Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Branch Line Backdrop

We now have a backdrop behind the branch line that runs from Gunnmere Junction to Anchwood.
It rises above, as it runs parallel to, the main line to Davemore and was previously backed by a blue wall.
Now, though, it has a photographic backdrop, as can be seen in the photographs below.
A Class 42 heads an express for Sueston past a Class 37
heading north with a long train of ventilated vans.
Meanwhile, a Class 121 is held at signals on the branch line.
The same trains viewed from the other direction.
The 121 now leaves the branch line and heads
into Gunnmere Junction.
While the 37 is now seen having arrived at Davemoor.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Re Joyce at Midsomer Norton

It was a special 'Sentinel and Vintage Vehicles Weekend' at Midsomer Norton South this weekend (8 and 9 July) so we went along on the Saturday to see how things had progressed since our last visit which, ashamedly, was some time ago now.
Well, I can tell you the progress has been amazing with the line almost reaching the start of the infilled cutting leading to Chilcompton tunnel and, indeed, from August 7th to 11th they are hold a Track Bash Week to try and lay the rest of the track in one go.
Once the filled in cutting has been reached a platform will be constructed and locos will then be able to run around their trains - fantastic! 
Thereafter the cutting will obviously need to be cleared of its in-filling, something that will doubtless take a lot of time and money to achieve.
However, after that ... well, who knows?!?!
The station itself also looks terrific with some modifications having been made to the ticket office / shop in order to allow for an expansion of the sales area. They now sell a wide variety of books, models, toys and DVDs etc.
The former stable block at the station now houses an S&D museum and it is full of many fascinating S&D related artifacts. You can quite easily spend an hour or so in there perusing the many and varied items that are on display.
It is indeed to be highly recommended, as is the buffet coach and its adjacent seating area where you can partake of some delicious refreshments whilst watching the trains.
Sentinel steam locomotive, Joyce, was on train duty this weekend and, in the car park, there was a display of various Sentinel and other vintage road vehicles - as shown in the photographs below.
The view across Silver Street upon our arrival -
with one steam waggon already in situ ...
... but soon to be joined by a second ...
... and with a third in the background!
The seating area adjacent to the buffet coach
with the museum building in the background.
Joyce gets ready to depart with her two coach train.
The view across Midsomer Norton from the train.
The end of the line ... for now!
Looking back towards the station
Resident diesel shunter D1120. This is an English Electric
0-6-0 Diesel-hydraulic Locomotive, Type DH648A-60.
It was built in 1966.
Class 08 D4095 with a mixed train at Platform 2.
Joyce gets ready to depart with the next train
in the half-hourly service ...
.. and giving it all she's got up the 1 in 47!
Fire bucket notice beneath the signal box.
Inside the fully restored and immaculately-kept signal box.
The signalman's view looking towards Chilcompton.
Properly lettered fire buckets on Platform 1.
A steam car has now arrived in the car park as we are
about to depart. I know very little about steam cars
but is this a Stanley?
Wow! Where's the clutch?
A final view of the station - with the newly-arrived
steam car attracting many admirers.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Good Goods Shed

Here we see two trains crossing at High Bridge, on the branch line from Gunnmere Junction to Anch Wood.
A Class 25 waits to depart for Gunnmere, having brought in a train from Anch Wood, while a Class 31 has just arrived from Gunnmere and is ready to continue its journey to the end of the line.
Below these two trains can be seen the main line between Gunnmere Junction and Davemoor.
We now switch our attention to Gunnmere Junction itself where we see, in the photos above, quite a bit of activity centred around the goods shed. 
This is a model of the Shillingstone Goods Shed by Bachmann Branchline, Catalogue Nº 44-170, and it is a particularly fine building with some great detail. 
It is ideal for this station since it, almost, matches the look of the rest of the buildings here - these being a mix of Hornby and Bachmann.
In the four scenes above we see a rake of wagons being shunted into the shed by a Class 03 while a Class 15 stands in one of the adjacent sidings. 
Meanwhile the Class 25, previously seen at High Bridge, is now standing at Platform 4, having just arrived with its train.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Top Drawers

Despite the fact that our layout is quite large, we have no fiddle yard in which to store our ever-growing amount of rolling stock.
Initially, we stored everything in custom-made boxes but these began to fill an increasing amount of shelf space and it took too long to unbox a rake of coaches or wagons and, then, put them away again at the end of a running session. This would also mean that we would end up with a mountain of empty boxes cluttering up the place!
So, while the locos are all, still, kept in individual boxes, the coaches and wagons are now stored in sets of drawers that we purchased from Lidl - yes, Lidl would you believe, for around £11.00 each.
Each set contains five drawers and we have eight sets of drawers for our coaches and the eight for the goods wagons. 
Each drawer has its own label, identifying what it contains, and we have colour-coded these labels, LMS maroon for the coaches and Southern Railway green for the goods wagons.
Some of the sets of drawers that contain the coaches
And two that contain wagons
Currently the coaches lay on their side on soft tissue, with each drawer able to hold four coaches in this way. 
However, the goods wagons are different in that they tend to roll about in the drawers, even on tissue. So, to prevent this, we decided to fit each drawer with customized foamboard dividers, as per the photographs below:
Two drawers of Hornby Seacow Hopper Wagons
with the ballast loads kept separate to one side.
Two drawers of various coal-filled mineral wagons.
A drawer of Yeoman hoppers and a drawer with empty mineral wagons
Finally, two drawers containing bogie bolsters with assorted loads.
All of this does make life so much easier because, when we wish to run a train of, say, mineral wagons, all we need to do is take out the relevant drawer and, then, it is simply a matter of removing the required number of wagons. 
Similarly, putting them away again at the end of the session is equally straightforward.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cow Catcher

Here we see our Class 22 (D6319) standing at Sueston station with a short rake of cattle wagons. This rake will grow as the baby warship journeys around the layout towards Davemoor, collecting more and more wagons as she goes.
 Her first port of call is Petersfield where ...
 ... she picks up some wagons standing at Platform 1.
Thence to Gunnmere Junction where she has to collect more wagons from the sidings.
Here we see the train crossing over to the up slow line in order to gain access to those sidings ...
... before reversing on to the wagons ...
... that a Class 15 had previously brought out from the cattle dock.
The Class 22, with her ever-lengthening train, is now ready to depart with the aforementioned cattle dock in the foreground.
And here we see the train crossing over to the down slow line as she proceeds to Carswater, her penultimate destination.
Now at Carswater, we see her reversing her train into the small siding to collect the final batch of wagons ...
... before eventually arriving at her final destination, Davemoor, where she pulls into Platfrom 4.
Finally, we see the little loco at the buffer stops at Davemoor, her journey complete!

Monday, May 29, 2017

(One of the) Two Tunnels Greenway

The other day we decided to walk along a part of the Two Tunnels Greenway (or Two Tunnels Shared Path) that runs from Bath, along the route of the Somerset and Dorset Railway, through Devonshire and Combe Down tunnels, Midford Station and possibly on to Wellow.
By good fortune we had chosen a beautiful day and, after enjoying a particularly tasty lunch at the Hope and Anchor pub, in Midford, we set off towards the other end of Combe Down Tunnel, and back.
Here, then, are some photos that I took during the walk.
Before heading towards Combe Down tunnel we first took a brief walk along part of the 168 yard Midford viaduct - S&D Bridge Nº 18. Apparently it is possible to walk or cycle all the way to Wellow and, next time, we do plan to cycle this entire section, if it is possible.
A stunning view from the viaduct at Midford, looking north east.
Midford platform, looking south and, I believe, there are plans to reconstruct some of the buildings that would have been here although I do not know how close these plans are to fruition.
This is the stunning view that is afforded you when you stand on Midford platform. If you look closely, to the left, you can just see a part of the viaduct that once carried the line from Hallatrow to Limpley Stoke. Passenger services on this line ceased in 1925 and the track between Hallatrow and Camerton was lifted in 1930. Goods services continued between Camerton and Limpley Stoke until final closure in 1951, after which the line briefly came back to life again for the filming of 'The Titfield Thunderbolt'.
Midford's Long Arch Bridge (Nº 17) looking towards Bath. The length of this bridge was governed by the oblique angle of Tucking Mill Lane which descends over the S&D at this point. It is 37 yards long, which means that it is too short to be designated a tunnel.
Looking south, back towards the Long Arch Bridge. A small goods yard was situated to the left here and much of it is still visible today, including what must be the base of the old crane. It was necessary for the yard to be located some distance from the station due to the station's position on a narrow hillside ledge.
This is Midford Castle, just visible behind the trees. It was built in 1775 for Henry Disney Roebuck from designs by John Carter and is in the shape of the 'clubs' symbol as used in playing cards (♣). It was famously sold to the actor Nicolas Cage in 2007 for £5 million who then sold it two years later. I am not sure how much time he actually spent there!
This is a view, again looking south, over the 110 yard Tucking Mill viaduct - Bridge Nº 16. The viaduct was widened in the 1890s in anticipation of track doubling but the cost of doing this was never justified and could never have even been contemplated through Combe Down and Devonshire tunnels.
A view from the viaduct, looking east. The small fishing lake below is owned by Wessex Water and is only accessible via footpath or cyclepath. It is a haven of peace and quiet here and is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Another view of the lake - with fish clearly visible!
The viaduct from down below, beside the lake - and doesn't she look magnificent. Apparently a proposed Combe Down station would have been sited just to the north of this viaduct, on the down side of the single line, between the viaduct and Combe Down tunnel. A proposal that was, obviously, never realized and it is difficult to imagine such a station ever attracting too many passengers, to be honest.
A closer look at the small lake and its idyllic surroundings, making it hard to imagine its close proximity to urban Bath.
A final glimpse through the trees of just some of the viaduct's eight arches.
Our first view of the southern end of Combe Down tunnel - Bridge Nº 15. This tunnel is 1,829 yards long and, from the south, the ruling gradient is 1 in 100 up. This changes to 1 in 50 down just 400 yards short of the northern portal.
Getting closer to the tunnel now and, very soon, we would swap the warm, dry conditions outside of the tunnel for the cool, damp conditions inside. In railway days this tunnel was the UK's longest unventilated tunnel while, now, it is the UK's longest foot / cycle path tunnel.
Just inside the tunnel and you can see a slight bend ahead ...
.. before the tunnel straightens and disappears into the dimly lit distance.
This photo was taken just before the northern exit and is looking back towards Midford. From this it can be seen that the tunnel curves slightly at each end with a long straight section in the middle.
Here is the northern portal of the tunnel, taken from the picturesque Lyncombe Vale, another idyllic location that belies the fact that Bath Spa station, for instance, is only about half a mile away. Moger's Bridge 1 (Nº 14, a rail-over bridge), is just visible immediately before the tunnel entrance.
This is Moger's Bridge 2 (Nº 13, a rail-under bridge), looking towards Bath. It is situated not far from the northern portal of the tunnel.

Continuing through the attractive Lyncombe Vale, towards ...
... Devonshire Tunnel. At only 447 yards long, it is much the shorter of the two tunnels but was no less intimidating for southbound train crews who faced a daunting 1 in 50 climb through the narrow, unventilated bore. Both of these tunnels had a clearance of just 12 inches between the roof and the top of many a locomotive chimney. So you can only imagine the noise, the smoke and the heat that would be generated by locomotives pounding up the grade.
For us it was, sadly, now time to return to Midford, leaving Devonshire tunnel and the rest of the journey into Bath for another day and, hopefully this time, on two wheels rather than on two feet!