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Tackeroo - The Cannock Chase Military Railway project

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Here begins the tale, I guess, of a project principally between Andy Banks (wagonbasher) and me. Although I'd had an itch for this project for a while it was only when Andy posted a topic seeking information on the locos that ran on this short-lived railway http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/76792-cannock-chase-military-railway-locomotives/ that I realised it was on Andy's 'how about' list. I'd not done much more than research for a couple of years or so but Andy's expression of interest and imminent anniversaries propelled it up to 'why not' status.

 

A bit of history

 

As a quick overview for readers the Cannock Chase Military Railway was built to serve two training camps, stores and a POW camp on the barren heathland which had been made available to the War Office by the owner, Lord Lichfield. Work started over the winter of 1914/15 with completion a few months later. The 13 mile route comprises of very steep climbs at the northern and southern ends to meet the LNWR at Milford & Brocton station and the colliery sidings at Hednesford on the Rugeley to Walsall line.

 

The route is shown in blue on the map below.

 

CCMRmap.jpg

 

The northern part of the route is described in a little more detail in this topic http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/41658-cannock-chase-military-railway-pt1/ and a similar overview on pages 46-49 of MI3 http://www.browse-and-read.co.uk/Modelling-Inspiration/Issue2/default.aspx

 

Choosing a slice of that to model

 

The model is intended to be a compressed scene around the Stores and Ordnance building on Brocton Camp, the section shown below.

 

BroctonCamp.jpg

 

We had a play last week and chucked some Peco templates at a roll of lining paper flung across wagonbasher's lounge to get a rough feel for a possible scenario which has then been converted into a digital format using Scarm to create a track plan to play with and also look at the levels in 3D form.

 

Tackeroo3.jpg

 

 

We considered a list of potential inclusions and settled upon the following after giving our weightings in terms of importance/viability/interest and more or less decided upon the following:

  • A steep incline emerging from woodland
  • An open area of heathland
  • The large ordnance stores
  • The power station which provided electricity to the hundreds of huts
  • As many huts as we could realistically fit in.
  • Coal drops 
  • The parallel lines which in effect created a siding loop for the stores but with a change in levels between the two lines
  • The junction of the two lines to the south
  • The water tower

A lot of other 'nice to haves' didn't make the grade and unless we increased the size beyond the 12' x 2'6" shown above by a considerable margin wouldn't have felt right.

 

The line (stage left) climbs steeply (around 1 in 20) and winds its way through sessile oak woodland to reach the top of the Chase.

 

CCMR_Hollywood.jpg

 

This section is hinted at in the portion nearest the virtual camera in this view.

 

Tack3a.jpg

 

The parallel lines mentioned earlier seem odd but it's apparent that rather than create a raised platform for the stores that the line was dug into a shallow cutting with the waste used to bed the higher parallel line. The cutting's still very visible today but I feel the land levels have been increased a bit over the intervening century through vegetation growth.

 

Cutting1.jpg

 

The assumption on the plan above is that there was about 5' difference between the two lines. The store building, seemingly the largest one on Brocton Camp was rectangular in form and its legacy is a lack of vegetation with any real roots in a neat rectangle.

 

Ordnance2.jpg

 

As the changing levels are quite an important feature it's intended to stand the layout at a height which makes this apparent to the viewer, the stores will be somewhat of a view-blocker but we're still discussing a couple of ideas to make the best of that.

 

Tack3d.jpg

 

Handily for operational interest the diverging lines to the right do meet up with each other half a mile or so away.

 

Tack3b.jpg

 

Operations

 

Being a military camp in wartime almost a 100 years ago there's not a lot of pictorial information to go on from this point of view but certain assumptions can be made from some basic facts.

  • The railway was operated with a motley collect of small 0-6-0 tanks mainly from nearby collieries.
  • The gradients preclude the use of long trains.
  • The camp would require coal from the collieries to the south
  • There didn't appear to be any workings with passenger stock
  • It's possible some supplies came from services on the LNWR to the north (otherwise why was the line there?)

That gives a framework for traffic and directions and despite the short trains of 3 or 4 wagons there's a fair bit of shunting and sorting to do.

 

The contract for building the line was given to the nearby colliery but was subsequently transferred to the military under the administration of Longmoor so there's a lot of information from the LMR which may prove useful, particularly with regard to track construction and signalling. We can't just take a series of refence books and copy what we see with this one; we have to stand in the field and look at the remains and piece it together with known facts to try and determine what it would all look like if it had been recorded.

 

Atmosphere

 

I hope we can go some way to illustrate life on a training camp which sent many men to the fronts and was home to men, particularly New Zealanders, who made this home for a short time. The immediate area has recently been in the news as the archaeologists have recently spent a month excavating the Messines model built by German POWs and the New Zealand Rifle Brigade illustrating a rare breakthrough on the Western Front as recorded in Nigel's post here http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/41658-cannock-chase-military-railway-pt1/?p=1178434

 

Anyway, Andy's got an aversion to green at the moment after looking at all those blades of grass on BCB and he proferred a suggestion of modelling the open heathland in autumn. It'll be bad enough trying to do convincing heather and gorse o the model but now he wants it all in decaying browns and golds! So I headed out with the camera and grabbed loads of vegetation shots and a panorama across Sherbrook Valley for reference.

 

Panorama2.jpg

 

The backscene that we'll need will have to be different from that picture postcard of our nearest AONB as there were virtually no trees up there at the time of the Great War, the Forestry Commission came along just after the war to try and ensure that we'd be self-sufficient for timber if we went to war again (except when we did we needed metal, apart from de Havilland!).

 

What's next?

 

I think we need to chew the plan over, cogitate whether EM gauge locos will be OK on some of that sharp curvature and level changes at the same time as rushing headlong into slicing up bits of wood for the boards. Oh and a bit more research will probably be a good thing. Andy's already got the measurements for knocking up the huts but I think we need to write a few more ideas on beer mats.

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Not far from us, just down the A38. I have driven around a had a look at what is left around the site and wondered its full extent and purpose.

 

As for curves and small wheelbased locos in EM I would say go for it. Crown Street and Regent Road both have in places almost set track curves and they always perform well.

 

Goodluck with the project.

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Andy and Andy

 

Looking through the paper to see what's on TV and found this

 

BBC1 Sunday 6.20pm Countryfile

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03j4y40

 

quote     As Countryfile marks Remembrance Sunday, Jules Hudson looks at the role Cannock Chase played as a training ground for troops.

 

Hope that helps with the research . . . . . . .

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To;

 

A & A's CCMR-Project

 

Looks great and something different.

 

Let me know if I can help with anything. - I'm concerned about the blades on my saws going rusty......

 

No worries if you don't

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As Kinmundy is also based upon a WW1 build I am looking forward to seeing this project develop

 

BTW Do you need any EM gauge wagons built....... :jester:

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BTW Do you need any EM gauge wagons built....... https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/uploads/emoticons/default_jester.gif

Rolling stock and the fiddles will be the easy bit for this project; Andy explored an exhaustive list of wagons we may use and it reached the dizzy heights of a dozen. :)

 

I must get Andy to pop round and muse over the 3D angles of the mock-up and consider any adjustments.

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Hey Andy; Mark's already templotted it for us! ;)

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Rolling stock and the fiddles will be the easy bit for this project; Andy explored an exhaustive list of wagons we may use and it reached the dizzy heights of a dozen. :)I must get Andy to pop round and muse over the 3D angles of the mock-up and consider any adjustments.

Andy is such a tease, I think it was 13 wagons:

 

Basic traffic after the camps initial construction was all things you need to train, feed and fuel 20000 troops. (More troops over at hednesford)

 

traffic is as follows:

 

Coal. Small capacity private owner wooden wagons from the hednesford pits

 

1, for the power house -producing electricity for lighting in every hut and power the water pumps that pulled water out of bore holes.

 

2'. Discharge at a coal dump as a central store to provide fuel for the huts and fuel the camps ovens

 

Inbound Merchandise from the main line at Milford or hednesford. Sheeted open wagons and vans (MR, LNWR, NS and GW)

 

Kit, tools, bullets, provisions and maintenance. unloading at the ordinance store in the centre of the layout. Gunpowder in GP vans?

 

 

Internal movements - open and sheeted open wagons, ex colliery internal user wagons including dumb buffers and raised ends.

 

moving provisions, coal, ash, Pway ect around the site (brocton to hednesford or Anson Bank huts.

 

Have we missed anything?

 

I hope we are going EM, that's the gauge iv'e started building the wagons to

 

 

Andy

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Thanks John, the former yes but the latter's interesting.

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Guest Celticwardog

Good stuff. Your really quite good with a camera!

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The sort of pot-bellied stoves that were probably used in the barrack huts would have used coke, rather than coal, as it leaves less dusty residue. The same would probably apply to the bakery oven; a friend built one (using the structure of the former outside toilet!) in Newcastle, and used coke because there was much less ash to clear out, as well as leaving the flues cleaner. Thus you could probably justify an occasional coke wagon.

You'd also probably have a lot of horses/mules on site, so you'd need forage deliveries in sheeted opens, as well as straw for bedding; whilst there were specialised Provender wagons, I've seen views of three-plank wagons with stacked hay/straw to the limit of the loading gauge, topped out with a carefully-tied wagon sheet.

There'd also be a lot of timber planking used for instructional purposes for trenches and dug-outs; some might be sourced locally, but some would come in by rail.

Out of curiosity, was there a Pooling system in place during WW1, as there was in the Second?

On the subject of the Forestry Commission, the reason for its foundation was principally to provide wood for pit-props; the mining industries used huge quantities, mainly imported from Scandinavia and Canada, in the days before steel archways and props were common-place. The U-boat blockade during WW1 made the provision of assured supplies of props a priority in anticipation of a further conflict.

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An interesting concept. A couple of questions:

1 - I have read the preamble twice and must have missed it. Where is the name Tackaroo from - I was expecting something Australian

2 - Is it going to be set in the same lovely autumn atmosphere and colours of those photos?

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Guest Celticwardog

It does sound Aussie, Tackeroo....just north Of Gillywallabullablob

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It does sound Aussie, Tackeroo....just north Of Gillywallabullablob

An Aussie party game? Their version of Pin The Tail On The Donkey!

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.... I think we need to chew the plan over, cogitate whether EM gauge locos will be OK on some of that sharp curvature and level changes ....

 

If it helps I can get bogie diesels and BR mk1s round 2' (ish) radius curves on Morfa and my dinky little tram engines and industrial 4W diesels will traverse considerably tighter curves. However some of Mr Wales kettles are less happy round the 2', but they're six coupled stuff (Jinty and Standard 4 rank) and have less side-play than my bodge engineered conversions.

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1 - I have read the preamble twice and must have missed it. Where is the name Tackaroo from - I was expecting something Australian

2 - Is it going to be set in the same lovely autumn atmosphere and colours of those photos?

1 - there's no apparently definitive answer.

 

The place-name 'Tackeroo' is though to date from the early-20th century during the time when the area was home to an extensive Army Training Camp which housed troops during the Great War of 1914-1918, its inhabitants comprised of soldiers mustered from all over Britain and the Commonwealth including regiments formed in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It is possible that the modern place-name 'tackeroo' stems from the New-Zealand Maori word takarewa, an intransitive verb meaning 'to be kept awake', perhaps in reference to the constant noise which must have been present in this busy army base, or possibly from the related word tutakarerewa a stative verb meaning 'to be alert, unsettled, apprehensive', which again would quite aptly describe the situation in which the young New Zealander volunteers must have suddenly found themselves.

.

No one seems to know exactly where the name came from or when. Various possibilities have been suggested though none can actually be proven.

 

One idea is that the original houses were built in one row by a Mr. Thacker and became known locally as Thacker’s Row and eventually the local dialect changing it to Tackeroo.

 

Another suggestion is that the village took its name from the ‘Tackeroo Express’, a train which used to take men and supplies from Hednesford to the First World War Camps on the Chase which were under construction. The line was first built for the West Cannock Colliery Company to service their No.5 pit but it was taken over to aid the construction of the Camps. (But where did the ‘Tackeroo Express’ get its name from?!)

The name is still around today with a caravan site and club.

 

1. A lot of Jolly Carpenters from many another place,

Went up by special Train one day to work on Cannock Chase,

The gradient is very steep, of curves there are a few,

]And all the lively workers they entrain at Tackeroo.

 

Chorus -

Our Tackeroo Express, Our Tackeroo Express!

The scenery is wonderful as you all confess,

Everything is splendid, especially the Mess,

From the sparks that fly, as we pass by, on the Tackeroo Express.

 

2. You all know that the first stop is at platform Number One,

And then there is a scramble, and the sight is awful fun,

The train then starts off with a jerk, and reaches Number Two,

And after giving in our names, our work we then pursue.

 

Chorus

 

3. Of all the days that we love best, that day is Saturday,

We rally round the office and there receive our pay,

But if any of our money's short, we then look rather blue,

And try to rectify it before going to Tackeroo.

 

Chorus.

2 - Yes, the thinking at present is to go with autumnal tones.

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Very interesting, Andy. I also enjoyed your earlier post(s) on this subject.

 

Best, Pete.

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Very interesting, Andy. I also enjoyed your earlier post(s) on this subject.

 

Best, Pete.

 

Me too! Your first map includes the village from which we moved two years ago (Little Haywood) and Cannock Chase is very familiar to me, including Tackeroo Caravan Site.

The early part of the rail journey from Rugeley to Walsall is really pretty, taking in as it does, parts of Cannock Chase.

Good luck!

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1 - there's no apparently definitive answer. .The name is still around today with a caravan site and club. 2 - Yes, the thinking at present is to go with autumnal tones.

It is believed that the only passengers were the workmen in open wagons and the reference to the carpenters and their route up the gradiant would suggest this song was written at the start of the war 1914 s 1915. This is some time before any NZ or Australian soldiers landed.

 

Andy

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The sort of pot-bellied stoves that were probably used in the barrack huts would have used coke, rather than coal, as it leaves less dusty residue. The same would probably apply to the bakery oven; a friend built one (using the structure of the former outside toilet!) in Newcastle, and used coke because there was much less ash to clear out, as well as leaving the flues cleaner. Thus you could probably justify an occasional coke wagon.

You'd also probably have a lot of horses/mules on site, so you'd need forage deliveries in sheeted opens, as well as straw for bedding; whilst there were specialised Provender wagons, I've seen views of three-plank wagons with stacked hay/straw to the limit of the loading gauge, topped out with a carefully-tied wagon sheet.

There'd also be a lot of timber planking used for instructional purposes for trenches and dug-outs; some might be sourced locally, but some would come in by rail.

Out of curiosity, was there a Pooling system in place during WW1, as there was in the Second?

On the subject of the Forestry Commission, the reason for its foundation was principally to provide wood for pit-props; the mining industries used huge quantities, mainly imported from Scandinavia and Canada, in the days before steel archways and props were common-place. The U-boat blockade during WW1 made the provision of assured supplies of props a priority in anticipation of a further conflict.

Some very good points.

 

there is a hut at the marquise drive visitor centre that has been restored to its original condition and volunteers appear on some Sundays to talk visitors through life in the camps. I will ask the coal or coke question. In saying that working boatmen on britains narrow canals had small stoves that used coal because that is what was in the hold.

 

Forage... Good call - will investigate

 

we could be pushing 15 wagons....

 

Many thanks

 

Andy

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Hi Andy & Andy

 

Since seeing Andy Y at Wolverhampton exhibition last weekend I have obtained from another, Andy Goodyer a VHS video tape of the Longtown site in Cumbria (I will convert it to DVD and pass it on) there may be some interesting clips etc.

 

I remember going on a walk over some of the track some years back organised by Andy Banks (ended up in a pub) no change there then!

 

Terry

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The fallout of beer and common sense....

 

Tackeroo4.jpg

 

Andy and I sat down for an impromptu deliberation of the plan so far and to look at additional reference material and through overuse of the 'if' word the plan seems to have grown by 33% to have a fourth board (this is all sound very familiar) to give a bit more space and potential. How much space you need to run a train that's unlikely to ever be much longer than 12" I don't know but 16' seems a little more than most would view as necessary. Anyway that ensures that we need to make the scenes of the layout that are inactive at any point sufficiently interesting. We hope we can pull that off but we're finding the research elements of this fascinating; the paucity of reference material means more questions than answers and more trips into the field; Andy's even got a purpose-built sub-surface analysis tool (a pointy stick) so that we can try and interpret exactly where a structure was, how it may have been constructed and how it fits in with neighbouring features. We'll never know in some cases if the analysis is correct but at least we're not likely to be massively criticised for a portrayal that's nothing like reality. At least it'll be arguably correct even if the features are compressed for convenience.

 

More 3D fly-bys based on the increased size.

 

Tack4a.jpg

 

Tack4b.jpg

 

Tack4c.jpg

 

Tack4d.jpg

 

Tack4e.jpg

 

Tack4f.jpg

 

Tack4g.jpg

 

Tack4h.jpg

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The fallout of beer and common sense....

 

attachicon.gifTackeroo4.jpg

 

Andy and I sat down for an impromptu deliberation of the plan so far and to look at additional reference material and through overuse of the 'if' word the plan seems to have grown by 33% to have a fourth board (this is all sound very familiar) to give a bit more space and potential. How much space you need to run a train that's unlikely to ever be much longer than 12" I don't know but 16' seems a little more than most would view as necessary. Anyway that ensures that we need to make the scenes of the layout that are inactive at any point sufficiently interesting. We hope we can pull that off but we're finding the research elements of this fascinating; the paucity of reference material means more questions than answers and more trips into the field; Andy's even got a purpose-built sub-surface analysis tool (a pointy stick) so that we can try and interpret exactly where a structure was, how it may have been constructed and how it fits in with neighbouring features. We'll never know in some cases if the analysis is correct but at least we're not likely to be massively criticised for a portrayal that's nothing like reality. At least it'll be arguably correct even if the features are compressed for convenience.

 

More 3D fly-bys based on the increased size.

 

attachicon.gifTack4a.jpg

 

attachicon.gifTack4b.jpg

 

attachicon.gifTack4c.jpg

 

attachicon.gifTack4d.jpg

 

attachicon.gifTack4e.jpg

 

attachicon.gifTack4f.jpg

 

attachicon.gifTack4g.jpg

 

attachicon.gifTack4h.jpg

 

Hey 'Buckeroo Boys'

 

Looking good !!

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