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    Having been interested in transport all my life it was inevitable that I got into railway modelling. My first exhibition layout was Hillside Depot which appeared in Railway Modeller a couple of times and was set in the west country city of Westonmouth (Weston-super-Mare/Avonmouth = holiday traffic & industry) in 1986.

    My next layout saw me stay in Westonmouth, but take a step back to the 1970s with Morimore's Yard where freight train trips were split into short rakes for delivery to local businesses in the city's historic docklands. But just like Bristol, by the 1970s the city docks were run down and almost closed following the development of newer facilities to the north of the city.

    Then came part of the main city station itself with Westonmouth Central (known as General in GWR days), which was entered in the DEMU/Minories layout competition and again represents the 1970s. However the layout only represents a small part of the whole station, the bit modelled is "over the back, by the dustbins".

    Both Mortimore's Yard and Westonmouth Central are active and gradually being developed/refined and gaining more rolling stock. Even so, a new project has just begun, representing another small part of Westonmouth Central, this time the small stabling point at the station's western end. The layout is based on the former stabling point next to the platforms at London Liverpool Street, but will be suitably "Westernised" and adapted for the new location.

    Besides model railways, church activities, Explorer Scout & Scout Network leadership, kayaking, cycling and photography fill the time that work doesn't claim.

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  1. Maybe this experimental vehicle from 1980 would have found favour and been developed? photo by "Gillett's Crossing" on Flickr.
  2. 9494 was another BSO, and as John Turner's photo of 16/08/2001 on Flickr shows it had a sealed gangway at the brake end.
  3. Whilst researching Mk1 catering cars over the weekend I came across this post from The Johnster Followed by this information from Brian br2975 which got my interest. Further research led me to the EM gauge 70's website which has a page on the Mk1 Pullman cars. However they suggest that 10 out of 15 vehicles in the PSK fleet were used by the Western as a Buffet car for excursion traffic, with a start date of September 1971. Whilst individual cars vary, most are next reported as stored by the following August (1972). EM 70's lists the grey/blue example as E334E, which they don't mention as having worked on the Western. Out of curiosity (and as a possible addition to my passenger stock) did Cardiff have 3 PSKs with the other 7 at other Western depots? Brian's note of one in a Footex, and a September transfer date makes me wonder if they were intended for use in such trains, lasting one season before ending up in store by the following summer. Or if not Footex traffic what was this short lived need for 10 buffets in excursion trains? If the idea was to provide catering in such trans and the PSKs were available for "free", they didn't give the idea much of a trial as it was over in less than a year, and missed the [presumably] busy peak summer season.
  4. It will be interesting to see what direction the Government will take with rail and/or local control. Speaking from a bus point of view (I work in the Passenger Transport Unit at Wiltshire Council) we've got the much trumpeted Bus Services Act 2017 to work with. This was supposed to give us all sorts of additional powers over the local bus network, including over commercially operated services. As an authority we are conservative (small c here, but large C politically) and our councillors probably would be reluctant to be one of the first authorities to try something radical, so we didn't really think that they would want us to franchise our bus operation. However, when I studied the legislation there was little we could do unless we had an elected mayor, or were Cornwall. Even things like Enhanced Partnerships are of little use, and the DfT guidance admits that informal partnerships would probably be more successful in most cases, as partnerships with Stagecoach West have proved by simply working together with a common aim, we can grow the bus market. So when the DfT come round asking why no one is making use the the 2017 Act we had to explain that it isn't designed for us; we simply can't tick the right boxes to enter the starting block, let alone make it work! But then, would we want any of the provisions to work for us, in isolation? Wiltshire is a essentially doughnut, with population around the edge and just soldiers and tanks on the Plain in the middle. So some towns look to Swindon (with its own Borough Council), others look towards Bath & North East Somerset (which in turn is part of the West of England Combined [transport] Authority), and whilst parts of the south look to Salisbury, Salisbury also looks to Southampton. So should we join with our neighbours? And if we do with what sort of degree of influence? And so it is on the railway. Bristol "local" services run out to Taunton, Cardiff, Westbury, Gloucester, all of which are outside the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) area. Should trains turn back at the boundary? Should the Bristol "metro mayor" decide the stopping pattern and frequency at, say, Avoncliff? Already WECA has decided its "metro" service should run to Westbury when, from a Wiltshire point of view, maybe Swindon would have been better giving us trains which could stop at a new Corsham station, offer an east of Bath Park & Ride and at some point possibly a Royal Wootton Bassett station, as well as adding capacity at Chippenham for the 7,000 new houses planned here. Moving north, would Manchester speak to both Liverpool and Leeds? Would Leeds want also to speak to York? And if suddenly there are 4 authorities all demanding control do we end up with a Liverpool - York conglomerate? Would that be "local" management? Or would Liverpool trains leave Manchester a minute before Leeds trains arrive, because "local" management really has to be "local"? It's easy to write a good headline, but much harder to write the legislative structure which will be needed to make it all work!
  5. Thanks. No thread, as yet, but I did take a few photos during the very early stages of the build, and plan to have one. The layout is all of 2 foot long, with just two points. Definitely a small layout, but ideal for a tiny Ruston.
  6. Thanks DeRails & DPD, my two Rustons are here! Just a quick lunch-break snap of the Army version testing out my new (very much still under construction) micro layout.
  7. Excellent news Dan; my two will soon be heading back over the Severn to their new home in Wiltshire. I better get on with putting together various part built buildings to make a layout for one of them, and seriously get my plans sorted for a layout for the other one.
  8. I don't think that Hornby are aiming their Advent Calendar at us, and that reflects on the choice of items promoted. After all we don't buy because its Christmas, or Easter, or August Bank Holiday; we buy because the boat has docked with the latest goodies. But a parent being pestered for a trainset for Christmas may well go to the Hornby website, find the calendar there and find something of interest. Or having already bought a trainset for the "big day" might use the calendar to entice their child into the world of Hornby with daily tempters. These tempters may turn into "I wants" and more sales for Hornby. Ultimately, if we want a superbly detailed [insert item of choice] to be announced in early January we need Hornby to sell all they can at Christmas.
  9. Obviously I'd like to see rail expand and succeed as much as anyone on here, but would-be promoters perhaps should also note that whilst First UK Bus isn't without its own huge problems, and its "Buses of Somerset" operation will never be at the top of the financial performance table, it is under common management with "Kernow" who have made big strides in Cornwall. I can't see them taking any competition from the WSR lying down.
  10. Exeter depot was the inspiration for my first diesel modelling project, becoming Hillside Depot in my version. With 5 stabling roads and a pair of private sidings I'm not sure if it counts as "small". The roofless walls feature, with offices outside. The short siding where the tanks are above inspired to my short siding hidden by the InterCity 47. The road with the 50 above on is similar to the road the model 47 is standing on as it outside the walls and heading off at an angle. The main office buildings were based on Ipswich, but fairly typical of the era, if perhaps lacking in detail differences which would say "Western" which they should be. So not a copy, but certainly very much influenced by Exeter. And whilst it is great to see investment in the new depot, it has already lost the charm that inspired me, although I never did finish the water tower beyond the 47 in Rivercider's photo....
  11. Traveline suggests this with the "Rail" option unticked:
  12. Jim, thank you for taking the time to clean 66 775. HMS Argyll was by brother-in-law's last ship before he left the Navy so I feel bit of a family connection. He's not a rail enthusiast, but I'm sure he'd appreciate your efforts too.
  13. The micro "bug" has very firmly bitten me, so the video was great to watch for (even) more ideas. The colliery loader layout is of particular interest as one of my plans has a near identical track-plan, but is based on a real location. Is there a layout thread anywhere for it? Looking very closely at the video I'm wondering if it uses Set Track, or whether the camera angle makes the points look sharp and the track spacing wide compared to the Streamline I'm used to. The video shows that it runs well, so if that is Set Track, it opens up even more possibilities for limited space industrial settings.
  14. So a pure electric unit, which will become completely stranded if it leaves the wires, is allowed to enter the "danger area" whilst an IET which can switch to diesel and mobilise itself again is not permitted to enter the "danger area". Hmmm, I'd like to read the Risk Assessments which reached that conclusion, especially when the EMU will be an occasional visitor so either traction or route will be relatively unfamiliar to the driver concerned whereas an IET, which performs the move every hour Monday to Friday with drivers well versed in both route and traction, get extra safe guards. It could only happen on the railway...
  15. Having been used to both Leyland and Alexander Pacers around Tyne & Wear in by student days, they then rather disappeared from my radar apart from a brief re-appearance during Wessex Trains days. But a small fleet of 143s is hard at work for GWR around Exeter so I thought it appropriate to have a few trips for old times sake. With my Freedom of the South West ticket at the ready I boarded 143603 at St David's with 2F29 1213 Paignton to Exmouth service. A quick turnaround at Exmouth saw me transfer to 143620 and 2B78 1353 Exmouth - Barnstaple, seen here at Topsham waiting to cross 2F31 which was also a pair of Pacers. One passenger was making his anti-Pacer views known to anyone who'd listen. This prompted the Driver to say that he'll miss them when they go as they work well, and with all those windows its like driving a conservatory, which is ideal on the Devon coastal routes and much better than being pushed into a corner as on gangway fitted units. Another Exeter Driver had tipped me off to the replaying work on the Barnstaple branch later this month and how its well worth a ride on the jointed track with a Pacer so I decided to stick with 2B78 through to the terminus where our trainee driver and his instructor change ends, having first checked that the reds lights are correctly displayed. With the rain falling I changed back to 143603 as it waited to form 2F43, the 1543 Barnstaple - Exmouth. As we bounced back across Devon to the main line I couldn't help wondering if GWR will organise a Pacer Farewell as they did for the HSTs. Pacers aren't exactly loved, but they have done their job, largely unnoticed, for longer than their designers could have envisaged. If I had to use them every day I'm sure I'd think differently, but as something to ride occasionally for their quirky-ness I'll miss 'em.
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