Our story begins inside a parcels van on the Westbury to Farthing stopping train. The parcel in the middle is of particular interest to us. It is addressed to a Mr Ahern at No. 7, Memory Lane, Farthing.
Safely arrived in the bay at Farthing, the parcels are handled by Porter P.W. Saunders. The one for Mr Ahern is under his hand. The flat package in front contains a scientific manuscript, in which a certain A. Einstein proposes that space and time are not constant. The parcels van is to Diagram W1 and was kit-bashed from Ratio sides (described here).
On his way to the parcels office, porter P.W. Saunders passes the train's engine and is intercepted by a customer who enquires about departure times, apparently oblivious of the timetable behind him. The steam effect is out-of-focus cotton wool, a trick stolen directly from the cover of the latest MRJ (no other comparison intended!). The MRJ cover can be seen in this RMweb thread - but better still, buy it!
After sorting in the parcels office, our package continues its journey. It is now carried by porter C. Walker on a kit-built barrow from P&D Marsh. Walker himself consists of one part worker and two parts signal man from the Monty's range. His once youngish face has been heavily re-sculpted, and the cap filed down to represent a GWR type. Despite all this, Walker sleeps well at night, and is seen here having a brief exchange with shunter George Mullins. Meanwhile one of the old pre-diagram brake vans of the 1882 design awaits its turn on the evening "mixed" to Overbourne. The van was scratch-built by Chris Edge many moons ago, and is next on my list of restoration jobs.
The parcel for Mr Ahern awaits loading in front of the horse drawn delivery van. One of the other packages contains a painting by a young Spanish artist by the name of Picasso. It is not clear why the painting is headed for Farthing, and to this day it remains hidden and unknown in an attic in Wiltshire! The lettering on the van was based on photos from the period (including the use of different fonts), and drawn up in MS Word with a brown background to match the van colour. It was then printed on thin paper and stuck to the van side. This shot is ruthless but from a normal viewing distance it looks OK. The poster is an original GWR example from 1907, reduced to scale size and printed.
The parcel has been delivered at No 7 Memory Lane, and the contents have been presented by Mr Ahern to his son John.
The boy is of course John Ahern, who was four years old at this time (1907), and who went on to pioneer the scenic aspect of railway modeling. This included building the revolutionary Madder Valley Railway, now at Pendon. I am aware that at this point in time the tin-plate loco would most likely have been from Maerklin or similar, but I couldn't resist the temptation to use a photo of my own Meccano/Hornby M2 for the scene. My grandfather gave it to my father, who passed it on to me.
Merry Christmas everyone!