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Finding some details




I visited the Forest of Dean recently to see the site of the Bullo Pill accident and to try and unearth more information about the area. The 'Gage Library' at the Dean Heritage Centre in Soudley holds a large number of maps and books, with staff who are very willing to help.


I have already posted one of my photos of Cockshoot Bridge, close to the accident site and couldn't help thinking that there was a resemblance between the modern LED signal and a Brunel 'disk and crossbar' signal. The Class 66 looks a fairly tight fit within the bridge, so I think the clearance must have decreased from the original broad gauge dimensions. Two things may have happened: the track bed has probably been raised, through adding layers of ballast, and the brick lining is probably not original. I suspect that the bridge was originally constructed more like the one below, which I photographed on the Forest of Dean Central Railway (now a cycle-track)




I found another old photograph of the accident near Bullo Pill in the Gage Library. This shows how the locomotive 'Rob Roy' rode up over the brake van and cattle wagons of the train ahead of it. The photo must have been taken very shortly after the accident, since the carcasses of cattle are still lying alongside the track. Several interesting details of the track-bed are visible, including the transoms both within the gauge and between the two tracks. The ballast is quite coarse and not heaped to the top of the baulks. In addition, there is no sign of a vee-shaped central drain, as suggested in drawings that I have seen. The absence of this last feature will make modelling the track somewhat easier!




Among the details visible on the locomotive itself are two white diamonds painted on the front buffer beam, .


I also found a photograph of the opposite side of 'Rob Roy' from that seen in the accident photo, shown in my previous post. The locomotive appears to be in similar condition to that in the photographs of the accident and also shows the white diamonds on the buffer beam.




The detail in these old photographic plates is quite remarkable, with plenty of information to guide the modeller. For example, the Salter spring balance for the safety valve, and several footplate details, are visible in this crop from one of the accident photos.




Taken together with Mike Sharman's scale drawing of 'Lalla Rookh', another member of the 'Waverley' class, I feel that I have everything needed to make an attempt at a model of this type of engine.


Fortuitously, the RCTS volume covering Broad Gauge locomotives (Part Two), states that the boiler and firebox of the 'Waverley class' engines were identical to those of some of the Gooch 'Standard Goods' engines. Since there is a Broad Gauge Society kit to build a 'Standard Goods', I intend to see whether this kit can form the basis for a model of 'Rob Roy'. It still leaves, however, the interesting problem of modelling the curved splashers over the exposed driving wheels!


In any case, the other locomotive involved in the Bullo Pill accident was 'Tantalus', a 'Standard Goods' engine, so I could also use the BGS kit to build this locomotive. The boilers of these locomotives were very large, compared with the standard-gauge' engines of the day. The boiler dimensions are given in the RCTS book as 11' (3.35 m) in length and 4' 6" (1.37 m) in diameter, with a firebox casing measuring 5' 0" X 5' 4" (1.52 X 1.63 m) and a grate area of 19.2 sq. feet (1.78 m2). The following photo, shows 'Zetes', a sister engine to 'Tantalus, in Gloucester, from where it probably also ran on the South Wales route.




There's certainly no shortage of detailed information to guide my modelling activities, so I can now start to prepare some detailed plans.



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It looks like the two white diamonds were common practice early on in bg days, but sometime after this accident, their application was limited to show a branch line train.

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My copy of 'Great Western Way' (1st.ed.) has rather confusing statements about the white diamonds.  On the one hand "many illustrations of broad gauge engines show [them]"  and on the other "this was an indication for a train on the line from Cheltenham to Swindon".  The evidence seems to contradict the second statement!  GWW also states that the diamonds were used for branch trains on the Cornwall Railway.  It seems that there is more to learn about them.  If they were a standard distance apart, it was a good way for a look-out to judge his distance from an approaching train.

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Hi Mike, I seem to have missed this.


Fascinating photos! That close-up is very useful for loco crew uniforms (er, clothing).


I see I'm not the only one studying ballast at the moment. Real photos are always so much better than the drawings, and I like those shots that show the less-than-perfect state of the real world. I've been looking at Edwardian goods yards with bare ground almost at the rail tops etc - wonderful stuff!

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Hi Mikkel - thought you'd look in sometime!  That close-up is from a high-res image on the web at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/rail1005-1322.jpg


It is always good to find real photos, since they often disprove generalisations made in many books! 


I think it is worth reading Henry Fox Talbot's book 'The Pencil of Nature' (1844) which captures some of his excitement at viewing a photographic image - he writes "It frequently happens,moreover—and this is one of the charms of photography—that the operator himself discovers on examination, perhaps long afterwards, that he has depicted many things he had no notion of at the time. Sometimes inscriptions and dates are found upon the buildings, or printed placards most irrelevant, are discovered upon their walls: sometimes a distant dial-plate is seen, and upon it—unconsciously recorded—the hour of the day at which the view was taken." 


We can share that excitement, over a century later, as we re-discover the details of an earlier time.

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Dear Mike,


Very interesting developments! I'm most jealous and very tempted by BG myself-especially given I seem to be producing more GWR red wagons than grey to run on Hope Under Dinmore (much to the dismay of the LNWR fraternity and the sage of Fareham who are wedded to grey wagons!).


If anyone plans to visit expo em do come by and say hello, I'll be demonstrating messing about with plastic wagons in ways the designer did not intend...




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Glad you find it interesting, Drduncan!  The 'red wagon' thing really seems to have caught on and I always like to emphasise that Victorian railways were colourful places :)

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Again lovely photos,, it seems to have been a fashion for the re-railing team to do up their top jacket buttons only. 

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It was the fashion in the early Victorian period for men to only button the top button of their jackets, although it may have lasted until the end of the century.  It is interesting to note that men doing quite hard physical labour would attend to such things, unless it was just for the photo.  Still it shows quite an attention to appearance that I am not sure is still around today.


Interesting project, and I will catch up gradually.

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