Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Canals and Railways

One of the most common model railway cliches, for understandable reasons, is the interchange between a railway and a canal, or between two gauges of railway. Of course, there are many prototypical examples of these kinds of interchange. One of the more interesting, and well known is at Bude.

It is quite a complex story. The Bude Canal opened in 1823. Connected to the sea by a lock, it provided access to two safe basins for small trading ships, but it also provided a way of taking sand from the beaches into the countryside for use in improving the soil. Whilst the sea lock might appear conventional, other changes in level were addressed by inclined planes. And to use the inclined planes the tub boats were equipped with their own wheels to run in U shaped rails.

There was also a 4ft gauge plateway, running from the beach to the wharves, to deliver the sand into the tub boats. In 1923 this was replaced by a 2ft gauge tramway that remained horsedrawn until it closed in 1942.

When the LSWR reached Bude in 1898 they built the terminus on the outskirts of the town, but a single-track branch was laid that reached the wharves. 

One thing I haven't been able to work out, either from maps or old photos, is whether there was an interchange between the standard gauge and the tramway(s)

UPDATE I think this photo from Britain from Above shows there were definite steps in place to PREVENT a direct interchange. 

Today the canal is only navigable for a relatively short section - I went paddleboarding on it, remains of the 2ft gauge can still be seen on the slope down to the beach, but plans are in progress to cover them over to prevent further corrosion and reduce the tripping risk. Storms not so long ago revealed that the track is still in place under the sand on the beach itself. The site of the LSWR station is now a housing estate, but you can still follow the route of the branch to the canal. The Castle Museum also have a fair few relics of the station 






The infamous Bude Tunnel.
The most popular tourist attraction in Bude according to Trip Advisor

Somewhere around here is the buried track on the beach


The tramway ran over this bridge




The old lifeboat station, somewhat inconveniently sited on the canal!
The footpath is the route of the LSWR 

Looking the other way, with a delightfully corrugated building on the other side of the basin






Thursday, 23 September 2021

Lynton & Barnstaple

Odd childhood memories stick with you. One of mine is walking down to Selly Oak Library with my mother and brother to pick up new books, and finding an album on the Lynton & Barnstaple.

At that time I really only knew about the Welsh narrow gauge. Here was a revelation. Seemingly massive locos running through what seemed an exotic landscape, with hints of the wild west.

Alas, it was long gone, and Devon was a long way away when your family never went on holidays and only took Sunday afternoons off.

Fast forward another 10 or so years and I did make it to Lynton, but we were on a tight schedule on a day trip from Southampton that also included the West Somerset.

So somehow it has taken until last week for me to finally make it to Woody Bay, and as we now know it really was only sleeping...


























Confession time. I made the mistake of relying on my old Sony compact superzoom camera. It is really time I binned it. The superzoom can get shots I would struggle to by any other means but the images it produces are incredibly soft and blurry, even at the less extreme end of the zoom. Most of these photos have only been saved by the use of Topaz Sharpen AI. 


Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Additions and Changes

The last couple of months have been quite busy, and very odd. It has felt very flat, but there is much to look back on that is good.

Work has been relaxing for the first time in twelve years, with a noticeable drop in my blood pressure readings. The end of lockdown means we've been able to spend a lot more time with family as well.

Thanks to Little Orange Hen the ELR's solitary coach has had a major makeover after the damage done by the goats.  



The skip chassis has also been reunited with the skip for the first time in ages, and, after much digging out of track has even made a trip to the current end of the line.


Like many photos from the early days of preservation schemes, this gives a false image of progress since this alignment is still likely to be abandoned

Other additions have been on the livestock front. We now have two geese. 

Blue and Bell.
Pomeranian Saddlebacks


It doesn't end there. We've taken in six more feral kittens from local rescue organisations. Normally Summer additions to the feral population don't stick around, but this bunch seem friendlier than usual. One has even been purring, which is a first.


Feral Feeding Frenzy.
The kittens aren't in this shot


Then there was the shock of waking up one Sunday morning to discover Simon the cockerel wasn't as past it as well all thought when Barb paraded out of the compost bins with her nine chicks.

They are now in the awkward teenager stage, but happily all nine are doing well


PS. Writing this I'd forgotten I'd left a previous post in draft. It is a long story related to the geese and chickens and my beloved changing her mind multiple times, but I've had to lift the 7/8ths test track.






Wednesday, 9 June 2021

A micro diversion

A few years ago I got given a small bottle of port in a wooden display case. It was around the time the Oxford Diecast IoMR loco came out, and I kept the box to build a static diorama as a memory of all the time I spent over there working for their government. hat in itself is a long story for another day. Needless to say the diorama never got built, partly because I lost the loco in the house move.

Now James has built my Ruston Proctor I decided the box would make a nice setting for it, but would also let me try out some scenic ideas ahead of Grundy's Yard, especially around modelling water, which has always been a challenge for me.



A failed project by my wife means I have a lifetime's supply of perspex, and it has made life a lot easier.
The photo, showing all 22cm of display area, also reveals the loco now has a chassis. As always I find it fascinating to watch these HOf/OO6.5 locos at work even though the low voltage controller is single speed. Why I think it works is that the magnet adhesion, Magnadhesion to those of my age, compensates for the scaling of physics and reduces the small scale "wobble"

The eagle-eyed will notice that the track in this picture is the dummy plastic track produced by Aufhagen

I'm still contemplating whether to use this or to make the display operable. I have some scenic ideas in mind. To the left the railway will appear from under a bridge, and to the right will enter an industrial building borrowed from the canal boxfile. I'm still wondering about the backscene and whether to include trees.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Ruston- Proctor

I've always liked 18" gauge railways. I think it must go back to seeing pictures of the ex-Woolwich stock when it was at Bicton. I've always had a soft spot for the early internal combustion locos as well. So when Narrow Planet introduced a 006.5 kit for the Ruston Proctor it went on to my wish list. It would probably have stayed there if James Hilton hadn't mentioned that he had a slot available if I wanted a built and finished one.

Those of you who follow his blog will have already seen the result.



It is posed here on my 009 layout, so it would be off the rails, if it was actually sat on the right chassis. That is in a box somewhere. 



This picture is an attempt to give an idea of scale. That blue loco is actually a HOf one. Having a thing for the Ruston Proctor I have some other supposedly "4mm" prints from Shapeways lying around. They are massive in comparison. 

So what am I going to do with it? It was originally intended for the Scalescenes canalside boxfile layout. I'm still playing around with ideas for this. I don't want the railway to overpower the scene, and I want it to look integral to the site. In the meantime, I have a display box that originally contained a miniature bottle of port that I think would suit a static diorama.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

A Bank Holiday in Skeggie

I spent a lot of my childhood in Blackpool. For a few years, my parents ran a pram and toy shop in Cleveleys. My first school was Norbreck Infants, and even after we moved to Birmingham all my school holidays were spent in Blackpool with my Gran.

I think I saw Blackpool at its best. Most generations probably think that.

The tram fleet was still diverse, and not yet worked to death, and new developments were still happening. The illuminations were truly magical and reflected the space age when anything was possible.  Every Summer season a new celebrity would live in the bungalow at the end of our avenue, and at the other end was a tram stop. The circus and the Tower were magical, the Pleasure Beach and the Golden Mile still felt like old-time fairgrounds, and the trawler skippers still had cash burning in their pockets. There were even steam trains to be griced, at least for a few years.

I go back occasionally. It is a long time since I last went for pleasure, but work has sometimes taken me there. The last visit was ghastly. I was running a training event at the Norbreck Castle and it was dreadful in every respect. We walked into one pub and because we were a team and relatively smartly dressed for Blackpool they thought we were the bailiffs.

The one bright spot was my fellow lecturer had been heavily involved in the broad gauge project at Didcot.

Anyway, despite that, I will still defend Blackpool to the death as the best British seaside resort.

But we do like Skeggie.  We love Sunny Hunny, I crave Cromer, but Skeggie is the family choice for a day out.

So that is where we went on Sunday. 

We weren't alone.

A quick aside. The last time we visited was back in September, I think, during one of the partial relaxations of lockdown. Everyone was very sensible. This time, despite being fully vaccinated and not going inside anywhere I still felt a lot less comfortable. To be fair, families on the beach were being very good at social distancing. Elsewhere though the 2m rule and masks had clearly been abandoned. 

It was lovely to see that the town has made use of recent funding to make it more attractive, and it shows. I'm looking forward to the pier refurbishments as well, now it has changed hands.

One of the major changes has been the entrance to the car park that now takes cars away from a pedestrian area.


Now the interesting thing about the car park is the seaward boundary of it it was the route of one of the three* incarnations of the Skegness Minature Railway. Visitors today will note that since that map was made the pier has been truncated and more land has been claimed from the sea.

* I might have miscounted

I believe the later versions of the line ran on the other side of the lake. I'm sure I knew that once, but can't now find the evidence. This is an oddly neglected bit of the resort.  An old miniature golf course is left abandoned.



And the much loved Fairy Dell paddling pool is unopened 


There is also this superb, Emettesque kiosk




Perhaps what is needed is a new miniature railway? Perhaps if the Wells Harbour line is forced to close this would make a good new home for it?


Anyway, to close on a  positive note, it was great to see some steam in action for the first time in over a year.