A visit to Didcot Railway Centre is always good, when in need of a little inspiration!
In this case, I was invited along to help introduce my grandson to the delights of steam trains. At 3 months age, he seemed to enjoy a ride in the steam railmotor but was not too sure about the joggling over points.
Meanwhile, I slipped away for a look around the Transfer Shed, where various Broad Gauge replicas are stored. Outside the shed, a length of broad-gauge track shows the details of the construction, with longitudinal baulks and packing under the rails themselves.
With the sunlight slanting through the skylights, the shed had almost as much atmosphere as the goods shed at Farthing
Near the front of the shed, the 'Firefly' replica showed how rapidly locomotive designs developed in the early years - the original of this locomotive dating from 1840. In the atmosphere of this shed, it's not difficult to feel like a time-traveller.
Carriage designs took rather longer to develop, with the earliest type of 3rd-class carriage being an open wagon, while the open 2nd was not much better!
Inside the shed, the Gooch single 'Iron Duke' was dozing peacefully, with the mahogany boiler-cladding glowing in the sunlight. The remarkable increase in dimensions from 'Firefly' is very obvious, when these engines are seen together. The driving wheels have increased from 7' diameter to 8' and, perhaps more remarkable, the boiler diameter was almost 4' 10". Notice, too, how that 'ship's funnel' towers over the diminutive carriage.
I was intrigued to note that the curious inverted spring between the two leading axles of the Gooch design found an echo in the gas turbine locomotive no.18000, which was standing outside:
Finally, what is this? sacrebleu...
Only joking - the King actually looked quite splendid in this colour!