Modelling British dioramas in 4mm scale is often seen as a remembrance of a glorious industrial past, and therefore assumed to be at odds with Britain’s 21st Century reality of service industries, celebrity culture and less formally structured social groups. However, in the words of media commentator Marshall McLuhan, “We march into the future backwards” – and in so doing the past often catches up with the present in unexpected ways. As such, Ming Ing offers a literally Liberal approach to transport history.
Another classic example was my N gauge layout Terminal 1 – originally designed to offer a station at an airport with a few hidden sidings. So many people came up to me at exhibitions and asked “Why don’t you put something on the end of it?” though that the Jeremy Kyle Memorial Fiddle Yard– complete with Stanier locomotives – was born.
As I originally wrote these words after the completion of the road and rail diorama in January 2013, celebrity author and sometime aspiring politician Katie Price ( pictured above) was on honeymoon with her third husband Kieran Hayler, whose plastering skills would doubtlessly be useful in creating model hillsides. But despite this and her previous weddings to singer Peter Andre and cage fighter Alex Reid, my most enduring memories of Katie Price was of her appearance in the November 2001 TV documentary “Can you live without fame?”
Having already challenged other people to live for a while without their precious cars and mobile phones, Channel 4 asked the then-emerging glamour model – also known as Jordan – to take another job incognito. With a long standing interest in horses, she chose to work as a groom under the name of Ali Dermott, an alias which sadly did little to disguise her. However, a knowledge of Britain’s railways might have led Katie Price to the Great Western Society at Didcot (pictured left) where the Brighton born celebrity could have spent her time waiting for the paparazzi to catch up with her cleaning out the fireboxes of Castles, Prairie tanks – and indeed such legends as George Jackson Churchward’s 4-4-0 saturated steam 3440 “City of Truro” – under the name of Ali McDermott – ideally leading to the red top tabloid headline “McDermott and Clinker”: punning on E.T. McDermott and C.R. Clinker’s three volume history of the GWR and adding a trainspotting demographic to her expanding fan base.
Despite this tactical error though, Jordan constantly registered her disapproval of everything from her new black polo shirt stable uniform to her make-up free complexion with the word “Minging”: which split into “Ming” and “Ing” represented a Chinese dynasty and an old English word for low lying grassland prone to seasonal flooding.
In fact “Ings” and related names – Ing, Inges, Inggs or Inge – are thought to be derived originally from the Nordic god Ingvi-Freyr, commonly known as Frey. The Eigth Century Anglo-Saxon Runic Poem refers to Frey as Ing:
“Ing was first seen by men among/ the East-Danes,/ till, followed by his chariot,/ he departed eastwards over the waves./ So the Heardingas named the hero”
In Nordic mythology Frey/Ing was associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather and was pictured as a phallic fertility god. Freyr, it was said, “bestows peace and pleasure on mortals”.
The old English poem Beowulf, written in about AD 1000 but based on earlier sagas, uses the term “ingwine” ( friend of Ing) when speaking of Danish kings. Ing then apparently meant “Lord”
In his study of Germanica, written in AD98, Roman historian Tacitus made Ing the eponymous father of the north Germans when he called them Ingaevones.
The connection between Ing and fertile water meadows is also made in the Yorkshire place name Ings Meadow while Nottinghamshire has an Ing Close and an Ings Holm. Similarly, at Hurworth in County Durham there is an Ingmire and an Innge close to Egglescliffe.
Ing was also said to be the ancestor of Inglings and the name was more widely used to mean “son of”, so that Hastings is named after the descendants of the people of Haesta and Birmingham translates as the homestead ( ham) of the descendants of Beorma.
From my student days in York I remembered Clifton Ings, on the flood plain of the River Ouse to the north of the city, and reasoned that the name Ming Ing could apply if only York had a Chinatown district. For the record it doesn’t, but – apart for the unfortunate immolation of 150 Jews seeking sanctuary in the wooden Clifford’s Tower in 1190 – York has a long history of multiculturalism – with many of its Roman citizens, who would have known the city as Eboracum – hailing from North Africa and even worshipping Egyptian gods. Similarly, 2013 saw French Air Force Rafales join RAF Eurofighter Typhoons based at nearby RAF Leeming for Exercise Capable Eagle. I did however become quite a connoisseur of Chinese takeaways while I was a student!
This play on words returned to my mind between 6 March 2006 and 15 October 2007 when the Liberal Democrat Party was led by Sir Walter Menzies “Ming” Campbell – made a Companion of Honour in the Queen’s 2013 Birthday Honours – who although Member of Parliament for North East Fife since 1987, could easily have stood down to fight for York at a General Election. Had he done this, succeeded and supported a byelaw forbidding glamour models to exercise their horses in Chinatown, Jordan – who stood unsuccessfully as an independent candidate for Stretford and Urmston in 2001 – could then have sparked the tabloid headline “Ming Ing with Ming in is Minging!”
Adding Liberal Democrats to the mix gave the notion of Ming Ing a fresh definition – as rather than just a takeaway in a field of horses it could now have roads – probably without speed cameras – such as Jeremythorpe and Mincingate (leading to Mincing Bar set in the walls of York), a set of Cable drums (Dr Vince Cable being born in York although serving as MP for Twickenham), a Lamb on a Teather, an advertisement for Alton Towers, someone cutting an Ash down in a paddy and even some rabbits looking at another advertisement for Eurostar. There could even be a siding off the former British Rail Foss Islands Branch or the erstwhile Derwent Valley Light Railway hosting a Brake van, perhaps on fire and being extinguished by a Carmichael fire engine. Take your Opik!
However, this busy landscape had to remain in my imagination – and sorry as Nick Clegg I was about it – until March 2011 when, at the invitation of Andy Peckham and The Mellor Brothers , I attended a Model Bus Federation show at Whitton near Twickenham in Middlesex.
After buying some suitable decals for myKeil Kraft RML double decker, later displayed on my Universal Works layout, I noticed that one of the dioramas was for sale at a very reasonable price – especially as the deal included a number of die cast models of vintage AEC and Leyland double deck buses in the green and cream markings of City Buses of Brentwood, Essex.
With ordinary Code 1 (ie as sold by the manufacturers) EFE and Original Omnibus 4mm die cast buses retailing for around £25.00 I definitely had the makings of a “reem” diorama, not least as bus – even more than train – operators are constantly updating their fleets with newer rolling stock, allowing older vehicles to move elsewhere in the country to smaller outfits who might choose not to waste money repainting them.
One of the AEC Regents was also converted to open top configuration, which further suggested the idea that City Buses could have been bought as a going concern and moved to York as a sightseeing operator as well as providing fuel, cleaning services and minor repairs for the coaches of other companies bringing tourists to the Minster, National Railway Museum, Jorvik Centre and other historic attractions.
As can be seen from these pictures, the 3′ x 2′ ex Brentwood diorama offered depot buildings and a yard with a fuel tank as well as a repair shop with inspection pits and an excursion booking office with administration space above. In short, plenty of room for my own limited coach collection as well as guest vehicles. But now that I had decided that the only way was York – and more specifically York’s fictional Chinatown district – how could the sense of location be achieved?
To begin with, the amount of scenery on Ming Ing was decided by how large an 18mm MDF sheet could be fitted in the back of a Rover 25 hatchback – the answer being 5′ 7″ long by 2′ deep with one corner slightly cut off. Given that the 3′ x 2′ Brentwood depot would need to be defined by other scenery to the left and right – with the “sky” otherwise used for the Joint Harrier Strike Force as a backdrop – this left a spare 2′ 7″ of frontage which – allowing for a minimal amount of cantileverage – was subsequently split into a 7″ and a 25″ module.
The seven inch wide Module 1 would carry a representation of the city walls of York and the canalised River Foss, the Brentwood depot would become Module 2 and the 25 inch wide Module 3 would house a part of the Derwent Valley Light Railway and what I initially envisaged as a Chinese restaurant but which eventually turned into a cafe for the adjacent lorry park. To remember the motor engineer just down the road from my student digs – still trading as Paul Garland Limited Lawrence Street Garage – and my own family history with the car trade, there was also to be a garage in the part of the module inaccessible to lorries.
Integrating Modules 1 and 3 with the existing Module 2 meant addressing the challenge of Module 2 being slightly lower than the 18mm MDF bases of the new sections, and in the case of Module 1 a strong concrete bank to the canalised River Foss – which would have turned the land area of Modules 2 and 3 into a swamp otherwise! – created a narrow road (or cycle path, knowing York) at the left hand edge of Module 2.
The bank also formed a natural towpath for pedestrians (in this case two Bachmann police officers, two Airfix civilians and some white metal Langley Models waterfowl) who were illuminated by Peco Model Scenics gas lamps (similar to ones found near York Minster) and protected from falling off into traffic by Ratio type 435 GWR spear fencing, also used to define part of the Derwent Valley Light Railway on Module 3.
The city walls were researched using Google Earth and made to the simplest existing design by cutting crenellations into the top of 18mm MDF with a jigsaw and then covering the face of the piece with Wills stone walling painted Dulux Natural Calico to represent Yorkshire limestone. The solid portions of the crenellations also had textured plastic sheet applied to their side faces with the nominally flat surfaces in between brought up to the level of the blocks with mastic material to represent stone weathered by centuries exposed to the elements.
As many visitors to York will know, the real walls have an elevated footpath behind them, but as this model version was designed solely to define the rest of Ming Ing as being outside their embrace this feature was omitted, thereby avoiding another layer of wood and allowing the existing wall section to directly strengthen the Dulux First Dawn painted sky behind it. In practical terms too, the city wall section and river bank against it also kept the module’s centre of gravity back to allow more secure storage on a narrow shelf.
Although nowhere in York does the River Foss run parallel to the city walls in this manner – unlike the Chester Canal below the sandstone walls of the former Roman Deva Victrix – steep grass-covered defensive banks up to them are common and sometimes fitted with floodlights to show off the walls in the darkness. As these model walls – made up from scrap wood and painted Dulux Intense Truffle – were to be subject to water erosion however they were not completely covered in grass scenic scatter.
Arguably the hardest part of creating the River Foss however was making the water out of 12 layers of clear gloss varnish and keeping the part built module level at the same time. However, the tendency of thin layers of varnish to make irregular puddles was used to help create the wake of the Preiser speedboat was it careered toward its stablemate’s kayak. The resin cabin cruisers were obtained from Keith’s Bits and Pieces of Weston Super Mare.
While Module 1 used man made barriers to define the edge of the diorama, a road defined by a small formal garden left the right hand side of Module 2 and required some kind of continuation along the 25 remaining inches of frontage.
My solution was to mark the divide with the piece of Derwent Valley Light Railway that I had wanted to include and the Dapol C015 Level Crossing described in detail elsewhere on this website. For this particular installation however, the cobbled approach ramps on each side were cut back and the side walls under the ramps omitted to allow modern long-wheelbase coaches and lorries to negotiate the shallow Code 100 Peco track and reach their specific parking area beyond.
Even in its cut back form however, the ex-Airfix level crossing still allowed the road up the right hand side of Module 2 to be widened with an unofficial layby on Module 3, defined by York limestone walls on the left hand side of the track leading from the crossing to the Dapol C007 Engine Shed used by the DVLR as a repair depot.
This section of track was given a concrete-effect surround as this would have been more practical for a vehicle shop than having workers crunching their way around on ballast and from a model handling point of view this minimised the amount of granite granules that would come loose. The concrete-flush-to-the-rail-tops effect was achieved by laying 1/8″ cork sheeting on either side of the sleepers and then 1/16″ cork to cover the sleepers themselves, both inside and out of the four foot way, allowing gaps for the wheel flanges.
The paint used on this section of concrete was Dulux Soft Stone while chalkboard style matt black had been used to coat the base of the MDF diorama. This was further treated with talcum powder where it needed to represent dusty, down-at-heel tarmac roads while for the sake of contrast the tarmac pavements were kept clean.
Although paper or plastic sheet representations of flagstones are often used to create model pavements, the common alternative of tarmac was created here by cutting shapes in 1/8″ cork sheet – painted black once stuck down to allow any brown edges to be coated over – and defined by kerb stones made from lengths of hollow square section extruded Plastruct painted a suitable dark grey.
The soft, pliable nature of the cork sheeting also made easy the installation of street lighting – either from the Ratio 455 Modern Street Lights Set or using spare swan necked lamps from the Dapol Engine Shed mounted on poles made from cleaned-up Airfix sprue.
Moving on to more specific structures, a Chinese “Gate of Heaven” – based on one at Gloucester Crematorium – was added to put the Ming in Ming Ing in the absence of readily available Chinese ethnic figures and was created by adding the roof of a Wills type SS35 GWR Pagoda Hut – painted Humbrol Emerald Green – to an arch scratchbuilt from plastic card thick enough to let such a bipedal structure stand up. At one point I had thought of letting this straddle the roadway like the Arc de Triomphe but the roof was too narrow and I don’t know of an equivalent in O gauge! The rest of the Wills hut will be kept for possible future use.
“Samuel and Eleanor welcome you to The Ming Ing Cafe All Day Breakfasts WiFi Access” reads the computer generated Calibri face sign on the side of the Dapol C31 Modern Shop and Flat, an establishment of interest to both environmental health inspectors and truck drivers alike and popularly known in the area as Sam ‘n’ Ella’s. Bearing a strong resemblance to the Airfield Control Tower that Airfix retained in its building range, the C31 is, in my opinion, a much under-rated kit that could be easily converted into a fire station or a range of other buildings. As it is, the instructions allow the customer door to be placed at either side of the frontage or in the middle and a decal sheet is supplied for a number of window displays.
Like both the Control Tower and the Dapol Signal Box too, the Modern Shop and Flat can be assembled as a shell but benefits greatly from the shop section having a plastic card ceiling – so that the shop floor is not visible through the skylight – and a similar wall upstairs so that light does not shine directly from the front to the back. On the other hand though, some of the window shutter members could be cut away to reveal a fully detailed interior if so desired – although this would require much more effort in planning and execution.
As it was I decided to partly blank off the cafe windows with thin plastic card and install serving and eating counters beyond of slightly thicker material – left white to replicate wipe clean surfaces. Once again, if placed in a prominent position, it would be worth filling The Ming Ing Cafe with Samuel and Eleanor, customers and food. As it is, one Preiser construction worker has just finished off his Yorkie bar and is looking out at the lorry turning space while a Dapol trackside worker in a fluorescent jacket waits to be served.
The placement of the Cafe on Module 3 was determined by the ability of an articulated lorry to either turn left 90 degrees or otherwise make a three point turn and back up alongside it – the line of lorries stretching beyond the three bays modelled and into the blue of the background and the viewer’s imagination.
A smaller bay directly in front of The Ming Ing Cafe can also be used for smaller rigid commercial vehicles and is also conveniently placed for the most modern of the four postal boxes supplied in the Gilbow / EFE street scene set. Officially licenced by the Royal Mail Group Limited and The British Postal Museum and Archive, this has the now-familiar locker on the side of the cylindrical pillar so that postal delivery workers do not have to carry all their mailbags at once. The oval section First and Second Class box in the set was positioned on Module 2 next to the Giles Gilbert Scott telephone kiosk while the plain round and Plygonal section boxes were retained for future projects.
The Royal Mail Land Rover Defender post bus is Oxford Die Cast model 76DEF002 which carries the Pitlochry registration N949 GSG, but could easily have been transferred south of Hadrian’s Wall to deal with the country roads between Ming Ing and Hull before delivering the collected mail to the sorting office in York’s Leeman Road. Also visible in the picture above is one of the etched brass drain and manhole covers from Langley Models set F73, painted a dark rust.
While pleased with the parking provisions made for my small fleet of lorries (and possible future guests) away from the narrow streets around Module 2, the space inside their turning circle allowed for Dapol model C32 to fill a pleasing ying-yang pattern of pavement.
Although described as a Petrol Station, I decided that pumps would be out of place in what had become a back street like Jeremythorpe – not least as independent petrol stations as we once knew them are rapidly disappearing in favour of supermarket forecourts, who sold 40% of all road fuel in 2012. In fact while there were 37 500 petrol stations in the UK in 1970 – when the Esso ones were giving away free England World Cup Squad coins to collect – by 2012 there were only 8 677. These factors, combined with the small percentage of the price of a litre of petrol that the garage owner actually receives for each transaction, have thus driven many traditional garages into either just selling and/or servicing cars.
Given York’s Nordic past – and my family’s associations with Volvo from the 1960s to the 1980s – I decided that the Art Deco style building would become Viking Vehicles, specialising in Volvo (currently a division of Hangzhou based Geely automotive group) and the now-fallen marque of Saab just as there are firms specialising in Italian and Japanese automobiles.
The signage – in Copperplate Gothic Bold – was as near as I could get to Runes and before any reader opens a new window to look for it, the website does not exist (as of early 2013) just as the telephone number is in fact the fax line to the National Railway Museum.
Similarly the paint scheme is in similar Swedish national colours to those used by Ikea and were achieved with Humbrol colours 81Matt Pale Yellow and 14 Gloss French Blue. The interior of the building was Humbrol 33 Matt Black and six-foot-way wooden decking left over from the Dapol Level Crossing was used both as a fence between Viking Vehicles and the level crossing itself and to divide the servicing bay from the shop. Combined with the tyre and spare part decal for the window, this left the shop suitably dark that a lack of counter, till, customers, shelves etc. would not be noticed.
Dapol kit C32 also features a rear entrance, which in this case was adapted as an emergency exit with the back of the garage forming part of the wall of the rail repair yard. The barrier to stop escaping mechanics running into the path of trains was formed from a paper clip and the mechanics themselves were from the Airfix USAAF ground crew set.
This was, in a way, apt as I envisaged this part of Ming Ing being shaped by the Second World War, the Metcalfe Victorian Terraced Houses (bought pre assembled second hand), wagon repair works of a similar vintage and 1930s garage having survived the Luftwaffe’s Baedecker Raid on York in 1941 which destroyed the small livestock market which the DVLR branch had also been built to serve. This was then rapidly cleared of rubble and adapted for anti-aircraft artillery before being developed into a lorry park – complete with cafe – in the 1950s.
The green and red Cararama Saabs with sunroofs are 9-3 Viggens ( loosely based on the Vauxhall Vectra and built from 1998 to 2012 and named after the Saab 37 double-delta wing aircraft) with the registrations SB93W and SB93W respectively while the red and black 9-5 Aeros (produced from 1997 to 2009 with limited commonality to the Vauxhall Insignia) both have the licence plate SB95A.
As discussed elsewhere on this website, the five decade old design of the vehicle doors of the Dapol Engine Shed do not reach all the way to modern shallow track and to help minimise the visual impact of this on the diorama some vehicles were needed to cover the gap. In time these could be any historic locomotive or wagon from the National Railway Museum (which could still use the Ming Ing facility for repairs or just the remaining branch of the DVLR for testing) but as a default vehicle I used the Dapol C60 Drewry shunter: not just because it was available but because an ex British Rail example -D2298 – really did work on the Derwent Valley Light Railway.
Introduced in 1952, the 141 diesel mechanical 0-6-0s numbered D2200 – D2340 and later known as Class 04 were among the first diesel locomotives mass produced for British Railways. However, although ordered from the Drewry Car Company, sub-contraction saw them actually assembled by other manufacturers, with D2298 emerging from the Newcastle works of Robert Stephenson Hawthorne in October 1960 as RSH works number 8157 and Drewry product 2679.
D2298 was sent new to Lincoln Depot and spent most of its first eight years based there or at Boston or Colwick Depots. On 7 July 1968 however, the locomotive was sent to Gateshead but was withdrawn from service in December of that year. This was due to a change of BR freight policy with ‘wagon load’ traffic gradually being phased out in favour of block trains which did not require sorting in marshalling yards. Thus hundreds of engines like D2298 were thus withdrawn after very short working lives.
However, in April 1969 D2298 was purchased from British Rail by the Derwent Valley Light Railway, which had first opened on 27 July 1913, linking two parts of the North Eastern Railway at York (Layerthorpe) and at Cliff Common, near Selby with a 16 mile long route.
D2298 is seen above at Layerthorpe – headquarters of the DVLR – on 16 July 1974 at the head of a train of 37 ton gross laden weight grain hoppers after it had become the railway’s locomotive number 1 and been named “Lord Wenlock” after the first Chairman of the Company. D2298 also worked the very last passenger train on the DVLR – an enthusiasts special – in 1982 after which the line was lifted and the trackbed sold off for its increasing land value.
“Lord Wenlock”, by then painted in a lined-out near-Caledonian Blue livery, left Yorkshire in 1982 for a new life of preservation at Quainton Road, Buckinghamshire, where it has since reverted to its BR green livery as D2298. Given that Ming Ing supposes that part of the DVLR survived into the present day – as indeed half a mile of it does at the Yorkshire Museum of Farming at Murton – I envisaged “Lord Wenlock” continuing to run on its metals and having received a Eurostar type makeover with plain yellow rather than wasp stripe ends, white grab rails and yellow coupling and connecting rods between its red buffer beams.
Promoted under the 1896 Light Railways Act to encourage agricultural trade in rural areas, the DVLR was one of the few railway companies not affected by either Grouping or Nationalisation and became freight only in 1926 with steam passenger trains returning merely as an unsuccessful experiment during 1977 – 1979. However, the closure of British Railway’s Selby – Cliff Common – Bubwith – Market Weighton route to Beverley led to the abandonment of the southern part of the DVLR in 1965 and by 1972 there was only four miles of track to Dunnington left.
This route was justified by the presence of the Yorkshire Grain Dryers plant where diesel mechanical 0-4-0 “Churchill” (John Fowler 4100005 of 1947) shunted the famous British Railway Traffic & Electric’s 300 strong fleet of “Blue” 37 ton gross laden weight grain hoppers introduced between 1965 and 1971. These were built – some by Powell Duffryn – with Accelerator Freight Inshot distributors to their vacuum brakes to improve braking reaction times and reduce vacuum surges on long trains which could lead to broken couplings. However, these wagons would eventually be replaced by more modern air braked vehicles and none have been preserved.
Back at Layerthorpe meanwhile, the DVLR’s own John Fowler DM ( 4210142 of 1958) named “Claude Thompson” after a long serving Company Chairman, was more likely to be shunting oil tanks to the BP depot and coal to the other terminals there or even moving the DVLR’s limited non-revenue maintenance stock prior to the 1982 closure.
Since 1982, and even more rapidly in the 21st Century, York – like many other cities – has spread out and become more crowded with people and animals alike adapting to a more intense urban environment. Most celebrated of these are the examples of Vulpes vulpes who would rather knock over a dustbin and forage for discarded beef burgers – or even bite a child – than catch a rabbit, although they are no less susceptible to Health and Safety diktats that other animals or humans. Hence one (supplied as a white metal casting by Springside) who chose to hide under the wheels of “Lord Wenlock” has been crushed and mortally wounded by its sudden movement. Or as a York Evening Press headline might encapsulate the sensation “04 Fox Ache!”
Similarly, despite the ascent of the Hunting Act to the English Statute Book in 2004, there are currently 184 active Hunts of which the area around Ming Ing has two – the north and south versions of the York and Ainsty Hunt. Started as a unified organisation in 1816, the York and Ainsty divided in 1929 due to the size of North Yorkshire, its land area split by wide rivers and the expansion of the City of York. The York and Ainsty North hounds hunt a country roughly bounded by Thirsk, Coxwold, Easingwold, Hunsingore, Summerbridge, Knaresborough and Ripon, with Boroughbridge as its centre.
The minimum number of foxhounds needed to maintain a registered pack is 10 couple ( twenty hounds and a spare making twenty-one) although most hunts maintain in excess of thirty couple. As the Langley Models F34 Hunt Scene white metal set only contains six riding hunters and six hounds it would be an expensive and space consuming enterprise to represent the entire north or south York and Ainsty Hunt – whose rules in any case do not currently allow them to chase foxes into built up areas. However, it is not impossible that just some of the hounds picked up the scent of the “04 Fox” (obviously not to be confused with yacht designer Uffa Fox!) and had to be followed along Jeremythorpe and restrained!
The north hunt’s website also contained the following information useful to the modeller:
“In the hunting season, from November to the end of February it is customary for those riding in the field to wear a black coat and cream or buff breeches with a white stock and hunting shirt and black boots. Masters and officers of the hunt are entitled to wear a scarlet coat (or a blue coat, in the case of a lady Master) with brass buttons and white or buff breeches and black boots with a tan top.”
Private Eye of 16 September 2011 also commented:
“Some packs maintain that they follow a ‘trail’ that has been laid by a man or four wheel drive pulling a heavily scented bag. Others are accompanied by a ‘bird of prey’ which is carried by one of the hunt followers. This means that the number of dogs that can be used to flush out a fox is no longer limited by the hunting act to two. Once a pack of hounds is released into open countryside, it will sometimes flush out a fox, chase and kill it, which a hunt is then best advised to describe as an “accident”.”
Of course there was a time when fox hunts were an undeniably respected part of society and celebrated in the locomotive naming policy of the London & North Eastern Railway with the D49/2 sub class of Nigel Gresley’s 1927 vintage 4-4-0 design. Like the earlier Churchward Counties on the GWR and Maunsell’s later Class V “Schools” on the Southern, Gresley chose the 4-4-0 wheel arrangement to allow the D49s to work intermediate expresses over routes barred to his larger engines, in this case A1 Pacifics such as “Flying Scotsman”.
The new design – featuring three cylinders actuated by Gresley’s patented conjugated Walschaerts valve gear – had to replace ageing North Eastern Railway (NER) and North British Railway (NBR) locomotives and to supplement existing NER and NBR Atlantics, further economy being achieved by using the same parallel boiler as the J39 0-6-0 goods engine. Fitted with Ross pop safety valves, these boilers were built by Cowlairs, Robert Stephenson & Company, or at Darlington.
The first engine – 234 “Yorkshire” – was completed at Darlington in October 1927 and the D49 would be the last LNER 4-4-0 design to be built, with 76 examples being erected up to 1935. 28 D49/1s – built in three batches up to 1929 and mostly named after English and Scottish counties – had conventional piston valves while the forty two 1928 vintage D49/2 were fitted with Lentz Rotary Cam poppet valves and named after fox hunts.
Sub class D49/3 comprised the locomotives eventually numbered 62720 – 62725 by British Railways, all built in 1928 with Lentz Oscillating Cam poppet valves but converted to D49/1 standard in 1938. D49/2 locomotives 62751-62775 were also initially classified as D49/4 due to having larger valves than their older classmates. From within this sub class, locomotives 62763 “The Fitzwilliam” and 62764 “The Garth” were fitted with Reidinger rotary valve gear in 1949.
The first D49/1s were built with Wakefield 6-feed mechanical lubricators to lubricate the piston valves, and oilboxes in the cab for the axleboxes but as this proved insufficient the D49/2s were built with two 8-feed lubricators. The D49s also combined the design philosophies of both Darlington and Doncaster, with the one-piece casting of steam chest and three cylinders, inside steam pipes and a bogie wheel diameter of 3′ 1 1/4″ being typical of County Durham while the driving wheel size of 6′ 8″ was more strongly latter practice.
A distinctive feature on the D49/1 piston valve engines were the rectangular boxes fitted on the running boards just behind the cylinders. These were sheet metal covers that housed the top of the expansion link in the outside valve motion which extended above the footplate line – and did not contain tools!
The bulk of the D49s were allocated to the LNER’s Scottish and North East areas. The Scottish Area received twenty four D49/1s and one D49/3 with most allocated to St. Margaret’s, Dundee, and Eastfield and smaller numbers going to Perth and Haymarket. North of the Border, D49s were used for main line express passenger but they were also seen on some semi-fast and stopping services. In particular the St. Margaret’s and Carlisle D49s acquired a good reputation on the difficult Waverley route.
However, by 1939, most of the A3 and V2 route restrictions had been lifted and these 4-6-2 and 2-6-2 locomotives had displaced the Scottish D49s to goods workings, even though they were not particularly sure-footed on these duties and their relatively high axle loading restricted them from many of the branch lines.
The North Eastern Area D49s were initially allocated to York and Leeds Neville Hill on main line services to Newcastle, and cross-country services to Hull, Sheffield, Grantham, and Lincoln. They were also recorded hauling excursion services to King’s Cross and two D49/2s eventually became the first brand new locomotives ever to be allocated to Hull Botanic Gardens.
During the 1930s, the D49s were ideally suited to their typical seven to ten coach trains on 50-100 mile journeys although heavy 350-400 ton trains were managed during World War II with only a loss of a minute or two on such moderate length workings. However, as had been the case in Scotland, the introduction of Thompson B1 4-6-0s in the late 1940s relegated the D49s to freight duties.
In 1952, 62768 “The Morpeth” was involved in a three engine collision at Dragon Junction near Starbeck – between Harrogate and York – and was sufficiently damaged to warrant withdrawal but otherwise the whole D49 Shire / Hunt class survived into September 1957 before losing ground to diesels. The last withdrawal was 62712 “Morayshire”, which also became the sole preserved D49 and is pictured above on the Bolton and Embsay Railway in 2009.
Reidinger rotary valve gear fitted D49/2 “The Garth” arrives at the northern end of York station from the line leading north eastward to Scarborough Bridge over the River Ouse and thence to Haxby, Earswick or Layerthorpe.
Some of the D49/1 shires – such as 2755 “Berkshire” – represented counties that had no LNER lines whatsoever, yet no D49 was named after County Durham where all of the D49s were built!
The first two D49/2s built in 1929 were originally identified as 336 “Buckinghamshire” and 352 “Leicestershire” but to bring them in line with the hunt theme these were renamed to “The Quorn” and “The Meynell“ respectively in 1932.
Throughout its life, 281 carried the mis-spelt name of “Dumbartonshire”. The correct name for the county is Dunbartonshire although the county town is Dumbarton.
The Bramham Moor Hunt later merged with The Badsworth and The Grove merged with The Grafton although in a nod to The Goathland the Aidensfield Arms in ITV’s long running drama series “Heartbeat” featured a nameplate reading “The Aidensfield”