Saturday 27 September 2014

Details and Sillyness at Worthing

I spent today helping with the Sussex Downs 009 group layout Everleight at the Worthing show. Looking around the other layouts, many I'd seen before, but I did notice some nice well observed details. For example the kids racing go-karts on this US outline HO layout.

The modern image N-gauge layout "Smithdown Road" has some convincing present day details, including a motorway junction, and these minor roadworks - complete with barriers, skip, and portaloo,

The OO layout "Earls Court" has some of the best modelled shop interiors I've ever seen.

The section of the club layout we brought included Upsands Quay and the quarry. This layout was built over many years and sections are nearly as old as me, which did show with some niggles in the morning despite testing over the last three club-nights. It's not the easiest layout to operate either, however the scenery and detailing are excellent, and it did seem popular with the public.

The show definately seemed busy, until around 4 when the numbers dropped off significantly. By 4:30 things were starting to get silly, when John Reeve decided to test run his 3D printed South African train (the coaches as yet unpainted). Here it is entering the tunnel at Gryndene Halt - however before reaching Upsands the chimney stuck on a low point, and on reversing out, the cab caught on the tunnel mouth. Eventually we had to lift the hillside to extract the loco!

After sending longer than normal trains down the line to see what happened, the last train from Upsands ended up triple-headed with 9 coaches...

Thursday 18 September 2014

A delight in Sittingbourne

The Sittingbourne and Kemsley is a railway I'd been keen to visit for a long time, so we took the opportunity on the way back from our weekend in Kent. It doesn't start very promising, the car pack is stuck between a fast food restaurant and a retail park, and the station is approached under a dilapidated viaduct and round the back of a car wash. To add to the "atmosphere" there was an overflowing sewer!

The station itself is "basic", with overgrown sidings full of rusting wagons, the platform is made from very old sleepers, and the ticket office is a garden shed. Not quite the "atmosphere" some preserved lines try to create, though it is true to the industrial origins of the line so is perhaps more genuine! At least it looks like the "main" line is receiving maintenance, albeit with ballast sourced from a fish-tank...

Things improve when the train arrives though. The Kerr-Stuart loco "Leader" is beautifully kept, as are the coaches made from converted wagons.

The route sets off over the famous concrete viaduct, and though somewhat industrial surroundings, then moves into a more rural area before ending at Kemsley Down.

There's no public access here as it is still inside the grounds of the paper mill which the line was built to serve, but there are engine sheds and workshops full of interesting things - most of the locos are original to the line, though a few small diesels have been added. It looks like a lot is being achieved, and other than some heavy overhauls everything appeared in good shape.

The atmosphere is nice and relaxed here, with simple rope barriers to separate public from machinery, but otherwise there is a lot of freedom to look around. A small gift shop, cafe and picnic area mean it would be worth hanging around and waiting for the next train, but we didn't have time.

So a short but enjoyable visit to a line full of character, even if it doesn't fit the mould!

You can see the full set of photos from both lines here.

Monday 15 September 2014

The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch

We recently had a weekend break in Kent, and managed to fit in a couple of steam railways (of course!). First up was the RH&DR, which is well presented and professionally run, as you'd expect of a line built for the tourist trade on a big scale. The locos are very well cared for, and bearing in mind they are 70 to 90 years old, still working hard!

At Romney locos are exchanged, presumably to give driver and loco a break in what is a very demanding timetable. The line is fully signalled, and about 60% of the length is double-track.

The coaches are somewhat cramped, but otherwise comfortable, just as well on a 3-hour round trip! Trains are very long - up to 14 coaches - so even though the line is relatively flat, those locos have a job to do.

The line cuts through the caravan park we stayed at, with a handy station!

 I think someone misunderstood the term "skip wagon".