Dear Members. Welcome to Newsletter No 3 we hope you are all keeping safe and well. Are you finding something of interest to read and see.
We would still like to see more contributions on any subject past or present! 

Please email all submissions to  or
We look forward to hearing from you
Phil and Nigel 




Julian sent us this picture - How things have changed.







A4's and Deltics for sale,
£1 each 3 for £2
Contact Ray



Barry's loco identified.


Barry’s loco is definitely the old Kitmaster dock tank, I built and had one for years. It was motorised by the kitmaster motorised box van. - Cheers Julian 




One Foot in the Smoke box
The Trials of a Heritage Railway Cleaner

Number 2

 On 11th August 2002 it was time for a second go.

Up at 4am and left at 4.50 I arrived at 5.50 and found the gate locked. However, the Fireman Andy soon arrived and after signing in we set about lighting up 92 Squadron. No sign of the driver as yet. The only wood was suitably wet and so took a while to start burning despite several doses of flammable liquids.

Having helped Andy light up I set about some cleaning, something I had not previously done. 92 Squadron is washed by its own team so the only cleaning was of the wheels and other lower parts.  Care was taken not to get paraffin in the dips in the wheels because, as I am sure that you all know, this could be thrown into the lagging with a disastrous pyrotechnic result, as sometimes happened in service on the Southern Region.

This was a Thomas the Tank Engine weekend aka Dora as Thomas’ sister so a non-standard timetable was in operation. (Thomas was out of ticket at this time awaiting repairs).

Now let me introduce you to Malcolm the driver for today, and of course also the loco superintendent, and for ever known to me as ‘mad Malcolm’. As befits his superior position he deemed fit to turn up at about 7.30 and then let Andy do most of the oiling, whilst he wandered off to the office on, I am sure, extremely important business.

He arrived back at 10.00 just in time to go off shed. We duly backed onto the train in platform 2 ready for a 10.30 departure to Yarwell. At 10.30 we headed of for Yarwell with Malcolm duly opening up 92 Squadron to give a satisfying roar and ensuring Andy would be kept busy for the rest of the day.

Emerging from the tunnel we headed towards Yarwell loop where Malcolm slammed on the brakes to stop the train short of the loop points which were set for the run round. It transpired that the continental coaching stock had been stored in the loop during the previous day and retrieved by Derek the diesel at the end of normal running. However, no one had returned the point to its correct position. Having reset the point we proceeded into the loop and set about running round. This was the first time I had done this at Yarwell. Now Malcolm believes in saving the cleaners from walking too far and so stops with the bogie or tender wheels actually on the points.

Arriving back at Wansford I collected the Orton Mere staff plus Peterborough tablet from the signalman and was informed that Orton Mere box was open. (no one knows why as nothing is scheduled to pass there but this seems to open most weeks. I suppose it gives the signalman practice and something to do.) Now this means that for the first train of the day the cleaner i.e. yours truly has to hang precariously out of the cab to hand the Wansford to Orton Mere staff to the signalman and collect the tablet hoop for the Orton Mere to Peterborough token whilst the fireman shows the tablet to the signalman.

Now as you can imagine this was a new and somewhat difficult thing to achieve and having tried to grab the hoop it decided to slip from my grasp and trundle off under the coach wheels, fortunately without serious damage. Now as we had the tablet we didn’t really need the hoop but the signalman duly carried it the full length of the platform. As I said previously they have nothing better to do.

Once at Peterborough we unhooked and ran round taking due care to carefully watch progress over the far end points which appear to want to change as soon as 92 Squadron touches them. It was at this point that I decided Malcolm was mad and cared little for health and safety. Andy and I had both climbed down to check the points. Malcolm set off at a tidy pace leaving Andy first and then me to chase the fast disappearing steps and clamber on board. Once again Malcolm stopped with the bogie partially on the loop points. O well it saves my legs even if not when running after the loco!

An uneventful return to Wansford apart from Malcolm demonstrating how to reach 40 mph from a standing start at Ferry Meadows in 0.2 seconds!

At Wansford we arrived in platform 3, the continental stock having been removed by the diesel to Yarwell, so that platform 2 could be used by Dora’s shuttle to Yarwell topped and tailed by Derek the diesel. Once we were unhooked 75006 (an Austerity Industrial ex WD) backed onto the other end to take the train back to Peterborough. After departure we ambled across the river bridge and back into platform 2 to park by the station building to await our next turn of duty.

It was by now about 12.15 and Malcolm disappeared as soon as we stopped for lunch. Andy and I retrieved our refreshments from the lockers on the tender and had lunch perched in the cab. Now it came to light that none of us actually knew the time of the next train. I wondered round to look at a blackboard propping up the fence outside the booking office to see that the next train was at 1.30.

At about 1.00 75006 returned and the signalman waited for us to back onto the rear of the train but of course Malcolm was nowhere to be seen! In due course after much whistling by Andy (loco whistle that is!), Malcolm sauntered back at about 1.20 and we eventually backed onto the train and hooked on.

We set off once more with Malcolm saying little, Andy firing – no go for me today other than when standing at Wansford – and me contemplating another tablet change at Orton Mere. However, this time I got it right having learnt that the art is to keep your eye on the hoop and forget about what the signalman is doing.

Another hectic run round at Peterborough (run of course being the operative word) and a rapid return to Wansford for another hour or so rest in Platform 2. Malcolm duly disappeared again returning at the last possible moment.

Orton Mere loomed again and I set about collecting the token for the third and last time that day. Wow! The hoop successfully arrived on my arm and then equally successfully managed to bounce off again heading as before towards the coaches. Having told Malcolm that I had dropped the token he told me to drop off at the platform. What he didn’t tell me was that he wasn’t going to slow down first. As someone said to me at Peterborough that was the first time they had seen someone accelerate to 50 mph from a standing start! Having collected the token from where it lay on the track I ran back to loco amidst the expected happy banter such as butter fingers etc.

Peterborough came and went as before and we duly returned to Wansford into platform 3 for the last time. After uncoupling we were off to go on shed. Malcolm told Andy to drop off by the bridge to work the yard entry ground frame. I was pleased that he did as I was by now rather tired and past leaping from a moving loco amidst the track work by the bridge.

Once on shed Malcolm soon disappeared leaving Andy and I to clean the smoke box, fire, ash pans etc. Fortunately 92 Squadron is fairly easy for this with a rocking grate and hopper ash pan.

And so another eventful day came to an end and I headed home suitably impressed.






By Phil Bicknell


Thought you may like to know how it came about that I have in my garage  my other car, that some of you have even seen! (under the duvets)
Some years ago the opportunity arose for me to consider buying a classic car. In the Spring of 1997 I went to the annual classic car show held at Alexandra Palace with a Triumph TR6 in mind. I saw a yellow one that looked ok and it was just being shown to another potential buyer. The bonnet was opened and 'the Boy' must have been told to paint the engine and everything else under the bonnet matt black - it looked dreadful, I walked away.I also found out that any decent car started at £11k.
I then saw a green MGB GT for sale (£7000) which had been modernised and souped up by a company called Oselli who some of you may have heard of. It looked good,but being a complete novice I sought advice from a stand by the North London MG Owners Club who also had a green MGB GT on show, it was filled with balloons to guess the number for charity etc. they said the Oselli conversion was fine as a modern car but not for the purist or when you try to resell it. They then told me that the owner of the car on their stand was thinking of selling it as he was building a MGB roadster and could not afford to keep both. When he returned ,you know what good friends are like - 'Here Eric we have a buyer for your car!!'
Poor Eric looked totally flabergasted that he may lose his baby sooner than he thought. I was shown round the car, it was immaculate and you knew it was his pride and joy. I was given first refusal to buy it but he insisted I brought my family the following Monday to their club night held at Botany Bay cricket club to see and drive the car.
The rest is history,we arrived early various MG's arrived my children kept saying is it that one? when it arrived they all (including Penny) just said its that one buy it. a week later he drove it to my house I gave him £7000 the car was mine, Eric stayed for a couple of hours he was sad to leave it.



So there you have it a 1970 MGB GT which had been restored and finished in 1991 by Eric who sadly passed away last year. It has the original body   some new panels etc as you would expect. The car had been painted with 14 coats of dark British Racing Green using Cellulose paint. she looked fabulous and in fact still does. I soon had the head of the Gold Seal 1798cc engine converted to run on the new unleaded petrol.
More photos of the car taken this March for insurance purposes can be seen by clicking 
If you are still interested,next time the saga continues, in the meantime above is a picture taken at a well known heritage railway.





Holiday Journey to Butlin’s, summer 1964
by Ian Bunting


Not having a car our week or fortnight family summer holidays were usually spent in Butlin holiday camps where there was both plenty of entertainment and activity sports without leaving the camp. Starting in 1952 we visited Skegness, Bognor Regis, Clacton and Pwllheli all several times, with the latter being our favourite. For once I had a camera with me and was able to take holiday snaps on our very last Butlin’s holiday in 1964. The camera was pretty basic. Only two aperture settings and no tripod.
We left from Leigh-on-Sea on the Fenchurch Street line (near Southend) and crossing London by underground arrived at Paddington station, where my mother worked during the war.
There were three ways to reach Pwllheli by train in those days and we used all three. One could travel using the old LNWR route via Euston and the Welsh north coast through Llandudno and Caernarvon joining the Cambrian at Afon Wen. Passengers on summer Saturday expresses in BR days did not usually have to change trains here although locomotives usually were. It was quite usual for trains from Caernarvon  to arrive at Afon Wen and then be split with part continuing on to Pwllheli and part to Portmadoc and beyond. My favourite memory of this route was when our returning train was seriously delayed in North Wales and the driver made desperate efforts to regain time to prevent being held up in the bottle neck outside Euston. He failed but my father and myself were timing the gaps between telegraph posts and estimated our speed at 92 mph whilst my poor mother was trying to pour tea. She succeeded in ruining the restaurant car white table cloth and the driver failed to make sufficient time up and we were held for some time outside Euston.
After closure part of the track bed was eventually taken over by preservationists from Caernarvon to Dinas. Dinas just seemed to be a number of farm buildings when I remember it in 1964. Whilst the Welsh Highland part of this route is fairly straight the not preserved section further south became quite rocky and necessitated some very sharp curves and a close encounter with a small dynamite works, probably just a powder store for quarrymen.
The second route was from Paddington eventually through the Dee Valley via Ruabon, Llangollen and Barmouth Junction (Morfa Mawddach) joining the Cambrian coast line. Parts of this closed line are now occupied by the Bala Lake Railway and the Llangollen Railway, preserving some of the best scenery on this route. My sister and I were very young when we used this route the once only and I remember my father allowing us to sip his beer as there was little refreshment available. My first ever taste of alcohol.
The third route was also from Paddington eventually via the Cambrian with usually an engine change at Shrewsbury. This is the one remaining rail route to Pwllheli and my photographic journey in 1964 commenced at Paddington. Ten years later I returned with my new wife and an SLR camera with some colour slide film stock. The following seven black and white shots were taken in 1964 and except for the first, from the moving train.



97XX condensing tank to work on the underground.                           GWR prairie tank.


I was pleased to cop the 97XX condensing tank at Paddington as there were only eleven of them, the first being an adaption of a 57XX class engine.



97XX tank outside Fyffes Bananas warehouse.                            LMS Black 5?


I am somewhat confused as to which actual route we took after all these years. If we were using the Cambrian Coast Express we should have gone via Princes Risborough but I thought Fyffes  warehouse was near Reading and I also remember later seeing Didcot engine sheds on the left hand side of the train. Thus we must have been routed via Oxford. Unfortunately we passed Didcot quite quickly and I missed my chance of a photograph.



5700 GWR tank in later 84XX series                 GWR Hall?                                 7829 Ramsbury Manor


I remember passing the Talyllyn Railway at Towyn with apparently two locomotives present. Eventually we arrived at Afon Wen with its three platform faces and two steel footbridges, one at each end of the platforms. As I recall there was no road access or frontage, the station being purely for interchange.  Trains arriving from Caernarvon used the furthest platform face on the left in the picture below where the LMS engine was taken off and one possibly of GWR origin added for the journey beyond, hence the water columns.









Back in 2011 my cousin Gordon ran the very posh Tides Inn Hotel in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. A good friend of his was restoring a 1911 Maxwell car, but having done the bulk of the work had gone onto other projects. His brother Martin and I decided that it would be a good idea to bring it to the UK and complete the job. Another friend runs a business buying old Jags, mainly E Types and repatriating them back to the country of their birth. To do this he uses containers and builds ramps out of heavy timber to enable 3 or 4 cars at a time can be carried. We took advantage of this and squeezed the old Maxwell in with some of his Jags.
To complete the restoration started in Virginia we had to fabricate a Windscreen, make a hood and get the temperamental vehicle running more reliably. A few other details had to be completed and the list grew as we went along.
The biggest problem was the hood bows, the bent wood that supports the material and hinges up and down. I spent quite a bit of time studying videos on You Tube, on one video a guy with a similar car said that he had sourced the bows from the Amish in Pennsylvania. Now it’s not easy to contact the Amish but I put Gordon onto the job. Somehow. he found that although they don’t have TV or computers they do have telephone. To cut a long story short he managed to get their catalogue which was hand written with hand drawn diagrams, the prices were ridiculously cheap as well. Having purchased all the bits we needed they had to be loaded into the next E Type coming to England in another container.
The car never was reliable, the cart brakes worked on the back wheels only, it had a top speed of 30mph and broke down every time we went out in it. It now resided in Italy.


If you want to see more pictures of the restoration click HERE.