Dear Members.

I think it is quite an achievement that we have now reached our 12th edition of the De havilland MRS newsletter and would like to thank all those that have contributed so far.

However, if we are to continue we would really like to receive something from all the members who we have still not heard from.We are now getting very short of articles,memories,photos etc etc for next week and beyond!

Just let us know you are ok and you could add what you think of the newsletter as some of you have been asking, as you would on club nights "have you heard from ***** are they ok?"

Phil and Nigel

Please email all submissions to  or






Welwyn Garden City is arguably one of the most beautiful and certainly the best planned city in England. The man responsible for the much of what we see in the City was Louis de Soissons, its Chief Architect and Town Planner for 32 years - from its inception in 1920 till his death in 1952.

Louis was born in 1890, probably in Canada, into a talented multi-lingual and artistic family that came to live in London when he was about nine.
Louis decided early on that he wanted to be an architect so when he left school he was articled to a leading firm of Architects. For 5 years he attended evening classes at the Royal Academy, where he was a brilliant student, winning prizes that included grants to travel to Italy and France. He actually studied at the top École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, winning more medals, but his stay was cut short by the Great War. He enrolled immediately in the army where he played an important part in liaising with Italian army using his linguistic skills and was awarded the OBE.

Shortly after returning to civilian life he had a lucky break when Ebenezer Howard bought at auction nearly 1500 acres of farmland near Welwyn for his second Garden City. A Company was set up and a hunt started for a Chief Architect. Following a recommendation from the President of the RIBA, Louis was appointed in April 1920 and within 6 weeks produced the famous plan which has been reproduced in countless manuals on Town Planning. {pictured}. He presented his plan to the Board of Welwyn Garden City Ltd on 11 June 1920.



Louis moved to the newly christened Welwyn Garden City and set to work. He decided quickly that the style for the houses and public buildings should be Neo-Georgian in red brick, rather than Arts and Crafts which had been favoured by Unwin and Parker at the first Garden City, Letchworth.

They were carefully landscaped, with a density that nowhere exceeded 12 houses per acre. He imaginatively exploited varieties of cul de sac to create small communities. And he made sure that there were plenty of trees to delight the eye. We can enjoy the results of his labours every time we drive into or out of the City.Louis was a master of street planning. The residential streets surrounding the central core followed the contours of the land not just for artistic effect but to minimise the cost of installing water and sewage services.
The layout of the town is in grand Beaux Arts tradition with a great greensward avenue, Parkway, 200feet (61m) wide running through the central area. The vista seen from the north when crossing the White Bridge is magnificent, especially when the Coronation Fountain is in full flow.

It is estimated that Louis and his close associate Arthur Kenyon designed over half the houses in Welwyn Garden. The majority were red brick Neo-Georgian but many were in concrete and some even had flat roofs.
The City was planned so that citizens could walk or cycle from where they lived to where they worked. In 1924 Louis designed the first and most important factory, for Shredded Wheat, an American company who chose Welwyn as the base to manufacture in England. This plant with adjoining silos are a landmark that was listed Grade II in 1981. It still impresses although half the silos have been demolished to make way for planned redevelopment. Louis’ concrete and glass processing plant was among the first of its kind in England.
Other landmark factories followed which like all the construction in Welwyn had to be approved by Louis. The newly restored Grade II Listed Roche Factory by Otto Salvisberg in 1937 is the most famous but others were equally impressive.
Louis was the only official of the Company to survive the take-over by the State in 1948, when Welwyn Garden was designated to be expanded into a New Town in harness with neighbouring Hatfield. He became Chief Architect for the Welwyn Garden part and designed a significant expansion, mainly on the east side of the City.
Many books were published describing in glowing terms the progress at Welwyn Garden. As a result Louis’ fame spread. In the 1930s he became friendly with Edward, Prince of Wales, (later Edward VIII) and built flats in red brick for him in Kennington, an area of south London belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall. They can be seen regularly on TV during Test Matches at The Oval, forming a harmonious backdrop to the pundits in their glass commentary box. (The stylish gates to the Oval known internationally as the Jack Hobbs Gates were also designed by Louis).



Louis unfortunately lost his eldest son Philip in 1941; he was killed when only 17 during the Battle for Crete when his ship was sunk by a fighter attack. His name is among the many on the War Memorial in Howardsgate. It must have therefore meant a great deal to Louis when in 1944 he was appointed by The War Graves Commission to be Chief Architect with responsibility for cemeteries in Greece and Italy, eventually designing over 50. Notable are Cassino in Italy, and Suda Bay near Athens. Louis built up a leading Architectural Practice which employed several notable men and women architects. They did much work in London and around the UK, particularly Plymouth which was completely reconstructed after extensive bombing. The design included central boulevards as in Welwyn Garden which were exactly the same width as Parkway.
Louis worked on until his death of heart failure in 1972. He is buried in a Welwyn Garden cemetery, Hatfield Hyde, beneath a plain limestone slab sheltered appropriately by a large horse chestnut tree. A bust of him was commissioned and today it looks out over Parkway, from above the doorway of a building just south of Howardsgate. Further north at the top of Parkway is a garden which was opened in his honour by the Queen Mother in 1970.

Today’s residents owe him a great deal. He transformed a few thousand acres of farm land with a handful of farm buildings into a thriving City with houses and factories that were state of the art when constructed. Over the last one hundred years his plans have matured into a thing of beauty and a joy for all.
Geoffrey Hollis – Welwyn Garden City Heritage Trust






A plea for information please. I have a friend (in Denmark) who is writing a historical novel. He has to get a girl (Bella) from Berlin to London in early 1930s. He has got her to Calais and he has asked me to ascertain details of boat times, train times, stock used and possibly fares from Dover Marine to London, presumably Victoria. Not necessarily the Golden Arrow. He is trying to make it as authentic as possible. Any suggestions of relevant book titles or mags would be greatly appreciated. I don’t have access to the RM of that period which could be a useful source of info.
Many thanks for any help. Keep modelling and carry on! Stay safe, Barry Smith.


Colin Bloom has passed some information onto Barry but more may be required.









The Trials of a Heritage Railway Cleaner


Sunday 16th March 2003

A 6.30 start with Harry and Andy on the Polish 0-8-0T No.9548. My first time on this beast. Built after the war for heavy shunting, so powerful but with small driving wheels hence not very fast and a somewhat rough ride particularly when running at (or above) line speed. This was a three round trip day and I fired the last round trip. The loco is nice to fire although the injectors can be a problem.

The only event of the day was crossing over Lynch bridge on the second trip when two horses by the river bolted. On the return journey we were told that a rider had fallen and an air ambulance had been called. We found out later that the horse had been scared by a bird and not by us!

We disposed of the loco on the pit fairly easily apart from the drop ash pan which required considerable effort and the use of a firing iron and a block of wood to lever it open and closed. On my way home by 17.20



Saturday 22 March 2003

Started at 5.00 with Wayne on this training day. We were on the Polish 0-8-0T again. We were off shed at 9.30 for a trip to Yarwell and then to Peterborough. The rest of the day was spent shuttling between Peterborough and Orton Mere.

I had one trip from Orton Mere to Peterborough as fireman. On the return trip the communication cord was pulled as part of the training for the guards and couldn’t be reset. Therefore the brakes on two coaches had to be isolated before we could move again.

Return from Peterborough was with two vans after shunting. Once at Peterborough a fitter freed the brakes before we could go onto the shed. The result was we couldn’t dispose until 7pm and it was 8pm before we left for home. A very late night!



Saturday 5th April 2003

Signed on at 6.30 with Paul and Bob on 92 Squadron. We were off shed at 10.30 for the 11.00 first round trip – Yarwell - Peterborough – Wansford. We then found out that the B1 4-6-0 Mayflower was to take the second trip. This was to be her first public train having just returned from overhaul. She went to Yarwell and returned to Wansford but then had to wait for an incoming excursion from the Mid Hants Railway, which was behind BR Standard 5 73096, which was twenty minutes late. We were waiting in platform 1 out of the way.

Once Mayflower had departed we shunted the support coach from the excursion from one end to the other with Class 14 D9514 assisting. We then returned to platform 1 whilst Mayflower returned. Mayflower went on shed and 73096 took the next service train to Peterborough and return to Orton Mere with the Class 14 trailing. In the mean time we coupled onto the excursion train.

The Class 14 returned with the service train and we departed for Orton Mere. At Orton Mere we came off and 73096 coupled on and departed with the excursion back round the Fletton loop to the main line. The class 14 then arrived with the service train and came off. We then took the train to Peterborough and back to Wansford.

Once on shed the evening crew for the beer train took over so we didn’t have to dispose.  I was on my way home by 6.30.







My father was an electrical engineer, working for a company carrying out the AC/DC changeover in London. His main interests being steam trains and cars, what chance did I have?
On the day I was born he came home with a Hornby Dublo 3 rail Sir Nigel Gresley, but of course he wouldn’t let me play with it until I was of a reasonable age.

We lived in North London in a house with a fair-sized loft. This he boarded, added a skylight from which you could see the Ally Pally and fitted a ladder that could be lowered and raised with the aid of a rope. The model railway then had a home. It was originally built at one end of the loft with a couple of circuits, a tunnel at one end and some sidings in the middle. Two holes being left in the centre for us to crawl into. Being an electrician, he made all the controllers and transformers himself, I remember the controller handle that made contact with brass screw heads as it rotated. My father and I spent hours together playing with these trains, but of course with my interest in cars we had to have roadways on the railway with lots of Matchbox Toys and later Dublo Dinkys!. The Scalextrix came later.




The loft layout, approximately 1960


As soon as Hornby brought out 2 rail, he replaced all the track and converted all locos and rolling stock, bushing the axles etc.

He also had a fantastic Meccano set, we built working vehicles, gear boxes, bridges, the Eiffel Tower, that was over 6 feet tall the list is endless. When he died a few years ago my sister and I sold the Meccano for over £1000.




My father and I in 1964, note the Beatles haircut.


The railway grew over the years eventually a double line was added going completely round the loft, when you came up the ladder you were in the middle of the railway. Every birthday and Christmas more rolling stock was added.

Eventually, we moved house when I was 16 (3 doors down the road) The new house had a much bigger garden and two garages, which somewhat compensated for loosing the railway as I had bought an old Morris Minor Van ready for when I was 17.

We hadn’t completely lost interest in model railways though, we ran a track down the middle wall of the two garages, knocked out a brick or two at each end and added another line running down the wall in the adjoining garage, we were back in business but never to the same degree as before.



The new house with a train running down the garage wall.


After I was married and our son and daughters arrived, I dug out all the railway stuff and built a railway in my garage, and so it continues.












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Answers next week.


There's a phrase for it, but what?




Answers to last weeks quiz.



1. Instrument - Drum
2. Flower - Iris
3. Student - Pupil
4. Tree - Palm
5. Place of worship - Temple
6. To mend - Heal
7. Have it with bacon - Liver
8. An animal - Hare
9. Young deer - Hart
10. Fish - Sole
11. Red ships - Blood vessel
12. They need a hammer - Nails
13. Fit for a king - Crown
14. Find it in a shoe - Tongue
15. An adhesive - Gum
16. Offal - Kidney
17. A shark - Jaws
18. Measurement - Foot
19. Party - Ball
20. Conceited - Vein