Minories, Minories everywhere…..

Once you start looking for ‘Minories’ type layouts, they seem to be everywhere.  I suppose this is hardly surprising, as the layout of crossovers and a point to reach three platforms is a simple, intuitive one.  So here’s another attractive suburban terminus, Hayes in Kent.

The West Wickham and Hayes Railway was incorporated by Act of Parliament on 9 July 1880 to build a 3¼-mile line from Elmer’s End on the South Eastern Railway’s Mid Kent line to Hayes.  Traffic was light in the early years.  However, after World War I, traffic grew rapidly with the growth of the outer London suburbia.  The Southern Railway electrified the line in 1925. The branch has thrived with commuter traffic, and despite its short length, there are half-hourly trains between Hayes and both Cannon Street and Charing Cross stations.

In 1950, the terminus had three platforms, and a small goods yard.  It would make an attractive model, being a ‘typical’ terminus, but with a Southern Electric service.  Hayes is not very far from where I grew up, and the way suburbia has formed around the station building is very familiar for the area.


National Library of Scotland – Creative Commons

In recent years, the terminus has been reduced to two platforms, but it is still an attractive station, with the double crossovers still in place on the wooded approaches.



At the other end of this short branch is Elmers End.  This too would make an interesting model.  As usual, the small goods yard is mainly a coal depot to cater for local domestic heating needs.  The mainline from London is on the right (and north-east).  The left (and south-west) passes the outskirts of Croydon to join the main London-Brighton line at South Croydon.


National Library of Scotland – Creative Commons

The platform bay to the south is linked to the Hayes branch, that curves away from Elmers End.  Before electrification, it would have been held a steam railmotor shuttle service to Hayes.  The northern bay is still in use today to terminate the Croydon Tramlink service.


In the past, this bay was home to a shuttle service of a couple of miles to the Addiscombe Road railway station, originally built as the South Eastern Railway’s Croydon terminus.  The station is more imposing than Hayes, with a 4-road EMU storage shed.  I believe that a 4mm scale model of this station is being built for the exhibition circuit.


National Library of Scotland – Creative Commons

With East Croydon station, on the main London-Brighton line, half a mile away, it was inevitable that Addiscombe Road would be ‘rationalised’  and closed.  In latter years, a 2EPB shuttle service to Elmers End, as below, was its only service.  Now, only Tramlink trams pass through the site of the station, but much of it is a new housing estate.


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1971 – February – Same old problems?

The 1971 editions of Railway Magazine have some familiar articles.

Alleviating Borough Market

Fundamental changes to the track layout, combined with resignalling, in the London Bridge area is planned by the Southern Region of British Railways to overcome the notorious bottleneck of Borough Market Junction, just west of London Bridge Station on the South-Eastern Division.  In the peak hours this junction is being used to its maximum capacity, and a slight delay to one train can “snowball” into long delays to many trains along the stretch towards St. Johns and beyond.

Trains to and from Charing Cross and Canon Street will no longer need to be “sorted” among conflicting paths at Borough Market.  This will be done further out, concentrating Canon Street traffic on the northernmost tracks approaching London Bridge.

The scheme – which is expected to be started later this year and be completed by 1975 – involves the construction of a flyover at St. Johns (by extending a bridge already there), widespread track alterations and a new signalbox at London Bridge.  The flyover will carry trains from the Lewisham direction on to their proper routes without them having to negotiate “flat” crossings east of London Bridge.

The article ends:

The alterations cannot provide room for more trains, but passengers are promised greatly improved timekeeping.

Too true!  Today, London Bridge again is in the news, with the success of Thameslink services making Borough Market and London Bridge a bottleneck once again.  Rebuilding London Bridge was probably the only solution, but at what cost to train services?

The letters page contains the usual moans:

Reactionary attitude

Sir – One is today sick and tired of the reactionary and retrograde attitude of the average railway enthusiast.  The eternal condemnation of diesel and praise of steam are clichés in a world which no longer recognises the steam engine as a viable piece of motive power.  People should now accept that the days of steam are gone for ever and no amount of silly sentimentalising will bring them back.

Another point deserves to be mentions, namely the attitude of the enthusiast to British Railways.  To him BR is some sort of beneficial agency which provides him with an engaging hobby.  All the rubbish spoken about BR recognising the railway enthusiast and pandering to his whims is ridiculous.  It is a commercial undertaking and, in order to remain viable, has to run its services and lines as it sees fit and not according to the view of some enthusiast with vague recollection of the pre-war supremacy of the railway.  Those who like their lines run in their fashion should concentrate on the preserved lines and leave BR to continue with its proper function – transporting passengers as quickly and as comfortably as possible from A to B.

Wow!  Though I’m not sure BR was either quick or comfortable in 1971.  A suitable reply graced the April edition….

….. is it so very wrong to live in the past?  If so, let us demolish the Albert Hall, blow-up Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London, and build tall blocks of flats in their place.  Let us forget the trams, trolley buses, steam rollers, traction engines, and continually praise their diesel and petrol replacements.  No, why should we forget them: in their time they did an excellent job, and this should be continually broadcast to the world…..

Is it any different in 2016?

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ESNG meeting – 2 March 2017

The layout was very quiet tonight.  A number of us seemed happy just to be social and chat (and what’s wrong with that), and we were missing all Paul’s Japanese stock – as he’s out there at the moment looking at the real thing and emptying model shops.  It was good to have a visit from David, and to see Tommy back running his trains.

However, I did test my bargain Dapol Britannia.  Half-price and I think that it’s a good on, as it seemed to run smoothly without derailment in both directions.  I couldn’t resist buying it, as Britannia’s were one class of locomotive that I saw a good number of during the final days of steam.  Not a bad model at all of a handsome prototype, but crying out for a better scale chassis.


Graham continues to collect very fast trains.  His latest addition is this Kato Eurostar in the new dark blue livery.


The only other excitement for the night was the news that I will be out of the country for the exhibition in April.  Should be no problem – it’s all organised, just troubleshooting on the day required.  This did concentrate a few minds, though….

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ESNG exhibtion – 8 April 2017 – coming soon!

Just over a month to go to the ESNG 2017 show.  All is set, and all we need is some local advertising.  The local paper is a bit random, and it’s more difficult these days to place adverts in shop windows (probably H&S – danger of paper cuts to staff), but I hope to do better than last year.

As for the show contents, here’s a quick reminder….ast Surrey N Gauge are 20 this year, and totally logically are holding their 19th annual exhibition in Redhill.  Same venue as last year, but they’ve finished rebuilding the school and the free car parking is back.  Should be up to the usual standard (whatever that is!)  Details are:

Sat 8th April 2017
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Linkfield Lane, Redhill, Surrey RH1 1DU

ADMISSION:  Adults £4.00  Concessions £4.00  Children £2.00  Family £10.00
Still the N gauge show of the South. ESNG is 20 this year. We have the usual mix of N gauge layouts, including 3 modular layouts, and specialist traders. We are again at St Joseph’ School, with the benefits of all exhibits on one level, free parking (it’s back), and refreshments including real coffee!

ESNG N-Mod & N-Club (UK Modular Layout)
West Sussex N-Mod (Modular Layout)
Alpenbahn & N-Club (German Modular)
Santa Barbara (USA, West Coast)
Tunbridge Wells Sidings (Southern Region)
Atlantic Road (UK South London Modern Image)
Forrestone (UK Modern Image)
Oakhurst (UK Preserved Line)
Three Gates (UK Shunting Layout)
Kato Racetrack (Japan, Bullet Trains)

BH Enterprises
Ian Grace (Rail & Military)
Invicta Model Rail
JB’s Model World
ESNG Club Shop

The masterplan is as shown below!  Lots of good things to see and buy, I hope…

esng_2017_1 esng_2017_2

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Hindsight is perfect….

A few quotes from the February 1975 Modern Railways show that a lot can happen in 40 years, most of it beyond one’s wildest dreams.  From an article on the “London Rail Study”, a government appointed team looking at railways in and across London….

British Rail north-south through running

While some potential is seen in the reopening of the disused tunnel between Farringdon and Blackfriars, the transmission of delays between what are at present self-contained operating areas would be one unwelcome result.  Nevertheless, as a secondary priority, £10 million has been allowed for preparation of a through running scheme.

WRONG!  Thameslink has been one of the great transport successes of the last 20 years.  Wikipedia tells me that:

It opened as a through service in 1988 and by 1998 was severely overcrowded, carrying more than 28,000 passengers in the morning peak….

The Thameslink Programme is a major £5.5 billion scheme to extend the service to a further 100 stations and to greatly increase capacity on the central London section to accommodate more frequent and longer trains, scheduled for completion in 2018.

£10 million…. £5.5 billion….. Who’d be a report writer.


The change from third rail to overhead pantograph is made at Farringdon

They did a little better with this one, but it took some time to get there….

British Rail Crossrail

Crossrail envisages the construction of two deep-level cross-London links to allow BR passengers to reach central London direct by linking Western Region and GE lines to the north and Southern Region routes to/from Victoria/London Bridge to the south.  There would be an interchange at Leicester Square.  Though very costly – in the region of £300 million – the benefits could be considerable and further feasibility studies on the practicabilities of such a scheme are strongly recommended.

Well, we have a link from Western Region to the GE lines and then into south-east London, opening December 2018, 43 years after this was written.  Must admit the “British Rail” and “region” dates it a bit – as does the £300 million.  Latest estimate is £15 billion.  Crossrail 2 – the rest of the links envisages above – may come by the 2030’s.


Finally, from that always interesting and usually wildly wrong section, the letters page….

Sir, I was very interested by Graham Robson’s article and especially his criticism of the investment by British Rail in HST and APT.  Although I disagree about the latter, which will represent a significant advance, I wholly endorse all he says regarding the HST.  Indeed he echoes sentiments I expressed in a letter published in September 1972.

Now that some HST sets have been ordered I suppose they will have to be used.  I would suggest, though, that the number be curtailed and that those which are delivered be allocated to specific prestige services on non-electrified lines – if necessary they could be called Pullmans – with supplementary fares.

VERY, VERY, WRONG!  The HST 125’s restored British Rail’s image at a time when train travel was suffering from a terrible image and low self-esteem.  Over the years, their distinctive outline has become a design icon (OK, so has the Honda 90 motorcycle, but you get the point.)  The fastest diesel trains in the world, they immediately introduced 100-125 mph services to the East Coast main line and the Western Region from Paddington.


They continued to provide Intercity services, gradually being filtered onto other main lines as electrification continued….


And then they were filtered further to secondary cross-country services and to a number of privatised operators…..


And even into departmental use….


HST’s are expected to be phased out by the end of this decade, giving them 45 years of generally reliable high-speed service.  And I suspect that some units may last even longer on secondary routes!  It’s a good thing British Rail didn’t listen to the “experts”.  And don’t get me started on the APT!!!

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Another prototypical Minories…..

Reading the July 2011 Railway Modeller, I came across another ‘almost’ Minories design, and a very attractive one at that.  This is the ex-LSWR station of Windsor and Eton Riverside.  Windsor had an LSWR and a GWR terminus, both angling, no doubt, for the royal patronage to get to Windsor Castle.  Both were just a few hundred yards from the station.  The LSWR terminus is slightly smaller, with the attraction of being next to the River Thames, and having the castle as a backdrop.

Here’s the track layout around 1900….


National Library of Scotland – Creative Commons

The castle lies just to the south-west.  Note the queen’s waiting room on the south wall of the station, and the Thames to the north.  Here’s what it looks like today, with two platforms still in operation, and a South West Trains service at one of them.


The Railway Modeller plan is for modern days and suggests moving the station a little closer to the Thames, so that the river forms a foreground feature, and moving the castle slightly east, so it forms a background to the station.  Reasonable enough changes, if you are not concerned with total accuracy.

Most of the ornate station buildings are still in place, as is the curved south wall of the station with its large, high, doors for mounted soldiers with funny pointed hats, and the royal waiting room itself.  I’ve added a few non-commercial photos below.






I think this would make an excellent model in electrified days (the third rail was added in 1930.)  The same layout would allow Southern steam and multiple units and also early BR livery with the same track layout and scenery.

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Good, bad or ugly?

A letter from the October 2011 British Railway Modelling….

No room for graffiti

One of the many reasons I have for subscribing to BRM is that you not only inspire and inform but give food for thought in an adult, mature, manner.  The article by Paul Warburton, ‘What a load of rubbish’ in the April 2011 issue certainly did that.  Although the article was mainly on the subject of dirt and debris, it included the problem of graffiti on models which is always going to be controversial, and is often misunderstood.  It is not ‘dirt’ in that the graffiti is usually clean paint of the wrong colour in the wrong place; neither is it ‘weathering’ in that it is not caused by the action of rain, snow or wind.

Graffiti in the forms it usually takes is nearly always vandalism, and illegal.  Nearly all is intended to be offensive, and at its basic level an attempt to impose one’s authority on another by defacing of otherwise altering the appearance of other people’s property without their permission.  To portray it in model form as part of ‘modern society’ therefore implies some degree of acceptance of it as part of ‘real life’.  Modern society has many aspects which are offensive such as alcoholism, violence, foul language and child abuse.  Young people who see it at a model railway exhibition may be encouraged to believe that it is acceptable and therefore encouraged to emulate it themselves, and that is not acceptable.  A lot of the performing and visual arts portray offensive subjects.  I, for one, would be very, very, sorry if railway modelling, which has always been a civilised art form, were to portray offensive subjects like graffiti, and become objects of offense themselves.  David Fairgrieve.

Wow!  That’s a bit of a broadside.  I’m not sure I agree with all that’s written, but it’s an interesting point of view that can be considered as part of our hobby.  A couple of points can be made here….

This letter again highlights something I have mentioned a couple of times on this blog.  There are two sorts of modellers.  There are those who model society as realistically as possible, warts and all.  These models will be dirty, heavily weathered, and may include graffiti.  There are others who model what they remember – often through rose tinted spectacles – with English picture postcard villages and every item of stock on the railway beautifully turned out.  And neither of these approaches is ‘wrong’.  It is a choice of the modeller to construct a picture of society, past or present, that shows what he or she wants to show.

And secondly, I am concerned how this letter demonises the present day.  The industrial areas of Britain 100 years ago could be as squalid as anything we see today – possibly more so.  It is debatable how much alcoholism, violence, foul language and child abuse have increased – in some cases it is just more open or society has become more aware of it.  Perhaps there is a need for more realistic pre-grouping and pre-nationalisation layouts, that can educate the viewer in the social ills of those times.  And perhaps there is also a need for modern, escapist, ‘garden of England’ layouts that allow us to enjoy the trains and forget the world outside the exhibition hall.

But you have to admit this would make a good model….


And it’s not new – here’s a college football supporter’s train in the 1920’s.  A bit basic, but the intent’s the same.


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