Dear Members

Pleased to say we are back after our short break, you will see this week our appeal for more contributors has been a success; but don't stop....keep them coming.
We have now received some feedback from the church and a meeting is proposed to discuss the way forward bearing in mind the everchanging lockdown restrictions.
The weather has turned colder, leaves are falling from the trees,the natural reminder that Autumn has arrived and its time to start thinking about this years AGM. In view of lockdown this may well have to be a virtual one together with virtual fish and chips!  Your committee are currently looking at ways of achieving this, so please watch this space and look out for emails from our Secretary. Remember its your club and the AGM is your chance to have your say with any ideas and thoughts on how the committee run the club.
In the meantime keep safe as always.


Phil and Nigel

Please email all submissions to  or



802102 skirts the sea wall at Dawlish, working 1A87 from Paignton to London Paddington on Friday 11th September 2020


A Twenty first Century Trainspotter. Part 1


So then what can you make out from the title of this feature. Well the first point I can probably think up is: What is he implying? For those of you who don’t know me, my Name is Lance McDonald and I have been attending the model railway club here in Welwyn for a couple of months down, post lockdown due to the current situation with the pandemic. I am currently an employee on the railways of the great northern and I’m truly blessed that I can enjoy a role which is close enough to what my dream job would’ve been.
Dream job you’re asking? Well going back to the title of this article, and who knows this may turn out to be a few articles in the future, but just like any other dream we all have, they start off from something which is of high interest to us. I title this article as ‘A twenty first century Trainspotter’ because where we are now has a story to tell, and the story which people can tell of how they have got to where they’re now, can in nearly all cases be useful for other people who maybe aiming to achieve the same or close to what the original person has achieved.
The first question that will come to everybody’s mind is: Why Trainspotting? Well if you’re sitting comfortably and relaxed, with whatever beverage you may have available, I’m hoping to be able to explain to you my story and what made me have the interest I have today for the railways of Britain. See for those who know me now, this interest didn’t start out the way you would expect if to be. The railway has played quite a considerable part within my life, and at times I wasn’t even expecting it to be a part of my life.
I think what people need to understand is that trainspotting is a hobby, its and interest, it keeps you out of trouble (you hope) and you can gain a lot from it. Can you? When I was a toddler and the days when I was being pushed around in my pushchair by my mother, (Yes we were all there at one time), when it came to travelling by train, this turned out to be a complete and utter nightmare. I would cry frantically and shout to mum: ‘TAKE ME HOME NOW PLEASE’ It was a case of me begging all because of the trains. This was when network southeast was still the predominate train operating company which was in charge of the entirety of the east Anglia region and the southwest. So it wasn’t really the network southeast units which were the issues, it was more the then Valenta powered HSTs on the east coast main line.


Invasion of greater anglia on the great northern. 755410 passing Royston working 5Q93 from Norwich to Hornsey. 


Hitchin will be known to many of you and to this day, my father is PWAY at the now Network rail depot at Hitchin. Back in the days of my toddler years this was under the name of Jarvis or Railtrack and time and time again, my mother would go to Hitchin to meet my father just outside the station and wait for my father to arrive at the station before heading back to Royston. Royston is where I am from by the way. After this we would head back to the station where all the fun would begin once more. I was horrified I would be screaming, sweating buckets and just wondering please don’t let a HST go by before our train home. I didn’t such mind the class 365 and then class 317 units but hated everything else.
That dreaded moment would come. An intercity swallow HST power car appears round the corner. I didn’t know it was described as that back then, because I’d think mother would be quite shocked if a toddler was describing a HST power car to her at that young of an age. As this HST screams around the corner, oh no the screaming starts from me and as the carriages speed on by at 125mph the screaming from me just keeps on coming. The HST disappears into the afternoon but there’s me still screaming I HATE IT I HATE IT. It was the same reaction as somebody also falling off a cliff edge and still screaming from that day six months after it happened.
So you get the understanding that as a little person, I didn’t really like trains at all. Well as you can fully witness now, that has completely changed. So back to my original question of: Why trainspotting?
I just like all of you reading this beginning of potentially a series of articles, truly do enjoy the railways and what it has to offer. My interest of trains began within my younger years around 10 to 11 and since then it took off rapidly. Despite all the hardships faced of being classed as ‘different’, I still kept going with the passion and interest I have for the railways of not just Britain, but in other country’s to which if this article takes off, I’m more than happy to explore upon.


66737 passes Water Orton working 6G16 loaded ballast from Cliffe Hill Stud Farm to Bescot Up yard on the 21st June 2019.


Trainspotting has well and truly continued to thrive within the twenty first century and sometimes it can really open some great surprises. For me it was something I hated to begin with but now it continues to be a huge interest. The railways gave me interest into the working of the railways, the locations which can provide stunning shots, railway modelling, making great friends and so so much more meets the eye. For me I’m not one for being stuck inside all day and if I can, I will get out and snap some trains, from the common units, to the most unusual of workings.
As we continue through the twenty first century, trainspotting and general interest of the railways by many people, has continued to prosper and as current times how, the railway and its people is a lifeline in running the country and also supplying its people. The railways have always been a huge part in who I am today and it has also played a part in making me who I am today too and it was be the case for many other enthusiasts too. There’s nothing different about being a trainspotter, because the way I can describe it is that it’s a hobbies like all other hobbies. My friend Daniel. His favourite hobby maybe artwork. Steve his favourite hobby maybe singing. But the main factor is that trainspotting to this day is still a harmless and enjoyable hobby for many.
So as a Twenty first century Trainspotter Why do I keep going despite where I began?
If you enjoy it and you’re abiding by the rules and terms then don’t let anything stop what you enjoy the most. I’ve only just touched upon my story of how I became interested in the railways, but as I have emphasised, if other members find articles like this of interest, then many more maybe heading to your screens in the not too distant future.
I am a twenty first century trainspotter and railway enthusiast and this may only be the very beginning of potential more to come in the future.



66528 approaches Manea working 4L87 from Leeds F.L.T to Felixstowe North F.L.T on Friday 20th March 2020.









So, having built the base board you will now need to refer back to your design plan and work out what track you will need if you haven’t already done so. There are of course many different makes of track and I will leave you to research these and decide which one you prefer.

The most common are Hornby and Peco. Hornby is where many people start as they have probably started with a Hornby train set at some time. Hornby points however can be problematic. The point blades can come adrift and unless you want to have to relay the track regularly they are not recommended.

I will assume that you don’t want to try and make your own track not least because assembling the points and ensuring that your soldering is up to standard will result in burnt fingers and the point blades coming adrift every time the points are changed.

At this stage we will assume that you are going to use Peco track because I am not going to go through all the rest of the options and potential problems. I recommend buying the track from KS models in Stevenage because Ray has told me to. So now the time has arrived to refer to your plan and try the track on the base board. You did draw a full size plan or at least a scale one didn’t you? If you only have the sketch you drew on the back of an envelope you will now discover that you cannot fit Kings Cross onto a 6×2 base board. Even if you did a full size or scale plan no matter how carefully you drew it you will still discover that somehow the plan will still not fit onto the baseboard. I cannot explain this. It is just one of sods many laws that we just have to accept.

So now to compromise. You can just about fit four platform roads onto the board and so maybe represent just part of Kings Cross with the rest assumed to be off the front of the board. However, the complicated point work that you envisaged with several double slips, cross overs etc. will have to go. Even with much simplified point work and compromises, with arrival and departure roads having to be used for both arrivals and departures, the platform lengths will only just about take three coaches and a tender loco. Your dreams of running twelve coach expresses with an A4 on the front have just disappeared. Never mind it’s your layout and you will have to accept in your mind that it’s really a twelve coach train.

The next thing that you will discover is that if you are going to use under board point motors the cross members that you carefully cut, screwed and glued in place are now in the way of the point motors. There are options here. The point motors can be mounted above the board if you have space between the tracks and hidden somehow or you could use the side mounted point motors which are somewhat smaller. The last option is to turn the board upside down and try and move the cross members. With all the glue and six inch screws you used this is not recommended. I will leave you to work out the best way for you. (try not to cry at this stage. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable hobby).



So now it’s time to start to pin the track down hopefully in the right place. Glueing the track down is not recommended as we shall see shortly. You will almost certainly need to cut the track to length to fit (no not the points. Are you really trying to give yourself yet more problems?). There are several ways of doing this and probably the best is with a cutter made for the purpose. (no advertising here not least because I can’t spell Xuron). Using a junior hack saw will work and produces wonderfully corrugated ends as well. Using other saws, cutters etc. may result in unrepairable damage to both yourself and the track.

With the track laid it is now time to fit the point motors under the board. Assuming that you are using Peco point motors you will find that there are two ways to mount these. The first is to drill a small hole through the board such that the pin on the point motor fits into the tie bar. The second is to cut a larger hole and mount the point motor directly underneath the point. You can see what is coming here can’t you. Yes either way you will have to lift the point to drill or cut the hole. Now you know why I told you not to glue the track down. I could have mentioned this earlier but I just thought that you would need to learn the hard way.

If you use the long pin method you will need to screw the point motor underneath the board. There is a small adapter to help with this but either way you will later discover when you have wired up the motor that it will not change the point. This is because the motor must be at exactly 90 degrees to the point tie bar. 89 or 91 will not do. You will then need to crawl underneath the board to try and move the screws about 1mm. Now you can see that cutting a larger hole may be the better option but then you will have problems when you come to ballast the track of which more anon.

With the track hopefully now all back in place it is a good idea to weather the rails and sleepers. There are several paints available such as rust, track colour etc. but in all honestly these are all just brown, so save some money and buy a cheap acrylic or pot from the DIY store. However, an aerosol spray is quite useful as it will save a lot of time. I am sure that Ray at KS Models (second advert Ray. You owe me) will sell you one.

When spraying the track it is recommended that you carefully mask anything that you don’t want brown including your fingers. It is also a good idea to mask the point blades and stock rails unless you want to spend many happy hours cleaning the paint off later to obtain electrical contact. A small paint brush is advised here.

With the track painted and dried it is now time to ballast the track. I should mention here that you don’t have to paint or ballast the track. If you don’t you will have a train set and not a model railway but it is your choice and probably no one else will ever see it anyway.

There are several different ways to ballast the track but the most usual is to add the ballast (available from KS models. Wow that’s three) around the track and then glue in place with a mixture of PVA adhesive, water and washing up liquid. The later to help clean your hands afterwards. The mixture should be 50/50 (no not the washing up liquid. It’s bad enough that you have already purloined it from the kitchen without the household authorities knowing). The mix should then be carefully dropped onto the ballast using a suitable dropper or syringe, preferably not a used one. (No KS advert this time. I’ve done enough). I did mention keeping it away from the point blades etc. didn’t I? If not see paint removal above only the glue is worse. Of course, if you cut the large holes for the point motors you won’t have this problem because the ballast will all fall through onto the floor anyway.

At this point it is time to let it all dry and have several cups of tea whilst you think about how wonderful the scenery you have in mind will look. Before you do that however, wiring the track and points followed by testing is quite a good idea and we will consider this in the next article.

If you have read this far you are well on your way to producing a wonderful model railway (not).

Happy modelling.






Peter Grafton’s book ‘Men of the LNER’, gives a brief mention of Middleton in Teesdale LNER station on page 70 , 1982 edition. In the passage below he is discussing LNER stationmasters in the 1930’s and 40’s and presumably BR Eastern Region stationmasters in the 1950’s:

‘There were, at the time, six grades of station, grade six being the lowest. No doubt the quality of life at a grade five or six was very good, but if more salary was required then promotion had to be sought. But here a man could be caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Up until nationalisation the railway company allowed stationmasters to act as agents for the supply of coal from a local colliery. Local people would buy the coal and pay the stationmaster. Then the system was changed and the stationmaster bought the coal from the colliery and sold it at a profit. There were some very good ‘coal’ stations on the LNER and Bob [Tait] named Middleton in Teesdale and Bedale as examples. It is not difficult to to appreciate the reluctance of a man to move from say a grade four station with a brisk coal trade to a grade three station without any coal concessions – quite obviously it could cost him money. On the other hand, when looking for promotion, a station with an engine shed attached was an attractive proposition because this brought an automatic increase in salary.’

Presumably, prior to nationalisation, LNER stationmasters acted as agents for the colliery and received a commission on the coal sales they facilitated. After nationalisation they acted as coal merchants in their own right.




de Havilland MRS members may like to read the following article found in the October 2020 Welwyn Hatfield Times Magazine.


de Havilland
100 years on

The de Havilland Aircraft Company was founded 100 years ago, Alan Davies looks at the history of the former Hatfield firm.
Click the picture below to read the full article.












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



Answers next week.


1.    What were the names of the Darling children in JM Barrie's "Peter Pan"?

2.    What spirit is used to make the "Margarita" cocktail?

3.    Dying 31 days after taking office, who is the shortest serving US President?

4.    In which US State was the series "Breaking Bad" predominantly set?

5.    Which songs with "Blue" in the title were UK top twenty hits for the following artists,[a] The  Marcels (1961), [b] David Bowie (1984), [c] Bobby Vinton (1990), [d] White Stripes (2005) and [e] Don Partridge (1968)?

6.    On which of the Great Lakes does the US city of Milwaukee sit?

7.    Which TV soap opera that first aired in December 1979 was a spin off from Dallas?

8.    What is couscous made from?

9.    Who was the first British woman to win two athletic Gold Medals at the same Olympic Games?

10. In the title of the Harry Potter book, who was the Half-Blood Prince?

11. Which airport has the code ORD?

12. Which four comedians made up the original Goons?

13. In the name of the comic books, what does DC stand for?

14. What is the freezing point of water on the Kelvin temperature scale?

15. What is the real first name of Motown star Smokey Robinson?

16. Who is the only British Prime Minister to have graduated from a university outside the UK?

17. What does the K in the author Jerome K Jerome name stand for?

18. Apart from Wembley (old and new), which eight venues have hosted FA Cup Finals (not replays)?

19. Which former Beatle released his first solo album entitled "Sentimental Journey" in 1970?

20. In 2020, Thomas the Tank Engine celebrates what birthday?



Answers to last weeks Quiz.


  • 1. Charles "Charlie" Carson.

  • 2. Four.

  • 3. 1973

  • 4. Llandudno.

  • 5. [a] "Summer", reached no 1, [b] "Summer Set', no 5, [c] "Summertime", no 7, [d] "Summer Nights", no 1 and [e] "Summer of '42", no 14.

  • 6. Beri-beri.

  • 7. Liver.

  • 8. Somerset.

  • 9. Gianluca Vialli.

  • 10. Chemistry (1954) & Peace (1962).

  • 11. Lusitania.

  • 12. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

  • 13. Stasi.

  • 14. Stephanie Meyer.

  • 15. Keke Rosberg (1982), Mika Hakkinen (1998 & 1999) and Kimi Raikkonen (2007).

  • 16. Dean Martin.

  • 17. Norfolk.

  • 18. Alan Ayckbourn.

  • 19. Lake Michigan.
  • 20. (Cardiff) Wales.