Dear Members

Due to the pandemic, we are conducting this year's AGM from within this Newsletter. It is obviously in a reduced format, but we hope that members will be satisfied until we can reconvene.

Andy emailed members on 21st October asking if anyone wanted to put their name forward, also for any other business they wished to discuss . No new nominees have been received  and no requests were forthcoming.

Voting for Officers and Committee Members is very important, so please click on the buttons in the voting section below to show your approval.

Finally, we have some good news during lockdown of two vaccines that may enable us all to return to some semblance of normality. The other is that once you have completed the formalities of the AGM, sit back, enjoy your fish and chips and have a look at the rest of this weeks newsletter.

Stay safe

Phil and Nigel


Please email all submissions to  or



20 November 2020


The minutes of the last AGM held on 6 November 2019 can be accessed by clicking the button below.
If you have any remarks regarding these minutes please email Nigel, Phil or Andy.






What a strange year!

We started off well, a particularly good time was had at the Howard Centre where our layouts were enjoyed by Christmas shoppers, followed by an excellent show at Stevenage. Middleton impressed Trevor Jones of the Hornby magazine enough to want to feature our layout in their magazine. All went well with the photoshoot but unfortunately Mike’s hard work in writing his article was not acknowledged. A promise to correct this in the next edition seemed to be forgotten.

It had the promise of being an interesting year ahead with Welwyn Garden City and Hornby both celebrating 100 years but as we all know it went decidedly wrong.

We started to realise that we would not be able to meet as we had been doing. Keith suggested to Phil that Stevenage were going to do a newsletter to keep their members together and perhaps we should try and do the same. At this point I would like to apologise for the terrible jokes but at least we all now have insight into what it is like ‘at home with the Bicknell’s’. Seriously, I would like to thank all those who have contributed especially Keith who has written an article in every edition and Phil who has scribed the editorials plus all the proof reading.

We have been in contact with the church on several occasions, but every time we think we are near to re-opening the rules change and we are back to square one. Our discussions are on-going, they want us back as much as we do.

Thanks go to Derek who has been keeping a close eye on our club room.

We are very aware of the predicament the church finds itself in, it was thought prudent to carry on paying our rent for both rooms so that matters were not made worse for them. For this reason, we must thank all members for continuing to pay subs every month.

Let us all hope that in the not too distant future, we will be able to get back to our meetings and carry on with the hobby we all love.

Nigel Slatford - Chairman





2020 – a year to forget

Not only our exhibition in April but our planned trips to Robert Barclay Academy (the former Sheredes) Model Railway Exhibition in July with Bobsden and Royston and District MRC in November with Mosquito Falls in November were cancelled early on.

I have also received confirmation this week that the East Anglian Model Railway Exhibition scheduled for June 2021 has already been cancelled. They are now planning for 2022 (the dates will be 11th & 12th June) for which we have received an invite to display at least one of our layouts. 

We did however attend the Howard Centre in December last year with our friends at Stevenage MRC for another excellent outing - I would again express my thanks to the members who supported this event.

Let us hope we can get back to supporting local exhibitions and of course, attending ourselves with our excellent layouts, very soon.

On a more positive note, perhaps it’s given us all the opportunity to focus on those many projects and kits that never see the light of day despite being deemed absolute necessary purchases at the time.

With the current lockdown coming to end and hopefully, being allowed to recommence limited gatherings, I will be liaising with the Church with the intention of reopening club nights in line with the “Rule of 6” or other announced guidance for gatherings. We also continue to receive interest in membership with several enquiries received during lockdown which is encouraging for the Club going forward.

I would like to thank Nigel and Phil for coordinating our regular newsletter not forgetting the regular contributors over the past months. An entertaining read and I am sure they would welcome any further contributions going forward

Stay safe.
Andy Higham - Secretary





This year started well; we welcomed a new member Lance McDonald. Our best wishes go to Julian Butcher who moved to the wilds of Lincolnshire but remains a member, paid up members remaining at 34.

Our club layout Middleton was exhibited at the CMRA Exhibition in Stevenage resulting in the layout featuring in the Hornby Magazine and £150 donated to club funds.
However, in March we were plunged into the Covid 19 crisis and the end of our club meetings and cancellation of our annual exhibition and subsequent loss of income. We have continued to pay the church £350 for our clubrooms.
Our largest outlay was at the beginning of the year when we spent £400 on PAT testing, our thanks go to Steve and Derek for their hard work. There has been no other major expenditure to report. We recently received a generous donation of mainly HO rolling stock from the estate of Brian Appleby a past member. Much of this has been sold to members but the money is not yet all in.
During Lockdown, we have kept members in touch with a weekly email newsletter, a big thank you to Nigel and all those who have contributed.
As at the 30th September 2020 the Society funds are as follows:



Finally, I recommend these accounts to members for your approval and look forward to when we can resume meeting at the club.
Phil Bicknell –Treasurer
20 November 2020





Election of Officers and Committee


The current committee consists of –
Chairman – Nigel Slatford,  Secretary – Andy Higham,  Treasurer – Phil Bicknell
Committee Members – Colin Bloom, David Cross, Steve Hughes, Malcolm Olver, Keith Stalley and Mike Worsley.
CMRA Representative - Arthur Cruttenden

At the last AGM our constitution was changed so that committee members will now serve 3 year terms. With two members standing for election each year. Keith and Steve have put their names forward as the candidates for re-election, we have received no new nominees.
The offices of Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer continue on an annual basis.

To second the nominations below please click on the button for each position.


Finally, we have some good news during lockdown of two vaccines that may enable us all to return to some semblance of normality. The other is that once you have completed the formalities of the AGM, sit back, enjoy your fish and chips and have a look at the rest of this weeks newsletter.

Stay safe









The Treasurer is sorry there is no Fish and Chip Supper this year.


For those of you who feel hard done by please click the button below.












At last the great day has arrived! All of the time and effort (over several years probably) that you have put into creating your wonderful model of Kings Cross (!) is about to be put to the final test. Of course by now hopefully you know that everything works so it is just a matter of running the layout to a wonderfully scripted timetable that you will have worked out (perhaps not).

So the first trains are set up in the fiddle yard ready to go. You turn the controller on and the first thing that will happen is that the train will go backwards, hit the end of the fiddle yard and derail. Not a good start! Having corrected your mistake you can try again. This time the train safely negotiates its way across your wonderfully laid point work, at least until the last coach which will inevitably derail. No one knows why; it just does. The next thing is that you discover that a 12 coach train will not fit into the platform. I told you this in an earlier article – pay attention.

Happily a three coach train will fit and allow another loco to back onto the end ready to take the train out. Never mind no one is ever going to see this and if you are happy to pretend it is a 12 coach train then that is all that matters. The next train, no matter how carefully you checked, will hit the platform edge. This will either be a loco or coach that you haven’t tried or perhaps you did and it was OK last time. This is another one of the unexplained sods laws. Just accept that this will always happen and move on.

Now how to solve the problem platform? You will need to find a knife, file, sandpaper or whatever and attempt to remove the offending 1mm from the platform edge without completely destroying it. Not easy and I suggest several cups of tea before attempting it.

Finally everything seems to be running fine. A steady procession of trains can be run in and out of the station and in your dreams you can finally see your Kings Cross. At this point it is best to rest on your laurels before something goes wrong which it undoubtedly will.

After a suitable break it is time for another running session. Despite the fact that everything ran OK last time it almost certainly will not this time. Yet another unexplained mystery. Everything will decide to derail for no apparent reason, the points will not throw correctly if at all and at least one section will be dead. I will leave you to resolve these issues as I have absolutely no idea what causes any of this.

Day 3 and once again all is running well. Now we come to the awful bit. You realise that running the same trains backwards and forwards is becoming a little boring and it might be nice to have a continuous run where you can just sit and watch something run whilst having yet another cup of tea, without the need to keep swapping trains in the fiddle yard and standing up to operate the whole thing.

At this point I refer you back to part one and leave you to dream of another new layout which will require a lot more room for the continuous run and difficult negotiations with the house hold authorities again.

Happy Modelling



Having followed Keith's advice Phil was proud of the result.



Not A River


There is little doubt regarding the important kick start the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal gave to the Industrial Revolution. It opened in 1763 between Worsley and Manchester enabling coal from his mines to more cheaply and quickly reach the industrial Midlands to fuel the growing use of steam powered beam engines. Some sources suggest that his engineer, James Brindley, was the first to reintroduce old Roman canal building techniques such as contour hugging (following the contours of the land to minimise locks) and puddling (lining a canal with with clay). This is probably untrue as the Duke had already visited the Canal du Midi in France (opened 1681) and the Sankey Canal in England (opened 1757). These must have employed these Roman techniques earlier than James Brindley.

However, possibly the first canal to reintroduce the old Roman building techniques in England opened in 1613, much earlier than any of the canals mentioned above. Originally over forty miles long it still survives today, although somewhat shortened. Originally sourced by the Amwell and Chadwell springs (the former near Great Amwell and the latter nearer Hertford) and supported by the River Lea, it originally flowed south to a head pond at Saddlers Wells, Islington, to provide London with a fresh supply of water. Today, if one drives east along the M25 just before junctions 25 one passes under it (see below).

Edmund Colthurst first suggested this scheme to bring fresh water to London in Queen Elizabeth’s reign. At the time demand for household water in London was far outstripping the domestic supply pumped by the London Bridge Waterworks established in 1582 to pump water from the Thames. Colthurst’s plan was to build a channel following the hundred foot contour to supply water, two thirds for cleansing London’s polluted water ditches and the rest for household drinking water. Householders would pay a fee and be connected to this new water supply by hollowed out elm tree trunks, each sharpened at one end like a pencil and rammed into the other end of the next. (Kew Bridge Pumping Museum has some on display). Each district would have a valve on the main supply pipe which the company’s turncock men would turn on for two to three hours on alternate days enabling the homeowners to fill up suitable containers to store their supply.

Although what Colthurst proposed was clearly a canal in a 1602 letter to Sir Robert Cecil, (owner of Theobalds Park, Enfield) he called it a river and thereafter it was always referred to as The New River. Elizabeth l was petitioned for a Royal Charter for the works (just as in a later century railway companies needed an act of Parliament for compulsory purchase of land for their railway lines), and she appointed Commissioners to investigate and report back. Colthurst apparently completed about three miles of the channel but then ran into financial difficulties which were further complicated by the death of the Queen in 1603.

He renewed his application for a Charter to James I which was granted in 1604. However, the London Corporation was necessarily designated as partners to the scheme as the rights of Londoners were to be interfered with by the project. The Corporation was loath to provide the extra finance needed for the project and instead eventually supported an application by a wealthy London Goldsmith and former MP, Sir Hugh Myddelton, who offered to take over the project and finance and complete it in four years.


Map courtesy of the New River Action Group.


The Gauge House controlling River Lea water used to top up that from the Chadwell & Amwell Springs.


The New River passing through Bowes Park.


The pictures above courtesy of Wikepedia.


Eventually even Myddelton encountered financial difficulties with the project and in 1619 The New River Company was incorporated to solve these with the King’s assistance. Half the shares were to be owned by 29 Merchant Adventures (including Myddelton) and the rest by the King himself, his shares being known as the King’s Moiety. In 1630 Charles l handed his Moiety back to the Company in exchange for a perpetual annuity of £500. The legal implications concerning the subsequent splitting up of these shares, each of which was held as a piece of property in law, was so complicated that it formed the foundation of a lot of today’s company and shareholder rights’ laws and is still studied by historians.

One problem that had to be faced in planning and building the New River was that it flowed at right angles to many brooks and streams. These were flowing down the sides of the Lea Valley to enter the River Lea from west to east whilst the New River was generally flowing from north to south for most of its’ distance. These minor water features were generally polluted and needed to be kept away from the cleaner waters of the New River. This meant mainly channelling over the brooks and streams with the aid of aqueducts.

Despite many further difficulties the New River was finally opened on the 29th September 1613 in a complex, formal ceremony organised by Sir Hugh Myddelton and described by some as theatrical. Shortly after completion a channel was cut from the River Lea to divert water into the New River but this appears to have been done surreptitiously and possibly without official authorisation. This was to cause legal disputes and lawsuits for over a century as the loss of River Lea water was seen as a threat by those dependent upon it in the barge, mill and farming trades.

The consequences of following the 100 foot contour so closely included that the water flow was very sluggish and the river itself unnecessarily long for maintenance. Initially the total drop from source to destination (42 miles) was believed to be 17½ feet with an average gradient of only 1/12,500. Thereafter there was much emphasis in making cut offs to improve the flow and the first was made as early as 1618. This resulted in arms of the New River becoming isolated at one end such as that in Enfield Town Park.  In many places the old course no longer survives, for instance, once the river flowed around three sides of Arnos Park, now at its nearest to Arnos,  it is further east in Palmers Green.

Another serious problem is that the springs that supply it are inadequate for its needs as London’s demand for clean water grew. As stated above, the River Lea was soon connected to it and so severe was the drain on this source that in 1856 a gauge house had to be built to limit the flow of water from it after complaints from River Lea bargees concerning inadequate depth of water. Other solutions involved the building of fifteen pumping stations to lift water from the London aquifer. The large steam engines that once filled this role have since been replaced by much smaller electrical pumps and many of the buildings have been turned into flats. There is one such near Chase Farm Hospital (in Hadley Road) and most of us have been to another in which Whitewebbs Transport Museum in Crews Hill is located.


Broadmead pumping station built in 1880 and the only one to retain its chimney stack. The New River passes in front. Photograph has been taken from the A119.  Chadwell spring is located a short distance to the left (west).


The original New River Company lost its water supply functions in 1904 when these were taken over by the Metropolitan Water Board by a 1902 act of parliament. However, the New River Company technically retained its role as a landowner but as it lost its waterworks and the New River as properties it owned very little. This appears now to be a ghost company, it has ceased trading but has not officially been wound up. In 1973 the Metropolitan Board was abolished and replaced by Thames Water, a regional water authority of which there were ten. In 1989 the water industry was privatised and the New River is now controlled by Thames Water plc.

The New River still performs a very important role for London. It is now a key part of 1971 Artificial Recharge Scheme whereby it can pump water back down into London’s aquifer to recharge it against periods of future drought. At other times it still adds to London’s water supply by pumping water out of the aquifer. Far from having 15 pumps it now has twenty-one, many still in their original buildings but taking far less space enabling most of the old pump houses to be additionally used for other purposes.


On the A10 slip road off the M25 heading east at junction 25. The New River is contained within a concrete aqueduct under the road that is crossing over the M25. The M25 had to be lowered at this point to enable the New River to cross overhead. The road above the New River is just an access road for maintenance purposes.


However, in 1986 the survival of the New River course was threatened by a proposal by Thames Water plc to close it south of Cheshunt and, pipe the water underground the remaining way south. This would enable Thames Water to sell off the rest of the course for redevelopment and simplify the crossing of the M25. The New River Action Group was formed to fight these proposals and retain the remaining course of the New River south as a green corridor and nature path. South of Cheshunt the banks of the river were often fenced off and public access was denied because of concerns about public safety and security worries expressed by owners of neighbouring properties.

NRAG is an association of about forty societies including the Friends of the New River. Over twelve years it fought for the restoration of the river banks and public access and for other improvements. Its campaign was successful and public pressure and consultation resulted in a project to develop a ‘New River Path’ and Thames Water contributed considerably more than half the £2 million required. Since the project has been completed NRAG continues to monitor and advise on the continuance of the river and path to ensure its survival as a public open access asset.

The redevelopment of docklands eventually placed even more pressure on the demand for water and this was hoped to be met by the proposed London Ring Main. This is a deep water main fifty miles long and circles 130 feet beneath London capable of holding some 250 million gallons of water. It was first brought into use in 1994 and essentially connects all London’s water supply in a single network.

The New River only follows its old course as far as Stoke Newington where it was diverted to a treatment plant at Coppermills, near Walthamstow, in 1946. Today its’ water is here pumped down to the London Ring Main.

The historic New River Head used to include the old head pond and the New River Company’s head office. It has not been entirely abandoned as there is still a 1768 pumping house and its steam engine which have been given Grade 2 listed status. Also with Grade 2 listed status is the nearby 1919 Metropolitan Water Board headquarters building. On taking over Thames Water used it until 1993 and it has since been converted to flats. However, the New River Company directors’ 1693 oak panelled boardroom survives, having been relocated there and restored.






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Answers next week.


1. What was the first national park to be created in the UK?
2. Who was the owner of Buzz in Toy Story?
3. Which famous long-distance train had its first run in October 1883?
4. True of false: Goldfish have a three-second memory
5. What is the largest planet?
6. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos pledged $10billion to help fight what global issue?
7. What is the highest rated TV show on online film and TV platform IMDB?
8. What does the national public service broadcaster BBC stand for?
9. What singer won an Oscar for From Here to Eternity?
10. What are the four Teletubbies called?



Answers to last weeks Quiz.


1. The female lion hunts the most
2. Sumo wrestling
3. Catherine Parr
4. Dumbo
5. Uruguay
6. This type of coffee is famous in Indonesia and Asia because the coffee beans used in the drink have been partially digested an defecated by a civet (a type of cat) and then removed from the droppings and made into coffee... lovely
7. A baby elephant is called a calf
8. Pork blood
9. She was an actress, most famously in the US TV series, Suits
10. Ruud Gullit for Chelsea