RAILWAY OPERATING DEPARTMENT
|I BOUGHT MYSELF A MODEL RAILWAY...|
|There I was at the Cheltenham GWR Modellers Group Exhibition in
April 2007, taking digital
photographs of the exhibits and making notes to
supplement the programme for my website when I came
across Campbell's Yard.
It had been built by Nailsea & District Model Railway Club member George Lowen to see how a small layout could be structured. The overall measurement was 22" x 8", the scenic section of the layout measuring 16" x 7".
Basic shunting consisted of taking a wagon out of a siding and replacing it with another. Operation involved one locomotive and 5 wagons: 2 in the hidden sidings and one each in the front sidings. Each wagon was represented by a playing card. The cards were shuffled and dealt out, indicating the location that the wagon should be shunted to. When the wagons had been shunted to their chosen locations the process was repeated. Two sets of rolling stock were used - one representing pre BR days with a Brighton Terrier 0-6-0T and private owner wagons - and the other using Class 04 and 08 diesels.
"Nice layout" I commented early on the Sunday morning as I took some shots that were hopefully less blurry than the ones I had downloaded the night before.
"I'm selling it" George replied.
"Oh yes, how much for?" I asked, mainly to make conversation as I assumed the price would be at least in three figures. After all, it did have some well executed scenery and even working lights.
"Forty pounds" George answered.
Or put another way, a smidge more than four of Robbie Burn's splendid private owner coal wagons, many of which were the same size as the ones that George was using. Before my brain had time to weigh up the options - like where at home it was going to live - I heard my mouth say "I'll have it!"
George and I shook hands and I spent the rest of the show - when not standing by my own Sulzer Gold Cup display - learning about how Campbell's Yard worked. Apart from illuminating street and yard lamps - complete with resistors to ensure the correct polarity of 12 volt current - novel features for me also included a sector plate to distribute rolling stock over three visible and one hidden siding and a push rod system to operate the one - visible - insulfrog point.
Although for £40.00 George obviously wasn't going to throw in his power controller, locomotives, wagons or indeed the road vehicles on the bridge section he did give me a pair of metal hooks and a magnet on a length of wood. The former were for uncoupling, and George recommended that I take at least one tension lock coupling hook off each wagon that I was going to use on Campbell's Yard. The latter were so that I could equip all my wagon coal loads with more magnets - available as cupboard door catches from B&Q apparently - and so lift them out of the wagons as they passed in and out of the brewery : depositing the coal needed to make the same Brahm's and Lyst ale that William The Conqueror had enjoyed so much.
I also asked George about the name: Campbell's Yard. He pointed out the street name Campbell's Lane with its N1 London postcode and said that it had been a particularly rough part of Finsbury Park.
|MORE FUN THAN YOU CAN THROW A MOBILE PHONE AT!|
|A look at the rear - operating -
side of my newly acquired layout revealed a construction
rather like that of a horizontal Punch and Judy booth:
only without enough room for a Crocodile - or any other
One private owner coal wagon could be coupled up to a tank locomotive on the hidden siding behind the low-relief industrial buildings, run under the section of road and - assuming the correct position had been set - on to the sector plate (right, behind the magnetic stick on this occasion) As photographed here, the sector plate was aligned with the point - actuated by the circular knobbed push rod near the tag block - which would allow the wagon to be shunted into one of two sidings that would then exit on the left into the other hidden section.
Also worth mentioning in the shot above is the electrical connection of green and brown wires to the plug of my also newly acquired Hornby power controller. As I had sold my previous Gaugemaster controller some years before I was pleased to find that just £ 20.00 worth of gubbins could now step down 240 v ac to the controlled 12 v dc needed. This in turn fed the rear hidden siding, sector plate, short siding and point; although the latter being insulfrog at least one of the sidings that entered the dark region on the left would automatically be isolated.
The striped wires on the right I fitted myself and are operationally connected to a 12 volt battery which uses very few amps indeed to make the lights work.
|THINK INSIDE THE BOX|
|Once I had established that my new
electric control gear - along with a long-owned half cab
Hornby GWR 0-6-0PT - would make the layout work I was
faced with some choices in terms of operating in an
My original idea in buying Campbell's Yard was to provide an alternative - and working - arena for my collection of private owner coal wagons built by the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company. However, only a handful of these were in the markings of coal merchants in the London area - the firms likely to have delivered fuel to a brewery in Finsbury Park. I even bought a packet of street nameplates by Tiny Signs in an attempt to relocate Campbell's Lane to somewhere in the West Country or Wales ( after all, Campbell's Yard wasn't even listed in the post-1945 London A-Z or on Multimap)
But before I discovered that none of the Tiny Signs would fit over the existing street nameplate, I had a better idea. Finsbury Park might have been a particularly rough part of the N1 postcode (after all, Don McCullin left there in the 1960s to photograph the Vietnam war!) and positioned on the original Great Northern line out of Kings Cross: but it was still close to other London railways owned ( from 1923 to 1947) by the GWR, Southern, LMS and even London Transport.
And just suppose that instead of brewery, the siding from under the bridge served an engineering works that could take on the small jobs - like wagon modification, refurbishment and running repairs - that would make it hard to justify returning rolling stock to the larger concerns like Swindon, Derby, Brighton and Doncaster Works. In fact, a small capital-based engineering works could build and modify all kinds of machinery - brought in on flat wagons for instance. In that moment, Capital Works was born.
|With this in mind, trying to get
the coal loads loose from the existing Dapol and Robbie Burns wagons in the
collection was no longer a necessity. They could
represent full wagons which had been isolated for the
repair of hot boxes or brake gear while in service.
Indeed, with as many as 70 different Gloucester RCW vehicles to choose from, just randomly shunting five wagons seemed to limit the possible productivity of Capital Works. Why not have a system of two sets of wagons passing through the facility? As one set ( kept in a box file fitted with shelves ) passed under the bridge into Capital Works via the stone clad lean-to with the slate roof another set could be passing out of Capital Works - ready for traffic again - via the opening under the corrugated roof next to the offices. The short siding with the sleeper-built buffer stop could store one wagon at the start of the transfer cycle, thereby creating a space in the storage box for the other wagons to begin flowing into and the presence of an insulfrog point meant that two locomotives could be used in quick succession, thereby increasing the excitement for the audience.
|With this new philosophy in mind,
some scenic issues had to be addressed as well. What I
had bought was excellent ( as witnessed by the two
existing exhibition plates on the front left black panel)
but on closer inspection a few tweaks were needed to turn
the old Campbell's Yard into Capital Works. These
included adding some brickwork to the sides of the stone
built lean-to and also along the front inside edge of the
layout, topping the latter with a concrete effect to
represent a low wall separating Capital Works from the
passing East Coast Main Line expresses - and the viewers!
The simple "hole in the sky" aperture on the
output road under the rusted corrugated roof was also
given a sliding door on the background of more brickwork
and a concrete path added around the corner of the
offices to cover a small section of visible wooden
The population of Capital Works also more than doubled with management looking down on the yard from the flat roof, a newspaper being delivered, a schoolboy and a young girl with a pet dog eyeing each other across the road by the lamp post and a man setting up a ladder ready to refurbish the paintwork on the new sign.
Like the sliding door and the existing building window frames, the background to this computer written sign was grey. The year of establishment was just two years after Gloucester RCW started business with broadly similar aims and also a full century before I was born. The name "Morland and Anderson" added some humour to the back story, as witnessed by this ( fictional ) letter from the 1930s era of the Scammell Mechanical Horse to Sir Felix Pole, General Manager of the Great Western Railway.
Dear Sir Felix,
Re: New Sign at the front of Capital Works
Much as I appreciate the swift remedial action offered by the Great Western Railway road motor traffic department in replacing the metal sign formerly hanging outside the main entrance of Capital Works in McDonald Road N1 I regret to inform you that the new fitment is currently being returned to your signwriters aboard the very same lorry whose tall container load originally brought it down last week.
Unlike the original sign there is simply too much space between "Morl" and "and" and "and" and "and" and "and" and "And" and "And" and "erson".
I trust that you will give this matter your most urgent attention and return an acceptably lettered sign to Capital Works forthwith.
And if anyone can use the word "and" more times in one English sentence then they can email me!
|Although I had not owned an
operating layout for nearly 20 years, I still had some
tank locomotives that I felt would be able to shunt
wagons at Capital Works. These had been either retained
or acquired for use with Gloucester RCW wagons on my
Airfield Embankment diorama with model aircraft from the Jet
Age Reserve Model Collection.
Among these was GWR half cab 0-6-0PT 2743. This had been built as Swindon Works number 1705 in 1899 - four years before the Wright Brothers first flew - and first allocated to Cardiff. It was only withdrawn by British Railways at Worcester Shed in October 1950 - by which time the first jet airliner had flown. As a bonus to this long life through Britain's pre-Grouping, Grouping and Nationalised railway eras, 2743 - like all Great Western engines - kept the same running number on a cabside plate. And it is not impossible that such a locomotive might have appeared in the London area during 1899 to 1947, possibly trip working wagons for repair over "foreign" metals with a pilotman.
|2743 also ran well along the input road - especially when the arch of the lean-to building had been raised slightly by gentle sanding to allow the pannier tank to back in past the whistles set on top of the cab. No such height problems were present with my other - more modern - Great Western 0-6-0PT but due to the finely detailed tank handrails provided by Messrs Bachmann on 9753 the post 1956 BR black liveried pannier proved too wide to input wagons. Nevertheless, experiments proved that full-cabbed 9753 - which spent exactly 30 years at Tyseley Depot in Birmingham from introduction in May 1935 until the end of Western Region steam - would still be perfectly fine to take wagons out of Capital Works.|
|In 2011 I was also given the opportunity to
acquire another Victorian GWR tank engine in the shape of this modified
kit locomotive assembled with such optional extras as three link and
tension lock couplings and vacuum brake hoses by renowned motive power
1701 Class 0-6-0ST 1753 was built at Swindon in October 1892 with works number 1323 as part of Lot 89 and was in turn a development of the 1854 Class of six coupled saddle tanks dating from 1890. Measuring 30' 4 5/8" over buffers, and producing15 935 lb tractive effort from 17" x 24" cylinders, the 1701 Class were built with a tall brass safety valve bonnet and a steam dome on the front ring of the boiler with a filler cap for the 1 120 gallon saddle tank in between. As rebuilt with a Swindon S4 boiler however, the 1701 Class - completed with locomotive 1900 in 1895 - had smaller safety valve bonnets and steam domes with the latter component moved back to the second boiler ring.
1752 - subject of the official class photograph in 1892 - was rebuilt with pannier tanks in 1922, superheated for a spell in 1927 but not withdrawn until March 1950.
Locomotives 1710 and 1756 were later sold to the Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway as their numbers 36 and 35 only to return to the GWR fold when the Welsh company was acquired in 1922.
1753 was first allocated to Stourbridge shed but was a Truro engine by the time of its withdrawal in April 1948.
|However, as the two panniers would
never have worked alongside each other in their
respective liveries - and I felt that pushing the
envelope of history as well as geography would not be
accepted by exhibition patrons - more small locomotives
were needed. I already had a rather nice red Hornby
example of an Austerity 0-6-0ST whose recessed safety
valves and low chimney were much appreciated after the
modifications needed to operate 2743!
"Harry" ( pictured above ) could be used from the Second World War to the 1960s although to partner 2743 in earlier times I was able to acquire condensing A1X 0-6-0T 41 "Piccadilly" in the William Stroudley "Improved Engine Green" of the London Brighton & South Coast Railway. Or as the girl in the Ian Allen shop in Birmingham put it, " Do you want the little brown one on the end?" Purists might point out that Terrier 41 - having been built at Brighton in 1877 - was withdrawn in simple A1 condition in 1902 but a number of these 0-6-0Ts, designed for intensive passenger work over lightly laid tracks, were sold on to dock companies, contractors, collieries and the like - sometimes upgraded to A1X specification with cylindrical smokeboxes and larger coal bunkers. As such, "Piccadilly" can represent an LBSCR trip working from 1879 to 1902 ( when many of the Gloucester RCW wagons in my collection were built, see chronology for details ) and from then onwards to the 1920s it can be Moreland & Anderson's works shunter: kept in immaculate condition by the apprentices.
|To fill the gap betwen the two
World Wars and represent the LNER I plumped for J83
0-6-0T 9819. This was originally a Holmes 1900 vintage
Class D design for the North British Railway but during
the early part of the LNER epoch some of the forty strong
class did experimentally venture away from their
traditional routes. In my imagination 9819 came south to
Finsbury Park and stayed! Its smart yet workmanlike LMS
Jinty type shape also appealed to me more than the
alternative Hornby ex Great Northern J52 0-6-0ST
available in the shop cabinets - not least because the
saddle tank seemed rather wide for the lean-to!
Instead of using tank engines like other railways, Holmes continued the North British Railway's (NBR) tradition of using old tender locomotives for short distance goods and shunting duties. However, he was forced to change his mind during the 1890s when traffic levels boomed. After rebuilding twenty J31 0-6-0s as J84 0-6-0STs, he produced a new side tank locomotive, later to become known as the J83 . Forty of these new Class D engines were delivered in 1901, twenty each from Neilson, Reid & Co, and Sharp, Stewart & Co. of Glasgow
The entire class was built with steam brakes, but ten were quickly converted to the Westinghouse brake system. Vacuum ejectors were also fitted to these ten locomotives in about 1916. A further two were converted to dual braking before Grouping. During World War 2, these twelve locomotives had their Westinghouse brakes replaced by a brake that operated steam and vacuum brakes in combination. Unlike most of the NBR tank engines, the J83s survived into LNER ownership without any rebuilding.
The LNER was quick to rebuild them though. In 1924-5 the entire class was rebuilt with new boilers of identical external dimensions and only insignificant internal dimension differences. The domes were reduced in height by about 9" and the old dome-mounted lock-up safety valves were replaced by Ross pop safety valves mounted on the firebox. As well replacing the boilers, the rebuilds included helical springs on the rear axles and enlarged front sand boxes.
The J83s were initially used on transfer goods, mineral trip workings, banking, and heavy yard shunting. They were allocated to every NBR shed with the exception of Hawick and Stirling. After 1909, the J83s were displaced from many of their trip workings by the larger N14 and N15 0-6-2Ts. By Grouping, most of the J83s were being used for shunting with the dual braked locomotives being used for carriage shunting and pilot duties. By the 1930s, the J83s were allocated to St. Margaret's (9), Thornton (7), Eastfield (6), Kipps (5), Dundee (5), Haymarket (4), Carlisle (2), Perth (1), and Polmont (1). Allocations rarely changed for the rest of their lives.
One J83 was withdrawn in 1947, leaving thirty nine to enter British Railways ownership. It looked as if they would continue to have a long service life, and ten new boilers were built in 1951. With the introduction of increasing numbers of diesel shunters, this was not to be and withdrawals soon restarted. By NBR standards, many of these new boilers were withdrawn after extremely short lives. The last J83 was withdrawn in 1962.
The J83s proved to be reliable engines which were almost always fully occupied. They had one of the lowest maintenance costs of any LNER class, and had the highest mileage of any LNER 0-6-0T. Only three J83s failed to record 1 million miles during their lifetime, and No. 9830 managed to record a total of 2 million miles.
|The new locomotives fitted in to a
mosaic of road and rail vehicles that could now define
the chosen railway epochs of pre-Grouping ( around 1919,
but with 1899 onward now possible too), Grouping (
1934-39 ) Wartime ( May-August 1945, when the lights had
come back on in London but Japan still had to be defeated
) and Nationalised ( 1956 - 1962, after which wagons
tended to become too long to be handled at Capital Works
This is not to say that other small interesting, relevant locomotives could not be added in the future, but more immediately there were other gaps to be filled. Postwar road vehicles could be represented by either the Bristol LS coach or Bloodhound missile seen at the Cheltenham GWR Modellers Group Exhibition in October 2006, Wartime by a Gloucester RCW built Churchill tank and the 1930s by the Scammell Mechanical Horse mentioned above.
However, the pre 1923 era - to which most of my Gloucester built private owner coal wagons belonged - was harder to represent in terms of road traffic. Antics in Gloucester came up trumps with the Emhar kit of the Mk A Whippet tank seen above.
1919 - like 1945 - also represents a time when wagons had been requisitioned for war use and so were often to be found far from their peacetime haunts. This would explain their presence at Capital works - being refurbished before "demob" back to their original owners.
|Going further back
- although 4mm scale steam lorries seemed noticeable by
their absence as I scoured the local model shops - I was
able to acquire from the 2008 Fairground Extravaganza at
Churchdown Community Centre a Lledo Trackside Series
Burrell Showman's Locomotive in the company's own
Further research into Burrell's of Thetford allowed me to write the following caption for the display, the rest of the data being reserved for a longer web feature: The Best of the Burrells
Having developed mechanical problems during a visit to London from Thetford in Norfolk, the Burrell works demonstrator showmans engine has been booked into Morland and Anderson for repairs. Unfortunately, nobody in Thetford knew that there was a low bridge just outside Capital Works! While the policeman has averted a collision, the driver now looks to see if the chimney and safety valves can be dismantled. It is not as if he can let the tyres down!
The first purpose built Showmans Road Locomotive left Burrells St Nicholas Works in 1889 and carried both the name "Monarch" and the number 1451. Of over 4000 traction engines built in Thetford, 207 were Showmans engines, distinguished by their full length canopies with twisted brass supports, tall chimneys ( to carry away smoke from busy fairgrounds ), gaily painted bodywork and the belt driven dynamo transversely mounted ahead of the smokebox.
As well as hauling dismantled rides from fair to fair in trailers, these Showmans Road Locomotives could thus light and drive roundabouts and dodgems as well as kinematoscopes in tents, the forerunners of the permanent cinemas that we know today.
Although much more sophisticated than the first horse drawn single cylinder "portable" engines built by Charles Burrell in 1848 to power corn threshers the Showmans Road Locomotives would be supplanted by internal combustion lorries and tractors after 1914.
|LOOK, NO HOOKS!|
|Having established the historical
back story to Capital Works, there just remained the
question of handling the rolling stock in the scenic
section. Under the roof of the input road lean-to I
simply laid a length of 40 thou plastic card within the
"four foot" and angled it on lumps of Blu-Tac
in such a way that it released the tension lock couplings
of all British model wagon manufacturers. Then I could
simply propel the wagon into the lean-to and reverse the
locomotive out again "light engine", the wagon
having rolled into the black box beyond.
The wagons leaving the works could even more easily be placed behind the aperture of the sliding door for the output engine to hook up and haul away. A trickier problem, though, was the short siding. This was in full public view but I was able to make a virtue out of a necessity by claiming that Capital Works once had a winch system for moving wagons and that the cable drum and drive belt had been left in situ when locomotive operations started. The cable drum was made from a circular section of fountain pen refill cartridge further cut in half and filled with more Blu Tac, which held the structure in place slightly off centre in the track as I pressed it down, experimenting to find the best curve for actuating the Dapol and Robbie type tension lock couplings.
Once this had been established, the drum could be painted rust, as seen with the Healing & Sons of Tewkesbury wagon above. All that was now required was that the inserting locomotive had its front coupling raised with a small lump of Blu Tac invisible to the viewers. In this way only the wagon coupling would be holding the two vehicle train together and as this was raised the locomotive could simply reverse clean away. For extraction, the locomotive had its coupling lowered and it was this that hooked the wagon for a short journey back under the bridge.
This worked most of the time, but as the tab on the front wagon coupling arm sometimes jammed against the rusty drum rather than rising above it I added the black plastic card "belt" seen above with wagon 1 of the Chadborn, Son & Taylor fleet. This softened the angle at which the coupling lug made contact with the uncoupler and so made for more efficient operation - without any fiddling about with hooks!