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P. D. Hancock - Craig and Mertonford Railway


JeremyC

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P. D. Hancock was an early member of the Edinburgh and Lothians Miniature Railway Club. Recently the club has been presented with a small section from the final incarnation of his Craig and Mertonford layout, Dundreich. Some photographs may be seen here.

 

I had the pleasure of talking to him at a number of exhibitions when the club was showing Caeredwyn or Talybont. He often told club members that we had provided him with inspiration; our reaction was he'd got it the wrong way round, it was his narrow gauge sections that were our inspiration; a modest man indeed.

 

Jeremy

Edited by JeremyC
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Hi,

Many thanks for putting these photos up. Good also to know that part of the old C&M is still around.

To many modellers of my generation P D Hancock and the other regular contributors to the RM in the 50s/60s provided the inspiration that changed train sets to models. When I finally met him he gave a little embaressed smile when I suggested that he was a boyhood hero of mine. Phil was one of those people for whom the word "gentleman" was invented a great help and inspiration to many.

 

best wishes,

 

Ian

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As a "keeper" of an old layout myself I congratulate you on your efforts to save and possibly return such a historic and worthwhile layout to working order. It is a totally different branch of the hobby, more akin to preservation than modelling but is certainly challenging and interesting. Lots of decisions need to be made, as to what can be kept and repaired and what might need replacing and if so, do you do it using modern methods and materials or do you try to recreate what the original builder would have used many years ago.

 

Good luck with the project and I hope to see progress reports from time to time.

 

Tony

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As a "keeper" of an old layout myself I congratulate you on your efforts to save and possibly return such a historic and worthwhile layout to working order. It is a totally different branch of the hobby, more akin to preservation than modelling but is certainly challenging and interesting. Lots of decisions need to be made, as to what can be kept and repaired and what might need replacing and if so, do you do it using modern methods and materials or do you try to recreate what the original builder would have used many years ago.

 

Good luck with the project and I hope to see progress reports from time to time.

 

Tony

 

Tony

 

The layout has now been moved from the E&LMRC clubrooms and now 'resides' with myself. Evaluation of what will be required to return this layout to something approaching its former glory is now in hand. I fully agree with you this is more like preservation and restoration than railway modelling and I feel I should be consulting museum conservation staff rather than fellow railway modellers. Fortunately what we have to hand is, for its age, in surprisingly good and original condition so not too many decisions are required as to what should be kept and repaired and what might need replacing and so on. Where possible repairs will be undertaken using methods and materials familiar to the creator and in this respect we have magazine articles, a PECO booklet and PDH's book, Narrow Gauge Adventure, to assist us not to mention the many colour slides dating from 1979.

 

Progress reports will be posted from time to time

 

Malcolm

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  • 1 year later...

There have been a number of posts elsewhere on this forum discussing or seeking information about old layouts and on looking back to this particular topic I was surprised to note that it was a year ago I last posted so an update is required. 

 

The Edinburgh & Lothians MRC and myself have added and continue to add to our respective collections which for brevity I call the 'P D Hancock Collection'.  The major artefact in the collection is that part of the Craigshire / Craig and Mertonford Railway featuring 'Dundreich' station and in the past six months work has been focused on conservation and restoration in what I hope is a sympathetic and reverential way.  The layout has been cleaned and damaged items and scenery repaired and the trains can again run on its tracks.  To provide long term stability it has been necessary to mount the layout on a new frame [and legs as the layout sat on the top of furniture at PD's home] and to provide additional support and protection a backscene [painted pale blue to represent the colour of PD's bedroom walls] has been added.   

 

Dundreich will be attending the 009 Society's 40th Anniversary Convention in September so in order to provide for the running of through trains two turntable fiddle yards have been constructed and fitted to either end of the layout.

 

Photos of much of what  has been added to the collection since last July can be found at: -

Edit - photos moved into a Google archive:

 https://get.google.com/albumarchive/112904466287746079405?source=pwa

 

The whereabouts of the locos and rolling stock is known and it is hoped to have some of the locos running at the 009 Society Convention.

 

Further updates in due course.

Malcolm

Edited by dunwurken
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  • 3 months later...

'Dundreich' attended the 009 Society 40th Anniversary Convention at Kegworth 27th/29th Sept 2013.  A fantastic event which has been highly praised elsewhere.

 

The 'Roving Reporter' Mick Thornton was busy all weekend and has recently published on his blog hundreds of photos from the Convention.  PART 4 of his convention report is devoted to Dundreich and for those interested in the work of P D Hancock I suggest you visit his blog at http://micksrovingreporter.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/27-29-september-2013-009-society-40th_8060.html

 

This was the first time any part of the Craig and Mertonford had been publicily exhibited as the layout was built within P D Hancocks bedroom in 1950 and was dismantled in 1987 when he moved house. Not only was the largest remaining part of the layout displayed but many of the original locos and rolling stock were also to be seen running including the 60 year old 'Alistair'.  

 

Malcolm

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  • 2 weeks later...

In reading the 1950 volume of Model Railway News I came across this feature showing a NG chassis built by Cherry's for a customer.  If I'm not mistaken it is for P D Hancock for his L&B loco 'Alistair'.

post-807-0-25175600-1383432877_thumb.jpg

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In reading the 1950 volume of Model Railway News I came across this feature showing a NG chassis built by Cherry's for a customer.  If I'm not mistaken it is for P D Hancock for his L&B loco 'Alistair'.

 

It certainly looks like it might be but the text notes that it's built to 8 mm gauge and I was under the impression that the C&M was 9 mm.

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In reading the 1950 volume of Model Railway News I came across this feature showing a NG chassis built by Cherry's for a customer.  If I'm not mistaken it is for P D Hancock for his L&B loco 'Alistair'.

 

 

It certainly looks like it might be but the text notes that it's built to 8 mm gauge and I was under the impression that the C&M was 9 mm.

The chassis illustrated in the 1950 MRN is Alistair's.  PD in the MRN June 1953 on p114 states in an article on Alistair and Ian ' The second locomotive [Alistair] was built for me commercially, and the chassis, by Cherry's Ltd., was illustrated in the MRN as long ago as 1950.'  I am told the 8mm gauge was the result of a misunderstanding. The body was built by H B Whall.

Malcolm

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Alistair's body wasn't the only thing Whall built for PDH because he also had a 2mm scale model of a LSWR C14 0-4-0 rail motor tank. I believe this was one of three built by Whall, one for himself, one for Gilbert Szlumper (who had been General Manager of the Southern Railway), and finally one for PDH. Szlumper's ran on a 2mm LSWR layout (in a bedroom setting!) that appeared at a couple of Model Railway Club exhibitions at Central Hall, Westminster, in the mid-1950s - they made Alistair look large!

 

The 2mm layout itself is a bit of a mystery. The exhibition guides are silent in respect of its ownership (not particularly unusual then) but the contemporary model press suggested that it was the work of a "Major Provo", a name totally unfamiliar to me even though I became a MRC member only a few years later, and indeed there is only one reference, miss-spelt, to that name in the surviving MRC records. It wasn't unusual at that period for people with prominent jobs to adopt a pseudonym when pursuing a hobby and I have often wondered whether the layout was, in fact, Szlumper's as well as the loco.

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I remember the treasurer of the MRC speaking very highly of "Major Provo's" 2mm layout back in the 1980s. It does seem otherwise very elusive.

 

P.D. Hancock's 2mm Gleish Valley Railroad featured in the Railway Modeller for January 1953 & February 1954 with borrowed rolling stock and the C14 itself was described in August 1960.

 

Earlier this year, I had the chance to photograph some early 2mm models by J.J. (Jack) Langridge, one of which was an LSWR C14 from the mid 1920s.

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/67296-1928-model-engineer-exhibition-silver-medal-winners/

 

I'm told that Jack Langridge built 2mm models on sub-contract from H.B. Whall so it's possible that the Langridge C14 might be a predecessor of the others. The construction is certainly very similar to the loco described in the August 1960 article. Even with the intervening period, the technology hadn't progressed greatly so a 1950s built C14 would be very likely to be similar to a 1920s built version, scratch built wheels, motor, gears etc. The only departure I can see are spoked wheels on the early loco and disc wheels on the Hancock version. Time/price considerations maybe?

 

There was a cohort of pioneer 2mm modellers in the SW London area (Whall - Kew, Langridge - Isleworth & A.R. Walkley - Wimbledon) and they were certainly in touch with each other. With Cherry's being based in Richmond, perhaps that's another connection.

 

Mark

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I am told that the Gleish Valley Railroad survived in P D Hancock's loft but whether it was disposed of by PDH himself in later life or whether it was bequethed in his will to a beneficiary I do not know.  I have also been told that PDH may have had two other 2mm Whall built locos in addition to the C14.  If so whereabouts unknown, at least to me.

Malcolm

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  • 1 year later...

The April 2015 Railway Modeller contains a 3 page article entitled 'Whatever happened to Craigshire'.  There is a brief history of the layout which was dismantled in 1987 followed by a resume of what happened to the layout over the years and details of what is known to survive.

Dunwurken

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  • 5 years later...

I have just found a fantastic 1954/5 colour photo of Craig station on Grum's Narrow Gauge Lines Blog at https://grums009andgn15lines.blogspot.com/2018/01/p-d-hancock.html

He says it is from the Edinburgh MRC P D Hancock collection.  Are there any more fantastic photos like that in the collection?  I've never seen it before despite being a bit of a Craig and Mertonford fan.  I was fortunate enough to see Dundreich when it was exhibited at the 009 Society's do at Kegworth in 2013 with most of the surviving locos and rolling stock.

Are the photos of the surviving buildings still on the web somewhere please?

regards,

Albyn

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 14/05/2020 at 18:55, Albyn said:

I have just found a fantastic 1954/5 colour photo of Craig station on Grum's Narrow Gauge Lines Blog at https://grums009andgn15lines.blogspot.com/2018/01/p-d-hancock.html

He says it is from the Edinburgh MRC P D Hancock collection.  Are there any more fantastic photos like that in the collection?  I've never seen it before despite being a bit of a Craig and Mertonford fan.  I was fortunate enough to see Dundreich when it was exhibited at the 009 Society's do at Kegworth in 2013 with most of the surviving locos and rolling stock.

Are the photos of the surviving buildings still on the web somewhere please?

regards,

Albyn

The 1954/5 colour photograph is one of a small number of colour photographs dating from the 1950's in the E&LMRC PD Hancock Collection.  Some are very poor quality however the photograph you refer to is probably the best of the bunch.   Graham Watling [Grum], who knew PD and was in regular touch with him, was given permission to post the photograph on his blog.  I may be mistaken but I do not think any of the other 1950's colour photographs have actually been published, not even in 009 News which is where most C&MR updates are announced, though a few were submitted for publication elsewhere however nothing has come of that.  There are no immediate plans for publication but I hope they can be published at some date.

 

The photos of the surviving buildings etc can still be viewed on the web at

https://get.google.com/albumarchive/112904466287746079405?source=pwa

I will at some time get round to getting something better on the web.  However there a few jobs in front of that particular one such as completing a survey of the standard gauge locomotives that ran on Craigshire!

 

Malcolm

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22 hours ago, dunwurken said:

The 1954/5 colour photograph is one of a small number of colour photographs dating from the 1950's in the E&LMRC PD Hancock Collection.  Some are very poor quality however the photograph you refer to is probably the best of the bunch.   Graham Watling [Grum], who knew PD and was in regular touch with him, was given permission to post the photograph on his blog.  I may be mistaken but I do not think any of the other 1950's colour photographs have actually been published, not even in 009 News which is where most C&MR updates are announced, though a few were submitted for publication elsewhere however nothing has come of that.  There are no immediate plans for publication but I hope they can be published at some date.

 

The photos of the surviving buildings etc can still be viewed on the web at

https://get.google.com/albumarchive/112904466287746079405?source=pwa

I will at some time get round to getting something better on the web.  However there a few jobs in front of that particular one such as completing a survey of the standard gauge locomotives that ran on Craigshire!

 

Malcolm

Thank you very much for the reply  and the link.  Have you a photo of the figure you think is a caricature of PD Hancock please.  There are some very interesting figures - some recognisable commercial ones but  others are new to me.  I know he dressed a lot in Edwardian costumes as he did an article about that in an old Railway Modeller.

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Albyn

 

I do recollect of at one time saying something about a figure possibly being a caricature of PD however that was a bit of idle speculation on my part and anyone I spoke to who knew PD I think thought I was seeing something that was just not there.   

 

One thing no one has been able to answer is the appearance in many a photograph of a gentleman in a grey overcoat carrying a black briefcase and wearing a hat and often seen lurking by the lineside or close to the railway.  By way of example crops from two published photographs attached.  There are two models of this particular figure but then I can find three or four of some others!  

 

Malcolm

49942213763_9069771d18_z.jpgC&M0228 - Mar79A - Craig Locomotive sheds - Pub RM Feb1993 p56cropman by Malcolm MacLeod, on Flickr

49942731406_29ac951849_c.jpgC&M0729 - Mar79F - NER 4-4-0 passing Dundreichcrop by Malcolm MacLeod, on Flickr

 

 

 

 

  

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Thanks for that Bernard. I recognise others in set 052 as now being resident in Craigshire.  That poor golfer will be back on the golf courses of Craigshire tomorrow once restrictions are lifted up here in North Britain.

 

Whilst the origins of the chap with the briefcase are now known the question remains - what is he up to?.  When you examine the later b&w and colour photographs he was one of a number of loose figures who would be moved around to add interest to a photograph.  He looks sinister and quite out of place in some of the photos.   Cannot be a KGB agent it being 1912 and all that.  German spy pre WW1 eyeing up routes into the country for other spies?  In all seriousness there will be a reason as to why PD selected that model but the reasons are now lost in the mists of time.

Malcolm

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On 02/11/2013 at 22:55, 5050 said:

In reading the 1950 volume of Model Railway News I came across this feature showing a NG chassis built by Cherry's for a customer.  If I'm not mistaken it is for P D Hancock for his L&B loco 'Alistair'.

post-807-0-25175600-1383432877_thumb.jpg

 

The County Gate OO9 website showed several locos built using this style of inside and outside frames, which was described as greatly improving the overall running and current collection. PDH referred, in Narrow Gauge Adventure, to having no real idea why Cherry’s used this design but it seems that they knew their business! 

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PD does recall that it took a bit of work by him to get 'Alistair' to run smoothly.  That said back in 2013 when I last had 'Alistair' on loan he/she ran very well indeed for a 63 year old model!

Malcolm

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