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Southend Pier Railway


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I managed to find a piece of cine film.....

 

Planning is still underway, but I'm trying to decide between building in N or Z Scale... With Z Scale the overall size becomes a lot more manageable, but the actual cars will be pretty tiny in size! If I went down that route I think I'd be looking at T Scale sized motors to drive everything... 

In the film was this from the front or back?  ie driver's eye view or guard's?

 

I'm still puzzled by the lifted rails in the double crossover - this would make it a trailing crossover for right-hand working (as depicted in the photos).

 

I'm not convinced that a model to scale length would have that much appeal but if doing only one station (to fiddle yard) you'd have to create a scenic break.....Thames fog perhaps?

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Hi,

 

The track gauge of the Pier Railway was the same as the Southend Corporation Tramways, 3'6", and a number of systems around the UK adopted this gauge.  The 1949 stock was built by A.C. Cars of Thames Ditton, more famous for their sports cars, and they subsequently built some Rail Buses for British Railways.   A black and white film was made of the construction of the stock and its delivery to the Pier.   This included views of the previous stock and the change over.   The Workshop adjacent to the Shore Station included a wheel lathe than was eventually sold to the Brecon Mountain Railway.

 

As I share my 'construction' date with the A.C. stock I always took interest in it when visiting Southend.  At that time I lived at Ardleigh Green and our family ritual was to walk down from Victoria Station to the Pier and travel down on the Train.  Between the two signal boxes in summer trains followed the usual left hand running in direction of travel.  In the course of a journey each train would use only one crossover, therefore a train travelling from the shore station on the left hand track would use the crossover before the Pier Head station entering the right hand platform.   Trains passed each other between the two signal boxes.  I can only remember the signals by the two signal boxes - it's so long ago but I think there may have been a despatch indicator or bell at either terminus.

 

I moved to Thorpe Bay in 1964 and on a calm summer day, despite being about three miles away, the sound of the Pier Trains going about their business could be clearly heard.   The four-wheel carriages had a very distinct sound.   The green and cream paint for the Cars was made by a local firm - I think it was Starline (?) - and advertisements inside the vehicles made you aware of their product.   My late Father was sufficiently impressed to make a model of a Driving Car but enlarge to standard gauge profile.   It was powered by a Hornby Dublo 'N2' chassis, the wheels being hidden by the skirts - no one could argue why our layout had a centre third rail!   At least it provided a talking point.

 

In the 1950's and early '60s the Pier was always worth visiting with the constant passage of ships up and down the Thames, their identities being chalked on a board at the Lloyds Signal Station.   The pleasure ships also called, including the Heroine of Dunkirk, the P.S. Medway Queen, that made her final journey on 8th September 1963 and a very uncertain future.  She would make a super subject for a 4mm kit and came home to the Medway from Bristol behind the Tug 'Christine' a few weeks ago after an extensive rebuild.  For some time one of the old closed coaches was exhibited at the end of the Pier where ships berthed but at some unknown date it disappeared.

 

The only source of a model of the 1949 stock I can recall seeing was a card kit - it would at least help with measurements.  I am sure I have seen it at exhibitions, possibly on a stand with card kits, but I do not know if it is still available.

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In the film was this from the front or back?  ie driver's eye view or guard's?

 

I'm still puzzled by the lifted rails in the double crossover - this would make it a trailing crossover for right-hand working (as depicted in the photos).

 

I'm not convinced that a model to scale length would have that much appeal but if doing only one station (to fiddle yard) you'd have to create a scenic break.....Thames fog perhaps?

 

It was driver's eye view... I didn't save the link for the actual video stupidly, but it's somewhere on YouTube so I'm sure I'll stumble across it again soon!

 

Yes, I think a full length model might be a bit over the top! At the moment I'm planning to build each end, with a short section in the middle. However the whole thing will be easily extendible by just adding more sections to the middle. This way the whole layout can be slowly lengthened over time, but at all times remain fully operational. It may end up that I do model enough sections for the whole length, but I certainly won't have room at home to display it! The handy thing about building the whole model in modular sections is that it can be displayed at pretty much any length depending on the space available(!)

 

EDIT: Found the video from YouTube

The footage that I took the still from begins at 9:16.

Edited by iamjamie
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In addition to the video in post #28, I've also come across another couple of videos that are quite useful.

 

The first one is useful because this is the period I'm thinking about modelling, after 1949 (when the AC Cars rolling stock was introduced) but before 1959 (when the Pier Pavilion burnt down). I'd much prefer the shore end to include the Pier Pavilion rather than the bowling alley, even though the latter will be easier to model with it's nice straight lines!

 

The second one shows the Pier Head station and track in a bit more detail.

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/southend-pier

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Having a look in 'Pier Railways & Tramways of the British Isles' (Oakwood Press), the few photos that show signals would seem to confirm that your second diagram is correct.

Some info from the text-

The crossovers were 200 yards from the stations.

In 1970 the crossovers were lifted and the signals removed. One train worked on each, now separate, line.

[ the colour photos posted earlier would indicate the crossovers were partially removed,the signals still seem to be in place,if not in use?]

From 1974 the western track was closed to passenger trains. It was used by workers repairing the decking.

[ this may have only applied between the crossovers ]

The railway closed from 1.10.1978 .

Edited by Nile
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Research continues and I found these diagrams in a book called "Southend Pier Railway" by K.A. Frost and D.J. Carson. Not only are there rough dimensions of the pier, but also detailed dimensions of the rolling stock I am intending to recreate. Many of the book's main points also appear on the website that is linked in the original post, but the book does go into a lot more detail about the railway and history of the pier than the website. 

post-19177-0-75012100-1386686804_thumb.jpg

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With a bit more investigating I've managed to track down a picture of the shore end crossover. This confirms the signal layout I had suspected in one picture (two single-headed signals and one double-headed signal per crossover).

 

Perhaps it seems a little over-the-top trying to get pictorial evidence to back everything, but there's not really much to this railway I want to make sure I get the signalling and operations 100% spot on!

 

post-19177-0-74446500-1387300765_thumb.jpg

 

I've also weighed up the pros and cons of all the different scales I could work in and have settled on N (1:160). This means that I can use Z Gauge track, which at 6.5mm is about 0.17mm over-scale. I could build the track exactly to scale, as I will be hand-building it, but being able to use Z Gauge wheels and mechanics for the rolling stock is worth the cost of 0.17mm...

 

The alternative was to model in Z Scale and use a custom track gauge of 4.8mm. Whilst I could use T Scale mechanics and perhaps find a way to adapt the T Gauge wheels to fit everything begins to get a little bit too fiddly (even at 1:160 I think this is going to be a challenge!).

 

The only reason for going for the smaller scale is that it would knock 3 or 4 metres off the overall length of the model, and once we're into model sizes of 10 metres plus I don't think that really matters anymore anyway! Whilst the dream is to build the overall length I think reality might get in the way before then! For a rough real-life comparison the model would be the same sort of length as John Holden's Liverpool Lime Street layout.

Edited by iamjamie
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So now I've decided on N Scale (1:160), I'm starting to piece together roughly how this layout will work.

 

The layout is pretty unique in that it is very long and thin. The depth is relatively thin, just 17.5cm (7in), and if the whole pier get's built it will end up being about 13.5 metres long (about 44ft)!

 

To make this more manageable I'm splitting the whole thing in to lots of modules 175mm x 600mm each. This actually divides the main sections of the pear up quite neatly and means that most of the pier can be one standard module that is duplicated several times. The remaining sections will be made up by custom modules which will be for things like the stations, the pavilion, and the signalboxes and crossovers. 

 

The pier pavilion is wider than the modules, so I'm just going to take a slice through it rather than model the whole thing. The original pear head will have the same treatment, and just be a slice through it.  I hope that this will add a bit of interest to the layout and give a chance to show of the construction of the pier a little better. 

 

For now, I'm not thinking about modelling the pier extension as the railway doesn't go that far. Although this could be a fun modelling challenge in it's self. 

 

post-19177-0-42063000-1387655528_thumb.jpg

 

These are the first modules I'm planning to make. This way I have a complete pier railway just over 4 metres long, albeit in a very condensed form. As time goes on standard modules can be built and added until I end up with the full length. Also, modelling in this way means that I can choose to have the whole thing or any combination of modules.

 

There is a variation on the standard module where there is the wider sections (as seen on the bottom of the crossover modules). This is where there is seating on the pier.

 

I'm also a fan of the idea of having a 360 degree viewable railway (like the Agatha Christie inspired railway I'm also working on, which has the storage sidings beneath it, rather than a fiddle yard behind a backscene). I like the idea that you can walk around the whole model and operate wirelessly with an iPhone (or similar device) and not be hidden away in a backstage area. 

 

The difference is that the Christie railway does have a back scene incorporated within the design (in the middle). The pier railway won't be able to be able to have a backscene incorporated into it and still retain the 360 degrees of viewing. I'm worried that the model won't be shown off to it's best without a neutral background to remove all the distractions of real life... Only time will tell...!

Edited by iamjamie
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I mean not to dispell your creativity in any way but my approach would be to build in a larger scale just one end up to the crossover and into a scenic break. If building modules the board joints might be difficult to disguise in the water.....

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So now I've decided on N Scale (1:160), I'm starting to piece together roughly how this layout will work.

 

 

Good luck with this, and with tongue firmly in cheek, can I suggest a smoke generator at the pierhead end. At the flick of a switch you could model the numerous times this unfortunate pier has needed the services of the fire brigade over the years. Having lived in the area for a while, the older generation did view the pier as having something of an unlucky reputation.

Seriously, good luck with this - I think it's an excellent unusual idea.

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Thanks for all your comments, I'm glad that people find this concept at least a little interesting!

I mean not to dispell your creativity in any way but my approach would be to build in a larger scale just one end up to the crossover and into a scenic break. If building modules the board joints might be difficult to disguise in the water.....

Yes, the idea of putting in a scenic break is something I have considered although ultimately decided against. You are also right about trying to hide the breaks in the water... Not quite sure how I can work around this yet, but I shall have to experiment!

 

I've always been fascinated by the smaller scales, ever since I first saw them. Perhaps because I'm more interested railways rather than locomotives or rolling stock, which is when I think the larger gauges really come in to their own - being able to model in exquisite detail. Actually, I think that the Southend Pier Cars are really quite striking and beautiful in their own way and would love to see someone take them on in a larger scale.

 

However, Southend Pier presents a very rare opportunity... The chance to model a complete railway! For me, that's an opportunity too good to pass up. I can't think of any examples of a model railway being complete, without the trains having to disappear off-scene to represent the rest of the line? I suppose there's some complete funicular railway models out there somewhere?

 

I think the main feature of this model will be it's unique dimensions... Perhaps it's a bit ambitious, I know! But that's why I'm choosing to build in modules. It means that I don't have to complete the whole thing before having a working railway. For the first standard module I'm thinking a bit out-of-the-box and considering making it from clear perspex, and making it look a bit like a technical drawing. That way I can "draw" break-lines on it, just like on a technical drawing, to show that I'm missing quite a bit out!

Simple, model with the tide out. Only the far end will have any water around it. That would also help explain why the pier is so long.

Yes, that is indeed why Southend Pier is so long. I've yet to work out where the water gets to when the tide is all the way out... The original pier head, which is just about on the end of my model, eventually had to be extended (The Prince George Extension) because of silting up.

Great thread, thanks. I journeyed on it many times in the fifties and sixties.

 

Best, Pete.

I think a lot of people have great memories of travelling on Southend Pier, not just those of us that have an interest in railways! I hope I do all those memories justice!

Good luck with this, and with tongue firmly in cheek, can I suggest a smoke generator at the pierhead end. At the flick of a switch you could model the numerous times this unfortunate pier has needed the services of the fire brigade over the years. Having lived in the area for a while, the older generation did view the pier as having something of an unlucky reputation.

Seriously, good luck with this - I think it's an excellent unusual idea.

I'll need a lot of smoke generators to cover ALL the different locations the pier has burned down over the years! Maybe I can cut my work in half by modelling one of the times that the pier has been severed by a ship broken free of it's moorings?

 

You can probably tell I'm a fan of unusual ideas! One of the things that inspired me back into modelling is that I wanted to make models that were of interest to both model enthusiasts as well as non-modellers. I'm of the opinion that a good model should be able to be enjoyed by someone who doesn't have the first clue what a railway is - or even need to know what the difference between a locomotive and train is! (I know some people consider that a controversial opinion, but I don't think it should be!)

 

People model for all kinds of reasons, but that's my personal aim anyway...

Edited by iamjamie
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Sorry for wandering a bit off topic here. But my excuse is that it is a Southend railway and not a standard gauge one.

 

It would appear that a demonstration version of the Never Stop railway was built at the Kursal, Southend.

 

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=NA19231119.2.63

 

The Never Stop Railway is shown here.

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/never-stop-railway

 

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Some extra information specifically related to the Southend Never-Stop installation

 

There's a piece of film at the BFI - haven't got to see this yet: http://explore.bfi.org.uk/4ce2b828549e6

 

Several other newspaper/journal articles emerged at the time, for example The Rotarian, December 1923 p36:

 

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ZkQEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA36&vq=never-stop&pg=PA36#v=snippet&q=never-stop&f=false

 

There was an article in 'The Engineer' of July 27, 1923, and in the Railway Magazine: LXXIII 437 Nov 1933

 

Couple of tiny pieces of further background:

 

There was a small demonstration machine set up in Ipswich, around 1911, as a precursor to a full practical demonstation.

 

The Southend demonstration seems to have worked well and the news of its planning and preparation may have helped with the selling of the Never-Stop concept. At the time that the Kursaal installation was operating, the system's champion and lifelong marketeer, William Yorath Lewis, was in the midst of commercial and design preparations for Wembley 1924. There's evidence that Lewis had been keen, originally, to create a network of feeder routes across the exhibition site, straight, broadly point-to-point, and of generally the same form as the Southend equipment. The exhibition authorities had their own, different vision for the layout of the site, and obstacles included some major pavilions. Lewis had to accept the enforced change to a single, long, sinuous route with multiple stations. To meet the remit, Lewis [aided by a colleague and friend, Benjamin Radcliffe Adams, a talented engineering designer and draughtsman, together with a small team] reworked their Never-Stop concept to suit the different solution called for. The resulting railway ran for both the 1924 and 1925 Wembley seasons.

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The green cars were a classy vehicle and make the current ones truly horrible I travelled up and down the pier in November pouring rain and mist ,typical Southend.Spent many days out there in the fifties  perfect entertainment and fish and chips for dinner.I stayed in South Benfleet and travelled all over Canvey Island by bus the section of line between Pitsea and Leigh On Sea would make a good model in steam days .Hope your pier model makes good progress.

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It would appear that a demonstration version of the Never Stop railway was built at the Kursal, Southend.

 

I've always know that the Kursaal existed... Until I started reading a bit more I didn't realise it was apparently the world first funfair, predating Coney Island...

 

I was intrigued by attraction names like The Switchback Railway and The Harton Scenic Railway, although they're what we know as roller coasters now rather than railways. Maybe there's some funfair modelling enthusiasts out there that might take them on(!)

 

I could spend hours on the Pathe website! There's more footage of some of the other attractions at the Kursall which look terrifying! They certainly wouldn't be allowed these days because of Health and Safety! 

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The original "Switchback Railway" was the "Mauch Chunk Switchback Gravity Railroad" (the town now called Jim Thorpe, PA).  It was a former coal delivery system and 8.7 miles/14.0 Kms long!  When first opened  in the early 1850's  it charged riders .50c.

 

Best, Pete.

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