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The Nutley, Crowborough and Groombridge Light Railway - Fictional Narrow Gauge in East Sussex

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Welcome everyone to the beginning of my Narrow Gauge adventure!!! I have been planning this for quite some time, and as I now seem to have some stock building up I thought it was time to give it it's own thread.

 

So let's start with a little backstory into the NC&GLR:

 

Fact

 

In November 1898 an application was made by; Charles Henry Corbett Esq., Albert Turner (Timber Merchant), and Edward Geoffrey Ramsbotham Esq. for a railway running from the LB&SCR line at Groombridge to the village of Nutley, with several intermediate stations on the way.

 

The line was primarily to be used for transporting timber from the Ashdown Forest. However come 1899 it was obvious that the scheme would fail, not only because of objections from landowners and groups trying to protect the forest, but also because of the terrain that the route was planned over, including gradients that would have been very hard for locomotives to overcome.

 

Fiction

 

Luckily this is where Sir Jon Melbourne III, 2nd Baronet of Oak Hill stepped in. Sir Jon had always wished that his father had not sold the Oak Hill Railway, and so seeing his chance to get one of his own he came to the rescue of the quickly failing NC&GLR plan.

 

He remembered his trip to Traeth Mawr in 1895, and the “small railways” he had seen there. He suggested to the promoters that what they needed was a narrow gauge line, this would allow them to alter the route to avoid “troublesome” land owners, and he said “if they can manage Wales then the gradients here will be nothing!”

 

Sir Jon was quickly welcomed into the scheme, and he organised at his own expense a trip to Wales to view the narrow gauge lines there. The promoters were convinced that this was the way to go. A new route was planned based on a track gauge of 2’3” avoiding the landowners that had objected before. This was submitted to parliament in 1899, and with the landowners objections removed the plan was accepted, and powers granted to the NC&GLR to begin construction on their new line.

 

The Layout

 

So far I have not begun proper planning of the layout, however I have a space of 54" x 35" to work with. I am hoping to get both a running line that can have passenger trains running on and a small shunting puzzle, an interchange with standard gauge would be nice, but is not essential.

 

The Stock

 

Locos

 

So far I have got 3 locos for the line, 2 of which have been seen at some point over on Oak Hill.

 

The first of these is Skarloey:

post-22762-0-77212100-1526312741_thumb.jpg

 

The plan for this engine is for it's face to be replaces with a smokebox door, and for it to be converted into it's early open cab type, and a repaint into NC&GLR livery. The loco was acquired second hand by the NC&GLR and as such is the oldest loco on the line having been originally constructed in 1865. This will primarily be a goods engine

 

The second is the 0-6-0ST built from an Airfix Pug with a Graham Farish Castle chassis:

post-22762-0-14370400-1526313017_thumb.jpg

 

There is clearly still a lot of work to do on this loco, and I will get around to it eventually. This loco was built new for the lines opening, and is used on secondary passenger services.

 

The third loco of the line, and the primary passenger loco is a Small England, built for the line to designed acquired from the Festiniog Railway based on a loco seen on the Twll Du during the trip in 1899 hired from the Twll Du to help with increased traffic during WW1:

post-22762-0-76300400-1526313241_thumb.jpg

 

This loco has been my project for the last week and will be the subject of it's own post in the future, I have a chassis for the tender and just need to get an outside cylinder 0-4-0 chassis for the loco. Hopefully I will be able to get one of these quite cheap. The blue seen on this is to be the livery of the NC&GLR I am planning on lining with LNER white-black-white style lining, which I assume I can get from Fox Transfers. Each loco will also have a name, number, and the company initials on them somewhere.

 

Goods Stock

 

I currently have only 2 bits of 009 stock these are both from the Peco range.

 

The first is a goods van:

post-22762-0-88293800-1526313688_thumb.jpg

 

and the second is an bogie open:

post-22762-0-05705600-1526313711_thumb.jpg

 

I hope to add a lot more stock to this in the hear future, and hopefully some bolsters for carrying timber since that is what the line's primary traffic will be.

 

That just about covers everything for now. I hope you have enjoyed reading, and I look forward to bringing you updates at some point in the future.

 

Thanks for looking,

 

Gary

Edited by BlueLightning
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Welcome everyone to the beginning of my Narrow Gauge adventure!!! I have been planning this for quite some time, and as I now seem to have some stock building up I thought it was time to give it it's own thread.

 

So let's start with a little backstory into the NC&GLR:

 

Fact

 

In November 1898 an application was made by; Charles Henry Corbett Esq., Albert Turner (Timber Merchant), and Edward Geoffrey Ramsbotham Esq. for a railway running from the LB&SCR line at Groombridge to the village of Nutley, with several intermediate stations on the way.

 

The line was primarily to be used for transporting timber from the Ashdown Forest. However come 1899 it was obvious that the scheme would fail, not only because of objections from landowners and groups trying to protect the forest, but also because of the terrain that the route was planned over, including gradients that would have been very hard for locomotives to overcome.

 

Fiction

 

Luckily this is where Sir Jon Melbourne III, 2nd Baronet of Oak Hill stepped in. Sir Jon had always wished that his father had not sold the Oak Hill Railway, and so seeing his chance to get one of his own he came to the rescue of the quickly failing NC&GLR plan.

 

He remembered his trip to Traeth Mawr in 1895, and the “small railways” he had seen there. He suggested to the promoters that what they needed was a narrow gauge line, this would allow them to alter the route to avoid “troublesome” land owners, and he said “if they can manage Wales then the gradients here will be nothing!”

 

Sir Jon was quickly welcomed into the scheme, and he organised at his own expense a trip to Wales to view the narrow gauge lines there. The promoters were convinced that this was the way to go. A new route was planned based on a track gauge of 2’3” avoiding the landowners that had objected before. This was submitted to parliament in 1899, and with the landowners objections removed the plan was accepted, and powers granted to the NC&GLR to begin construction on their new line.

 

The Layout

 

So far I have not begun proper planning of the layout, however I have a space of 54" x 35" to work with. I am hoping to get both a running line that can have passenger trains running on and a small shunting puzzle, an interchange with standard gauge would be nice, but is not essential.

 

The Stock

 

Locos

 

So far I have got 3 locos for the line, 2 of which have been seen at some point over on Oak Hill.

 

The first of these is Skarloey:

attachicon.gif2018-05-14 16.41.07.jpg

 

The plan for this engine is for it's face to be replaces with a smokebox door, and for it to be converted into it's early open cab type, and a repaint into NC&GLR livery. The loco was acquired second hand by the NC&GLR and as such is the oldest loco on the line having been originally constructed in 1865. This will primarily be a goods engine

 

The second is the 0-6-0ST built from an Airfix Pug with a Graham Farish Castle chassis:

attachicon.gif2018-05-14 16.41.27.jpg

 

There is clearly still a lot of work to do on this loco, and I will get around to it eventually. This loco was built new for the lines opening, and is used on secondary passenger services.

 

The third loco of the line, and the primary passenger loco is a Small England, built for the line to designed acquired from the Festiniog Railway during the trip in 1898:

attachicon.gif2018-05-14 16.42.15.jpg

 

This loco has been my project for the last week and will be the subject of it's own post in the future, I have a chassis for the tender and just need to get an outside cylinder 0-4-0 chassis for the loco. Hopefully I will be able to get one of these quite cheap. The blue seen on this is to be the livery of the NC&GLR I am planning on lining with LNER white-black-white style lining, which I assume I can get from Fox Transfers. Each loco will also have a name, number, and the company initials on them somewhere.

 

Goods Stock

 

I currently have only 2 bits of 009 stock these are both from the Peco range.

 

The first is a goods van:

attachicon.gif2018-05-14 16.59.38.jpg

 

and the second is an bogie open:

attachicon.gif2018-05-14 16.59.31.jpg

 

I hope to add a lot more stock to this in the hear future, and hopefully some bolsters for carrying timber since that is what the line's primary traffic will be.

 

That just about covers everything for now. I hope you have enjoyed reading, and I look forward to bringing you updates at some point in the future.

 

Thanks for looking,

 

Gary

 

Looking good so far, and you can LNER lining from fox transfers.

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Thanks guys!!

 

And thanks for the confirmation of Fox doing LNER lining Luke!

 

Gary

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I really like the 0-6-0, the Airfix pug works damn well for 009!

Alex

 

(posting this because of some extreme cyberbullying by Luke on Twitter) :P

 

I have no idea what you're on about 

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Hurrah!

 

He will be won over to the darker dark side... we got him to pre grouping, then LBSCR, then narrow gauge...

 

Now we need to get him into the pitch black side: 7mmNG!

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I have 2 7mm locos, and that is quite enough!! (Terrier and an LNER A4!!) I don't think they will fit on narrow rails!

 

As for pre-grouping and LB&SCR, I believe someone may have stated in the past that it was in fact me that helped turn them!!

 

Gary

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As for pre-grouping and LB&SCR, I believe someone may have stated in the past that it was in fact me that helped turn them!!

 

Gary

 

I wonder who that might be!

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Great plan Gary.  Love the locos.  That Pug bash makes a very good looking narrow gauge goods loco.

 

Many pairs of 009 twin bolsters for the timber traffic?  From the woods to a sawmill and then loaded to standard gauge wagons? 

Edited by Edwardian

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Looking good, Gary! I wonder if the Fleischmann Piccolo 0-4-0 chassis could be persuaded to fit under Duke's body? It's what powers my Prince, and it runs very smoothly for an N gauge 0-4-0, probably helped by the huge great lump of metal on top of it! The motor is a cube-shaped one that fills the cab of an N gauge loco but would probably sit under Duke's cab windows.

 

post-793-0-18578200-1526321813_thumb.jpg

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Losing the plot here. Is that Skarloey the same one that went off recently to feature in a cake box, or is there another one arrived from somewhere else?

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Losing the plot here. Is that Skarloey the same one that went off recently to feature in a cake box, or is there another one arrived from somewhere else?

 

I thought Neil was for export and Skarloey and the flat wagon for domestic consumption.  Possibly there are two Skarloeys?

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Well, I know where the deposited plans for the NC&G LR reside, and have a sketch of the route, made by my father when he went to view them about forty years ago.

 

You’re probably aware that the main target of the line was the stands of timber in the valleys at the fringes of Ashdown Forest, and that the promoters were timber trade men.

 

It would have been a decidedly squiggly line, with some quite stiff gradients, so overall rather like the W&LLR, but probably standard gauge, rather than narrow.

 

I& you look at the contours, you’ll see that the country is steep, very steep in places.

 

Kevin

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I'm going to sound a contrary note here, but please bear with me.

Bearing in mind it's your railway, and rule 1, etc, but I have a big problem with the "pug bash", which is that it looks like what it is: an Airfix/Dapol pug on an N gauge chassis.

 

There, I've said it again. Last time I said it, it was in a smaller, more intimate environment and someone flounced away as only seems possible with narrow gauge engines in Fat Controller country. This was about 9 years ago, so he might have grown up a bit since then, but as you can tell, I don't really care as he wasn't prepared to listen. (No names, no pack drill, etc.)

 

That said, this is looking more promising than most such "conversions", and all I would say against this one is that the spectacle plate is a big giveaway, as it less so the chimney. A different contour to the spectacle plate (add some microstrip to the top, and then reshape it, or even make it square), and maybe a different (turned brass, with a polished cap?) chimney would disguise it with relatively little effort. 

 

Anyway, back to rule number 1, but the other version, which is just because you (generally, not specifically) invoke rule 1, my respecting it does not mean I have to like it.

And here's my personal rub with these things.

There is an enormous difference between modelling narrow gauge in 4mm scale and "009". There doesn't have to be a difference, but to me the latter approach is epitomised by bunging an unmodified pug body onto a simple N gauge 0-6-0 (or similar) chassis; the former by adapting things to personalise the model such that the model doesn't look like someone simply put a Pug body on a Grafar 0-6-0 mechanism, even if that's what they did.

 

This is nothing against the 009 Society who are a very open-minded and welcoming broad church organisation. It is simply my internalised distinction - I have the same thing about 7mm narrow gauge and 0-16.5.

In both cases the actual gauge is irrelevant, as also is whether or not it is even "correctly" to scale. It is the mind-set that interests me, in the same way that good 00 knocks bad P4 into a cocked hat any and every day!

 

 

In my mind, you are clearly engaged in 4mm scale narrow gauge railway modelling, and the suggestions are made in that frame of mind.

 

To be 100% clear, that's rather nice, and with just a little tweaking, you can disguise the origins just that bit more. 

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A couple of bits that are easily to hand from one of my father’s files.

 

My father was a bit of a local historian, Mr Bradgate of UMRCC knew him well, and he was pals with Norman Edwards, founder member of UMRCC and local historian of Uckfield.

post-26817-0-51508000-1526325643_thumb.jpeg

post-26817-0-03885600-1526325666_thumb.jpeg

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The sketch map doesn’t show th3 junction with the LBSCR very well ....... it would have faced towards Tunbridge Wells, and the draft LRO gives facility for an agreement with the LBSCR to allow LR trains to run through to The West, as well as facility for an agreement to allow the LBSCR to work the LR, and another allowing the LBSCR to subscribe capital. It looks to me as if the whole thing was carefully crafted between the LBSCR and local timber interests.

 

“The railway shall be constructed on a gauge of four feet eight and a-half inches and the motive power shall be steam electrical or other mechanical power.”

 

The copy I have is marked-up by the County surveyor, and it is obvious that he is trying to shove as much liability for highway maintenance as he can onto the LR, ‘in perpetuity’.

 

Interestingly, in the light of another thread on here, the draft LRO includes a good ‘get out’ clause to exempt from the need for continuous brakes, and to allow trains to be marshalled in any old order, provided that the braked vehicles are at the tail, and under control at all times .... hand-brake only is allowed. This would surely not have been permissible for trains running through over the ‘proper’ LBSCR.

 

Maximum axle-weight 14 tons, top speed 35mph, except on tight curves (a lot of this line!), where it is 10mph.

 

Most of the rest is ‘boiler plate’ common to all LROs.

 

I think that there is another draft, with a LR terminus adjacent to, but south of, Groombridge station, but quite what the route to that point was meant to be, I’m not sure.

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Does anyone have any better maps and a rough route-length for the line?

 

I have a plan brewing...

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East Sussex County Records Office, Plan QDP603, say my father’s notes.

 

10 miles, 7 furlongs, and 8.2 chains, says the LRO. This is from the junction with the LBSCR, to field 379 on the OS map, in Nutley, which is just over the ridge from the church, in the Sheffield Park direction. IIRC there is, even now (well last time I went that way), a big stand of timber at the end of the field.

 

My bike ride from home, to volunteer at the Bluebell Railway, followed the route of this projected line for a good part of the way, and I can tell you that it is leg-aching territory, if you aren’t used to it.

 

Of the promoters, Corbett owned large farms, although not on the route, Turner was a serious timber merchant, and his wife owned large farms, and Ramsbotham’s family owned very large farms, and a large area known as The Warren, which had been planted by an entrepreneur called Howis in the c1800, to increase its value, and was ripe for felling.

 

Felling along the route actually dragged-on for years, and didn’t get underway really seriously until post-WW2, when ‘timber tugs’ were created from 4WD army-surplus lorries to haul the timber out over the very heavy clay. This was still happening when I was a child, and the timber tugs lived in a rough yard about 300 yards from home.

 

Some areas nearby were felled by Canadian Forestry Corps during WW1 and WW2, using narrow gauge railways during the earlier conflict, but for some reason they don’t seem to have selected the stands that the LR was intended to tap.

 

It’s now all ‘managed woodland’ in the valley areas (the top of the ‘forest’ was rendered bald about four hundred years ago, to make room for Winnie the Pooh to have adventures), with selective felling and coppicing, which is the business that one of my cousins is in.

Edited by Nearholmer

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Its a bit boring all those trees, could you have an incline from somewhere around New Pond up to High Road, sort of like the Cromford and High Peak, and have the railway running along the top? As you say, it’s been stripped bare, so there’s nothing up there for the railway, but think of the view!

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http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/13b4fed9-d2ef-4207-ad47-13f3988c9391

 

Link to the plans and sections in the national archives register.

 

I’m going to have to book an appointment with these records, I think, because the summary doesn’t tally with the sketch map at the Birchden/Groombridge end.

 

Northroader - inclines were used by the CFC on felling railways during WW1.There was a small one at Eridge Park, oodles in Scotland, and two very long ones near where I live now, one of them on what is now Woburn Golf Course, and others that escape my memory. So, maybe your wish can be accommodated!

 

Trouble with all this is, that like the other never-built LRs that we’ve discussed in the Ouse Valley, and over Bagshot Heath, it sets me off thinking about building layouts that have nothing to do with what I’m supposed to be doing! Worse still, I’ve got other draft LROs, and Acts for yet more never-built railways in East Sussex, so the saga could run on a bit.

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An interesting hint from a set of minutes of the Ashdown Forest Conservators in 1898, where they discussed the LR proposal, and, being that sort of body, decided to seek legal advice and deferred discussion to another meeting ...... they talk about the proposed line as extending all the way from Sheffield Park station to Groombridge Station, which makes perfect sense, given that Turner’s sawmill was (still is I think, although now much smaller) next to SP station.

 

Now, in his sawmill, Mr Turner truly did have a narrow gauge railway, with, IIRC, wagons and track supplied by Howard’s of Bedford.

Edited by Nearholmer
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Firstly thank you to everyone for your comments!! I go out to club for an evening and have a very interesting read to come back to!!!

 

Great plan Gary.  Love the locos.  That Pug bash makes a very good looking narrow gauge goods loco.

 

Many pairs of 009 twin bolsters for the timber traffic?  From the woods to a sawmill and then loaded to standard gauge wagons? 

 

James,

 

Yes thats the idea, lots of 009 twin bolsters!!

 

Looking good, Gary! I wonder if the Fleischmann Piccolo 0-4-0 chassis could be persuaded to fit under Duke's body? It's what powers my Prince, and it runs very smoothly for an N gauge 0-4-0, probably helped by the huge great lump of metal on top of it! The motor is a cube-shaped one that fills the cab of an N gauge loco but would probably sit under Duke's cab windows.

 

attachicon.gifFleischmann 7000.jpg

 

Linny,

 

That is exactly the chassis I had in mind, there is one on eBay, however I can't afford it this month as I have had my daughters birthday to pay for!! Calling the loco Duke gives away you following my very far behind updates on Twitter!! I actually had the loco in the state it is now before I posted the second one!!!

 

Losing the plot here. Is that Skarloey the same one that went off recently to feature in a cake box, or is there another one arrived from somewhere else?

 

As explained by Alex, we both have a Skarloey, mine was brought from him for this project, and so I could pose it on the cake box for photos before sending to him.

 

I'm going to sound a contrary note here, but please bear with me.

Bearing in mind it's your railway, and rule 1, etc, but I have a big problem with the "pug bash", which is that it looks like what it is: an Airfix/Dapol pug on an N gauge chassis.

 

There, I've said it again. Last time I said it, it was in a smaller, more intimate environment and someone flounced away as only seems possible with narrow gauge engines in Fat Controller country. This was about 9 years ago, so he might have grown up a bit since then, but as you can tell, I don't really care as he wasn't prepared to listen. (No names, no pack drill, etc.)

 

That said, this is looking more promising than most such "conversions", and all I would say against this one is that the spectacle plate is a big giveaway, as it less so the chimney. A different contour to the spectacle plate (add some microstrip to the top, and then reshape it, or even make it square), and maybe a different (turned brass, with a polished cap?) chimney would disguise it with relatively little effort. 

 

Anyway, back to rule number 1, but the other version, which is just because you (generally, not specifically) invoke rule 1, my respecting it does not mean I have to like it.

And here's my personal rub with these things.

There is an enormous difference between modelling narrow gauge in 4mm scale and "009". There doesn't have to be a difference, but to me the latter approach is epitomised by bunging an unmodified pug body onto a simple N gauge 0-6-0 (or similar) chassis; the former by adapting things to personalise the model such that the model doesn't look like someone simply put a Pug body on a Grafar 0-6-0 mechanism, even if that's what they did.

 

This is nothing against the 009 Society who are a very open-minded and welcoming broad church organisation. It is simply my internalised distinction - I have the same thing about 7mm narrow gauge and 0-16.5.

In both cases the actual gauge is irrelevant, as also is whether or not it is even "correctly" to scale. It is the mind-set that interests me, in the same way that good 00 knocks bad P4 into a cocked hat any and every day!

 

 

In my mind, you are clearly engaged in 4mm scale narrow gauge railway modelling, and the suggestions are made in that frame of mind.

 

To be 100% clear, that's rather nice, and with just a little tweaking, you can disguise the origins just that bit more. 

 

Simon,

 

Have no fear, I do not intend on keeping the spectacle plate on the pug bash, I hope to change the chimney as well, although I don't see that as quite as much of an issue. I quite agree the Airfix pug chucked on a GraFar 0-6-0 seems almost a 009 cliche and I wan't mine to look different.

 

A couple of bits that are easily to hand from one of my father’s files.

My father was a bit of a local historian, Mr Bradgate of UMRCC knew him well, and he was pals with Norman Edwards, founder member of UMRCC and local historian of Uckfield.

 

Kevin

 

Thank you for these they are very helpful for the plan, and extremely interesting!

 

Gary

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Have no fear, I do not intend on keeping the spectacle plate on the pug bash, I hope to change the chimney as well, although I don't see that as quite as much of an issue. I quite agree the Airfix pug chucked on a GraFar 0-6-0 seems almost a 009 cliche and I wan't mine to look different.

Thanks for that.

 

I think the difference between “4mm scale narrow gauge” and “009” is the simplest way to explain how I tend to look at anything in the hobby: one of trying to get close to the real thing, rather than seeing how much you can “get away with”.

Edited by Regularity
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Loco-wise, if you can run to it, the ideal machine would be the new r-t-r Decauville ‘Progres’ from minitrains.

 

The Progres design was built in Britain by Kerr Stuart as the ‘Joffre’, and then ‘economised’ to produce their ‘Haig’ class (which persistently turned over, because one economy measure was to omit the well tanks).

 

The Haig were supplied to the Canadian Forestry Corps, as per the below, which is 3ft gauge.

 

If you want an earlier loco, the weedy little Bagnall inverted saddle-tank that minitrains make is a design that was also used on forestry lines.

 

Have you got the book about the Kerry Tramway by Cox? Best intro to British Forestry railways.

 

Wikipedia entry about Kerry is not much, but, just in case https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerry_Tramway

post-26817-0-93549100-1526337298_thumb.jpeg

post-26817-0-84008700-1526337769_thumb.jpeg

Edited by Nearholmer
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THanks Kevin,

 

That is a very nice looking loco!! Unfortunately a bit out of my current price range for this project, although definitely something for the future!

 

I do not have the book about the Kerry Tramway. I will have to get a copy.

 

Gary

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This is a first class free read on the topic http://www.adalhs.mooncarrot.org.uk/downloads/Canadian%20Booklet.pdf

 

The ‘next company along’ were 125th, and their war diary is really boringly written, but I’ve been through it, and worked out from it pretty much where their railways were.

 

Prior to the CFC, timber felling in England was quite different in style, so you need to decide what your date is.

Edited by Nearholmer

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