Latest News

19th October 2021

Mostly still working on the large Bourne End project, but I don’t have many pictures yet as it still looks like a building site!  There have been a few breaks though, including a long weekend with American Pie, and a short holiday in and around Sidmouth.  I do have a few pictures very kindly sent in by Andrew Cowie, and we can see some of the models from his collection shown in the various cabinet dioramas.

A pair of Andrew’s wonderful 7mm scale locomotives rest in the new shed interior diorama. The Armstrong designed 0-6-0 ‘850’ class saddle tank No 997 was from an extensive class built at Wolverhampton between 1874 and 1895. They proved to be extremely useful and popular locomotives thanks to their lively performance and wide route availability. In light of this, they had an incredibly long life, with the last of them being withdrawn as pannier tanks as late as 1951!  The model was built some time ago by Tony Reynalds, with a three panel water tank, and it’s shown here in the Swindon dark Brunswick green livery, lined on cab, with Indian red lower detail and no company insignia. It shares the display cabinet with an Adams 0415 class radial tank No 415. Originally rostered for London suburban traffic, the class was soon displaced to the countryside by Drummond’s M7 class. Most were scrapped around the end of the First World War, and were due to be withdrawn by 1929. However, they turned out to be ideal for the severely curved Lyme Regis branch line, and three were retained for this duty until 1962, when suitable replacements became available. One has survived and can be found on the Bluebell Railway. Andrew Cowie

Another view of the 1882 built Beyer Peacock Adams Radial 4-4-2T. These were initially outshopped in early LSWR passenger Yellow Ochre/Brown livery with the initials ‘LSW’ on the water tank sides but it’s not a commonly modelled scheme. The later ‘Passenger Sage Green’ livery is usually adopted, with brown edging and black and white lining. Numbering was done in gilt.  Andrew Cowie

The Swindon, Marlborough and Andover Railway obtained a single example of a Fairlie 0-4-4T to augment the three existing 0-6-0T engines already at work. After a short trial period, the locomotive was bought for £1000, and began work as No 4.  It was quite a success at first, but there were a series of reliability problems later on, as well as high maintenance costs and coal consumption issues. It makes for a fascinating model though, and it’s seen here in the platform of the Chisledon Station diorama. Andrew Cowie

I rather like the lighting on this photo, and it shows the left hand end of the Chedworth diorama including the local stone built village school house which still exists today.

This GWR King Class 4-6-0 was recently finished by Tony, and I arranged the diorama so that the locomotive could rest in a comfortable viewing position while have its tender replenished from the drab looking coaling stage. Andrew Cowie

The Midland South Western Junction 2-6-0 engines were built by Beyer Peacock to the same basic drawings as a class supplied to the New South Wales Government Railways. The first of two engines was delivered on 31st May 1895, and the cramped footplate conditions became unpopular with crews. Apart from the cab, the engines were perfectly good and able to pull trains of up to 60 wagons along the steeply graded line, but the small wheel diameters made these two goods engines quite unsuitable for passenger work Andrew Cowie

In December 1881, the board of the Swindon Marlborough and Andover Railway Company recognised the need to source three new engines, and a standard Beyer Peacock design was deemed suitable. They were to be numbered 5 – 7 and were delivered the following year. They turned out to be quite satisfactory in service only suffering from some poor riding, particularly when running bunker first. Not surprisingly, there are a great many similarities to the Metropolitan and District Railway 4-4-0Ts of the same period, and this particular locomotive is displayed in the later lined lake livery of the MSWJR. Andrew Cowie

A Metropolitan Railway Beyer Peacock ‘A’ class 4-4-0T as they appeared in their later years.

Richard Ellis has recently built a new diorama, and it features a bit more of an ‘open country’ feel. Neil has done the natural scenic cover and I came up with a rear panel to lend a bit of distance. By all means have a look at Richard’s FB page using the link below if you like the look of it.

Detail of gate and backscene.

The Missenden Abbey Modellers Spring 2022 weekend has been confirmed as running from Friday 4th to Sunday 6th of March, and hopefully it will go ahead without any further setbacks. It is expected that the content will broadly reflect our traditional spring weekend offerings of

4mm Locomotive & Kit Construction
7mm Locomotive & Kit Construction
Painting & Lining
Scenery & Backscenes

This course list is provisional, however, and there may be other courses that will run alongside these to be announced in the coming weeks.

Courses are residential on a full board basis but if you live locally, you can come in daily at a reduced fee. Non-residential attendance still include lunches and evening meals. We run two weekends a year.

We aim to help you build a model or develop a project that’s well on its way to completion by the time you go home – and, above all, to enjoy yourself.  Though not generally suitable for the outright beginner, the courses are ideal for the modeller with basic skills or knowledge wanting to make further progress or feeling their working methods need refreshment.  It’s an ideal opportunity for existing modellers to enhance  their skills etc.  If you want to ask about the suitability of any course please do use the contact page. We particularly welcome modellers returning to the hobby, keen to make up lost ground after years devoted to family and career.  Here’s a quick link to some of the illustrated articles from last years online event,  Some of the pages have the odd gap here & there, but the content is the main thing!

We can prepare and paint a short test section of backscene for your layout at a Missenden Spring Weekend. This is a 2D example, and it’s blended into the scale scenery to get the job done in a small space.  Philip Hall/Model Railway Journal

Now and again, I come across interesting CGI animations more or less by chance, and with an eye for realism this Spitfire simulation beckoned me. The chap who narrates the animation clearly knows his stuff and I found myself swept away by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic narrative as well as the very convincing portrayal. By all means give it a try using the link below. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Neil, Paul and Nigel are still working on Kingswear and I will be back before too long to work out some more detailing and to pick up the formica signal box diagram panel, which needs to be hand painted in GWR style.  

This background shows the look of Kingswear with it’s wharves and houses in the last few years of the GWR. It looks a lot more brightly coloured and touristy nowadays, but that’s really where the interest of backscene work comes into play. It’s all about studying the reference material and winding back the clock. Paul Woodward.

3 of the latest coal wagons with Neil’s weathering treatment applied. Paul Woodward

Overall sepia tone view of the station and goods shed area. There’s still quite a lot to add, as well as including figures and vehicles, we still need to place the cranes, the yard lamps etc.  Paul Woodward.

The original water tower, still in it’s pre war colour scheme.  Paul Woodward

A number of suitable carriages have recently been acquired to make up a local passenger service, and these have now been re-wheeled and checked. Some would have appeared in plain chocolate brown livery after the war and would have perhaps looked a bit tatty, so we’ll consult the reference photos to make sure we have the right balance.  Paul Woodward.

Study of the end of a yard siding, relatively little used and becoming surrounded by foliage.  Neil Podbery.

Our last event for this season was the ‘Hot Rod Drags’ three day gathering and we suffered a run of unlucky setbacks this time. This happens to a great many people and it’s all part and parcel of trying to get a dragster to behave itself. We increased the timing advance to attain a higher cylinder pressure, which seemed to work very well, but it contributed to the eventual failure of the starter motor pinion shaft. Although we successfully rebuilt the starter. we were unable to make any passes on the Friday and after a great burnout (Captured by Pudgeys Pics) ….we then suffered an incurable oil leak on the Saturday preventing any further participation.

For more dragster photos, see Pudgeys pictures

This view of Dunscombe Cliffs appeared on one of the delightful cliff paths that we walked on our recent holiday, from a viewpoint fairly close to the 565 ft summit of Salcombe Hill. Below the cliffs at this point is Hook Ness where the waves have lifted the silt into the shallow water. We were constantly rewarded with similarly beautiful vistas throughout South East Devon.

This ‘Generate a panorama’ plot indicates that there is a visible land mass to be viewed in the far distance on clear days, including Wyke Regis in south Dorset. The village is part of the south western suburbs of Weymouth, on the northern shore of Portland Harbour and the south-eastern end of Chesil Beach

It’s hardly changed since the turn of the last century…..

I recently came across a collection of colour plates of mid-Victorian locomotives, painted by artist and model-maker Ernest Twining.  They were bound into a ‘Historic Locomotives’ volume by Alfred Rosling Bennett, and published by Cassell in 1906.

Ernest Twining was born in Bristol and originally trained as a telephone engineer.  He established a commercial art studio in London, where, as a side-line, he branched out into designing and making model aircraft, then expanding to the manufacture of full size gliders.

His model-making work brought him into contact with Bassett-Lowke, for whom he did sub-contract work. In 1920 he founded Twining Models at Northampton, which manufactured glass-case models of industrial, architectural, advertising and transport themes.

Twining was active in the worlds of model railways, art and design, aeronautics, astronomy and photography, ships and ship models, as well as stained glass windows, which can be found at Holy Trinity Church Hall, St Edmunds at Hardingstone, St Francis de Sales at Wolverton and in the Northampton Museum.

One of the plates features an E.B. Wilson ‘Jenny Lind’ type engine built for the London Brighton and South Coast Railway. Locomotive No 122 stands out here against a wintry background, expertly painted by Twining. These 2-2-2 passenger engines were designed by David Joy and were capable of mile a minute regular service speed if necessary with their 6ft driving wheels. These elegant machines, sometimes with polished mahogany boiler lagging and fluted domes and safety valve casings were to become a design classic. The subtle tones and frozen winter trees and grasses lend a natural realism to the scene, but I expect the crew would have been glad of the small fire whilst doing 60mph with no cab!

This still is from a wonderful series of short black & white films made by Jack Shaw, a volunteer on the Quorn & Woodhouse station team. They perfectly capture the style of British Transport films from the 1950s, but the footage was actually taken last year, but it’s still very much alive today (in 3D technicolour!) as the volunteers recreate scenes like this all year round at the Great Central Railway.

29th August 2021

Another busy couple of months, mostly doing Bourne End, but without any doubt, the worst event since the last update was the very sad loss of my friend and Missenden colleague, Mick Bonwick.  I’ll let the official announcement from Missenden echo my own sentiment on this one.  

“It is with great regret that we have to announce that Missenden Railway Modellers organiser and weathering tutor Mick Bonwick has died. We are sure all those who have attended our events at Missenden Abbey, met Mick at various model railways exhibitions or interacted with him via our virtual events will share in the sadness that his family and those involved with Mick feel at this time. All of our thoughts go out to his wife Anne and the rest of his family.”


A few photos from the Bourne End job, which is going fine.  I’m doing the rear panels and a few boat models, while Neil and Richard are progressing the scenic cover and buildings.

This building forms a pair of shopfronts at the corner of Wharf Lane and Bourne End’s High Street. Some of this has been painted white now, but we don’t think it was painted in the 50’s, and accordingly, we have kept the original brick.  Richard Ellis has also taken care of this one for us, and Wharf Lane is quite forgiving, in that the South facing facades have changed very little since late Victorian times.  Richard Ellis/Monks Gate Models.

Ex GWR Dean Goods Engine recently weathered by Neil and ready for work at Bourne End. Neil Podbery.

Looking West over the junction and the sidings. the Thames will eventually appear between the trees and here’s an ‘in progress’ view of the backscene rear panel for this area.  I still have to add a few more buildings by the riverside but it’s getting there.

Another wagon ready for the sidings weathered by Neil Podbery

Autumn trees appear along the skyline behind Cockmarsh and the Thames, I’m having to co-ordinate the colours to match Neil’s 3D work which appears in the foreground but that’s fine, it’s all part of the job, and it’s quite entertaining because you don’t see many layouts rendered in autumn colours.

It’s possible to display a period map alongside a modern day satellite view using the National Library of Scotland reference page, which automatically splits the screen showing the OS building outlines (shown here as solid black), and compare it with a companion cursor to pinpoint which buildings were in existence at the chosen layout period and which newer additions hadn’t appeared yet. The feature is a very useful tool when you’re trying to date a particular building and check it against your chosen layout period.

Side by side map link

The house backs, gardens, washing lines and gutter pipes appear behind the kitchen gardens and allotments, and in the ’50s, there were far fewer houses on the North facing side of Wharf Lane.

This large 3 gabled house now forms the Bourne End Medical Centre near the High Street end of Wharf Lane. We are fairly close to finishing this particular row of facades, the building was scaled into the diorama as a mock up, slightly under sized of course, and armed with this as a guide Richard Ellis has produced the facade beautifully for us in all its well researched detail.

The beginnings of a few boats for the 3D river section.

High Wycombe’s Market Square has managed to escape the sweeping changes that have completely altered the rest of the town The ex GWR station is fairly near the square and has been brilliantly modelled by Tim Peacock. Maidenhead trains via Bourne End used to depart from a bay platform to the South of the four track main lines.

Tim’s model

A quick sketch of the view over High Wycombe looking North West. The contours and skyline can be set to the horizon datum, and Amersham Hill appears quite clearly on the ‘Generate a Panorama’ profile, looking North.

Kingswear is still coming on with Paul, Neil, Nigel and Peter Silvester, getting the jobs done.  Most of the scenics are finished, but there’s still plenty to do, and here are some more progress pics.  We also had our first invited gathering, which generated plenty of praise and positive support, That will be the first of many I’m sure, so thanks to all the participants who made the day such a success.

It’ll be time for a snagging list soon, with a plan to include all the small details…… lamps, poles. clutter, and of course boats, with some larger ones appearing near the bath house, and smaller scale ones at the creek.  We’ll also get Neil going on some vehicles/vans etc, and a few figures for the yard.  There are some items set aside already so these can go on fairly soon, but the rest of the signals need doing now, as well as the river water, which is the last major job.


Here’s an up to date view of the scenic break, including Greenway’s famous bath house, now nicely bedded into it’s scenic cover.  This, along with a small stone rubble boathouse adjoining it, was constructed in the late 18th, or early 19th century to the south-east of Greenway House.  The bathhouse comprises a lower storey, also of slate rubble, with arched round brick openings containing a rectangular stone-lined sunken plunge bath with an iron balustrade and steps down.  This was built into a jettied stone basement at beach level with three round-headed sluices allowing sea water to enter the bath by a sluice at high tide.  A rendered and shingled upper storey, with arched brick openings to the north, south and west facades provided a sitting room above, built with a small chimney piece to fireplace on it’s side wall, and an open balcony facing the river.  The building was formerly thatched. but now has a shingle roof over single gable and balcony.

Coal wagons loaded and ready for transfer to Torquay Gasworks, in the charge of ‘Dukedog’ Class No.9003, now beautifully weathered by Neil. We are extremely fortunate to have acquired the exquisite dockside electric cranes, built by Gordon Gravett specifically for this layout, but will delay their installation until all detailing work has been completed around the station area.  Paul Woodward

Peter Silvester has been a Godsend to the project, and this is a ‘Grange’ class engine still in progress, having all it’s P4 equipment aligned and fitted.  Kingswear did see a lot of these engines during the 40’s period, so it’s a vital addition to the ever growing fleet. Peter Silvester

A Collett Goods engine retrieves a brake van from Hoodown Sidings. This area has now been finished by Nigel and Neil, with a characteristic weathered ash surface contrasting with the pristine main line running through.  Paul Woodward.


‘4283’ having perhaps unusually brought the ‘Torbay’ into Kingswear (possibly an engine change at Newton Abbott as a result of technical problems?!!) prepares to reverse back over the engine release crossover to run round its train. Note the newly installed station canopy, still awaiting final weathering. Paul Woodward.

Rear panel, looking out to sea, with One Gun Point, St Petrox Church and Warfleet Creek to the right. The cleared fields rise up from Warfleet creek over Weeke Hill (at centre).

Some activity now at Greenway House with new figures and vehicles.  Paul Woodward.

Higher Ferry now with tide mark included at riverbank and ramp. The ferry guide cables are now in place and this section of the line has been re-ballasted and tested, so it’s pretty much ready to go from here to the scenic break.  Paul Woodward.

The crossing keeper’s house with it’s kitchen garden. Neil Podbery

Slamming the van door for the last time before we set off. The van is loaded to the roof with oil, fuel, tools and everything else needed to get the three of us through a long race weekend. Now did I remember my toothbrush?

Between our allotted race time slots, and during waiting periods for either rain showers or track oil downs, visitors to the strip are encouraged to visit the pit side of the track. This is a good thing, as it encourages members of the public to learn about the workings of the various types of quarter mile vehicles.  Now and again, it’s fun to let kids sit in the car to experience the view from the hot seat and show them the differences in control systems to normal cars. Here’s Harry Jennings doing just that, and who knows, maybe one day he’ll have his own dragster..

Bye run checkout pass

Skip to 5:58.00 to see us run.

Mr Trevor Pott has very kindly sent in a few photographs of some Torbay Coaches from his GWR carriage collection.  They are absolutely fantastic, and here are just a couple of them to show just how good you can get 4mm scale models to look once you have the experience.

LH Brake 3rd. Trevor Pott

Another one showing a pair of carriages coupled, Cleverly, the wire for the train hoses actually does the coupling job. The sides and ends for these were drawn and etched by Carl Legg. Mr Trevor Pott.

A few from Bucks Hill, but old ones again as I can’t seem to get the gatherings as often lately  due to dragster commitments.

GWR 517 Class No 832 resting in the bay platform.

This marvellous City Class engine has just been weathered by Neil and I’m looking forward to getting a few snaps of it and some appropriate stock when we all get back together at Bucks Hill.  I had to miss the last one, but hopefully there won’t be any more date clashes in the near future.

The footbridge steps and kitchen garden.

A small forge appears below the embankment alongside the road to Kenderchurch. This is opposite the point where the Golden Valley line heads North to wend it’s way towards Abbeydore, and the other rural stations between there and Hay on Wye. Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

Phil Gomm’s Ex GWR auto-trailer, passing Ewyas Harold (from a few years ago).

This section through a backscene has recently been done by Dave Gower and I thought that I’d include it even though it is completely the ‘wrong’ view point, it’s a great example of a profile transition between the scale layout and the currently 2D scene behind. By the time this is all blended in with static grass and reduced scale elements such as hedgerows, fences, fields etc this will provide a really effective transition between the 2 and 3D landscape work.

29th June 2021

Making progress mostly on the nine large rear panels for Bourne End, along with a few smaller jobs interspersed. Both Richard Ellis and Neil Podbery have undertaken some of the work off site, and naturally, we will be re-convening from time to time as the scenic cover and backscene work progresses. It was great to catch up with Norman Solomon recently, who was also just finishing a session of on site work on the trackwork and signalling.

There are a few pictures of recent progress here, but there’s nothing quite finished yet as it’s such a physically large job.

I’ll be back at Kingswear pretty soon as a couple of jobs have cropped up in the meantime, and I have a number of recent photos from Paul, Nigel and Neil, but I’ll start with some of the latest work on Bourne End.

The large aluminium rear panels are seen here, pretty much ready for skyline painting, and it’ll be one of the priority jobs to get these done so that we don’t end up to having to lift them into position over a load of delicate foreground modelling.

We’ll be teaming up to depict a short section of the Thames at the left hand end of the panorama, in the ‘V’ of the junction between the line heading south towards Maidenhead, and the branch line following the river west to the terminus at Marlow.

Looking upstream, as the Thames curves around to the west, it passes Spade Oak, and approaches Marlow, which can just be seen in the distance. Winter Hill rises above Cockmarsh to the south, and the trees break the skyline, some with bare autumn branches against a pale sky with clouds to distance.

A ply insert has been done by Richard, to match a foamboard mockup, and this will eventually become a removable 3D ‘river’ section. We’ll be able to drop it in below bank level, and represent moored boats and landings. A series of building facades can be included on the opposite bank, and these have been mocked up as card patterns. This section will appear as a middle distance 3D layer below the painted rear panel shown previously. Richard Ellis/Monk’s Gate Models.

Monk’s Gate Models

A similar oblique view of the southern riverbank, with bungalows and moorings. Cockmarsh and Spade Oak are in the background.

An old gouache picture of Marlow regatta with people messing about in boats, and crowds of onlookers lining the banks. 

Beyond the lineside allotments lay the fences and back gardens of Wharf Lane’s north facing dwellings and I’ve managed to take care of the house backs with their kitchen doors, drain pipes and washing lines, mostly from aerial view reference and fifties mapping. South of Wharf Lane, it’s changed a lot, and all the allotment land is now occupied with newer housing.  Richard Ellis has helped to speed things up by researching and producing a set of facades for the large detached houses visible opposite, in the second layer of the backscene, which has changed rather less since then.

This impressive facade luckily still exists today and it graces the south facing row at Wharf Lane. At this stage all the houses are just outer shells and we do have the lighting to install. It’s going to look fine once Neil has blended it into the scene with hedges, pavements and so on.  Richard Ellis/Monk’s Gate Models.

Another example of a large, detached property made for us by Richard, which also faces south near Wharf Lane’s Eastern end. All these are done at about 6mm scale, to help the illusion of distance, and the subsequent focal layers behind, progressively reduce in scale.   Richard Ellis/Monk’s Gate Models.

At the back of Wharf Lane, a small electrical supply substation was tucked in between the back gardens and I have opted to use one of Andy Duncan’s transformers. It’s actually tucked in between two small L shaped brick outhouses.

Kingswear is really taking shape now, and it’s well worth putting in a few posed train shots, along with some from Neil showing the new sea wall and riverbank cover. Now that the points are all sorted and operational, some tidying up of wiring under the baseboards can be done, and connecting up the new lever frame can begin.  We can start thinking about getting the lower panelling in with some suitable vertical tongue and groove matchboarding which should work well for the presentation facade.

The other main task is to finalise the design of the signal box diagram. We’ll get all the signal positions marked and the holes for route and signal indicator led’s, just to be sure everything is sorted, before painting the final version onto a sheet of cream formica.

Seen from the river level, here’s a view of the Greenway Bath house, with the ferry crossing further along the bank.

From the same location, but higher up, a train passes Britannia Halt, and the river silt has now been represented with the tide out, as far as the water line. Notably, the Britannia shelter is missing in these views, just temporarily removed to allow better access for imminent ballasting and the final track detailing.

The Sea wall is now done, as well as most of the silt, seaweed and tide mark, so it’s just a question of keeping going with the detailing work like telegraph poles, fencing and footpaths.  A disused careening berth appears in the foregound.

Only telegraph poles, fencing, water surface, figures and boats to add for a finish then…… aside from a Star class engine to burst out of the tunnel of course!

Certainly beginning to glimpse the finishing line, but there are still plenty of locos to build, not to mention more boats, and finishing and generally snagging the yard area.  

So far, an embryo ‘Torbay Express’ has safely negotiated the line in both directions, and undergone trials of shunting into its overnight accommodation on Hoodown Sidings.  We’ll need to get some more weathering sorted, probably starting with this Hawksworth rake, and it’s quite possible they will also require some more detailing as well.

This shows the Dart Valley western bank, with the ferry approach road climbing up between the trees in the background.

A short train of ‘empties’, most of which have now been beautifully weathered by Neil, heading for loading at the quayside before a return working to Torquay Gasworks.

A number of enthusiastic and knowledgeable historians of the Kingswear and South Hams locality have been contributing information and advice.  None more so than Mr T. Pott, who also sent some photos of his lovely ‘Churston for Brixham’ model, depicting an earlier period of Devon railway history.

A recently completed Torbay Express, running as a Down train.  The weathering will be left off  for a while, wishing to see it pristine on the layout for a while, sorting out the couplings, sidings and
trains and getting it all running with no problems.  T. Pott

Churston now has it’s three most important trains, the Torbay, the Torquay Gas works coal and the Brixham Auto train.  Mr T.Pott.

The engine is of course John Hayes work, with lining by Alan Brackenborough, and it’s
about fourteen years old now. The Dining Twin is by Rocar (Rodney Cooper)
and is about twenty years old. The painting and lining of the other coaches is by Ian
Rathbone, and the lettering is Methfix transfers.  Mr T. Pott.

American Pie has now been reassembled and restarted after it’s dynamometer exam, and it sounds a lot better. I’m working to get everything ready for the upcoming Dragstalgia event at Santa Pod Raceway, and we’ll see how it goes. Here’s a pic of our Plymouth ‘426’ Hemi having it’s Hilborn fuel injection tweaked. The optimum air/fuel ratio for methanol is about 7 to 1, and as it turned out, the setup was too fat (rich).  New nozzles were shipped from from Nashville Tennessee to lean the mixture out.

Our old Plymouth V8 on a Dynamometer. See all the dozens of sensors and other measuring devices that enable the correct adjustments to be made.

Just for fun, here’s a picture of my very first car which I saved up for until I was 15. I bought it for £350 as a complete wreck, and modified it with a 289 inch Ford small block V8, a super T10 four speed, and a narrowed 9” Ford rear axle. This photo came from a fairly recent advert, and I’m pleased to see it’s still out there looking better than ever.

A few pics of Andrew Cowie’s cabinet dioramas with their mirrors fitted.

The left hand end of the Chiseldon station display, with a ‘station staff photograph’ underway.

Looking to the right, the gents is also mirrored

Chiseldon shelter left hand end, with brick cottages mirrored.

Chiseldon shelter right hand end, with thatched cottage mirrored.

Looking up into the roof lights of the shed interior diorama, which is based on an old stock shed at Swindon.

Chedworth station platform uses half a building, mirrored down the middle to save space.

Although I don’t have any new pictures from Bucks Hill, I made the most of a recent failure in our broadband access to retouch and tweak some old unpublished images whilst offline, as well as a few from Temple Meads.

Weathered Lee Marsh G.W.R. Large prairie No 4105.

G.W.R. 4-4-0 No 5267 ‘Cornishman’ alongside the down platform.

This one is from ages ago, when we were still working on the backscene, so there’s no detail layering in the middle distance yet. I quite like the effect though, with the backlighting on and the darker area to the right.

One of the best Bucks Hill photos taken so far was this Chris Nevard study of Dean 32xx 2-4-0 with the Golden Valley branch engine in the sidings behind. The Dean engine is a direct descendant of the Gooch era, but it also clearly points the way to the bogie front 4-4-0s that came soon after.  Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

Cattle vans rounding the curve on the up main.  Original by Barry Norman.

Small prairie No 4508 passing Ewyas Harold.

Standard gauge G.W.R. saddletank engine in the platform road. Tony Reynalds

A Lee Marsh passenger brake no 1095 at Temple Meads

No 3242 in arrival platform.  Tony Reynalds.

Adrian Norman’s Nottisham layout is coming along well. and here are a couple of views of a new insert panel rested in place.

Part of a new relief panel just rested in place.  Adrian Norman.

The brick overbridge needs embankments, bu it’s all taking shape nicely, with sidings full of wagons and vans.  Adrian Norman

14th April 2021

Just tinkering away as usual, and work is progressing on Bourne End with some more time spent on the house backs of Wharf Lane.  Although parts of the backscene are starting to take shape, there’s still a long way to go.  The alloy sky panels are now ready for painting and I’ll be getting those done as a priority so they can be permanently fitted in place.  The removable backscene panels can eventually rest against them once they are finished, and this will allow the various sections to be worked on offsite.

The rest of the time has been spent fitting and aligning diorama mirrors, all of which are now finished, some research work for possible future projects is in progress, and some additional tasks must be undertaken to maintain the dragster and it’s trailer.

To help gauge local interest in the Bourne End project and possibly gain knowledge, I took up the very generous offer from Barrie Penfold and the editorial staff of Target magazine, to publish an introduction to the model.  I have already received replies and offers of help, so my very sincere thanks go to all the readers who took an interest, including a Mr R Fahey, who kindly sent me an original copy of a commemorative leaflet celebrating 100 years of the Marlow Donkey 1873/1973.  Luckily, this contained a series of previously unseen photographs from exactly our chosen period, and it’s the perfect example of why you never stop looking for reference.  I’m still looking for memories and photos from the village as well as the railway, so if any residents during the mid fifties period can still remember the various shops in the parade, for instance, that would come in handy.

Scanned from ‘100 years of the Marlow Donkey’, a wealth of detail can be seen in this view of an auto coach in the Marlow Bay platform at Bourne End on the 24th June 1953. This photo is a particularly useful one as it also shows us one of the house backs to the left of the driving cab. It also gives us the treeline, the foreground hedge and the characteristics of the two large trees visible above the auto coach roof. Photo B T Cooke

From the same source, No 6158 shunts a train at Bourne End which it has just brought in from Paddington. An 0-4-2T can also be seen, propelling a train back towards Marlow on a dank June 24th in 1953. Photo B T Cooke.

This wooden seven plank open wagon would have been seen in the Bourne end area, and it’s nearing the end of it’s working life.  It’s still going with a few replaced planks though, bearing the ghost sign writing from a previous era. Neil Podbery

A pair of 5 plank opens with the ghost remains of signwriting indicating ownership by Richard Webster of Maidenhead Berks.  Neil Podbery.

A few of the many road vehicles to occupy the driveways and parking spaces around the backscene.

All the trees on Bourne End as well as the foliage will be portrayed as autumnal and here are a couple of examples destined for the panorama. 

They start out as multi strand heavy duty battery cable and are twisted and formed into their various shapes before being super glued.

Here’s one with it’s bark applied ready for fine outer twigs and Autumn leaves.

This one is a bit further into the process and it’s bearing a few autumn leaves. The structure of the trees themselves is very much more apparent with Autumn trees, so there are really no shortcuts when it comes to producing the armature

The Station Taxi office as it was in the fifties, built by Brian Lewis. This building survived until very recently, when it was run into by an errant vehicle and sadly it has had to be demolished as a result.

Paul, Nigel and Neil have been quietly producing new parts for Kingswear, so I’ll put a few photos here. The next step as far as scenic cover is concerned is ballasting the single line from Greenway to Waterhead Creek bridge, and once we have that done, it’ll be time to do the exposed river silt and the low tide waterline.

Two cars have been included, waiting for the gates to reopen at the Higher Ferry crossing, and one of them has the door open, with the driver chatting to the crossing keeper over the gate. This took a fair bit of doing, as the interior becomes exposed. Paul Woodward.

Kingswear’s lever frame still has its temporary panel, pending completion of the final design. which I will hand paint onto a sheet of cream coloured formica once all the points and signals are wired up and double checked. Paul Woodward.

Neil has painted and fitted a few Modelu figures to go alongside the footpaths in Greenway’s Camellia garden. A deep pink magnolia bush is in bloom, and the large, waxy flowers in various shades of pink, white and magenta grow either side of the paths. Strolling this part of the gardens rewards visitors with some of the best views over the River Dart. Neil Podbery.

A selection of Peter Silvester’s exquisite models, now painted, lettered and windowed, with some finishing details added too, where necessary. The quality of construction is outstanding, especially given that they were made some thirty years ago or more, in the very early days of P4, when many of the components we nowadays take for granted were not available.  Paul Woodward.

The riverbank at Hoodown is basically done now and the siding at the back has been extended a little to accommodate an eight coach Torbay Express rake. This is one of the few areas of the line where we have been a little restricted on backscene depth, but with a bit of forced perspective work, we’ve managed. Neil Podbery.

Kevin Wilson sent over some photographs of some of the very finely detailed 7mm scale projects that he has been working on lately, and I felt they were worth including here for interest along with some other Bucks Hill pictures. 

A Great Western Railway Manor Class locomotive is currently in progress and here’s an overhead view of the frame assembly with its horn blocks and valve gear in the process of being aligned and manufactured. Kevin Wilson.

The boiler and firebox assembly rolled from brass showing the running plates, splashers etc.
Kevin Wilson.

This fantastic G.W.R. steam rail motor is now basically finished. This one is number 47 and it shows the business end with its four-wheel vertical-boiler power unit. A four-wheel trailing bogie with volute springs supported the carriage end of the vehicle, and the main driving wheels on these could vary from 3 ft 5 in to 4 ft. Kevin Wilson.

Most rail motors were converted into driving trailers for push-and-pull trains (sometimes referred to as autocoaches) accompanying a separate steam locomotive, and the original power units were scrapped. Autotrains offered many of the benefits of rail motors but, because they were operated by separate locomotives, they were much more flexible in operation and easier to maintain. The first of the original rail motors was withdrawn in 1914. This one was seen at Bucks Hill a few years ago. Barry Norman

Drummond M7 0-4-4T No 30046 passes in British Railway black livery. The locomotive was built at Nine Elms works in 1905, and by this time was shedded at 72A Exmouth Junction,

Lined black LMS Patriot number 5538 passing Ewyas Harold with London and North Western Wolverton stock. This was a member of a class of 52, built for the London Midland and Scottish Railway, and No 5538 Giggleswick emerged from Crewe works in July 1933. They were based on the chassis of the Royal Scot, combined with the boiler from Large Claughtons, earning them the nickname Baby Scots.

The backscenes from Jack Anziani’s 7mm Westcott layout have been preserved, and I recently visited the new owner to see if they could be adapted to fit another freelance railway.  I’m sure that will be possible with a bit of cutting and shutting.  I’m sure Jack would have approved, so here’s my favourite Westcott picture taken by Chris Nevard.

Westcott will be reborn, but this time as a through station with curved platforms.  Chris Nevard/ Model Rail Magazine.

A superb new book has been produced by Wild Swan, titled ‘Geoff Williams Aylesbury LNWR Researching and Modelling the prototype’.   It has been written by Bob Williams, Geoff’s son, and compiled and designed by Steve Phillips, and the fully illustrated book describes the famous EM model of the LNWR station in Aylesbury, the World’s first branch line.  The first section describes the building and restoration of the model, and the second, all of the research that went into creating it, including site photographs, maps, historic documents and sketches made by Geoff himself.

The book also features full signalling details, comprehensive photographic coverage of related structures, together with extensive information on the trains that used the branch and how Geoff modelled them.  Apart from being a great book on how to set about modelling any prototype, and the techniques you might use to create it, this is also a wonderful personal account of one man’s lifetime and his hobby.  There’s a real wealth of information on modelling techniques, including Geoff’s very effective use of perspective modelling, and I was very pleased to contribute a page account covering the restoration of the original 3D backscene. 

The layout has happily been acquired and restored by Tim Peacock and the Risborough and District Model Railway Club. The culmination of both their and Geoff’s work was exhibited at the 2016 “Railex” show in Stoke Mandeville, which was quite an achievement, especially given that the layout had originally been permanently built into the loft of the family home.  More details from Simon Castens here  Aylesbury L.N.W.R. Movie clip

My old Metropolitan Railway layout has found a new home with a Met enthusiast who lives near Mablethorpe, on the wild and windy Lincolnshire coast near Skegness.  The idea will be to incorporate it into a larger layout, which is perfect, as it was originally conceived as a quiet through station with most of the trains just rushing through without bothering to stop. here are a few last pictures before it goes in the van.

The typical Metropolitan Railway timber signalbox features a a hipped roof, and has an unusual sun blind like the Chesham box,

The scenic break road bridge is Identical to the skew span arch 179 at Waddesdon Manor, but skewed the other way.

No 80 waits in a siding in this view, with the old Aylesbury & Buckingham Railway crossing keepers cottage to the left. The E class engines were generally used for secondary duties by the 1930s, with the newer, more powerful G,H and K class locomotives working the heavier main line trains.

Andy Duncan found me this whitemetal kit of an Oxfordshire Hay Cart with timber raves. It would have been yellow with red wheels, like this, and it sits at the top of the embankment by the Great Central bridge.

A thumbnail view of a DEMU came up at random in my Youtube suggestions sidebar, and I initially thought it was a photo.  The heading included mention of a ‘Cab ride from Evercreech Junction to Midsomer Norton’, and I clicked on it out of curiosity.  Straightaway I was surprised at the level of realism and detail included, and it’s fair to say I’m not the biggest simulator fan but it seems to me that this clip brings another level of atmosphere to the screen.

The raindrops from an overcast sky land on the front window and are wiped away by the wiper blade, while the droplets on the cabside window run backwards at an angle due to the train speed. The interior is all weathered, the sound is perfect, and I found myself just enjoying the sensation of movement as the train sways slightly as it goes along.                            

Pat Humphrys has been busy working on his 7mm scale Lambourn model, and it’s coming along well.  He has sent a few recent pictures over, and here are a couple of them.

A Lambourn Valley branch line passenger train, headed by ‘Eadweade’, a Hunslet Engine Company 0-6-0T, built in June 1903. Altogether the L.V.R. owned three locomotives, and although they were produced by two different manufacturers, the three were generally similar looking. Eadweade (pictured here)was slightly larger than the other two, and they were painted dark blue, lined out in black and white. Nameplates were cast in brass, with red painted backgrounds. The four wheeled coaches were bought from Brown, Marshall & Co of Birmingham, with two composites, each carrying 8 first-class and 24 second-class passengers, as well as some luggage space, and the other two seated 32, also second-class. Pat Humphrys

The railway runs behind the trees from this viewpoint, but I like the view as it shows the church that Pat has included into the middle distance as a forced perspective feature.  Pat Humphrys.

We have decided to prepare and paint the dragster trailer, and remove the Plymouth V8 with its complete fuel & oil systems for resetting on a dynamometer.  It’s a bit late in the season to say the least, and it’s time consuming work, so we will only be able to do the latter half of scheduled Wild Bunch events.

This is what a long weekend at Santa Pod Raceway can do for your appearance, especially if you forget your hairbrush, I really should give up this draining pursuit but I just never learn!
Photo credit to Wayne Allen

Fuel, oil and crankcase breather equipment.

The Pendon Museum is planning to re-open in late May. 

On 6 July they are hoping to hold the first Pendon Live! event on the subject of the Ridgeway Hill Forts. The talk will be presented by Professor Gary Lock of Oxford University, an expert in British prehistory. The talk will cover excavations at Uffington Castle, Segsbury Camp and Alfred’s Castle.  Further details of the event, including booking, can be found here.

Pendon also has a YouTube channel, which will be updated on a monthly basis with new video content, which will be of interest to viewers old and new. It also offers a link to some of our ‘Hidden Gems’, highlighting a selection of Pendon’s most interesting material. This month the channel is showcasing ‘Non-Stop Through the Vale’ giving a train driver’s view of this fascinating scene.


Adrian Norman has been working on his East Anglian Fenland layout, and it looks as though it’s going to benefit from a low relief village as seen behind the station building.  We’ll probably just do it as a drop in overlay and that will be fine, as long as we keep a good eye on the perspective, and make an effort to arrange a view blocking device at either side of the feature to prevent unwanted views due to foreshortening.  Here are a couple of similar ones that I have taken care of in the past, some of which are directly opposite their respective stations and others seen at further distance (as was often the case).

A ‘D’ Class 2-4-0T No 76 at the Whitchurch Road platform end ramps, with a 2D village backscene in the middle distance.

The village of Semley stood quite some distance from it’s L.S.W.R. station, and we can see the spire of St. Leonards’s Church against the skyline.  Original by Philip Hall.

This low relief diorama shows a village in progress, where the railway passes directly between the houses and schools, at no great distance from the station, and we can do Notisham in a similar configuration. 

I’ve recently had a quick look at a 4mm scale layout project, loosely based on the West Somerset Railway station at Minehead.

With some photos of the assembled layout, it will be possible to do some sketches by tracing over the photos on screen and then adding a pencilled backscene sketch to them to start the ball rolling.  These will be taken from the average layout viewpoint to strike the best balance for the horizon datum line.

Now and again I pay an online visit to the excellent ‘Western Thunder’ forum and I noticed a reference by Adrian to a new resource, primarily designed to generate adjustable simulations of surface mapping using LIDAR technology.  It’s fascinating and already I have found myself pinpointing locations with a view to finding quick ways to visualise localities.  One of the main differences between this and the more linear ‘Generate a Panorama’ views is that this produces a surface plot in perspective that also includes representations of the manmade structures as well as the natural contouring.  I have put a few examples of a typical search below, and this actually depicts a LIDAR generated overview of the Great Western Railway terminus at Minehead Somerset.

It uses open source LIDAR mapping data from the Environment agency, so it’s a little like a google map but it can reveal more detail of the ground features. The coverage is a little patchy, and it naturally concentrates around water features, but it does have a few tools to adjust the image and a data export feature, so I presume you could import this into 3D software and 3D print a miniature landscape.

All the buildings present at the time of the survey are included, as well as trees, which is tremendously useful, as once as they are identified from their basic outline of course, the details can be researched and incorporated into the scene at a later stage. Of course, there’s always the necessity to edit the modern information using historic maps and photos from your chosen time window.

The station can clearly be seen, and it even shows the rough outline of the trains alongside the platforms, as well as the linear pathway of the railway into the town.  It’s very useful, but also quite a curious image, because it looks like a sort of ‘vacuum formed’ landscape, or the result of a volcanic cataclysm…… (heaven forbid).

The Generate a Panorama print out of Minehead, looking North West.

I have taken an interest in the illustrations of Fortunino Matania, who produced many of the artworks for Great Central Railway publications.  These specific commissions were of course, my introduction to his work, and steam ships, dock scenes, figures, and panoramic maps were featured, all coming to life under his versatile brush.  

Born in Naples, the son of artist Eduardo Matania, he studied at his father’s studio, designing a soap advertisement at the age of 9 and exhibiting his first work at Naples Academy at only 11. At 14 he was helping his father produce illustrations for books and magazines, and the talent was recognised by the editor of the Italian periodical L’Illustrazione Italiania.  Matania produced weekly illustrations for the magazine between 1895 and 1902, and at 20, he began working in Paris for Illustration Francaise.  In 1902, he was invited to London to depict the Coronation of Edward VII for The Graphic, subsequently covering every major event of British royalty until the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Matania became a war artist and was rightly acclaimed for his graphic and realistic images of trench warfare,  After the war, he switched to scenes of ancient high life for the British woman’s magazine, Britannia and Eve, and found his true direction. He filled his London studio with reproductions of Roman furniture, pored over history books for suitably lively subjects, and with the help of models and statues, he further excelled at figure painting, representing subjects as Samson & Delilah, the bacchanalian roisters of ancient Rome, and even early American Indian maidens, all done with the same careful respect for accuracy and detail he had used in his news assignments.

Matania exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, and in 1917 he was elected a member of the latter.  He became a popular illustrator for advertising, posters and catalogues, working for the LMS (designing posters for Southport and Blackpool), Ovaltine, Burberry’s (the sporting outfitters) and many others. If you do like the style of romantic Edwardian illustrators, by all means spend a little time browsing his portfolio on  image libraries via the link below………

Matania’s illustration of the locks at Immingham, commissioned by the G.C.R. The red brick Dock Office to the right is one of the few surviving buildings from the time of the opening of the dock by the Great Central Railway Company in 1912.  This was chosen as a natural sheltered harbour, just six miles to the north west of Grimsby, an ideal site for a deep water dock. As the main channel of the Humber impinged upon the Lincolnshire bank to East and West of the dock estate, both the dock entrance and each of the two jetties were always sure of a sufficient depth of water to birth vessels at any state of the tide. The depth ranged from 30 to 35 feet, and furthermore the natural deep water channel had no tendency to silt. The dock estate eventually covered 1000 acres with a passenger station and Cole hoists capable of discharging bunkers at the rate of 700 tons per hour. The granite for the copings and lock quoins came from Sweden, the timber from Australia, America and Russia and the cement came by barge from the Medway. The rest of the stone came from a quarry at nearby Brocklesby.  Fortunino Matania/ Great Central Railway Company.

The Last General Absolution of the Munster Fusiliers at Rue du Bois by Matania, depicting the regiment on the eve of the Battle of Aubers Ridge in May 1915. This painting was commissioned by Jessie Louisa Rickard, and was originally published in ‘The Sphere’ on the 27 November 1916. The original was sadly destroyed during the bombing of London in World War II.

25th Jan 2021

Apologies for not updating over the last few months, it’s mainly due to the high workload.  While I wait for a set of diorama surface mirrors to arrive, the main focus is researching and mocking up Bourne End, which is coming along fine.  Once it’s done, it will be presented like a museum diorama, with a view over the station looking North above the rooftops and into the distance.

The surroundings will appear as they did in the mid fifties, and most of the structures will be private dwellings.  Other local buildings will appear though, such as the bank, the cinema, parades of shops, the telephone exchange and even lowly motor vehicle garages and electricity sub stations.  We’ll include the innumerable allotments, hedges, fences, back gardens and footpaths, positioning them from reference as the backscene progresses.

The Wharf Lane section becomes visible to the left of the station and this has involved the positioning of about 40 foreground houses and shops, as well as probably 200 or so buildings and dwellings visible in the middle distance.  Bourne End by the mid ’50s was expanding quite rapidly and although some of the estates were not present yet, the beginnings of municipal housing (mainly on the North side) was becoming apparent as the new roads stretched out across the fields.  It’s quite a detailed 3D study of the area, and we’ll be able to show some of the local colour as well as the more interesting past life of the railway.

A ground plan of the station, with all it’s sidings included, and the line to High Wycombe on the right. The surroundings of the station are nearly level, with only a very slight slope down to the River Thames, which will appear to the left of the diorama. Particularly with ‘O’ gauge, even small stations like this one, require far more surface area than most conventional residences could provide in one room or loft. This example measures 40 x 12 feet and even then, it still struggles to accommodate the model without making scale compromises. It’s a very much a work still in progress, and will be for some time to come.

Neil will be taking care of the ground cover and autumnal foliage, and I’m also very pleased to have Richard Ellis of Monks Gate Models helping out with some of the backscene facades, starting with the row of large Victorian houses along Wharf Lane.  As well as the plotting out of all this, I’m also in the middle of producing armatures for the hundreds of trees that will eventually be required.  It will eventually become a window into the past, seen from quite a high vantage point just to the south of the station yard.   All the original sidings that used to surround the station now reappear, along with all the related railway buildings, and the village will also return to way it looked 65 years ago, and eventually, we’ll be able to see the much greater variety of traffic, as the ex-Great Western Railway trains make their way through Bourne End, just as they used to. 

Although it’s too soon to put any backscene photos up, we can show a few of the scale buildings that have already been beautifully done by Brian Lewis.  The track and signals have been expertly taken care of by Norman Solomon.

A through passenger train passes under Bourne End’s footbridge, heading for the main line junction at Maidenhead, while a local stopping train waits to depart for High Wycombe.

The staircase of the covered timber clad footbridge, with period travel posters inviting passengers to take their holidays in the West country, or even Wales.

Reference drawings are not always available, but now and again, a bit of research pays off!  This Drawing of the covered footbridge arrangement is dated 1893

Bourne End goods shed, with its red brick pillars and flint panel infills. The yard was in decline in the mid to late fifties, but still in some use, because of bulk carrying ability, particularly over long distances. Coal and coke loads were still being shovelled off wagons by hand, and local merchants would then have their lorries weighed on the weighbridge platform with its attendant hut. Other goods traffic had dwindled considerably by this time though and there was only a very limited amount compared to the much busier Victorian period.

There were two signal boxes at Bourne End, and this one was sited at the High Wycombe end. Although it was the smaller structure, it was necessary to operate the level crossing, while the larger ‘South’ cabin controlled the points and signals for the branch line junction, the loops and the goods yard sidings.

This shop stood just to the south of the station level crossing, facing west.

Andrew Cowie’s dioramas are basically finished now, and we await a delivery of surface mirrors to finish the cabinet insert displays.  I’ll put in a few photos here.  

The Locomotive shed really needed an outer panel to obscure the edge of the North Light roof, so I have produced this panelled wall supported on cast iron uprights. This still allows a relatively uninterrupted view of the interior, and an LED strip light can now be concealed above the skylights, while illuminating the sky above.

This cabinet display features a somewhat foreshortened approach to Chedworth Station on the old Midland and South Western Junction Railway, and we have a platform ramp and retaining wall displayed as well as the old stone built school building seen above to the left, along with a view to distance between the trees to the right.

There is progress to report on the ‘Kingswear for Darmouth in P4’ project, so I’ll put a few pictures here for interest, but it can be examined in more detail, along with some excellent reference photographs published by courtesy of Mr T. Pott and Gerry Nichols. at …..

Neil has just finished weathering this GWR Dukedog 4-4-0. and there are only a few more tidying jobs to do before its ready to go. Investigation of the turntable mechanism has revealed that it was designed very much for an earlier era DC system. It’s all beautifully made and finished but it has required some modifications for the new DCC control system.

Neil’s scenic cover and foliage at Higher Ferry is now done.  The scrubland above the Ferry has been taken from reference and this cleared land is actually quite different to the modern view, as the trees have now grown back over the upper slopes of the riverbank. Today’s observers and tourists on their Dart riverboat cruises could be entirely forgiven for thinking that these slopes had always been fully forested, but even fairly recent reference clearly shows this is not the case. 

The built up stone riverbanks and railway ballast still need doing, but the woodland, scrub land and coniferous treeline above the ferry crossing are finished.The Higher Ferry ramp now has its side walls rendered in stone blocks and the top surface has been weathered. The ferry guide ropes and their retaining chains can be fitted soon, and there might well be a few figures to give a little life to this scene, and a couple of period cars as well, waiting for the train to pass by. The crossing gates are lit with tiny LEDs inside the lamps

Between the Higher Ferry and Hoodown is a small chine which appears on the reference, so we have included it, and the railway is carried away from the natural contour of the inlet upon a stone laid cob, with an arched culvert. A footpath ran alongside the line from the carriage sidings at Hoodown, all the way to Britannia Halt, and enough width has been allowed for this to be included as well.

An M7 stands in the loop with its train of Maunsell carriages and a parcels van, prior to possibly turning the engine, ready for its return to some fictitious ‘Southern’ destination! We are aware that loco men often preferred to turn even tank engines when they could, for a more comfortable journey. This loco is a superb example of Tom Mallard’s work.

A few wagons emerged relatively unscathed from the recent critical assessment, some requiring perhaps no more than some minor TLC. For others, a new etched underframe from the Brassmasters/Finney range, was enough to make an appreciable difference. This 5 plank ‘Cumberland’ slag wagon rests at a wharf siding. Its a proprietary item with replacement P4 wheel sets and 3 link couplings. Weathering was undertaken by Neil Podbery.

These have now been done as quite war weary, with replacement planks fitted but not painted & written. Some of the local trader wagons will have their moulded underframes replaced soon to keep the finescale standard up.

There are a number of planned events for the nostalgia dragster community for this year, so when the weather clears up a bit, I have a load of chores to finish to ready American Pie for another season of Wild Bunch participation. This low quality screen grab image shows Dan successfully bringing the slicks up to temperature. I will provide a link to forthcoming events as soon as I have confirmation.

This OO gauge layout under construction will be called Notisham, and it depicts a station near Ely in the last years of steam. This shows the recently fitted 2D alloy sheet backscene in position, depicting a Cambridgeshire Fens landscape, with a typical flat skyline and clouded sky above, with its layers receding to distance. It still needs blending into it’s foreground at this early stage as part of the process, with colour matching of scatter, and a boundary to railway owned land as fencing and hedgerow. The first mockup of a 3D layer has been placed in front of a large tilled field to judge size and height, and a suitable train included to show relative scale. Adrian Norman.

Below the clouded sky, I have included; Cut wheat, Sugar beet growing, Cabbages growing, and Black peat soil as a prototypical variety of local crops, and I’ll be including some distant buildings later on, such as barns and farm houses. Occasional drains run between field boundaries, so I have included them as well.

I am trying to put together a series of articles for the Missenden Abbey modellers and I’ll see whether I can do one on adding a farm into a landscape. It certainly does depend on the density and size of farms and barns as to how many appear, but it is an attractive and prototypical landscape feature to include, especially if you have a long and repetitive backscene that turns out to be too featureless. This one is Aberayon Farm in 2D, and I’ll see if I can get round to doing some useful notes on horizon lines, applying generate a panorama and so on.

Ian Statham has been busy with a number of projects of late, and here’s an diorama idea showing a timber trestle traversing an American Canyon, it will eventually display a train of ON30 stock.

This is the interior of his recently made GWR locomotive shed, and the plan is to add clutter and figures to give the scene a sense of activity.


Richard Ellis and Neil Podbery have taken care of this excellent open cutting diorama for Ian, portraying a stretch of double track main line becomes exposed between two land masses, and the retaining wall is engineered in brick with arches, cornices and panelled parapet wall above.

In 1905, nineteen ‘Saint’ class locomotives were ordered to be built at Swindon Works, and thirteen of these were built as Atlantics with the remaining six configured as 4-6-0s. By 1912, Churchward was persuaded by the superior adhesion provided by the 4-6-0 arrangement and they were all converted. The new locomotives were numbered 172–190, and twelve of them were named after characters in the novels of Sir Walter Scott. No 185, seen here was built as unnamed 4-4-2, then named Winterstoke in February 1906, renamed ‘Peveril of the Peak’ in April 1907, and finally converted to a 4-6-0 in May 1912. Ian’s model appears on the diorama in original condition, and I rather like the ‘calm after the storm’ lighting on this!

I have now updated the Semley page, which is a job that had been nagging at me for quite some time.  This has been by courtesy of Martin Finney, Philip Hall and Paul Karau, who all gladly gave permission for me to include some of the excellent photographs from the MRJ session of a few years ago.

Salmon and Brown LSWR passenger brake stock in the dairy siding.  Philip Hall/Model Railway Journal.

LSWR 240 pauses briefly on the up main with its regular local service.  The milk factory can be seen over the station roofs in this view of Semley as the 1.32PM Templecombe to Bulford train arrives on time at 1.53PM. The whole train is the work of Chris Wesson and the original photo is by Philip Hall/Model Railway Journal.

The L.S.W.R. West of England main line ran through a drained cutting in the open country to the east of Semley station, passing the village to the north and on towards the next station at Tisbury.  Some of the naturally occurring pools here, south of Chaldicott’s farm have been drained to allow more dairy pasture.  The road to Semley village emerges in the background, having passed the gable ended village hall, winding its way towards the village common with the white painted Bennett Arms on the left and Saint Leonards Church on the right. The short horned Devon cows in the foreground are by Preiser, painted by Mike Baker. Original by Philip Hall/Model Railway Journal

Chris Walker has done some more work on his excellent Charlton Park layout, and he has sent in a few photos so I can judge what to do for a backscene.

A GWR Auto Trailer in a platform….. definitely time to have a look at the backscene for this, so I have suggested taking a pattern of the lower profile on a roll of wallpaper and pencilling a horizon in. Once I’ve delivered some of the existing work that I have at the moment, it’s time to come up with a really good 2D backscene for this exquisite railway.  Chris Walker.

A GWR small prairie passes a 517 class 0-4-2T in the locomotive shed road.  Chris Walker.

MSWJR no3.  Chris Walker.

Another one I might need to look at will be a scene looking north over Swindon Town station in 1906, and it’s quite an interesting view including the Cattle Market, and the Corn Exchange.

OS map from the turn of the last century, with detail of surroundings north of the station.

The Corn Exchange building as it is now…..What price progress?

Next time I can get away for a few hours, I’ll see if I can put together a quick introduction to the incredible work of Fortunino Matania, who took all sorts of commissions , including a job from one my favourite Edwardian Railway companies, the stylish and elegant ‘Great Central’.

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.

A similar view made the header picture of the national magazine coverage of the last event. Custom Car Magazine

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.