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Aston On Clun. A Great Western might have been.


MrWolf
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A Fictional History.

 

I didn't want to saw on too much with the first post, I was sending myself to sleep. Here I want to explore the hopefully plausible history of the model line.

I have long been fascinated by the minor lines that attempted to cross the county of Shropshire. The big companies such as the GWR and the LNWR managed it. More or less. Small ambitious companies such as the Potteries Shrewsbury & North Wales Railway, later the impecunious Shropshire & Montgomeryshire Railway and the unbelievably ramshackle Bishop's Castle Railway were heroic failures. 

I remember reading an article a couple of decades or more ago (I think it was by Iain Rice) saying that the town of Clun was the sort of place that should have had a railway. What the author proposed was some kind of light railway that pitched up beside the river on the south side of the town having crossed the River Clun for the umpteenth time.

 

Where is Aston On Clun? Go to Birmingham and then head west until you start hearing banjos. You're close. 

Why here? My mother's family once lived at Aston hall, Aston On Clun and worked the estate. Sadly the first world war took care of any delusions of nobility.

Secondly and probably more importantly, the village is on an East west alignment between Clun and Craven Arms. 

That's quite enough of the facts, onwards with the fictitious railway history. 

Having seen that Bishop's Castle was to be connected by rail to Craven Arms, the Burghers of Clun didn't want to be left behind and so the proposal for the Clun Valley Railway was put forward. I will avoid describing the fictitious parliamentary blah and tell you that the first sod was cut in spring of 1868. The silly sod complained about the breach of his liberties and received a punch in the throat.

I digress (hopefully you will be used to that by now) suffice to say that the first train ran in 1871 with stations at Aston On Clun, Little Brampton & Purslow, Clunton and finally Clun itself.

 

Edited by MrWolf
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Back again and more potted history, or potted geraniums.

 

Hopefully I have your interest now and haven't waffled on too much. Before I continue, I should perhaps warn those of you who are easily offended or take life too seriously that I do tend to come out with some peculiar things. Some of it is CPTSD, some of it is lifelong character flaws...:jester:

There may be the odd reference to sticks, dysfunctional dogs motorcycles and things that go bang.

Also, because we don't have a computer and this phone is now six months old and obsolete, I have to post in short bursts, otherwise it decides to delete half of my post.

 

Ok. The somewhat ambitious Clun Valley Railway managed to get through the last three decades of the Victorian age more by luck than judgement. They DID fare a little better than their rivals, partly because they completed their line and because the predictions agricultural traffic out and essential supplies in were right for a change. (I did say that it was a fictional line!) 

However, the line being built to a budget was something of a double edged sword. The only brick buildings on the line were the four crossing keepers / stationmasters dwellings. Even the bridges over the river were timber, with the exception of the bridge immediately outside Clun itself. As age took its toll and and trains became heavier, the company had to find the money and set up a programme of replacing all of the remaining bridges with steel girders. 

This put an enormous strain on the company's finances and progress was slow, despite the loan of heavy lifting equipment from the Great Western, who had baled out the CVR numerous times with repairs to their aged contractors 0-6-0 tender engines, which had also seen service on the Mid Wales Railway, as well as passing on old stock, loaning engines etc.

Discussions about a possible GWR takeover had been made since 1892, but at that time, it was felt that too much needed doing to the line to bring it up to standard.

The final straw came during a violent storm in the early hours of Boxing Day 1901, when the last and largest bridge to be rebuilt, the three span trestle over the river west of Aston On Clun collapsed into the floodwaters, cutting off the valley from the outside world. 

Not only did it virtually bankrupt the company, there were a large number of GWR cattle wagons marooned at the terminus. 

Something had to be done and the GWR agreed to rebuild the bridge and take over running the line. 

The CVR had something of a rude awakening when the bigger company came in and put their stamp on the railway's corporate identity. The biggest change being that the crude signalling equipment was consigned to a bonfire in favour of GW lower quadrants. Not to mention some shiny new (ish) engines and coaches. The line did manage to retain some of its unique character in the buildings and also retain the engine shed at Aston On Clun. There being no room at Clun and Aston being the first block post from the junction with Craven Arms.

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During the Great Western years, the line flourished for a couple of decades and even the advent of the motor lorry after WW1 didn't have a massive effect. The Anglo oil company were regularly sending a couple of tankers to a depot siding opened on the east side of the river at Clun. Buses ate into the passenger traffic, particularly in the summer, but the line soldiered on, being a place where the Great Western would save money by sending pensionable locomotives and stock that would otherwise (and was actually) have been scrapped. By WW2, the line was still making a profit and the loss of passenger traffic was almost a bonus when the War Department decided to build a spur and storage facilities southwest of  Purslow in a similar style to Nesscliffe & Pentre on the S&MR. Unlike the still independent S&MR, the WD made no attempt to requisition the line.

Postwar and nationalisation loomed. Despite local protests and the use of railcars for off peak services since 1938, all passenger services ceased in 1951. Goods traffic continued until the WD closed Purslow storage depot in 1959 when all traffic ceased. 

 

Edited by MrWolf
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I started off making baseboards far too long ago now, by building five 1200x600x150mm boxes from furniture grade 9mm ply with the end faces made of 18mm ply for strength.

Once bolted together I had myself a space for a layout roughly 12 feet long and a 4ft fiddle yard either end. This filled an entire wall of the oddly shaped spare room we have.

I am going to have to take some new pictures as the originals refuse to load. Which is inexplicable because I have posted them on here before.

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12 hours ago, MrWolf said:

It's my own fault. I keep visiting other layout threads and seeing what a fine job others are making of their layouts. 

So having been encouraged / mocked by others on here as well as SWMBO, I have decided to start a thread on my layout. 

Firstly a little background, I have had about a 20 year break from railway modelling. I started off with a second hand btrainset when I was about eight, which by chance had a GWR loco and three coaches. As I could afford it, I bought other locos and stock to match. This led to a double track 6'x4' oval with sidings that I went pretty mad on with full scenics and soon found out that I was more interested in model making than just running trains. I then set about building a double track end to end around two sides of my bedroom. It was very much of its time with the old Prototype Models GWR buildings (Somebody REALLY ought to manufacture a modern version of those, the only thing that they lacked was any relief detail ) flock grass, wire and woodlands scenics trees. I have noticed that some of the detail components that you could get in the 80s have no modern equivalent and as a result, fetch wild sums on eBay.

It was around this time that I discovered girls and motorbikes, went to college and university where I discovered more girls who liked lads who rode motorbikes, so that was the end of that layout.

About ten years later, I built a single line branch right round the attic bedroom of the house I owned at the time. Clearing off to work in some of the world's less than desirable tourist destinations put paid to that one. It was never finished and everything went into storage. When I came back, I found most of it had been stolen and I had more pressing matters to deal with.

I have used the below track plan before from Shipston on Stour but modified it to make a through station. That might sound odd, but it works for what I have in mind.

 

 

03000a48.jpg

Sounds fascinating, and looking forward to future updates Mr Wolf.  Familiar story how girls (but not motor bikes in my case), put paid to modelling for a few years.  You then discover how quickly this railway modelling lark evolves over a period of time.  I sometimes think it was easier to deal with the girls, or maybe not with some of the maniacs I met !            

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Haha, never  truer words spoken in jest! You should have seen the one I married! Or not. I consider myself lucky that I haven't seen her for the last 24 years. 

I have been compiling a folder of pictures to share here. For some reason I keep getting a "unable to blah blah due to using too much memory" message when trying to post pictures. The phone still manages to support the hugely annoying banner ads that blot out the scroll to top function as well as interfere with the add files panel. 

Note to advertisers, if I want to buy something, I am more than capable of finding it myself. Your toddleresque badgering has the opposite effect on me to that intended. :sarcastichand:

 

Edited by MrWolf
Stupid autocorrect
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A lovely part of the country; I once walked Offa's Dyke Path from Hay to Welshpool and passed through the area.

I recall a layout in RM circa 1970 called the Clun Valley Railway - fictional 3 foot gauge line in OOn3. I don't recall much about the imagined route except that it connected with the Central Wales Line at Hopton Heath.

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This is the actual village, taken from the south ish. Centre of the picture is the hall, actually at the western end of the village. The railway would have curved in from the right rear and passed just to the left of the hall grounds. It would then have crossed the Clun road and into the long narrow field middle right. Who knows? Maybe it did?

03000ad7.jpg

 

 

Edited by MrWolf
Typing with hind paws again...
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Hi 

 

Interesting history, and good luck with building the layout.

 

Quick question: why is there an engine shed at the station? Would it not be at the junction or the terminus station. There were independent railways with sheds in the middle of the route, but ift that place was the railway HQ, it would have also had a carriage shed, PW sidings etc.

 

Just a thought - feel free to ignore, it is your railway afterall.

 

Nick 

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It was a bit of a cheat to be honest. The junction at Craven Arms belonging to the GW/LNW joint, put in a bay platform ending head on with that of the Bishop's Castle Railway, the opposite side of the station buildings. But they drew the line at an engine shed. The CVR wanted to use as much of the cramped terminus site at Clun riverside for goods traffic. The coaches (originally four of them) and the locomotive on passenger duties were shedded there. The company's second locomotive which was employed on freight was stationed at Aston as the closest point to the junction with the Main line. It could be readied to collect the first freight of the day, crossing the passenger at Aston or Purslow.

Yeah, it's a bit thin, but I pinched the track plan from a terminus! 

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I might just have to devise a more convincing raison d'etre for a small locomotive facility. But, it's less work for me if I don't have one. The water tank can move to the western end of the platform. 

 

But. 

 

Do I take out the siding as it no longer serves a purpose? I could then make the goods yard bigger and put in a small cattle dock, though I had planned a raised bit of the main platform for occasional livestock traffic.

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3 minutes ago, chuffinghell said:

Engine sheds on layouts are like buses on bridges!.....it’s law!.....just saying ;)

 

Do you remember the booming voice of the late Ulster Unionist The Rev Ian Paisley?

 

NO!

There will be NO buses!!

NO NO NO!!!

 

What is more, there are NO overbridges  upon which said abominations could perch.

 

Another reason for choosing the bottom of a glacial valley. We like level crossings.

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Okay folks, by popular demand, I have deleted the locomotive shed element of the plan. I won't be replacing it with anything as the more I have looked at photos and Google earth, the more I like the open countryside outside of the village. 

Also, it means that I can ship in a variety of motive power from off stage. Nothing bigger than a mogul though! 

I won't be making any apologies for using old school Peco code 100 track though. I like to run some elderly stock of indiscriminate parentage now and then, plus I am planning on putting down a lot of ash ballast and assorted muck. For the same reason (and cost) the power will be DC.

Naturally, should any purist wish to provide me with all bullhead track and rewheel all my stock the offer would be most graciously received. :D

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14 hours ago, MrWolf said:

 

Do you remember the booming voice of the late Ulster Unionist The Rev Ian Paisley?

 

NO!

There will be NO buses!!

NO NO NO!!!

 

What is more, there are NO overbridges  upon which said abominations could perch.

 

Another reason for choosing the bottom of a glacial valley. We like level crossings.

Ohhhhh! - I need time to absorb this news.  Came as a great shock.  No bridge no bus,  I must go and lie down.  

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