1971 – July – A polite correspondence

The letters page of the July 1971 Railway Magazine produced some interesting snippets, but most fascinating was the style.  Letter writing was still an art – no email, Fa(r)cebook or Twitter.

This month’s letters had an exchange of views on whether the exhaust beats of a Mallet or Garrett locomotive, with two sets of cylinders and motion, were synchronised or not.  One protagonist was the famous O.S. Nock.  We complain about the aggressive exchanges on the internet.  These extracts from two long letters show that the polite insult goes back a long way.  A.E Durrant, from Western Australia, writes….

Sir – I read with some interest Mr. O.S. Nock’s article on the subject of Garratts and Mallets, and now that the postal strike has ended am able to comment.  The idea that the two unots of a Garratt or non-compound Mallet, “get in step” and stay synchronised is utter nonsense…..

By his own words, Mr Nock’s Garratt experience is little more than vestigial, and certainly  not in line with his authority on British express train running…..  My own extensive Garratt experience started in 1955…..

In the stillness of the African dusk, supping a “sundowner” at my local pub, a Garratt would depart on the immense climb to Uplands, slowly but surely ascending the grade.  Similarly, dawn in the game park, near Athi river, wondering whether that dark shadow would materialise into a lion or just a bush, usually coincided with a main-line freight from Mombasa, with a “59” class…..

Mr Nock’s musings concerning cylinder positioning are as naïve as his attempts to justify the non-existent synchronisation phenomenon…..

O.S. Nock replies……

Sir, Mr Durrant should be a little careful in suggesting that other people are talking “utter nonsense” when the argument he is trying to sustain is in flat contradiction of the experience of senior engineers in many parts of the world who have lived their lives with Garratts.  This is the experience of men who have designed, tested and run Garratts, rising to positions of the highest responsibilities in the process – not the results of lineside and carriage tape recordings, and background music to the pleasure of a “pint at the local”!…..

I hesitate to suggest that some of those sundowners Mr Durrant enjoyed were stronger laced than he realised and contributed to the syncopated effects!  So there you are, Sir.  A “dusty” letter invites a letter that is a bit dusty in reply.

Mee-owww!  I’ve seen people defriended on Facebook, or leave a forum after an exchange like this!  There was no further correspondence on the subject in 1971.


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ESNG Exhibition 2017 #4

The Kato Racetrack had (I think) 14 independent circuits to run all of Paul’s bullet trains and some other trains as well.

Another small shunting layout, Tunbridge Yard West  is a 4ft x 1.5ft, modern image, layout set in the early 90s as a shunting / storage yard for Network Rail, diesels with some emu storage sidings.  It is loosely based on Tunbridge Yard West and the Inglenook Sidings set up.  I liked the electric pylons in the background, though I’d probably break them if I tried to uncouple anything on the layout.

Oakhurst is a terminus station on an a ficticious preserved line. The line is home to a fleet of both steam and heritage diesels, with the mainline connection at Newbridge adding further traffic from incoming railtours.

Forrestone is based on a fictional spur off a south London main line comprising two platforms and a locomotive depot for a freight company. It is run on DCC, and will be controlled by iPad and iPhone.  Looks like there is a steam gala in the bay…..

BH Enterprises had their usual spot, selling all the bits and pieces you never knew you needed!  Here’s proof positive that Bob was awake…..

And I have to make a mention of our catering team, who fed and watered the home team and visitors throughout the day.

And finally, we packed up and retired to the Ruchita for the traditional curry.  So that’s it till next year, folks!!!

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ESNG Exhibition 2017 #3

Also in the corridor was Kuritu.  It’s unusual in three ways. It’s Japanese, it’s an inter-urban railway, and it has been designed to be viewed from both sides. A simple design, but it just ‘oozes’ Japan.

Ian Lamkin lives just up the road in Redhill, but is always booked up further in advance than my ability to arrange a show.  So it was very pleasing to get him and Santa Barbara along.  Santa Barbara is a near scale model of the area around Santa Barbara Amtrak station which is between the beach and the main downtown area. Many photographs and measurements have been taken around the station to recreate as many details as possible. The Surf Line runs from San Diego up through Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, 100 miles north of Los Angeles.

I managed to catch Atlantic Road in a train-free moment.  But it’s the summer of 1998 and trains pass above Atlantic Road, Brixton in South London. Eurostars are using Waterloo International, EWS and Freightliner are still using locos inherited from BR and slam-door EMUs are still in regular use.  I like this layout as 10 years living up the road near the Oval meant that I was familiar with the area – especially Brixton market.

Neil Grace was selling his usual mixture of military and railway equipment.  And he has added some Lego for the younger enthusiast.

We welcomed back the West Sussex N Gauge group AGAIN, with their N-mod layout.

And here’s Jon the Blue-Plastic-Box man showing that he does stock other items.

One more post to go, with the rest of the layouts.

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ESNG Exhibition 2017 #2

A feature of ESNG shows is ERIC the Roundhouse.  We try to have ERIC appear in a new guise for each show – recent themes have been a PW depot, locomotives seen in Redhill, Japanese locomotives, and Lehigh Valley diesels.  However, we were running out of ideas.  A flash of inspiration, and we proudly present: ERIC, International Tramway Museum.  I didn’t realise I had quite that many trams!

On the far side of the hall, John Brightwell’s ‘Alpenbahn’ modular layout settled down to run a steady stream of trains all day.  Alpenbahn was originally conceived and constructed as a modular layout by members of ESNG. It is now being curated by John Brightwell. As the name suggests, an alpine scene is represented, the idea being that very long prototypical trains can be run through an evocative landscape. Today, Alpenbahn is linked to two of Richard Oliver’s N-Club modules.

We invited Richard Oliver to add his N-club modules to the end of Alpenbahn, and he also operated the end loops.  Richard’s modules are very neat and fully lit.  I’m afraid we caught Richard at an inopportune moment.  Has he:

  1. Fallen asleep waiting for the next train?
  2. Expired after eating a rock cake from the catering department?
  3. Put his money on the wrong horse in the National?

Please send any answers to any website but this one.  (Sorry Olly).

The other layout in the room was Three Gates – tiny yet perfectly formed.   It’s branch line/light railway terminus somewhere in the South West of England.  Stock is by Farish, Dapol & Peco.  The layout folds into a box 2ft. x 1ft. 4ins. for transport & storage.  This just shows that anyone can have a layout, anywhere.

Out in the corridor, Neil & Martin’s emporium was where you could buy the proverbial kitchen sink – provided it was second-hand.  There are rumours that they are part of the Trotter family empire.  Derek and Dave are wondering whether to part with some of their money….

Tomorrow, we begin to work down the classrooms to show the other layouts in the exhibition.

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ESNG Exhibition 2017 #1

Well, we’ve survived another annual exhibition!  A lot of hard work, but well worth it.  All went well, we had some good modelling on display, and received a number of very positive comments from the punters – not least about the real coffee on sale in the refreshment area!

But work started on the Friday afternoon, collecting things from the club room about 1pm, then slowly working to put the N-mod/N-club circuit together.  Ideally, one should have a trial run of the layout to be exhibited, to make sure all is working.  However life has been just too hectic, so a long afternoon to allow for a few repairs and rewiring is a good substitute.   And there’s time for coffee breaks and a fish-and-chip supper.

In another room, Paul was piecing together all his Kato Unitrack for the Kato Racetrack….

Saturday morning, 10am, all was working (just) and the doors opened to our visitors.  It was a strange year, in that there was a very high attendance in the morning (I was wondering about a record year), but a very quiet afternoon without the usual ‘surge’ after lunch.  Perhaps the fine weather and the Grand National kept people away.

However, to get in you have to pass the ‘gate-keepers’, experts in giving the wrong change and insulting the visitors.  For some reason, they seem to love it!  Here, Graham and Reg look ready to confuse all comers…..

Still, the hall is pretty busy, so a few hardy souls have made it past the pay-desk.

The fiddle yard has the usual variety of stock/  We were initially aiming for a UK themed day, but Simon, Graham and I have set up a few American rakes.

On the N-mod circuit, our late President’s ‘Lowwater Basin’ diorama was behind the main lines, though it looks as though a little repair is needed to one roof.

One new idea for the modular layout this year was the addition of a double track N-club standards branch off the main N-mod circuit (we’ve done it once before.)  Here we have one of the junctions on Derek’s module, whilst Simons long American tanker train passes on the main line.

Derek’s N-club corner hosts a preservation society, who seem to have preserved some old ‘Lone-Star’ track to build their yard.  That Derek recycles everything….

After going to Stuttgart and back unused, I was pleased to see that my ‘Clubhouse’ N-club module saw trains running over it, and worked fine.  I’ve got all the figures and vehicles to place on the scene, but just haven’t had time to set it up.

Trade in the main hall included Invicta, that was a real family business for the day….

And NScaleCH.  No John guarding his stand, as he was keeping Alpenbahn running.

Next post, more from the main hall.

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Swanage Strictly Bullied Steam Gala #2

Second episode of the Derek & Allan show from Swanage…..

Load testing the footbridge…..

Rebuilt Battle of Britain 34053, ‘Sir Keith Park’.  Park was in operational command during two of the most significant air battles in the European theatre in the Second World War, helping to win the Battle of Britain and the Battle of Malta. In Germany, he was supposedly known as “the Defender of London”. (From Wikipedia).

And un-rebuilt Battle of Britain class, 34070, ‘Manston’.  Manston, in East Kent, was a key air base during the Battle of Britain.

To finish, a little scenic inspiration.  It’s probably more difficult to model this well, than a brand new coach….

And last but not least, I don’t think Bullied had much to do with this, but I like it!

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Swanage Strictly Bullied Steam Gala #1

I’m panicking towards a flight to Jakarta, so the ESNG show pictures will have to wait a couple of posts more.  But for now, some prototype inspiration…..

Allan & Derek recently spent a weekend on the Swanage Railway, where they were running a number of Bullied Pacific 4-6-2’s.  Some of the last steam locomotives to run on British Railways, they are handsome locomotives in both un-rebuilt and rebuilt forms.  And one of my favourites, as I saw them in their last days on services from Waterloo.

And is it really 50 years since I was behind a West Country or Battle of Britain class?

The Swanage railway is blessed by some wonderful scenic locations, none better than at Corfe Castle.

We’ll run through some of the locomotives on parade.  We start with 34052, Lord Dowding, a Battle of Britain class locomotive named after the head of RAF fighter command during the Battle of Britain in 1942.  We start at Corfe Castle, again…

So clean you can see your face in it….


Two complete today, two photographs of un-rebuilt locomotives.  Here’s 34081, the British Railways built ’92 Squadron’, without nameplates.

And just a nameplate and ‘Golden Arrow’ logo for 34092, City of Wells.  Naming half of this class of locomotives after Southern Railway West Country, mainly holiday, destinations was a publicity success.  And naming the other half to honour the Battle of Britain airfields and squadrons was equally astute.

More next post.


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