For the last couple of weeks, I have been dealing with various track issues and tidying up bits of scenery, none of which makes for very interesting blog writing! I noticed, however, in Mikkel's workshop thread some comments about Witney blanket trains, which reminded me of a photo that I had seen of a GWR 'Queen' class 2-2-2 heading such a train. This seems a rather unlikely combination but I eventually tracked the photo down to Colin Maggs' book "The Branch Lines of Oxfordshire" (Amberley, 2010).
Spurred on by this revelation, I have been searching through the North Leigh archives and found the following photo of No. 1124 heading just such a train out of Witney. The stock is a typical mix of wooden 'Mink' vans in varying heights, which gives 'character' to the train. It is possible that this train might be heading towards Farthing, carrying a load of blankets for the military garrison there. (I'm not sure if Mikkel has ever mentioned that feature but it could be an interesting source of traffic and personnel). If not Farthing, it might have been Devizes, or one of the other Army towns clustered around Salisbury Plain.
In a previous post, I showed a 'mock-up' of my then-proposed model of GWR No.184, next to a Dean 'Stella' class 2-4-0. I'm now able to show a photograph of the actual models, although No.184 still needs a lot of work to turn it into a fully-working model. At the moment, it can be pushed along by a motorised Dean 2,500 gal. tender. I'm also not satisfied with the paint finish. I have not been able to tone down the excessively glossy finish - matt varnish made it look 'blotchy' and the current, supposedly 'satin' finish is still too glossy for my taste.
I think the comparison makes the Dean design look very 'pugnacious' against the older (1853) low-slung and lightly-built E.B.Wilson engine. For me, there is so much character in these old engines, and they have the advantage for modellers that they are (usually) of quite simple design.