Dear Members

We have had fireworks, the first frosts and piles of leaves on the pathways – welcome to winter!

To add to this cheer we now have a second Lockdown. Whoever would have thought back in April when we started our de Havilland Model Railway Society newsletter that we would reach the 30th edition. This week we have still managed to put together some very interesting items, photos and quiz. What better way to ease you into the colder months ahead grab a cuppa and read on.

In order to keep the newsletter going can we remind you that we would still welcome any stories, articles, photos etc. you would like to share with other members.

In closing this is a final call for any issues you would like to raise for the AGM.

Keep safe

Phil and Nigel

PS many thanks to Keith for solving my CDU problem
     and Arthur for the item on the MG Old Speckled Hen - my sealed bid is in.

PPS you are all invited to the World of Railways Virtual Exhibition this weekend

Free entry - just click on the link in the newsletter


Please email all submissions to  or



The Basingstoke Canal & Deepcut Railway


Whilst many preservation societies have built narrow gauge railways in recent years, few have found it necessary to construct temporary tramways for engineering purposes. Perhaps the most famous temporary tramway in the preservation world must be that involved with the construction of the Festiniog’s deviation which created a spiral and tunnel. The largest temporary tramway, certainly in modern times, must be that built for the Channel Tunnel project. The Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society’s Deepcut Railway is much less well known.

In 1975 this society commenced the restoration of the Basingstoke Canal and found it necessary to build a temporary two foot (actually 1’ 11½”) temporary tramway to transport materials where road access was difficult. At its largest it reached nearly two miles in length on he southern bank of the canal and ran between Deepcut and Pirbright. Its exact position and layout varied over time as canal preservation work moved along the course of the canal.

In the same year I moved into the area to teach at a local college and as it happened one of my colleagues was in charge of the society’s steam dredger whilst another was an acknowleged expert and author concerning the social aspects of canal history. Not surprisingly I soon joined the society although I was unfortunately too busy with a young family and career to undertake much active involvement.


The Basingstoke Canal


In 1769 agricultural merchants in Basingstoke proposed a canal link with London for the transport of their goods and the return traffic of coal. Plans were finalised in 1776 and the Basingstoke Canal Navigation Company was authorised by an Act of 1778. Capital was difficult to raise because of the financial climate created by the American War of Independence. The company appointed William Jessop as surveyor and consultant engineer. Building commenced in 1788 but further financial difficulties delayed completion until 1794.

The canal was a financial failure, traffic never justifying a dividend, whilst plans to connect it to Andover, Southampton and later the Kennet and Avon, never matured. It was reported that “men navigating their own barges scarcely earn a subsistence” and bankruptcies amongst them were common. Traffic did expand at certain times, such as during the Napoleonic Wars and the building of the London and Southampton Railway (which the canal crosses via the four arch Frimley Aqueduct) in the late 1830’s. In the late 1850’s the building of nearby Aldershot military camp created further new traffic. The original company went into liquidation in 1866 from which time the canal changed hands fifteen times and went into receivership four more times, ceasing operation entirely in 1932 when part of Greywell Tunnel collapsed.

In 1949, at the prompting of the Inland Waterways Association, it was acquired by what became known as the New Basingstoke Canal Company Ltd., but it only made money by supplying water to various customers. The canal deteriorated until the preservation society became active.

The canal was originally 37½ miles in length and had 29 locks allowing barges of up to 82’ 6” by 14’ 6” by 3’ 6” draught and 5’ headroom, carrying up to 50 tons. It connects with the Wey Navigation to reach the Thames. The Wey River was improved in 1651-3 as a navigation with 13 locks to enable water-borne trade between Guildford and London. The Greywell Tunnel, near Basingstoke, was 1,200 yards long. After its collapse the land from the tunnel to Basingstoke was sold off and developed (i.e. built on). This included the arm of the canal which served a brickworks at Up Nately, which closed in 1901.

Passing close to Pirbright, Deepcut and Aldershot army camps, large numbers of soldiers have practised river crossings across the canal. Trainee parartroopers are still required to walk across the narrow top girders of one of the canal’s bridges to enhance their sense of balance and self confidence.


The Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society


This was formed in 1966 to promote the restoration of the canal. As a result Hampshire Council acquired the western portion of the canal in 1973, and in 1975 Surrey Council acquired the remainder. Restoration itself was undertaken by the canal society.
Restoration involved much more than simply dredging the bottom of the canal. Locks had to be completely rebuilt, banks, weirs and towpaths restored, vegetation cleared, pounds dug out and the water flow reinstated. In places the canal had completely dried up due to the collapse of banks and the loss of the canal lining. The latter is created by a manual process called “puddling”, which is literally coating the surface and banks of the canal with wet clay. Before this very messy and arduous job can be undertaken the canal has to be dammed up to exclude the water.

Building a lock is a major bricklaying exercise and the massive gates have to be built elsewhere and then moved into position. In one particularly inaccessible place the society arranged for an army helicopter to lower a gate into position, but the plan had to be scrapped because the society could not afford the insurance premium required for the helicopter.



The Deepcut Railway


In 1975 the Railway Group was formed to provide transport where access by road or boat was not feasible. Initially short lengths of 2’ track were laid and skips manually pushed along these to the nearest road access.

Although not close enough to count as a flight of locks there are 13 of them in the 3 miles of canal just east of Deepcut. For most of these locks the best road access was at Curzon Bridge, which roughly bisects this length (see my rough sketch above). To transport out the spoil and move in the bricks, ballast, timber, sand and cement needed to rebuild these locks the Deepcut 2’ railway was built in 1977, centred on Curzon Bridge. A single line was built along the towpath with short spurs to act as sidings at each of the locks requiring major reconstruction. Passing loops were installed at Curzon Bridge and at the mid-point of each length either side.

Track and rolling stock were hired from eight different sources, including sewage and water works. Stock included V-shaped skips, an 18’ bogie flat wagon, short flat wagons and two open man-riding trucks.

At nearly two miles in length and with gradients as severe as 1 in 18, some form of mechanical power was felt to be desirable. A 20hp four wheeled diesel locomotive was purchased from M. E. Engineering Ltd. It was Hunslet No. 1944 built in 1939 and at the time the oldest Hunslet diesel in regular operation. It had previously been operated by Enfield Rolling Mills Ltd. The society fitted it out with a generator, lights (for night operation) and two horns.

To house the diesel and maintain it a shed was built at Curzon Bridge. To facilitate road interchange sidings were laid there and two loading chutes were installed so that sand etc could be dropped from the bridge to the sidings below. Clearances on the towpath under the bridge were very tight and the track sharply curved. The diesel had to proceed very carefully under the bridge with lights and horn blaring to warn those on foot. Eight skips seem to have been the normal load but hand operation alone was allowed during the week, the diesel being operated at weekends when the volunteer crew were available.



              Tramway at Deepcut (courtesy of Wikepedia)                


Problems arose at Curzon Bridge with vandals. Skips were found to have been propelled down the 1 in 18 gradient just to the east of the bridge when the site had been left unattended. In May 1979 six skip chassis were stolen and never recovered. After this it was usual to see skips padlocked to the track with short lengths of chain when not in use.

By the end of 1979 the work had been completed and track and stock removed by road, leaving few traces of the railway. Reports indicated that a new railway was to be built at the Ash embankment to transport clay to the canal where a major re-puddling exercise had to be undertaken. This may have been so, but by the time I visited this area there was no evidence of a railway, only the society’s modern hired excavator.

I wrote this article in 1995 for another society’s newsletter before I had access to a Microsoft computer. My career had caused me to move away from Surrey in 1986, only five years before the canal’s restoration was complete. I never saw the floating steam dredger in operation. The formal opening was on the 10th May 1991 by HRH The Duke of Kent.

Restoration has resulted in an open 32 mile canal and because parts of it pass through army training lands untouched by modern farming methods and pesticides most of the canal has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Because it is such a haven for wildlife, including a bat colony inside Greywell Tunnel, and its status as an SSI, the Basingstoke Canal Authority that now manages it limits total boat use to approximately 1300 return journeys per year. This has the added advantage of helping to cope with a problem the canal has experienced throughout most of its existence. In warmer summers there is an inadequate supply of water from springs and other sources resulting in boats and barges becoming stranded.










Before we move onto testing the layout a question was asked in last weeks Newsletter about CDU’s (capacitor discharge units) so I will attempt to answer this as best I can.

Quite simply there are two wires from the controller that go in on the terminals marked ‘In’. Just remember that it is the 16v AC output and not your controlled 12v DC output otherwise you will have a couple of interesting faults the outcome of which I am not sure. Only an experiment will be able to discover this but I don’t relish the idea of blowing up my controller to find out! Now not surprisingly there are also two wires coming out on the terminals marked ‘Out’. These now go to the point motors. One goes to the ‘Common’ and the other to the point probe of what ever you used.

The capacitor (which used to be called a condenser when I was at school hands up if you can remember this) charges up and when you switch a point it gives the point motor a big kick. No not with a foot; just an electrical one. There you have it. It is as simple as that but just to give a more scientific reply I have copied this from a website:-

The purpose of capacitor discharge units is to store up electricity in a capacitor. The electrical charge is released, on throwing a switch, as a burst of a much larger current than the transformer can supply directly. The CDU will also protect point motors from being burnt out by a fault in the switching circuit.

So there you go. All geared up to use a CDU providing that you have left room in your control box of course.

Moving quickly on it is now time to test the layout. So you place a loco, preferably a small tank loco as it is easier to re-rail as it will inevitable fall off at every opportunity, on the first piece of track and turn the controller on. Of course absolutely nothing will happen and you will now need to go into fault finding mode. Lets start with the obvious. Have you plugged the controller into the mains and turned the switch on? Surprising how many people fall for this!

Next check that the section switches are turned on and to the correct controller. Remember that you have two. Still nothing? OK check the wires from the controller are actually connected and not left lying loose somewhere. Finally try using another loco just in case. I’ve seen it happen but of course never to me!

Miraculously the loco now starts to move albeit in the wrong direction. If this is the case you will need to swap the wires somewhere. The loco now moves to the next section and stops. At this point you realise that it would have been a good idea to make sure that the wires from the two controllers all went to the same side of the switches. Never mind only a few wires to swap over and resolder and more burnt fingers presumably.



After much head scratching (and probably swearing if you are so inclined) the loco has managed to cover all of the track and even the isolating sections work or at least they are ‘on’. Whether they turn ‘off’ is the next test. More swearing and soldering may be required here.

Of course up to now you have worked all of the points by ‘finger’ due no doubt to the fear of discovering exactly what the CDU does. Believe me a large capacitor can deliver quite a belt to the uninitiated. Having had a cup of tea and summoned the courage you cautiously try the first point and miraculously it actually switches, just the wrong way. Even more frustrating it won’t switch the other way. I will leave you to figure that one out but I suggest that you check the wiring and switch the soldering iron on again. You are bound to need it.

After many happy hours, much of it spent under the base board tracing wires etc., the whole layout finally works and you can now rest on your laurels until next week when we will discuss building the platforms and the rest of the scenery.






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Hope you find this article on the Epping and Ongar Railway from the December 2012 Railway Magazine of interest. Especially as it is our nearest heritage railway and if you have not already been, well worth a visit.




To view the article click the map below.




While looking through some more old copies of the Railway Magazine Phil came across these photos showing the sad decline of a Western loco.





Sir Misha Black and John Beresford-Evans could not have imagined when their company received the design brief for the ‘Westerns’ that the class would last a mere 15 years in traffic. These two photographs span the entire lifespan of No. D1003 Western Pioneer, the fourth locomotive to be turned out by Swindon Works, and provide a graphic illustration of the short-term nature of certain aspects of the rail industry. Resplendent in BR green with red bufferbeam and nameplate, the brand new diesel-hydraulic is seen at Swindon before entering service in May 1962.

Photographed by chance at exactly the same angle, the unfortunate machine is pictured back at Swindon awaiting its fate in January 1977 – the year the class became extinct on British Rail. It was scrapped eight months later.


A further find was this interesting picture of a grimy freight train passing through the original Hatfield Station which will be of interest to at least one member I am sure!


Today’s East Coast Main Line may well be slick and fast, but there are many readers of this magazine who would gladly swap just a little of the smartness for some of the great ‘atmosphere’ it has lost. This is Hatfield station in February 1959, with BR Standard 9F 2-10-0 No. 92148 raising the echoes as it plods south with a Class E Freight.



THE AGM Newsletter will be on 20 November 2020





      Arthur noted from the latest What’s Brewing that the Old Speckled Hen is up for sale. Yes, the 192714/40 Featherweight Sporting Saloon that the beer was named after. Expected to sell for more than £60,000.






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



Answers next week.


History quiz questions
1. In which decade did the potato famine strike Ireland?
2. Which new British military force was established in 1918?
3. Who used the Royston cave according to most popular theories?
4. In which year was Joan of Arc burned at the stake?
5. Who was Henry VIII's first wife?
Movie quiz questions
6. Al Pacino played which character in The Godfather trilogy?
7. Who played Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour?
8. Three films share the record for most Oscars won - name two of them
9. The song 'How Far I'll Go' features in which Disney film?
10. Name the film this famous quote is from: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
Music quiz questions
11. What year did Elvis die?
12. Who sang Great Balls Of Fire?
13. Name all the members of the Jackson 5?
14. What was Beyonce's first solo number one single?
15. Who was the last person to join the Rolling Stones?



Answers to last weeks Quiz.


1. Windsor
2. Leonardo da Vinci
3. Norwegian
4. A female deer
5. Six
6. 1869
7. France
8. Dark rum and ginger beer
9. Naples
10. Courgette
11. Slovenia
12. Four
13. Swedish krona
14. Southend-on-Sea
15. Peru