Dear Members.

I cannot believe we have reached our 10th Newsletter. Once again there are some interesting articles this week including more club history. We also have a challenging quiz for all you railway buffs (anoraks if your prefer).
We hope you are still enjoying reading the newsletter, it would be a great help if we could hear from a few more of you with items and or photos for the next edition?

Finally, as always keep safe and look forward to when we can be back at our clubroom.

Phil and Nigel

Please email all submissions to  or



Hornby Magazine




            For those of you who have now received or read the July edition of The Hornby Magazine, you will notice that the editorial regarding Middleton is wrongly and embarrassingly credited to me. This is an error and a wrong assumption by the Hornby Magazine. All the words are in fact the work of Mike Worsley with the help and approval of Eric Fry. My apologies to Mike who spent a great deal of time compiling the piece only to have it credited to someone else.
An email has been sent to Mike Wilds, the editor of Hornby Magazine asking for a correction in the next edition.



The following reply was received just as I was about to publish this Newsletter


My apologies to Mike for the incorrect crediting of the feature for Middleton-in-Teesdale. We can of course correct that in the next issue to ensure Mike is credited correctly. I’ll also update our online version of the feature this morning with the correct author name.

I hope that otherwise you and the group enjoyed the feature on the layout in our latest issue.
Kind regards,
Mike Wild
Editor, Hornby Magazine




The Following article appeared in the Welwyn & Hatfield Times,
Wednesday, December 10, 1997




After 35 years club will be losing its home.
Report By Stacey King



Pictured with part of their railway layout are club members Philip Ebsworth, Denis Moore, Colin Thirsk, Brian Rolfe, Tony Hayward, Eric Fry and Philip Bicknell.


Model railway buffs at a Hatfield club are asking WHT readers to help them stay on track.
Members of the De Havilland Model Railway Club fear it could be the end of the line for their much-loved layouts, one of which is among the country’s largest, when their home at the De Havilland Sports and Social Club is re-developed.
Treasurer Colin Thirsk said: “We want to publicise the fact that we are looking for a new home, hopefully someone reading your paper will have somewhere suitable. We don’t want to upset anyone because the sports club has been very good to us over the years, but its current plans don’t seem to include us, so we have got to look around.”
The club made its home at the Comet Way building when it was founded by Mr Thirsk and other aerospace workers in 1962 and it has been there ever since.
Its 20 members meet there every Tuesday evening and it holds regular exhibitions and hosts visits from other model railway societies around the country.
“We have two 00 gauge layouts, one of which at 44ft by 14ft, is one of the biggest in the country,” explained Mr Thirsk, adding: “It would be a terrible shame to be forced to scrap it if we have nowhere to move to. If anyone does have somewhere they think might be suitable then we would love to hear from them. We can’t afford to buy or lease anywhere, or to pay huge rent, but all we really need is heat and power so we are willing to look at anything.”
A private club since British Aerospace withdrew from Hatfield in 1994, the sports and social club is currently on a one-year lease and may be forced to move premises if its landlord decides to re-develop the site.
Club secretary Jack Clark said “We are going to have to move at some stage, but we will probably be able to stay here until 1999 at least. The problem with the model railway club is that they need somewhere they can set up their layout and stay. It takes up a lot of space and they don’t have a lot of members.”
Anyone who thinks they might have a suitable site for the club is invited to contact Mr Thirsk on 01707 ******.





Can I put in an appeal for the loan of a static grass application set!  

I have an area to do which would be much easier with the static equipment rather than the traditional puffer and spray varnish method.
Many thanks,






The following article appeared in the Herts Advertiser recently.



This month marks the 40th anniversary of the final closing by British Rail of the signal box that sits at the London end of St Albans Station.
For nearly 90 years from 1892 the signal box controlled part of the railway through St Albans. Then over the next 20 years it lay unoccupied and deteriorating before St Albans Signal Box Trust was formed in 2003 to restore it to its former glory.
When the Midland Railway Company opened its line through St Albans in 1867 there were only two sets of tracks. These needed a much smaller signal box than the one we see today. However traffic levels grew steadily and resulted in the company expanding to four tracks in the late 1880s. This brought about the need for more signals and points to control the trains and, hence, a larger signal box.
The new signal box was opened on June 12 1892. It was essentially a ‘flat packed’ wooden building that was constructed at the Derby Signalling Works along with all operating equipment and brought by rail to St Albans to be erected.
Whilst some of the internal equipment changed over the ensuing years, the appearance of the signal box remained unaltered until 1963 when toilet facilities were added to the upper level at the south end.
The signal box was normally operated by one man who at certain times of the day would be extremely busy looking after a never ending succession of goods trains going north and south as well as a good number of passenger services.
The box remained open 24-7 and three regular signalmen each worked eight hour shifts.
The fate of the signal box was sealed with the decision by BR to resignal the lines from St Pancras in the 1970s as a prelude to electrification of the train service.
So, on the night of December 2 1979 Signalman Geoff Ryland signed off from his shift and passed signalling through St Albans into the hands of a new power signal box at West Hampstead. For the next six months the box was occupied by the station announcer.
The signal box had been granted listed building status by the Government in February 1979 and it could therefore not be demolished but equally was not needed by the railway. What followed is another story…
This article has been written by Richard Kirk on behalf of the St Albans Signal Box Preservation Trust. The Signal Box and garden are currently closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Please see the website at for updates.



Many thanks to Barry for sending us this article. 





The Trials of a Heritage Railway Cleaner


Sunday 24th November 2002.

This was the first of the Santa Specials. I arrived at 6.25, the last part of the journey up the A1(M) in thick fog. Another Keith was the fireman today and was already out in the yard. Andy the driver arrived at 6.30, substituting for the rostered driver Harry who had been suspended for a SPAD (signal passed at danger) incident on Wayne's last duty.

We found Keith at 6.40 and set about lighting up the J94 75006. A quick clean round in the dark at first and we were off shed early at 9.40 – so early that the signal box wasn’t open and we waited for the signal until the ops manager opened the box and allowed us onto the train so that we could provide steam heating.



The first train was at 11.20 with the class 14 at the Peterborough end. The Santa specials are always topped and tailed with a class 14 to save time running round at each end. We ran through platform 2 at Orton Mere which is rarely used unless trains are due to pass there such as on gala days. Platform 2 is used as it provides a straighter path then using platform 1 which requires slowing down for the crossover at the Peterborough end. We arrived at Peterborough on time and having swapped the single line token we set off on the return trip to Wansford arriving at 12.40. When top and tailing the token is carried on the rear loco having first been shown to the leading loco. This is a legacy from BR days and is to ensure that if a train splits in section the token can’t mistakenly be accepted by the signalman from the leading loco which could then allow another train onto the single line whilst the rear part is still there. With fully fitted trains this should never happen as the brakes would be applied if the train splits. However on unfitted goods trains this could and did happen. Those of you have read ‘Red for Danger’ will appreciate this.



At Wansford we uncoupled and ran forward to the water column to take water before the 12.40 train. This was OK to Peterborough but on the return trip Keith struggled and the pressure dropped to 80lbs after Ferry Meadows. And the brakes started to drag. Vacuum brakes are held off by steam passing through the ejector which creates a vacuum in the train pipe. When the boiler pressure drops too low there is insufficient steam passing through the ejector and so the brakes start to come on. The required pressure is usually between about 100 and 120 psi although varies slightly between different engines. The class 14 on the rear helped to hold the brakes off and provided a push to keep us moving.

Once back at Wansford water was again taken and Andy brought the fire round. The J94 has a relatively small firebox and needs to have all the fire-bars covered with careful firing as any holes appearing in the fire will pull through cold air from below the fire and cool the boiler. Larger locos tend not to suffer from this quite so much particularly on heritage lines where they are not required to work so hard.

The third trip was at 14.00. Once at Peterborough Keith built up a good fire, taking no chances this time, so much so that once back at Wansford it was necessary to throw out much of the fire. The art of firing on the last trip is to ensure the fire is good enough to complete the trip but such that by the time you are on shed for disposal there is very little fire left and the fire bars can be easily cleaned. We were on shed by 15.15 but it was 16.30 before I finally headed home having raked out the ash-pans as Keith looked very tired by now.

From a cleaners point of view Santa Specials are comparatively easy with not much coupling and uncoupling, running round, working ground frames etc.







During the summer of 1987 the Skyship 600 G-SKSC sponsored by British Caledonian was working out of Radlett Aerodrome, it had been granted permission to carry passengers on sightseeing trips over London. The first passenger airship to overfly London in 50 years. I was lucky enough to given a ticket by a friend who refused to fly, I think he was trying to get rid of me! I was very lucky as the chosen day was sunny and had very little wind. Many trips had been postponed due to previous bad weather.



I arrived at the temporary cabin and was booked in by the staff. I was then weighed on a set of ordinary bathroom scales and told to wait in the waiting room. It’s difficult to remember how many people were travelling but I think it was between 10 and 20. We were eventually called forward and told which seat to sit in.  As you climbed aboard you could feel the ship move with the added weight. It had been necessary to balance the craft so that it didn’t lean over to one side on take off.  This must have been crucial as roughly judging peoples weight clearly wouldn’t have been adequate.



Having taken our seats, the 2 Porsche engines were started up, but the craft was kept tethered. The pilot, of which there were two, revved the engines as though they were trying to take off. The ship tried to lift but was restricted, bags of sand or something similar were then taken off by land crew, and the process was carried out again. More ballast was taken off until they were eventually happy that the craft was balanced. Someone on the ground then let go of the bit of string that tethered the craft and we rose into the air. We swung round the airfield slowly rising as we went. As soon as we were airborne we were told that we could leave our seats and wonder around, we were even able to look over the pilots shoulders and ask them questions! After having flown aircraft it appeared their jobs flying an airship were quite easy. We made our way south over London at about 40 mph, with the two Porsche engines making their distinctive noise. The ride was steady but it tended to go up and down in a sort of sea sawing motion and twisted from side to side in the wind. We were lucky as we had a good day so one can understand why they did not fly in bad weather!



We continued down viewing the sights of London until we arrived at the River Thames where we circled Tower Bridge and then proceeded on our way back to Radlett.
On arrival back at Radlett 75 minutes later, someone on the ground caught the bit of string that was still hanging from the nose, we steadily lowered down and came to a standstill.



It was a wonderful experience, but sadly they didn’t continue running it for very long, presumably our weather had detrimental effect on the service and it moved elsewhere.
The photographs are not brilliant as they are converted from my original slides  









Answers next week.


1. Where in London did the South Eastern Railway open a city terminus in 1866 ? 

2. When did the Brighton Belle make it’s last run between Victoria & Brighton ? 

3. Which were the only two Midland Railway locomotives to bear names ? 

4. The overall roof of which London terminus collapsed in December 1905? 

5. Where was the first mechanical locomotive coaling plant built in Britain in 1913 ? 

6. Which country owned the most powerful Beyer Garratt locomotive ? 

7. In what year did the first section of the Liverpool Overhead Railway open for traffic ? 

8. When was the King’s mail first carried by train in England ? 

9. Which pre-grouping railway company owned the largest number of steam ships ? 

10. Why were the Flaman speed recorders removed from LNER locomotives after June 1940 ? 

11. What is the name of the most Northerly junction in Scotland ? 

12.What was the most spectacular engineering feature of the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway? 

This weeks quiz was submitted by Barry 



Answers to last weeks quiz.



  1. Woolly perhaps?  Single file across here. HATFIELD
  2. Frank Bruno hopes it doesn’t happen to him HITCHIN
  3. Old fashioned haystack.  No not a woman’s.  A famous perfume company RICKMANSWORTH
  4. More than enough.  Have in the past.  Tasty with pineapple MUCH HADHAM      
  5. Part of a traffic light.  A little brook. REDBOURNE
  6. Something to do with Tylers’.  Cross the river here. WATFORD
  7. Heavenly instrument.  French Preposition.  Lair of a wild beast. HARPENDEN
  8. A small river.  ? Best friend.  Put your car here. BROOKMANS PARK
  9. Part of a baby’s lullaby.  Some rather deep. BUNTINGFORD
  10. Agricultural crop.  Choice cut of bacon.  The end of Hampstead. WHEATHAMPSTEAD
  11. A tiresome person.  A bad actor.  A walk with bears. BOREHAMWOOD
  12. Flanagan’s partner.  Many people disapprove of this. CHESHUNT
  13. Plenty of this at Southport. Along the top of the hills. SANDRIDGE
  14. Does he need a wig.  Almost a Scotsman. BALDOCK
  15. Connected to 26th Dec.  Wisdom they say increases with STEVENAGE
  16. Not sick and came in first. WELWYN
  17. Two brickies – D and D find this very useful. HODDESDEN
  18. This may be found in a warm house to rent. RADLETT
  19. Keeps the life blood going for Anna to HERTFORD
  20. Feel a proper wally on this heath. BERKHAMSTED