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Regrettable incident at 3 PM


Mikkel

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Over the years I’ve gathered a small collection of anecdotes and photos that document quirky situations and customs on the real-life railway. The idea is to re-enact them in model form while the glue dries on other projects. The Slipper Boy story was one attempt at this, although admittedly that one got a bit out of hand!

 

Here’s another, simpler one.  First, the props:

 

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*****

 

Clear as mud, I suspect! :jester: Here’s what it’s all about:

 

Railway Magazine, January 1906:

 

eels_original.jpg.1c0f5099fae5ca04f15bec24663ca3ee.jpg

 

 

Just another incident on the everyday railway, but we can’t allow this stuff to be forgotten! Below is an attempt to re-enact it in my Farthing setting. I’ll see if it works without words:

 

 

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*****

 

That was the event as reported.  But I wonder what happened afterwards? All those tasty eels, and no ice left to keep them fresh... A quick discussion among the staff, perhaps, to find a solution?

 

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:)

 

*****

 

PS: I couldn’t find a period description of exactly how live eel were transported in Edwardian days, so the container seen here is loosely based on a 1970 FAO publication which documents a method that does not seem out of place in earlier days:

 

"Live eels can be transported in small quantities in tray-boxes […]. A typical wooden tray-box contains four lift-out trays about 50mm deep, each designed to hold about 10kg of eels graded according to size. The top tray is usually filled with crushed ice so that cold melt water trickles down through the eels during the journey to keep them cool and lively. […] Each tray has drain holes and is divided across the middle to make a total of eight compartments holding about 5kg each, that is about 40kg for the whole box. The lid of the box is nailed on, and the whole is steel-banded both to prevent pilferage and to prevent the eels escaping through the joints. Boxes of this type are used successfully for live transport not only within the UK but also for 24-hour journeys from the Continent with little or no loss."

 

362307824_eelbox.gif.c00e645b27a99813ad9aaca9a4778f95.gif

 

Source: http://www.fao.org/3/x5915e/x5915e01.htm#Live storage and transport

 

Edited by Mikkel

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13 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

Barnum & Bailey were touring continental Europe from April to November 1901, wintering in Paris, so it seems unlikely this work was for their elephants. 

 

Chipperfield Circus, perhaps? The subject of elephants brings us close to another situation that I'd like to model at some point. Not now, must resist!

 

 

9 hours ago, Regularity said:

A somewhat odorous delay. ;)

 

I did wonder whether the author had deliberately selected the wording "bone of contention" :D.

 

 

9 hours ago, 5&9Models said:

Absolutely outstanding as always Mikkel. I’m a great believer that a model railway should be an opportunity for story telling, a bit of theatre to entertain and amuse. You are truly a master at this. Bravo!

 

Many thanks Chris. I like all the information that crops up when researching the stories. Things I would never have come across otherwise!

 

Speaking of which, this morning while looking through a thread on fish trains here on RMweb, I came across a post by @Caledonian in which he describes exactly the kind of trays for eels that I used in the story:

 

 

 

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Wheatley

Posted (edited)

On 01/03/2021 at 12:33, Compound2632 said:

I am unable to indicate definitely the exact site of its interment, but ... it was concluded by the inhabitants of the surrounding district that the bird had found a resting-place "somewhere in stationmaster".

One Saturday afternoon at Appleby in the 1990s, whilst clearing up after the day's various steam and deisel excursions, I found a carrier bag with a large full Wensleydale cheese in it, obviously left by one of the throng of tourists who had decamped from one of them for a couple of hours in town. 

 

Stationmaster and ex-cheesemaker Parmley (well, Railman, but it was definitely his station) was consulted, who recognised it and and believed that it belonged to a lady now heading back towards London via the WCML. He then produced a cheese corer from his pocket (!), sampled it and declared it to be excellent. 

 

The Passenger Information Manual was consulted which confirmed that perishable lost property could be disposed of by whatever means were locally expedient. It took us two days to eat it. 

 

The cameo is excellent, I have a couple of Airfix WW1 tommies somewhere  relaxing on the back of a coal merchant's lorry. 

 

 

 

Edited by Wheatley
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Compound2632

Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, Mikkel said:

Chipperfield Circus, perhaps? The subject of elephants brings us close to another situation that I'd like to model at some point. Not now, must resist!

 

By chance I came across further information on this, as I've been looking through Hooper's book on North British wagons for livery and numbering info. He reproduces a diagram from The Locomotive Magazine of an elephant car converted from an NBR 30 ton trolley - again a bogie well wagon. This shows a wooden structure filling the length and width of the well, with 8'6" high sides but just steel arches overhead at 4 ft intervals - perhaps covered with wagon sheets? This was done "in connection with the Savage South Africa Show, an exotic menagerie touring Britain in 1901". Presumably the Midland conversion was also for this - perhaps the design was common to both, since the length of the trolley well was the same.

 

The show caused considerable unease at the time (and even more in retrospect) as the exhibits included not only six African elephants, various lions, etc. but also a considerable number of Zulus (seen here at Southampton docks) and Boers, staging re-enactments as well as scenes of native life - as seen here (both films on BFI Free so UK only, I'm afraid). This "menagerie" arrived in Britain in 1899 and was initially exhibited at Earls Court. 

Edited by Compound2632
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I am not sure where I got this, probably from Castle Aching, and I think it is an LNWR van.

 

Remember Barnum's motto was, 'There is one born every minute.'

 

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There are other elephant and railway pictures in 'Branch Lines around Acsot' by Middleton press, as the Chipperfield Circus, I think, used to winter off a now non existent siding off the now non existent Ascot West station.

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34 minutes ago, ChrisN said:

I am not sure where I got this, probably from Castle Aching, and I think it is an LNWR van.

 

Barnum & Bailey's European Tour circus train stock was built by Renshaw of Stoke-on-Trent, to designs modified from their American circus trains. Details here.

 

This is not, despite appearances, a Midland Railway vehicle.

 

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The question is, when did they get to Farthing?  They certainly never got to Traeth Mawr, at least not in 1895.

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47 minutes ago, ChrisN said:

The question is, when did they get to Farthing?  They certainly never got to Traeth Mawr, at least not in 1895.

 

The Midland was particularly popular with touring theatrical companies since it served most of the principal English towns and cities. One could go out via Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, and Bradford, then via running powers over the L&Y to Manchester, on to Liverpool, back via Derby to Birmingham then down to Bristol. 

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

On 03/03/2021 at 21:57, Wheatley said:

One Saturday afternoon at Appleby in the 1990s, whilst clearing up after the day's various steam and deisel excursions, I found a carrier bag with a large full Wensleydale cheese in it, obviously left by one of the throng of tourists who had decamped from one of them for a couple of hours in town. 

 

Stationmaster and ex-cheesemaker Parmley (well, Railman, but it was definitely his station) was consulted, who recognised it and and believed that it belonged to a lady now heading back towards London via the WCML. He then produced a cheese corer from his pocket (!), sampled it and declared it to be excellent. 

 

The Passenger Information Manual was consulted which confirmed that perishable lost property could be disposed of by whatever means were locally expedient. It took us two days to eat it. 

 

The cameo is excellent, I have a couple of Airfix WW1 tommies somewhere  relaxing on the back of a coal merchant's lorry. 

 

Superb story. I'm particularly impressed that Parmley had noticed who had been travelling with the cheese. A keen eye!

 

On 03/03/2021 at 22:35, Charlie586 said:

Great story and photos, Mikkel. Fantastic modelling as usual too.

 

Many thanks, yesterday I came across several other situations that deserve to be modelled. There's enough for a lifetime out there. 

 

On 03/03/2021 at 22:52, Compound2632 said:

By chance I came across further information on this, as I've been looking through Hooper's book on North British wagons for livery and numbering info. He reproduces a diagram from The Locomotive Magazine of an elephant car converted from an NBR 30 ton trolley - again a bogie well wagon. [snip]

 

20 hours ago, ChrisN said:

I am not sure where I got this, probably from Castle Aching, and I think it is an LNWR van. [snip]

 

Fascinating. I wonder if anyone has ever modelled a whole circus train - or even one of the special wagons? It would be quite a sight to see  a whole train in model form, although I suppose it would have to be a very rare visitor on the layout if prototype practice is to be followed!

 

Edit: To answer my own question - yes, of course, big time:

 

 

Background here: https://www.tcmrm.org/special-events/the-circus-moves-by-rail/

 

Edited by Mikkel
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Wheatley

Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Mikkel said:

 

Superb story. I'm particularly impressed that Parmley had noticed who had been travelling with the cheese. A keen eye ! 

...

Fascinating. I wonder if anyone has ever modelled a whole circus train - or even one of the special wagons? 

 

 

 

Not much involving cheese got past Parmley, he later left the railway to co-found Appleby Creamery when the Express dairy shut. 

 

Not a circus train but I have got most of the vehicles together for the Last Farm Move on BR, from Gloucestershire to Wigtownshire in 1962. A pedigree beef herd needs a lot of Beetles...

Edited by Wheatley
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...in reference to sending for instructions in matters not covered by the rulebook, Mark Twain in 'Following the Equator' (first published 1897) includes the text of a telegram sent from a "lonely little station" on the Darjeeling (narrow gauge) railway: 

 

"Tiger eating station master on front porch; telegraph instructions"

 

In the same book, Mark Twain connects P T Barnum, Jumbo the elephant, Nelson's column and Shakespeare's birthplace in a single story. I leave you to read it (in Chapter 64) as it's too long to quote here and anyway has only a tenuous connection to the 'Regrettable incident at 3pm'.  Mark Twain's 'Following the Equator' describes many journeys by train in the late 1890s but, alas, not in rural Wiltshire; perhaps Farthing is not sufficiently equatorial.  I see the book can be got here - https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2895/2895-h/2895-h.htm - I have a paper copy which I happened to be reading these last couple of weeks.

 

Kit PW

Swan Hill - https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/blogs/blog/2502-swan-hill/

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5 minutes ago, Northroader said:

No elephants in Farthing, but there was this tyger....

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Twynnoy

 

"In 2003, on the 300th anniversary of the death, a ceremony was carried out at the grave when every schoolgirl in the town, younger than 11 and named Hannah, ...".

 

Chose your own preferred commemorative action.

 

I'm off to reread Judith Kerr's The Tiger who came to Tea to recover from that.

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R’eely good Mikkel :D

 

Another fab story and well told - loved the props at the start and the way you created the scene.

 

Fab modelling and superb photography too :good:

 

The final line on that old letter is class :yes:

 

 

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Just had another read through. 

 

That document is a work of art. 

 

 

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

20 hours ago, kitpw said:

Mark Twain in 'Following the Equator'

 

Thanks for that, I'm a great fan of travel literature so it's a bit disgraceful that I haven't read this one yet. I will now! I see it is listed as non-fiction, but a quick perusal of the Darjeeling chapter suggests that Twain has placed no restrictions on his wonderful mind :)

 

 

17 hours ago, Northroader said:

No elephants in Farthing, but there was this tyger....

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Twynnoy

 

What a strange fate at that time, when such animals were completely new to Europe. Less exotic these days, last time I saw a rhino was on the SVR!

 

@bcnPete and @Dave John, many thanks! You mention the letter. It is very tempting to start a collection of old GWR letters, forms etc. Some of them tell interesting stories, even if they are sometimes intriguingly hard to decipher. There are usually examples to be found on ebay. But I can see it getting out of hand very easily.

 

Edited by Mikkel
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5 hours ago, Mikkel said:

 

Thanks for that, I'm a great fan of travel literature so it's a bit disgraceful that I haven't read this one yet. I will now! I see it is listed as non-fiction, but a quick perusal of the Darjeeling chapter suggests that Twain has placed no restrictions on his wonderful mind :)

 

 

 

What a strange fate at that time, when such animals were completely new to Europe. Less exotic these days, last time I saw a rhino was on the SVR!

 

@bcnPete and @Dave John, many thanks! You mention the letter. It is very tempting to start a collection of old GWR letters, forms etc. Some of them tell interesting stories, even if they are sometimes intriguingly hard to decipher. There are usually examples to be found on ebay. But I can see it getting out of hand very easily.

 

 

I saw a letter on EBay from or to a Cambrian Station Master.  As hard as I tried I could not decipher the writing, then I realised, it was in Welsh!

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5 hours ago, Mikkel said:

 

That looks like a cyclostyled standard letter with the details filled in, but what has a LNWR 20 ton wagon at Stockport got to do with the Great Western? A 20 ton wagon was rather unusual in 1899; I've had a quick look through the three volumes of LNWR Wagons but haven't yet found it. Being a special of some sort the number should identify it.

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, ChrisN said:

I saw a letter on EBay from or to a Cambrian Station Master.  As hard as I tried I could not decipher the writing, then I realised, it was in Welsh!

 

Good thing the locals at Traeth Mawr didn't hear that! There is an opening here in case Mr Price is interested, although perhaps he would consider it an insult? Perhaps it is also a little late in his career at that point!

 

https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/OKUAAOSwOZJgQf5-/s-l1600.jpg

 

 

5 hours ago, Compound2632 said:

 

That looks like a cyclostyled standard letter with the details filled in, but what has a LNWR 20 ton wagon at Stockport got to do with the Great Western? A 20 ton wagon was rather unusual in 1899; I've had a quick look through the three volumes of LNWR Wagons but haven't yet found it. Being a special of some sort the number should identify it.

 

Thanks Stephen, I did not know about cyclostyled letters and was wondering about the appearance. As far as I can make out, the letter reads:

 

July 14th, 1899

 

Dear sir,

LNWR 20 ton wagon 20?89. The above ? Stockport arrived at your station on Ja? ?th, Please send me copy of invoice by return; also explain why omitted from your 52 ? (Heavy Wagon) return to me.

 

Yours truly

 

(larger version of letter here: https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/vw0AAOSwPFhgQi0r/s-l1600.jpg)

 

On the back there are various scribblings, including this in one corner, but I don't know if that is the same 20T wagon:

 

note.JPG.23790f77f5b6f7863c4571006ebc0bf0.JPG

 

Interesting little mystery!

 

Edited by Mikkel
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On 05/03/2021 at 07:43, Mikkel said:

 

 

Edit: To answer my own question - yes, of course, big time:

 

 

Background here: https://www.tcmrm.org/special-events/the-circus-moves-by-rail/

 

 

Ian Holmes kindly showed me around that museum while I was in the Twin Cities. I don't remember the circus scene but the big O gauge layout was very impressive.

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Wonderful modelling! In the modern era the gulls would have a field day....

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3 hours ago, Mikkel said:

 

Good thing the locals at Traeth Mawr didn't hear that! There is an opening here in case Mr Price is interested, although perhaps he would consider it an insult? Perhaps it is also a little late in his career at that point!

 

https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/OKUAAOSwOZJgQf5-/s-l1600.jpg

 

 

Mikkel,

I am not sure, without looking, how senior a Class 4 Station Master is.  Mr Price is a Silver Band Station Master, and there are only gold bands above him.  He also has a house, a very nice one, er, when I get round to building it.  Also, he joined the railway so that he could be station master at Traeth Mawr, and this was in 1864, three years before there was a Traeth Mawr station so I doubt he will want to move.

 

Thank you for keeping him in mind though.  :D

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Maybe the Cambrian worked differently but usually the rule was no promotion without relocation.

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If he liked living at Traeth Mawr, I rather fancy Round Oak would not be to his liking at all, whatever the pay grade.

I notice on the correspondence on the heavy LNWR wagon, that Crudgington station is involved, a small country station just north of Wellington, Salop, on the Crewe line.

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I'm surprised to notice that I do not appear to have commented - I must have got so engrossed in this story that I forgot!  I especially like the structure of this post, with its gradually build up via making all the props.  We all enter a fantasy world through railway modelling, so it's great to see a tale like this presented so well :)

 

Mike

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