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A parcel for Mr Ahern

Posted by Mikkel , in The Bay, Gallery 24 December 2009 · 2,329 views

gallery cartage figures trolleys parcels Bay horses stock
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Our story begins inside a parcels van on the Westbury to Farthing stopping train. The parcel in the middle is of particular interest to us. It is addressed to a Mr Ahern at No. 7, Memory Lane, Farthing.

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Safely arrived in the bay at Farthing, the parcels are handled by Porter P.W. Saunders. The one for Mr Ahern is under his hand. The flat package in front contains a scientific manuscript, in which a certain A. Einstein proposes that space and time are not constant. The parcels van is to Diagram W1 and was kit-bashed from Ratio sides (described here).

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On his way to the parcels office, porter P.W. Saunders passes the train's engine and is intercepted by a customer who enquires about departure times, apparently oblivious of the timetable behind him. The steam effect is out-of-focus cotton wool, a trick stolen directly from the cover of the latest MRJ (no other comparison intended!). The MRJ cover can be seen in this RMweb thread - but better still, buy it!

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After sorting in the parcels office, our package continues its journey. It is now carried by porter C. Walker on a kit-built barrow from P&D Marsh. Walker himself consists of one part worker and two parts signal man from the Monty's range. His once youngish face has been heavily re-sculpted, and the cap filed down to represent a GWR type. Despite all this, Walker sleeps well at night, and is seen here having a brief exchange with shunter George Mullins. Meanwhile one of the old pre-diagram brake vans of the 1882 design awaits its turn on the evening "mixed" to Overbourne. The van was scratch-built by Chris Edge many moons ago, and is next on my list of restoration jobs.

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The parcel for Mr Ahern awaits loading in front of the horse drawn delivery van. One of the other packages contains a painting by a young Spanish artist by the name of Picasso. It is not clear why the painting is headed for Farthing, and to this day it remains hidden and unknown in an attic in Wiltshire! The lettering on the van was based on photos from the period (including the use of different fonts), and drawn up in MS Word with a brown background to match the van colour. It was then printed on thin paper and stuck to the van side. This shot is ruthless but from a normal viewing distance it looks OK. The poster is an original GWR example from 1907, reduced to scale size and printed.

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The parcel has been delivered at No 7 Memory Lane, and the contents have been presented by Mr Ahern to his son John.

The boy is of course John Ahern, who was four years old at this time (1907), and who went on to pioneer the scenic aspect of railway modeling. This included building the revolutionary Madder Valley Railway, now at Pendon. I am aware that at this point in time the tin-plate loco would most likely have been from Maerklin or similar, but I couldn't resist the temptation to use a photo of my own Meccano/Hornby M2 for the scene. My grandfather gave it to my father, who passed it on to me.

Merry Christmas everyone! Posted Image
  • Like x 3

I'm not usually attracted to blogs, but this one is Brilliant... I have John Ahern's books, and appreciated the thought, time and effort that has gone into your little tale!
Thanks for taking the time to do that.
Happy Christmas to you too.
Beautifull a visual delight !
Thanks a lot DonB and johnteal, I thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge one of the "greats" in our hobby. For me the scenic setting is as big an enjoyment as the railway itself in modelling, so I think we owe much to John Ahern.

I realize there are limits to how far one can go with these little stories, but it's good fun to do and I like to think that there is scope for improving the human dimension on our layouts. As all the books about life on the railway so amply shows, there are thousands of stories to tell!
It is not just a story of words - it is the incredible dedication to the detail.

I have to keep telling myself the scale is not 1:1

The photography is pretty darn marvelous too.
Thanks Kenton. The reason I like micros is that there is more time for attention to scenery details than with larger layouts. One of the downsides is that the locos don't get a chance to stretch their legs so much!

The photos are done with a cheapo point-and-shoot camera, using that all-important macro-function for taking shots at close range. Larger SLR cameras may give you better quality, but you can't just plonk them down anywhere on the layout as you can with the small ones!

Mikkel.I really enjoy your storytelling.Did you know that Charles Dickens was a director of the GWR ?

Did you know that Charles Dickens was a director of the GWR ?

I'm sure he would have been a great asset to the famous GWR publicity department! Posted Image But you had me checking the web there - the dates overlap so he could have been a board member! I found this bizarre piece of information, very appropriate to the season:

"... in 1869 Dickens had his christmas turkey accidentally incinerated by the Great Western Railway in a parcel van fire..."

I kid you not! Source: http://yourarchives....Charles_Dickens
So, will you be building a burned-out parcel van in time for next year's Xmas story ?:rolleyes:
I fear the incinerated turkey would be too much of a challenge to model - although of course for a prototype to study all I have to do is look in our own oven Posted Image

I fear the incinerated turkey would be too much of a challenge to model - although of course for a prototype to study all I have to do is look in our own oven Posted Image

You 'll have to 'pluck' up the courage to model that.... :P

Wheres my coat........
Either that or chicken out of it! Posted Image

The mention of Dickens reminded me that in his "Barchester Chronicles" Trollope makes many references to his fictional Clergymen travelling up to Paddington, mentioning the train departure times, which has given rise to attempts to identify the station/city on which he based his stories.
Again good publicity for God's Wonderful.... Sorry, getting of topic! :blush:
That's interesting DonB. I just checked up on Trollop's fictional "Barsetshire" universe, some useful names of towns etc in there if anyone needs a fictional geography for their layout.

I wonder if anyone ever succeeded in finding out what area his stories were based on - probably a little bit of everywhere I could imagine, but nice to know it was GWR territory!
marc smith
Feb 15 2010 14:02
Have only just seen this thread, after following the link in your kind comment re my O gauge micro -
Actually, I'm sorry to say I've only just seen it!
What a fab little layout.....
...superb atmosphere, and I really like the tales you have attached to some of the cameos...
super stuff, and great choice of "container"

Marc :D

Welcome to Farthing!

Attached Image: farthing2.jpg


This blog chronicles the building of "The Farthing layouts", a series of small OO layouts that portray different sections of a GWR junction station in Edwardian days.


Intro and concept
How to eat an elephant
Design principles
State of play


Gallery (1900-1904)
Four o'clock blues, ca. 1902
What really happened in the Cuban...
The honourable slipper boy (Part 1)
The honourable slipper boy (Part 2)
The honourable slipper boy (Part 3)


Gallery (1904-08)
The trials of Mr Bull
A most implausible arrival
A parcel for Mr Ahern
Blue skies and horse traffic
The Remains of the Day
Motley crew

Edwardian daydreams


Gallery (1914)
All in a day's work, Part 1
All in a day's work, Part 2
All in a day's work, Part 3
All in a day's work, Part 4


Out of period
Undecided sky (1867)
The sleeping giant (1887)
Bunker first (1927)
Fitted fish and piles (1947)


Once Upon a Time in the West
Summer silliness
The unbearable lightness...
Across the years
The Sidelight Job
Painting coach panels

Traverser testing


Low-tech pre-grouping stock

Short trains for short layouts
Short trains with a twist
Hand-me-down coaches
Low-tech coach restoration (1)
Low-tech coach restoration (2)
Low-tech coach restoration (3)
Low-tech coach restoration (4)
Low-tech coach restoration (5)


Sprat & Winkle couplings
3 plank Open in GWR red
Outside Framed 8 Ton Van

In the red: GWR 1900s wagon liveries
In loving memory...
Scratchbuilt one-planker (1)
Scratchbuilt one-planker (2)
MSWJR 3-plank dropside
LSWR 10 ton sliding door van
SDJR Road Van
LSWR stone wagon
Fake news and wagon sheets
Same but different: 1900s wagons


GWR 1854 Saddle Tank (1)
GWR 1854 Saddle Tank (2)
Shiny domes and safety valve covers
Backdating the Oxford Dean Goods (1)


C+L underlay and Carr's ballast
Experiments with C+L track
Comparing track
Messing about with track panels
Laying track on "The depot"


GWR horse-drawn trolley
GWR 5-ton horse-drawn vehicle
Parcels van and coal trolley


Fun with crates
Barrels, baskets, bales
Small crates and tea chests


Andrew Stadden 4mm figures
Backdated Monty's figures
Footplate crew
HO figures for an OO layout
Lesser known whitemetal figures


Constructing the Branch Bay
First bite: "The bay"
Simple structures for "The bay"
Platform trolleys and barrows
Signs, posters and adverts
Six lessons learnt


Constructing the Goods Depot
Second bite: "The depot"
Shunting Puzzle
Sketches of The depot
Soft body, hard shell
Kit-bashed roof structure
Dry Run
Dusting off the cobwebs
Playing with mirrors
Mezzanine floor
Progress on "The depot"
4mm slate roofing
The treachery of images

A roof for "The depot"

A tall bird from Paddington
Cranes for the depot
Shoulders of giants
Flight of the bumblebee


Constructing the Old Yard
Third bite: "The sidings"
Wagon propulsion
Progress on "The sidings"
Rising from slumber
The Biscuit Shed
A shed and a lock-up
Agricultural merchant's warehouse
Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall
Stops, levers, plates, gauge, wall


Constructing the Stables
GWR Park Royal stable block
GWR stables - an overview


Railway modelling and Art
Moving Pictures
Season's greetings


Layout ideas
A flexible layout
Kicking back in Gloucester


Pre-grouping livery clippings
Journey to Didcot
Detail hunting at Didcot
Here's looking at you
The mists of time (and all that)
My friend the operating chair
Ready-to-plonk freight
GWR Modelling website


RMweb Workbench
Flickr photostream

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