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#1 Tony Wright

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 17:51

Tony Wright has penned a follow up email to his contribution to Tim Easter's Thompson A2 build topic - http://www.rmweb.co....225#entry843846 - so I thought I'd create a separate topic for the follow-up to save any distraction from Tim's builds.

Today's entry moves swiftly onwards from the building of a selection of Thompson A2s onto history and opinions of their performance in service.

Firstly may I thank those correspondents who've wished me well? I'll not say I'm 'better', just 'better' than I was a year ago. Being involved in a little way with RMWeb at least has given me something to do, so thanks to all RMWebbers, too.

I state again my admiration for what Tim Easter and Graeme King have produced, and in most ways their conversions are easier than building a kit of the same prototype (as one of your correspondents has acknowledged), but the end results aren't necessarily better. That said, as I hope my descriptions of each of the following models show, in some cases they might well be.


A2-2 60501.jpg

A2/2 60501. This loco has already appeared on RMWeb, appearing on Gilbert Barnatt's Peterborough North. Though (I hope) it looked all right, it didn't run that well over the tighter radii present in some sections (tighter than Stoke Summit or Little Bytham). It is the actual progenitor of all DJH's subsequent A2/2 and A2/3 kits, and has a much more convoluted pedigree than anything Tim or Graeme could have dreamt up! I kept on pestering DJH to make a kit of an A2/2 (as long as it was to be 60501, 60502, 60505 or 60506 towards the end of their lives - 60503 and 60504 weren't considered because both of these retained their original boilers and cabs) and an A2/3 because they just about had all the bits in their various other kits. Thus the smokebox/boiler/firebox, smokebox door, cab front, cab roof, cylinders, parts of the motion/rods, boiler fittings, rear footplate, Cartazzi frames and bogie could come from their A1 or A2 kits, the cabsides from their A3 kit and the tenders from their A1/A2 kits or A3 kit. I asked the late John Hughes of DJH if he would send me all the bits I needed. I also asked the late Peter Wright of Millholme models if he would provide me with the front framing/footplate/bufferbeam, frames and valve gear off his A2/2 kit. Thus armed, and with a little bit of scratch-building, I produced this loco, wrote about it and photographed it for the late-lamented Modelling Railways Illustrated towards the end of the last century, and then sent it back to DJH for their inspection. A few years later, a mixed assortment of etchings and castings were delivered to my door, together with a few rudimentary drawings, with a request that I build the 'prototype' A2/2 kit (someone else had already built the first A2/3) and write the instructions. This I did, reported on it in BRM, and sold it. DJH then asked me to build one for them, which I did, at the same time making the first independent-build of their A2/3 kit (also written-up in BRM). I think that's the chronology. Ian Rathbone painted it.

A2-3 60500.jpg

A2/3 60500. This is built from a Crownline kit and is fitted with a SE Finecast A2 boiler (I'm not a fan of resin - too soft, and every time you try to solder it it just makes a stink!). The boiler band configuration is in four sections (as originally fitted to 500, and 511 when built). It's seen romping northwards through Little Bytham as a track gang looks on. I don't think this kit is in the same league as DJH's equivalents (look closely and you'll see how the cabsides have been modified) but it makes up all right. An account of its building (and that of the same firm's A2/2) appeared in Railway Modeller at the end of the last century. Ian Rathbone painted it. It is certainly no better than Tim Easter's A2/3s

A2-1 60508.jpg

A2/1 60508. This was built from a Jamieson hand-cut kit in 1976. EAMES used to offer a service of actually making you a kit of nickel silver/brass parts in the Jamieson style to order, at a price. It cost me over £27.00 all those years ago (and I didn't even get the right tender - this one tows a SE-Finecast one). It's seen dashing southwards through little Bytham past one of the types it was derived from, as a new-fangled contraption heads north. I include it only as an item of interest, for such kits have long been unobtainable. I painted it - I didn't know Ian Rathbone then.

A2-1 60510.jpg

A2/1 60510. This is built from a Nu-cast kit and is seen exiting the south portal of Stoke Tunnel on Stoke Summit. Its construction was a bit of a fight to be sure, and I'd advise modellers who require such a class example to keep a look at what Graeme King is doing in that regard - 'fiddling' with a Hornby A3/Bachmann V2 I believe (Graeme, if that's wrong, please post a disclaimer). A result via the Graeme King path is recommended, though the Crownline/PDK kit makes up quite well. I reported on how I built one in BRM some little time ago. Ian Rathbone painted 60510 (and the Crownline/PDK one for BRM). Other than having Mr Rathbone's painting, in no way is this superior to what Graeme King will produce.

A1-1 60113.jpg

A1/1 60113. I'd definitely venture down the Graeme King path for getting a model of this locomotive. This one is built from a Crownline kit (written up in MORILL in the last century) and could definitely be improved upon. As already mentioned, I don't like resin as a medium for kit building (though I think Graeme's mouldings are superior to this) and I don't like the way the wrap-around, brass smokebox is a greater diameter than the boiler. Though it's better than my scratch-built attempt at Great Northern from donkeys' years ago, I think a better result could now be achieved by using Graeme King's Hornby A3-based techniques. With regard to this particular A1/1, there's something not quite right about the front end and the cab isn't entirely convincing. Only Ian Rathbone's painting sets up this loco as anything rather than 'ordinary'. Still, in fairness, for many years it was the only way of getting a model of 60113 without scratch-building, and I've seen other models from this source which are superior. Put it down to grotty building!


I've also noted by following various threads how, by merely mentioning Thompson's Pacifics all Heaven seems to be in a rage! I've also noted controversy in the past when I've written in the various journals about how I built models of them. Clearly, there is no middle ground, and to encourage enmity on a 'constructive' thread such as this is counter-productive. However, might I lay claim to having built as many 4mm Thompson Pacifics as anyone else in the last 36 years - at least 20-plus from kits or from scratch, mainly in OO but some in EM? I mention this not to boast (it's a matter of fact) but to make clear that I've probably read/talked as much about them as most folk, in my research to get the the models 'right', so to speak. I don't mean just the established works, but access to first-hand notes (not published) and conversations with several men who had to work on/with them, sadly, mainly now deceased. My notes made from conversations with several Yorkshire drivers go back 35 years now! One can read the published works and make judgements in whatever way one wishes regarding Thompson's Pacifics. If you choose to regard the words (in part) of Cecil J Allen (who worked for the LNER) and Colonel H C B Rogers, then his 4-6-2s were little short of diabolical. If, however, one chooses to regard more the writings of Peter Coster and Peter Townend (the latter 34A's shedmaster during the ECML's steam finale) then, perhaps, a more measured view is given. By the way, Peter Grafton's biography of the man (though written with sincerity) reads more like a defence counsellor's work, and misses out some vital 'criticisms' in my opinion. I mention all the above not to claim greater knowledge than anybody else (I'm certainly not a professional railwayman), but just to show I have done a little research. My view, for what it's worth is this - any chief taking over from one of the greatest CME's in this country's history under the the most appalling privations the war could possibly throw at him was facing a most difficult job. Problems of maintenance/availability/labour and myriads more must have taxed even the greatest of men. (By the way, did one correspondent claim Thompson to be a genius? Surely not, for that would mean the likes of his contemporaries - Hawksworth, Fairburn and Bulleid - who also faced the same wartime difficulties deserves the same. In my opinion, titling British CMEs thus is reserved for only three in the 20th Century - Churchward, Gresley and Stanier). Without doubt, under those most difficult of times, Thompson was doing all he could to improve the situation. No intelligent man in a senior engineering position deliberately tries to 'wreck' the work of his predecessor - such a claim against Thompson is surely misguided and ignorant. But, and this is not unique in engineering history, by trying to improve/develop some of a predecessor's work, the result is not always entirely satisfactory. With regard to the P2 - A2/2 rebuilds, it's all well and good saying to the guys who've then got to run and maintain them that 'I've cured the over-heating/breaking of the cranks problems but the loco won't pull what it did before. In fact, it won't pull as much as the previous Pacifics - not because it's not powerful, it's just that its factor of adhesion is hopeless. That said, on lighter trains, it'll run fast. However, the cylinders will work loose and it'll spend more time in shops. And, because of the rebuilding we don't now have anything that'll pull 550-600 tons betwixt Edinburgh and Aberdeen; which is a pity, because several of the trains are that weight. But don't worry, you sons of Caledonia, for we'll take the locos away from you and they can be a problem to someone else'. Apologies if this appears to be flippant, but it sums up the reality.

As for the A2/1s, there's no doubt they were fast and powerful, but their shopping-intervals were much more frequent than those from which they were derived, and a V2 with a double Kylchap chimney would have been a much more sensible (and cheaper) option. Without doubt, the A2/3s were the best (and highly-regarded by Peter Townend) but there was no need for the same front-end problem to be perpetuated in new-build locomotives. The principle of having equal-length connecting rods does have merit but to compromise the front end of a loco because of it is poor practice. That the immediate successors reverted to the more conventional arrangement says it all, though they did perpetuate divided drive/independent valve gear which Thompson must be credited for. There is no doubt that Great Northern was admittedly much more powerful than that from which it was (ostensibly) rebuilt, and I don't entirely buy into the notion that Thompson chose the pioneer GNR Pacific to be 'obliterated' because of spite. However, the same frequent shop-necessitating front end was perpetuated, and one can argue that the best bits of it - the boiler/firebox and the double Kylchap chimney - actually came from Gresley. That being the case, and was later proven to be so, why not just fit those items to an A3? The fact that Thompson's successor and his team chose to produce quite different Pacifics for post-war construction says it all, really. Apart from the abandonment of the conjugated valve gear and by using divided drive, Peppercorn's A1s, and his double-chimney A2s, owe more to Gresley than to Thompson. The boiler (derived from the P2), big firebox (as in the W1 and P2), perforated steam collector (A3, A4, P2, V2) and the V-fronted (in part) cab (A4, P2, V2) all came from locos designed by Gresley's team. Where they did completely inherit Thompson's features, the results were certainly mixed. The independent valve gear was definitely more reliable than the conjugated type, particularly when lack of maintenance issues were apparent. However, by inheriting the B1 bogie (fine on a lightweight 4-6-0 but not on something much, much bigger), they rode just as badly as their immediate predecessors - and all Thompson's Pacifics had a reputation for 'lively riding. Unlike Gresley's Pacifics, which rode superbly. As for Thompson's Pacifics being 'ugly', that's certainly subjective. Having seen examples of every type (though not every individual loco), I had to have models of them - hence the pictures contained in this piece. And, in fairness, as models of big engines they're relatively easy to get to go properly. Because the cylinders are a distance from other than the rear bogie wheels, there's far less chance of shorting/interference, even in EM. Also in fairness, do you really need to know all about the prototypes in question when making a model? I think it helps, but that's my opinion, and I don't think I could have got my models as 'accurate as possible' just by looking at pictures/drawings. To me, Thompson's Pacifics most certainly had a real 'presence', and, without the variety they provided, 'spotting on the ECML during my day would have been far less interesting. I might also call them visually impressive - certainly that's the feeling I got whilst watching Great Northern get away southwards from Retford in the summer of 1958 (or it could have been '59?). She slipped so violently that she wore away part of the rail heads, and what came out of the chimney both visually and audibly was nothing short of fantastic!

Of course, my greatest regret is not seeing a P2 (which I would have done had they not been rebuilt). But, if all goes to plan, a full-sized new one will emerge in time. Perhaps then, the greatest of Thompson's supporters should get together and build a 27th example of one of his 4-6-2s. Now, that really would be something.


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#2 coachmann

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 18:03

A feast of Thompsons...Keep 'em coming!

I built a an A2-2 and an A1-1 using Triang A3 boilers as the basis for plastikard models around 1968. Butt-soldering the motion after it was shortened was a definite weakness! I have only mentioned this in passing to show I have been a Thompson Pacific admirer for a good many years.....George Mellor must have photographed them as I cannot find any negs.

Any chance of a thorough photo feature of Tony Wright's fine layout....?
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#3 Andy Y

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 18:18

Any chance of a thorough photo feature of Tony Wright's fine layout....?


Keep your eyes open for the next MI in BRM Larry, I wouldn't say it's thorough as Tony and I spent a lot of the time gassing!

LB_Bongrace_BW.jpg
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#4 coachmann

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 18:50

Thanks for the heads up. A very effective photo there Andy....The locos exhaust is casting a weak shadow on the adjacent wagons. It is touches like this that make all the difference.

Edited by coachmann, 15 November 2012 - 18:50 .

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#5 mr roarke

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 19:18

I can remember you bringing those plasticard locos and running them on the club layout when we were based at Sea Road in Old Colwyn.
George
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#6 Andy Y

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 10:01

Tony has written up an in-depth review of Hornby's Thompson suburbans for the next BRM.

Hornby Thompson 3rd R4576 01.jpg

Hornby Thompson Brake 3rd R4577 02.jpg

A year ago, we were treated to the release of Hornby's outstanding Gresley non-gangwayed 'suburban' coaches, and now we've just received the latest samples of the Thompson equivalents. And, are they outstanding, too? Without a doubt, as I hope to explain in the review.

Never being one to leave alone, all I'll be doing to these models is to blacken the wheels more and dispose of the horrid couplings; replacing them with scale shackles. I'll also weather the underframe and roof, just to make them even more perfect. But they're that already! Wonderful models, and wholly recommended.


Hornby Gresley All 3rd weathered.jpg

Hornby Thompson Composite R4575 03 weathered.jpg

Within the review Tony relects:

My non-gangwayed rakes of ex-LNER carriages were built many years ago. I built the Kirk examples, and Tony Geary built the Comet ones. These run on Little Bytham, and they won't be replaced because they're still good enough. But only just, for these superlative Thompsons (and their non-gangwayed Gresley predecessors) are quite stunning and render at a stroke (I'm afraid) the need to kit-build equivalents. Why 'I'm afraid'? Because the makers of kits are finding their markets more and more under 'assault', and their sales are bound to suffer. That's not Hornby's fault - what more can the firm do than make superb models? It's just that a good few layouts over recent years have developed a 'sameness', particularly with regards to locos and rolling stock (and more recently, with ready-to-plant buildings).


Can the 'sameness' be combatted?
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#7 gwrrob

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 10:21

Within the review Tony relects:

Can the 'sameness' be combatted?



This is something I agree with and reminds me of the early 80s when all Railway Modeller GWR branch lines had the Airfix, new then, 14xx and autocoach.Alll the layouts looked the same.

Another reason for modellers to rename locos if possible. A set of etched plates on the Hornby Castle etc.Tony Wright has several different A4s like this.

As for coaching stock ,when you look at these new coaches they are fabulous value for money compared to say a Comet kit.However the likes of Hornby can't built every type and sometimes a kit is the only option if you want a particular type but a lot of modellers stick with rtr and these will fly off the shelves.
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#8 westerner

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 11:04

Must agree with you about renaming and numbering Robin, something I have done on Wencombe. Whilst not a kit builder myself, renumbering and naming is a relatively simple way of giving our layouts some individuality.
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#9 t-b-g

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 13:13

Tony has written up an in-depth review of Hornby's Thompson suburbans for the next BRM.

Hornby Thompson 3rd R4576 01.jpg

Hornby Thompson Brake 3rd R4577 02.jpg



Hornby Gresley All 3rd weathered.jpg

Hornby Thompson Composite R4575 03 weathered.jpg

Within the review Tony relects:



Can the 'sameness' be combatted?


This ties in a bit with the lengthy thread on the future of kitbuilding.

As Tony says, quite correctly, there is little or no point in trying to build kits if your aim is to end up with a particular vehicle on your layout. Very few modellers can match what Hornby, Bachmann and others are producing in terms of quality.

If your aim is to have fun making things, it is a different matter. My answer to "sameness" is to model the pre-grouping scene and even then Bachmann are going down my chosen GCR path!

The RTR people are no doubt constantly on the lookout for new ideas to put on the market and it won't be long before pretty much every major class of steam loco and all major classes of diesel loco are available RTR. Certainly enough to run many a layout as "big four" or BR. It will be a long time before any RTR firm makes enough locos and stock to allow anybody to run a pre-grouping layout.

There are also certain areas, which can be chosen as prototypes, which have not had the attention of the RTR folk yet. As an example, there are very few RTR locos available that would have run around Lincolnshire branch lines in the 1950s. Suitable classes would include N5, C12, A5, J6 and J11. Only the last one is in the pipeline as a RTR. The others are all available as kits, assuming they are still in production (I haven't checked).

Good to see that Tony Wright seems to be getting "back in action" again. Putting his views across with his usual style!

Tony

Edited by t-b-g, 18 November 2012 - 13:13 .

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#10 Allegheny1600

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 14:06

Within the review Tony relects:



Can the 'sameness' be combatted?

Absolutely, it can!
By any reasonably or moderately skilled modeller using techniques as described above.
By anyone who can do a bit of weathering.
By the use of good scenery.
There are undoubtedly more but, as Tony G. says - you can always follow a different path i.e. pre-group or, shock horror: foreign!
Cheers,
John E.
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#11 coachmann

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 17:34

It is not worth Hornby producing more than a handful of types, but if anyone 'needs' a 5 or 6 compartment brake third (for example) then removing the plastic sides and fitting etched brass sides is the answer. I suspect I won't like the lozenge windows but I'll balance this with the surface detail before doing any surgery!

#12 Removed a/c_Tom F

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 17:52

Missed the thread when started on the 15th. Fantastic insight into the Thompson Pacifics.

#13 scots region

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 22:47

In regards to the problem of Sameness, I think we need "ready made snap together body kits" for entry level modelers that can then be painted and modified to suit the owners taste. This would give young people an idea as to what they could go on to achieve in this hobby, as well as the immense psychological boost of being able to look at some thing they know to have created themselves.

On a much larger note I would support the recreation of an A1/1 and would even cast the first £10 towards its construction.

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 23:23

Keep your eyes open for the next MI in BRM Larry, I wouldn't say it's thorough as Tony and I spent a lot of the time gassing!

LB_Bongrace_BW.jpg


Stunning bit of photoshoppery there Andy! :)

#15 will5210

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 23:32

Fantastic info on the Thommo pacifics from Mr Wright. Really interesting to hear from people with first hand experience of them.
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#16 Removed a/c_Max Stafford

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 00:18

I combat 'sameness' in modelling terms on a daily basis. It's normal for me to change the identity of RTR locos to suit my particular needs although over the past year I've had 60537, 62690, 60093 and 60027 that I didn't have to change.
That said, all of them were subjected to treatments to make them more alive and individual.

Likewise, components can be swapped around as with these two B1s which had the smokebox doors and electrical lighting gear switched to create Waverley-specific models.

Sameness can still be overcome with a little creativity!

Dave.

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Edited by Max Stafford, 19 November 2012 - 01:04 .


#17 69843

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:05

Having just read through this, I must commend Mr. Wright on a extremely well written and in-depth review of the A2s (and A1/1). This might convert a few more people to the light dark side of the LNER...
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#18 Andy Y

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 19:51

As it's Warley show coming up this weekend and the host club's layout 82G is there Tony's sent over some pics to show his page isn't all about BR(E) content!

82G 02.jpg

82G 10.jpg

82G 22.jpg

82G 35.jpg

Stand B60




by Warley MRC members Peter Silvester, John Edwards, Nigel Smith & Keith Blake.

(B.R.M. MODEL RAILWAY OF THE YEAR 2011)


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#19 gwrrob

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 20:05

That is superb.You know where to find me on Sunday Andy. :no:

#20 coachmann

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 20:05

The green lined out Pannier with early small totem is pushing it a bit especially beside a loco still carryting full British Railways. That aside, some really nice modelling there not to mention super photography.

Edited by coachmann, 19 November 2012 - 20:06 .


#21 Andy Y

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 17:58

Apologies that we've not been back to this topic but it's been a bit manic.

Tony's rustled up a few more delights from Little Bytham to coincide with the article in BRM.

s-60116.jpg

s-90040 & 61175 smoke.jpg

s-A3 on empty stock - parcels.jpg

s-Barrow crossing 12.jpg

s-Little Engines 01 E-mail.jpg

Tony also did an ultra-fast turnaround of a review for this month's BRM on the Hornby B17 following the Warley weekend; it's certainly been given a critical stamp of approval as Tony advises in his review "I've built at least eight B17s and most (if not all) don't even come close to this." Thorpe Hall has had chance to stretch its legs on suitable ground after a long time cooped up in a Chinese factory.

Hornby B17 B.jpg
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#22 Removed a/c_Tom F

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 18:26

Lovely Andy. Thanks for posting.
Which months issue will Little Bytham feature in?

#23 Andy Y

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 18:34

It's in the January issue Tom, I believe the digital edition is now out, subscribers should get a copy early next week and it's on shelves on Thursday.
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#24 Barry O

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 18:54

Oh dear - I feel Grimsby Town coming along!

Tony's work as usual looks A1.
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#25 davidw

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 19:48

It's Tony's fault that I model the ECML not the Western inspite of being welsh!

Superb shots
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