Dear Members

This week has flown by and Halloween looms, so it is fortunate that Daniel has written a suitable Ghost story for us to read.

Not sure whether it is a trick or treat but Keith continues to entertain us with his how to build a model railway and Nigel bakes a cake! hope he didn't leave it out in the rain (answers to the name of the singer and the song on a postcard please). We also have a bit of little known history from Ian and whispering trees (must stop doing this) in Welwyn Garden City.

Enough for now as I have to get back to some serious flocking.

As always keep safe


Phil and Nigel

Please email all submissions to  or









With all of the wiring completed back to the control panel it is now time to decide how to build this impressive sounding item. To perhaps simplify things for the uninitiated lets just call it a switch panel instead. In other words it is where you will place all of the switches needed to work your points, sections and isolating sections.

There are as ever several ways of doing this and no doubt some that I have never seen. The simplest option is to mount the switches in a suitable place on the baseboard if you have room. Of course as you are building a representation of Kings Cross it is very unlikely that you will have even a square inch of space anywhere so we can rule this option out. The most usual solution is to build a box usually out of wood big enough to mount all of the switches. You do not need to make it too big unless your eye sight is very poor and/or you have extremely large fingers and thumbs and need lots of space for the switches. An alternative that I saw at an exhibition a while back was to use a plastic box. This looked very neat and of course quick to make. However as we all know the lid of said boxes tends to be fairly flexible. Thus when ever a switch was touched the whole box tended to bounce which caused much amusement to the spectators.

The box could be permanently fixed to the baseboard or left loose. Just remember you will have lots of wires trailing across the room to the control panel. If you want to disconnect the panel from the layout you will need suitable connectors of which there are many to choose from. These could be single connectors up to multi way types with 25, 35 or 50 or so connecting pins. These are great fun to wire up and solder. With a little lack of care you can successfully solder many tags together in one go. Trying to separate them will then try the patience of a saint (no the GWR loco). Of course the more pins you have the fewer the number of plugs required and the quicker that you can disconnect the control panel if you ever want too.

Which ever method you chose you will now need to decide how to number and label the switches. Option one is to have a diagram with the numbers and then just mount the switches in a row with corresponding numbers. A quick and simple solution that works well with smaller layouts. However for Kings Cross I suggest mounting a diagram on the top of the control panel onto which the switches can be placed at the point or section they represent. So the box that you have spent many hours making will now prove to be far too small particularly if you insist on using large light switches of which more anon.

Somehow you have arrived at the point where switches, that you bought many weeks ago when on sale somewhere, now need to be mounted. Perhaps it is now time to discuss how all of this will work (hopefully). We will start with the simplest switch which will work the isolating sections. For this you need a simple on/off switch which is of course exactly what your light switch does. Indeed you could use these but they do tend to be rather large. There are many smaller options available such as mini toggle switches, slide switches, push buttons etc. So long as they are single pole, single throw on/off they will do. The choice is yours. You do understand single pole, single throw on/off don’t you? If you don’t then from here on it will get even more complicated.

The next switch that you will need is for the sections. Assuming that you are using two controllers and want to be able to work any section of track from either controller you will need a double pole, double throw centre off switch. So you see what I mean. If you didn’t understand the single pole, single throw on/off then you are never going to understand this. However I will try to explain. The switch has two sets of contacts which switch together. In the centre position the switch will be off. When moved up both contacts will be connected to one controller and when moved down will connect to the other controller. Simple isn’t it?Moving quickly on we will now need to work the points. Yet more options here of course. You could use a switch similar to the others only this will be double pole single throw (on)- off- (on). If you worked out how the double pole, double throw centre off switch worked then this one is a piece of cake. No? Well obviously only one set of contacts. Centre position off like it says. When moved up it switches ‘on’ but is sprung so that it won’t lock there. I don’t think I need to explain the ‘down’ position surely? This is because the point motors that you have used only need a quick pulse of electricity in order to energise the coil. If you leave the switch on for too long the point motor will burn out. You have been warned. Laying under the base board changing point motors is another task that you really don’t want to have to do. It is much harder than tracing wires believe me.

Another option is to use the ‘Stud and Contact’ method. With this you put a small suitable screw in the two positions that the point will need to change in and use an ‘electric’ pen to touch them briefly to energise toe point motor coils. Just remember briefly if you choose this or you will have even more burnt out point motors. I should perhaps explain ‘electric’ pen. Do not take a Biro and wire it to the means unless you want to dispose of the wife in an unfortunate accident. The police will never understand why you have a big cable plugged into the wall socket with the wires wrapped round the Biro or so I am told by those that have tried it. No, what you actually want is a copper or similar probe (i.e. a bit of wire) with a wire from the controller soldered to it. This can be inserted into an old Biro for example; hence the name. With me so far? Then we will move on.

You remember all of the wires that you have left somewhere under the base board? Well now is the time to connect all of these to the control panel.

You remember that in the article on wiring a recommended using different colours so that provided that you kept a note of what each wire does the next stage is easy, Failing that you did label each wire didn’t you? If you didn’t now is another time where you will need to lay under the base board with the torch in your mouth whilst you now try to trace every wire and this time carefully note what it is for.

So lets start with the simple one. The isolating switches only need two wires attached to them from the two sides of the rail that you carefully cut sometime earlier, remember? A quick solder job and each wire is connected to the only two terminals so surely you can’t get this wrong. Just remember which end of the soldering iron to hold as mentioned before.

Now it gets interesting. The section switches have six terminals and so you will need to work out which six wires to use. Actually it is simpler than it sounds. The two wires from the section connect to the centre two tags. The top two go to one controller and the bottom two go to the second controller. Of course the wires from the controller will need to be connected to every section switches via ‘daisy chaining’. That means two wires to every tag so you have an ‘in’ and ‘out’. It also means that the wiring tends to get very messy and unless you keep the wires neatly together you will end up with a birds nest in the control box. This will resemble the similar mess that you will now have under the base board but will be far worse.

Finally you will need to wire the point switches or contacts which ever you have chosen. You recall that I told you about the ‘common’ last time? Well the simple bit here is that it goes to a suitable output from your controller usually 16v AC. I don’t think that I need to explain this. Just look at the back of the controller and it will be labelled. If you haven’t got this then you have a cheap controller and will now need to buy another more suitable one. There are many to choose from so pick carefully this time. The last two wires from the two coils of the point motor go to either the two two screws or the two terminal on the switch. Easy isn’t it?

If you have kept up so far you will now have completed the wiring of the control panel and layout although you may wish to try and do something with all of the wire drooping down under the base board. You could of course shorten them but that will require re terminating them and you really have had enough at this time, so sticky tape or something, stuck under the board will do until they come unstuck in the not too distant future.

Now is the time to try everything and see if it works and we will come to this in the next article.




This is the piece of cake Keith referred to in his article. I made it whilst watching the Great British Bakeoff.





Joe is hoping to build a 7mm model of an LNER Y11 petrol locomotive, it was known locally as "The Shed on Wheels". It used to shunt Ware goods yard in the 1950's. Joe has found photos but as yet has not been able to find any works or other drawings.
Please send any information you have to Phil or Nigel.



The Last Sentry Box?


In the summer of its first year (1830) of operation of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway the directors found that they were handling larger numbers of passengers than expected, and within a year about 5,000 more per day than they had planned for. At the same time their Stephenson locomotives were attaining 30 mph on service (in fact the average speed over Chat Moss was found to be 37 mph). Such speeds were unheard of and public concern over safety was expressed in the newspapers yet passenger demand remained high. Consequently the directors imposed a speed limit of 20 mph. To cope with the crowds at the Liverpool and Manchester stations a large bell was installed at each and rung five minutes before train departures, with hand bells provided to be rung just before trains were about to depart. Extra railway policemen were needed to hurry passengers into their carriages. For the safe maintenance of the time interval of trains policemen were needed to be stationed approximately every mile along the line and at level crossings. Initially policemen regulated trains by giving hand signals but by 1833 hand held flags and lamps were in use.
Little consideration was initially given to protecting policemen from the vagaries of the weather and the very long hours of duty could make it difficult to maintain concentration. Anyone who has had to stand to attention on parade in a rainstorm will know how distracting water pouring down one’s neck can be. Whilst most switches (points) to be operated were located near stations where policemen might find some protection from time to time, those on signalling duties along the line could do little more than stamp their feet to keep warm and remain alert.
The first protection organised was to policemen allocated to operating gates at level crossings. They were provided with rudimentary huts although I have yet to find a detailed description. By the time these huts were replaced with brick buildings to enable the crossing keepers to install their families they had lost their title of ‘policeman’ and were referred to as gate keepers. The provision of gate keeper protection and accommodation goes back to the previous century on turnpikes and canals. Eventually, policemen providing signalling in remote places were given huts very much in the style of army sentry boxes.
The directors’ first attempt at formulating rules, regulations and orders came into force on the 1st March 1831 but in 1833 they finalised their operating regulations arising from three years of experience and provided their staff with copies. Much interest was shown by other railway companies in the Liverpool & Manchester’s operations, many of whom sent observers to ‘spy’ and report back on their procedures. In 1840 a first conference of railway companies was held in Birmingham at which the Liverpool & Manchester agreed to supply the other companies with copies of its regulations. In a second conference in 1841 it was discovered that the Liverpool & Manchester’s regulations had been adopted by the other railway companies attending without major changes.


The advance home signal is lowered for a train to Southwold Station, Notice also the advance starter & shunting signal at danger. All signals and lamp are on a single post.


Although the Great Western Railway was in many ways idiosyncratic it was quick to gain from the Liverpool & Manchester’s experiences. It had attended both conferences and thus had proven operating regulations before ever opening to the public. Three months after commencing train services between Paddington and Maidenhead their London Committee (on 24th August 1838) ordered lamps for their policemen and requested estimates for police boxes. When installed the latter were described as army style wooden sentry boxes large enough for a single policeman to stand upright in but without a door. They contained a simple plank seat and for those in exposed situations were mounted on a pivot so that the box could be turned to offer some respite from the wind and rain.
Proper signal boxes were slow in being adopted. On the GWR they were not introduced until 1860 and were at first entitled ‘Locking-gear Boxes’. However, interlocking between points and signals was in those days entirely mechanical and no more needed covering from the weather than point rodding. I suspect it was the introduction of the telegraph and other electrical equipment that necessitated the provision of roofed signal boxes (although I must admit some early boxes did not have roofs). The telegraph was first trialled on the London & Birmingham Railway in 1837 and first installed on the GWR in 1839 between Paddington and West Drayton. Initially this facilitated communication between stations but later signal boxes were needed for policeman in sections of the line away from stations.
One would expect that sentry boxes for railway policemen undertaking signalling duties disappeared in Queen Victoria’s reign, but surprisingly one is known to have survived in use until 1929. This was on the three foot gauge Southwold Railway.


The box has been turned towards the camera. Note the heavily weighted point lever and the interlocking rodding.


The Southwold Railway was archaic in many respects. There were no continuous brakes on the trains, which is why speed was limited by the authorities (initially by the Board of Trade, later by the Light Railway Commissioners) to 16 mph. Each railway station, no matter how small, had a stationmaster who had to supervise all point and signal movements by porters as there were no official signalmen. Each station was also provided with a hand bell for ringing before the departure of trains and a leather cash bag with the station’s name on an engraved brass label. The last train of the day to Southwold collected these bags, together with a statement of account and were returned the following service day empty, by the first train. Even the 146 feet swing bridge over the River Blyth had to be manually operated by ropes from both river banks at once, supervised by the Southwold stationmaster. The last boat big enough to require the bridge being opened passed in 1911, although the bridge was still opened once a year for maintenance. Shunting at Halesworth station was still sometimes done by horse.
In the 1920’s omnibuses could just about compete with the Southwold trains on speed and there were several prosecutions in the magistrates’ court of ‘bus drivers who had enthusiastically tried to provide a faster service than the train and broke the road speed limit of 20 mph. It is hardly surprising that the Southwold Railway closed in 1929, together with the last railway sentry box for the protection of signalling staff. However, if anyone knows of such a box that survived in operation after 1929 perhaps you would kindly let me know.




The Deltic Ghost


Since at the time of writing this, it is the week before Halloween, so I thought I would tell you a Ghost Story about a sight of a Ghost Train whether you believe in the Paranormal or Not.
On a September evening in 1980 two enthusiasts were spotting at Hadley Wood when they heard a familiar sound of x 2 Napier engines at full Throttle with that unforgettable roar from those  18 cylinder engines is a sound you will never forget having experienced it myself at diesel Gala and on a Railtour. Anyway, back to the story they saw the signal go from red to green. As its 1980 not many Deltics were in BR service as they were starting to be withdrawn to make way for the Intercity 125. As it appears from the tunnel and they watch it just vanished into the Tunnel they noted it down as 55020 Nimbus. Remember this sighting happened in September and the thing is Nimbus was cut up in February of that same year, they even have photograph evidence of the loco body all cut up in Doncaster. So after they walked up to the station they asked a member of staff about the train which had just come past. The member of staff told them no train had been through in the past 15 to 20 minutes even though they had just seen it go through. So is there a Deltic Haunting The East Coast Mainline we just never know.
Since there was no other sighting of this supposed  Deltic Ghost maybe it was a made up story or not but I have experienced that unforgettable Napier sound myself in the night whether you believe the story or not it is up to you.
I would love to see this supposed Deltic Ghost for myself but since there is no time or date or names of the spotters, we only know by the month and Year of this encounter like I said we just never know.
I hope you liked the story, I am looking forward to writing my Next Article and cannot wait to see you all again soon back in the Clubroom.
Stay Safe and Well in This Current Situation.





Our City of Trees project is part of the centenary celebrations with four areas of the town chosen for their beauty and variety, some of which are seldom seen outside botanic gardens. What better time to explore and enjoy their beauty than autumn?
The four areas were selected by the team, Alison Ewington, David Kell, Rosie Brewis and Steve Williams, all members of the WGC Horticultural Society. These are Beehive on the east side of town, Sherrardspark Wood, Handside & Stanborough and The Campus.
Each has its own distinct character and the team has highlighted some interesting trees which will look particularlybeautiful this autumn. Visit the website for details.



Legacy of the large number and diversity of trees.
The city trees project celebrates the legacy of trees in the town. ‘A marriage of town and country’ was Ebenezer Howard’s vision for garden cities. Town planner Louis de Soissons interpreted this vision when he designed the plan for Welwyn Garden City. The location of many trees influenced this design as he positioned junctions according to their location for example on Handside Lane…
The web site gives a description of the trees in the town, highlighting those of particular interest and the best seasons for viewing them. It gives details of the walks and information about the trees, with links to websites where additional information can be found. It also contains a photo gallery and children’s section – Junior Corner… read more about autumn highlights with some beautiful trees.
Landscape and Ecology Department at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
The town is most fortunate to have an active and enthusiastic team who look after and plan replacements for trees in their care. The basis for their work is set out in their ‘Trees and Woodland Strategy’…
International accreditation – ‘Tree City of the World’
Welwyn Hatfeld is one of only a handful of local authorities in the country to secure the prestigious ‘Tree City of the World’ accreditation. Read about the environment benefits the trees provide…
Welwyn Garden City Horticultural Society
 The City of Trees project was developed and supported by the Welwyn Garden City Horticultural Society. The Society is a friendly, welcoming club for all gardeners: young; old; expert and beginner. It offers a programme of speaker meetings and garden visits. See for details of how to join…



Leaflets for each walk are available at various venues across the town including Waterstones and Oxfam book shops, the central library, Campus West and the station café. You can also download them from:

The City of Trees website

The WGC100 website

We’d love to see any photos you take – please share them on Facebook,Instagram or Twitter and tag us in! We hope you enjoy the walks.
The Welwyn Garden City Foundation







If you have missed one of our Newsletters you can find them on our website



Answers next week.


General knowledge quiz questions

1. What is Queen Elizabeth II's surname?
2. Who painted the Mona Lisa?
3. What language is spoken in Norway?
4. What is a doe?
5. How many sides does a hexagon have?

Food and drink quiz questions
6. What year was Heinz established?
7. Which country is brie cheese originally from?
8. What are the two main ingredients in a Dark and Stormy cocktail?
9. Which Italian city is credited as the birthplace of Pizza?
10. What is the British name for a zucchini?

Geography quiz questions
11. In what country would you find Lake Bled?
12. How many US states begin with the letter A?
13. What is the currency of Sweden?
14. Which seaside is home to the longest pier in the UK?
15. In what country would you find the Inca Trail?



Answers to last weeks Quiz.


1. The Great Northern Railway, on the principal expresses between Kings Cross and Leeds.
2. 2nd June 1924.
3. 1849.
4. Nine (Gas Works, Copenhagen, Wood Green, Barnet, Hadley South, Hadley North, Potters Bar, Welwyn South, Welwyn North).
5. The Bideford, Westward Ho! & Appledore Railway, closed in 1917.
6. Royal George.
7. No.60052 Prince Palatine.
8. British Railways No.46243 City of Lancaster, de-streamlined in 1949.
9. The Imperial Tramways Company, Bristol.
10. A fire at the depot at St Aubin destroyed most of the rolling stock.