Dear Members

Firstly, the results of the AGM. You will be horrified to know that the committee were all voted back, with a total of 30 members viewing the AGM Newsletter. Most importantly, 14 helpings of fish and chips were served with both Bob and Graham having seconds.

A big thank you to all members for your continued support and trust in your committee.

Despite a glimmer of light on the horizon with the vaccines we still have lockdown. We are now about to enter the Tier 2 High Alert stage and still unable to return to our club. With Christmas fast approaching many of you will be looking forward to a visit from Santa, remember help with your modelling needs is available from KS Models at Stevenage, Joe Lock who continues to support our club and not forgetting Ken and Heather from John Dutfield who send their best wishes to members.

This week, we have more interesting articles from our regular contributors together with some topical jokes and the usual features. Julian has come up with an interesting suggestion 'My Favourite Loco' we look forward to hearing from you !

Stay safe

Phil and Nigel


Please email all submissions to  or



Industrial Railways 2


On one of my journeys on the Midland mainline in the late 1970s I noticed some rather old wagons on a siding some distance from the line just south of Burton Latimer. In 1982 I was looking for some photographic locations in the Kettering area, and I remembered the old wagons. This area was at one time the centre of the ironstone quarrying and iron production, served by a number of standard and narrow gauge railways. These gradually ceased operation in the 1960-70s and the enormous walking dragline excavators disappeared along with the railways. Eventually the steel works at Wellingborough and Corby closed and today virtually nothing remains of this industry.
My search was successful, and I found a small works at Isham not far from the main line, with a dilapidated track running under the road and some wagons. I parked nearby and walked into the works where I could hear the noise of a diesel loco working. The works manager was happy for me to take photographs and explained the working of the plant.
The works used a mix of a silicaceous clay with sand and other materials to make Silacene for lining furnaces and the ladles used to handle liquid iron. This mix was made up at the works and the clay was moved around using a collection of very battered wagons.
I walked up the track under the road to the disused quarry where the remains of the narrow gauge railway and some rusting Ruston excavators awaiting scrapping made a rather sad sight.
The works closed soon after my visit as demand for the product had collapsed along with the Northamptonshire iron industry and the eventual closure of Corby Iron and Steel Works in 1980.



The clay was processed and dropped into wagons at the lower level.


The loco in the distance was out of use. This was the location of the line of wagons I had seen from the train some years before.



Unloading the processed clay for transport to the steel works.



The line to the quarry



In the quarry, rust takes over…




One of the few number and name plate makers left. 





So it begins!



The ‘O’ gauge layout that has been in planning for so long is finally under way. I first purchased the Dapol Terrier when it came out a few years ago. At a reasonable price and looking absolutely superb I just couldn’t resist it. I could always run it at Datchworth so that wasn’t a problem. I know I wasn’t the only one judging by the number I have seen there.

Of course it never stops at one does it? It doesn’t help when Dapol keep producing such lovely and suitably priced models. Add to that it is surprising what you find at exhibitions sometimes and so the collection grew. Finally Stevenage and district acquired an ‘O’ gauge collection and it was decided to sell some to members. Thus two more loco’s were bought.

The tally is now:

Dapol – Terrier, Class 08 diesel shunter, Jinty, Pannier and Sentinel

Heljan – Class 05 Diesel Shunter

Kit built – J69 and J50 (Stevenage collection)

Lima – Class 33, LMS 4F and Diesel Shunter

Unknown scratch build Tram Engine.

With a suitable collection of wagons acquired second hand at exhibitions a layout was really required. This started with ideas of a small shunting puzzle without points and using a cassette fiddle yard to swap roads similar to one or two seen at exhibitions. Not surprisingly this grew a little to incorporate at least a couple of points and a quay side. Despite many drawings the proposals just wouldn’t come together. Finally with yet another drawing and an even longer board a plan came together.

With the clubs closed and no where to run the loco’s it really was time to make a start. The latest lock down has proved to be the catalyst. Not wanting to spend several days in the garage building the base boards I looked at White Rose (seen in the magazines). They are not cheap but provide a quick and easy way to get started. With size and plan adjusted for hopefully the final time and with yet another few inches added, two base boards were purchased in kit form. You can buy these ready made up but of course the cost increases.



Of course a name was required and after considering the grand-children's names for example I settled on my fathers name, which I think will be a nice reminder of him some 40 years on. The layout will have a canal wharf and suitable warehouses and factories if all goes according to plan.

This week the two boards have been assembled and a back screen added and varnished. The photo’s show progress so far and with the editors agreement I will try and provide a regular update on progress assuming there is any. Now where did it put my articles on ‘How to Build a Model Railway’?






Some of you may like to see this article on the Middleton-in-Teesdale branch that appeared in the November 2019 edition of Backtrack. The history of the branch makes fascinating reading together with the photographs you can clearly see how well our club layout reproduces the railway.

Click on the picture to view the article.



Please note that J W Armstrong was not our own Jim Armstrong, however you may like to visit the website using
the link below to see the superb photos they have in the collection.


Armstrong Railway Photographic Trust






Hornby: Model train maker steams ahead in lockdown

The company says sales are up 33% as more people take up hobbies during the pandemic.

Click on the link below to read more.
Hornby: Model train maker steams ahead in lockdown




Volunteering on The Epping Ongar Railway


After the article in the News letter a few weeks ago about the Epping Ongar Railway (EOR) I thought that I would relate a little of my experiences there.

As some of you will know I am a volunteer Fireman and Signalman at the EOR, which I joined in 2013. As those of you who have read my times at the NVR will know I was a fireman there and had been since 2005. When the EOR re-opened under new ‘management’ in the summer of 2012 Wayne was one the first to join the volunteers there. He knew one of the originating members Tony Goulding from the NVR as did I in passing.

Tony had owned a small industrial loco which he moved to the NVR to restore. After some work was done he reached the conclusion that it was beyond repair. Tony is also now the CME at the EOR and has been for the last couple of years. However I digress.

When Wayne first arrived for a visit he was more or less thrown a shovel and told he was the fireman for the day. That is the way it was back then. There were few rules and qualifications, although I am assured that the safety standards were being met.

Wayne had asked me to join several times but I was reluctant to try and fit in the EOR with the NVR. However in the summer of 2013 I decided to visit to see what was what. Having met Wayne, had a look around and a ride on the footplate I decided that I would join, not least because the EOR is only some 25 miles distant and about 35 to 40 minutes drive as opposed to the NVR which is 60 miles and takes just over an hour to get there.

Having joined I attended the initial introduction and safety rules day in July. There were about a dozen people there with a very mixed ability. Some had very little idea about railways and what would be required; others were more experienced, whilst one woman just wanted to work in the catering coach for something to do. In the afternoon we toured the site and visited the signal-box at North Weald.

The signalman gave a quick introduction and most of the visitors left after about 10 minutes. I was there for about 2 hours!. As it was the end of the tour that was no problem. Signalling has always been one of my interests and during the 2 hours I chatted to the signalman and learnt quite a lot about operating the ‘box. I was hooked and from now on when ever I got the chance I would visit the ‘box’ and learn more about signalling.

My first full day at the EOR was on 21st September 2013, an ad hoc day, when I started at 6.30 to help prep the loco. This was 4141, a member of the GWR "5101" class, commonly known as a Large Prairie, being 41ft (12.5m) in length and 79.71 tonnes. It is a medium sized tank engine with a 2-6-2T wheel arrangement and was designed for suburban and local passenger services, often seen with GWR and BR suburban coaches.

The class was built between 1903 and 1949, and totalled 209 examples. 4141 was built in Swindon in 1946, and was allocated to Gloucester (Horton Rd) for all of its working life, working on banking duties before latterly working expresses to London.

Thanks to the proximity of Barry scrap yard to the former GWR system, 10 examples were saved for preservation. 4141 was withdrawn in February 1963 and reached Barry in November 1964, being saved for preservation in early 1973. 4141 and its classmates have proved to be ideally sized for use on heritage railways, handling the shorter journey times and typical loads, being economic and reliable performers.



My first rostered day was on 12th October again on 4141. After the somewhat lax start a year previously things had now tightened up a bit and it was therefore necessary for me to start again as a cleaner. I didn’t have a problem with this but over the coming turns I quickly found that several of the firemen had far less experience than I did and struggled at times, particularly maintaining pressure over the gradients. There were a good few times when I had to bite my tongue and watch them try and figure out what was wrong and a few when I just had to jump in and tell them.

For example on one occasion we stopped half way up to Marconi bridge on the way back to North Weald from Ongar. Having watched the fireman stand perplexed for a few minutes I just had to explain that he had a hole in the fire, probably on the front left of the fire box. He duly threw a few shovel full's into the front corner and low and behold the pressure started to rise. He asked how I knew this and I explained that if you watch the smoke from the chimney you can see a clear part and that indicates a hole. Contrary to what some believe the smoke from the fire is drawn through the boiler tubes in a direct line without swirling around and thus gives a good indication of the state of the fire. This is something that you learn from experience.

Part of this day was also spent in the signal box where I was now in a position to be able to actually operate the frame etc. It had by now become clear that signalling was something that I wanted to do and I duly requested to join the trainee signalman roster.

I will explain more about signalling and firing on the EOR with particular reference to the gradients next time.







Firstly I'd like to express my thanks to Phil and Nigel for producing the Newsletter for over 30 weeks. It's quite an achievement and I definitely appreciate the effort you've both put into it.
However, I note that only a few members seem to contribute, so perhaps the closing part of my offering might give a basis for more of them to produce offerings for future newsletters!
It's now over three months since we moved up here to North Lincolnshire, with our distant view of the Humber Bridge. There's been a lot of unpacking and other activity, including taking down four forty foot tall trees! With the cheaper house prices up here our move to "somewhere smaller" got lost in transit - we've ended up with a bigger house with a massive garden of over an acre. So I had to buy myself a new toy, as seen below!



The other advantage of the bigger house is that what was a formal dining room has become my train room complete with underfloor heating, where I've started putting up both my N & 00 layouts. No more freezing cold or roasting loft - luxury!



As it does, railways cropped up when talking to the next door but one neighbour. And it turns out his best friend owns three 1:1 steam locos including one at Appleby & Frodingham so now I've an invite to the shed there. 
There's still lots to do with getting settled in to the house, including all my 00 & G stock to unpack nor have I started seriously thinking about the garden railway and I haven't done anything about finding a new club, but hopefully sometime in the not too distant future I can investigate that. All in all we have no regrets about our move up here (apart from absent friends) and are thoroughly enjoying our "extended holiday" in the country.
For my final point, in the G Scale Journal for some years there has been a series of articles titled  "My Favourite Loco" which records each authors favourite in their collection. It needn't be anything fine in quality, it might be a sentimental reason based on who gave it to you or where it came from. So you see the complete spectrum from tatty old ready to run to precision engineering jobs can appear. As a starter here's .....
My Favourite Loco 



This is a 00 model of an LMS unrebuilt Patriot no.5525 Colwyn Bay. I bought it back in the early 70's when I was in Barnet MRC from a chap living near Totteridge. Afraid I can't remember his name but the loft was odd because the house suffered a near miss during the war and the whole roof lifted and moved six inches! The loco is a Wills Finecast kit sitting on a Hornby (old Hornby that is!) chassis with scale driving wheels. The only things I've done to it are closing the loco to tender coupling gap, fitted a fall plate, removed the full coal load then installed a nearly empty one and most importantly added pickups from the tender wheels so it has ten wheel pickup.



So for over 40 years now it's been my most reliable runner, it's been an unusual running number to see and the thing I particularly like is it is only fairly lightly weighted. This means it will haul quite a reasonable length train, but with the right controller and a bit of care you can deliberately give a wheel slip on starting!
All the best to all of you there in the "Far South", hope you can all get back together soon. Julian
Also, latest hot news as befitting it being my favourite loco, Colwyn Bay became the first loco to move on the relocated Oxenholme & Windermere layout yesterday, albeit only six feet.




Please email us details of your favourite loco.













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



Answers next week.


1. What is the capital of Australia?

2. What do invertebrates lack?

3. What type of pastry is used to make profiteroles?

4. Who won Love Island 2020? (One point for both people and you don't have to name their last names to get a point)

5. What is the longest river in the world?

6. In Bingo, if a caller says Knock at the door, what does he mean?

7. Which parts of the human body have half of the bones?

8. Which James Bond theme tune did Sir Tom Jones sing?

9. What is James Corden's character called in Gavin & Stacey?

10. True or false: Bananas grow on trees?



Answers to last weeks Quiz.


1. The Peak District
2. Andy
3. Orient Express
4. It is false. Scientists say that goldfish do have short memory but they can remember things for months
5. Jupiter
6. He donated $10billion to fight climate change
7. Planet Earth 2 (but we will give you a point if you put Planet Earth)
8. British Broadcasting Corporation
9. Frank Sinatra
10. Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po