Latest News

12 February 2024

Still finishing off the last few details on the Bourne End backscene, but we are nearly there now.  I’ll stay on board to help Neil and Nigel do the foreground modelling, and there is still miles of fencing and ground cover with trees to do to the south east of the station.  There are a few new views of the eastern side of the station by Richard and Neil, and some more engine photos from Nigel.

An introduction to the model has now appeared in MRJ, to precede a full feature at some point, hopefully fairly soon, along with a feature on the Warley demo for Model Rail Magazine, which has now been properly photographed by Chris Nevard.

MRJ issue 300 is excellent and has a Bourne End ‘pre-feature’ double page spread – with some nice copy by Geoff.

A view over the south facing aspect of Thornbie House, with its lawn and moorings seen to the left. Brooksby House is visible just behind and to the right, with a Jowett two seater in the drive, This end of the diorama is finished and all the riverside houses have been bedded in and surrounded by drives, gates, gardens, figures and vehicles. The Abbotsbrook Estate appears in the distance looking North West – Richard Ellis – Monks Gate Models

Thornbie Garages used to face the end of Donkey Lane and here we can see the back wall which lay adjacent to the exchange sidings, with a wagon in the foreground. Engines from excursion trains would sometimes rest in these sidings while the carriages went up the branch to Marlow behind a smaller engine. Richard Ellis – Monksgate Models

This timber P-way hut is now done and bedded in, as are all the buildings at his end of the model. It’s been taken care of by Richard, who is considering making it as a kit. The scenic cover is by Neil and Nigel. Richard Ellis – Monksgate Models

A GWR Pannier tank crosses the road, heading for Maidenhead.  Visible just above the locomotive is the Bourne End nursery building and there are footpaths either side of the line at this point, heading east. The nearside one can just be seen in the foreground, passing the rear wall of the signal box. The level crossing lamps are just mockups for now and will be replaced with finescale working replicas later on. Neil Podbery

Overview of the station platform with one figure in place. Just a few more to add further along and a set of canopy lights as well. Neil Podbery.

The corrugated iron lamp hut by the footpath leading to Donkey Lane. This was just past the large junction signal box, which was also demolished within a few years of this date, necessitating the extension of the station / level crossing cabin. Richard Ellis / Monksgate Models.

Small Prairie No 5527 in early BR lined black livery in the branch line sidings. Nigel Smith

Further along the line towards Wycombe, there used to be a few semi detached cottages backing onto the line just before the Phone Exchange. We have included these and here is the larger of the two structures nicely taken care of by Richard Ellis to my drawing. They are done at about 6mm to 1′ scale to begin the perceived size reduction as the eye is drawn into the backscene’s representation of middle distance. Richard Ellis Monksgate Models

Detail of cottage back yard. Neil Podbery

Further west, this ‘in progress’ view shows the smaller of the two cottages, as yet without border, or rear yard fences.  Neither of cottages would be present within a few years of this date as it became the site of an industrial estate, with a couple of large single storey business units / small warehouses surrounded by modern white painted fencing. Richard Ellis/Monks Gate Models

A Class 21 Type 2 diesel-electric in the sidings to the east of the station. To the left are the small new industrial units where the cottages used to be.

Thames Lidar scan looking North West, with Cockmarsh flood meadow to the left of the railway bridge.

Compare it to this handy aerial view, which was another reference ‘bonus’, This cropped view certainly helped to outline the backscene elements even thought it’s a bit blurry.

Bourne End Nursery printed their own version of a street map and it also came in very handy to identify the expansion of the building work at Chalklands, and the other new housing estates under construction to the north.

The Bourne End Nursery now has it’s typical day to day clutter added in, with some fantastic details by Neil including crates, potted plants etc. Some of it would probably have come from the large kitchen garden / allotment ground between Wharf Lane backs and the railway. The nursery actually published their own local street map which was extremely handy for sorting out the roads and new build areas that appear in the background of this picture. Neil Podbery

No 5527 in the sidings. Nigel Smith

This cottage at Penny Corner still featured a large lean to greenhouse in the early fifties, and it went through many uses, originally we think, as a Smithy, and it then became the Nags Head pub before becoming residential. All the buildings on this side of the road have now gone, replaced by a modern commercial estate. Neil Podbery

Cores End crossing, basically finished apart from a pavement here and there. Nowadays, the old track bed forms a footpath between the trees to the right and the crossing keepers house survives although extended and painted white. To the right of this point is the scenic break which we’ve arranged to obscure the continuation of the line towards High Wycombe. Richard Ellis – Monksgate Models.

I’m also trying to progress the first 3D panel for the Leeman Road area of York in the 50s.  It looks as if there will be a need for a backscene depicting the Holgate girder bridge with St Paul’s Church to the right.  This can be arranged to form an ideal scenic break, and was a frequent photographic background for trains approaching York’s passenger station from the North East. 

Lidar showing the Holgate bridge to the left, with the station throat and platforms coming in from the right.

‘In progress’ view of the Leeman Road panel, with quite a bit still to do ….. I was given a clear steer to treat Peter Smith’s original foreground Kirtley models as if they were Grade 2 listed buildings, and regard their setting as a conservation area!  To the existing scene, I have added the background detail to include the houses along Garfield Terrace, Stamford St, Hanover St, with the Chapel, (now demolished). St Barnabas School on Bright St (also now demolished) appears just to the right of centre. Garnot Street, Rosebery Ave, and Swinerton Ave rooftops appear in the middle distance, with Victoria Park, and beyond are the newer houses along the northern half of Livingston St, and Salisbury Rd. To distance, we are looking to the North West over the Clifton Reach bend in the River Ouse, just out of sight beyond the rooftops.

Generate a panorama view provides skyline features and distant contour profiles from viewpoint.

York skyline in progress, looking North over Clifton Reach. This backscene has a cool grey/blue sky, with large rain clouds.

Another Missenden Spring weekend soon, with a good variety of projects and study areas…

The background is Stony Stratford, roughly as it used to be, and with a prepared folder of reference, we’ll be looking to model a proposed station in the foreground.

With James Aitken, and Chris Nevard to photograph and video the Warley demo cabinet. Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

Model Rail’s Facebook photo of my J11 Pom-Pom to introduce the Warley show coverage. Chris Nevard/George Dent

Same scene , taken at Warley by Jeremy Frith

Richard Ellis is finishing a number of dioramas at the moment, as well as designing kits etc, and he brought this Somerset & Dorset scene with him to have its new backscene tried in place.

Watery Bottom viaduct lies in Lyncombe Vale, to the south of Bath.

Lyncombe Vale contours looking South from the viaduct

Great Western train posed on the single line to show the ability to display a short train, rather than just a favourite locomotive.  Please do refer to Monks Gate Models website for details, once it’s ready for sale.  Richard Ellis

We will be paying a visit to see Tony Hammond and his Ranelagh Bridge 7mm layout in the spring, and here’s one of his latast pics showing No 34067 ‘Tangmere’ on the first Cumbrian Mountain Express of the year as she speeds through Oxenholme Station running almost 90 minutes late on the 27th January 2023

I must take a few days soon to ready the Pie for the season…..definitely running a bit late now.

The frequent ‘Run what ya brung’ events are nearly always busy, and involve waiting in a long queue to make a pass. It’s a good opportunity to chat with other teams, and here we are doing just that!

Attended the recent Bucks Hill gathering, which is always fun…..come rain or shine!

1919 built Urie/Maunsell ‘King Arthur’ class 4-6-0 ‘Merlin’ in B.R. early black livery.

G.W.R. Straight framed Dean Bulldog 4-4-0 No 3405 ‘Empire of India’ passes Ewyas Harold.

A couple of new photos from Kingswear to show recent progress.  Only the platform footbridge to do now, and a few other small details.

Alacrity’, now securely at her moorings by the quayside. The coal train has been split in two for loading, and the loaded wagons seen here will be drawn back into a siding and replaced with the remaining empties from the adjacent road. They are loaded in turn before the train is re-combined prior to its departure for Torquay Gasworks. Paul Woodward.

Gordon Gravett’s superb dockside cranes are in position, but in need of some minor remedial work to their operating cables following many years in storage.  Paul Woodward.

7th December2023

Many projects all running at the same time recently, so as well as trying to finish off the last few jobs at Bourne End, I have also found myself working away to ready the new display for the Warley show deadline.  Research work also continues on York in the 1950s, with 3 new sky panels taking turns on the easel for cloud painting.  

We did get away for a few days though, for a very nice short holiday break at Welland near the Malvern Hills, with visits to local attractions, of which there are many.  A good opportunity to visit the ornate station building at Great Malvern as well as enjoying the rest of the beautiful town.

Hope you all have a happy Christmas and New Year

With obligations for show displays and getting CPL re-stocked for the Guildford show,  I have had to skip a few working days at Bourne End, but these events are all behind me now and I can get back to attending the regular working Tuesdays again.  The backscene just needs one small section lifting out for the last time for detailing and blending in of road surfaces and scenic cover.  Once replaced, I will then lend Neil a hand to finish the rest of the ground cover, and finally, the foreground area to the right of the level crossing.  This consists of fenced horse paddocks, rough waste ground, and an unmade access road alongside Jackson’s siding.  This was for the unloading of paper pulp for the mill, as well as coal, and some photo reference has come to light with evidence of a coal hopper and a mobile yard crane.  This would appear to be a Neal Pelican four wheeler, and I have now found some reference for a scratchbuilt model if it becomes necessary.  Nigel is doing his best to find the time to sort out the many locomotives, and we have a few of his pictures to include below. 

No 6001 King Edward VII in Bourne End’s High Wycombe platform. In truth, not many Kings (if any) visited Bourne End, but for display purposes we’ll just see this as a ‘royal visit’. Neil Podbery.

This area to the south of the goods shed is basically done now and it was left fairly clear like this in most of the reference photos from the period. The siding nearest the camera was lifted very soon after this depiction, as was the branch line run around loop. Brian Lewis’s excellent goods shed features at the centre with a Fordson van backed in. Neil Podbery.

Brian’s goods shed again and the yard entrance. The lineside footpath has now been modelled in the foreground, although the fencing all needs weathering in, and there will be a line of scrub trees and bracken depicted on the nearside before too long.  Nigel Smith.

An overview of Bourne End’s goods yard entrance with the ex coal office and it’s fenced enclosure seen to the right hand side. This has fallen out of use and become overgrown, but I’m going to guess that the fenced and gated enclosure to the rear of the office was where the sacks were weighed and went for delivery or collection. It served as a cab office for a while, until becoming a cafe, and unfortunately was recently demolished after having been damaged by a vehicle.   Neil Podbery.

A view looking West with kitchen gardens, allotments and the Wharf Lane back gardens. Neil Podbery.

Looking North West, this area still needs some work and we can see the rear of the Bourne End nursery building, which still needs some detailing such as fencing wooden crates, delivery sacks, flower pots, etc etc. The scrub trees in the foreground are pretty much finished and below these is the public footpath past the signal box running parallel to the line behind the joinery.  Neil Podbery.

No 1421 and it’s lake liveried auto trailer in the Maidenhead platform.  Nigel Smith..

No 1421 and its auto trailer again. Nigel Smith.

0-4-2T No 1450 on the running line, just south west of Cores End, with the down carriage siding in the foreground. Nigel Smith.

Front end study of 2-6-0 No 5527 in the branch line exchange sidings. Nigel Smith.

A pair of ex GWR moguls in early and late conditions rest in the branch line exchange sidings. Nigel Smith.

Neil has now finished the scenic cover at the Gauge O Guild’s weekend yard shunting layout, and it has come out very nicely.

A lineside view looking over the sidings to distance…… this is all freelance, so there are no geographical features to speak of because we didn’t have very long to do it!  Even though it’s “generic” it’s quite a convincing scene I hope. Thanks for all the good feedback from guild members and public alike. Neil Podbery

Yard area from side on. Neil Podbery

This is one of the Lcut arched bridge kits that we used to create the scenic break which occurs near the centre of the left hand base board. There is also a girder bridge available, so we used one of each!

The Warley 2023 show was held at the NEC, and we successfully demonstrated the new landscape cabinet for the first time.  It did its job and created a fair bit of interest with Neil on hand ‘out front’ to describe the methods for applying scenic cover and tree foliage, using some part finished examples.  This enabled me to engage with members of the public at a small demo table alongside.

As usual we met up with a few familiar faces which is always pleasant at such events, but more importantly, the object of this exercise was to engage with layout builders and modellers to show them as many safeguards and shortcuts.  Some as “golden rules” and in many other cases, to introduce scenic modellers to the marvellous resources that are now available online .

I’ll list these below for anyone that was unable to make it Warley along with a list of useful tree making materials.

This is the presentation fascia of the demo cabinet, which deliberately frames the diorama, providing a viewing window, much like a 2D picture. These apertures are quite easy to arrange and have many advantages, either for portable layouts or for permanently installed models concentrating the attention, while allowing for concealed lighting, and deliberately obscuring areas that would be preferably ‘off stage’.

This is still an old ‘in progress’ picture because there isn’t any lineside fencing yet. The three buildings each diminish slightly in scale from foreground to distance with the nearest being represented as a school. Neil Podbery

A view of the school front with the old three arch stone bridge seen to the left. The trees are all done with multi strand copper wire armatures as usual, and a variety of Woodland Scenics Polyfiber and chopped Chinese wig hair for the outer twigs. These are occasionally interspersed with sea moss and other scatters. Neil Podbery

The natural valley features a stone 2 arch river bridge, modified from a Wills kit, but I thought it might be interesting to depict it as having been widened to double trackbed in Edwardian times, thus accounting for the difference in parapets from one side to the other. The engineering brick viaduct parapets and the arched bridge were supplied as kits by Monks Gate Models of Tunbridge Wells.  Neil Podbery

Generate a panorama

Lidar landscape

All the safeguards for backscene jobs are in the book, but I have noticed a rise in the prices, so shop about a bit.

Creating a Backscene

Here are a few other links that might help.  You need a good stock of scatter colours from different manufacturers and you can mix the colours for variety, with medium grade at front of the model, and fine at the back.

Very fine sand or scatter over PVA will do for tree bark, and the Halfords primers are fine for spraying bark colours….. starting with this as a base

Green Scene scatter (via Squires)

Treemendus scenics

Halfords Primers

Hycote Matt Lacquer


Mitre Bond Gel Superglue

Armature Cable by metre

Chinese Cheapo party wig

Now that the 2023 shows are taken care of, I can also get back to concentrating on the work that needs to be undertaken on York in the 1950s

A very quick ‘in progress’ mock up of one of the far corners featuring the Minster, just pencilled out for now and the beginnings of the rooftops of Petergate that lie between it and the station to the South West.

Where the Scarborough line curves around and crosses over the Ouse Bridge it has been decided that a transition from a town to more open country scene will be an attractive feature. A more open rural area has been mocked up very roughly for now, to include the environs of Huttons Ambo which lies in the attractive rolling countryside in between York and Scarborough. This is going to need a fair bit of preparatory work because it will be necessary to make parts of this scene as removable panels.

A rough sketch of the landscape elements seen beyond the river bridge as they appeared in the 50s. I have piles of these sketches already done for when the rear panels need to be worked on.

I was very pleased to be able to attend the recent gathering at Bucks Hill, and I took the opportunity to run our wonderful new Lee Marsh Castle locomotive ‘Dartmouth Castle’.

Here it is, photographed by David Thomas in its pristine condition at the head off a suitable rake of Toplights/Concertina carriages. GWR No 4088 ‘Dartmouth Castle’ was built at Swindon works in the spring and early summer of 1925.

No 4914 is held at the down goods loop signal.

The Youtube movie now has over 10K views, which is not bad going, and a great many positive comments as well.

Ian Statham is still working on his Wingfield layout, but has had his arm twisted to build a model of an engine house for a local heritage centre. It dated from 1834 and was the engine house for Maesmawr Colliery, one of the earlier examples in the Taff Valley, owned by Mr George Insole, who ended up being very rich and building a fine mansion in Cardiff (now the heritage centre). His brother found the original drawings in Glamorgan Archives, and after many weeks it is now finished. It is done in 7mm/ft scale, but It is only a static model with some simplification to make it possible to build in plastikard and wood. Ian Statham

American Pie will hopefully be doing its thing next year with Dan in the hot seat.  I still have a great deal to do to get it back into go condition, but here’s a photo from quite a while ago now, while I was still at it.  The spare starter motor has arrived and will have to be clearanced a little and I also need to manufacture decent aluminium spacers for both starters instead of the single turned steel ones we are using at the moment.  Other than that it is just the usual maintenance and sending the car away to get a couple of new lugs tig welded under the seat to meet the new safety rules.

Off we go!

The Twickenham MRC O gauge members are considering a new model of West Brompton station as it appeared in the 50s and this is a most interesting idea.

Here’s a preliminary overview of an adjusted lidar scan of the area with the station in the foreground and Brompton cemetery directly behind the station to the righthand side.

An OS map of West Brompton station with the cemetery clearly visible and the London Transport lines heading for Earls Court and the junction with the Circle line exiting under the overall roof of the original Metropolitan District Railway station on the left. The British Railways West London lines in the foreground thread their way between North Pole Junction near Willesden to cross the Thames at Battersea on their way to Clapham Junction.

Tony Hammond has been to Africa recently again on one of his photography safaris, but has since found the time to take some more photographs.

Bullied Pacific 34046 working a Steam Dreams special to Bath on the 28th November. It’s on home turf, as it passes Surbiton Station on the ex London South Western mainline from Waterloo to the South West. Tony Hammond.

7029 working the Polar Express back to Birmingham Snow Hill Station on the 25th November

This van is destined for Tony’s Paddington area O gauge model.

We took a short break in the Malvern Hills a few weeks ago, and managed to find the time to visit the Dean Forest Railway which neither of us had seen before, as well as the station at Great Malvern 

The station was opened by the Worcester and Hereford Railway in 1860 and was awarded Grade II listed building status in 1969.  Despite being 162 years old, the station has retained many of its original Victorian features – including elaborate cast-iron girders supported by impressive sculptures of floral arrangements.  The clock tower was part of the railway station’s original Victorian design, but was dismantled some time in the 1950s after it was deemed unsafe.  Restoring the tower has long been a cherished aim of the local civic society members, and now the group has reached the point where it is appealing for sponsors to finance the work.  The project is being handled by Friends of Malvern’s Railways, a sub-group of the civic society.  The estimated total cost of the project is in the region of £384,000 plus VAT, of which £100,000 has already been offered. Network Rail, owner of the national rail infrastructure, has undertaken a roof survey free of charge, and London Midland, which operates many of the trains visiting the station, has offered to manage the construction project.

Malvern Civic Society

This was our engine when we went on the Dean Forest Railway, a B.R.(W) 0-6-0T Pannier tank, built in 1949.

No 7903 Foremarke Hall was our engine on the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway round trip.  The 79’s were known as “Greyhounds” by the footplate crews as they seemed to be somewhat fleeter of foot than their earlier classmates. 7903 distinguished itself in 1951 by deputising for a normal Castle class on the Plymouth to Paddington boat-train and was the first locomotive to cover the distance in less than four hours.  Photo by Tony Hisgett.

29th Sept 2023

Apologies for not updating lately…… completely swamped with exhibition show work as well as two large jobs, all going on at once.  However some of this has now been taken care of, notably the Stafford, Guildex live build contribution.

I’ve included a few thumbnail pics of this slightly hectic weekend project, which was done in collaboration with Gauge O Guild, Nigel Smith, Neil Podbery and Kevin Wilson.

Other than Guildex preparation, I have been spreading work time out to include Bourne End, making trees, fencing and gates, mostly on site, but with some additional backup from home.

I’m also preparing an improved 3D display diorama for the Warley Extravaganza.  It’s really too soon for any detail pictures, although the project is progressing reasonably well.

There’s also a Scaleseven layout to have a look at soon, as well as another visit to the lovely Rosedale Midland layout, now accompanied by a scenic 2mm scale model.

Ex GWR Castle No 5026 ‘Criccieth Castle’ stands just beyond the Maidenhead platform with a passenger train.  Nigel Smith.

7808 Cookham Manor rests in the sidings at Bourne End. The loco was built in 1938 at Swindon Works, withdrawn from service in December 1965 and purchased directly from British Railways for preservation by a member of the Great Western Society, By 1966, it was the only ‘Manor’ Class locomotive to have been bought directly from BR.  Nigel Smith.

Overall view of Bourne End looking North West from scale to distance.

Still a little more work to be done in this area, which is just to the North East of the station level crossing. More detailed ground cover and undergrowth probably to be added within the next few weeks.

Large Prairie No 4171 in the sidings, with Thornbie House garages in the background.  Nigel Smith

Working on the allotments to the west of New Road. There are bungalows along here now, but quite a few allotments still survive here behind the houses.  Neil Podbery

Looking North over station.

Quite a bit of research and drawing work going on to work out the ‘York Station in 1950’ backscene, and here are a few reference images that have come to light.   We have to turn back the clock 73 years, to the days of early B.R. steam/Diesel trains, so it’s the usual maps and archive photos to consult, with the occasional surviving buildings as landmarks.

One of the best photos yet showing the area between the divergence of the Leeds line curving away to the left and the Scarborough lines disappearing off the right. It’s taken from one of the hotel windows and it’s going to be the principal ruling reference picture for the backscene at this point. Again a very lucky find and a considerable time saver.

Online OS map crop showing the background for the Leeds line as it re-crosses Leeman Road to the North West of the city. 

The old red brick St Barnabas School was just to the western side of Bright St on the local map. It’s
gone now, but I found this photo from nearly the right aspect for the backscene. The site is still surrounded by the terraced houses that it used to serve.

The site as it appears today.

The ‘slightly’ gothic St Barnabas Church happily still survives on OS plot 221, along with it’s Vicarage, and the carriage yard was located just to the left hand side of the photo. York – St Barnabas Church by Alan Heardman.

The vicarage occupies plot OS map plot 222, and is still the last house along Cinder Lane till you get to the railway junction at the North end if the station,

We should be able to find a little depth to include the famous Minster against the skyline in 3D forced perspective, and this is the correct aspect.  It also gives us the jumble of rooftops in the foreground.

A few pictures of the layout in a “weekend” that we did as a collaboration at the Stafford Showground.  It has been written up for the Railway Modeller Magazine and it really does show that it’s perfectly possible to make a layout using proprietory equipment in a pretty short space of time.  Many thanks go to Peco for encouragement and sponsorship as well as the other contributors in the following list.




White Rose Model Works


Railway Modeller

A simple track plan for goods stock is all that was required in this particular case, but of course individual requirements for layouts would involve different sizes, track plans and configurations.  It was intended that there will be warehouse style building on the lefthand side of the layout that will disguise the fiddle yard situated behind.  The layout was based on two baseboards supplied by White Rose Modelworks.  These measured 1350mm x 600mm.  Peco Streamline bullhead Code 124 trackwork items were used, comprising double slip (ref-SL-E790BH), left hand point (SL-E792BH), and lengths of plain flexible track (ref-SL-700BH).  For the structures , including the warehouse, bridge, water and sections of retaining wall, it made good use of products from the LCut Creative range of laser cut kits.  The signal box will eventually take the form of one of the Peco Lineside kits, notably the ground level signal box (ref-LK-709) 

I wanted to include a curved aluminium backscene to help disguise the corners, and although quite generic it was all hand done over the weekend mainly on the Saturday.  The proscenium arch and its uprights was finished on the Sunday.

Peco/Railway Modeller feature page

Painting the scurfed ally backscene panels. 

Quick design sketch before 3D mockup was done.

This LCut warehouse kit was extended to provide a scenic element to cover the short fiddle yard / sector plate at the left hand end of the layout.

In progress photo of the new 3D landscape cabinet display that I hope to finish in time for the Warley NEC show

The Bucks Hill movie clip has now attained 8,800 views and it is still climbing steadily so it may well be that the magic 10,000 number is reached, and I’m extremely pleased to see this taking place.  It makes the effort worthwhile, so  thanks to all of those enthusiasts that watched the clip.  If you haven’t seen it yet , heres the link……

A 517 class 0-4-2T passes Ewyas Harold.

Replacing a length of roadside fence.

This photo was sent in recently of Dan taking on Anthony Colliver’s ‘From Hell’ Competition Altered Wild bunch entry.  

American Pie, from a few years ago, and taken from the spectator grandstand.  I have no recollection of who won this , but the two cars contrast each other, and are typical of the fun variety you get with the Wild Bunch.

A superb painting by V Welch, based on a photograph by G.M.Shoutts, taken in the summer of 1913. A Liverpool to Harwich Continental express passes Chorlton Junction in the Old Trafford/Stretford area of Manchester. The location is unattractive nowadays, being a few miles to the South west of the city, and In the background, the house backs of Elsinore Rd appear ij the middle distance. The splendid train of teak carriages is headed by the Great Central Railway’s beautiful 3 cylinder Atlantic No 1090.

In the 5th January update of Kingswear in P4, we showed a photo of Gordon Gravett’s superb model of MV Alacrity, as featured in MRJ No.149, but in a very sorry state, having been accidentally dropped whilst in storage, (before it came into our possession). We have since agonised over how on earth to begin restoring the vessel to anything like its original state but, in the end, needs must, so Paul eventually set to with a strong degree of trepidation, knowing nothing at all of the mysteries of ships’ rigging!

Both main masts had snapped, but I was able to effect repair using a brass rod of appropriate size inserted inside the tubular mast sections to hold them firmly together and this seems to have worked well.  The tangle of rigging was indeed a  nightmare for someone with zero knowledge of the art, but he eventually managed to sort out most of it and ended up only having to cut and reinstate a couple of lines. I guess he has achieved round 90% accuracy at the end of the day, guided by the old MRJ feature pics and the original detailed scale plan …. we await Gordon’s opinion when next he visits…

A number of small components had been dislodged in the accident but, amazingly, most seemed to have been retrieved by Ed Casey and were present, with a couple of exceptions. One was the morse lamp, sited on top of the wheelhouse, which I have made up from an led bulb, guided by reference photos, and the other a hold vent,  sourced from Cornwall Model Boats.

The ceremonial return of the Alacrity to it’s spiritual home.  We’ll get some proper in situ pics done soon.

Rake of 20 coal wagons, commissioned by Mike Casey specifically for Kingswear and, we are told, painstakingly researched in order to be authentic for the period and location.  Depicted as ‘pool’ wagons, as at the end of World War II, heavily weathered and made with an ingeniously simple method of removable coal loads.   We know that long coal trains, up to thirty wagons, were operated in and out of Kingswear, to supply Torbay Gasworks, with the train running into the main platform road initially, before being split in two for shunting onto the quayside for loading. So this will be an interesting operation in model form in due course.  These wagons will join the 13 we already have, beautifully weathered by Neil Podbery, to make up the required length of train which, fortunately, just fits the capacity of our fiddle yard!

More Mike Casey wagons and vans of various descriptions, mostly commissioned for Kingswear but three of which, we understand, were built for the iconic ‘Heckmondwike’ layout of the mid 1970’s, created to establish the practicality of modelling in P4. We are indeed fortunate to have inherited some real modelling history.

Also included in the stock now acquired from Ed Casey are these four kit/scratchbuilt ‘Toad’ brakevans, here in the charge of our elderly ‘Pannier tank. Come to think of it, might actually make for an interesting train!

Wharf side as seen with wagons, Toad and a local train in the platform

At some point before too long, we’ll probably take a trip to see Tony Hammond’s marvellous 7mm layout which depicts the Paddington approaches near Westbourne Park.  In the meantime he has sent us a few photos of some of the stock collection that is being readied and Neil has weathered one or two examples.  

Sheeted GWR wagon No 3030

Tony has also sent a set of photos from when he chased 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley on a Fellsman special for the A4 Society, and from other trips around the Settle & Carlisle.

LMS Jubilee No. 45699 Galatea, in the disguise of 45562 Alberta crossing Hellwithbridge on the S&C. Tony Hammond

No 60007 crosses Little bridge viaduct which carries the railway over the beginning of the river Ribble on the S&C, again in pouring rain. Tony Hammond

21 June 2023

Now that the Kempton Park Gauge O Guild event and the Railex Exhibition at Stoke Mandeville Stadium have taken place, I can concentrate on my commissions again. In fact, both shows turned out to be very lively, which is a rewarding thing if you’ve taken the trouble to prepare.  Here are a few progress photos of recent endeavours and some other newish stuff that might be of interest.

In between jobs I’m also trying to make a better 3D display that I can take to the huge Warley show at the end of the year, but it’s a little too soon for any photos.  I’m hoping to be able to finish it in time, so we’ll see, but the main job of course is to keep steady progress on Bourne End.  I can start with a few pictures to illustrate the latest work. 

AEC Diesel Railcar W21W, in BR crimson and cream with a grey roof leaves Bourne End for High Wycombe. More detail is appearing at the Wycombe end of the station now, but there is still more to come around the station entrance to the right. The light coloured wooden building to the far RH side was the Bourne End Nursery. Neil Podbery.

W21W again, with the level crossing signalbox to the LH side, and various token and mailbag catching devices by the corrugated lamp hut. The cabin soon was to be extended at this end to compensate for the closure of the junction cabin, at the western end of the station.  A spare Auto trailer was often left at the end of the bay platform, by the cream coloured railings on the right, and was coupled onto the Marlow Donkey for busy periods. Neil Podbery.

Nigel is now starting to run the trains, to make sure everything works properly, and here a GWR Mogul and it’s train heads for High Wycombe.  Nigel Smith.

These terraced dwellings will go at the Cores End of the layout on the spectator side of the line, so they are at 7mm. Richard will have these available as kits, and these will be surrounded by Autumn trees. Monks Gate Models.

The crossing keeper’s cottage at Cores End survives to this day, with a large gabled extension to this side, and a coat of whitewash. Richard Ellis has made a lovely job of turning back the clock, and there are no more buildings to make for Bourne End now. All we have to do is blend them into the landscape. Monks Gate Models.

This bus stop passenger shelter used to be on the corner of Cores End and Furlong Road, and Richard has taken care of this for us. I suppose we’ll have to paste a timetable up, and get a passenger or two done. Monks Gate Models.

Tractor and figures positioned in allotment / kitchen garden. Neil Podbery

Looking North over rooftops and station canopy. New estates appear in the middle distance but without any mature trees between. Neil Podbery.

Open country with Flackwell Heath seen to distance and a cloud layer rising to the right hand side. Neil Podbery.

Here’s a quick envelope sketch of a panorama looking North and over the large curving multiple arch roof at York station. The view seeks to depict a panorama of how the area appeared to be in the 1950s, with Bootham, Shipton Road, the Tennis & Sports Fields, St. Peters School, St, Marks Abbey, Frederick Street and the famous Minster to the extreme right.

This excellent map gives us a wealth of information for the area behind Scarborough Bridge, although it is pre-war. The different terraced house footprints are clear between Dean and Hetherton streets, for instance, and there’s plenty more detail to put to use!   National Library of Scotland

A National Library of Scotland side by side map clearly shows the demolition of the terraces to the East of the Scarborough railway line, and only one row now survives by the riverside. Note also the line of mature trees either side of the railway which may still go some way to providing a handy scenic break, it’s a little early to tell, but even at this stage it shows just how useful a side by side map can be even at the very earliest planning stages.  National Library of Scotland.

The only surviving houses now are in Earlsborough Terrace, as seen here on Google ‘Street’. It’s a lucky, surviving source of reference, and I expect this view will come in handy at some point.

Many thanks go to David Thomas for loaning me the running shed diorama back for the Railex Stoke Mandeville demo.  It still does the trick as a good talking point for locomotive and diorama enthusiasts, and I thought I’d decorate the interior with this lovely LSWR T3 Adams 4-4-0 locomotive of 1893.

This was built by Morgan Lewis, who was a long-time member of the Pendeford group of Wolverhampton. He built very high quality models both from kits and scratch built, and it bears his authentic builders plate on the underside.  The model was painted by Alan Brackenborough, recognised to be the best model painter of the time. Photo by Chris Hopper

Here’s our T3 again posed at Bucks Hill. David Thomas

There’s even a 3D version of this elegant Victorian engine produced by Caledonia Works, and the real No 563 is under restoration at the Swanage Railway in Dorset.

Just a quick update for Kingswear, and the odd photo to show progress as we start to detail and clutter the place up with the items that bring the model to life.  Figures, loads, boats and vehicles are starting to appear, not forgetting the seagulls!  I’ll start with a quick marine review, depicting the latest additions…..

This recently completed fishing boat, “Pauline”, courtesy of Brian McCulloch is a work of art in its own right, we really are delighted with it. Paul Woodward

The new harbour tug, a stunning build from an Artitec kit, again by Brian McCulloch, of Braeside models. We are indebted to Brian for this and two other vessels which now contribute to the maritime scene at Kingswear. Paul Woodward

The third of Brian’s masterpieces is,”Bessie”, a charmingly derelict and neglected sail boat, beached on the estuary bank. Paul Woodward

Bessie again in the foreground….. There has also been a long overdue resumption of works by the fencing contractor, with another section now complete alongside Hoodown sidings. This will eventually continue along from the Fore St overbridge by the station, heading North until the path eventually reaches the Higher Ferry crossing ramp.  Paul Woodward

Brown newspaper van in Hoodown sidings, alongside the new run of fencing.

Main platform lamps now in place, contributing to the nighttime atmosphere. Still some general clutter and detail to be added, but we’re getting there!   Paul Woodward.

A pair of ‘Prairies’ drawing the Torbay up the incline towards Greenway, on departure from Kingswear. This was not uncommon practice, with the tank engines taking the train as far as Newton Abbott, where a ‘Castle’ or ‘King’ would take over for the rest of the journey to Paddington. A short video clip of this operation will shortly be on our You Tube channel

Quick pencil sketch of a canal diverted beneath a four track mainline carried upon a stone bridge with retaining walls. I’ve done the riverbed and abutments so far for this extensive garage based railway system.

Missenden Abbey Railway Modellers Autumn Weekend dates and booking info can be found here, with more information on this upcoming event, and other subsequent tutored courses at the provided ink.

At some point in the future, we hope to be able to list some of Tony and Lee’s very high quality locomotive castings on the CPL website, but first, there’s all the identification and cataloging work to be undertaken, as well as photography.  

Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

Happy days! although a few years ago now, as Dan launches the Pie down Santa Pod Raceway’s spectator lane. God willing we’ll be back out again soon, and if this turns out to be the case I have rather a lot to do! Photo by David Beitler photography, which is well worth a look, with top quality drag race vehicles from the UK and USA.

When Dan isn’t lighting the dragster down the track at the weekend, he’ll often go for a spin in his own 1932 Ford reproduction steel bodied 3 window coupe with its dragster wheel rims and 600 hp small block Chevrolet.

A very quick mock up of my new boat train diorama display cabinet, which I’ll try and get round to once the Warley demonstrator is presentable. Still quite a bit of detailing to do.

A pencil sketch visual of the original cabinet idea, with a view to distance between two moored vessels. Rather than natural coast or estuary, I think it might be better to depict another nearby wharf with cranes, warehouses, and smaller scale vessels.

Tony Hammond has been out and about again for a few days in fell country, starting on June 7th, and the photos have come out very well

On the 8th June, 44932 was captured nearing the summit at Ais Gill. Tony Hammond.

A little while later the loco is again photographed this time crossing Whalley Viaduct. One of the arches has had an extra layer of bricks added by the look of it. Tony Hammond

Classic time warp view, on the same day and the loco is seen having just left Hellifield, heading back down towards Blackburn and then its final destination of Crewe. Tony Hammond.

The train has just emerged from Blea Moor Tunnel as it continues it’s journey up the long Drag. Tony Hammond.

A marvellous study by Neil Podbery of a Victorian William Dean goods engine at rest in the Bourne End sidings.

Do please make a date in your diaries to attend the 2023 Guildex event, to be held again at the successful Stafford Showground venue.

I recently found this fascinating 3D plot of Notre Dame Cathedral and it builds into a time sequence showing the basic construction of the building along with its unfortunate recent history and the changes that have taken place over the years. The chap who produced the model can be found at the link below and it’s an interesting diversion for a while as he has also studied and drawn a good many other historically important structures, often with even more bizarre and disastrous histories than Notre Dame itself.

A rendered version of the updated gothic transept North east facing wall, with rose windows.

From time to time, Neil sends over examples of modelling from his many social media feeds, many of which feature other spheres of study, like military and architecture, and this excellent small interior diorama caught his eye. It’s by Andreas Rousonelis, and a quick search led me to The ‘Box Dioramas’ website, where many more examples can be found in all scales and sizes.

By Friday the 23rd June, the Bucks Hill documentary should be published on its own You Tube channel, so while I don’t have a direct link at the moment, be sure to search for the half hour documentary in the early part of next week. Hope you like it. It took a lot of doing! and I learned quite a bit about the process from Dave Roberts at Concept Filming of Didcot. Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

7th April 2023

Getting on with the jobs, and Missenden Abbey is done for another year, but I must first mention the sad loss of Tony Reynalds a few weeks ago.  He was an absolutely brilliant bloke, a master of his art, and we’ll all miss him.

A Tony Jubilee does a farewell turn at Bucks Hill last weekend.

Back to a routine of onsite working days at Bourne End and we’re basically finished up to the station level crossing in the middle of the scenic section.  There is ongoing work to continue the scene further to the right, from the station, past the phone exchange and eastwards to the scenic break at Cores End.The rear panel is now fully painted, just needing a few joins to be filled and blended at the right hand end.  The last few buildings have been drawn and scaled including the Cores End Crossing Keepers cottage, a Victorian terrace in red brick, and the bus shelter at the end of Furlong Road.  There are a few other possible backscene projects that may come about so I’ll spend a little time just sketching and planning, and I might even be able to put in a week or two on the new ‘Boat Train’ diorama.  I’ll put a few new pictures up for those interested. 

Bourne End looking NW from the railway, with the allotment gardens and Wharf Lane as the first layer. Behind is the Parade, eventually leading into the Marlow Road, via Well End at the extreme left, heading west from here. Blind Lane branches off to the right at the end of the Parade, leading to the newer estates and lockups by Roman Way, Chalklands, Loddon Road and the other new build dwellings spreading northwards. The late fifties/early sixties will soon bring the houses of Greenside and Goddington Road into the panorama, but this scene is just plotted out for 1955 using sightlines from side by side map reference. Neil Podbery.

This ground plan shows the Marlow Donkey Branch line, with it’s loop, and curved approach at the top, and behind this is where the backscene starts to do it’s job.

Working out the sightlines for a backscene with a map is quite straightforward, as the sketch shows, so it’s a question of concentrating on a particular direction at a time when plotting things into position behind the railway itself. From a central viewpoint, a straightedge placed across a period map in the direction of view, shows which landmarks appear to either side between the observer, and the distance. A rough sketch outline in pencil onto your rear panel, will progressively help to indicate and label the features and elements of the surroundings. This is best done once you have your layout viewing height established, and the horizon datum line height is drawn in. Side by side maps can help to identify any structures and changes since the chosen period.

Goddington Road wasn’t actually built until a few years later, but it does illustrate the typical look of the new estates which were by then growing across the fields.

Looking over the station canopy roof, with some large autumn trees and quite a tall hedge apparent behind the branch line, which is just out of sight behind the cream coloured railings.

The platform and canopy, with the background in place. Neil Podbery.

The nursery gardens and allotments by the eastern end of Wharf Lane. All this was built over with a new ‘cul de sac’ called Southbourne Drive in the late 60s & 70s. Neil Podbery.

View over the waiting shelter with the nursery garden to the right. Neil Podbery.

This marvellous set of unpublished photographs were recently donated by Bill Harding, a local resident, and we will be representing the train with it’s correct number as a result….. Thanks Bill

A GWR Auto train approaches the mainline platforms in the late 50s.  Bill Harding.

No 1474 and its trailer pauses in the mainline platform. The Collett 1400 class 0-4-2T was built at Swindon in April 1936. Bill Harding

Similar to Phil Gomm’s ensemble I think, with No 1473 seen here at Bucks Hill.

The lever frame of the Bourne End level crossing cabin. Bill Harding.

Looking the other way, with the signalman at work in Bourne End’s level crossing cabin. Bill Harding.

This old building on the corner (opposite the bank) used to be the Nags Head pub and it was pulled down in the mid to late 50s (just after this date). The road junction was originally named after the pub, but it’s now called Penny’s Corner. The huge white lean to greenhouse became a local feature/landmark. Neil Podbery.

The Royalty Parade with the cinema still open, although due for closure by this point. It was to be re-used as a discount carpet warehouse over the next few years. Alongside is the ‘Donald’ newsagent, which remained open as a successful business for years to come. In the background is a large orchard with it’s regularly spaced rows of trees.  Neil Podbery.

Detail view of forced perspective Royalty and parade facades. Neil Podbery.

Missenden Abbey was fine, and it’s always good to catch up with some familiar faces and meet a few new ones. 

Chiltern Room 3, with the usual buzz of activity. Chris Hopper.

Sophie and Ian Fuller working on a test panel for their upcoming project depicting the station and surroundings of East Tisted, Hampshire, to be done in EM gauge. Chris Hopper.

Dave Challis working on a test section for an Isle of Wight layout. you can see the reference photographs for terrain, and colour matching alongside the 3D backscene. Nigel Challis.

Close up of Dave’s test piece at the end of the Spring weekend, bearing in mind that he started out with no more than his reference pictures. Nigel Challis

Ian Statham is working on his Wingfield layout, and here’s the station building coming along well.

We must get on with doing the voice overs for the Bucks Hill movie, so it’s a question of finishing the script, and recording it to an acceptable standard.

A few portraits from the latest, and very well attended running day at Bucks Hill, along with a few older ones, all courtesy of David Thomas.

Phil Gomm’s Holden J15 0-6-0 number 65390 heading East at Ewyas Harold The loco was built at the G.E.R. Stratford works at the turn of the last century.

Hawksworth ‘County’ No 1010 ‘County of Caernarvon’ pilots an up double header. The main new features were a non standard coupled wheel diameter of 6′ 3″ and a high boiler pressure of 280lb. No 1010 was built at Swindon in 1946. David Thomas

Art deco ‘Flying Banana’ GWR railcar.  David Thomas.

Peppercorn A2 class pacific No 60534 ‘Irish Elegance’ is a recently completed David Andrews kit in 7mm scale. An excellent build by Mick Davies, painted by Warren Heywood and weathered by Neil Podbery. The original was built at Doncaster works in 1948 and was sent to 50A shed (York North).  David Thomas.

Patriot double header on the up main, with 45513 & 45543 ‘Home Guard’. David Thomas.

Bucks Hill skyline study in sepia tone.

Maunsell ‘Lord Nelson’ class 4-6-0 No 30854 ‘Howard of Effingham’, recently finished by Kevin and running well with it’s characteristic eight exhaust beats per revolution. These were introduced 1926 and the cylinders and tender were modified by Bulleid from 1938. All were fitted with multiple-jet blastpipes and large diameter chimneys. They were intended for Continental boat trains between London (Victoria) and Dover harbour, but were also later used for express passenger work to the South-West of England. David Thomas.

BR Standard class 4 Detail closeup.

Railex Aylesbury is back in May 2023 (as above). The details of the show will be updated as information becomes available, so please visit the link provided regularly to check for updates.  The event is brought to you as usual by the Risborough & District Model Railway Club.

I’m hoping to bring David Thomas’ Running Shed diorama with me, and will be doing demos on both days. Please do stop by if you have any backscene questions I can help with.

A Great Western 0-6-2T in Dave Thomas’ display case. Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

Railway Modelling Experts Ltd. (RME) was formed by Pete Brownlow, John Gowers and Chris Noble, a group of Model Railway Enthusiasts with years of experience building layouts with particular expertise in electronics and digital control.  They can provide any or all of the following services.

You can pick from the list, whichever parts of your layout project you would like us to do for you, or work with you to achieve.

Track layout planning and design
Custom baseboard design, construction, supply and fitting
Track laying and ballasting (to universal or fine scale standards)
Layout wiring for train power, points, signals, turntables and the rest
Analogue (DC) or Digital (DCC) control implementation
Conversion of Analogue (DC) layouts to Digital (DCC)
Upgrading your fleet of locos to DCC
Custom control panels
Working signals, semaphore or colour light
Structures such as buildings, bridges, stations etc
Computer control and automation

This superb 4mm scale layout ‘Burnden Park’ appeared in the May and June 2018 editions of British Railway Modeller, with a newly updated wiring and control system for DCC operation, including a custom circuit board to provide route selection for the fiddle yard. We also reprogrammed the DCC decoders in the fleet of locos for better operation.

Tony Hammond has been braving the miserable weather up north for a couple of weeks.

He did eventually manage to get out to capture a Steam Dreams Special from London to Carlisle at Garsdale Station on Saturday the 25th March.

Typical Fells weather with wind, rain and cold, but with a few bright spots in between.

Tony is doing a 7mm scale layout based on the Ranelagh Bridge/Westbourne Grove approaches to Paddington station in late British Railways days, so I did a quickie sketch to see if we could apply a ‘West London panorama’ to add a bit of distance.

I have taken an interest in the noted Russian landscape/seascape painter Ivan Aivazovsky who, amazingly produced around 6,000 finished works, over half of which were maritime subjects. 

Born in the Black Sea port of Feodosia in 1817, he entered art school in Saint Petersburg when he was just 16.  He was sent by the Imperial Academy of Arts to study in Europe, and he spent a few years mingling with other creatives in Italy and France. He was lauded by contemporaries such as the English painter J.M.W. Turner.

Returning to Russia, Aivazovsky had become a celebrity. Impressed by his outstanding talent, the Russian navy named Aivazovsky their official painter, and his travel adventures really began. In 1845 he was sent on a voyage to Constantinople and the Greek archipelago. With raw energy and not yet aged 30, the artist produced a treasure trove of marine, coastal, and battle scenes.

‘The Ninth Wave’ (1850) is widely considered to be Aivazovsky’s most famous work and is monumental in scale, measuring almost 11 by 7 feet. It depicts the aftermath of a shipwreck set before a spectacular sunrise.

View of a Fountain and Peterhof Palace (1837)

Nigel Smith has been re-modelling the well known 7mm scale ‘Dainton Bank’ layout, wisely adding a 3D backscene by Neil, and quite a bit of additional scenery.  Here a just a few detail photos, bearing in mind that the work is still underway.

Timber Scout hut with forced perspective elements.

3D Backscene with rolling Devon hills.

Early days with a harbour scene, and there are a number of reduced scale layers and building facades present. Nigel Smith.

Empty sidings, with finished scenic cover.

30th January 2023

Plenty of projects on the go, and some sketches and design work to do, so it’s a question of juggling things as you go along.  The main thing is to make good progress on Bourne End, and we have now finished everything at the ‘river’ end of the model.  Some new pictures from Neil and Nigel follow to show the latest work ‘in situ’.  

It’s Autumn 1955, and we are looking North over Bourne End’s junction signal box. The house backs of Wharf Lane, beyond the allotments, and the rooftops of Lock Bridge Rd and Sailing Club Road are present, obscured by the large tree on the left. The large detached dwellings of Oakfield Road appear between the established trees, and the shop backs of the Parade run North West in the middle distance. Beyond, the newer estates by Blind Lane are there, but without any mature trees between yet. Nigel Smith.

This view is now complete, and it’s nice to have been able to play with a few feet of depth allowance. There’s a footpath from the railway’s lamp hut with a gate into the kitchen garden behind Brooksby House, and that comes in from the right of this view to join Donkey Lane.  Soon, the trains from High Wycombe and Maidenhead will pass by on the rails in the foreground, while the Marlow Donkey will turn up every so often on the branch line behind. Many of the locomotives to represent this activity are away, being prepared with up to date DCC equipment and other detailing, (This one still needs weathering).  Excursion trains to Marlow ran regularly until the late 1950s, often forming part of trips that included Windsor. with the passengers enjoying a river cruise on one of Salters steamers, whilst their train ran ECS between the two points. These trains often brought locos including Halls and Castles to Marlow although ‘Red’ locos were restricted to 20mph on the branch. The visit of 32425 ‘Trevose Head’ on 29 July 1956 saw the loco only working as far as Bourne End with No 6151 taking the train to Marlow. Nigel Smith.

Looking in the direction of Marlow, the rising ground obscures the view to distance. As the tree lined ridge behind Cockmarsh breaks the skyline. The River Thames runs behind the houses in the middle distance and an ex Great Western Railway Mogul locomotive rests in the sidings between duties.  Nigel Smith.

A view over the Marlow Donkey station loop which was due to be lifted the next year. Between the entrance to the Platt and the railway is Donkey Lane and this has changed relatively little since the days of steam on the branch.  Nigel Smith.

This is the backscene at the eastern end of Wharf Lane, with a view from the allotments at the gap between the doctor’s house, and the corner shop. Neil Podbery.

The splendid villas on the north side of Wharf Lane were done for us a while ago by Monks Gate Models, and this panel will be ready to fit to the layout soon. Neil Podbery.

Buff coloured bricks were frequently used for the side and rear walls of these Victorian houses, while the fronts were often done in red brick with only buff string courses and decoration. Neil Podbery

Bourne End Motors was next along past the Royalty, and because of the scale reduction we’re using, the facade is at about 4mm scale.  Neil Podbery.

This is the last but one rear panel to the left hand, and I’ve managed to work out which roads had sprouted new municipal houses, so we’re looking North now towards Flackwell Heath.

There are two large trees between Donkey Lane and the Junction signal box, so we’ve done them quite bare. Notice Norman’s carefully researched point rodding and fine angled telegraph poles, and Nigel’s detailing and ballasting of his beautifully laid rails in the foreground.  We can see quite clearly how the sidings differ in appearance to the main lines. Abbots Brook, woodland, and sky beyond finish the scene. Nigel Smith.

Some time ago, Paul Rutson set up this marvellous allotment patch for us, and Neil has recently added a few more plants, and the scraggy hedgerow that’s grown up over the years over the boundary fence in the upper left hand corner.  Neil Podbery.

There used to be a small electricity sub station here in between the Wharf Lane houses and you do still see modern versions of these about. This one has now completely disappeared, and it’s not the prettiest thing to behold in between the gardens, but we’ll always try to stick the prototype when we’re modelling.  Nigel Smith.

Backscene semi-detached houses, with their back fences adjoining the kitchen gardens and allotment plots.  Neil Podbery

Rear garden garden detail, we’ll probably do a few more trees along the back fences here, and some washing hanging on the line.  Neil Podbery.

There is a good deal of ‘behind the scenes’ and progress work still going on to finish Kingswear, so here are a few pics to illustrate the latest changes.  We have been fortunate enough to acquire three engines, and a number of items of rolling stock, originally commissioned by Mike Casey for his epic Kingswear/Bodmin project.  These masterpieces have now been restored to their spiritual home and our thanks go to Mike’s son, Ed, for his help and generosity.  There’s more in the pipeline, but it’s too soon for any pics yet, so for the time being then, here are the latest items.

Ed tells us that vehicles were only commissioned by his father on the basis of photographic evidence of their contemporary presence, i.e. in 1947, either at Kingswear or Bodmin. So these models are completely authentic for the location and period – unlike some of the pre-existing stock, which we may now have to re-evaluate!  Small Prairie No 4316 was built by John Hayes, and just needs to be converted to DCC control.  Paul Woodward.

Ready to fit the crew into one of the small Prairie cabs and we find this exquisite detailing. All of Mike Casey’s commissioned work was done to this standard and it’s a job to match it. Paul Woodward.

A view of the newly installed careening berth, near the Creek bridge, appears in many photos of the 1947 period. All these were completely disused and rotten by the post war period, as the various boatyards between here and Totnes could do a much better job of defouling hulls. It’s been rendered with an air of decay and neglect appropriate to its having fallen into disuse over a period of years prior to our operational timeframe, and a railing still remains on one side of the platform. Another nice little cameo scene.  Neil Podbery.

Nearly all the signals are done for Kingswear, but this is Paul’s first attempt at a bracket type, in this case, with three arms. Quite a lot of work was involved, using largely Wizard Models/MSE components. The main difficulty was in transferring the operating linkage to the two outer arms, which has been done using small cranks, doubled in thickness to give them a little more strength. The result is inevitably somewhat of a compromise between scale appearance and the necessary robustness needed for 4mm scale operation. The arms still need a slight tweak to get the correct horizontal positioning, but they need to be operated the a few times for the mechanism to settle down before doing that. Paul Woodward.

We are reliably informed that no ‘B’ Set ever appeared at Kingswear, so these were presumably commissioned for the Bodmin branch. In our parallel world, however, they will be regular visitors.  Paul Woodward.

A corridor clerestory brake third, built from a Mallard kit, and a Rocar LMS passenger brake van. The latter was apparently intended for an eventual Bradford train. Probably not enough years left for me now to build the remainder of the rake, but if anyone out there has information on the likely composition of that train, we would be very pleased to hear from you!  Paul Woodward.

Lidar overview of Kingswear clearly showing the Dart meandering inland, and the small creek diverging to the right. Of course the layout has a sharper curve as the lines head north from the station, but at least it goes the right way!   Nat library of Scotland.

At the scenic break, we did the skyline to include Greenway House, and the nearby Greenway farm. A chimney stack usually marks the position of a fixed steam engine, and machine threshing produced large amounts of straw. To the left is a small granary, which would have held Barley, Wheat and Oats, and to the right is a straw barn above a stable. Some of the farmyard is obscured by trees, but a small row of cottages are seen up the lane towards Boohay. An excellent resource of farm building types and function can be found here…..

Dean 4-4-0 No 3341 ‘Blasius’, pausing by the signal box. This was a local regular, shedded at Newton Abbott at the time. The P4 model was Built by Ted Holloway, beautifully finished in wartime black, and appropriately weathered.

Empty wagons on the quatside, with Hawksworth coahes in the platform behind. Paul Woodward.

All these vehicles really have to be seen at close hand to fully appreciate the level of detail and care in construction of each one.  We feel honoured to have become their custodians for the time being.  And then there’s this little gem – a specially commissioned Devon General bus of the period.  Note the additional letter ‘e’ on the destination board, the initial name for the layout, in subtle acknowledgement of the fact that the track configuration had been adapted to accommodate a link to the rest of Mike Casey’s vast railway system.  I think we may retain the apparent mis-spelling as it is, as a gesture to the history of the project, all it needs now is a driver, waiting for the departure.  Paul Woodward.

The excellent Princes Risborough M.C. will be running the Railex 2023 exhibition in May, and  the details of the show will be updated as information becomes available. 

For those who have not visited Railex before, the whole exhibition is staged in the Stoke Mandeville Stadium. which is a massive 20,000 square foot sports hall.  It also has the best lighting you’re likely to find anywhere

The layouts to be displayed are of the very highest quality and are invited on this merit alone, and there are wide aisles, allowing for relaxed viewing of layouts, or speaking with traders and demonstrators.  If all goes well, I’ll be doing a demo, which I haven’t done for a while, so please do stop by and have a chat if you have a scenic layout project to do.  I’ll bring a few examples of work along, and a screen for displaying maps, panoramas and contouring.

This 3D backscene sample panel does a reasonable job of getting from layout scale to distant skyline in a moderate 130mm allowance, so I’ll bring it along with me, and whatever else will help.

This is a design sketch for a scenic 4mm scale permanent model, including a section of single line carried over a valley called Dowery Dell, near Frankley. Standing at around 100 scale feet tall, and stretching over 650 ft in length, this viaduct was one of few trestle structures in the area, carrying the trains on the Halesowen to Longbridge line. It was supported by two brick and stone abutments with tall embankments at either end and rested upon eight cast-iron piers. Due to its fragility, there were speed restrictions of 10mph for trains passing over.

The site of the viaduct has largely been forgotten now, and only fragments remain of the once magnificent structure, built in the early 1880s. Today, the site has been partly swallowed by woodland, but it can still be made out. After crossing the valley, the line ran partly in a cutting towards Rubery (which is the station in the foreground). This has now all been in-filled, but the panoramic model will hopefully one day recreate the look of the Halesowen line with its small tank engines and rickety coaches. As well as Generate-a-Panorama and period mapping, I always visit a Lidar map, and this scan clearly shows the approach embankments, and the row of remaining pier bases.

To the right hand side of the panorama, the red brick buildings of Hollymoor Hospital can be made out in the middle distance, and this was originally served by a long siding to the east of the station.

Hollymoor from about the right viewpoint

If you find yourself with a few moments to spare, it can be inspirational to browse and study romantic landscape paintings, and I find they occasionally give me ideas for scenic modelling and backscenes.  There are quite a few galleries, but this one is especially good for backscene study.

The Dutch landscape painter, Pieter Lodewijk Francisco Kluyver (1817-1900), was a specialist in panoramic landscapes working in the area around Arnhem, Amersfoort, The Hague and Amsterdam.

I have managed to find a collection of part finished Great Central Railway 4mm engines, and some of them are well over 40 years old. By comparison to the highly detailed models that are now produced, the basic shapes of the main parts are cast in whitemetal, and will need a lot of attention in terms of detailing and straightening.

Here’s an ex MSLR J10 goods engine which we hope to fix up and detail. It looks to be in workshop grey GC livery in the photo, and unlined, so it should be a relatively easy one to do. Some of the others I have were typically turned out in the superb fully lined green.

I have done a couple of arrangement sketches for a Great Eastern society article on Hadleigh by David Bousfield, and there are a couple more articles to write when I can get round to it. This is Hadleigh in 7mm, looking North. Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

A new diorama by Richard Ellis will be available soon, and I have done a rear panel for it. I’ll keep you posted with progress, and I have aload of pictures coming from the most recent Bucks Hill visit, as well as some blasts from the past!

Monks Gate new stuff

24th November 2022

We are past the half way point with Bourne End, and there are now several backscene panels fully done, and a few more ready for their Autumn trees.   They will be fitted in soon, and I’ll get some pictures taken.   All the newer municipal housing and bungalows to the North East have to be represented now, along with the phone exchange with its caretakers house alongside.  A few other items might be of interest, as well as the the Bucks Hill movie, which is still being developed.  We’ll need to do one more short filming session with some voice-over recording, and it can be finally edited.  The rest of the time is spent on the usual envelope sketches and mockups for other layouts, including some research on a model of Kingston upon Hull docks.

The Marlow Donkey line can just be seen between the Autumn trees on the right, disappearing from view and following the riverbank, before curving round North West into the station in the Eastern outskirts of the town. The exchange sidings are in the lower left of the photo, with Abbotsbrook, Townsend’s boatyard, and Well End beyond.  Neil Podbery

‘In progress’ view of the North aspect, with the newly built council houses of Cherwell. Loddon, Kennett, and Brent roads in the middle distance.  Isis, and Fisherman’s Ways will appear as continuations of the new estates to the right, and the hedges and young trees and bushes in front need some autumn colours to tone them down a bit.  The latest plots have no mature trees between the houses, so they look quite bare compared to the roads near the station, which have mature trees everywhere. Neil Podbery

I’m working on this area of Bourne End at the moment, and you can see the new houses along Highfield and New Roads aren’t even shaded in yet. The bungalows on the eastern side of New Road aren’t there yet, and It will just be a fence and allotments on that side, till we get to Core’s End, and the level crossing near Egham House

This slightly later one has been really handy, and it’s given me the reference for the density of the buildings to the north of the town at the layout period. Nearly seventy years later, the satellite view allows me to either include, or delete structures as necessary.

Modern Bourne End from a Lidar scan, with all the intensity of modern housing crammed onto the Northern side of the Thames. The only area that has remained basically unchanged is to the south of the the riverside bungalows on the South Western bank, with the Cockmarsh flood plain visible behind the gardens. Even today the path of the railway towards High Wycombe is unmistakable, although at ground level it has effectively disappeared.

This house was done for us by Richard Ellis of Monks Gate Models, and it was taken down just a few years after the layout period of 1955, along with quite a few other dwellings to the west of Penny Corner.  It used to be called Nags Head Corner, and the old Nag’s head building does appear on the model , with a big greenhouse added on the side.  This area is a bit short on reference, but It shows how things were before all the recent commercial  buildings were put up on the trackbed towards High Wycombe.  Once we are a bit further along, I’ll get some ‘in situ’ photos taken, and don’t forget to have a look around the new stuff at Monks Gate including recently introduced kits and lineside accessories

Monks Gate link

Before today’s flat signs with their vinyl lettering came along, cast metal signs, of the type that can be seen in any movie from the 1950s showing roadside scenes, were usually a heavy iron plate, with black raised lettering on a white background.  Pre-war types sometimes had small circular reflectors incorporated within their lettering.  Larger signs like this, were set up at the approach to junctions, actually giving precedence to the road number, the local town names were sometimes omitted and were always in smaller lettering than the road number.  The dashed black and white line at the top indicates that the road in question can be joined a short distance along the indicated route, and at some point the background colour changed to mustard yellow, probably in the early to mid 1960s.   This one is near the level crossing and it should reduce down pretty well. It’ll be at 6mm scale, which means a finished size of about 1 inches by 2 inches.

Thornbie House had the railway to Maidenhead to the left of this view, (the semaphore signal can be seen by the roof) and the Thames to the right. All the lawns, gates, flowerbeds and shrubs have been added in to surround Richard’s building, and we even have a figure or two to include here. Neil Podbery.

A few figures are starting to appear as  finishing touches, and here are a couple of them down by the towpath. Neil Podbery

Between the branch line rails and the back gardens were a patch of allotments and a hedge overgrowing the GWR boundary fence. This needs doing before we fit the panels into place behind, so here’s a section of it, ready for dressing with foliage.  Neil Podbery.

This method of tree dressing uses chopped Chinese brown wig hair which is sprinkled over the outer branches and twigs before being dressed with foliage scatter.  For natural variety we also use other methods, such as teased out poly fibre, matt lacquered into place, and of course, the Autumn colours of Bourne End means that we have to keep a good eye out for the variety of colour in the leaf fall season.  Neil Podbery.

Kingswear is basically done but it still needs a few more details for that all important atmosphere, and I’ll chip in by bringing additions along, like clutter for the goods yard for instance, or locating figures and vehicles.  There’s a good chance of including the original ‘Alacrity’ vessel soon, it just needs a few small repairs undertaken.  There is the possibility of adding a few locomotives from the original layout build to the stable, as well as a useful drawing of the station footbridge.  We’re looking forward to that possibility, while the larger new build 4-6-0 locomotives are being done.

This amazing view alongside the wharf is what we were after for this part of the terminus with absolutely no frills, just long lines of ordinary wagons and a completely industrial scene.  We’ll settle the vessel down to sit at waterline, add one or two superb figures, blacken the sidings and add a partial coal load.  ‘Helena’ is an Artitec resin barge which we have had for some time, but Neil has recently painted and weathered the vessel to reflect its hard working existence.  The cabin has its interior detail done, and there are more boats in the pipeline, hopefully  taking their places on the river in the next few months.  This end of the wharf is now basically there as far as detailing goes, but the pontoon guide timbers need their tide marks/seaweed added.  They used to roll a coal wagon right to the end of the siding to barrow out the coal for the ‘Mew’ steam ferryboat.  Nigel Smith

An overall view of Kingswear Station and village, with the wharf cranes and coal wagons in the foreground.  Nigel Smith.

This is, I think, a sister ship to the Alacrity, but it gives a pretty good idea of the arrangement. This will be by far the largest vessel that will appear on the model, and we’ll probably add a few Modelu figures on this one too.

The M.V. ‘Alacrity’ became the subject for Kingswear’s model because it was a regular visitor to  the wharf.  These were F. T. Everard vessels from the London docks at Greenhythe.  

Gordon’s 4mm scale model of the bulk cargo coaster, from an old photo.

This old map is from the Edwardian era because it still has the little wagon jetty protruding away from the wharf. A few of the houses on the slopes where it says Kingswear and Totnes are still to appear, but it’s basically the same as the model.

One of Gordon Gravett’s fantastic electric cranes, which ran for most of the length of the wharf. When timber loads came in from Scandinavia they unhooked the double acting coal buckets and just used a simple sling to lift the timber onto the quayside in neat piles.   To the right, behind the wagon are a couple of spare buckets lying on the quayside, and these did appear in a great many period photographs.  Nigel Smith.

Dockside crane, looking South over the wharf.  The rails could do with blackening a bit to represent spilled coal dust.  Nigel Smith.

Thumbnail view of the right hand side of the model looking south, with some nice reflections in the water.  Paul Woodward.

Another nocturnal scene with waiting passengers and an old double frame locomotive in the platform.  Paul Woodward.

The goods shed entrance, with delivery vehicles and drivers.

The Royal Dart Hotel and some of the dwellings of Ridley Hill illuminated in this thumbnail view while a Scammell mechanical horse and its flatbed trailer are loaded in the goods shed.  Lighting the buildings does take a long time , but it’s worth it for effects like these.  The reflections in the water on this model, are are welcome bonus.  Paul Woodward.

Backscene skyline above Hoodown looking east over the rolling hills in the direction of Hillhead.

Churchward 2-8-0T No 4283 in unlined shirt button livery was built at the end of June 1920, and it waits in the sidings alongside a Royal Navy single decker bus.

Ridley Hill with its well appointed houses, seen just above the church.  Most of Kingswear’s listed buildings are concentrated in the centre of the village.  At the South Western edge of today’s  conservation area lies Ashleigh House, a fairly plain 18th or early 19th century, slate hung townhouse.  The Church of St Thomas was extensively rebuilt by J. Hayward in 1847 but retains its 14th century tower.  The lychgate, also of 1847 and by the same architect, is listed in its own right, and finally Sarah Roope’s Almshouses, in plain slate rubble and dating from 1840 are situated prominently on the hillside. 

Greenway and the scenic break in an overall view showing the latest progress in fascia presentation, which now extends all the way around. The lower matchboarding just needs a coat of wood primer, and GWR dark stone to finish the look. The sliding fiddle yard can just be seen to the left.  Paul Woodward.

Looking further round the river, this photo shows the fascia still missing it’s lower kick panel, but already benefiting the presentation and describing and emphasising the viewing window or moving picture.  Paul Woodward.

The Warley show is coming up this weekend, and Nigel has put a lot of work into the arrangements, so please plan to attend if possible.  Gordon and Maggie will be there doing the kids scenery demo, and there are hundreds of other exhibits and traders as well.  We will be there on the Sunday.  

This is Martin Dracup’s excellent Melchester, which is done in 2mm scale.  To the right we can see the pathway of a new 3D backscene with a bit of depth to play with. I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes as Martin is a very capable scenic modeller and it’s now a question of graduating the existing scenic work in progress into the graduated relief work of the backscene itself. Although it’s entirely convincing contour wise, it is actually freelance, so the job will be to visually describe the transition from townscape into open country. Very much looking forward to seeing this take shape.  Martin Dracup

Another view of Melchester and its new rear panel. I think we’ll need to see some portrayal of rising contour in the middle distance, as the layout surroundings have to justify the existence of a tunnel entrance, (scene), just to right of centre in this view. It should be fine to portray the townscape on its higher ground done in a series of focal layers gradually disappearing away to skyline.

Sketch of rising contour

Townscape layout on gentle valley slope.

Just a very quick sketch of a diorama layout idea, depicting the picturesque little station at Wingfield near Alfreton in Derbyshire. The original building still the only surviving as-built Francis Thompson station, He also designed engine sheds, goods sheds and other buildings along the line and so created much of the character of the North Midland Railway. Thank heavens it has recently been awarded a restoration grant to preserve it for the future, and I just thought it would make a marvellous subject. Fortunately Ian Statham agreed with me, and he’s thinking about making a small exhibition layout in 7mm.

It was situated on the line between Derby and Leeds, close to the road between South Wingfield and Oakerthorpe, and the station itself closed in 1967. The buildings still stand, but until quite recently in a derelict condition, and the line itself is still in use as part of the Midland Main Line.

Here’s a 2mm scale mockup to follow the sketch, and it works fairly well. There’s a bit of room for some sidings in the foreground and there used to be a nearby colliery which was part of the reason for the station in the first place.

More details can be found here ……….

I recently spoke to Alan Brackenborough about the upcoming Bucks Hill video and promised to send him a link once it’s uploaded to Youtube.  I’m quite proud of the result and really looking forward to the eventual publishing date.

A rather fine photo of a visitor’s train on Alan’s layout. taken by Tony Wright.

Although I would normally leave locomotive work to the experts, I thought It might be fun to have a go at doing a ‘Star’ Atlantic just as an exercise in 4mm.  It won’t stand up to close inspection but It might make a bit of a change in between backscene jobs.

Churchward’s North Star Atlantic of 1906

De Glehn compound ‘La France’ influenced the Star design, and this is Kevin Wilson’s MOK 7mm build a few years ago before paint.

Later 4-6-0 Star ‘Norwegian Monarch’ done in airbrush

Malcolm Mitchell very kindly found me a G.A. drawing of a ‘Star’ Atlantic, showing the different areas very clearly, such as the straight framing and the lower cab, longer steps, and of course the trailing wheels which were similar to the ‘Saint’ Atlantics.

G.A. drawing of the prototype 4-4-2 Atlantic

The amazing detail work of Malcolm’s 7mm scale engines is always a pleasure to see, and here’s a cab view of one of his ‘King’ class locomotives.  Malcolm Mitchell.

One of my favourite G.W.R. loco classes were the elegantly proportioned ‘Armstrong’ 4-4-0s, and this is one of Malcolms recent builds.  Maybe the Great Western Society should do a new build one of these?  Malcolm Mitchell.

Malcolm’s website has more superb content…

30th September 2022

Progress marches on at Bourne End, with building construction still taking up time.  Most of the houses are now done as backscene facades, although not all are fitted into place yet or lit. The crossing keeper’s cottage at Cores End still needs working out, but that’s about it.  There are still a few other items that are might be of interest, as well as the the Bucks Hill movie, which is going well, but we’ll certainly need to do some more filming, and this always involves a bit of preparation.  The rest of the time is spent on the usual envelope sketches and mockups for other layouts.

Looking North East over the platforms, we can see the Marlow line curving around by the signal box and disappearing around behind the boatyard. Behind the post and rail fencing to the left, are the allotments and rear gardens of the houses along Wharf Lane. This is all built over with seventies housing now.

Richard Ellis did these excellent Victorian villas facades for us at 6mm to the foot, and we blended them into the scene with different colours for each house, more modern windows and paths, fences, hedges, and garages.

This is at the corner of Sailing Club Road and Oakfield Road, and there was a silver birch tree right in the middle of the road junction. The club house is just visible behind, but this is now harder to see as the birch tree has since been dressed with autumn leaves. An Austin Seven is parked by the road sign and some of the driveways now have cars as well.

Another view of this from further west, and it might be an idea to include a figure or two here.

An old view of Wharf Lane without any telegraph poles or cars, just puddles and leaves in the gutter

Neil has detailed and re-worked an old brick outhouse that goes near the Brooksby kitchen garden.

A monotone study of the goods shed which still needs poster hoardings on it’s rear wall, advertising bargains at the local Mace grocers, the Bucks County Show at Hartwell, Real Dairy Cream, and Gascold fridges.

This is an ‘in progress’ view from nearer the station, and there are still loads of trees to go on. Basically, wherever there’s a green cardboard cutout, Neil will replace it with a properly modelled Autumn tree on a copper armature like the one in the foreground. These panels are nearly done, and there’s a snagging list for the last details, with TV aerials, washing hanging up, dustbins, cars, figures and so on. This end of the backscene is ready to go in, and have all the wiring done from under the baseboards.

Between the allotment fence and Wharf lane, there used to be an electricity substation, with a couple of small brick buildings, so we are just finishing off the safety fence and a DANGER HIGH VOLTAGE notice!  Neil Podbery

Donkey Lane runs alongside the railway as far as the crossing in the middle distance, with the kitchen garden in the foreground. Just a few autumn leaves to finish this now.  Neil Podbery

This view is over the Exchange sidings, looking North, and we have the river panel rested in place, just visible between Thornbie and Brooksby houses. There’s still some more work to be done on it, and the hedges, fences and trees along the towpath still need to be included.  Neil Podbery

From just above the down main platform we have a better view of the allotment plots and the beginnings of the lineside hedgerow by the post and rail boundary fence. The run around loop for the branch line is still in situ but was due to be lifted the following year.  Neil Podbery

A thumbnail of Wharf Lane, with a 1950’s detached house alongside the Victorian villas. The ‘turreted’ wooden fencing was to be found all over Bourne End and the new ‘sun’ patterned wooden driveway gates would have been a recent and very fashionable improvement. It’s actually quite interesting to include modern additions into late steam era layouts and we’ll be doing quite a bit of this with TV aerials and streamlined post war cars and vans etc.  Neil Podbery

I must get round to visiting Dave Roberts for another session of editing the Bucks Hill film. There’s quite a bit more footage to play with after the last shoot, and there’s probably one more to come, just to make sure we don’t forget anything important.

This one takes me back to the outing at Railex of where it took us 9 hours to put Bucks Hill up at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium. Happy days!

British Railways Class 41 diesel-hydraulic locomotive D601 was one of a small batch built by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow during 1957 and 1958. Each locomotive was equipped with two MAN 12V diesel engines, with each set adjusted to produce 1,000 hp at 1,445 rpm, partly because the Voith L306r three speed transmissions available at the time were not able to accept more output. All were named after Royal Navy vessels, and the nameplates each bore a subtitle ‘Warship Class’.

An ex London, Brighton and South Coast Railway E1 Class 0-6-0T No. 32151 running light engine. These were designed by William Stroudley in 1874 for short-distance goods and piloting duties, and were really conceived as a larger, goods version of his successful “Terrier” class. 32151 was built at Brighton works in 1880 and appears in the early British Railways livery, but without a totem. Dave Thomas

Schools class Maunsell 4-4-0 No. 30926 ‘Repton’ heads east at Ewyas Harold. This engine was built at the end of June 1934 at Eastleigh works. Dave Thomas.

LSWR Adams Radial 415 class 4-4-2T No. 420 heading west with a LSWR Saloon carriage. The trailing wheels led to the ‘Radial Tank’ name, and the loco was introduced in 1882.

Pannier No. 0-6-0PT No. 1731 at the branch line signal. This Dean GWR design was Introduced in 1890, and 1731 emerged from Swindon works in 1892. It was rebuilt with pannier tanks in 1909. Dave Thomas.

A De-Glehn Compound Atlantic in lined black livery rounding the curve at Ewyas Harold. This will be one of the stars of the upcoming film clip and I’ll try and remember to group it in with the Edwardian period stock.

An in progress/workshop photo of a display diorama by Richard Ellis of Monks Gate Models, featuring a tunnel mouth to the right hand, and a surface mirror at the left hand end. It’s a good example of a mirrored cabinet, with all the elements correctly spaced to provide the right reflection continuation.

Eventually, a row of colour matched foliage will appear above the retaining wall parapet to blend in the open countryside rear panel. Of course with a mirror it’s always best to just light the clouds directly from above, to avoid conflicting directional lighting issues.

Bookings will open for the 2023 Missenden Abbey Spring Weekend at 10.00am on Tuesday 4 October, and this will be the 6th year of unchanged prices.

Missenden exists for railway modellers to spend an uninterrupted weekend in the company of other modellers learning from some of the best tutors in the country. Whether it be loco building or understanding the intricacies of painting and lining, there is a course where you can enhance your skills and learn by practical experience.

Bring along that project that you put aside so long ago and seek advice to overcome the difficulties.
The following courses will be available at the Spring Weekend

4mm and smaller kit building
7mm and larger kit building
Backscenes and Scenery
Painting & Lining
Structure Modelling

Tony Geary joins us as 7mm Guest Tutor.

You can read more about Tony here

Backscenes & Scenics here

The Spring Weekend webpage has all the latest details here

This is the other end of the townscape/depot layout idea sketch I put in the last update. The best idea is probably to do a mock up based on this for the next stage. Nigel still has to check the practicality of the track layout before we proceed any further.

A first proposed presentation sketch for a model of Rubery between Longbridge and Halesowen. This has the emphasis on a doing good presentation facia which suits the model and it’s period, as well as concealing the scenic breaks and lighting rig.

Kingswear is still making fine progress, and this shows the presentation of the lower panels, done in tongue and groove planking, or matchboarding? These will get a a lower skirting board and a coat of GWR light brown paint to finish the job. What a difference! this really is how to present a scenic model.  Paul Woodward.

The railings and stairs have been done from reference at the end of Kingswear wharf, and there will be adepiction at this point showing coal being unloaded for the ferry boat. Neil Podbery

At some point we’ll have to have a look at a backscene for Chris Walker’s fabulous Charlton Park 7mm layout. It’s likely to be a view out to mostly rolling open countryside with the odd distant feature.  Once I have the rear panel done, Neil can colour match some hedgerow to blend it all together nicely.

I recently paid a visit to the excellent Dainton Bank 7mm model to see about including some suitable building facades into the 3D backscene. This is quite a straightforward job as long as you have done a mockup to get the relative sizes right and here they are laid out flat before installation.

This marvellous scene has been modelled in forced perspective for the Dainton backscene, and it captures the look of the rolling hills to the south of Newton Abbott.  Neil Podbery

When I used to paint souvenir gouache pictures for local galleries, I came across a marvellous reference book featuring 284 pages of well composed black and white photographs taken by, or near the River Thames.  The Thames Illustrated: A Picturesque Journeying From Richmond to Oxford by John Leyland, was a volume originally published by G Newnes in 1897, and recently ‘digitised’ in 2007.

From ‘The Thames Illustrated’ a plate showing Temple Island which lies a little way upstream of Bourne End.

Another plate showing the old Anglers pub from the bridge at Marlow with pleasure boats moored.

I managed to find some GWR carriage reference in this volume recently, and while many carriage builders and detailers have the J.H.Russell early and later period carriage volumes, not so many have this one.

Great Western Coaches Appendix: v. 1: Standard Passenger Stock by J. H. Russell

This carriage interior is packed with atmosphere and I suspect that due to its narrow width, it’s a third class compartment in quite an old Victorian GWR coach. The very well produced publicity photograph has had a romantic postcard view cut into the window apertures, probably at the negative stage.

This is Edington Junction on the old Somerset and Dorset line and Dave Gower is making a fully scenic P4 model of this quite isolated station.  It’s going to feature a 3D backscene as well as all the local features of the landscape including field boundaries, nearby buildings and level crossings.

The NLS side by side map shows the relatively small amount of physical change in the surroundings since the closure of the line. To the west of the station, we found evidence for a manned level crossing at Chilton Drove on the single lower line, which leads to Cossington and on to Bridgwater. The upper line heads north west towards Bason Bridge, terminating at Burnham on Sea.

It has progressed quite a bit since this one was taken, and all of the 3D blending has now been done. There’s some research to be undertaken to correctly represent the fields and pastures alongside the railway, and I suspect we’ll find that a lot of the numbered fields were livestock pasture, as this was dairy country.

It might be interesting to do a harbour background (possibly with a view out to estuary), as a rear panel for a photo diorama that Neil is working on, just with the grey outlines of dockside cranes, and funnels against a layered overcast sky, something like this.

The collection of pre grouping engines is now expanding, and I’m absolutely delighted to have found a couple of Great Central liveried goods engines, as well as a GWR Star class 4-6-0, a Wainwright 0-6-0, and a GWR City 4-4-0.

Robinson 8K 2-8-0 in original condition, beautifully lined out with red and white, and this can go at the head of a long coal train with the names of the Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire collieries on the wagons. The first of these emerged from the GCR’s Gorton workshops in 1911 as essentially a superheated version of an earlier 0-8-0, the 8A class, with the addition of a pony truck. This both supported the greater front end weight and gave a steadier ride. The 8K was introduced to anticipate the increased traffic from the GCR’s vast new docks complex at Immingham in North East Lincolnshire and by June 1914 126 were in traffic.

Great Central Railway Class 9J ‘Pom Pom’ No. 316 in fully lined black goods livery can appear with a mixed goods train for Woodford Halse. These were Robinson’s first goods locomotive design and they were very popular with the enginemen. At various times they worked about every class of train from pick-up goods to express passenger! Unfortunately. none survived into preservation.

The ‘Stars’ were a class of 4-cylinder 4-6-0 passenger locomotives designed by Churchward in 1906. The prototype was built as a 4-4-2 Atlantic, proving to be a successful design, and handling the heaviest long-distance express trains, while reaching top speeds of 90 mph. They and established the design principles for GWR 4-cylinder classes for the next twenty-five years.
An Atlantic conversion would be interesting for this, but again, for now I’m happy to leave it as ‘Lode Star’ which perpetuated the names of the earlier broad gauge ‘Star’ Class of 1838. Quite recently, the resourceful ‘4709’ group have stated that Thornbury Castle’s chassis and other components are to be used to recreate a Star class locomotive.

The South Eastern and Chatham Railway 109 strong ‘C’ Class 0-6-0s were designed by Harry Wainwright and built between 1900 and 1908. They were designed for freight duties, although were occasionally used for passenger trains and looked marvellous in the lined green livery.

‘City of Truro’ needs no info paragraph here, I might get it changed to another member of the class under Nigel’s careful guidance, but for now I’ll happily keep it as it is.

Tony Hammond has been out and about again, and here are a couple of ‘Railway in the landscape’ pics. on his last day out before the holidays. The day started in pouring rain at Stableford Bank with 34046 then up to the Fells to capture 70000 at Seaside and then 35018 at Horton in Ribblesdale.

With the backdrop of Pen-y-ghent 70000 having taken over from 34046, heads northwards along the S&C bound for Oxenholme.  Tony Hammond

In pouring rain,  and running 25 minutes late, 34046 heads up Stableford Bank on its way to Crewe with a Saphos special rail tour.  Tony Hammond.

Some more plates from J.C.Bourne, the well known artist, engraver and photographer, best known for his lithographs showing the construction of the great cuttings, embankments, and tunnels on both the London and Birmingham and Great Western Railways

The Great Western views were different to the earlier L&B views. as by 1846, the Great Western was already well established.  In this case, Bourne produced a series of drawings that reflected the grandeur and permanence of Brunel’s great broad-gauge railway.

‘The ringing grooves of change’: a wash-and ink drawing of the new London to Birmingham line. It shows the excavation of a cutting at Park Village, in Camden Town in 1837, with a wealth of absolutely fascinating detail including the remaining buildings as well as the usual sublime composition. From Drawings of the London and Birmingham Railway, with an historical and descriptive account by John Britton. 1839.

‘From Euston station to Camden depot there are four lines of way, which are carried as far as Park Street between retaining walls: the clear width occupied here is about 56 feet; the walls are about 19 feet in height, and are built to a curved batter, with a radius of about 60 feet. The lowest part of the foundation is 7 feet below the level of the rails, and the thickness of brickwork decreases from the footings upwards, from the bottom 3 feet 11½ inches, and at the top 2 feet 7½ inches. The whole length of these extends to upwards of 2,200 yards.

In this length there are seven bridges and archways over the railway, each of which is in two spans.  Some of these bridges are built of brick and faced with stone; and others have iron ribs resting on brick piers.

From Park Street to the Regent’s Canal bridge at Camden Town the lines are near the general surface of the ground; and the railway is enclosed on either side with neat iron railings, with pedestals of brick resting on dwarf walls.

Due to the section between Park Street and the Hampstead Road being driven through London clay, Stephenson’s specification laid down exactly how the excavation was to proceed ― on no account was the its face to be carried on more than 40 feet in advance of the completed retaining wall without the Engineer’s written permission.  This stipulation took into account the characteristic of London clay to stand for a short time after being cut, but then to bulge outwards with force as it absorbed moisture:

The endless cable ran in the centre of the track and railway ‘policemen’ were the forerunners of today’s signalmen.  As these planes are considerably curved in some portions, both vertical sloping sheaves are used for the rope, and these are fixed in cast iron cases embedded in the ballasting.

Partly to economise on land purchase and bridge construction (along its short length, the line originally passed under seven bridges) most of the Extension lies in a walled cutting, the walls being of stronger than usual construction throughout.  Their thickness can be seen in Cooke Bourne’s drawing.’

The Camden incline…once finished

This is the London Birmingham Railway Camden Town Depot at Primrose Hill by Bourne, showing off his fantastic draftsmanship, with the unusual sliding rail point mechanism in the foreground, and a pair of Edward Bury L & B locomotives. Behind are the Locomotive Engine Houses, the chimneys of the stationary engines, with rails and eccentrics etc, looking towards London. John Cooke Bourne, 1838.

Pangbourne Station in the early years of the GWR mainline with a Gooch engine drawing to a stop. Notice the set of steps in the up platform to the left, presumably designed to trick unwary passengers into falling over when disembarking from their carriages at night!

Richard Ellis is hoping to produce a display diorama of Foxes Wood (or St Anne’s) Long Tunnel on the GWR just to the west of Bristol (seen here from the West). The line had to avoid a bend in the river Avon,which can be seen looking upstream, and diverting away from the railway to the east, so they tunnelled for over 1000 yds beneath the headland. Drawn and lithographed by J C Bourne, and printed by C F Cheffins in 1846.

30th July 2022

Work continues on the Bourne End project, with building work, windows, interiors and lighting going into many of the existing houses.  I have also made a start on the newer 50s housing that is rising to the right of Penny Corner, at either side of the telephone exchange.  There are still a few other small jobs other items of interest that are worthy of mention, including the Bucks Hill movie, which is shaping up well, and the usual envelope sketches for layouts and scenic breaks etc.

In 1933, the Great Western Railway introduced a very successful series of diesel railcars, which survived in regular use into the 1960s, In this view looking north east, a single unit No W21W in red and cream livery rests in the transfer sidings. Beyond, we can see Thornbie House with Brooksby and Donkey Lane disappearing between the trees to the right. The sidings are now all weathered and finished and the newly ballasted main lines are visible in the foreground. Large Autumn trees surround this area and there are still more of these to come. The area is starting to take on some local character.  Neil Podbery

Platt’s Dell, looking N.W. from Donkey Lane, with a good view of the decorative chimney in the side wall. Beyond the Thames and Townsend’s boatyard, we can see the posh houses of the Abbotsbrook Estate among the mature trees in the middle distance.  Neil Podbery

The Platt again, this time looking North East from the lawn, surrounded by Autumn trees, and with a Virginia creeper adorning the walls.  Neil Podbery

The buffers at the end of the transfer sidings, surrounded by trees, weeds, a signal and a telegraph pole. This area is pretty much finished now. with Nigel’s weathering of the rails, and Neil’s natural foliage cover. Both scenic breaks at the western end of the layout are now done, and this one forms the portal for the Maidenhead line.  Neil Podbery

Thornbie House with garages to left, with Brooksby partially obscured by trees.  Neil Podbery

Bourne End’s telephone exchange is the tall building to the right and alongside it is a small cottage with a side entrance. Presumably the caretaker lived here and I’m inclined to think both buildings were made around 1937. The photo is several years later than our build period, but reference for this section is a little sparse. The rails still cross the road at Cores End in the foreground, but the new industrial buildings to the left are more recent and there’s no map record of them being present in 1955.

The Royalty Cinema was converted into a furniture store after closure, while a small cafe was operated from the former stage but we have shown it just before this took place, with ‘The King and I’ showing.

The shops, now have interiors and details added from reference.

Detail of the Barclays Bank facade, with leaded panes and varnished teak panelled door. Richard Ellis

Kingswear is still making good progress, particularly on the signalling, which makes a huge difference to the model, especially in the station and yard area.

Here are a few photos with short captions to show progress, while we continue to produce the small detail components.

Edwardian Kingswear Map link…..

The signalbox diagram in place behind the lever frame.  The route indicator lights just look like black dots at the moment, and the southern rails are done in green at the top, with the darker colour for sidings, and the GWR lines are grey, with blue sidings. The red pinstripes are track circuit, and the signal and point numbers correspond to the lever frame, with red for signals and black for points and slips.

River silt in foreground, and Britannia Halt. Neil Podbery

Wartime buildings and what were presumably parts storage sheds for the torpedo installation. The Quay and jetty at the Waterhead Creek inlet was just to the right of this point, with a board crossing for the railway.

This area is now finished, with rails, signals and detailing complete. There’s a Southern Railway signal post sited in front of the tank, built in the traditional style using two lengths of old rail bolted together. The steps are done, leading up to Fore Street, just opposite the garage

Riverbank at low ebb, with a culvert below a short stone embankment. Behind this is where the contour of the original riverbank still descends to the waterline, so there’s a dip behind the line at this point. To the right, an up home signal appears, and the furthest buffer stop from the yard before the line passes Britannia crossing (which has no sidings at all).

This hut was situated just up the lane from the Higher Ferry, and it was occupied by the linesman. It was converted from an old railway van and just dragged up and levelled by the roadside.  Neil Podbery

The single road locomotive shed is sited below the cutting, and Neil has now done all the foliage here. The rails have all been checked and weathered by Nigel, so there’s just the matter of some typical clutter to finish up with this scene. We’ll find the right balance for this by studying reference pictures from the approximate period. It’s quite important to work into these last stages by working from the back of the model towards the foreground so there’s no damage done by leaning over things and snagging them. Pretty soon, we’ll be able to fit the posts for the disused yard lamps which had a ‘T’ bar across the top, and two insulators for the power cables.

Kingswear No 2 box controls the ‘Southern’ part of the line, which Mike Casey creatively added as a fictional feature. Paul has included this as part of the original configuration, so it looks as Mike originally intended it to. The next block section would have been Boohay, so that’s what we put on the signalbox diagram.

We have quite a few hours of editing time on the Bucks Hill movie, but we’ll certainly need to put in some more filming time soon.  That will involve a bit of preparation, to make sure we don’t see stock from different periods in the same clip.  We can bring in effects and unlike the 4mm scale films, we can use the actual train sounds, which pick up very well via Dave’s directional microphones.  There is one effect which overlays a ‘cine film’ look to the clip which is very convincing.  

Dave is also active doing film promotion work for the Pendon Museum, and their Youtube channel can be found here……

The short films include some of the all important background study and research that supports the exhibits, explained with excellent voice overs.

A ‘517’ Class locomotive No1160 passes Ewyas Harold with an auto trailer. These small 0-4-2T tank engines were designed by George Armstrong for local passenger work on the Great Western, and this example was built at Wolverhampton works in 1875. None of them survived even though there were many, and I would think this would be an ideal candidate for a new build, especially given the amount of info available. Of course a Jersey Lily would be better still! Dave Thomas

The same train arrives in the platform in this fabulous photograph by Dave Thomas. This one should be done as a poster for model club rooms!

No 1731 opposite Bucks Hill cabin, taking a break from shunting the yard. The 0-6-0PT
was an 1892 William Dean design, only rebuilt with pannier tanks in 1909. Dave Thomas.

46225 Duchess of Gloucester on the up main. These Stanier Pacifics were developed from the ‘Princess Royal’ Class. This particular example was built at Crewe Works in June 1938, and it appears in late BR livery.

GWR Collett 0-6-0T No 7700 heads west, bunker first, this locomotive was built at Swindon at the end of March 1930. Dave Thomas.

This one definitely reminds me of the ‘Pines Relief’ or similar, it’s a bit like an Ivo Peters study, apart perhaps from the use of a Fowler Patriot as the train engine. No 45513 was built at Crewe in 1932, and Fowler 2P No 40659 just the year before. Dave Thomas

Maunsell Schools Class 4-4-0 No 30908 ‘Westminster’, in early B.R. lined Brunswick green passes by with bogie flat wagons. The locomotive itself emerged from Eastleigh works in Sept 1930, and were the last locomotives in Britain to be designed with this old fashioned wheel arrangement. They became the most powerful 4-4-0s ever produced in Europe, more than exceeding expectations, having extremely free steaming even with poor grades of coal. The low engines, low internal friction and perfect balance contributed to a tractive effort of 25120 lbs. Dave Thomas.

A few 850 class locomotives are still available from Lee, but over 3/4 of this project has now been reserved from a total of 100 models.  The ‘Castle’ class engines reservation list is now virtually complete, but the last few can be found here…..

The GWR Class 850 0-6-0ST locomotives were designed by George Armstrong and built at the Wolverhampton works of the Great Western Railway between 1874 and 1895.

Bookings for the Missenden Abbey Summer Retreat, and Autumn Weekend 2022 are now open, and I expect to be back for the Spring weekend of 2023.  It’s possible to subscribe for notifications, or just check in every so often at…..

It’s always possible to do a small scale layout mockup at Missenden Abbey instead of painting, and it’s a good way to check the balance and presentation of an idea.

Something like quarter scale, for instance, would be fine, or just scale your model idea down to 2mm, allowing downloadable templates to be applied. This one is based on Vine St Farringdon.

This envelope sketch is the first go at a 7mm scale shed layout in diorama style, done at different levels for visual interest, and with a townscape as a backdrop. Still only a concept at the moment, we’ll see how the project develops over time.

If any Missenden modellers would prefer just to do some painting instead of 3D work, thats fine, all we’ll need is the reference and a trace of the size outline.  There’s always some 2D work an any backscene even if it’s just the skyline and sky.

This cottage is near Wilmcote in Warwickshire, and it would work fine as a 2D backscene feature.

It’s often the case that a backscene turns out to be a relatively long thin vertical strip due to the linear nature of railway models.  This is quite a normal configuration, but it can sometimes lead to problems with foreshortened images when taking photographs or viewing the railway from an oblique viewpoint.  This leaves the backscene with an image foreshortening problem to deal with, and the sharper the viewing angle, the more the problem becomes exaggerated.

So what can be done to alleviate this common problem?  The answer is to include the use of view blocking devices which are placed deliberately to obscure foreshortened areas of a backscene that are becoming unrealistic.

Here’s an obvious example of view blockers arranged to partition a backscene into a visually separated diorama. They work surprisingly well, as the eye is persuaded into restricting its own view, and remaining between an arranged pair of 3D features that have been placed to distract the eye away from a continuous run.

A few articles can be found here……

Ian Statham sent this cameo scene in from his engine shed interior diorama

A few years ago I put up a scan of an old watercolour landscape by my grandad, Harry Taylor Bambrick, and the other day, I found another one. It’s certainly not Coventry, where he lived at the time, signwriting the colliery wagons, but it might be County Tipperary Ireland where he had relatives. H.T. Bambrick.

An archive gem from the camera of Roy Emmett. Several sequences of the GCR ‘Improved Director’ class locomotive number 506 ‘Butler Henderson’ running on the railway in the early 1980s with sound. The screen grab is rather blurry, but I put it in for it’s comparative rarity. R. Emmett.

Peter Cross has developed a ‘might have been’ Kingsbridge & Salcombe Railway terminus model in EM/009 gauge.  It’s based on concept of a standard gauge branch to Salcombe and a 2’ gauge line from Salcombe to Modbury (based on L&B rolling stock and owned by the SR).

A single track branch line did run from a junction on the main line at South Brent between Totnes and Ivybridge down to Kingsbridge, but although authorised by an act of parliament, the continuation to Salcombe was never built.

The layout is just over 23’ long and a maximum width of 2’9”,  There are five baseboards with interconnecting cabling and plugs and sockets.  All the track is laid and ballasted (some featuring mixed gauge) with 30 sets of point ends all electrically powered, some with Fulgurex machines, some with Tortoise and some servo operated.  It’s  fully wired for both DCC or DC operation with detailed records to support maintenance. There are two Modratec lever frames with full mechanical locking and an ADM turntable.  Platforms and station buildings almost complete and some scenery has been started. The layout is looking for a new home, and it’s a good size for a large garage, or a garden building.  please do get back to me here if you like the look of it.

It might be possible to include this interesting old church as part of a scenic break into a OO gauge loop layout that I saw for the first time a few weeks ago. This promises to be visually effective as the configuration of the line involves standing in a central viewing position, while the railway curves around the central viewing aperture. Once there’s a bit more progress with this, I’ll post a few more pictures.

Dave Alexander gave me this 1936 GA drawing for a Metropolitan Railway Brake van a few days ago, which has a written note about installing a water tank and washbasin! This was presumably to begin modifying the van for departmental use, as goods services were to cease on the Metropolitan from 1937 onwards.

A well presented movie clip showing Semley has recently appeared on Youtube. A convincing sound track has been added to the fantastic L.S.W.R. trains using carefully chosen recordings of passing full size steam trains. The film has been produced by SDJR7F88 who also has other worthwhile railway content on his channel.

For some time now, I have taken an interest in the work of J.C.Bourne, who was a British artist, engraver and photographer, best known for his lithographs showing the construction of the great cuttings, embankments, and tunnels on both the London and Birmingham and Great Western Railways.  These were recognised as achievements of great novelty and absorbing interest to the inhabitants of the metropolis, and the beauty of the drawings, and the popularity of the subject, ensured their success in publications and their sale as prints.  I tend to think that each one of these should be made into an educational diorama. 

He was born in London, in 1814 where his father worked as hat-maker in Covent Garden. His uncle, William Cooke, was a line engraver of some note, and after a general education, Bourne became a pupil of the landscape engraver John Pye, who specialised in illustrations for popular annuals and pocket-books. 

In the early 1830s, the construction started for the London and Birmingham Railway, the first main-line railway to enter London, and this became a major source of inspiration.  In 1836 he began to execute drawings of the excavations taking place on the southern part of the line between Euston and Primrose Hill Tunnel. At first these were purely for his own interest, but as they increased in number Bourne sent examples to the noted antiquarian and topographer John Britton. He travelled further afield to record and study the work further from London, eventually reaching Birmingham’s Curzon Street terminus. The set was eventually published in 1839 in four volumes, with an accompanying text by John Britton.  In the 1840s, he became associated with Charles Cheffins who commissioned Bourne to produce a series of drawings depicting the Great Western, leading to the 1846 publication of ‘History of the Great Western Railway’. 

Oblique Bridge at Boxmoor, printed by Day & Haghe in 1838. The bridge was brick faced with rusticated sandstone ashlar arch with strongly projecting moulded string courses, and a coped parapet. It had an elegant skew arch, and still carries the L&B rails over the Akeman Street turnpike near Hemel Hempstead, but nowadays, the area has a very different feel to Bourne’s drawing. This view is mostly obscured by an additional railway bridge, and a wide recent road bridge to support the recently constructed A41 dual carriageway, which crosses directly above the point where Bourne sketched the scene 184 years ago.

Watford Tunnel was built around 1837/8 at the insistence of local landowners who didn’t want to see a railway running across their estates. The line was obscured for 1 mile 31 yards at a cost £140,000. The print was produced by Ackermann & Co, Strand, London.

Wash drawing from a distance showing the portico at Euston Grove from April 1838, depicting the entrance to the London and Birmingham Railway’s London terminus. It features the Doric arch and lodge buildings, with the station building and platform beyond. Groups of people and carriages head towards the entrance. This was reproduced as a lithograph in ‘Drawings of The London & Birmingham Railway by John C Bourne with an Historical and Descriptive Account by John Britton FSA’ published in 1839. Printed by Day and Haghe, Lithographers to the Queen. Published by J C Bourne, 19 Lamb’s Conduit St and Ackermann and Co, Strand, London.

Whilst studying the Bourne prints, I came across this excellent resource describing the engineering and surveying of the early long distance railways.  The compilation article is well worth a look if you are planning a scale model, where the cuttings, embankments, viaducts and tunnels must all take their places correctly within the contours of the natural landscape contours.  While the railway is the focus of interest, it’s important to remember for the sake of modelling realism, that the land surface was there first!

6th June 2022

Nearly all my effort and time has been going into Bourne End, with continued tree production,  buildings and 3D backscene layering.  There are a few other small interim jobs like layout design sketches, and some other items of interest that are worthy of mention, including a Bucks Hill movie, Kingswear in P4 detailing, as well as another Kingswear in 2mm.

View looking west from the yard and the first run of post and wire fencing has gone in.  The gate to the Donkey lane footpath is at the lower right foreground, and there’s a view over the river to Cockmarsh and the Thames curving round towards Marlow.  This is a team effort, with Neil Podbery, Richard Ellis and Paul Rutson all beavering away.

Further along to the left, this looks over the garages to one side of Thornbie House which backed onto the the sidings. There are quite a lot more trees to go in along the towpath behind the houses, and Donkey lane can be seen in the extreme left of this view.  The small access road got its name from the Thames donkeys that were used to pull boats along, and of course, this practise also passed it’s name to the Marlow branch line.

Richard Ellis has done this 6mm scale facade for one of the many houses along Wharf lane, The leaded lights can be seen above the window panes, and Neil has now weathered it and added creepers to the walls. it just needs net curtains and interior lights and its ready to go.

Before the foliage is applied

The kitchen garden as it would have appeared in the Autumn, with only a few crops growing.

The greenhouse for the kitchen garden is sited just behind the signal box and lamp hut. The sidings and the Maidenhead line appear in the background.

The Royalty parade, in later years, and the cinema has become a furniture outlet with Donald the newsagents still there as well as Edward Gray’s estate agents.

Still have the interiors to do, but this is Richard’s excellent facade.  Bourne End was the last town in Buckinghamshire to have a purpose-built cinema.  The Royalty was opened on 1st January 1934 with Margot Graham in “I Adore You” and Bette Davis in “Ex Lady”. The auditorium ran parallel to The Parade, and was hidden behind this parade of six shop units. Seating was all on a single raked level. There was a small stage and a cafe, and boasted a car park at the rear.  Always independently operated, the Royalty Cinema was eventually closed on 14th December 1957 with Yul Brynner in “The King and I”.  After some redecoration, it re-opened on 6th January 1958. It finally closed on 30th May 1959 with Bob Hope in “Alias Jesse James”.

Lloyds bank overlooks Penny Corner to this very day. Richard Ellis has made the facade, and we will be fitting this into place in the next few weeks.  Amazingly at the time, the land behind this and the Royalty Parade just to the left was still just pastures, meadows, hedgerows and footpaths. In the middle distance of the backscene, we’ll be showing the new estates just after their construction in the early to mid fifties.

One of the Victorian semi detached pair of houses ready for Wharf Lane with a creeper growing around the nearest bay and a darker ivy climbing the side wall.

One of David Lane’s marvellous period photos of Bourne End, featuring a series of large poster hoardings on the rear wall of the goods shed. We’ll be scanning these in and re-setting the images and copy here to replicate the posters in colour.

A few catch up pictures from Kingswear in P4…

Part of the formica signal box diagram using a very similar font to the GWR signalling diagrams of the mid to late 30s along with as much similar graphic detail to the panels of the period.  The holes are positioned to take indicator lights…..2mm for route, and 3mm colour changing for signals.

Neil has now taken care of the goods yard entrance, and although you can’t see it from the normal viewing position we have a post and wire GWR boundary fence receding in scale and a simple yard gate.

Mike Casey’s version of Kingswear always included a fictitious Southern Railway platform face and Paul has decided to keep this feature as part of the restoration of Mike’s original layout.  In order to finish the job, we have included a number of changes to make this look authentic, and among these are the inclusion of rail built signals.

Weathered opens resting on the quayside.

Dart riverbank in 4mm with an old careening berth visible to the left,  long disused but still present at the high tide mark.  The two uprights were used to tie the boat around it’s mast or gunwales, and there would have been a platform between them and the footpath.

There are quite a number of Kingswear models about, and this is another one in progress.   It’s done in 2mm scale, and  coming along well.

Here’s a good ‘in progress view of the layout RH end with a section of 3D backscene in place, and a trial rear panel to see how it’s all going to balance.

A few house facades for the continuation to the left, towards Waterhead Creek.

Andy Glover is still working on his Gauxholme Viaduct Todmorden diorama and he’s been on a painting course in the meantime, since attending Missenden Abbey

It’s coming along very well indeed and it’s time to start adding the distance layers such as areas of woodland and buildings onto the far hillside. Andy Glover

I have some sketches to do for the foreground and the coaling stage approach road on the well researched 7mm scale ‘Hadleigh’ layout of David Bousfield.

A quick look at Hadleigh as it used to look just after the turn of the last century… this is David Bousfield’s magnificent 7mm scale model of the terminus station near the Suffolk market town, and I’ve got a few drawings to make of the locality. These will eventually address the lack of any historic photographs from certain viewpoints, filling in a few historic ‘blind spots’ of recorded visual information, and so we’ll see what can be plotted from reference, including one aerial view. The period is about 1906 and we do have period map reference to help things along. Original by Chris Nevard/Model Rail Magazine.

We have a 4mm Diagram ‘L’ trailer etch in stock at the moment and it’s quite a detailed etch.  There’s a lot of fine work to be done, but it will make a much finer end result than the moulded RTR ones. If you like the look of it, here are a few details.

This is a GWR 70ft Diagram L trailer beautifully etched in 12 thou brass sheet. The passenger section of the coach is divided into two open saloons – originally for smoking and non-smoking I think, with a lobby in the middle separating the two. Running numbers for these were 1906 42-8, and 1908 53-8, and 59-70

One of these could be super detailed to go with the trailer, perhaps with a quality EM/P4 chassis, but perhaps a finescale brass kit built example of an Edwardian 0-4-2T would be a worthy companion instead.

We have placed an order for a Sonic Models Great Central Railway Robinson A5 class tank locomotive in the Great Central Railway green livery. We’re looking forward to that, and by the way, if you do have any 4mm scale GCR stock you don’t need anymore, give me a call or email.

We also have one of these beauties from Locomotion Models, and it should look good eventually with a rake of teak carriages.

For any modellers who are interested in the Brill tramway, I do have a few old 7mm models for sale including wagons and carriages so by all means get in touch and I’ll send you an illustrated list.

Tony Hammond has been out and about again, and here are a couple of his shots.

34067 Tangmere taken at Penrith on the 14th May pulling the Northern Belle.

35018 British India Line climbing to the summit at Beattock taken on the 19th March.

We have now done the first day of filming at Bucks Hill, and Dave Roberts will be editing the footage soon.  hopefully we’ll have 20 minutes of good footage, and there’s still at least another day to do.  I will then come up with a guide to do a reasonable ‘voice over’ so still a fair bit of work involved to make a decent job of it.

Dave Roberts films

We might use this old postcard image I did a few years ago as an introduction frame for the forthcoming Bucks Hill ‘movie’.

I’m hoping some of the early stock will be filmed in monotone, and this is the slightly faded look I’m after. No 3405 ‘Empire of India’ appears in the un-lined early 1930s livery, gently weathered by Martyn Welch. Original by Barry Norman.

The famous Armstrong 4-4-0s were nominal renewals of four of Dean’s “experimental locomotives”, Nos. 7, 8, 14 and 16, thus explaining the early numbers.  Had it not been for the recent derailing of one of his 3001 Class 2-2-2s in Box Tunnel, they would probably have been rebuilt as unremarkable 2-2-2s, but the adoption of Dean bogies and double-curved running plates resulted in an exceptionally handsome design.  This engine will  appear along with a Dean Single, double heading a Down Express train consisting of a set of pristine bogie clerestory carriages.  

6th March 2022

A pair of covered vans shunted into a goods yard siding. You can see where I’m still working on the backdrop in this view.

A view of Thornbie House looking North.  Richard has taken care of this quite complicated building for us and it will be returning to his workshop to have the interior lights fitted, along with Brooksby and the Platt which were the 3 main large dwellings visible between the Thames Railway bridge and the Marlow Donkey branch line as it curved along the riverbank and NW on its way to Marlow.  Richard Ellis/Monks Gate Models

This overview shows the Thames curving round towards the North West and Marlow. It’s a little blurry once enlarged, but it has still helped a good deal in plotting out the surroundings of Bourne End Station.

Looking North this time, showing the junction quite clearly. The houses and gardens backing onto the line are visible, and I have now worked out the other roads behind as part of the backdrop.

A British Railways 20T Brake van, (B952978), all weathered and ready. Neil Podbery

Lloyds Bank overlooked Penny Corner in 1955, and the building does still survive today. Perhaps the oddest thing was that apart from the new Royalty Parade situated just to the West, directly behind and around these buildings were just open fields and orchards, with footpaths between.

This was Wharf Lane as it used to look, and practically all of this has survived the years without major alteration. This does make backscene research much easier!

Cliveden Reach, looking north along the Thames in a miniature painting I did some years ago. This magical place remains unchanged today and it appears about two miles down stream of Bourne End.

There were actually 6 participants at this year’s Spring Missenden Abbey scenics and backscenes course this time, and we had a slightly posher room than normal.  

Here’s the backscenes and scenics department in full swing! It turned out to be a very good weekend, with a number of test sections and dioramas making progress. Chris Hopper.

Terry Kempton did a test section for his new layout, taking influence from a romantic english landscape postcard

Simon & Claire Hepher Davies did quite a bit of work on their diorama, including this test section.

I have been pestering modellers to look at the exterior presentation of the layouts and dioramas and while of course it doesn’t make any difference to the content, it has all sorts of effects on the overall presentation, whether it’s on the dining table at home or on show in a museum setting. It’s often nice to see a sympathetic ‘picture frame’ helping to enhance the display.

Not a corner of Rickmansworth locomotive sidings in the 1930s, but a collection of marvellous 5 inch gauge Metropolitan railway Metro Vick electric locomotives. Dave Alexander lent me this photograph and I’d thought I scan it in to show you.

Dave’s stunning ‘H’ class 5″ gauge Metropolitan railway 4-4-4T.

Cloud Walker is a newly established drone filming and photography service, offered by my good friend and colleague Richard Chetland who has done many photo sessions at Bucks Hill, and Westcott. If you would like any of this kind of aerial recording undertaken, for backscene, or promotional work, do please get in touch…… either here, or via e-mail.

Cloud Walker

Tony Hammond has recently bought a CPL F16 Toplight slip composite etch in 7mm scale, and he very kindly sent in a gallery of his recent main line steam photos, so I thought they would be worth including.

This photo of No 6233 Duchess of Sutherland was taken on Saturday the 12th March 2022 and has just left Moorcock Tunnel and is crossing Lunds Viaduct on the Settle & Carlisle Railway whilst working the Cumbrian Mountaineer, having joined the train at Hellifield that morning. Tony Hammond.

Here, No 7029 Clun Castle is approaching Cosford Station on the morning of the 5th March 2022 whilst working the Welsh Marches from Tyseley to Hereford. Tony Hammond.

We have placed another order for a Lee Marsh engine, and this time, it’s a GWR Castle class engine No 4088 Dartmouth Castle, in original 1925 condition.

Detail of the driving wheels of a Lee Marsh Castle, (this is still just an unpainted example).

We have also managed to find a very fine O gauge model of a South Eastern & Chatham Railway Wainwright Class ‘D’ ‘Coppertop’ 4-4-0 No. 736.  This is by Lee Marsh (produced by SMT Models, Korea) and is in fully lined S.E.&.C.R. green livery, fitted with fully working inside motion and superb cab detail.  It’s also fitted with DCC and sound.  This locomotive is number 2 of a limited number which I think consisted of 65 models, the production run having now sold out.  I’m certainly looking forward to giving this a run at Bucks Hill.

Coal has been neatly added to the tender, and cab crew (driver/fireman) are provided but not currently fitted. The prototype was one of a class of 50 locos, entering service in December 1901 from Ashford Works. It was subsequently rebuilt as one of the more powerful class D1 in 1913 or later by Richard Maunsell (with a Belpaire firebox). It eventually became Southern Railway No. 1736 and BR number 31736 (one of 28 passing into BR ownership), subsequently withdrawn from Ashford shed in December 1950. Number 737 is preserved in the National Collection. Steamline Models.

Before they become too hard to find, I thought I’d get one of these, as a big Robinson devotee, and I had it all checked over by Mick Moignard the other day. It’s a Bachmann 31-147DS G.C.R. Class 11F No 502 ‘Zeebrugge with DCC Sound, made in OO Gauge.

I used to do loads of quickly sketched out visuals for proposed racecars, and I found a pile of them whilst rummaging through some stuff for Missenden Abbey.  These are known as ‘doorslammer’ cars, (referring to the means of entry).  This arrangement isn’t universal for quarter mile cars, for instance, the entire bodies of funny cars and competition altered entries hinge from the rear to allow access, and dragsters and roadsters are simply entered via open cockpit apertures.

This stepside truck would have been a modified fibre glass reproduction of a fifties Chevy pickup, but lowered, stretched, sectioned, and channelled over a tubular space frame chassis.  Before the days of air canister shifted transmissions, cars like this had to be gear shifted by hand at lightning speed, using a separate lever for each of the three or four ratios.

This one never came to be, but it was based around the ill fated Ford Cougar sports coupe, which never caught on as a production car.  It actually lent itself quite well to become a good ‘Pro Modified’ once it had been re-configured though, and you can see the supercharged big block sketched in, positioned to fit within the rules of the class.

Here’s a recent build by Nigel Smith, and I thought this came out very well in black and white. The locomotive is a Hawksworth Modified Hall No 7918 ‘Rhose Wood Hall’, which was built at Swindon, and finished at the end of April 1950. It was based at 84E Tyseley shed, and it’s seen here on the well known 82G layout by the Warley M.R.C.  Ian Rathbone.

B.R. Standard 2-6-4T at 82G. Nigel Smith.

I found this small Cambridge Kings College Chapel gouache painting recently, and if you would like it, by all means get in touch.  It shows the view looking north along Kings Parade, and it’s how the famous college would have appeared around 1900. The iron railings have now gone and some trees have grown, but otherwise the aspect is little different today.  Plans for the chapel were first drawn up in the 1440s according to instructions from Henry VI, whose statue stands in the college’s front court. It was inspired by a visit to Winchester Cathedral and was always conceived on a vast scale.

The first stone of the Chapel had been laid by the 25 July 1446, and by the end of the reign of Richard III, five bays had been completed. Various crises in the royal finances caused multiple delays, and for several decades it stood only partially built in the heart of Cambridge. Henry VII visited in 1506, paying for the work to resume, even leaving money so that the work could continue after his death. In 1515, under Henry VIII, the building was complete but the fine medieval stained glass great windows had yet to be made. It features the world’s largest fan vault, constructed by master mason John Wastell.

A few interesting links that caught my eye over the past few months……..

This is by ‘History in 3D’ and it appears to be the most extensive, detailed and accurate virtual 3D reconstruction of Ancient Rome. You can see the whole centre of the Eternal City from the air, as well as other significant areas, such as Campus Martius, or Trastevere (Transtiberim). You can also see the Forum, The Colosseum, The Imperial Forums (Fori Imperiali), as well as famous baths, theatres, temples and palaces. About 40% of all Rome, as it looked in IV AD, has been plotted so far.

I’m really not a huge fan of aircraft, especially commercial ‘airbuses’, but the level of realism presented in this flight simulation is just superb.

We have now had a meeting to discuss a film to record some of the activity and modelling at Bucks Hill and I’m looking forward to planning this with Kevin.  The initial thought is to do maybe 3 segments covering all the different aspects of the layout, and this will now take place over the next few months.  I’ll try and include some of the research as well as some monotone clips. and we’ve already made a good start by finding good some still images and writing a narrative voice over. 

Quintessential Bucks Hill, with a Great Western Railway City class engine, No 3440 ‘City of Truro’ in early condition, with lined out Indian red frames and panelled Brunswick green ‘Monogram’ livery.

A Lee Marsh large prairie tank loco, recently weathered by Neil.  it has a relatively clean boiler barrel ring nearest the smoke box, and then the other part of the boiler has been left untouched and grimy – including the safety valve cover. Thanks to David Thomas (the loco’s owner) for the photograph taken as the engine runs light on the up main at Ewyas Harold.

Double headed G.W.R. Moguls in late British Railways days.  John Edwards.

Southern Railway Urie N15 King Arthur class No 30740 ‘Merlin’ from 71A Eastleigh shed is seen here in early B.R. livery, heading west with wooden vans.

A view to distance at Kenderchurch. View blockers like the large trees at either side make it easier to go convincingly round a convex curve on a rear panel, as they help to distract the eye from any foreshortening to either side.

A colleague of mine recently phoned and pointed out that my book was available on the well known American Micro-mark hobby website, so if you do happen to reading this as an American / Canadian resident it might be a convenient shopping opportunity.

Micro-mark link

4th January 2022

Apologies for not updating lately, It has been a very busy few months, including more 3D work at Bourne End and re-stocking the CPL stand for an outing to the Wootton Bassett event at the Memorial Hall.  We were kindly allowed an additional space to one side of our normal CPL trade stand to display a number of extra items, so thanks to Nigel Smith of Omen Figures for putting on the event, and please do see their latest news at

There is also some design work to do on a number of other projects, including a name logo for a colleague’s dragster and some forced perspective arrangement sketches for a commercial display in London’s West End.

Still plenty to do on Bourne End, and I have managed to progress the first two wall panels.  There’s a great deal of other activity with scale buildings, autumn trees, point rodding, telegraph poles, and stock preparation as well.

Study of roof tops to distance including Wharf Lane, Oakfield Road, Sailing Club Rd, Lock Bridge Rd, and the new Chalklands Estate on rising ground to the R.H. side middle distance.   This is without any autumn foliage or lighting as yet but just basically positioned for Bourne End’s first rear wall panel.

The Chalklands Estate rises in the middle distance on Bourne End’s backscene.  This was built by a local property developer, A D Jameson, who owned the whole estate.  As houses were built and plots were sold, the company ended up owning just the road, pavements and the grassed strips fronting the plots.

This map gives a rough idea of the expansion of the estates, particularly to the north of the station, which is the main direction of view for this railway.

Bourne End’s south signal box with the first wall panel visible behind.

Neil has now done the weathering on 5 Dapol 7mm scale BR vans, as an addition to the goods stock, They are now accurate to the ‘55 time period by removing the TOPS panels and replacing  them with some excellent transfers from the Railtec Range.

One of Richard Ellis’s marvellous frontages ready for bedding into Wharf Lane. We’re not quite ready to fit some of these yet because we still have to arrange the LED lighting, but it’s going to be fine to just provide a level plateau for the time being while we wait for confirmation of LED type, dimmers, resisters etc

There’s a great deal of other activity with many scale buildings on the go, such as the large riverfront houses .  This scene will have all its painted trees and hedges replaced with proper 3D examples.

3D progression in progress on the next panel, looking NNW from station. The foreground will rest against these layers, partially obscuring some of them and there’s plenty more to do, but what we’re basically looking at here is the 1955 extent of the Chalklands Estate seen to the extreme left, and the detached houses along Blind Lane from there to middle.  The municipal housing of Roman Way, Evenlode Road, Waborne Avenue, Cherwell Road and Loddon Road.  The new Spring Gardens lock up garages are layered in, and the south facing buildings along the parade will appear in front, progressing to Wharf Lane and the Marlow donkey station loop.

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

Good progress lately, having practically finished the surface texturing of the yard and begun locating signal positions.  The river bed has been prepared and coloured and now has it’s final water treatment.  The first of the ’Southern’ signals still have to be installed so there won’t be any need to reach over the yard area.

At some point, we’ll think about doing a Youtube channel, especially when some of the new additions to the locomotive stable start to come in.  I’ll put a few pictures of progress here, accompanied by some of Paul’s captions.

View looking North East over the wharf

‘No. 4283 brings a rake of suburban stock, (including one carriage freshly re-painted in the new BR livery), through Britannia on a local passenger service bound for Kingswear.  Apologies to anyone who spots the incorrect loco head code – we promise eventually to get the correct locos pulling the correct trains, but our excuse is that until now we’ve been too busy building a railway!

Looking South East with station and Royal Dart Hotel in foreground.  The goods depot at the back of the station was under the charge of Mr Penwarden receiving all the incoming and out-going goods and luggage. In those days, it could be dispatched in advance by GWR to your destination anywhere in the district, and delivered in the two lorries and three vans based at Kingswear Station.

Waterhead Creek on backscene.

The water surface has now been done by Neil, and the scenic break is basically ready. There’s a run of fencing still to do, and maybe some children playing near the Bath house.

‘It became common practice for railway and ferry staff, and probably some employees of the Royal Dart Hotel, among others, to park their personal vehicles alongside the coaling sidings’.

Having delivered empty coal wagons onto the quayside ready for loading, Dukedog No. 9003 moves the brake van onto the adjacent siding, to await eventual re-attachment to the departing train once loaded. The trains took coal to Torquay Gas works and Newton Abbot Power Station, and a barge went over to Dartmouth Gas works.

Greenway Bath house.

Whilst our understanding is that the layout was originally intended to depict the scene as it was in 1947, we’ll give ourselves a little leeway around this date, say from 1947 to 1951 or ’52, which does allow for the introduction of some early BR stock.  A Pannier tank engine is ready to depart.

It would appear that all the place reservations for Missenden Abbey’s Spring 2020 weekend backscene and landscape course are now taken, but do keep an eye out for any cancellations in their latest news.  They have also updated some of the pages with a new slideshow.   courses  

After 14 years as a regular tutor at Missenden Railway Modellers weekends and with an important role at the Summer Retreat, Barry Norman is hanging up his tutor’s badge to concentrate more on his own projects.  Barry first ran his “Art of Scenery” course at Missenden Abbey in 2007 and we are very grateful to him for his support over many years.

Barry’s iconic rural scene, Lydham Heath

A simple 2D test panel is an ideal exercise for a weekend, like this insert backing card for a small cabinet display.

There’s no reason for a backscene to remain anonymous if you want to make a statement about the surroundings of your railway. This painting by George Cole could easily inspire a model with narrow gauge wagons on a quayside.

This 2D rear panel was worked out from a period Ordnance Survey map, and as long as we have a horizon line datum for your project and some reference, it’s often a good idea to do a short test panel to gain a bit of practice and confidence before setting out on the full set of panels. Philip Hall/ Model Railway Journal.

It’s fine to plan a diorama at Missenden, either as a static display such as this example, or a wired up working scene that can go to exhibitions in the back of a normal car.  If you do like the look of this one by Richard Ellis of Monks Gate Models, I’m told it is for sale.

For those who prefer the pillar drill and the soldering iron, there’s always expert advice to be taken from the experts in locomotive construction. This is a chassis by Kevin Wilson for an M.O.K. De-Glehn Atlantic.

It looks as though we might have to miss out on the first half of the Wild Bunch season this year, but hopefully we can get ready for the summer.

In the fire up road queue.

When it rains , there’s time to polish all the fuel spills and scratches!

I found these drawings among a pile of CPL papers, and I thought they might come in handy for the modellers of GWR post and wire fencing.

Ian Statham has made a bracket signal for his diorama, and it has added interest to the scene.

GWR Atlantic below new bracket signal.

A few pictures from Andrew Cowie’s cabinet dioramas 

Modelu figures painted by Detailed Miniatures and arranged like a station staff photograph.

Chiseldon platform.

Dean Saddle Tank no 997 resting on shed .

A Tony Reynalds ‘King’ engine with it’s tender below a coaling stage.

Close up of a Tony Reynalds saddle tank cab.

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.