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Visit to Abingdon Show




As I have been delving into 19th century history, I have inevitably become interested in the broad gauge period of the GWR. Throughout the Winter I have been doing a lot of reading but very little modelling. Almost everything about the broad gauge was 'different' and I have been 'stalled' over how to make a start.


Last year, I joined the Broad Gauge Society and then, last Saturday (19th March), I visited the annual exhibition by the Abingdon Model Railway society. I was looking for inspiration for future modelling and found plenty in the 7mm-scale model of Bristol Goods Shed by Peter Boyce. I took several photos of the locomotives and track work, and had useful discussions with other BGS members. The following photo that I took of the yard outside the main shed conveys something of the 'atmosphere' of the period, though I have no intention of trying to build the complex mixed-gauge pointwork in the first instance!!


Bristol Goods Shed by Peter Boyce at the Abingdon MRS 2016


Another exhibit that attracted my attention was a model of the GWR (standard gauge) station at Whitchurch Town by Jeff Geary, also in 7mm-scale. There is no doubt that models in this scale make very impressive exhibits. There is a real feeling of 'weight' and the mechanical parts, such as coupling rods, look as though they are 'up to the job', unlike their smaller scale counterparts.


My photos demonstrated all the problems of taking photos at exhibitions, with lots of background clutter and awkward perspective, from having to work through 'gaps' in the visiting crowd - and I was pleased to see that there were good numbers of people enjoying the exhibition.


As many of my readers know, I enjoy photography and so have done some work with 'Photoshop', including 'blocking out' backgrounds, selective 'cropping', and perspective adjustment.. By such methods, it is possible to convey something of the 'atmosphere' created by the model.


I know there is some debate about how far photography should 'falsify' a scene but I strongly believe that cropping out extraneous material is justified. the following photos are 'before and after' scenes to demonstrate what I have done.


Whitchurch Town by Jeff Geary at the Abingdon MRS 2016


I think that the editing helps to bring out the atmosphere of a country station in the evening, so well caught in the modelling - I like the small boy looking through the fence at the passing train!


I have not forgotten North Leigh during all this activity and, in fact, have experienced another example of truth catching up with my fiction! I recently visited the beautiful Wilcote chapel in the (real) North Leigh church, built around 1439. The chapel contains effigies of the Lord of the Manor, Sir William (d.1410) and his wife, Elizabeth Wilcote.


The Wilcote Chapel, North Leigh


So, even if it was a bit before the time of my model, there really was a Lord of the Manor at Wilcote!


The tender for No.184 still needs wheels and completion of the chassis. I shall try to fit this in amongst everything else. In the meantime, here is an Amy Wilcote painting of Mr Dean's latest express locomotive hurrying through North Leigh, past an ancient relic from the 'Old Worse and Worse'


Ancient and Modern by Amy Wilcote



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Hi Mike, I must admit that from time to time, I have also thought about delving into mixed gauge trackwork brought about by the wonderful trackwork and models by Mike Sharman. 


Thanks Mike

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Hi Snitzl,  I shall find it quite a challenge just to build plain BG track, since I have never built my own track before.  Despite my admiration of 7mm models, I intend to work in 4mm, because I have very limited space.


Thank you for looking in,


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I think it's like a lot of things, you think it's too hard, doubt your capabilities, and be put off. Then a you do something simple, and find it isn't a problem at all. Just get a small quantity of track materials and have a go. I think I'd try standard guage first, just from the angle that b.g. point work is rather large all round.

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Thank you for the encouragement, Northroader.  I agree entirely with your approach - for example, a lot of people seem to think that working with brass is hard, whereas I just plunged in and now find it is often easier than plasticard.  I intend to get some 'bridge rail' from the BGS and then have a go at building just a simple length of baulk road - perhaps on a gentle curve, to get the idea of setting the gauge :)

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With baulk road, I use copperclad sleeper strip same as with transverse sleepering, and put the transoms in first, to gauge. Then I cut the strip to fill the gap between each transom. A rub along the outside with a file to get a flowing baulk line, and there you are.

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Hi Mike,


Exciting to hear that you are going into Broad Gauge. It does seem just the right thing for you. Have you been looking at any particular prototypes to model or inspire yet?


How interesting to meet Sir William. I strongly suspect he was a Templar. The Wilcote chapel was supposedly one of their secret meeting places after the order was disbanded. In fact, the chapel is said to contain the first ever drawings of a steam locomotive, drawn by Da Vinci's father in 1409. Is there perhaps a clue in Amy Wilcote's signature?

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Since I have a family ancestor who worked for the GWR at Bullo Pill, at the time of the accident near there in 1868, I may try to build some of the vehicles described in the accident report


You have been dabbling in secret history, Mikkel.  Take care that you do not receive a visit from an albino monk.



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Thanks for that, a tragic but fascinating account. Amazing how the cattle train was divided and taken up in two trips at one point. And frost. What could possibly go wrong. With the wisdom of hindsight it seems odd that it took accidents such as these to recognize that "a mere interval of time" affords no safety.


26 loaded cattle trucks and a PBV. And a mail train. You'll be busy! :-)

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I find it quite surprising to realise how primitive the operations were, as late as 1868!  My initial modelling target will probably be the mail train.  The big 4-4-0 'Rob Roy' is, however, a very significant challenge :)

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