The new format for RMWeb sent me into reminiscing about ‘the old days’. I realised it is just forty years, since my young son provided me with the excuse to move from thinking about a model railway to putting those thoughts into practice!
It started, of course, with a lot of avid reading of magazines, followed by sketching out various plans. The railway had to be small, to fit the available space and, initially, 009 was an attractive format but my wife had some old Hornby-Dublo track and various kits of buildings, including many Faller kits, with pump-driven water wheel, a working saw-mill, and a motorised windmill, all of great appeal to a small child.
And so, work started in earnest, early in 1979, with enthusiastic assistance with baseboard construction provided by my 3-year old son. I have described the concept of my railway before but here are some photographs from those early days – starting from a bare frame, to which was added an ‘upper deck’ to carry the 009 section.
I was keen to put contours into the landscape, so the base was constructed on several levels, with a stream flowing down from a Faller water mill to a Faller saw mill – both working models, although the use of real water in the first of these models had to be undertaken with some trepidation and was soon discontinued! (many years later, this was where I found Amy Wilcote at her easel)
The buildings were an assortment of plastic kits, some of which are still available, like the ubiquitous Airfix Church (now from Dapol). These were assembled into a somewhat cramped village in the central area and a single platform was placed along the front of the baseboard.
Photographed in 1980
At first, the rolling stock was a strange mixture of Hornby-Dublo wagons, some Kitmaster coaches in Southern-region green, a Southern R1 engine and an A4 ‘Golden Fleece’, which could hurtle around the main loop at improbable speeds, to the delight of a 3-year old! (Amazing how they could make a ‘Pacific’ locomotive negotiate 15” radius curves!)
My first ‘purpose built’ train comprised a K’s 14xx locomotive and an Airfix auto-trailer and, thus, the GWR orientation began! As an introduction to kit-building, the K’s was not a great success and I never managed to make it run smoothly, so it was soon replaced with the newly-introduced (1980) Hornby 2721 Pannier, which seemed a very sophisticated model at that time!
Autotrain from the 1930s
40 years ago, my sense of nostalgia only stretched back to the 1930s but this little railway provided plenty of ‘kiddie’ pleasure, for several years, until other interests took over and it fell into many years of neglect.
It was much, much later, after I had retired, that a new interest in looking further back into the 19th century grew in my mind:
Back to the 19th Century
But that is another story, which the rest of this blog has followed in some detail.