Dear Members

Welcome to Newsletter No 16 we hope you are all still keeping safe and well. I presume one of the joys of getting old is looking forward to aches and pains which arrived with a vengeance last week when my back went. Apart from the lingering smell of Deep Heat, I seem to be slowly on the mend. However, all has not been wasted as I found time to look through some old club records and paperwork to put a DHMRS timeline together. This will be a historic record for the club and hopefully be of interest to past and present members alike!
Having made a good start I now need your help with any items you can remember and would like to add, no matter how long or small. I look forward to hearing from you (preferably by email to Phil) with any item of interest ideally with an actual date or the month and year.


Phil and Nigel

Please email all submissions to  or



Recollections of joining De Havilland Model Railway Society


Around the late 1970’s I went to the annual British Aerospace air show and open day and or a DHMRS model railway exhibition. I was hoping to build a layout in my loft and joining a club seemed a good way to find out what to do. Showing some interest, I was invited to come along to club nights and in 1980 I decided to join the de Havilland Model Railway Society. As a non employee I had to be recommended by the Railway club and wait for one of the formal interview days held by the Sports and Social club. I was fortunately accepted and spent the remainder of the evening celebrating in the bar as often happened after club nights. The clubroom was part of a very large wooden shed shared with the Drama group and groundsman’s store, it had previously been used by the RAF during the Second World War. Members you would have known at that time included Colin Thirsk, Eric Fry, Ken Brown, Russ Way and Terry Murphy. There was another Phil who owned a GS bus; (see picture below) his dad was a retired de Havilland employee and club member who was one of the Comet Racer restoration team.



After passing the cutting a piece of wood with a saw test with flying colours!!! I spent many weeks helping Phil and Brian Rolfe building baseboards and legs for Middleton. I moved on to stamping out wooden sleepers for the handmade track under the watchful eye of Denis Moore. This was followed by a move to scenery, supervised by Ken Brown constructing the hills and embankments on Middleton using the well known method of lacing card strips over formers and covering with papier-mâché.
Another duty for the new boy, as the clubroom did not have a water supply was to take a large drum over to the Sports club fill it with water, come back and make tea and coffee.

Phil Bicknell





Railways in India


My last job involved a lot of travel overseas, including India. I only made one railway journey there, however I did manage to get a few photographs of trains which you may find interesting.
The classic shot of commuters on the roofs of trains in the cities I never managed to get, although I did see many commuter trains with their doors open and the passengers taking advantage of the air conditioning. On one trip north of Mumbai to Nasik, the railway climbs alongside the road in places, and I saw an express train with two electric locos at the front and another at the rear. Clinging on to the back of the rear locomotive were three men. Our host quipped “The smoking compartment.”
India is well known for its film industry. On a Saturday when I was working in Hyderabad, we were taken to a film studio about an hour’s drive from the city. The scale of this place was vast, at least as large as the American theme parks. There were fixed sets including a full size replica of the Red Fort and other well known sites. Bollywood films have a set plot based around the hero winning his girl against the wishes of the other side. Scenes require about 100 or so dancers hence the large sets required. Another feature of the plot is that the hero always lands in jail, so there was a street comprising at least four jails. Just the front gates and impressive walls, and plenty of room for more dancing.
Transport was provided for – two part-fuselages for the in air scenes, and two railway stations, one modern and one old school. This was in use on the day so here are some shots of how it looked.





On another trip in 2005 I was staying in Chandigarh, in the North of the country. This is the most northerly province and city in India and is close to the Chinese border. I remember looking out of the plane windows and seeing some impressive snow-covered mountain peaks. Later, I realised these were the Himalayas, so I probably saw Everest amongst them.
On the Saturday we were taken to Kalka to join the 2ft 6in gauge railway to Shimla. This was built for the British Government officials to retreat to the hill station for the Summer, to escape the heat of Calcutta and later Delhi. We were there in January and it was cold. On the Monday following it snowed in Shimla! The railway is a miracle of engineering, twisting and turning to climb 4,656ft in its 96km length. There are around 100 tunnels, many viaducts and virtually no straight track.



Kalka station and one of the 700hp diesel hydraulic locos.



One of the many viaducts which the train has not long crossed.



Our train on another viaduct.



At Barog station, on a 180 degree curve.



Left - Chai is served at several stations on the line.
Right -
 One for the track and signalling aficionados. The platelayers start young in this job…



The views from the train are spectacular. This is one of the more level sections where the train once again changes direction.



Journey’s end. The Himalayan Queen train departing as we arrive in Shimla.


We stayed in a rather fine hotel near the station. That evening we walked up into the main part of the town, and due to the altitude we had to either walk or talk. We couldn’t do both! The next day we went by Land Rover higher up into the national park reaching nearly 10,000 feet.



I will hopefully find the other photos from my India trips and describe some of the other places I visited.






The Trials of a Heritage Railway Cleaner


Saturday 1/11/03

I signed on at 6.30 with Wayne as fireman and Harry as driver on the J94. We were asked to come off shed early to swap Mk 1’s with the DSB’s. This was achieved by pushing the Mk 1’s up past the inner home bracket signal from Platform 2 and then going forward onto the DSB’s in platform 3. With both rakes and the J94 in the middle we went up past the bracket signal again and pushed the DSB’s back into platform 2. Finally pushing the Mk 1’s past the bracket again and then pulling them back into platform 3. The J94 then ran the service with the DSB’s from platform 2.



This was a fairly normal three train day with nothing particular apart from the J94 leaking steam from the steam heating pipe. I fired the second trip and half of the third. Once on shed at 3.50 we had an hour to spare before taking the DSB’s empty down to Peterborough for the fireworks specials. Harry left but John, the replacement driver, was late, as usual. Wayne asked Alan the engineer to move the J94 to the Peterborough end of the DSB’s. The class 14 had pushed the MK 1’s up to the tunnel and reversed back onto the DSB’s to top and tail.

John arrived just in time to take the train to Peterborough. Along the way Wayne lost pressure and therefore the brakes started to drag. The Class 14 had to push us to Peterborough. We had two trips to Ferry Meadows and then waited one and a half hours fro the return trips. Needless to say these were late. We finally ran empty back to Wansford and on shed about 9.45. We finally left at about 10.30. A very long day but we did get free fish and chips whilst we were waiting at Ferry meadows.

Saturday 30/11/03

This was the first of this years Santa’s. I arrived at 5.15. Terry was the driver and Duncan the fireman. Duncan was late so I lit up and carried on as agreed with Duncan.

We were off shed at 10.00 to steam heat the coaches. I fired the first trip but with the class 14 on the other end pulling there was little work to do. The first train was at 11.00, then 12.20 which Duncan fired. The last train was at 14.00 and I fired. We were on shed at 3.20 and I left by 4.30.



Saturday 20/12/03

I expected this to be my last day for the time being as, due to changes at work, I doubted if I would have the time to do any more turns.

Today Wayne and I left at 4.25 and arrived at 5.25. I helped Wayne light up the Swedish ‘B’ no. 101 before Eddie arrived at 7.15 and told me I was firing Thomas with him. I thought that Matt was to be Duncan’s firemen, as told to Wayne by Gerald, the loco superintendent. I lit up Thomas and as Matt didn’t arrive assumed that Gerald was wrong.

101 was first off shed to steam heat the stock. Thomas sat in platform 1 and steam heated the coach used as a Santa store. After the first train at 9.40 Thomas ran up and down the yard. Eddie let me drive up and down the yard three times. My first and possibly last drive. We then sat on the coach for the rest of the day apart from taking water.

We disposed as the last service train left at 15.20 and I waited for 101 to return on the last train at 16.30. I helped Wayne dispose and we left at 17.30.

Not a very exciting day.










The following article appeared in the Welwyn Hatfield Times 1st October 1987



CROWDS made tracks for the model railway exhibition organised by the de Havilland Model Railway Society on Saturday.
Over 700 people visited the British Aerospace sports club to see the models, lovingly crafted by local members of the society and other guest exhibitors who came to Hatfield from as far away as Milton Keynes and even Bideford in Devon!



The society, which is part of British Aerospace sports club, presents the exhibition every two years. “I don’t think we could manage any more than that. It is hard work,” said organiser and society secretary Colin Thirsk.
However, the bi-annual event has been going since 1965 and the club since before that.
There were 15 exhibitors showing off their creations this year, of ages ranging from 17-years-old Ian Murphy of Hatfield to ‘retired’ modeller Denys Brownlee.



The age of the crowd was equally varied; bemused two-year-olds watched alongside those old enough to be their great-grandparents.
“Despite all the hard work, it is a very happy and enjoyable day” said Mr Thirsk. “We will probably be doing the same in two years time. Although we always say ‘never again’ we always do”

Words by Natalie Martin
Pictures by Andy Wright



Young Mark Bicknell showing his father how to operate Havil



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Answers in the next Newsletter.




Answers to last weeks Quiz.


(1)Name the longest heritage railway in England? West Somerset Railway: 23 miles.

(2) In which city was a brick sculpture called train unveiled in June 1997? 

(3) How were road vehicles powered in Thomas the Tank Engine?

(4) Name the UK' most northerly railway station? 

(5) With which train is Oliver Postgate associated?
 Ivor the Engine

(6) At which London station did Sir Gilbert Scott build his Grand Midland Hotel? 
St Pancras

(7) Where has the only class 15 locomotive been preserved? 
East Lancashire Railway.

(8) “Sitting in a railway station with a ticket for my destination” is a line from which Simon and Garfunkel song? 
Homeward Bound

(9) At which London station do trains from Reading terminate? 
Paddingon & Waterloo

(10) In which European Capital is Tara Street station? 
Dublin, Ireland

(11) Which station recently made headline news with a 'kissing ban'? 
Warrington Bank Quay

(12) Why was the Weymouth harbour branch unique in the UK? 
Street running

(13) When was the last cross channel rail-ferry service in operation? 
Final Night Ferry service was 31st October 1980

(14) What is the distance between Lakeside and Haverthwaite station (to the 0.5 mile). 
3.5 miles

(15) In the film Titfield Thunderbolt 'Mallingford Station' was actually....?
 Bristol Temple Meads

(16) Which famous railway line features in ITV's - 'Heartbeat.' 
North Yorkshire Moors Railway

(17) Today what class of locomotive is used as a banking engine on the Lickey Incline? 
Class 66

(18) In what year did Shap Railway Station close? 

(19) In the USA brake Van/Guards van is known as? 

(20) What stock is used on the Isle of Wight public railway? 
British Rail Class 483 ex-tube stock