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25th March 2022

Most of the effort and time has been going into Bourne End lately, with mass production of trees, getting buildings lit and working out the area behind the level crossing.  There are a few other loose ends to tie up, and some other items of interest that are worthy of mention, including a weekend at Missenden Abbey, and a day trip to Bucks Hill.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit for this image goes to 

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

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

4th June 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3rd May 2020

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

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

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

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

Kevin Wilson’s Masterpiece Clan

Rose Smith & co 8 plank open wagon

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

Pannier cab & bunker monotone study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pristine Lee Marsh on the down main at Ewyas Harold

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

Roof detail study of Temple Meads old station

Dean Single & Clerestory carriage. Cliff Williams

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

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

One of Norman’s reference photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 17th March 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24th January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crankpin link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lee Marsh G.W.R. 850

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arborfield movie