I have a thing for GWR stable blocks. The subject isn't systematically covered in the literature, so in a previous post I tried to obtain a tentative overview of the major types and styles. Since then I’ve been searching Britain from Above, Google street view and old online maps looking for past and present traces of stable blocks. It's all a bit esoteric, but for what it's worth here is a selection of my favourite 'finds'.
It's 1929 and a pl
These past weeks I have had some pleasant early morning modelling sessions, building a GWR covered float for my early 1900s setting.
The model was built using two drawings in Great Western Horse Power by Janet Russel (figs 180 and 182) and a photo in Great Western Way p.163 (original edition). I was a bit slow to discover that there are variations between the drawings and the photo. The prototype is not in the GWR diagram book for horse-drawn carriages, but is arguably a var
I had a setback with my Dean Goods. I was spraying on some varnish in preparation for lining, when this happened:
Orange peel - or something similar!
There followed the usual process, so well described in Dr Mindbender’s insightful ”Coping with Failure in Railway Modelling: The Four Phases of Modeller’s Recovery” (Wild Swan, 2019):
Phase 1: Despair (”Why me, Lord?”)
Phase 2: Resentment (”Stupid model!”)
This little project was described some time ago in my workbench thread. A couple of recent discussions suggest that the modifications involved may be of interest to others. I don't seem to have posted the usual build summary in this blog, so here it is.
The Coopercraft GWR 4 Plank Open kit (4mm scale) has an error which means that if you build it as designed you end up with 4 planks on the outside and 3 on the inside, as seen here.
What goes through a modeller’s mind? 'Very little', my wife would say, and she’s not far off . Am I the only one who enters a Zen-like state of mind when operating the layouts?
It begins like this. You decide to run some trains, forget all the worries. Get the gear out, set up on the dining table.
The engine purrs into life, pulls a train off the traverser. You get down to eye level, begin to dream. What if there was something else behin
This is the second part of an account by Pickle S. Finkerbury - railway historian and time traveller - describing certain key events in the evolution of GWR wagon brakes at the turn of the last century. Part one is here.
Just as the bewildered L.R. Thomas was about to regain composure, an elegantly dressed man approached them. It was none other than...
…George Jackson Churchward, at this time the Chief Assistant to William Dean at Swindon Works.
Greetings everyone – Pickle S. Finkerbury here, railway historian and time traveller. As previously explained, I have a knack for being in the right place at the right time, which has provided me with unique insights into certain unknown aspects of GWR matters. Here is another extract from my files:
Farthing, early 1900s. It is well known that the GWR treated the workers at Swindon to an annual excursion by rail. What is less known is that the top management at Swind
Work has started on the fourth layout in the Farthing series. This will be named “The stables” and continues our meandering walk through the goods facilities at Farthing in the early 1900s.
The layout is inspired by my interest in GWR stable blocks, including the larger variants of the standard design that began to appear in places like Slough and Park Royal around the turn of the last century.
Slough, 1928. Source: Britain from Above. Embedding permitted. https://
Here’s a summary of my recent 'experiments' (a.k.a. mucking about) with Modelu and other 4mm figures, and how to store them.
I have previously modified figures from the Andrew Stadden, Dart Castings and Preiser ranges. So obviously, the Modelu range had to suffer too! The resin used in these figures cannot be bent (it will break), but clean cuts with a scalpel worked OK. Joins were sanded, fixed with superglue and smoothed out with putty. Not everyone will think it’s worthwhile, but
Yesterday I went to get some things in the attic of the old apartment block where we now live. Each flat has a tiny storage room, and as I entered the attic I noticed that one door was ajar.
Feeling curious, I had a look inside. The room was empty, but someone had left an old filing cabinet in the corner.
Imagine my surprise when, inside the cabinet, I found a number of files marked “Farthing”. With trembling hands I opened the first file, an
The Farthing layouts have seen some major rebuilding in the past months.
In the early autumn, we sold the house and moved to a flat. Having made sure that the layouts survived the move without damage…
… I immediately cut them to pieces. It was clear from the outset that downsizing was needed, as the only place to store the layouts is in a small attic room reached by a narrow flight of stairs.
The Down Bay
Here's the third and last instalment about my recent trio of horse drawn wagons. This is yet another GWR "dray", as they are commonly known. GWR drawings generally use the term "trolley", which I understand was the original and more correct term for what is today popularly called drays.
The wagon was built from an old Pendon kit, picked up on ebay. There is no mention of the prototype, but it resembles a 7 ton trolley drawing in the Great Western Horsepower book.
Here's another contribution to the RMweb "Horse Drawn Weekly" as Dave calls it. My efforts don't even get close to his superb models, but a horse is a horse as they say in Farthing. Today's subject is a wagon from Ratkin & Son, makers of finest jams and marmalades (or so they claim).
The build was inspired by scenes such as this one, showing the GWR sidings at Henley and Sons cyder works (sic) in Newton Abbot, October 1908. Source: Getty Images. Embedding permitt
I've been finalising a batch of horse-drawn vehicles for Farthing. First one done is a light one-horse dray – or trolley, as the GWR called them. It's of a type that some GWR drawings refer to as the “Birmingham pattern”. There was a variety of designs of this type from the 1890s onwards, but the main distinguishing feature was the front-mounted protective tarp, and a carter’s box seat beneath it. The name shouldn't be taken too literally. Photos and drawings show that they were widely distribut
These days 4mm modellers have an excellent choice of figures from Model-U, Andrew Stadden and Dart Castings - but there's always room for a bit of tinkering!
Here are some porters for Farthing Old Yard, modified and pieced together from various sources. The figures have all been attached to something - e.g. a barrow - as I find this helps "integrate" them once placed on the layout.
Our first subject mixes a Dart Castings body with an Andrew Stadden head and arm. The barro
Yard lamps have appeared at Farthing, using a mix of scratchbuilt bits, modified parts from old whitemetal lamps, and modified Andrew Stadden figures.
This is an early GWR platform type, based on old photos I have found. There was also a later, more sturdy variant. Thomas Grig, GWR Yard Porter and lamplighter, is looking a trifle worried. He never did like heights.
Above is a standard 13ft column lamp. Most GWR yard lamps had hexagonal lamp housing, but the styl
Here’s an update on the sidings at Farthing, or "Old Yard" as I have now dubbed this part of the station.
I have reached the point where detailing can begin. I'm going for the uncluttered look, although a few weeds etc will be added at some point.
Inside the "biscuit shed" we find an old timber built buffer stop. Like the shed itself, it is a survivor from N&SJR days, before the GWR gobbled up the proud little station and turned
For the past year or so I’ve been adding to my fleet of early 1900s GWR wagons. The idea is to make each wagon a little different. Here’s a summary of some of the detail differences so far. First up is this gang of Iron Minks.
The Iron Minks were built from ABS kits, with replacement roofs from MRD. The grease axleboxes on 57605 were scrounged from another kit, and the deep vents on 11258 were made from styrene. The unusual hybrid livery of the latter van is based on my
Here are a couple of PDF files that may be of interest to pre-grouping modellers.
The first document is an 1896 article from Moore's Monthly Magazine (later renamed "The Locomotive") on British pre-grouping liveries. It includes brief livery descriptions for a number of the railways (but not all).
The second document is my personal selection of quotes and news items on GWR liveries and selected other liveries from the archives o
My model of the GWR stable block at Park Royal is now almost done. Here's an overview of the build and some pics of the finished item.
The stables at Park Royal followed the classic outlines of what I call the “Style B” of GWR stable blocks. Above is a sketch. The model itself was built using the GWR drawing that is reproduced in "Great Western Horsepower" by Janet Russell and in Adrian Vaughan's "Pictorial Record of Great Western Architecture".
Here’s a summary of the work so far on my attempt to backdate the Oxford Rail Dean Goods to 1900s condition. Thanks to everyone who has helped with advice and information.
My model is based on a 1903 photo of No. 2487, sporting the S4 roundtopped boiler and wide footplate. Various features such as a short smokebox, large cab spectacles and "piano lid" cylinder cover will make it a bit different from the superb Finney kit models out there - no other comparison intended!
The following are my notes on GWR stable blocks – a subject that does not seem to have received much attention. I am about to build one for Farthing, and have noticed various style differences that may be of interest to others.
Chipping Norton stables in 1983. Built 1904. Rebuilt with end doors to serve as a garage, but otherwise it features the main elements of the "archetype" standard design, ie "hit and miss" vents in windows and above doors, and those characteristic boxy roof
On Twitter today:
Anyway, enough fooling around. The wagon sheets (aka tarpaulins) seen in these photos are the preliminary results of experiments with aluminum foil. My original plan was to go the whole hog with cords and ropes etc, but as I started fitting sheets to my wagons I got cold feet. My wagons are nothing special but I like to look at them, and here I was covering them up!
Here’s an update on Farthing – and some new ideas.
The “biscuit” and “jam” sheds have been painted and are ready to embed on the layout. The buildings are an attempt to hint at the past railway history of the area. They were originally built for the old N&SJR terminus at Farthing, which was alongside the Great Western station. When the GWR swallowed up the N&SJR, it kept the buildings and used them as loading and distribution facilities for the town
Here's a summary of my latest build, an agricultural merchant’s warehouse, inspired by this prototype.
As has become my habit I've modelled all doors open to allow for…
That approach does mean that the interior walls and framing have to be indicated - don’t look too closely though!
I used Will’s corrugated iron sheets for the main walls. They are rather thick so I fitted sliding doors on the outside