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Mortimore's Yard - replicating '70s trip freight workings

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Ahhhh the noise!

Like many of us I suspect, I had bit of a love-hate relationship with the good old Brush 4. Yes, they're a loco, they sound quite good, make that vertical column of black exhaust and have those roof shutters which open as power is applied. But they're everywhere, sometimes daring to take on the work of something much more interesting, and as long as there is something more interesting, well, sorry Brush 4, you're second best.

 

So what happened just now rather surprised me. I have a whole range of train recordings on my iPod and having just settled down I selected the "Railway" play list and hit shuffle. There it was, that distinctive thrumming, a single note "spoooo", a series of revs, a pause, some more revs, another pause and the big Sulzer gets stuck in to the task at hand. It stopped me in my tracks, had me selecting 'repeat' and turning the volume up. So familiar, so common, yet now a memory of times past. Really took me back!

 

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Ahhhh the noise!

 

 

 

It's funny what you miss...I'd give anything to hear an original unrefurbished class 50 hoovering again.  I used to listen to these lying in bed as a child, stopping on the viaduct at Stroud station and then all the way out to Stonehouse or up the Golden Valley through Brimscombe and Chalford.

 

I've tried for ages, but the only recordings I can find are the gutless refurbs, nothing like the exciting machines I used to hear...

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I remember the noise of an unrefurbished 50s too, although as a child, looking out past the ticket barrier at Chippenham at the train while my grandfather chatted to the booking clerk I thought it must have been the fans visible under the air-con coaches making the noise, rather than the locomotive, out of sight, at the far end of the platform. Thinking about it now it doesn't make sense, the fan under the coach couldn't have been spinning fast enough to make a noise, otherwise I'd not have been able to see it as a fan - but to a young child...

 

As a teenager, and with 50s by then refurbished, I remember the bang of the radiator grilles snapping shut, and that was heard from the old dock at Chippenham with the 50 in the Up platform! And of course there were the night time sounds of 50s pounding away on the mainline, along with 37s, 56s and the ever present HSTs.

 

I remember waking very early one summer's morning at my grand parents and hearing a loco working hard in the distance. I decided that it was probably a 37 pulling away from Thingley East and on to the mainline. When the train came into view over the roof tops behind the Astoria I was most pleased that my guess (for it was little more) was correct. Well, almost correct, it was a pair of 37s! That same bedroom window, of a night time, would reveal interesting patterns of lights from loco hauled trains. HSTs were easy four coaches, half a coach then two more, but hauled stock would have lights and blanks in seemingly random order.

 

Happy days :)

Edited by HillsideDepot
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Excellent work! I grew up in the late 60's/70's near Weston in a railway family who are all enthusiasts. Great memories of BR blue which I have modelled since 1980. I remember the Hydraulics On the Weston branch and spotting over the fields and Uphill junction.

Would be interested to know as well what coach you used for the tonnes inspection vehicle as this and the Chipmans weedkiller train are a couple of my yet to tackle projects!

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Thanks class25, although the hydraulics had all gone by the time I became aware of what was what (only by a year, come to think of it) I think the early 70's are a wonderful period, albeit a sad time as the hydraulics went, class by class. So much variety, even if it was all the same colour, although I actually like blue & grey (must be an age thing). 

 

The tunnel inspection coach, DW150144, is an old Hornby GWR coach from my train-set days, although the model has been available recently in the Railroad range. The GWR had left and right handed brakes, and the model was the opposite of the real coach, so there was quite a bit of hacking to swap things around. The "cut and shut" didn't "shut" too well, so the model really needs more work, and more information has come to light since I did it. Now of course Hornby's latest offerings include the correct brake, so I'm watching the bargain bins and might do it again from a much better starting point. I also need to finish off a few of the accompanying open wagons often went with DW150144. So many model railway projects waiting to be done and that's without Scout leading commitments, church work and bus preservation! Oh and it's kayaking season again... but as enjoyable as all that is, slipping quietly back to the '70s to watch something Blue shuffling a few vac wagons around is great relaxation.
 

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Hi Adrian,

My first post on here but I have been following your progress. Your recollections of seeing and hearing trains from back in the day made me think about my early spotting days.

 

I lived in a small village called Sway Near Brockenhurst so the staple diet was 4 VEPs, REPs and TCs,  Loco's were 73s 33s and 47s. I could see trains from our front garden but couldn't get numbers. I never tired of the class 33s but soon got bored of all the Old Oak 47s the ploughed up Scottish  ones made a nice change though I always thought they looked good with the the Scottie dog or Highland Stag on the side.

The most common class 33s were the 33/1s and some weekends when the juice was off I would wake up to the sound of a Pusher shoving a TC or two up the grade to Brockenhurst having stopped at Sway. I always thought they sounded better than the standard or Slim 33's. Happy days.

 

Cheers Peter. 

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Thanks Peter, I'm pleased to know that you are a visitor to my little part of Severnside. I'm a regular visitor to a certain North Wales terminus.

 

My experience of 33s was initially with "89" trains on the 'Severn-Solent Line' as the drop light destination stickers called it. Any trip from Chippenham to Bristol (or beyond) would involve a change at Bath Spa to include a 33 and the dusty old compartment stock they hauled. The thing I remember about 33s is the way the tick over stops with a whirring noise which fades before they start powering away, giving everything they've got. Thumpers do the same.

 

I remember a model railway club trip to Inverness (one member was really in to class 40s and wanted to do D200 over the S&C, but how to get there from Chippenham for it's 10.30 departure? Travel via Inverness!) and we had 27001 from Waverley to Dundee. One of our group was comparing it to a 33, which got the group on the table opposite talking "so where are you from if you know 33s?" "Oh, a little town near Bristol, you won't know it" "Which town?" "Chippenham, but you won't know it" "Yes we do, we're from Salisbury..."

 

As you say, happy days.

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Thanks Peter, I'm pleased to know that you are a visitor to my little part of Severnside. I'm a regular visitor to a certain North Wales terminus.

 

My experience of 33s was initially with "89" trains on the 'Severn-Solent Line' as the drop light destination stickers called it. Any trip from Chippenham to Bristol (or beyond) would involve a change at Bath Spa to include a 33 and the dusty old compartment stock they hauled. The thing I remember about 33s is the way the tick over stops with a whirring noise which fades before they start powering away, giving everything they've got. Thumpers do the same.

 

I remember a model railway club trip to Inverness (one member was really in to class 40s and wanted to do D200 over the S&C, but how to get there from Chippenham for it's 10.30 departure? Travel via Inverness!) and we had 27001 from Waverley to Dundee. One of our group was comparing it to a 33, which got the group on the table opposite talking "so where are you from if you know 33s?" "Oh, a little town near Bristol, you won't know it" "Which town?" "Chippenham, but you won't know it" "Yes we do, we're from Salisbury..."

 

As you say, happy days.

Hi Adrian,

I think most of my class 33 haulage was on that route, I even collected the drop light destination stickers for a while. I did the 01:55 Southampton to Bristol a few times as it was booked a pair. 

 

Loved the Scottish class 27s too. I had 27001 from Dundee to Waverley and had a class 26 do the shunt release move. i think the class 27's sounded great too and the steam heat leaking from the sock just added to the whole feel of it.

 

Here is 27001 and one of 27005. and I am sure you will guess where the class 33 is.

 

Cheers Peter.

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Thanks Peter, some memories there. I especially like the steam escaping from the front of 27005.

 

The Crompton is, of course, at Salisbury, and with a Thumper in the bay too. Assuming we've got Wessex Rovers in our pockets, shall we take it to Westbury and do the depot, wait for a 50 on an Exeter, or see what produces on the next Pompey?

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Two quick snaps to prove that things are still happening on Mortimore's Yard.

 

Firstly, at the opposite end to the extension I have started work on a gate house to the Westinghouse works. It's been my intention to do this, and finally I have made a start. As I say, only a "snap" and showing rather too many work-in-progress blemishes, here it is temporarily placed on the layout to check sizes. 

 

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And way down at the other end of the layout, work on the extension proceeds at a pace which would make a snail look like Concorde!

 

Thanks to the RCTS photo site I managed to purchase some photos which show the real Mortimore's coal yard at Chippenham in the early 80s and much time was spent studying the edges of these images (which really feature the station, not the yard) to absorb the detail, to try to rekindle memories and generally soak up the atmosphere of more relaxed, less complicated times (although that impression probably has more to do with looking through the eyes of a 13 year old again rather than anything based on early 80's facts).

 

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consequently, I've ripped out the Wills coal staiths and replaced them with a structure built from C&L sleepers and breeze blocks (Wills sheets) to better match Mortimore's actual structures. I've had to make a few compromises as Mortimore's actual yard was spread out along the length of the yard, not crammed into a corner as on the model, but I've never claimed the actual location is anything more than an inspiration.

Moving to this side of the line, I've made very basic furniture for the mess room, in case it will be visible through the open door, and I'm playing with ideas for the ground surface outside the main building. New stop blocks are painted and ready to be installed, and look a thousand times better than the previous generic plastic offerings. Again it's good to be able to have models of items which I remember staring at from Chippenham footbridge between the hourly HSTs while waiting for the signal on the Down to go to yellow or double yellow in the hope of something interesting on or off the Thingley line.

Having got the tracks correctly positioned across the join onto the new mini-board I think the time has come to stop thinking, undo the bolts and get it back on the work bench to really make progress on fixing the buildings down and constructing the landscape (such that it is). Wallowing in nostalgia is great, having something in 3D to "wander around" will be even better. 

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Thanks Peter, some memories there. I especially like the steam escaping from the front of 27005.

 

The Crompton is, of course, at Salisbury, and with a Thumper in the bay too. Assuming we've got Wessex Rovers in our pockets, shall we take it to Westbury and do the depot, wait for a 50 on an Exeter, or see what produces on the next Pompey?

Now there is a memory the Wessex Rovers, what value for money they were. I think I would go to Westbury for the depot then see what was on the Weymouth service some good loco's could turn up on those trains. Another option could be go to Bristol TM and see if there was a Peak on the Wesston Super mare trains.

 

I wasn't the biggest class 50 back then but did do a few railtours with a couple of mates when the DCWA machines were on their way out.

 

Extension is coming on well.

 

Cheers Peter.

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Oh, the Rover and Ranger tickets memories! I still like the freedom they give, and hope to do a couple of area ones this summer, but it's not the same. Sure, the Sea Wall is still the same, the Royal Albert Bridge, and (for now) the Cornish semaphores, but Reading isn't Reading, and as the wires spread westwards so many other locations will change. As for the motive power, 43002 might be back in "proper" livery, but try finding a table for 4 on an HST now.

 

Just a single photo for today, to show that Bill Stickers has been round and changed the advert.

 

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The cigarette advert formerly displayed brought some adverse comments at shows, even when I explained that it's the 1970's and that's how it is was. So when I found this artwork, I thought it time for a change, simply because adverts do change. Childhood memories of a box of Bassett's Jelly Babies, coated in icing sugar were rekindled.... and then realisation struck: forty years on, and with the "sugar tax" looming, an advert for Jelly Babies will probably be as badly received as one for tobacco!   

 

You'll also notice a new section of green fence under the main adverts and a selection of film posters. The hoardings at Lowden which were the inspiration for this scene also had small posters underneath, and while I can't be sure it was for the Astoria Cinema, I can't think what else they could have been for.

 

The approaching ice cream van is an ancient relic, and while I don't recall such a vehicle in Chippenham there was one which used to park up opposite my great aunt's house in Plymouth until well into the '80s. It didn't have the musical chimes of the vans back home, instead the driver lent out of the signalling window and rang a hand bell!

Edited by HillsideDepot
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It's been a bit quiet around Mortimore's Yard recently. I've done some bits and pieces to the extension, but I'm still not happy with the retaining wall/cutting arrangement at the far end of the layout. The loco headshunt was slightly lengthened in the Second World War as part of the same works which saw the signal box replaced (or rather I like the idea of leaving a Pilot on the blocks and still be able to use the headshunt as a loco run round release). The coal siding remains at its original length, so the old stone retaining wall there is untouched, but it's getting the heights and levels right which is causing be the trouble. I have not quite enough space, but at the same time too much. I know that sounds contradictory, but if it was really cramped I could envisage that, if there was lots of space I could envisage that too, but I seem to be cramped by the railway with space further back, and can't quite see how it would have all fitted together. And at the same time I have come across some great photos from the RCTS site which show a few glimpses of the real Mortimore's which is quite a different location, but is definitely influencing muddling my thoughts I'll get there.

 

One thing I had thought of for the end of the headshunt was an area of paved track, but again what I tried didn't seem to work. But the remains of a dock siding at Chippenham are like that, and I imagine somewhere quite gloomy behind the staff building, where the sun never quite reaches, probably wet from being close to the water table and a collecting point not only for oil leaking from locomotives, but also rubbish from the yard - not things from the offices, but a broken tail lamp, spare rail chairs, the part sleeper the re-railing gang left behind after that 47 came off last winter and so on. Not quite a grim as I imagine, but a useful pointer was this stop block at Oxford (platform 3) I spotted this week. I think I'll make the bricked area slightly longer, but I'm now thinking that restraint is the key (as it so often is!).

 

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Something a little different this morning.

 

As you'll know Mortimore's Yard, whilst a fictional location, is very much based on childhood memories, and includes models of (or inspired by) structures in Chippenham. My childhood was a good while ago now, and so much has changed that I am often going on memories and what few photos I can find on the internet when I try to recreate something. So, it is important to record what I can now, especially if things are about to change. Fortunately I got word that the old Territorial Army Centre in Chippenham is about to be demolished, so I set out early this morning, before too much traffic was about, to do a quick photo survey. I don't intend to model the building, at least not at the moment, but if I change my mind after it's flattened it'll be too late to go and look. 

 

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For most of its life the building has served civilians rather than the T.A. being the town's youth centre. I'm not sure when it was "de-mobbed" but I've only ever known it as The Bridge Centre, the name given to it by Wiltshire County Council, and it was definitely that at least as far back as 1979. I know that as there was a model railway club there, albeit I had to wait until 1980 to be old enough to join.

 

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The layout there when I joined was called Foxhill, with a branch leading to an unnamed terminus. Hollerton Junction followed, a GWR cross country route with diverging branch line. As the membership changed (my school friends) diesels came to the fore and Hollerton made way for Penham, a suburban station with wagon works and diesel depot, followed by Middle Longstone a layout where passenger trains reversed having travelled only about 1/3 of the layout with the rest being "freight only" to a quarry (we thought that was quite radical, at the time).

 

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Albeit taken from ground level, this is pretty much the view from one of the windows of the model railway club room, the GWML being on an embankment beyond the former "tank" shed. The rifle range is on the right and the drill hall on the right. The garage on the right between the range and the garage facing us is a smaller 1987 replacement of the original, built when the town's inner relief road was built behind it taking some of the land and making The Bridge Centre an roundabout.
I wonder if anything in the Oxford Diecast range of military vehicles would be appropriate for a '70s T.A. Centre......

 

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While I was out I took a few other building shots, all filed away for possible future use. And I suppose that's the point of this rambling, look around and record what you see. So much is worth modelling! The thing I am finding is that up until now my buildings have been too square and level (well, intended to be my skills don't always allow that!), but the real world is lumpy and bumpy, and buildings have to fill odd spaces between their neighbours. Who knows what will emerge from the plastikard and Wills sheets in the future, but what is certain is that without photos and research, without grabbing today what will be gone tomorrow we are making our modelling so much harder. 

Farewell Bridge Centre! My Monday evenings and later Tuesday afternoons spent there certainly helped lead me to where I am now in modelling terms. Thank you Mr Catt (centre manager), Mr Parmenter (model railway club leader) and indeed Mr Green (yes, he really was Chris Green) our Head of Sixth Form who let us spend our "sports" time building railways!

Edited by HillsideDepot
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Evening Adrian,

I didn't realise that the Bridge Centre used to be the TA building or that it was about to be pulled down. It's been rumoured for ages, any idea what's going there?

I too remember the exhibitions there, though it would have been mid 90s for me. Do you recall what group ran the show there?

I'll have a few bits of home on my layout too, generic units from Bumper's Farm for me!

 

Jo

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Hi Jo,

yes it was the TA centre originally, but by the same builders as the former Police Station in Wood Lane, which was originally a NAFFI. Back in the days of the Bridge Centre model railway club we did a few exhibitions, usually Westinghouse's show at the Neeld Hall. We did take Hollerton Junction down the corridor at the Bridge Centre for a youth activities day, that would have been 1985 as there is a photo of me somewhere with a GWR150 badge on. There was also a War Games show where Middle Longstone was on display in the club room (part of the booking condition for the War Games club!).

 

The shows which were held there were under the auspices of Bentley Model Railway Group, when they ran youth model railway club in return for some storage (if my memory is correct). I remember that when we measured up the various rooms they were exact dimensions, in whole feet, no odd inches here or there, presumably a legacy of the military origins of the building.  

As for the future, I don't think that there are any definite plans, but the notice to Wiltshire Council staff said that the hoardings will remain in place once the building is demolished and the rubble cleared.

 

Funnily enough a part of Bumper's Farm might become a diorama for me at some point - Faresaver's depot would make a good display area for some of my many EFE buses.
 

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Thanks for the continued excellent modelling Adrian, I also thoroughly enjoy, reading of your memories as a youngster. Keep up the great work.

 

Simon

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Back in the '70's life was so much simpler. If you wanted electricity you went to the local Electricity Board, in our case Southern Electricity. Gas came from the Gas Board, later British Gas, and if you wanted a telephone you went to the Post Office, and waited your turn for them to come and install it.

 

What hasn't changed is the regular quarterly appearance of the utility bill, although nowadays it will probably come by email rather than brown window envelope. And it looks like we're due our electric bill again soon as the Meter Reader's van was spotted parked at the end of the road this morning.

 

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Hello mate, what a awesome layout I love the brake vans it's got a real feel of a run down back street yard.

How long and wide is it please ?

 

Cheers

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Thank you for your comment GW.

The layout is 9' 6" x 2' in it's original form, and the scenic extension I am working on is an additional 9", but it doesn't really add anything operationally, it's designed really to provide a better "end" in photos. The track plan would fit easily on an 18" wide board, but I think that would be less successful in terms of representing (hopefully) a railway in its environment.

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I feel like I have memories of the place !

 

Great work

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It seems that Bath Road has had a shuffle round of the class 08 shunters out-based at Westonmouth as a different one has been noted at Mortimore's Yard recently. This is 08891, and it rather stands out with its double arrow on the cab-side under the number. With no other space available the data panel has to be positioned on the other side of the cab door, where it only just fits.

 

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I'd previously mentioned that I felt my class 08 fleet was a bit light on examples with the forward mounted boxes on both sides, so when Hornby announced that they were doing First Great Western 08882 in this condition I kept an eye out. Thanks to the Bargains thread hereabouts I managed to source two at a very good price, the first of which has become 08891. I need to remove a couple of the additional lamp brackets the model carries, but after a quick removal of the printing fGW blue/purple was very easily covered by "proper" Blue - especially as the loco is fairly heavily weather. While I was researching my other 08s I came across a photo of 08891 shunting HTVs (or HOP 21s as they probably were still) at Wapping Wharf and with it's unusual (early style?) of arrows it immediately went on the "to do" list. A quick Google produced a shot of the other side in the same livery (but at Longsight, and rather cleaner) which was helpful.

 

So there we are, another shunter on the roster and yet another on the shelf looking for an identity to assume.

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I feel like I have memories of the place !

 

Great work

Thanks Rob, that's a huge compliment! I saw it on Friday when you posted it, and was rather stunned by it, then I was away all weekend at a Scout Network camp, so other priorities crowded in, but I had it come back to it now. The layout was built purely for my own indulgence, although it was always built with exhibitions in mind, and therefore needed to be something which would appeal to show visitors, but it was really just what I wanted to do, built the way I wanted it, to the best of my abilities. 

 

I'm happy with it, and yes it does seem a real place to me, especially as I have "researched" (invented!) so much of the surrounding area, drawn maps and written working timetables so that any given wagon doesn't leave the fiddle yard, get shunted a bit and get returned to another road in the fiddle yard - for me it is a wagon delivering goods, or going to collect something. Someone has made the commodities in the load, someone else has ordered it, and now it is in the process of delivery. All these people unseen, producers, customers, railwaymen, with a load which in many cases can't even be seen as it inside a van, a tank, or a covered hopper. The residents of Langley Road don't notice the trains, so used are they to the sounds of shunting. But there it is, for me to see, and to share with people on RMWeb. Hopefully I have captured the "normal", the boring and mundane. Where now would you find photos on Mortimore's Yard in books? OK, I expect Paul Bartlett visited at least once, but who else? All the enthusiasts would be over at Hillside Depot, or down at Westonmouth Central noting the big, exciting engines.

 

Back at Mortimore's Yard the staff are relaxing outside each with a mug of tea, while the class 08 burbles nearby. The drone of the dust extractor at the neighbouring joinery factory is as present as ever, but Mortimore's mechanical shovel is at rest, the coalmen seeking shade after a hot morning's work clearing the last 16t mineral, knowing that they are expecting a new delivery tomorrow. A cat stalks birds in the long grass behind the lamp hut, but with no great enthusiasm as the sun beats down. The 'phone rings in the Supervisor's office, it's the signalman to say the afternoon trip is approaching. Reluctantly the yard staff know that their break is over, and return to their posts, hoping that there won't be too many incoming wagons to shunt....

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Hi Adrian,

Love that latest pic the 08 looks great, I noticed the bridge sign with the white width gauge if that what it's called. I remember there used to be one on a Bridge in Sway where I lived, even saw a bus stuck under it once.

 

There is a low railway bridge here in Melbourne it gets hit by a truck at least once a week. Even with all the warning signs.

 

 

Cheers Peter.

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