Monday, 28 November 2016

Twelve Inches to the Foot Gauge

Being a member of the steam loco dept doesn't always involve swanning up and down the line on the footplate of one of our resident locos, or valiantly battling against adversity to keep our venerable collection of locos in running order.  Every now and then we get time off for good behaviour and are allowed to do things that don't require us to shower in Swarfega (other cleaning products do exist) afterwards in order to gain some remote semblance of cleanliness.  Saturday was just such a day, and I found myself getting up at a slightly less stupidly early hour than usual so that I could help man the Dinmore Manor stand at the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition" at the NEC in Birmingham.  In spite of the name, there were plenty of other 12" to the foot scale railways and loco owning groups present who had taken out stands.  I have to say, that from the outset I felt rather outgunned by two of the other groups who had chosen to bring along some of their locos to display.
Vale of Rheidol Railway (VORR), number 7, Owain Glyndwr
 Number 7 was of particular interest to me, as I have never seen it in steam.  the good news is that its protracted overhaul is showing signs of nearing the finishing line.

Also present from the Vale of Rheidol was the erstwhile number 9, Prince of Wales, currently numbered 1213
Prince of Wales
 The Great Western Railway were not above a little subterfuge; when the VORR was incorporated into the GWR at the 1923 grouping, the original rather old and tired Prince of Wales (numbered 1213) was sent to Swindon for overhaul and was quietly scrapped and a brand new almost identical loco was returned to the VORR coincidently also numbered 1213.  This kept the bean counters happy who thought that they had only stumped up for an overhaul rather than a brand new loco.  To fit in with the rest of the VORR numbering sequence, she was renumbered as 9 on the formation of BR in 1948.

Not to be outdone, the Betton Grange group had fetched their loco in as well.   The recently fitted boiler that it appeared with (borrowed from 5952 Cogan Hall), is not the one that it will end up with (from 7927, Willington Hall).
Betton Grange
It is the first time that I had seen Betton Grange with a boiler fitted and it looks marvellous.  

Fetching locos into a show like this is an expensive business, Dinmore Manor LTD chose to leave all of theirs back at Toddington.  The main point of the exercise was to drum up support (both financial and for volunteers) for the rebuild of Collett 2-8-0, 3850.
Eleanor & John man person the Dinmore Manor stand.
 Once the doors opened, the crowds flooded in, hunting out the early bird bargains that were to be found on many of the trade stands selling model railway paraphernalia.  Not coming under that heading, we simply watched as the masses scrambled past. John had joined the mad scramble himself and managed to obtain a bargain priced class 73 electro diesel, which he intends to renumber to be E6036, the full size version of which is resident on the GWSR.   A little later in the day, when the all the bargains had been snapped up, business on our stand became a bit more brisk and many interesting conversations ensued.  The number of men who would dearly have liked one of the 3850 replica cab sides, but couldn't work out how to persuade their wives to allow one wall space was surprisingly high.  I tried not to smile too smugly when they said this. 

Broadway in general and the signal box in particular was a popular topic of conversation.  I lost track of the number of people who would like to have the signal box transplanted into their back gardens.  Apparently there is a race on between Broadway signal box and one at Parkend on the Dean Forest Railway, to see which one will be in action first, though I'm not sure that the Broadway team are aware of this fact.

There was no end of the where is 7820/3850/2874/3845 at the moment questions (Toddington for the first three, our private site for the last) and when will 3850/2874 steam again (depends on how well fund raising goes in both cases).  A few recollected driving/firing Dinmore Manor or 3850 at various places, including several from fire and drive courses on the GWSR.  I notice that the dates for 2017 fire and drive courses are now available on the main GWSR website.  Don't be afraid to give it a go, you never know, you might like it so much that you decide to volunteer... I did.

Unsurprisingly, a fair number of volunteers from the GWSR were out and about at Warley, looking for stocking fillers for their kids, or in many cases for the themselves.  Phil was one of the many, his son was happily showing off a model of Thomas that he had just been bought, whilst Phil wondered how he could persuade his wife that a 3850 cab side replica is the new must have wall hanging accessory.  Unfortunately, he recently failed to obtain "management" approval for a replica "Sir Nigel Gresley" nameplate and didn't fancy his chances with 3850.
Phil trying to make off with a cab side replica anyway
 Not too far from the Dinmore Manor stand was one for the GWSR, where a group of volunteers was busy handing out copies of the newly published 2017 timetable  and drumming up interest in supporting the "Last Mile" appeal to finish off the extension to Broadway.  I understand that the appeal has recently topped £900,000, which is well on the way to the final target of £1,250,000. 
The GWSR stand at Warley
In a career limiting move, I managed to grab a photo of the GWSR stand at a moment when the chairman (Alan Bielby) had disappeared off to fetch his colleagues some cups of tea.  Sorry Alan.

I should probably also say that the Warley exhibition included many fabulous model railways in a variety of gauges, including an outstanding one of the Forth rail bridge, which was of particular interest to me as I travelled across the real bridge for the first time just a fortnight ago.  Sorry no photos of the model railways, 

And finally, in what was I imagine a fairly quiet day at Toddington, I can at least report that on Saturday, the newly grit blasted and primed wheels for 3850 were fetched back into the shed for undercoating.
One wheel set returns, photo courtesy of Mark Harding.


  1. Wish I'd gone there now!
    I understand (and there is photographic evidence to support this) that "Granges" were quite a common sight on the Honeybourne Line and some survived almost up to the end of Western Region Steam. It would be quite a publicity coup for all concerned if 6880 were completed in time to haul the 1st train to Broadway in 2018 in the guise of 6848 "Toddington Grange". Icing on the cake indeed and a very powerful media selling point too. What say you?

    Toddington Ted

    1. The choice of loco for the first train to Broadway is well above my pay grade and regardless, I'm not sure what the projected finishing date for Betton Grange is. Like most restoration or new build projects, I'm sure that it mostly comes down to the availability of cash & volunteers, early 2018 would seem optimistic to me.

    2. Indeed, such projects generally take twice as long and cost twice as much as originally planned! I have been involved in some way or other with 2807 since 1981 so I know how convoluted a restoration or new build can be. However, progress on 6880 has been very swift over the last few years. I don't think the 6880 Group have a specific deadline unlike one of their stablemates at Llangollen (which was also at the NEC a little while ago) Patriot No 5551, the Unknown Warrior. This project does have a deadline as it needs to be up and running before 11 Nov 18. It is also being completed to Main Line standards which afaik, 6880 isn't. Although a GWR person I am a member of the Patriot Group and their organisation is the closest I've seen in effectiveness to the A1SLT Tornado and P2.

      Toddington Ted

  2. I was born in and lived for over 40 years in the Midlands and would have certainly gone to the Warley show. I did so in the past when it was always at the Mitchell sports centre and always very interesting.
    I must have seen most of the GWR classes before the steam ban on BR but, I cannot remember ever seeing a Grange. I look forward to ending my omission when it is complete - assuming it is not shedded at some obscure location of course. Very nice model of the V of R No. 1213; and no, I didn't know the story of its history. Very interesting blog. Regards, Paul.

    1. Betton Grange is being built on the Llangollen Railway, though I'm not sure what the plans are for it when it is completed, nor even if it is planned to put it on the mainline. I'm certain that it will prove to be an attractive proposition for galas on a number of railways when it's completed, hopefully at least one of which will be near you.

      The VORR loco No 1213 (and 7 come to that) were the real thing, not models at all.

    2. Silly me!! The 'dais; looked to me like a table?!? Sorry. Still have a fully usable turntable down here at St Blazey, so I may get to see Betton Grange there hopefully to be turned on a rail tour. Regards, Paul.

  3. Good to see that the VoR engines are being looked after. I remember getting a footplate ride around the yard in Aberystwyth in the early 1960's