diorama) on the Saturday.  As usual it was excellent, so the usual compliments go to David Lane and the Princes Risborough MC.

David Stone’s 7mm scale Sherton Abbas diorama narrowly topped the best layout award. The excellent Great Western Railway branch line terminus is set in the Edwardian era circa 1905. The name was derived from Thomas Hardy’s novel “The Woodlanders”. David Stone.

This ‘in progress’ view over a siding features a few trees in the foreground in the finished diorama, but I thought it was worth including because it gives an uninterrupted view of the great job Dave made of the backscene. David Stone.

Sepiatone of the sidings, with G.W.R three and four plank opens, and private owner wagons behind. David Stone.

To generate more power from our unsupercharged engine, we have decided to upgrade the fuel from 100% Methyl Alcohol, and try adding 25% Nitromethane content instead. (This is as far as we can go in terms of nitro percentage before we need to apply for an explosives licence under modern regulations) This mixture will enable a better burn with less atmospheric oxygen, but it will require adjustments to the fuel injection metering as well as an increase to the advance of the ignition timing.

Next year we might install a longer duration Ultradyne ‘Bullet’ camshaft to further increase the oxygen intake. These come from from Memphis, on the Tennessee/Mississippi state line. Thanks to UKDRN for the brilliant picture which is included in their website slideshow.

 UKDRN Website

After I put the Pennsylvania Railroad T1 here last update, Lee sent me a link to this well researched HO scale model, produced by a friend of his from across the pond

Number 5536 was a Baldwin Locomotive Works product. built in 1946 and it remained unchanged until September of 1948. The air smoothed shrouding stayed intact up until 1948, with the exception being one panel above the engineer’s side rear cylinder. In fact, most of the T1s did lose major streamlining pieces during shopping and repairs. Number 5536 was originally assigned to the PRR’s famed “Middle Division” in Pennsylvania, but she could be spotted in Chicago, Fort Wayne, Cincinnati, and even St. Louis!

Six distinct T1 variants are planned, each one carefully researched and constructed to represent these unique locomotives, so visit ……

There is another running session at Bucks Hill soon, so that’ll be a good catch up. Dave Thomas took a few pictures away from the rails at Bucks Hill, and here are just a couple of examples. Of course, there are plenty of others at Kevin’s own reference website at….

This tumbledown stone barn was made for the model by Gordon & Maggie Gravett, and it stands above and behind the lines to the west of the station. Dave Thomas.

This working scene is modelled on the road to Ewyas Harold village, as the lane levels out and begins a descent through woodland before emerging to cross the River Dore over a small single arch stone bridge, entering the village from the south east. Dave Thomas.

L.M.S. Stanier Jubilee No 5593 from a previous session. Kevin Wilson.

Phil Gomm’s Collett 0-4-2T No 1473 emerges into open country from the short tunnel to the west of Bucks Hill station. Dave Thomas.

I recently found these old Cambridge college paintings for sale via Worthpoint, which is an interesting resource for identifying, researching and valuing antiques, art and vintage collectibles.  I did these years ago, and in those days, I never bothered to take copies, so they were just sold as originals and forgotten!



Great Court is the main court of Trinity College, and it was completed in the early years of the 17th century, when Thomas Nevile, the master of the college, rearranged the existing buildings to form this elegant single court.

The Bridge of Sighs is a covered neo-gothic bridge crossing the River Cam, linking the new court of St. John’s (to the left of this familiar view) with the older original Third Court college buildings on the right. It was built in 1831 to the design of Henry Hutchinson. and for some reason was named after the covered bridge in Venice, which looks nothing like it!

I also found one of my better engineering study projects from the very first year of an apprenticeship at the George Stephenson College. I spent most of the time driving around Watford and Bushey at breakneck speed in my worn out Austin Healey 100/6 instead of doing what I was supposed to, and as a result, I didn’t get a 9/10 very often!

Part of this quiet landscape will appear behind Dave Gower’s 4mm scale Edington Junction layout, which is still in progress. Edington is a rural village, situated on the north side of the Polden Hills in the Sedgemoor district of Somerset. Either side of it lie the villages of Chilton Polden and Catcott, and north of it is the small village of Burtle. The subject of Dave’s permanent exhibit will be the local station which was originally named Edington Road, with the village itself some two miles away. In 1890, it became the junction for the Bridgwater branch off the Highbridge line. Neil Podbery

The backscene for Ian Statham’s Alcesterton is coming on, and here’s the main central feature in place, with a D.M.U. visible on the left on the distant viaduct.

This might be seen as disrespectful, but it is a proposal that has been around for some time now (although without any actual result).  I will include some edited copy from their website here and wait with interest. It’s not to be confused with a static Titanic replica which is currently being built in China.

The Titanic II will be a reproduction of the original vessel with replicated restaurants, dining rooms, interiors and cabin layouts.  Passengers will be treated to the authentic Titanic experience while benefiting from the integration of modern safety procedures, navigation methods and 21st century technology to produce the highest level of luxurious comfort.  Fredrik Johansson, Owner / Executive Project Director of Tillberg Design said the company was looking forward to working on this world class project. “We are delighted by Blue Star Line’s continued vote of confidence in Tillberg Design of Sweden, and we are very excited by the prospect to bring the development of the design of the Titanic II to a successful completion,’’ he said.  Titanic II will follow the original journey of its iconic namesake, carrying passengers from Southampton to New York.  The ship will also circumnavigate the globe, inspiring and enchanting people while attracting unrivalled attention, intrigue and mystery in every port she visits.

29th May 2019

Another busy month, with Kingswear as the main priority, but a few things have cropped up in between my days of work on the second panel

Neil Podbery’s additional backscene work on Kingswear has concentrated on the landscaping and scenic foliage cover around the back of the Waterhead Creek area. The laundry buildings appeared alongside the narrow lane leading north towards Brixham, with Paignton and Torquay lying further to the north. The cleared aperture in the tree cover will receive a semi relief facia of the gabled ‘Oversteps’ residence when I can get round to making it.

To the left of Waterhead Creek, the line follows the shore for a short while before curving north, and above it, this steep section of the eastern riverbank facing Dartmouth is still known as Hoodown.  300 acres of this farm land was purchased by a Mr Richard Roberts in the late Victorian period to apply development ideas really in advance of his time. No doubt influenced by what he saw happening in other Victorian seaside towns, he cut a series of 14 foot wide roads, with the lower side half held up by a 4 foot high dry stone wall, using local materials. and advertised the sale of building plots. Had he had his way, the land at Kingswear, facing the Dart, would have been fully built up like that at Torbay and other south coast towns.

The width of the roads must have been considered adequate, for at that time the motor car had hardly been conceived, and shortly after this, rows of fir trees were planted, (as seen in the photo), which stood intact for 70 years or more, after which westerly gales blew them down one by one, until by now only the odd one or two are left standing. Even after many years only two plots had been sold, and the larger part of the land, which was then almost treeless, was ploughed up and put to potatoes, and the land produced good crops. After the end of the war in 1918, the steep land was abandoned and reverted largely to bracken and scrub, but the large rabbit population kept the grassy areas bitten down so the vegetation was considerably different to what it is today. luckily, we do have reference for the way it appeared, and here’s a relatively tree-less Hoodown in 1936.  John S. Roberts

Dave Thomas has sent over a number of photographs from the recent Bucks Hill gathering and these are much appreciated as I was not able to attend. 

Stanier Mogul number 13263 heads a train of iron wagons round the curve to the west of Bucks Hill, crossing the occupation overbridge. The original was built at Crewe in December 1933. Dave Thomas.

A Churchward Small Prairie No 4508 in Garter livery heads west with horseboxes and vans. The loco itself was built at Wolverton Works in June 1907. Dave Thomas

Gresley A3 Pacific No 60049 ‘Galtee More’ rests at Bucks Hill in early B.R livery. The loco itself was built at Doncaster in 1924. Dave Thomas

A G.W.R. ‘ROD’ 2-8-0 No 3048 rests at the Bucks Hill yard head shunt. This particular Robinson work horse was built by the North British Locomotive Company of Glasgow at the end of April 1927 and would soon be allocated to Worcester.  Dave Thomas

I will soon be publishing the full version of the Aberayon and Chiltern article, including all of Dr Paul Glover’s original copy and captions as an expanded version of the well edited Model Rail Magazine feature.

Aberayon Viaduct. Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

I’ll include Dr Paul Glover’s full copy in the update , but please bear in mind that the illustrated section shown here is still available as a modestly sized GWR shunting terminus. Do let me know if you would like a ready made 7mm scale exhibition layout or a permanent loft layout.  Model Rail Magazine

Railway Modeller magazine have published the third instalment describing the now completed Missenden Modellers ‘Great Model Railway Challenge’ entry layout ‘Ealing Road’. Andrew Hicks explains how the forced perspective effect was achieved in a four page feature including a number of clear diagrams and photographs.  Do please pick up a copy if you are into urban landscapes, it comes highly recommended, and I think Andrew’s description of how they went about the rear panel will follow next month.

Railway Modeller June 2019 issue.

The ever-popular Autumn Weekend has places for 70 modellers; of whom 45 can be

accommodated at the Abbey.  Booking for places at this weekend has already begun, so reserve your place as soon as possible to ensure that you can attend the course of your choice.

Courses Available

• 4mm (and smaller) Kit construction with Tony Gee and Jerry Clifford
• 7mm (and larger) Kit Construction with Kevin Wilson
• Weathering and Airbrushing with Mick Bonwick
• Track Construction with Norman Solomon
• 2D CAD with Justin Newitt
• Electronics Workshop (for all abilities) with Mike Bolton and John Gowers
• DCC Workshop with Pete Brownlow

We have been very busy with the dragster over the last few weeks and a number of very good photographs have appeared in the nostalgia drag racing internet pages.

This view by Neil Dilkes cleverly captures the car at the very moment of initial motion which is known as the ‘leave’. The front wheels have lifted very slightly from the race track and the slicks are distorting as they transfer the torque from the vehicle to the rubber covered surface of the start line.
This leave is quite a good one, and I am pleased with car’s attitude & balance. We can now start to increase the power output and keep an eye on the results.

An 8.50 second elapsed time is our next milestone, and then lots of hard work to get down to the low eights. Keep up with the latest team news at…..
Also take a look at the completely new Wild Bunch website….
The backscene for Ian Statham’s Alcesterton is coming on, and the viaduct is now in place.

The next big task is to work across the two halves of the scene so as to disguise the centre join. The left hand end of the viaduct can then be blended into the layout scale scenic break. As you can probably tell, Ian is not inclined to do anonymous grey backscenes!

I have been following the travels of the newly completed UP 4014 ‘Big Boy’ on Youtube, but away from this latest mega achievement,  a group of enthusiasts are building a replica of the well known 2-2-2-2 articulated Pennsylvania Railroad T1 locomotive.

A remarkable animation of the finished replica has been published, and it’s well worth a quick study when you have a minute, even if you are not particularly interested in American locomotives.

The extraordinary quality and realism of this presentation took me by surprise, so by all means do click on the link provided

The year is 1956, and the Pennsylvania Railroad makes a decision to scrap the last surviving T1 Locomotives. It possessed a combination of features that wasn’t utilized anywhere else (Franklin Poppet valves, Duplex drive, and Loewy styling). The uniqueness of the design is the main reason we’d like to see it reproduced. There are a lot of other large steam locomotive restoration projects ongoing, and we need to do something to set ourselves apart from other organizations making appeals for donations. If completed, the T1 would be the only poppet valve locomotive operating in the USA, and the only rigid frame duplex anywhere in the world.

27th April 2019

Just time to sit down for a few hours and catch up with some recent activity.  Neil Podbery has now started on some of the landscape work around Waterhead Creek on the P4 Kingswear layout.  There’s still plenty to do, but we have good reference, so this will be a great help, as it lets me concentrate on the station panels. 

I have updated my homepage slideshow with a few different pictures, mainly to include one of Kingswear, but a couple of my older favourites have been inserted into the sequence for variety.

Sepiatone of a Lee Marsh Dean ‘Achilles’ 4-2-2 No 3039 “Dreadnought’ passing Sydney Gardens.

There is a now a good possibility of constructing a new full size 3031 class ‘Bogie Single’, and a replica of one of these would certainly enhance the Great Western Society collection, bridging the gap between the Broad Gauge and the 20th Century eras,

Some investigative work has already been carried out, and a Swindon ‘General Arrangement’ drawing is already in Society possession.  From their experience with other projects there are already some idea of the costs, and the most challenging aspect of the project is likely to be the manufacture of the crank-axle, which was a forging on the original locomotives.

Interior view of Bristol Temple Meads old station from platform done in 7mm scale.

I wasn’t able to attend the latest Bucks Hill gathering so I don’t have any record of the afternoon running session.  Hopefully I’ll be able to pop along for the next one.

Kevin has now taken delivery of this B.R. liveried M7 0-4-4T and it’s the only pic I have from this session. The original locomotive was finished at Nine Elms to a Drummond design for the London & South Western Railway at the end of March 1905, and by this period was shedded at Bournemouth. Photo and weathering by Neil Podbery

Neil’s completely re-configured website is now published, but there are plans to expand both the Weathering, and the Scenery and Backscene sections of the site with new photography.  There is also an accompanying Facebook page, and both have their links provided below.

A frame grab from the new look site.   Photos by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine

Website link

Facebook link

It’s too soon to show the whole Waterhead Creek area of Kingswear’s backscene, as we are all working on this section, but here’s a small part of it in progress. The Dartmouth and Kingswear Steam Laundry was owned by a Mr Mitchelmore, and was managed by the Bell family who lived in one of the Waterhead Cottages between the Laundry and the original mill building (seen to the right).  The power for the laundry at that time came from a steam engine, which had a high brick chimney.  The water supply came from a stream to the cemetery, which had originally been the leat to the water mill.   A large square reservoir was dredged out halfway up Waterhead brake with overshoots and overflows to control the water level.  Incidentally, the same pool below the cemetery also supplied the water for the railway station via a pipe along the creek and water tower, which stood alongside the railway cattle pens.  This also supplied the railway engines near the turntable.  All the machinery in the laundry was driven by overhead shafts and pulleys, which ran the washing machines, calendars and spin dryers. In later years, the brick chimney was demolished and replaced with a tubular steel version.

Part of the Kingswear backscene in progress.  Neil Podbery

Summer trees at skyline to the north of Kingswear looking east.

I found a superb example of colour plate illustration as a frontispiece for a locomotive volume from the late 1930s period.  The subject is No 2001 ‘ Cock o’ the North’, one of Sir Nigel Gresley’s P2 Mikado locomotives for the London and North Eastern Railway.  It was built at Doncaster works, and of course this note wouldn’t be complete without a reference to the impressive new build in progress at Darlington.

I think it’s probably a coloured works photograph, but it’s beautifully done by a relatively little-known illustrator called Murray Secretan who also designed posters for the G.W.R. and rendered some expertly coloured photographs of various other locomotives for the Locomotive Publishing Company.

The American Pie dragster has a dedicated Facebook page, recently set up by Dan Boone.  He completed his three observed licensing runs and, so by all means keep up with the fortunes of the team at….

This picture shows some of the equipment used to keep a dragster pilot safe, and this stuff is all mandatory nowadays. Dan’s helmet has fitments for a ‘HANS’ device which allows for natural head movements, but prevents any unsafe forward travel in accidental impact situations. This scenario did happen to one of our fellow Wild Bunch racers over the recent Easter competition, when his 2000HP engine unfortunately disintegrated five seconds after leaving the startline. By then the car had nearly completed its pass, and was travelling at about 180MPH. The escaping oil mist temporarily obscured his vision, but luckily this time, there was no instance of fire.  Frame by Graham Baglin

This shows a backscene at the base painting stage, before any of the 3D work begins. Pat Humphrys is working on his Welford Park to Lambourn line, and this landscape appears at the point where the single line runs on a low embankment before crossing the River Lambourn by way of a girder bridge.

There’s still a good bit of work adding stippled texture to the fields, progressing to colour matched 1mm grass fibres as the middle distance comes into view.

This small bookcase display is looking for a new home, so do please let me know if you like the look of it

The single OO gauge line can accommodate either a medium sized tender engine, or a very short pickup goods. I’ll get it posted in the ‘For Sale’ section when I can.

Progress continues on the 3D backscene for Ian Statham’s Alcesterton layout, This latest view includes the viaduct , with the skyline just pencilled in behind to suit the optimum viewing height.  Just to be clear on this, this view is just the backscene.  

Ian is already doing scenic cover work on the newly formed valley contour surfaces.

It just goes to show we don’t have a monopoly on backdrops! This is a much better outlook than the usual painted sterling board effort and even though it repeats rather a lot, it does include the foreground fencing! Still, they haven’t done a 3D one yet so we’ll keep the edge for now at least. Maybe they will start disguising building sites using holograms in the future. All credit to DW Support Services for a good go!

8th March 2019

The Bristol Gauge 0 guild show was held at Bristol’s Frenchay campus of the U.W.E, and it turned out to be a well attended, successful event (as usual).  Good to catch up with a few familiar faces as always and briefly speak to Lee who is considering doing an LBSCR\GNR large Atlantic. Be sure to visit the page and register an interest if you would like one.
Latest progress on the 12″to 1ft build is described from time to time.

Five minutes before the show opens, we’re stocked up and ready. Summertime is mostly taken up with the dragster, but we’ll be back when Guildex comes around. Just call me if you need anything in the meantime.

There are a number of etches being done at the moment, mostly 4mm scale G.W.R. carriages for shipment overseas, along with some stock replacement sheets.  Looking through the existing carriage stock, I have found a few lovely etches, so I’ll put them in a list here and you can contact me by e-mail or phone.  Obviously there’s only a short admin, packing and post delay instead of the usual production wait for these.

This main line D121 Brake 3rd was built in 1936, and was unusual only in the positioning of some of the droplights. No 4083 has full height corridor and door lights, but the van end guard and vestibule windows are all a good nine inches above the waistline. J.H.Russell

There is also a D45 Toplight in 7mm scale, and in the 4mm scale stock, there are four particularly fine etches, including a C24, an M10, a D42 and a D45 that I don’t have any picture space for.
There are only one example of each, because most are of course produced to order, but do get in touch if any of these happen to be missing from your collection.

The 2019 Missenden Abbey Spring weekend was held just a few days ago, and Mick Bonwick has now taken Chris Langdon’s place as course director.  There is no better person for the job, and we’re already looking forward to the next event, which is the ‘Summer Retreat” .  Chris was presented with a 3D printer and a cake at a small leaving ceremony, but I have a feeling he’ll be putting in guest appearances from time to time.

As I understand, there are only a few places now remaining for the Summer week, and please also note that the booking for the Autumn weekend will open fairly soon.

The scheduled gatherings are listed on the Missenden Abbey Modellers website, and we can expect a new look for the site shortly as well as an increased presence at shows and conventions.  Please do come along and see us, have a chat and ask questions.

6-7th April
Scalefour North, Wakefield 
25-26th May
Railex, Aylesbury
10-11th August
31st August-1st September
Guildex, Telford
28-29th September
Scaleforum, Aylesbury
Railex is one of the major shows, and it’s a stone’s throw from where we live.  The 2019 event will be held at the Mandeville Stadium over the Whitsun (or late spring) bank holiday weekend.

A number of outstanding layouts will be presented in all scales, as well as the usual trade support. so please see more information at….

Railex 2019

Sherton Abbas is one of my favourites, but it’s just one of a superb line up at the 2019 event.

This years Missenden participants all submitted their form questionnaires, and from the start it was clear that there was going to be a wide variety of study subjects. A few actual ‘in progress’ dioramas were progressed, as well as the more usual ‘trial’ sections and 3D mockups.
Kathy Millatt and Andrew Hicks from the recent successful TV series came along to the scenics and landscape course, along with six other modellers from all over the country.  I’ve put in a few examples of the work, and asked all the participants to keep me updated.

I don’t usually put ‘process’ pictures in here, but it’s good for future Missenden Abbey participants to see what takes place, and just how far you can get in a good weekend session.  Madeleine Foreman enjoys landscapes, and wanted to work on the backscene for a loft layout, She made good progress layering the land surfaces, contouring and painting.  Gordon Woods

Michael Ridley-Smith found out about Missenden from the TV and he needed to make a scenic section for his loft layout. I persuaded him to add a rear panel to finish it off at the back, and Michael did a trial row of trees as a painted layer, then overlaid it with a semi relief model.  Gordon Woods

This is part of the 3D backscene for Ian Statham’s Alcesterton layout.  There’s a decent allowance of depth for layering and forced perspective, and this mockup depicts a valley with red brick arched viaducts and abutments supporting a high central bridge viewed above terraced roofs. Looking forward to seeing this one come together. Gordon Woods

Kathy Millatt spent most of the weekend on a card mockup of a diorama, but she has so much on the go that it might well be next year before she can get round to making a start on the actual model. In the last few hours of the Sunday, she trial painted one of the views to distance that will eventually appear at the limit of the diorama’s ‘frame window’. Gordon Woods.

Gordon Woods is working on a model of Dearness Valley Junction, set in the 1960-1964 period at a location a mile or so to the south of Durham.  It is a tricky site to photograph in the present day, but the images of the area show what was there through vegetation patterns etc and the ECML still runs through the area.

Gordon brought a fine reference folder including a number of period shots and a good selection of relevant maps (being a retired Geography teacher certainly helped in this respect!) The quick 3D test section shown here was produced by a referring to combination of reference sources, and I particularly like the distant hills at skyline.  Gordon Woods

There are a couple more good examples to include, but I don’t have any pictures yet.  I can always complete the set next time. I have already had some good feedback, and there is a review of Kathy’s work, and a picture of the ‘Stonington Harbour’ mockup on her extensive social media network.

Kathy’s Facebook 

Peter Drost makes award winning rolling stock and locomotives and here’s a view of a gated industrial siding on his Tanat Valley scaleseven layout

Pat Humphrys has been putting in the hours on his 7mm scale ‘Welford Park to Lambourn’ layout and he showed me this picture on his phone at the Bristol event.  The small station at Welford Park is seen here (looking North East), and it was always quiet, apart from Newbury market days.  Passenger receipts were minimal but goods traffic did provide some returns for the branch, with only small quantities of coal. Surprisingly, there was little or no milk produce forwarded, with the main income coming from the conveyance of watercress grown in the nearby river Lambourn.

This was the only passing loop on the line, and it was reconstructed by the GWR in late 1908 with the addition of a signal box located at the Lambourn end of the up platform.   A second platform was also added along with new corrugated iron pagoda waiting shelters. It was named after the nearby private estate, serving the villages of Welford, Wickham and Weston. The area remains very similar looking today, unfortunately without it’s railway, and this is the arrangement of the backscene with a row of trees following the line as it heads out north west into open countryside before passing East Garston. Leckhampstead and Peasemore are hidden behind the rising valley contour at skyline, and Pat’s model then loops round to reach the Lambourn terminus. The full 3D backscene is coming on well, and the next section requiring work is to the left of this scene. Patrick Humphrys.

A small gathering recently took place at Bucks Hill, and Chris Walker paid us a visit. He wanted to try out some of his Midland & South Western Joint Railway stock, and it looked right at home. Much of the rolling scenery that the MSWJR ran through is similar to sections of Bucks Hill. 

This attractive lined lake passenger train made a few stops, and a black MSWJR 0-6-0 followed the passenger train round on the same road. We paused it briefly at Ewyas Harold for a portrait, and I will put up some more shots from this session A.S.A.P.  Chris Walker

Shaun Underhill sent me his painting of the District Railway’s Osterley & Spring Grove Station circa 1933.  The colour of the station name board was one of the reasons for the original enquiry, which has now gone from being Metropolitan dark red to a mid green (which was my guess) and finally to dark blue.  In the end Mike Horne, who writes books on the District and other L.T lines confirmed that District Railway signs did in fact have a blue background.

The early model Austin 7 is owned by a friend of Shaun, and all in all, it’s a pleasant subject to paint with enough period detail to make it interesting.

The first Kingswear backscene panel has now been rested in place, and I have already begun work on the next one.   A trip in the van and a few hours of tweaking got the job done, and it’s a significant step in this large project.  Each building facade is represented as it appeared in the 1930s and it’s my favourite type of layout environment… a historic recreation.

This small sequence shows one aspect of the process, starting with a look from the viewpoint  to confirm the correct contour profile.

Generate a Panorama, with a south east view at 160 degree sweep.

River Dart, with a view out to the English Channel.

Work in progress, overlaid onto the digital contour landscape

Before installation

Rested in place with Hotel, Station and Quay still in progress.

The rear panel is my usual sheet of soft aluminium, and the facades are all researched and individually laminated in Slaters Plastikard, Wills moulded sheets and various other textured materials.  The paints are artists acrylics and the foliage is done with a combination of products from the usual manufacturers. There is quite a bit of wiring to do once the panel goes in, as virtually all the windows are illuminated.

The village hall was built on a very cramped plot in 1920, but it still presents quite an imposing facade as it overlooks the station, appearing in many railway photos. It served many functions, including the Headquarters of all the Civil Defence activities, and also held dances in aid of various charities and war efforts, The money was raised to begin a “Welcome Home” fund for the members of the forces. Each returned serviceman was given a brown leather wallet and a pound note. The telephone number was Kingswear 83.

Detail of Kingswear’s stone parish church, which was dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury, often associated with pilgrimage.  Overseas travellers preferred Kingswear as a landing place on their way to the tomb of Thomas à Beckett in Canterbury and this probably gave rise to the association.  The original church was heavily ‘restored’ in 1847 and it appears at just below 4mm scale on the layout’s 3D backscene as a forced perspective facade.

The opposite bank and headland is our limit of view angle to the South West.  Dartmouth and Kingswear both had tidal mills, Kingswear’s on Waterhead Creek, Dartmouth’s across the Mill Pool, made possible by the ‘Fosse’ or dam across its creek.  Because of the larger gap between Dartmouth’s two protruding hills, Hardness and Clifton, this created a larger opportunity for creating flat land suitable for building on. Kings‘Wear’ actually refers to a tidal mill that used ‘Weirs’ to control the water in and out and allow more regular power for its corn grinding in Waterhead Creek, (behind us in this view) It worked in a very similar way to Dartmouth’s ‘Fosse’, letting water into the Mill Pool – creating not only a place to produce food and employment, but also a beating heart to the local community.

Chris Nevard has kindly allowed us his professionally taken portfolio of Dave Thomas’ diorama (primarily to showcase some of Neil Podbery’s weathering work). Dave has done some superb extra detailing work to this, and hopes to exhibit the model with sound and two road storage yards for his ever expanding collection of 7mm G.W.R. locomotives.

Shed pilots can be portrayed moving dead engines around for maintenance and light repairs, and the interior can be presented as a night, or busy early morning scene, or daylight with a view peering out over the coaling stage and other shed roads. Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

I clearly remember my trips to Old Oak Common, seeing the dirty old Westerns and Warships idling outside the sheds, and this view takes me back to those days. Class 52 No D1011 Western Thunderer rests on the back road, and the shed will fill up with noise, diesel fumes and smoke when the pair of sixty four litre Bristol-Siddeley-Maybach V12s start up for a day’s work! Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

Peering out through the old windows, other engines can be seen as they trundle around the depot. Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

The old shed has seen better days, as a pair of workhorses are temporarily stored. Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

I do like seeing similar engines close by, particularly in shed views, as it was normal for typical local duties. No less than four small prairies occupy the shed in this 1930s type view. Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

January 12th 2019

A quiet Christmas/New year, mainly spent trying to catch up with my work. Firstly I must confirm the very sad loss of Jack Anziani, who passed away In the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead just before Christmas.  He was a regular attendee at Bucks Hill, became a good friend to all of us, and will be sorely missed.

I don’t have a front portrait, but here’s Jack in his element at a Bucks Hill running afternoon. (He’s in the blue checked shirt)

Last train from Westcott.

Lee has recently sent me one of the first photos of the new painted and lined Wainwright 4-4-0.  The availability details of the limited run can be found here, along with some detail views .

The ‘D’ class 4-4-0 tender locomotives were built to a Harry Wainwright design for the South Eastern and Chatham Company. The first of the class entered service in 1901, and by 1907 fifty-one were in traffic. Of these, twenty-one were built at Ashford built while the rest were supplied by outside contractors based in Scotland and the North of England. The flowing curves and balance of these engines was the equal of any of the most elegant designs of the period, and so was the lavish lined out paint scheme.  (A Modelu figure of our old friend Dr Paul Glover studies the new arrival from the platform). Lee Marsh Model co.

There are only four places now remaining for the Missenden Abbey Spring weekend, and I’m pleased to note that the new Templot course has filled up to capacity.  Course director Chris Langdon will be retiring shortly, so I’m expecting even more jovial heckling during his introduction and de-briefing speeches than normal this year.  Please do visit the Missenden Modellers home page for updates.

The well stocked bar at Missenden Abbey.

A Missenden Modellers flyer for the three annual courses.

I came across this satellite map source recently, and it depicts the terrain without unwanted information tags and windows, Quite handy if you do want an uncluttered print for a backscene reference folder.  I’ll be sending a link to this resource as well as the usual recommendation to apply ‘Generate a Panorama’ to all the new participants of the Backscenes and Dioramas course. 

Zoom earth link

Camden roundhouse example

Nick Dudman found a few spare hours over Xmas, and finished off his full scale timber G.W.R. barrow crossing following the official drawing on this website as closely as possible. This pic of the final job was only taken a few weeks ago.

Nick’s excellent replica G.W.R. crossing.

A few pics from a well attended running session at Bucks Hill just before Christmas. Having too many pauses and disruptions to the running of trains is not ideal, so we decided just to have a short period of photography at the Ewyas Harold section of the main lines before resuming the running session.
Dave Thomas brought quite a few locomotives and joined in the session, eventually sending me some of his own locomotive portraits, all taken from the ewyas Harold curve.  I’ll be updating the ‘Bucks Hill in 7mm’ site soon with a similar set of portraits, for fans of the layout.

Unfortunately, Jack was not able to attend this event , but I know he used to enjoy seeing Westcott photos published now and again, so there are a few previously unseen versions added in monotone as a tribute.

A B/W version of L.M.S. workings taken from Chris Nevard’s Westcott feature for Model Rail magazine

Westcott shed modelled by Jack… R.I.P.
Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine

Ian Rathbone brought this wonderful scarlet London and North Western Railway ‘Greater Britain’ class locomotive which was a class of ten 2-2-2-2 steam locomotives designed for express passenger work by F. W. Webb.
All the locomotives were named, and one unusual feature was that the names were always split over two nameplates, one on each driving wheel splasher. This necessitated the use of two-word names, rather than some of the abbreviated names the LNWR had previously used.

They continued in service until Webb’s retirement, but his successor, (George Whale) preferred simple superheated locomotives, so consequently they were all scrapped between 1906 and 1907.

‘Greater Britain’ in period sepiatone. The original was built in October 1891, with a second following in May 1893. The remaining eight three-cylinder compounds came from Crewe Works in April and May 1894, with the two outside high pressure cylinders drove the trailing drivers, timed by Howe-Stephenson valve gear.  The one inside low pressure cylinder drove the leading drivers using a slip eccentric. Most unusually, there was no mechanical coupling between the two sets of drivers.

Stanier Coronation class Pacific No 46234 ‘Duchess of Abercorn’. The original was Built in the summer of 1938 at Crewe, and it appears here as allocated to 12A Carlisle Upperby shed, in the late British Railways lined Brunswick green livery.

G.W.R. Collett 4-6-0 4900 class No 4919 Donnington Hall was built in March 1929 at Swindon works. In the late B.R. period, the locomotive was allocated to 85A shed at Worcester. The loco is seen here from an unusual viewpoint near the bottom of the embankment.

Lee Marsh G.W.R. 517 class 0-4-2T No 1160 passes an up local service.

Ex L.M.S. Fowler three cylinder ‘Patriot’ class 4-6-0 No 45513 was built at Crewe in the summer of 1932, and is seen here in lined British Railways Brunswick Green livery. This particular loco retains an original parallel boiler outline, and was shedded at 8A Edge Hill.

G.W.R. 2021 class 0-6-0PT No 2069 is another workhorse from the Dave Thomas collection. The William Dean original had a saddle tank and emerged from Wolverhampton works in 1899. Dave Thomas.

Dave Thomas brought this G.W.R. Churchward 2-8-0T No 4298 and it appears here heading west with a rake of loco coal opens. The original design was introduced in 1910, but this one was built at Swindon Works 31/10/1922. The model was weathered by Neil Podbery. Dave Thomas.

This Collett 5600 class was introduced 1924. for service in the Welsh valleys. 0-6-2T No 5634 was built at Swindon at the end of September 1925. The loco is about to cross over the occupation bridge on the down main heading for Abergavenny, to the south west. The model was also weathered by Neil Podbery. Dave Thomas.

The Wild Bunch Dragsters trophy for American Pie. Our engraved plaque is in the middle , surrounded the some of the great names of UK quarter mile heroes.

Maybe next year I’ll be able to find enough time to re-do the rear bodywork with a bit more panache, like this spectacular ‘boat tail’ slingshot dragster of the mid sixties period. This car would eventually have received a colourful hippy paintjob, but it looks fine here just in the exquisitely hand crafted bare ally. His somewhat dowdy opponent can be seen in the far lane with a simpler ‘bucket’ rear body.

From the 1950’s to the 1970’s, dragstrips big and small were littered all up and down the Pacific Coast of California, but less than a handful remain today.  One of the regions more popular quarter mile raceways during this golden era was the Half Moon Bay Dragstrip, located just outside San Francisco.

In 1942, the California State Highway Department constructed the Half Moon Bay Airport 20 miles south of San Fran for the U.S. Army during World War II, and it was turned over to the Navy at the war’s conclusion.  In 1947, San Mateo County acquired the airport and ten years later, with the hot rodding movement exploding across the region, the newly popular sport of drag racing took over the runway and it’s surroundings.  Several improvements were made to what was then the largest dragstrip in Northern California, including fencing, bleachers (stands), a top end safety net, a timing tower made from an old bread van!, concessions, and the latest and greatest timing and starting line equipment. It was also one of the first tracks in the nation to use radio and television to advertise their racing events.

The Dartmouth & Kingswear Steam Laundry stood a little to the north of Kingswear at the end of Waterhead Creek, and in it’s day, it took good care of the uniforms from the Royal Naval college on the opposite bank of the River Dart.  We chose to include it as part of the character of the locality and the backwater will soon appear as an interesting 3D layout feature, using forced perspective. I will take some pictures of this scene when the time is right, but it’s too early for now.

This is a hand drawn artwork of the prominent sign that appeared on the south facing wall of the laundry building as it protruded out to the roadside, just beyond the small front gardens. It’s basically just a tracing of a reference photo, and the cutout is for a south facing window.

Railway model manufacturers very often commissioned traditional illustrations to romanticise their products. An illustration made it easier to glorify the size, power and speed of the modelled vehicles, and allowed them to be depicted at their impressive full size.  Terence Cuneo’s famous oil paintings are probably the best known examples of railway art ever to grace a catalogue cover, but here are a couple of lesser known manufacturers with their hand painted covers just for fun.

A North British type 2 B0-B0 no D6100 stands ready to brave the bad weather on this atmospheric Playcraft catalogue cover.

A Warship hydraulic, Woodhead electric and a Pacific Steam loco race each other in this marvellous celebration of speed and power….. Who won I wonder? and was the signalman ready for his busy spell?

A superb Cuneo study of passenger trains at Saltash, taking turns to cross the iconic Royal Albert Bridge across the River Tamar.  This is one of the less commonly seen covers, as the 9th edition (issued in 1963), and it included the ‘Lionel’ brand.

We paid another visit to the south coast recently and we often stop at the charming town of Rye for a coffee and walkabout.  This time we found the Rye Heritage Centre, which is housed in a converted 19th century sail loft on the Quayside.  For modelling interest, it’s actually the home of the ‘Story of Rye’ town model which is a 1:100 scale model of the hilltop town in Victorian times.  It uses a unique ‘Son et Lumiere’ style sound and light effect sequence, bringing over 700 years of Rye’s rich history and folklore to life .

Intrigue, myth, ghosts and smugglers, are all brought to life in this fascinating show, centred on the beautifully crafted Rye Town Model. Watch royal visits, French invasions and dastardly doings, and as the stories unfold, the commentary is enhanced by dramatic sound and light effects.  It’s well done and worth a visit.

Paul Glover’s wonderful Aberayon & Chilton 7mm scale layout will be appearing very soon in issue No 257 of Model Rail magazine.  A typically well photographed portfolio by Chris Nevard captures the charm of the model, and Kevin and I submitted Paul’s copy to the editors.
A preview can be found at the MR Facebook page here…….Aberayon Facebook 

Dean Goods at Chilton shed. Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

There are a few more pictures to include soon, sent in by enthusiasts but they are going to need some processing work.  Apologies, for this…..I will get round to including them A.S.A.P….. Back soon.

November 23rd 2018

Several trips this month, working on Kingswear’s permanently installed baseboards, mostly shaping the various removable panels that now form the backscene landscape around Waterhead Creek. Some of them need to be ‘single skinned’ so to speak, allowing the maximum access to a concealed fiddleyard behind the scenes.

In the meantime, I have also been making the elements of the backscene townscape, including the floating timber ferry pontoon with its lattice iron approach walkway.  The small cluster of buildings including Mill House are underway as well , forming the focal point of the backwater scene.  Paul is doing the boats and small timber and corrugated sheet boat house near the high water line.

A number of relief outline houses appear against the skyline, forming the outline of the sought after Ridley Hill area of Kingswear. These really contrast with the humble working dwellings and quayside businesses, which will eventually oversee the station further to the left of this point. They have been produced to a smaller relative scale, and are just rested in place for now because they still need to be wired up for lighting before being permanently installed. All share a westerly view, over to the opposite bank, with Dartmouth visible to the right and various inlets in the wooded riverbank before the promontory at One Gun Point and then further still, out over the English Channel and Jersey beyond the horizon.

I did find some priceless reference the other day in the ‘Kingswear History’ page, where part of the locality that I’ll be modelling on the next panel is remembered in earlier days by Mike and Jane Trevorrow, who also run a current news page covering local activities.
I hope they won’t mind if I include some edited information here as an example of just how useful these local history accounts can be to researchers.

This photo from the 1920s shows the sunny side of the Dart riverbank, and houses are being built to the north of the Church and ferry as the town expands. The side on houses called Overhill (2) which were the first to be built around 1890, then Hawarden Terrace (3) a few years later, followed in 1900by the Beechcroft pair of semis(4) bordering Higher Contour road; semi detached from Glenhurst(5) , Killiney(1) , (which was built with semi glazed red brick with yellow brick quoins and window framings) completed the group in 1908 and couldn’t decide which road to adopt for it’s entrance, and so took both Wood Lane, and Higher Contour Road for access. Mike and Jane Trevorrow.

Using old Tythe maps of the area, it seems that ‘many of the unbuilt plots were originally described as gardens. Mike and Jane Trevorrow.

I probably won’t do another update now until after Christmas because of time pressure, but there is a get together in the next few weeks at Bucks Hill which will hopefully yield a few more pictures.
Kevin is thinking about doing a movie describing the layout in some detail and so we’ll see when we can get together.  There’s plenty to feature but it’s really a question of deciding the subject matter in advance.  The layout has recently appeared in a new Peco supplemental magazine dealing with only 7mm scale equipment which is brilliantly done.

Please do pick up a copy if you see it as it includes some great modelling and of course it features the new 7mm Peco accessories range. I’ll be looking to include some of these products into a diorama as soon as possible.

I have tweaked a few more Bucks Hill pics from the last running session and I expect there will be another get together at Christmas time.  I’m hoping to catch up with Jack Anziani there as well, so I’ve added a few pictures I can’t remember including before, from his characterful ‘Westcott’ terminus layout.

‘Cornishman’ 4-4-0 at the Down main platform

Toad brake van in the down loop.

Collett 1400 class 0-4-2T No 1473 and it’s Auto trailer head pass Ewyas Harold heading east towards Abergavenny.

Adams Radial 4-4-2T being turned at Westcott’s small shed.

Single decker bus at Westcott’s level crossing.

Manchester four wheeler at the loop behind the station building.

L.M.S. Diesel electric No 10001

A short film sponsored by the English Electric Co featuring the prototype L.M.S.locomotives during trials.

Malcolm Mitchell sent in a few vignettes of his latest 7mm scale build, and it is a pleasure to study.  I’ll put three here including a sepia toned version, and we can look forward to some pics of a Broad Gauge ‘Iron Duke’ and an Armstrong 4-4-0 which he is working on at the moment.

King George VI is displayed here in late 1950s British Railways condition, and was allocated to 81A Old Oak Common during this period.

6028 Cab detail view

This particular Collett King class 4-6-0 was built at Swindon at the end of July 1930, and all members of the class were modified with 4-row superheaters from 1947. No 6028 received it’s elliptical brass capped double chimney in 1955.

By all means take a tour of some of the many other locomotives that have emerged from “A” Shop.

A long time ago now I trained as a technical illustrator doing cutaways and ghosted views of vehicles etc and I still keep an eye out for traditional illustration because of course it takes me back.  A few publications still do use traditional illustrations as I remember them but I find that one of the most common uses of traditional illustrations and even occasionally some cutaways can still be found on plastic kit boxes. They sometimes appear just as isolated outline studies, like a cut out, but now and again, the vehicle is depicted ‘in situ’, and these are the most fun.

Illustrated book covers are comparatively rare nowadays but some of them were very well done like this Ladybird cover leaf. There’s a distinctive nostalgic feel to these pictures even though they were just commercial art at the time. The book cost two shillings and sixpence, or just ‘two n’ six’ to ordinary folk.

A classic Airfix kit box features a traditional illustration of a cattle wagon on the lid and look how well the vehicle is portrayed in this ‘in situ’ picture. Next month I will see if I can find some fine quality illustrations done for the covers of model catalogues which is another source of really good work, as well as featuring commissioned oil paintings from time to time.

If you do enjoy galleries of landscape art, there’s always this catalogued list of artists. Seek inspiration to have a go at your own picture, or just leaf through the paintings for pleasure.

J.M.W. Turner’s Raby Castle and the Earl of Darlington’s hound pack. The surrounding landscape is dominated by one of the wildest skies ever painted, with it’s wonderful roiling storm clouds, shadows and sunlight.  J.M.W. Turner.

I have been corresponding with a number of previous Missenden Abbey participants lately, and their various projects are coming on very well indeed.  Most are still at their mock up stages but it won’t be long before we’ll be able to have a look at some really great work mainly on these built up diorama scenarios. 

This early stage mockup shows the elements of Andrew Glover’s Todmorden Viaduct diorama coming together, backed up with a ‘Generate a Panorama’ contour plot of the Yorkshire hills plotted from the correct map location and viewing height. Andrew has carefully adjusted the horizon and track bed heights to 146cm and 135cm respectively to correspond to a 160cm average viewing height.

This is part of Ian Statham’s Alcesterton diorama in progress and there is already quite a bit of work in this progressively scaled townscape. The depth and balance of the scene is already starting to work very nicely indeed and no doubt I’ll have a few more images of progress next time I can get round to posting. Townscapes can take a long time, especially when the detailing work becomes necessary.

I will be popping over to see Pat Humphrys in the next few weeks and we will spend a little time looking at the Lambourn end of his 7mm scale model, As you can see here Pat already has the knack of developing the basic distance layers, and the next job will be to adapt the buildings of the distant town into focal layers from Pat’s library of period reference photos.

A new course has been added to the range at Missenden Abbey Spring Weekend dealing with the application of Templot to layout planning.   ‘An introduction to Templot’ with Gordon Ashton

The car is now in hibernation until the beginning of the 2019 season at which point, Dan Boone will be taking over the driving duties for a while. Winter storage entails draining all the fuel out, standing the car up off its wheels to avoid flat spotting or wrinkling the thin slick sidewalls, unpacking the chute, and removing the rocker arms to even all the valve spring pressures.  We also need to tidy up the trailer a bit, buy a caravan and book a storage plot for it near the strip, and finally get a bigger, tougher marquee.  Really looking forward to going out with the Wild Bunch next season, particularly as they very kindly voted American Pie as this year’s ‘Best Slingshot Dragster’ (front engine type).  We couldn’t make the annual dinner, but a massive thanks to Claire Meaddows and Colin Theobold (judge) for putting us up for first place.
To visit and learn about nostalgia drag racing in this country, click the link below

This is a very blurry screen grab from a movie clip, but it shows us doing our thing.  Dan and Mark are keeping an eye on things as I start the burnout.  We’ll be swapping places next year, but I have to learn how to crew, as I’ve never done it before.  Doing the safety checks, fuel refill, pulling the parachute pin without releasing it by mistake, plugging the hefty jumper cables in to start up, towing back from the top end, and many more duties.

Dan does fit into the small roll cage…..just, and the full set of 4 layer Nomex fireproof safety gear has now arrived from the States. This includes the gloves (which were still missing when this picture was taken a few weeks ago)

Lee has a new logo now, and he has sent in this picture of a Dean Goods 0-6-0 No 2524 originally built (with a new fangled inside frame arrangement) in February 1884 at Swindon.  Alongside stands a Collett passenger 0-4-2T No 1157.  Cliff Williams

Lee Marsh Model Co Dean Goods 0-6-0

This study close up of the Dean cab shows the fully detailed backhead, and all the other components including the 1908 cab warning plate. Lee Marsh Model Co

Let me know if you need one of these for your GWR cab as I do have a CPL half etch available in 7mm scale. They need blackening and highlighting.
Furthermore, if anybody would like the CPL brass name and number plate collection, please let me know.  I do struggle to find the time to maintain the stock level, and I could use the added space on the CPL stand.  There’s quite a bit of existing stock and a full set of perfect contact films.  The list can be found here..

The CPL Chain and Shackles kit was designed for securing wagon loads like containers to flat wagons for instance, but I have had a few enquiries lately about adapting the components to make the bufferbeam mounted safety chains that were fitted to some vehicles.  These were mostly omitted from designs after the grouping, but maybe with a pack of 4mm scale wagon coupling links or just some suitable extra wire they could be quite well represented.

All the Met locomotives were fitted with safety chains even into the mid twenties, but quite a few other companies also fitted similar types. Here’s my old ‘D’ class Sharp Stewart 2-4-0T Metropolitan locomotive that had them from new. David Lane.

Please do remember that both the Aberayon and Whitchurch Road layouts are still looking for new homes, so on the basis that it is much much easier than starting afresh, just give me a call on 01296 749070. 

Whitchurch Road station building and platform. David Lane.

12th October 2018
Congratulations to Barry Cossins. Andrew Hicks and their team for having a go at the Great Model Railway T.V. challenge, and now that the first heat of this formatted contest has appeared, we can show a picture or two.  The judges were Steve Flint, the editor of Railway Modeller Magazine and Kathy Millatt who also happens to have an interest in forced perspective landscape modelling.  She went on to feature the layered urban landscape that forms a major part of the Ealing Road layout among a number of examples of the use of forced perspective, and also very kindly mentioned my book on one of her many blog pages. 

Ealing Road’s urban landscape.  Barry Cossins

The urban forced perspective scene has a collaged and edited printed rear panel with several layers of cutouts. Five rows of terraced houses appear parallel to the railway, progressing from layout scale at the lineside, into smaller scales and depths, graduating into the landscape and middle distance.  Barry Cossins

A new category has been added to this website, describing the landscape course at Missenden Abbey Modellers Spring weekend. It can speak for itself, so just link directly from here to begin with if you are considering taking part.  I just thought it would be a benefit to any possible future attendees to gain an understanding of what the possibilities are.

Coffee break!

Spring Weekend 2019 – Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd March

The Spring Weekend opened for booking on 20th September and over 40 places have already been taken up, so If you do intend coming it is advisable to book very soon, especially if you wish to stay at the abbey. 

I have started much earlier with some of the correspondence about backscene projects, which but do please register with David Brandreth first so he knows what is going on.

All the other details are available from the Missenden Abbey Modellers dedicated website.
Neil Podbery is currently working on a new website, which will include examples of model weathering. as well as some of his latest 3D backscene work. There is now too much demand for me to cope with, so lets have a look at some of Neil’s recent output here as a preview, and I’ll provide a link to his revised site when it’s ready.  He has already undertaken one commission I couldn’t manage time- wise, and this way, we’ll have a bit more capacity to get some more work done to the right standard.

Neil is working on a full 3D backscene for a west country layout, and this is a small section of it, still in progress. There’s more detail to be added but it gives a fine initial impression of the kind of landscape surrounding the line.  Neil Podbery

Getting to know ‘Generate a Panorama’ speeds up what can otherwise be quite a bit of research time, especially when we’re turning back the clock. Some more of Neil’s 3D work is to be seen here in this composite view. Neil Podbery

It helps to have some painting experience as well as modelling time under your belt when you take on a landscape commission, and this is an example of one of Neil’s skies.  Neil Podbery

This oil painting by Neil is now in a private collection and it’s entitled ‘Fairford Goods’. I love the shadows in this quiet study, and see how the sky loses some of the upper blue intensity as it descends to horizon. Oil on canvas, 22″ x 16″ Neil Podbery.

More 3D backscene work in progress. Neil Podbery

Tony Geary has sent in some more photos of his builds. He’s making a CPL Paco horsebox, and his own layout is coming along as well.  At some point we’ll have to get together and see what needs to be done for the backscene, which has quite a bit of suburban housing surrounding the modelled section of line.

Tony sent in this Collett 4-6-0 No 4967 Shirenewton Hall which is done in 7mm scale. The original ‘Modified Hall’ was built at Swindon in 1929 with 6′ 0″ driving wheels, higher pitched boiler, modified footplating and other detail differences to the earlier ‘Saint ‘ rebuilds. Tony Geary.

Tony built this Churchward 4700 class ‘Night Owl’ 2-8-0 No 4702. The original was turned out from Swindon at the end of February 1922 and by the time it acquired the late BR livery it was shedded at 81C Southall shed. Tony Geary.

The on-site work at Kingswear is progressing steadily and Paul Woodward has begun the process of contouring the Dart Valley’s eastern slope and riverbank in the Hoodown area just north of the Waterhead Creek Bridge.  There’s still plenty of work to be done, but this area is now starting to take shape.  Paul Woodward

The valley side is taking shape here in mod=roc stretched over a series of foam board formers. We have reference for this area from the 1930s and we will be pencilling the wooded areas and field boundaries into place at the next on-site visit.  Paul Woodward

This is just one of the many frontages making up the layered townscape of Kingswear. Most of the retaining walls and buildings in the town are local stone but a number of fired brick structures were built during the Victorian expansion of the town including this small sail loft which still exists as a private house, looking out over Higher Street.

The latest issue of Model Rail Magazine has been on the shelves for a week or two, but just in case you are a fan of the M.& S.W.J.R. and the late victorian G.W.R. be sure not to miss the beautifully photographed scratch built locomotives of Andrew Cowie.  

Dean 3031 ‘Achilles’ class No 3049 ‘Dreadnought’ on Andrew’s ‘Sydney Gardens’ display diorama. I like the way the wall is reflected in the polished dome.  There is a plan to construct a full size Single, so I’ll get round to doing some investigating on that when I can.  Kevin Wilson

Chris Walker is a fan of the M.& S.W.J.R. and he sent in some photos from a portfolio on the ‘Swindon’s other railway’ website.  These appear on the ‘Swindon Town’ 7mm scale layout.

No 1 and Manning Wardle ‘K’ class I think at the coaling stage sidings.

Sharp Stewart 2-4-0 No 11 with lined lake livery and stovepipe chimney

We managed to get away for a short break in between race events, and ticked another box by visiting the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch railway. It was a great day out, and our locomotive was 4-8-2 ‘Hercules’.

Our train at New Romney station. It does feel like a main line in miniature…. just as they said!

There are only a few more opportunities to race now as the season draws to a close, and we are in the staging lanes here ready to run against ‘The Villain’. They won easily with their 1400HP supercharged dragster against our injected entry. Dan Boone.

A few shots from the most recent gathering at Bucks Hill follow here.

The tail end of a GWR permanent way train is held in the down loop. The ‘Toad’ brake van has ‘Return to Exeter’ chalked on under the “G”.

Phil Gomm brought a superb BR Era Western Auto Train with a black 14XX side tank No1473 and an Auto Trailer. This is paused at Bucks Hill’s down platform, just opposite the waiting shelter.

Ivatt 4F-A Mogul No 43059 with flat and well wagons in the down loop. The original was built at Doncaster in 1950.

Phil Gomm’s lake liveried auto trailer No W229W at Bucks Hill station.

A view over the platforms looking North towards Callow Hill with the cattle dock and goods shed behind a solitary GWR horse box.

11th September 2018
Another very busy month, Kingswear’s backscene is progressing well, with the first aluminium panel now being partly painted. The foreshore area adjacent to Hoodown sidings is now structurally complete, and we have begun work on installing the backscene roadbed that runs past the laundry on it’s way to Brixham and Paignton to the north, and along behind the retaining wall up towards Fore Street and the ferry.  Once that’s in, we can move on to the construction of the hillsides and the shaping and contouring work around the Waterhead Creek area, and ideas seem to be coming together quite nicely on that too.
That’s all on site, but there’s plenty of studio work going on as well, adding trees and walls to join up the growing collection of building facades. These will eventually combine in layers to portray the townscape as it used to be.  More reference is always being sought, there’s no such thing as too much on a job as complicated as this

There’s a lot more work to do on this section of rear panel, but it’s the beginnings of a view to the south from the ferry, looking out to sea, with the far horizon, One Gun Point, St Petrox Church and Warfleet Creek. It needs a lot more detail, and definitely some more boats, but the tree covered 3D headland that forms the foundation for Kingswear itself will eventually obscure most of the horizon from this viewpoint.

Paul has been browsing through copies of GWR Journal obtained from the Titfield Thunderbolt bookshop in Bath, and there is a wealth of useful information, as well as reference photographs, some of which we hadn’t previously seen. Some of the articles give a real feel for the times and the everyday operations of the railway. Just as an example, there is a piece describing the branch 14xx Class, actually numbered 1466, together with its regular driver’s name – Reg Westaway, which could normally be seen with one or two autocoaches and frequently one or more fish vans, or ‘Bloaters’, attached. Paul does have a 1400 and an auto coach on the layout so it’s just a question of re-numbering it, or possibly building another one. Stephen Bomford has sorted out the fish van and chassis, and that can all go into a very nice, and authentic, train formation.

It always takes a few days to get ready for the Guildex show at Telford’s International Centre. The job is mostly just re-stocking the various CPL product lines, but as usual, it was worth the effort and the event was a successful one
Lee’s stand was mobbed with interested collectors, particularly on the Saturday, with the shelves of the illuminated glass case showing progress on the new projects, and examples of class variants.  A few scenic display dioramas always help to make for an interesting display, providing different environments for the available stock. 

The usual care and attention to detail is clear in this view of a 2301 Class (or Dean Goods), and one example is seen here at Temple Meads. They were a numerous and very long-lived class of engine, originally introduced in 1883, sometimes lasting well into the British Railways era. They were very popular with crews, being simple to operate and very reliable, and with a light axle-loading, they could be found at work on many rural branch lines as well as main line duties. Lee Marsh

Sepia Vignette of Dean Single No 3040 ‘Empress of India’.   Lee Marsh.

Kevin hasn’t had much spare time lately, so there haven’t been any Bucks Hill gatherings, so I will include a few pictures from previous Bucks Hill days that I didn’t get round to tweaking.

A British Railways standard 2-6-0 No 76056 heads east at Ewyas Harold.

Fowler L.M.S. 0-6-0T No 16528 trundles along the up main with a short rake of Cannock Chase five plank empty opens. During this period, all the coal was moved by rail, with none actually being moved on the canal. The small colliery engines would take wagons like these full of coal to the local sidings, where they would be marshalled into long trains, and a bigger, more powerful, engine would collect them for delivery to power stations, factories, etc. Oddly, a few years later, the private railway system at Cannock was actually sold and some canal traffic was re-introduced. In all, the Cannock Chase Colliery Company ran ten pits in the Chasewater area.

Ex G.W.R. No 4919 Donnington Hall waits in the down loop with a British Railways era goods train with containers, and steel panelled covered vans.. This photo has a different lighting which I rather like, so I’ll a few more like this at the next gathering.

I keep getting good feedback from putting up news about American Pie, so I have been working on the dragster’s Plymouth V8 again, this time fitting a new cam driven Enderle 15gpm fuel pump to the 60s Weiand front timing cover. 
We recently tried out the car again over an overcast but dry weekend at Santa Pod Raceway, and the bigger pump has really helped.  Even with a first wild guess at the adjustments, the car finally managed to break into the eight second bracket for the first time.

The first of two decent passes, and a rare glimpse of sunlight. I’m squinting a bit in this pic as I concentrate on the pre launch burnout. The credit for this success must go to my super dedicated crewmen, Mark England and Dan Boone who can be seen running about in the two movie clips (from different camera positions) attached below.

By the way, I do have pair of Keith Black 426 ally heads for sale with good stock rocker gear, and some other stuff, all of which would be fine for a beginner’s level hemi so I’ll put it in the ‘For Sale’ page when I can. 

I made a 7mm etch for the Pullman 10 ft rivetted bogie as pictured below, and brought it to Guildex this year.

Many steam hauled Pullman Coaches were equipped with these unequalised rivetted plate 10 ft wheelbase bogies, so if you are struggling to find them in 7mm, let me know.

The fold up etch contains the bogie frame with crossmembers, bolster and brake gear as well as separate overlays for the curved lower channel. Even the axleboxes and individual spring leaves are included, so certainly not a beginner’s kit, but quite an impressive level of authenticity would be achievable with enough time spent.

My demo single line diorama case has now sold to a collector, and It made sense to take a few last photos before it goes to it’s new home in the west country.  I put my old 1930’s Brill tramway train in as a reminder of when I used to scratchbuild everything! 

The old Brill to Quainton Road train looked a bit like this from the twenties to the mid thirties, but a better looking eight wheeled brake composite carriage was also used which had a wider, and more attractive profile with curving tumblehome lower panels instead of this narrower flat sided affair.

My blueprint for the Metropolitan rigid eight, a lot of the other pictorial reference came from Bill Simpson’s wonderful Brill Tramway book.

A few mid-Victorian rigid eight wheeled carriages survived for passenger service on the Brill line lasting until it’s closure in 1936, and I remember making this one by cheating with concealed bogies. These are cunningly hidden behind soldered brass rigid inner ‘W’ irons and radially controlled outer axles with long spring hangers allowing some sideplay. Very uncomfortable indeed by all accounts, with only thin cushions sliding about on hard wooden pews and nothing at all to hold onto!

No 27 and a scratchbuilt ventilated teak milk van. The louvres were done by repeatedly scraping a sheet of 80 thou styrene with a piece of hacksaw blade sideways along a straightedge. The locomotive boiler is a bit of ally vacuum cleaner extension tube with a hole cut in it for a Portescap RG7 set…how did I ever find the time?

 28th July 2018
A very busy month indeed, resulting in a bit of a delay in updating the news.
I returned from Jersey a few days ago. and my old six planet orrery now resides in the library ceiling of a wonderful gothic house.  As a result of this working trip, I missed a Bucks Hill gathering, and it has also slowed down the work of installing a new high capacity pump into the dragster’s methanol injection system.
The Kingswear 3D backscene is progressing well, with on site shaping and contouring work at the Waterhead Creek area of the layout, and plenty of research and studio work at home adding tea rooms, inns and hotels to the growing collection of building facades. These will eventually combine in layers to portray the townscape as it used to be.

Part of the Royal Dart Hotel, with the rear overlooking the river, adjacent to the station. Circa 1850. Italianate style stuccoed, with a low pitched hipped bitumenised slate roof with over- sailing and bracketed eaves. The main block is three storeys and attic. Three bays to east on this side. A rusticated stucco ground floor appears with segmentally headed recessed windows and a right hand doorway. A first floor band is modelled, and above are first and second floor windows in three tall round-headed recesses with moulded arches and continuous impost. The second floor windows are round headed with panelled aprons below. The three square attic windows rest directly above a moulded cornice. All the sash windows with their glazing bars must still be added. A very large segmentally arched carriageway on right (north) to quay, with five round-headed windows above (two blind), forming a link- ing bridge to an Italianate tower on north side which has rusticated ground stage rusticated quoins to the second stage with round-headed first floor windows and a clock face with heavy moulded cornice above. Bell-stage with three small louvred openings on each side and a hipped roof with large shaped brackets to eaves soffit.

Model Rail magazine’s latest themed issue deals with backscenes which is a great idea.  It’s full of examples and ideas, and it’s a credit to see editorial content concentrating on this aspect, as good landscape surroundings are such an important part of todays scenic models.

The cover of issue No 250 features a photo from Chris Nevard’s excellent Bucks Hill portfolio with its detailed 3D backscene included, and there is also a feature on a making a display diorama in 7mm scale. Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

This one is included in colour as a double page spread, and it stars our own Dean ‘Achilles’ class Single No 3065 ‘Duke of Connaught’ piloting an up express. The train engine is a Dean 2-4-0 No 3242 which was one of a class of 20 fast passenger locomotives built in 1893, primarily to work Swindon to Weymouth trains as well as South Wales expresses like the one shown here.
Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

Don’t forget that Aberayon & Chilton in 7mm scale has yet to appear, and at some point, we will be able to see the spectacular scratchbuilt locomotives of Andrew Cowie as well which will be a treat for all.  I don’t have any confirmed issue numbers for these upcoming articles yet.

I will try and do another update on the Bucks Hill in 7mm website when I can gather a few more pictures together.  It doesn’t help that I couldn’t make the last session, but Kevin beavers away in his workshop whenever he can, so I’ll take a few pictures of his latest output and post them ASAP.
Lee has plans edit some of his updates there as well, but with all of us looking after so many projects it can sometimes be difficult to find enough time.

Lee has published some pics of the sample Dean ‘Goods’ 0-6-0 at Bucks Hill, and here’s a small sepia version.   Kevin Wilson/Lee Marsh.

All the details and options for these can be found at the link provided.   Lee Marsh.

A Clerestory carriage at Temple Meads in lined 1912 lake livery.  Lee Marsh

John Ellis-Cockell from I. D. Backscenes has sent me a couple of samples of his latest 15 Inch high photographic backscenes and they really are good. They have been done to respond to customer requests, and have been professionally shot. John has edited them for perfect colour balance and saturation and printed them onto smooth, matt 180 gsm heavyweight paper.  They can also be supplied with a Premium Poly backing, and all the details can be found at the link provided. Here are a couple of low res crops from the newly produced scenes.

A small section from I.D. Backscenes No 247 ‘Coast’. These can all be ordered in different sizes and if required done to special sizes or mirror imaged to extend a run.

A view from I.D. Backscenes No 239 ‘Industrial’, a 6 metre by 15 inch backscene. Each tube contains two 150cm sections.

I D Backscenes

If anybody would like to take on and finish Whitchurch Road, please do get in touch via the contact page and we can talk about it. I just can’t find the time at the moment with so many things on the go. There are four scenic 5×3 foot boards, but the last one needs some work. It would go in a double length garage or a 30ft shed with a curved fiddleyard at each end, or you maybe could make a loop for it instead. A few pictures follow here as a reminder, but just see the rest of the details and some more images at the link provided… 

The Station Building.

View over platforms.

Bridge 179 detail.

I must get ready soon for the Telford show and CPL, and also do a bit of an update when I can find the time.

Here are a pair of containers shackled to flat wagons using one of the most popular CPL kits.

This  G.W.R. Diagram F16 Double ended Toplight Corridor Slip coach was photogrphed at Swindon’s carriage sidings by Roye England, and I have a really nice 7mm complete etch for one of these. I’ll bring it to the Guildex show just in case anyone wants to build it to attach to the back of a passenger rake.  It would work quite well by itself on a branch terminus layout as well.

The 15thou brass body etch comes with all the usual CPL fine detail, including bufferbeams, droplights, vents, steps, lamp irons, and bolection mouldings. A number of other components are available to progress this one, including a separate 57 foot T/L underframe. Roye England

Square shank round buffers, (couplings need a slip hook filed up), jump cables, steam & brake pipes, Commode, door & grab handles, correct cab brake cranks, underframe brake cleats, ‘V’ hangers & cranks, along with the usual battery box, transfers and interior detailing parts.  It just needs bogies, a roof, and some dedication! 

Here’s a copy link to a well made movie clip that clearly shows a slip working at Banbury

I also have a good set of old 7mm scale etches for a rake of these late G.W.R. Collett coaches…

This is an H36 Bow end composite, so please contact me if you want the details. They need a good bit of effort on the interior research, because you can see in easily through those big windows.

I also have enough etches for a ‘B’ Set and quite a few parts to fit, so again, just let me know if you would like to have a go at these.   J.H. Russell.

There’s no need to wait for harvest time to visit Pendon, in addition to the normal weekend opening hours, the museum will now be open every Wednesday from July 25th until August 29th, and every Thursday from August 2nd until August 30th. A fantastic opportunity to bring children along to the museum.

14th june 2018
Work continues on the many relief  buildings that will be eventually be arranged as a 3D backdrop to Paul Woodward’s ‘Kingswear’. I will pop the odd picture up here, but at the moment, with such a large project, everything is in too much of a half finished state to display.  Townscapes are really time consuming, but it’s coming along. 
I did take a day to join in at a Bucks Hill gathering so there are some pictures from that event, and I have some studies of John Edwards locomotives as well as some gallery views sent in by Malcolm Mitchell.
The Railex show went well as usual, and Michelle and I attended on the Sunday this time, well done to David Lane and the Princes Risborough MC.

The dragster’s support van interior needs to be organised and compartmented so it doesn’t become a chaotic mess as the days racing takes it’s toll, and I have also now de-commissioned the brass six planet orrery with a view to installing it in it’s new home in St Saviour on the island of Jersey.

A few pics from the latest Bucks Hill running day to begin…

James Aitken very often brings interesting models along and this picture shows a bogie warflat with it’s single tank load shackled in place for transport to the docks. The Infantry Mark II type shown here was best known as the ‘Matilda’, as a twin engined tank of the Second World War weighing about 25 tons including the heavy armour. The Matilda II was an excellent infantry support tank but had somewhat limited speed and armament, and was the only British tank to serve from the start of the war to its end. These were particularly associated with the North Africa Campaign in the 40s, hence they often wore brown camouflage paint. The model was built by James from a Tamiya kit.

A close up of the train’s locomotive. The ‘Austerity’ 2-8-0 was based on the LMS Class 8F, which until that point had been the government’s standard design. Various modifications were made to the 8F design by R.A. Riddles in order to prioritise low cost over design life. These included a boiler of simpler construction which was parallel rather than tapered and a round-topped firebox rather than a Belpaire firebox. The firebox was made of steel rather than the rarer and more expensive copper. The North British Locomotive Company (NBL) of Glasgow built 545 (split between their two works at Hyde Park and Queen’s Park) and the Vulcan Foundry (VF) of Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, built 390. North British also built a larger 2-10-0 version.

Ex G.W.R. No 4919 Donnington Hall waits in the up loop. This one was taken in different lighting as an attempt to give an evening shadow effect and I might do a few more like this.

The timber footbridge with shadows in the ‘warm late evening’ lighting.

A superb Lee Marsh clerestory brake in pristine fully lined Victorian livery.

This Riddles B.R. Standard class 4 mogul No 76056 was brought along for a turn by Nigel Smith, and Kevin has installed some photographic studio lighting which is definitely helping to reduce some of those pesky frontal shadows. The locomotive itself was built at Doncaster works in 1955 but had a ridiculously short service life of just over 10 years.

The branch line train arrives at Bucks Hill headed by a Lee Marsh Model co ‘517’ class 0-4-2T. The stone face of the down through platform is in the foreground, with barrows, baskets churns etc, with the wooden cattle dock and goods shed behind.

G.W.R. 45xx class small prairie No 4507 heads a short rake of coal empties past Ewyas Harold on the down main.

No 306 Autocrat was an extended version of the Whale’s Precursor Class 4-4-0, with slightly smaller driving wheels. The first of the class, No 66 Experiment was built in 1905 and a total of 105 were constructed up until 1910. The LNWR reused numbers and names of withdrawn locomotives, with the result that the numbering system was completely haphazard!

John Edwards often comes along to Bucks Hill from the Warley modellers group, and he brought quite a few locomotives along for a run at the last gathering

No 6829 Burmington Grange , passing Ewyas Harold, and the fireman looks back past the brake carriage. The ex G.W.R. 4-6-0 is presented in the early to mid 1950’s period, allocated to 83A Newton Abbot shed. A modified and super detailed “Finescale Brass” Loco, detailed and weathered by John Edwards. DCC & sound fitted.

No 4105, a “5101” class 2-6-2T “large prairie”, as running in the early to late 1950’s. Allocated to 83A Newton Abbot shed. A top end “Lee Marsh” ready to run loco, weathered by John Edwards. DCC & sound fitted.

No 1010 County of Cearnarvon passes by on the down main, running as it did in the early to mid 1950’s. Allocated to 83D (Plymouth) Laira shed, these were the final development of the two-cylinder Saint Class introduced in 1901 and included several features that had already been used on the successful Modified Hall class. In 1945, Hawksworth was given the authority to build a batch of mixed traffic 4-6-0s, and rather than building more examples of existing designs, he chose to introduce the ‘County’ Class as a testbed for a number of ideas he hoped to incorporate into a Pacific design at a later date. The model was built from a Just Like the Real Thing kit, painted and lined by Warren Haywood. It was then weathered by John Edwards, and DCC & sound fitted.

From time to time I spot a George Illiffe Stokes photo in an old book, and I sent one copy to Malcolm Mitchell just in case he hadn’t seen it.  He already had it of course and he is still working on the book, but he did send me a few pictures of some of the locos he has been working on, as well as the ongoing detail research for upcoming Lee Marsh releases.

A front end detail crop of Caerhays Castle No 7014. The original Collett 4-6-0 was built in mid 1948 at Swindon, going to Bristol Bath Road shed. Malcolms finely detailed and researched 7mm scale model shows the loco in its final B.R.condition.

No 6856 Stowe Grange
The 6800 Class or Grange Class was a mixed traffic class of 4-6-0 steam locomotive, built to replace the GWR 4300 Class 2-6-0s, and a hundred of these were taken out of service to be replaced by new 4-6-0s, eighty of which were of the Grange class, whilst the remaining 20 were of the Manor class.
The Granges were effectively a smaller-wheeled version of the Halls, and the wheels, valve motion and tenders were just taken from withdrawn engines, reconditioned and then used in the construction of the new locomotives
Although built to a thirty five-year old design, in service they proved to be reliable performers, handling most duties on the network. Their smaller driving wheels giving them a higher tractive effort than the Halls, and they were often used for the haulage of perishable goods, such as fruit and broccoli, as well as shown here on excursion train duties.

Ex G.W.R. Churchward 2-6-2T No 4508 was built in mid 1907 at Wolverhampton as a development of the 4400 class, but with larger wheels and increased boiler pressure. The model has been beautifully painted and weathered by Fred Lewis of welshwizardlocoworks for its new owner. Photo courtesy of Fred Lewis.

A fascinating portfolio of Malcolm’s work can be found at this link, along with a movie and an extensive image gallery.

My brother travels quite a bit for his work, and he recently went to Belgium for a few days. He brought me a souvenir present of this particular visit, and he chose to donate a rusty old pair of Stilsons to my collection of old tools! Here they are sitting on top, but because they are Belgian, they are of course made of chocolate! Next trip I fully expect him to bring me a teapot.

Some of the ex students from my year at college decided to hold a re-union and this took place in Hatch End near Pinner. It was a great success, just catching up after such a long time, and one of my studio colleagues sent me a couple of pictures of ‘Tornado’ he had recently rendered for a partwork magazine.

Ghosted View of Tornado in L.N.E.R. Apple green livery by Tim Loughhead

Monotone front end detail. Tim Loughhead 

6th May 2018
Still busy doing the Kingswear backscene this month, with an on-site session, doing some landscaping around the Waterside creek area where the line crosses the tidal mudflats to the north of the turntable.  This is all just cardboard and sticky tape at the moment just to get the contour surfaces represented. The relief buildings that crowd the station end are time consuming to scratch build but they are coming along.
The small stone church facing the station stands in a slightly elevated position at the junction of Higher Street and Church Hill, overlooking the River Dart.  It was dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury, and in its early days came under the sphere of influence of Totnes Priory which was then subsequently dissolved in 1539 and it then became a part of the Parish of Brixham.  In 1847, with the village of Kingswear expanding, funds were granted to rebuild the church with the work being overseen by the Exeter architect J. Hayward. The original nave was demolished leaving the 12th-century tower with the rest of the church reconstructed in local limestone with freestone dressing using the same decorated style and design as the old church, but this time on a slightly reduced scale.

The backscene facade of St Thomas needs a bit more work and colouring, but I’ll leave that till it goes in between the other relief buildings. It is situated (of course) right next to the pub!

I took a day trip to Staffordshire with my Missenden Abbey colleague Mick Moignard, and we paid a visit to Chris Walker and his amazing collection of railway models. There are effectively two layouts in one building, one Sm32 at 16mm/foot based on Lynton’s terminus, featuring some early Ffestiniog and Dinorwic locomotives, and another standard gauge one in progress called Charlton Park, scaled at 7mm/foot.

This platform view somehow captures the Lynton and Barnstaple in Southern Railway days. perhaps it’s because the scene is so quiet. A typical mixed train is waiting for the locomotive to back on ready for the run inland. The structures and stock were made by Henry Holdsworth, and Chris has rearranged the station to fit his available space.

The Ffestiniog Railway’s ‘Little Giant’ underwent a 6-month heavy overhaul in 1875, and. with a few minor repairs, the locomotive worked until 1887 when the boiler, smokebox and chimney were replaced. In 1904 Little Giant was back at Boston Lodge for another new boiler and replacement cylinders and cab front-sheet. By 1932, the locomotive was withdrawn and parts were being used to rebuild other England locos. Some parts still survive. 

Yeo was one of three narrow gauge 2-6-2T steam locomotives built by Manning Wardle in 1898 for the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway.  Like all the locomotives on the L&B, it was named after a local river with a three-letter name, the other two locomotives were named Exe and Taw.  Mick Moignard.

The ‘Alice’ class 0-4-0ST locos were built specifically for the narrow gauge Dinorwic Slate Quarry. Eleven were built by the Hunslet Engine Company between 1886 & 1904, designed & supplied specifically to work the many galleries of the quarry at Llanberis, North Wales.

A Lynton & Barnstaple four wheeled covered van.

There is cine film record of the old L&B, some of which can be found here;

My brother was going through some old envelopes the other day, and he found a couple of paintings I had forgotten all about. I’ll put them in the ‘For Sale’ section when I can get round to it, and the originals have window mounts, but no frames.

The first one was a small gouache on watercolour paper picture of Stratford’s old Shakespeare theatre, seen from the Tramway bridge across the Avon. The original idea being a recreation of a Shakespearean playhouse (or what such a playhouse was then thought to have been like) was clearly modified as soon as lines were put on paper, but what eventually emerged was quite unlike any other contemporary theatre in Britain – a delightful and fantastic blend of Mediaevalism, somewhat in the manner of William Burgess, combined with Elizabethan or ‘Old English’ elements. Taken as a whole, Unsworth’s theatre was certainly an interesting (and perhaps always underrated) invention of its time. The associated museum wing was completed in 1881 and the scene dock in 1887. Most of it was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1926, leaving only a shell, but the museum wing, which was linked to the theatre by a galleried bridge, was undamaged.

Kings College Chapel and the Senate House in Cambridge is another small gouache study, looking north along Kings Parade. This is how the famous college appeared around 1900 so the iron railings have now gone and some trees have grown, but otherwise the aspect is hardly any different today.

Richard Hewins called me, needing some CPL equipment and we got talking about his layout, (as often happens). As a result, he very kindly sent in some pictures and here are a few scans.

Dean ‘Achilles’ class No 3079 ‘Thunderbolt’ in original condition passes under a classic G.W.R. lattice footbridge with a passenger train. This is Rowington for Shrewley station, done in 4mm scale, and the wide gap between the platforms goes back to broad gauge days. The Station master’s house is a copy of the structure at Henley on Thames, and the station buildings were based on a kit by Pola.  Ray Lightfoot

George Jackson Churchward, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway, was given authority to purchase three French de Glehn-du Bousquet four-cylinder compound locomotives in order to evaluate the benefits of compounding. The first locomotive, was numbered no.102, and called ‘La France’, delivered in 1903, and two further locomotives, nos. 103 and 104, ‘President’ and ‘Alliance’ were purchased in 1905. They were similar to the Paris-Orleans Railway’s 3001 class, and slightly larger than 102 These were built by Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques. with had two high-pressure cylinders fitted between the frames, and two low-pressure cylinders outside. The high-pressure cylinders drove the front driving wheels while the low-pressure cylinders drove the rears. An external steam pipe was mounted just in front of the dome, looking rather similar in appearance to a top feed. In 1907 No. 104 was fitted with an unsuperheated Swindon No. 1 boiler, President herself being similarly reboilered in February 1910 , subsequently receiving a superheated boiler in January 1914. In 1926, the three locomotives were based at Oxford shed and in this view No 103 appears in un-lined green with a Tri-composite 70 ft brake in lined lake livery. Ray Lightfoot.

G.W.R. 4-4-0 No 3822 County of Brecon enters Rowington ‘s platforms with a passenger train. These were designed as a part of Churchward’s standardisation plan, but were found to have a front end too powerful for the wheel arrangement and all were withdrawn by the early 1930s. They were designed, in part, for the Hereford to Shrewsbury LNWR line over which the GWR had running powers, but on which they were expressly forbidden to use 4-6-0 locomotives. The 4-4-0 Counties were in effect a shortened GWR 2900 Class, providing engines powerful enough for the trains but with the requisite four-coupled wheels. Richard’s model is a much modified and detailed Hornby item. Ray Lightfoot

I used to do a little of the old fashioned type of sign writing, but I’m no expert!  The dragster is the only example I have now and it’s done in oil based enamels just like old times (before all those over wraps came in).  The dragster is working now, and on the last of four passes on a well prepared track it gave us a small wheelstand at the startline. My crew is terrific, but of course, we are always dependent on England’s ever changing weather conditions.

The paint on the old glassfibre body panels has a few scratches and stains now, but these cars do have a hard life. One of these days I’ll re paint it…. but not yet!

The font is usually associated with old American playbills and wanted posters, so It seemed like a decent choice for a showman’s type paintjob. Oddly enough, it’s origin dates back to the time of carved hardwood block printing presses and the face was known as French Antique No 2.

Here’s a picture in the return road taken by the Wrathchild slingshot dragster crew who we raced a few weekends ago. They use a Chevrolet small block (foreground) and that’s me after our run on the other side, waiting for a tow back to our pit.  It’s always a good idea to cover the intake for the tow back because the soft slicks throw hundreds of tiny stones upwards, and you don’t want them in your engine.  We cover our side exhausts as well which are known as Zoomies in drag racing parlance. Wrathchild Slingshot Dragster.

Simon George was kind enough to give me some good feedback on my book, and he has been working hard on Heaton Lodge.  A permanent storage facility has now been found, large enough to put the entire layout up. This will be a big benefit, as there’s never a substitute for seeing the whole visible section as intended. The plan is to pay a visit in the late summer to have a look at the pathway of the long backscene and talk about the best method of construction and alignment.

The Mill basement is long enough to take the complete layout, which will eventually have return loops at either end, and a marshalling yard on the other side. Simon George.

An English Electric Class 40 Type 4 1Co-Co1 heads a short train of TTA tank wagons along Heaton Lodge’s four track main line. These JLTRT wagon kits are now fitted with mini ball races from M&M models and have sprung axleboxes. They detect the prototypical 1:137 gradient and there is also a plan to fit sound chips with squealing flanges and flat spotted tyres. I like the light and shadow play on the concrete sleepers in the foreground. Simon George.

Stuart Dodd has been busy with his latest build, a L.M.S. 7F 0-8-0 which is now nearing completion. There are a few jobs still to do, with back head, crew and tools to install, the under frame to paint, and coal to install.

Fowler No 9673 was built at Crewe in June 1932.

Charlton Park is still in progress, but even at this stage, with the structures just rested in place, this shows the site with an open, spacious feel to the station and sidings. Mick has been sorting out the DCC characteristics of the 7mm locomotives, so they all needed a run to make sure the responses are the same on the layout’s system.

Footbridge, Station, Goods shed and Locomotive shed.

M.S.W.J.R. 0-6-0 No 23 stands in front of Charlton Park’s goods shed. Mick Moignard

Three 2-4-0 tank engines were acquired for the Midland & South Western Junction Railway from Beyer Peacock in 1882 and a fourth in 1884. These were intended for passenger work and were numbered 5 to 8, having outside cylinders. In 1894 the Company acquired three lighter 2-4-0 tender locomotives with 5 ft 6in wheels, Nos 10 to 12.  No 11 is seen here and these three locomotives were taken into the GWR locomotive stock when the M&SWJR was absorbed by that company in 1923. Mick Moignard.

A quick reminder that Railex will be here soon, with its high quality reputation following the standards of the previous years. The line up of traders and outstanding layouts in scales up to and including 7mm scale. Stuart Holt will be out with his ‘Kyle of Sutherland’ P4 Scottish layout for the first time at a major show (see link below), The other link takes you to the Railex 2018 home page, and some of the layouts that will be at the exhibition in a few weeks.The event will be held over the Whitsun (or late spring) bank holiday weekend at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium near Aylesbury.

Railex homepage

2nd April 2018
To allow as much preparation time as possible, I can help to spread some advance information about a forthcoming TV programme that may be of interest to modellers.
The ‘Great Model Railway Challenge’ is a planned new series for Channel 5, which aims to shine a light on the world of model railways to a much larger audience than ever before.
It is a competition for teams of railway modellers to build a small layout while being filmed for TV. so it should be an excellent opportunity to show off your modelling talent to an appreciative audience. It is also being supported by some big-name model railway suppliers.
If you would like further information on what is involved, there is a forum discussion on the subject to be found here;
The application deadline is approaching very soon, so if anyone is interested then please email; 

Ian Haynes attended the Missenden Abbey Spring weekend last year, and has kindly sent in a few views of a layout he has been involved with.  It’s a Scaleseven exhibition model of Aston Rowant station, which was a small intermediate station about six miles from the main line junction at Princes Risborough. This part of the branch line is now a nature walk, although the Chinnor section is preserved.  The original plan has been shortened slightly to occupy a 12 foot scenic section, and these photos were taken at the Ally Pally show last weekend.

Eric Hines has done the majority of the work, but Ian took care of the backscene, and this why we are taking a quick look. The contour profile and skyline was taken from ‘Generate a’ looking north, then overlaid onto a horizon line drawn onto the rear panel based on the the public viewing height. This was Ian’s first go after a very good test section at Missenden, and he chose to hand paint the scene in acrylics from his own panoramic photographs of the site, combined with period reference photos with less local tree growth. Ian Haynes

The sky was based on the modern photos, as was the colour of the distant hills, while the foreground surfaces were coloured and blended to match the grass materials that Eric had chosen for the layout, (Aston Rowant’s lighting is LED, with a colour temperature of around 4500 to 5000K). Ian Haynes

The building at Aston Rowant was basically the same as the superb replica that has now been re-instated at Chinnor. To keep up with the progress of the new extension into Risborough’s platform 4 4, and the first main line connected services planned for later this year .

To keep up with the latest from Chinnor and Princes Risborough see here;

Godfrey Glyn reviewed my book on the RM web forum in mid December 2016, just after it was released, and he came along to Missenden Abbey Spring weekend this year.  It was great to finally meet up, and here’s the first distance test section he did in preparation for his four foot Chard station diorama project

It works well, the colour saturation is fine, particularly from foreground intensity to far distance reduction, and the very light touch of the distance detail is also exceptional.  The rails in the foreground are at 4mm scale with this small test section, so that distance work is pretty fine. Godfrey Glyn

A couple of the contributors to the Kingswear layout came along to Bucks Hill for the recent gathering, and as usual it was a good get together and chinwag.  There were a number of visiting locomotives doing the rounds and I managed to photograph some of the many!

An overall view of the station throat area, with a branch line train just ready to go.

G.W.R. Dean Goods engine No 2557 passes by on the down main. The 0-6-0 was built at Swindon in the last few months of 1887 and taken into WD duty in 1940.

Auto trailer No W38 in lake livery rests in the Golden Valley platform, accompanied by a 517 class 0-4-2T

A Dean ‘Duke class 4-4-0 No 3265 ‘Tre Pol & Pen’ takes a rake of L.M.S corridor coaches past Ewyas Harold on the up main. The original 1896 locomotive was rebuilt in 1912 with a superheated boiler, and turned out in unlined green livery.

A pair of ex L.S.W.R Drummond L11 class 4-4-0s pass by heading east with vans. The pilot engine is from a Martin Finney kit, made and painted in Maunsell dark green Southern Railway livery by Chris Wesson. The loco is now owned by Jonathan Marcus who is now looking at ideas for a layout of his own. Train engine No 30171 is in the early British Railways livery, with an eight wheeled Drummond watercart tender, and it emerged from Nine Elms in 1904. Enginemen knew this class as ‘Large Hoppers’.

Ex G.W.R. Collett 5205 class 2-8-0T No 5205 heads west and across the Welsh border with a rake of loco coal empties. These were developed from the 4200 class but had a slightly larger cylinder bore size and outside steam pipes. The first of the class is seen here in the later B.R. livery.

A L.M.S. Fowler Patriot class ‘Giggleswick’ take ventilated box vans east. Like many of the 52 members of the class, No 5538 was actually named a few years after it’s 1933 build date. The weathered 4-6-0 is from a Lee Marsh limited run.

The down through platform with figures, Golden Valley branch line platform, wooden cattle dock and goods shed behind.

21st March 2018
Just a short update to include a mention of the latest Model Rail magazine (No 246) which is now available.  Along with the usual excellent features, reviews and studies, the April issue features Dave Thomas’ running shed diorama as part of a series of ideas for ‘space saving’ type projects.
I have a few old pics of this, and Dave has also started taking his own light play and silhouetted pictures, but Chris Nevard has excelled himself with this study, and some of the interior views are reproduced as double page spreads.
Dave has very kindly asked me to do another diorama at some point, so there’s plenty to do!
Here are a couple of Chris’ interior views showing some weathered G.W.R. locomotives from Dave’s rapidly expanding collection.

A pair of old Armstrong tank locomotives rebuilt with pannier instead of saddle tanks. No 2012 of the 1901 class, and No 2069 of the 2021 class.  The tender of a Dean Goods is visible to the left, and there are many different angles, cameos, and detail close ups in Model Rail’s illustrated feature. Chris Nevard/Model Rail magazine

Two small prairie tanks for this elevated view, and the layered backscene can just be seen, through the window, with it’s nearby coaling stage, distant carriage sidings and urban skyline beyond using progressively reducing scales within 17in of total cabinet depth. Chris Nevard/Model Rail magazine

Missenden Abbey modeller’s Spring 2018 weekend went very well as always, a credit to Chris Langdon, David Brandreth, and the other regular volunteers that work hard to organise the event.  Please do visit their website for details of the two forthcoming events in the summer and Autumn for booking availability

This is part of the backscene studio at Missenden 2018, with various dioramas and backscene test pieces being worked on. I have already received some great feedback from this years participants and organisers. The project list included some prototype study and some typical landscapes

A number of Facebook posts can be found here covering the Abbey’s modelling courses, along with the experiences of participants and tutors alike.
This years projects were….
A 2D hand painted rear panel for a wagon works with traverser.
Detail work and reference for a diorama of Chard Station looking NW in the 50s.
A 3D townscape section for a 7mm cabinet diorama
A 2D test panel and plotting exercises for a loft layout depicting Bognor Regis station in 1910.
A 3D test panel of open countryside from reference.

A level crossing with roadway progressively blending into rear panel for a loft layout.

This short clip caught my eye recently, featuring the retired engineer Ken Small, who became inspired in his retirement to produce his own Canaletto style Venetian canvas. ‘The Bucintoro returning to the Molo on Ascension day’ which hangs in the Bowes museum.  With no formal art training at all, Ken decided to come up with a similar view, and the result speaks for itself.  For me, he comes across as a example to all and I really do hope my retirement goes as well as Ken’s.

Every year on Ascension Day, ruler of the Venetian republic known as the Doge, left the Molo and put out into the Adriatic aboard the Bucintoro which was his ceremonial boat, to perform the ceremony of the symbolic Wedding of Venice to the Sea by casting a gold ring into the water. Ken’s version is slightly different to the original, and he describes his work in a short film.

All credit to Anni Ferguson. 

Stuart Reid kindly sent in some pics of his recently completed experimental G.W.R. enclosed locomotive as one of four examples that appeared in 1906.  As well as 517 class 0-4-2Ts Nos 533 (pictured) & 833, a pair of 2021 class 0-6-0Ts Nos 2120 & 2140 were also partially disguised by this carriage profiled outer casing.
The fully lined outer shell was simply intended to provide a visual uniformity
for the train’s formation, and once the locomotive was coupled between a pair of
similarly liveried auto-trailers, it helped to disguise the familiar steam

They turned out to be quite impractical, partly due to maintenance access issues and other difficulties like dirt soot and ash accumulation within the shell as well as excessive interior heat buildup making oiling round and other crew responsibilities uncomfortable.

Stuart finally finished building the auto tank using a CPL etch, deciding on the 0-4-2 version rather than the six coupled, so he modified the cab door and length slightly. Some guess work was used as he only had the drawing and a photo of No 833 at Trumpers crossing to go on. From the rain strips on the roof and lack of glass in some of the windows in the photo, Stuart surmised that unlike the 0=6-0ST version, water was fed in to the tanks through the windows rather than a hatch in the roof. There is most of a 517 class engine inside the model which he scratchbuilt. Taking it for a run at the Morecambe club, it attracted a lot of interest.

If you are after something a bit different for that Edwardian G.W.R. branch line terminus, I do have an etch to reproduce the shell in 7mm scale which has window beadings, footplate brackets and buffer beams but it does need a profiled roof with hatches for the saddle water tank fillers. I have the transfers as well, but do bear in mind they had all been removed by 1911!

This is the later G.W.R. Auto train and I have a number of detailing parts for these in 7mm scale, including the bell, buffer kit, couplings & correct cab handbrake. I also have a brass detail etch for the low level platform steps. This train is approaching Kevin Robertson’s 7mm scale ‘Abingdon’ layout.

The detail etch assembles into this correctly profiled G.W.R. lever parallel step mechanism, and I have both 4 & 7mm versions, as well as fine etches in stock for the trailer sides and ends as well.

CPL Products latest

A preview photo of the first Midland & South Western Junction Railway train to run through Chris Walker’s ‘Charlton Park’ layout.

The locomotives and stock for this top quality 7mm layout have been superbly built by Chris and by such famous builders as Bernard Miller,  who scratchbuilt stock for the stunning W.S.Norris layout. One station (Stroudley) was L.B.S.C.R. but the other, larger, station (Francisthwaite) was joint L.N.W.R. and M.R. Mick Moignard is doing the DCC control and sound setups on Chris locos.

A few pics from Bucks Hill to finish.  Most of the day to day work has been compiling articles and plotting out the 3D backscene for Kingswear.

G.W.R. No 4208 with an engineer’s train is held in the down loop. The short haul 2-8-0T was completed at Swindon in February 1912, with nearly all the class set to work on the South Wales coal traffic, with few of them straying east of Severn Tunnel Junction. The model was built from a nickel silver David Andrews kit, an ABC/Maxon setup provides power via a soundtraxx chip and Ron Chaplin pickups. A small horse drawn milk float can just be made out in the middle distance, between the locomotive smokebox and the lineside telegraph pole.

M.O.K. Armstrong 4-4-0 No 16 is one of my Bucks Hill favourites. These replaced four of Dean’s “experimental locomotives”, Nos. 7, 8, 14 and 16, thus explaining the early numbering. The adoption of Dean bogies and double-curved running plates resulted in an exceptionally handsome design. The locomotive had similarities to the Achilles class ‘Singles’ but were rebuilt and quickly superseded. The original paint and lining was reproduced to perfection by Alan Brackenborough.

A Gresley V2 waits for a turn at Bucks Hill. The 2-6-2 was bulit for the L.N.E.R at Doncaster in 1940, and would return in 1960 to recieve a double chinmey draughting modification. It appears in weathered late B.R. lined Brunswick green livery.

Double framed Dean 3300 class 4-4-0 passes Ewyas Haroldwith a down milk train. The locomotive was built at Swindon in 1904, and is seen here in unlined Brunswick mid green livery.

It’s late in the day, and a livestock van train heads out on the up main behind a 47xx 2-8-0 No 4701 which began work in January 1922. This class were equally at home with passenger duties. Often rostered on overnight long distance goods work, Bucks Hill’s resident example was built and painted by John Hayes from a Martin Finney kit using a Portescap/ABC drive, and a soundtraxx chip. Original by Barry Norman

March 2nd 2018

A very busy month, with work on diorama cases, maintaining a stock of trees, and arranging the first card backscene mockup sections for Kingswear.  A few days have been spent working on various permanently fitted layouts, as well as corresponding with future participants in the Missenden Abbey Spring weekend backscene group.  A landscape study talk at the Princes Risborough club’s Wheeltappers event turned into a friendly social event, and I have also managed to finish the copy for the upcoming Aberayon article. Phew!

This is the first stage of arranging the elements of a 3D townscape, and the simple folded card shapes allow me to quickly balance the relationships of the various buildings and land contours. The ground plan is traced directly from the layout itself as a paper pattern, so it accurately dictates the available depth for any 3D representation. A little adjustment to the ferry ramp height will be necessary to get the right slope down to the waterline. and some alignment of the road surface of Fore Street as it runs along the front edge.

Model Rail No 245 is packed with how to articles and reviews, and the Urban landscape feature appears over four pages, edited by Chris Gadsby and designed by Matthew Hunt. 

A sepia version of one of the Pictures , with an ex L.N.W.R. Bowen Cooke, ‘George the Fifth’ class 4-4-0 leaving Westcott.  Original by Chris Nevard/ Model Rail magazine.

This locomotive emerged from Crewe works in 1911, and it appears that there are plans afoot to create a new member of the class.
The website isn’t running just yet but the link will eventually be found here
Kevin and I would very much like to find a new home for the Aberayon and Chilton 7mm scale loft railway, so this is an invitation to view the complete layout by appointment, if you would like any more details, please do get in touch.  
The buildings and structures are done to a very high standard, and it would suit a large loft space, or possibly a separate shed type building with an end door.
I don’t have any overall views of Aberayon that I can publish, but although the stock has now gone to pastures new, the layout itself remains complete. All I can do is post a few detail pics here for now, until the full feature comes out in Model Rail magazine.a view of Chilton station building made by Carl Legg.

A view of Chilton station building made by Carl Legg, one of the many excellent structures on the Aberayon layout.

The yard crane

The basic facilities at the station end of the small loco shed

Lee has been busy, and he will soon be separating his projects into Victorian, Edwardian, and later periods, and there are a number of foreign classes in the pipeline as well, notably from the U.S.A.

A Lee Marsh GWR 0-4-2T 517 Class No 1157 and a clerestoried carriage is seen posed on a Temple Meads diorama. Very few would identify this attractive lake livery with the Great Western, it looks like in was stabled in the paint shop at Derby works by mistake! The long lived mid Victorian ‘517’ class engines must hold the record for having worn the most G.W.R. colour variants. This particular locomotive was built at Wolverhampton works in December 1875, and it was to remain in service until November 1935 by which time they were being displaced by the new Collett 48xx class 0-4-2T engines.

A few pics from the recent Bucks Hill gathering follow, and I must include a few more pics on Kevin’s Bucks Hill site, as well as updating Lee’s gallery page.

A Lee Marsh Princess Royal class No 46203 ‘Princess Margaret Rose’ in B.R. blue livery takes an express past Ewyas Harold on it’s way to Bucks Hill. The Stanier pacific was built at Crewe in 1935, and fortunately still survives today. Richard Chetland.

A weathered Lee Marsh Ex G.W.R. Prairie no 4177 in early B.R. lined black waits in the down loop with a brake van.

Kevin Robertson’s Lee Marsh Armstrong ‘517’ class 0-4-2T No 523 appears here in lined G.W.R. chocolate brown livery, backing onto a tanks wagon in one of Bucks Hill’s branch line sidings. The locomotive was from the first batch built at Wolverhampton in 1868

Close up of a superb hand made Tony Reynalds Gresley A4, with individual fasteners on all the components. Check out the real castle nut retaining the crosshead pin!

Some 3D backscene work is currently in progress at a 7mm scale branch line layout including scenes from Welford Park, East Garston, and Lambourn.

The station building and wagons at Pat Humphrys’ Lambourn.

Lambourn Station. The sky rear panel is now in place, so this isn’t retouched.

The Princes Risborough MRC Wheeltappers event went well, so thanks to Tim and the club for the invitation.  They thoughtfully provided me with a flip pad, and a screen projector for the landscaping talk, and the time just flew past. Congratulations to all the competition entries and winners, the standard of modelling made judging a near impossible task,  Roy Norton was awarded the Wheeltapper Trophy for his superb Maunsell mogul.

I asked Tim to send me a couple of pictures of his P4 High Wycombe model, and one of them includes a 3D Modelu scan of Tim as Stationmaster!

The main station buildings are on the down side, and because the complete site is cut into the steep Wye valley side at Amersham Hill, the buildings and platforms are staggered to save width. Tim Peacock.

Modelu Tim on the Platform. It will get busier as time goes by!. Please do visit Modelu and the amazing direct scanning capability here:

A trip to Hayling Island was made recently to drop 10 large deciduous trees off for a 7mm layout called Apsley, and here are a couple of pictures of the scratchbuilt stock that regularly runs. 

All scratchbuilt and hand lined! it’s amazing what you find when you’re out and about!

Single AEC Railcar at Apsley.

7th February 2018

We had a very successful show over the weekend with our CPL stand at the Bristol O gauge show, so thanks to the event organisers and customers alike.   There are a number of new projects on the go at the moment, and I can describe one here from the start as we begin the all important research stage. 

A postcard view of the Dart Valley, seen from the tidal inlet of Waterhead Creek as it nears the coastline of South Devon. This view will be reproduced in 3D to provide landscape context for a fine P4 layout that is in the process of being restored and finished as a permanent exhibit.  It’s the 1930s, and the small town of Kingswear is spreading north from it’s headland opposite the larger settlement of Dartmouth, about a half a mile to the south of where this picture was taken. The upper half of the steep riverbank is still wooded, but many of the trees have been cleared away for houses and gardens. Small lanes have been cut, and stone retaining walls are providing step plateaus for new houses and hotels.

Each building needs to be identified, researched and included so this is not a small undertaking, but it’s progressing well and I will be able to make reports as we work through the project as a team.  Inevitably, little gems of information come to light during the sifting of as much recorded local history as possible, so any passages and pictures that help describe the character of the surroundings can bring an added interest to the modelling work.
This paragraph comes from Reg Little’s memories of his time living at Kingswear, the rest of which can be found here…

‘The train went across the Creek Bridge, and my mother thought the mud was sand and said we’d be able to have picnics and play there, needless to say we did play there in the mud!  On our arrival we found that we lived over looking the creek, and the railway sidings where the carriage cleaners started work at 5:00am.  You could go almost anywhere from Kingswear by rail without having to change – Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Rugby, York, London, Wales etc.  We soon learnt that if you helped the engine drivers with the turntable, you would get a ride on the footplate, up over the creek bridge and down to the station, or up to the Torbay Express sidings.  I have ridden on many a famous engine, one being the King George V (with the big brass bell) which was sent to the USA in the 1930s and broke their rail speed record’.

This plan will help to sort out the station end, we even have the stones making up the ferry ramp! The wagon pier with it’s turntables had already gone by the thirties. The timber pontoon allowed for the tide, by sliding up and down between two sturdy vertical timber guides (visible here at either end)   Paul Woodward.

The Creek bridge area has already seen some additional landscape work since this picture was taken.

Mr John Roberts also recorded some fascinating information and published some helpful photos in his  ‘Memories of Hoodown & my Kingswear childhood’

‘The ferries and horse floats were always interesting to watch – especially the steam driven boats where you could see all of the moving parts going up and down. They were unfortunately soon replaced by the diesel engine, which was more efficient but less spectacular!  At the base of the cliff below my house, “Uplands” was a siding where the first Torbay Express’ coaches used to spend the night, before returning to Paddington the following morning

Tim Peacock of the Princes Risborough MC asked me to do the same introductory demo talk that goes with the Missenden Spring weekend landscape course, and judge the scenic section of their annual ‘Wheeltappers’ gathering (which I’ve not done before).  I always encourage a sort of informal conversation, a bit like the Abbey Spring Weekend which is also coming up in about a month.

A few participants have already been in contact regarding their projects, and this is always rightly encouraged by the weekend organisers. For any modellers that are considering attending in the future, it’s possible to do a short test section like this frame and extend the techniques onto the full length of the layout itself at a later stage. A Lee Marsh Princess Royal class Pacific No 46203 ‘Princess Margaret Rose’ in B.R. blue livery takes an express past Ewyas Harold on it’s way to Bucks Hill. The locomotive was built at Crewe in 1935, and fortunately still survives today.

Dave Thomas sent a couple of pictures in, as he continues to experiment with lighting and shadow the interior of his small two road Victorian locomotive shed. This will be appearing in Model Rail magazine No 246 which is available to buy from newsagents on the 15th March (or slightly earlier by subscription).  The cabinet houses an exquisite collection of Great Western locomotives, while allowing different lighting effects as a photo background for mood portraits and silhouettes.

At either end, mirrored access panels help by providing the illusion of a continuous view, these are also hinged allowing multi stage focus pictures looking along the shed as well as through the front aperture. In this view G.W.R. ‘Aberdare’ 2-6-0 No 2667 of 1902 stands alongside Dean ‘Goods’ 0-6-0 No2537 of 1897 both weathered by Neil Podbery.  Photo by Dave Thomas.

The shed’s outdoor environment is visible though the round topped windows present along the mid section and between the piers of the rear wall, and it includes another shed to the left, a town skyline, carriage sidings with signalbox and a coaling stage surrounded by other depot and industrial architecture. Some atmospheric lighting here and shadow play onto Dean Goods and Taffy 0-6-2T. Photo by Dave Thomas.

Lee Marsh has been busy as usual, and we chatted at Bristol, I really don’t know how he finds the time for it all, but here are a few of his latest projects and some of the previous ones running at Bucks Hill. 

Some of the new releases will form a Victorian collection, and I suspect this lined out Wainwright 4-4-0 will be a popular, if somewhat limited number run. Beautiful !

The Dean goods separated here to show the rods, crank axle & motion, as well as the concealed motor/g box. Malcolm Mitchell

Achilles class Dean Single ‘Dreadnought’ with a train of Clerestories passing Kenderchurch. Original by Richard Chetland.

Lee Marsh Stanier ‘Jubilee’ St Vincent on an up express passing Ewyas Harold. Richard Chetland.

 I found an old 1963 GEM catalogue the other day, tucked between the pages of a larger volume. Flicking through it I came across an amusing treasure trove of old adverts, including one for an exciting new gauge called TREBLE-O-LECTRIC or ‘OOO’ (which was done to 2mm to 1ft).

The cover has a stylised three flat colour screen print with a Caledonian Railway single wheeler, and I noticed it had a patriotic Scotch thistle painted on the front bogie splasher. Then I noticed the buffer heads, which also have the thistle emblem polished into them.   Is this all true? I wondered, so I looked it up and sure enough there they are on the real thing! I don’t know what the five pointed star signifies on the smokebox door, nor whether the tender buffers are done as well?

A scan from the old catalogue showing the three scenes.

From a similar period, this was Peter Denny’s backscene for his Buckingham branch line, showing how naturally good he was at doing the ‘railway in the landscape’.

This over copied picture is from one of Jack Nelson’s models, again showing how his line was just one element of the scene. If anyone has any pictures of old scenic layouts from pioneering modellers like these heroes, do send them in for fun. Malcolm Mitchell is going to be doing an illustrated volume covering the work of George Illiffe Stokes soon, so I’m looking forward to seeing that.

Tony Geary lives in Wales, and he always comes to the Bristol show, and Telford as well, where he sometimes judges competitions.  He builds locomotives professionally to the very highest standards, and recently sent in this 7mm scale build of Hawksworth County No 1011 ‘County of Chester’.

These were to be the final development of Churchward’s two cylinder Saint class of 1901, and this more streamlined looking 4-6-0 was built at the end of Sept 1945. The boiler pressure was much higher for the later Swindon locomotives, and the porting and draughting was improved over the Collett years giving them an impressively high tractive effort. The name seems odd to me, as I would have thought it should have read ‘County of Cheshire’, but I’m sure there was a good reason for it!  Stunning quality loco!  Tony Geary

The new build No1014 ‘County of Glamorgan’ poses no such problem and the methods of donating funds to this project can be found at….

County Project

I will try and fit in a day at Hadleigh soon to have a look at doing some work on the ground surfaces in the station yard area.  I would think this is going to be sieved earth and PVA, with acrylic paint colouring here and there, but there’s some research to be done beforehand to get the subtleties of texture between the high and low traffic areas represented convincingly.

The Hadleigh branch train, passing Great Eastern Railway brake van No 25097.  Original by Chris Nevard.

I have now submitted a feature for inclusion in the next Model Rail magazine Workbench section, showing a few tricks to help doing a layered 3D townscape, so that  will appear in the next issue No 245 on the 15th Feb.  It includes the usual safeguards to avoid trouble with horizons and so on, and there are sketches to show the relationships for differing viewing heights and aspect plotting etc.
The Aberayon feature has all been photographed beautifully by Chris Nevard and I have nearly finished edited the copy and captions, so we’ll see when that can find a slot in the demanding MR schedule.

Aberayon’s goods shed, with a pair of sidings full of wagons and vans.

Pendon museum is now open again after it’s winter break, and the details can be found on their site.
Here’s a calendar listing their excellent Adult Modelling Workshops – 2018 programme.
17 February  ‘Scratchbuilding Structures from Card.’  There is one place available.  
24/25 February  ‘Weathering Workshops’.  These workshops are fully booked.
17/18 March  ‘Detailing the Scene’.  There are places on each of these days.
14 April  ‘Introduction to Control Systems’.  There are places available.
28/29 April  ‘Creating and Painting Miniature Figures’. One place on each day.   
Photography Workshops
During March and April we are running several photography workshops.
1 March   ‘Fundamentals of Photographing Model Railways’.  There are places available. 
2 March   ‘Advanced Skills in Photographing Model Railways’.  There are three places available.

19 April  ‘3D Photography of Scale Models’.  There are places available.

Stuart Dodd sent in a couple of pics of his 7mm scale G.W.R. No 4092 ‘Dunraven Castle’ against a good natural setting.  Very nicely done indeed, the 1925 Collett locomotive was an extended and refined progression of Churchward’s ‘Stars’

No 4092 in a perfect setting.

16th December 2017

We recently attended the Reading 7mm trade show at the Rivermead Centre with a newly re-stocked CPL stand, and the day turned out to be a busy one, with a few new introductions. Lee and Kevin were there with some of the latest releases, and more information regarding future projects from the Lee Marsh Model co can be found at this link…

Lee Marsh Models

This painted sample of a GWR ‘517’ class 0-4-2T No 1466 could be seen in one of the display cabinets at the Reading show, and it rests with a bogie clerestory carriage on the dual gauge baulk road at Bristol old station. A few detail specifications are to be changed, but the extremely high standard of presentation can be seen.  Lee Marsh Model Co.

Inspired by the Pennsylvania Railroad’s K4, Gresley designed this iconic class of locomotives starting with the A1 Great Northern named after the parent company. The class then developed over time into the much loved A3’s. The Lee Marsh run has been researched from 100 original works drawings, so do keep an eye out for regular progress reports on this, and all the other exciting new limited runs in the pipeline. Lee Marsh Model Co.

David Bousfield’s ‘Hadleigh’ feature got some very good feedback, partly due to David’s knowledgeable contributions to the article copy and captions, as well as the well framed cameo photos around the model.  Here are some monotoned versions from Chris’s excellent session, and a colour example from Dave Studley.

This lined blue Great Eastern Railway 2-4-2T No 650 is a regular on the Hadleigh branch line, and it is seen here beginning the journey south with it’s train of four and six wheeled teak bodied vehicles. Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine

A lovely refrigerated G.E.R. Butter Van No 21974 in appropriate buttery livery by Ragstone Models (I think?).  Painted, weathered & photographed by Dave Studley.

Another view of No 650 at Hadleigh.  Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine

The photo shoot has now been done at Aberayon, and Chris will be sending me the portfolio in the next few weeks. The fascinating captions will be then be adapted from Dr Paul Glover’s descriptions, just re-arranged slightly for Model Rail’s upcoming feature. In many cases, Paul actually saw these particular L.M.S. locomotives at work between the colliery sidings and yards, and stood on their footplates while in revenue earning service in the south Leicestershire coalfield.

Quite a few figures appear on this layout and here are a pair of ‘chaps’ standing just outside the modest station entrance at the intermediate station of Chilton.

Hughes L.M.S. 5P4F ‘Crab’ No 2777 in unlined black rests at a turntable road at Chilton’s locomotive shed. The loco was built in late August 1927, and by this period it was shedded at Nuneaton. Modelled by Nigel Smith for Paul in 2001 from a College Models kit, and painted by Ian Rathbone.

Only very basic locomotive facilities at Aberayon, with a single road shed, a water column and timber coaling platform. The goods shed and two sidings are approached by the road just behind the shed.

I have now submitted a feature for inclusion in a future Model Rail magazine showing a few tricks to help doing a layered 3D townscape, so that should appear fairly soon now. It includes the usual safeguards to avoid trouble with horizons and so on, and there are sketches to show the relationships for differing viewing heights etc.

From a relatively low viewpoint like this preliminary sketch, the view to distance is often obscured by nearby structures, but with more commonly encountered high scale elevations, a view across the rooftops to distance is more likely.

Not all townscapes are flat, so it helps to combine your reference sources, and double check the contouring before plotting out the surroundings. The feint blue line is the horizon datum in this view of Bath from the Avon.

David Brandreth is one of the organisers of the Missenden Abbey Modellers events, and he kindly sent me an album of photos from the Warley exhibition.

A tramway within a forced perspective townscape …WOW… it might only be a brief glimpse but what a glimpse it is!  This is a view of ‘IJsselstein’, a historic diorama of an old Dutch town near Utrecht. Holland, recently made by Peter Dillen, who has gained a reputation over the last few years for exhibiting very well arranged illusion models.   It brings the style of the Dutch romantic landscape painter Willem Koekkoek to life. Born in Northern Holland in 1839, Koekkoek was immensely talented, like many members of his family, and he brought the application of high technical skill to his many canvasses depicting charming Dutch townscapes. Peters superb 3D tribute starts at 1:30 scale, progressing to 1:200 at the furthest distance, but does not replicate any specific canvas, but instead captures the atmosphere and local architecture, and he does also paint traditional still life as well as 3D.   If I can ever find the time, I would love to do a Victorian London equivalent cabinet model. I don’t know if Jack Nelson ever visited the Netherlands, but if he had…..       David Brandreth.

See the work of Peter Dillen 

Enjoy yourself over the Christmas break, and explore the work of the romantic painters here..

Neil Podbery has been busy doing some backscene work on a large 7mm scale layout, and it’s looking really good.  The more 3D landscaping on exhibition layouts the better, so as soon as I can, I’ll put a picture of the work up here.  Here’s some of Neil’s latest output..

A weathering job on a small G.W.R. prairie for Dave Thomas (I presume?)  Neil Podbery.

A Ferrari GTO is ‘in the groove’ as it takes the corner in style. The previous entries have left their black marks on the warm tarmac in this scene. I love the summer grass as it contrasts against the shadow and the background tree shadow.  Neil Podbery.

GTO clip

Neil’s site

Just a few older pics from Bucks Hill I haven’t used yet.  I will try to drag Richard Chetland along with his camera to capture any visiting stock after Christmas, when the onset of cabin fever will inevitably result in another running session.

Dean ‘Achilles’ class G.W.R. Single ‘Duke of Connaught’ in early condition, and the lined ‘Monogram’ livery.   Richard Chetland.

Jack Anziani’s photogenic Deeley Compound 4-4-0 No 1152 at Ewyas Harold. Original by  Richard Chetland.

Midland Compound clip

Victorian G.W.R. mixed train approaches Bucks Hill on the up main.

Jonathan Marcus often sends me interesting snippets and ideas for historic scenes, with the most recent exchange being a re-arranged version of Nine Elms goods depot near Battersea. This time, though he sent through a new addition to his wonderful collection of 7mm stock. It’s a G.W.R Toplight Brake Composite No 7664 in garter livery, fully lined out by Dave Studley. I’m proud to say it has been built from CPL etches and a few details only remain to be finished like the corridor bellows.

CPL Brake composite.  Dave Studley

See the quality of the paintwork and lining in this closeup of the garter livery. Dave Studley

Some of the stock for Hadleigh and Bucks Hill was also painted by Dave, and he very kindly sent in some photos along with an order for some transfers. These are well worth a look, and Dave has supplied short descriptions to accompany them, he alternates between South Wales heavy industry in 7mm, and G.W.R. Broad Gauge in 4mm scale, without really getting on with either one because he’s always too busy painting other people’s stuff!

The first one is Dave’s own 7mm scale loco appearing on a board originally intended for a small industrial layout, and it’s a Rhymney Railway 0-6-0 No 6 in their lined green livery built by Mike Edge.  Dave Studley

4mm scale Broad gauge bogie clerestory composite No 560, a kit made by Dave and Graham Bone done about 35 years ago.  Dave Studley.

Dowlais Iron Company ‘Ehedydd’, a Kitson longboiler 0-6-0ST of 1870, built Mike Edge. Dave Studley.

James Finn took me up on some winter trees, and here they are, accompanied by some excellent examples of his own making on ‘Cairnhill’

A wintry scene at Cairnhill with bare cold trees, a pale grey sky and just a row of opens on a siding.  James Finn.

In contrast, a pair of summer trees beside the line, between Aberayon and Chilton.

12th November 2017

Some diorama production work has been undertaken this month, but it’s too soon for any photos. Kevin and I will be doing a set of pics of Aberayon on the 11th of December, along with Chris Nevard, who has recently provided Model Rail Magazine’s editorial staff with a wonderful photographic record of David Bousfields 7mm scale ‘Hadleigh’ for the upcoming issue, (No 243). This will be available at all good newsagents within a few days, and the rest of Chris’s work in capturing the charming model can be seen, along with full descriptive copy and the other usual reviews and layout ideas. The attractive town of Hadleigh lies a little under 10 miles west, and inland from Ipswich and the coastal mouth of the river Orwell in Suffolk, and it was served by a seven and a half mile single tracked railway which opened on 20 August 1847. Two intermediate stations were provided at Capel and Raydon Wood between the terminus, and the junction on the Great Eastern Main Line at Bentley.

A superb overall view of the terminus, looking north over the busy goods shed and maltings.  A typical mixed rake of teak G.E.R. carriages is ready to leave, with a Holden S44 0-4-4T as motive power. Original photo by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine

In so many locations, old station sites are levelled and just re-developed with generic housing estates, but it’s a credit to the locals that Hadleigh’s delightful terminus station has survived the normal ruthless treatment. The surrounding development of this part of the town’s expansion has been done very sympathetically, and the newly built flats and houses resemble the distinctive old maltings architecture that always formed the backdrop to the terminus.

The line was taken over by the Great Eastern Railway in 1862, and by 1889 there were five trains per day with some working through to Manningtree. Passenger services on the line were to peak in 1920 when the number of passenger services had reached seven per day. Seen from inside the overall timber roof, a Holden S44 class 0-4-4T approaches the buffers.  Original photo by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine

Dave Thomas’s moody Running Shed Diorama is currently scheduled to appear in Model Rail, but not until issue No 246, so a bit of a wait for that feature. Photo by Dave Thomas.

There’s no telling what kind of feedback I get from random interest blog entries, with some of them obviously generating more interest than others, but this reply took me by surprise, with a couple of pictures sent in by 7mm and full scale enthusiast Nick Dudman.  They show the site of a new timber board crossing that he is planning to install at Christow, and the humble Great Western Railway drawing I found is now going to come in handy for the job.  Well at least I got the timing right!

The site for the siding board crossing is at bottom left of this view, comfortably clear of the goods platform ramp.

The main line platforms and overbridge can just be seen in the background.

Nick is also working on a model of Christow station, and there is a great website where all the details of this enterprise can be found

Teign Valley Railway

This might come in handy for those brave souls who need to check the clearances on their 7mm scale infrastructure, I hope it hasn’t been superseded by a finer scale version

Please do take a copy or print a scale version if you think it will help with your project.

We popped down to Amersham to see the welcome return of ‘Steam on the Met’, and arrived with just enough time to have a look at Metropolitan No 1 and it’s train before it departed.  The platform was too busy to frame a decent picture, so I persuaded a lady in Victorian costume to be the subject instead!

Excellent detailed Victorian costume and a period pose adds authenticity. The background is the surviving glazed timber staircase of Amersham’s footbridge.

My model of the same type of staircase, painted in the older colours. No posh glazing at some of the outer Met stations, and some didn’t even have a canopy. A train of teak ‘Dreadnought’ coaches stands in the platform behind.   David Lane

A train going the other way in an old photo of a Met footbridge on a sunny day, and the lattice span with its smoke deflector casts a shadow onto the side of the carriage.  David Lane

Stuart Holt will be bringing Kyle of Sutherland to Railex 2018, so I’m definitely going to have a look.  The details, along with photos of the attending layouts is to be found here

Railex 2018

Stuart uses forced perspective in the best way, suggesting depth with a subtle overscale in the foreground, and reduced scale to the background landscape. The relative tree sizes and cooler coloured lighting to the background gently persuade the eye to register distance.

Culrain station from a different angle, with Stanier Black Five No 45473 and a van train passing through.

After years of inactivity, it looks as though my Streamliner is going to be built… amazing!  John Clutch of Astoria, Queens, New York runs a company that produce mobility scooters, wheelchairs and accessories, and he has decided to attempt the world speed record for non electrically powered unmanned vehicles, (in other words very large scale radio control) 

This is John’s first design outline, and I can’t wait to see it come together. Unmanned cars present different problems, because you don’t need roll cages and safety equipment, and there’s no need to bring any control systems like steering or throttle to the central driving compartment either. The other side is you don’t get any physical feel from the car, so in a way they are harder to predict and remotely drive as well.

The record for electric unmanned is over 200, but it’s less for piston engined attempts. This is my original proposal mockup. It would be good to see and hear the car run with a supercharged Conley miniature Chevrolet V8 on nitromethane fuel.

I couldn’t get to Bucks Hill for the last gathering, as I had to attend a wedding ceremony, so all I can do is put a few spare pictures here from previous events and hope I can get to the next one! I will of course add in any pictures that happen to surface over the next week or so.

Kevin has forwarded me this study from Barry Norman, who recently visited Bucks Hill, and his descriptive copy follows; This inspection engine and saloon was allocated to H. Copperthwaite in 1894 for the ” Engineer Permanent Way Department, Southern Division” of the NER. Both were scratchbuilt from drawings I made, using what drawings I could find and photos. Anyway it’s something different.

Lee Marsh ex L.M.S. Stanier Princess Royal class No 46208 ‘Princess Helena Victoria in British Railways lined blue livery approaches the down main platform at Bucks Hill.

G.W.R. Mogul No 4318 in unlined Brunswick green livery rounds the curve at Kenderchurch with a parcels train on the down main. These were first introduced in 1911, with standard number 4 boilers and frame support struts similar to those fitted to the ‘2800’ class. Barry Norman.

A pair of Bulleid Q1 class austerity 0-6-0s Nos 33040 and 33029 in early B.R. black, wait in the down loop with an ex Southern Railway Queen Mary bogie brake van.

Lee Marsh L.M.S. Stanier Jubliee class No 5593 ‘Kolhapur’ in lined black livery.

The Missenden Abbey modeller’s Spring Weekend is now fully booked I’m reliably informed, and Michelle and I are working with Crecy Publishing to promote ‘Creating a Backscene’ in the U.S.A. through their contacts ‘over there’ like Magrudy’s for instance, and hopefully some good reviews in a number of the many model railroad magazine titles as well.

6th October 2017

A month of catch up work on many projects, but before that, I must confirm the sad loss of Dr Paul Glover, who passed away early last week. Paul was a highly respected figure and will be greatly missed by his family and his many friends. I know that he was keen to get his railway recorded for posterity, so I’m going to take care of that in accordance with his wishes.

Dr Paul concentrating at a recent Bucks Hill running session. It won’t be the same without him.

I attended a very busy demo weekend at the Scaleforum event at Stoke Mandeville stadium.  With two six foot tables, I had plenty of space for displays, a diorama and some pictures, including a monitor screen for bringing up reference photos, as well as generating contour panoramas and period maps. 

This generic card display backscene is always a handy one to take to demos. It does a good job of explaining layering, reduced scale and 3D progression in relief.

As there were no other scenic demo displays at Scaleforum, I brought some trees along to show the method and sequence of construction, and the simple materials that get the job done. This is Callow Hill Wood, with the hill rising to the left, and the yard sidings in the foreground.

The Missenden Abbey modellers had taken a publicity stand nearly opposite the demo tables, and many of the Spring 2018 weekend course places are already fully booked.

Spring weekend booking

There are many different study areas we can spend time on, including doing scenes from the front of the model as well as the back. This is a finished layout scene from Herefordshire done in progressive scale, using view blockers to compartmentalise a convex curved rear panel.

There is only one more show to attend with CPL this year at Reading’s Rivermead Centre, so I am occupied with some more work to re-stock the stand, and expand the website. I have had a back page added to my comp slip, and added a load of new stuff to the site.  There’s always something to be done!

This is one of the CPL vehicles I’ve been concentrating on, as it would make a great tail vehicle for a G.W.R. passenger train of the 1930s. I have been sorting out the right underframe & buffers and some of the pipes and other castings.  There is an interesting film clip showing the last slip working at Banbury, with a clear sequence of operation and some good detail shots to help me along.

Banbury Slip working movie

Richard Kanachowski’s new comp slip back page shows a G.W.R. Toplight and a Southern Railway locomotive screw coupling.

A CPL Corridor Clerestory No 3370.

Here’s a link if you would like to see more CPL news, there are some M,S.W.J.R. & Midland 4mm carriages listed now.

CPL Latest news

Bob Bunker sent in this picture of this Metropolitan Railway 1200 hp Bo-Bo electric, running on his 7mm scale Hong Kong based garden railway. No 10 ‘William Ewart Gladstone’ worked on the Met for forty years until the modern silver multiple units took over in 1962.

Bob’s Metropolitan Vickers locomotive appears in  London Transport’s attractive lined Lake livery, with it’s lovely ‘moderne’ nameplates in the centre panel.

It’s easy to subscribe to the Pendon Museum Newsletter, and then follow the links to their other social media sites like Facebook et al.  There are film clips and other reports of progress, courses, children’s education, and the well stocked bookshop where the profits go towards the upkeep of the establishment.  Here’s this month’s header picture. 

Pendon’s ‘Vale of the White Horse’ landscape occupies a large portion of the museum’s upper storey.

Pendon link

Lee has produced this G.W.R. 2301 Dean Goods 0-6-0 Pilot model and Malcolm Mitchell is working on a few corrections.  The locomotive has fully working inside motion and a concealed CNC machined gearbox

Side view and cab detail

 Lee Marsh Model co news

I have had a good bit of feedback from putting up a picture of my old car, so here’s another one taken by Peter Guyan.  (Skip this paragraph if you’re not into automobiles) This outing had to be abandoned mainly down to bad conditions (rain)

This shows the car up on it’s stand with the starter jump cables plugged in.  This is our covered pit area, and it’s in the process of being warmed up by running it in gear for a few minutes, then in direct drive top gear to warm up the rear axle. Crewman Dan Boone is doing the honours, and he will be learning to pilot the car next year.

I found this nice old drawing among a load of folders the other day, so I’ll put it here in case anybody is going to detail model one of those old wooden board crossings.  I expect the crossing timbers extended to the platform ramp fencing at either side.  Note the thin plank in the ‘four foot’ 

11th September 2017

A fairly busy month, including the final detailing & finishing work at Aberayon and Chilton, and an outing to the Guildex weekend event at Telford’s International Centre. We reserved an additional space to one side of our normal CPL trade stand, and displayed a number of items including the single line diorama in the following pictures. As a trade display I was able to label a few items for sale, and were asked many times whether the display included the fabulous ex G.W.R Castle class locomotive very kindly loaned to us by Phil Gomm. Needless to say, the answer was always…Nice try but I’m afraid not!

Phil has made a superb job of No 5007 Rougemont Castle, and it appears in the diorama, on a low embankment surrounded by wooded countryside. The original locomotive was built at Swindon in June 1927, with a first shed allocation to Plymouth Laira. By the period depicted here, it was to be found at Cardiff Canton from August 1950, and then Swindon in March 1959. The last shed was Gloucester before withdrawal in September 1962.

A front end detail view of our borrowed Telford demonstration loco. Rougemont Castle itself was also known as Exeter Castle, built on a knoll within the city known as red hill, or rouge mont in Norman French, because of the natural red, volcanic rock foundation making the hill, and used in the construction of the original buildings, of which the large early Norman gatehouse is the main remaining feature. It was built into the northern corner of the Roman city walls starting in or shortly after the year 1068.

The last few details have now been finished off at Aberayon and Chilton, and the layout will be photographed using L.M.S. stock. I’ll put a few more pictures here, and the rest can eventually make a gallery including Chris Nevard’s work.  This layout has never been published before, so it should create a good bit of interest when the editorial staff at Model Rail Magazine can fit it into their publishing schedule.

Chilton station only has one platform, and is the next stop after the Aberayon terminus. It has a pair of sidings for coal wagons, a small ground frame signal cabin and a level crossing with a connecting bus services. The attractive red brick station building shown here was beautifully made by Carl Legg.

This pair of single decker buses were scratch built for Chilton by Barrie Kelsall. The prototypes were built as 34 seaters in 1930 – 1932 and served the Midland Red until 1950.

L.M.S. bogie compartment stock at Aberayon.

The view looking away from Aberayon has been extended and adapted with a clouded sky to better match the moorland landscape between the terminus and Chilton.

A pair of L.M.S. locomotives rest at the station end of the small shed. The road behind is the single line towards Chilton, with a further set of points leading to the goods shed sidings at a hundred or so scale yards to the left.

Stuart Dodd has been busy, and he sent in this view of No 2938 ‘Corsham Court’.

The loco is built from a Slaters kit, with additional detailing from Hobbyhorse and CPL components in 1951 guise when still in use at Hereford shed, just prior to withdrawal. The loco never was repainted in BR livery, retaining the GW to the end, with only a smokebox number added for BR years and a load of dirt! Tender No 1560 coupled to Corsham Court here, actually ended up behind Foxcote Manor in July 1963 having outlived several locos… fortunately with the exception of Foxcote!

Reservations for Missenden Abbey’s Spring weekend are now open, so keep an eye out for their latest news. I will be doing a demo at the excellent Scaleforum show at Stoke Mandeville Stadium over the 23rd/24th Sept, so by all means stop by for a chat if you would like more info.

Spring weekend link

The usual suspects make up the tutor list, so it should be another good event. There’s plenty of room to spread out scenic work in the Abbey’s well lit studios and classrooms, and we can discuss any preparation beforehand to maximise the actual course time.

Diorama scenes at Missenden Abbey are only done to a ruling scale where the railway crosses the scene, it changes both in front and behind to help suggest the depth we don’t have room for. This view goes from foreground, to half the scale on the other side of the line.

This is part of the reference for an HO scale diorama quayside layout project by Geraint Hughes, representing a south west aspect as seen from the attractive riverside of the town of Ribe on the Danish coastline. It’s perfect for a forced perspective townscape, with the Cathedral standing against the sky as the very dominant focal landmark.

Some of the front row of HO scale quayside houses in the reference picture.

Ken de Groome is one of the country’s best suppliers of Metropolitan Railway stock, and the latest of the 1922 1200 horsepower Metrovick BO-BO electric locomotive kits happily include a set of CPL couplings. Ken also does the typical varnished teak ‘Dreadnought’ bogie carriages that formed the typical electric locomotive hauled trains south of Rickmansworth. 

Here’s a ‘MetroLand’ sepia print of No 2 ‘Oliver Cromwell’ taken from a Barry Norman photograph. These locos were pretty heavy at well over 60 tons, and they would crash and bang over the pointwork as they swapped places with the steam at Rickmansworth. Luckily, Ken is modelling this very scene, and I’m looking forward to that. (I love the Met!)

A few pics from the most recent gathering at Bucks Hill, just with shorty captions…

Fowler 3F ‘jinty’ No 16564 was built at the Vulcan Foundry in 1928 as the latest development of the Midland Johnson six coupled type. Improvements to the 422 strong class included a Belpaire firebox and a larger cab, along with other detail changes. It’s a Jack Anziani build on a down coal empties at Ewyas Harold.

Kevin’s resident JLTRT austerity 2-8-0 No 90040 in the down loop, with a recent weathering job by Fred Lewis of Welsh Wizard loco works. These were all built in a hurry in the mid 40s for the war, and this one was known to be allocated to Woodford Halse on the GC London extension in ’48, and withdrawn in ’65 from Rose Grove Burnley.

Mike Morris is an expert on the welsh valleys engines, and he brought this nearly finished ex-Rhymney 0-6-2T. The white parts and fittings are finely 3D printed.

Un-named Brittania No 70047 passes Bucks Hill loops with a down parcels.

Looking down into the cab of Jack Anziani’s Deeley Compound 4-4-0, which took another spin.

Lee Marsh did his usual trade appearance at Guildex with a lovely stand display. He has been working very hard lately, putting in the hours into probably the most projects on the go at the same time since he started.  Here are just a few pics of both old and new projects.

Lee & Kevin kept this a bit of a secret until showtime, and even though this is the prototype, make no mistake, it is amazing to see. I’ll let the picture do the talking, and of course keep an eye out at Lee’s site for the variations, and the reservation arrangements.

Corridor clerestory in late victorian monogram livery at Temple Meads.

A sepiatone version of a Richard Chetland catalog photo, as Dean Achilles class ‘Dreadnought’ passes Bucks Hill forge with a full rake of 6 bogie clerestories and a six wheeled luggage van.

Large Prairie No 4177 is another Richard Chetland pic, in early British Railways lined black, and with a single ex Southern Railway ‘Queen Mary’ brake van.

The Aberayon viaduct job wiped me out of all the darker green scenic scatter variants, and I have a few more in the pipeline, so I managed to sneak briefly away from the stand at Telford to re-stock!  I succeeded in getting some and found some good darker shades at Polak. Have a look at their range and see…

Polak Scenics

The middle of nowhere! a single B.R. railbus pauses at Tollhouse halt. The scenics here are all done with Polak products. Alex O’Donnell.

  August 4th 2017

I remembered to bring my camera to Aberayon this trip, so here are a few pictures from my latest day of on-site work.  There will be plenty more, hopefully next week, as the work progresses, but I have published a new page in the ‘Finescale Railway models’ page to present a small gallery of views for now, until Chris Nevard captures the layout professionally in a few months. 

Part of the 5ft radius return curve, on the single line between Aberayon and Chilton, where an open area of moorland appears behind a cultivated field to the right.

G.W.R. Castle class 4-6-0 No 5045 ‘Earl of Dudley’ rests on one of the turntable roads.  The model was built by Peter Silvester/Nigel Smith from a Malcolm Mitchell kit, and weathered by Martyn Welch in 2000.

The return curve features a light stone single track viaduct at it’s right hand side, and we have completely reworked this area of the layout. This view is of a small section of the new 2D backscene which has now been installed, showing an Exmoor farm with gentle moorland beyond, along with the addition of some modelled tree growth on the slopes of the Ayon valley. The L.M.S. Autotrain consists of a Johnson 0-4-4T No 1368, and a driving Trailer No 5214 to L.N.W.R. Diagram 52 of 1914. The locomotive was built by Peter Everton, and the trailer from a North Star Kit by Adrian Rowland painted by Larry Goddard. The signal in the bacgtound is actually the Aberayon down distant.

G.W.R. cabin & existing rural backscene.

The Aberayon end of the viaduct shows a road crossing the Ayon valley in the middle distance, carried by a low level single arch bridge in grey stone, with more Exmoor farm buildings to the right. The resin cast stone pattern viaduct is an original model by Enhance Ecosse ( Elizabeth and the late Richard Chown ) done in 2000. It’s actually based on the structure on the L.N.W.R. Charnwood Forest Line version at Grace Dieu, Leics.

Ex L.N.W.R. 0-8-0 No 9205 rumbles over the viaduct tender first, with a 6 wheeled brake van. The loco is another Peter Everton model, painted and weathered by Alan Brackenborough.

This March 1929 Derby built Fowler 4P-D 2-6-4T is one of a collection of L.M.S. & G.W.R. locomotives that appear at Aberayon. Buffered up to a tender locomotive, it waits to cross the main line, and couple up to its rake of private owner wagons in the goods sidings.

No 2872 will be turned and sent to wait for it’s coal train turn. It’s another model built for Aberayon’s G.W.R. collection by Silvester/Smith in 1998

I haven’t done any backscene demos for a while, because either taking out the CPL stand or promoting the book tend to take precedent, but I will be doing one at Scaleforum in September at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium.  If you are thinking of coming along to Missenden Abbey in spring, or you have a scenic project on the go at home, come along and have a chat.

Scaleforum facebook

I’ll bring a selection of stuff with me, Dioramas as well as backscenes.

CPL will be going to Reading and Telford, but you can always call if you need anything beforehand. I’m struggling to get the interior carriage mirrors done, but I think there may be a way to do them in 12 thou polished stainless.

W159W rests briefly at Bucks Hill.

Stuart Dodd sent in this picture of his recently finished David Andrews Kit 

Stuart has moved from 4mm scale modelling to produce this G.W.R. thoroughbred. No 4092 Dunraven Castle was built in the summer of 1925, and it appears here in the 1950s lined Brunswick green British Railways livery.

July 24th 2017

Work continues on Aberayon, with the moorland panorama fitted in position, and more planting of trees is being seen to, particularly around the sloping valley sides. Smaller sized and colour matched, finely textured growth is being placed behind the light stone arches, and larger outline trees take their places in the foreground. I’ll pop a couple of pics of the scene up here next time I visit.  

One of the larger trees that will go in the foreground.

No 3779, an ex Midland Johnson 3F is an Aberayon locomotive, seen here recently trying a heavy coal train at Bucks Hill.

Mike Harris has suggested that the publication will soon be sporting a few design changes, so I don’t know if this logo is still current.  In any event, the upcoming townscape backscene article might now be separated into two parts so as not to lose too much content.

Chris Nevard has paid a visit to Andrew Cowie, and produced two sets of photos for Model Rail, and they are very good.  Andrew is an accomplished scratchbuilder in 7mm scale and studies the locomotives and stock of the Midland and South Western Junction Railway Company. The first set captures some of his work on an excellent two level M.S.W.J.R. diorama which is pictured below. 

Andrew’s M.S.W.J.R. diorama makes the perfect setting for his interesting Pre-grouping collection.

One of Andrew’s scratchbuilt locomotives, M.S.W.J.R. No 5, a Beyer Peacock 2-4-0T made at the famous Gorton works. It does bear quite a family resemblance to the Metropolitan Railway A class 4-4-0Ts of the 1870s, but obviously without the inclined outside cylinder front end and short wheelbase Bissell truck.

A second photo set has also been taken, featuring a pair of late Victorian G.W.R. locomotives, posed in Andrew’s Sydney Gardens diorama.  A Lee Marsh ‘Achilles’ class 4-2-2 No 3001 ‘Amazon’, and an 0-6-0ST No 997 are included with appropriate stock. Do please keep an eye out for these, if you are a fan of the mid G.W.R period, as they will both be appearing in a Model Rail publication with informative captions and copy, although I’m not quite sure when this will be.

Sydney Gardens diorama.

There is a lot of activity at both Missenden Abbey and Pendon Museum this year, so do be sure to keep an eye on the packed schedules of specialist courses and new exhibits. 

The ‘Chequers Inn’ has recently arrived at Pendon, and will be placed in the Vale scene. It is the work of Jane Britton, from a survey and photos of the actual building in Charney Bassett.

Pendon museum Home page

Locomotive building classes at Missenden Abbey are quite sought after in all scales, and the places do fill up quickly. Chassis and soldering, Kit building and DCC are all covered by knowledgeable tutors. One of Kevin Wilson’s 7mm scale G.W.R. locomotives is seen here as an example, built from from a Martin Finney kit. Running bunker first, the 2-8-0T rounds a curve at Kenderchurch near Bucks Hill with a train of flat wagons. Original by Barry Norman.

Missenden Abbey Modellers home page

In a month or so, I will be popping over to see the work of Pat Humphrys, who often attends the Missenden events.  He has sent in a picture of his G.W.R. station, and we can take a look at some of the ground cover, and scenic breaks for the new layout.

Coming along nicely, Pa