Dear Members

I think Congratulations are due having reached our 40th Newsletter.
For the last two weeks we have had snow and some rain with a little sunshine. Good news that over 10 million vaccinations have been carried out but sad news that Captain Sir Tom passed away.
Once again, members have risen to the challenge with a variety of articles for you to read and you will also find a link to Twickenham MRC and their excellent newsletter.
Finally, remembering back to last March when the great toilet roll hunt was on, we thought you may enjoy the following mission


Top-secret mission

Top-secret mission

Mission accomplished? Hopefully, you’ve got enough TP to get you through. Everyone scrambled to make sure they had enough which left paper product store shelves empty. It does seem like an absolute must-have, but believe it or not, toilet paper wasn’t even available in stores before 1857. You may need a back-up plan yourself. So, what did folks do? They actually used stones (hope they were smooth!).


Stay safe

Phil and Nigel



Please email all submissions to  or



Southend Pier Railway


Part 2


The Pier Electric Railway 1949-1978

By 1947 the tramway was carrying over three million passengers a year in carriages over forty years old. It was decided to replace the tramcars with four modern train sets each of seven fully enclosed streamlined cars with automatic sliding doors. Deliveries of the new cars commenced in 1949 from A. C. Car’s Ltd of Thames Ditton. The old chocolate brown colour believed to have previously been used on the toast rack trams was replaced by a light green and cream livery giving somewhat the appearance of London underground surface stock but painted in country bus colours. Possibly to appear more modern, carriages were now referred to as cars and the tramway was described as a railway.

There were twelve motor-cars supplied powered by 17 HP Crompton Parkinson motors giving a top speed of 18 mph and carried 34 seated passengers. Three of these were marshalled in each seven car train with the 16 new trailers carrying an extra four passengers each. Each motor-car had a driving compartment with the driver’s windscreen containing a circular glass disc which was rotated by a small electric motor in wet weather to give clear visibility. There were bench seats immediately behind the driving compartment but the rest of the car and the trailers had wooden transverse seats with reversible backs enabling passengers to face forwards if desired.

Whereas the old toastrack cars had a single lamp at each end the 1949 cars carried two pairs of integral lamps at each end, the larger pair for forward lighting and the lower pair as warning rear lamps. When in service lamps were usually switched on at night and in poor visibility and looked similar to headlamps on buses.

One relic of tram days remained in service. This was motor flat wagon number 29 which had been converted as a service vehicle from a toastrack tram in 1902. A 1949 motor-car was similarly converted and numbered 8 when the fleet was sadly reduced. These two cars were used to transport all kinds of goods (including fire fighting equipment) not only for the maintenance of the pier and railway but also for the many businesses, lifeboat and coastguard stations located at the southern head of the pier.

Southend’s popularity as a resort steadily declined with the growth of package holidays to overseas resorts. Thus by 1973 annual numbers visiting the pier had fallen beneath 700,000. By now only two seven car trains were in operation, the remainder (apart from car 8) being stored as a source of spares or scrapped. At least two of the old toastrack trams were passed on to the Volks Electric Railway at Brighton.

Once again the deterioration in the structure of the pier was causing much concern and the stresses and vibration caused by the railway was considered a threat to the structure, if not a partial cause. In an attempt to ease the situation in 1974 the west track and passing loop were taken out of use, the two trains taking it in turn to access the line. The signal boxes were also abandoned and demolished.

For maintenance purposes a rail mounted crane was acquired in 1975. It was self-propelled and carried the designation PAPE 500 SP. Its’ main purpose appeared to be to provide support for teams examining and repairing the pier structure rather than the railway itself. The following year a four wheel petrol Wickham trolley was acquired although whether this was before the fire described in the next paragraph or was to help with the consequences of the fire, is not clear.

In July 1976 a major fire completely destroyed the southern pier head and its’ extension although the railway station survived undamaged. The railway could have continued but with little to attract visitors its survival seemed pointless whilst an adverse engineer’s report on the state of the track and signalling gave the Council the excuse to close the railway at the end of the 1978 season.


Contrasting electric stock, 1949 on left and 1889 on right.


The Three Foot Diesel Railway

At one stage it looked as though the pier might be scrapped, but under intense pressure led by such personalities as Sir John Betjeman (who announced that “Closing the pier would be like cutting off a limb!”) the Council began to consider a series of alternatives. These included a marina and an aerial cable car on pylons attached to the side of the pier. In the end a much lighter diesel railway of 3 feet gauge was chosen. Thus it was that Southend’s pier railway took on the mantle as ‘England’s only three foot gauge railway on the east coast’, which had been the marketing label sometimes used by the Southwold Railway but which had closed in 1929.

Weight being a major concern every attempt was made to reduce the problem through careful design. At 35 lbs to the yard the new flat bottomed rail is some 10 lbs per yard lighter than that previously, whilst at four tons the power cars are some 1 ton 5 cwt lighter and the trailer cars are 2 tons 4 cwt lighter. The saving in weight is even greater than this because there is only one power car per train rather than the three previously. The rear trailer car has a controller and cab for the driver when running in reverse and includes extra wide doors to cope more readily with prams and wheel chairs. The axle load is even lighter as all cars are mounted on two bogies, thus having four axles as opposed to two previously. Despite this pedestrians walking on the pier still notice a significant rocking motion as a train passes.

Maximum speed is still 18 mph although a limit of 10 mph is usually applied. The track is now single with a centre passing loop operated by the duty supervisor in an office at the North (landward) Station, aided by semi-automatic GEC two-aspect colour light signals. There is no other signalling. I do not know if the operations have been improved but the last I heard was that at the two stations points had to be manually operated and padlocked which may explain why most services operated only a single train. Drivers are linked to the supervisor by two-way VHF radio with an aerial mounted at each end of the train close to the automobile type windscreen wiper.

The new two seven car trains and a bogie flat service car were built by Severn Lamb Engineering Company of Stratford-upon-Avon in a distinctly angular style. Each power car has a Deutz 55 HP diesel engine with hydraulic drive. The two trains’ power cars are named. Power car A is named ‘Sir John Betjeman’ and power car B is named ‘Sir William Heygate’ after the former London Lord Mayor who headed the company that built the first wooden pier, he was subsequently knighted. Originally the trains were painted in a red colour (described as burgundy) with some white lining carrying the Southend Corporation logo. In those days the trains looked much like Docklands Light Railway trains with red livery and angular shape. The livery was changed to a two tone blue in 2006.

Presumably the bogie flat car is powered by a diesel engine and replaced service vehicle number 29 referred to previously. There are also a couple of wagons which with the power car constitute the pier’s maintenance train. The line was opened by HRH Princess Anne on the 2nd May 1986 and despite, at the time, the pier head not being restored or developed, the train proved so popular that the Council expressed hopes that this might justify the purchase of a third train.

In 1995 a new battery powered car entered service. This single passenger car was intended to provide a winter service in place of the seven car trains. It was built by Castleline of Nottingham and carries the number 1835 to celebrate the year in which the pier first appeared on Admiralty charts.

In late 2005 there was a further serious fire at the pier head (southern) end of the pier. This time south station was affected and had to be closed, a temporary platform serving as a temporary terminus to a slightly shortened line. A new, modern terminus was built on the old site as a replacement and opened in September 2009.




Sir William Heygate in blue livery, courtesy Lee Scott.


The Proposed Battery Operated Railway

In 2020 plans, costed at £ 3½ million, were announced for new, more environmentally friendly, replacement stock for the pier railway and their construction is believed to have commenced. The replacement trains are being built by the same firm, Severn Lamb, which built the diesel stock. They will be powered by lithium batteries which can be recharged overnight. The cars have a surprisingly rounded appearance. The end cars have streamlined fronts that are curved downwards from roof to platform level. The sides, including the central sliding doors, are bowed slightly outwards from roof to waist-line, and then slope inwards to platform level, in a smooth, continuous arc. The 1949 livery of green and cream has been reintroduced. It was hoped that the first of these trains would be introduced in 2021 but covid-19 may push their delivery back.

It is expected that the new stock will be cheaper to run and offer a quieter, smoother run to passengers. It is intended that the passenger capacity of each train will be increased by 64 passengers and that there will be increased space and accessibility for wheel chair users. Monitors, speakers and modern audio visual equipment offer the possibility of an enhanced experience with pre-programmed commentary and displays during the journey.




Driving car for proposed battery operation, courtesy Southend Council.


Surviving Artefacts

Southend Council’s scrapping of the 1949 stock in a scrapyard in Shoeburyness proved very unpopular. At one time, with the closing of the railway in 1978, it looked as though nothing would survive. Fortunately a Southend Pier Museum Foundation was established and after three year’s effort a Pier Museum in the North Pier workshops, beneath the landward railway station, was established. This now includes two 1949 motor cars, one 1949 trailer car, whilst motor flat wagon number 29 has been restored to its’ previous condition as a toastrack tram with its original body fortunately discovered in a local garden in use as a shed.

Volks Electric Railway, Brighton, acquired two Southend toastrack trams in 1948 and re-gauged them to 2ft 8½ ins. One has been returned to the Southend Pier Museum and the other is on static display at the Southdowns Heritage Centre, Hassocks.

A further 1949 car was on display at the Lynn Tait Gallery in the Old Foundary, Leigh-on-Sea. Sadly she died in 2017 and her gallery closed. It is not known what happened to the car although it may have been auctioned off. Another 1949 car is thought to be on display in the North Wales Tramway Museum.

The Brecon Moutain Railway is believed to have the Wickham trolley and the self-propelled crane and Mangapps Railway, Burnham-on-Crouch, has service car No. 8 converted from a 1949 motor carriage.

Finally, The East Anglia Transport Museum (Carlton Coleville) is using two silicon rectifiers purchased from the pier in 1983 which are linked to a transformer to enable electricity supplies from the National Grid to power their trams and trolley buses.





Part 3


Thursday 4th August

Today was for me what I expected to be the highlight of the week – a visit to the Molli with its renowned street running. I am sure that many of you will of heard of this and perhaps even visited it. If you haven’t and ever get the chance, I can only say that you will not be disappointed. It is truly amazing and only in what was formerly East Germany could you ever expect to find street running like this. I am sure that any such suggestion of anything similar over here would result in mass apoplexy for every health and safety officer to say nothing of the local councillors!

I have added a few photo’s later but these cannot really do justice to this spectacle. But let us start at the beginning of the day.

A train from Rostock Hbf at 7.30 took us to Bad Doberan with arrival just before 8.00. Having taken several (!) photo's, our train on the Molli departed at 8.35.


99 2322-8 awaiting departure from Bad Doberan


Shortly after leaving Bad Doberan the street running section is encountered. Difficult to photograph from the train. We would have another chance later in the day to take photo’s from the lineside.


How many of us would like to be able to walk out of our front doors and see this!


Arrival at Kuhlungsborn was at 9.15. The management of the Molli had arranged a loco parade for us including 99.2331-9 which was not normally in use. We also had a guided tour of the railway museum. Needless to say innumerable photo’s of the parade were taken including false starts, shunting etc. The starts are on video so no photo’s of these - well you can’t manage everything – but the following are a few of the mornings proceedings.


Left: 99 2322-8 at the end of the line 
Right: 99 2331-9, 99 2322-8 and 99 332 in the line up


Left: 99 2331-9 gives a shunting demonstration
Right: 99 2321-0 running round 


Left: How to coal up – prototype for everything
Right: More street running at Kuhlungsborn Ost


After a pleasant morning and lunch in the Molli cafe we boarded our private lineside bus for several photographic stops. Most of these are on video so only one photo here.


99 2321-0 at Jagddammweg


Along the way the door on the bus decided to open all by itself. German rules meant that the bus had to be taken out of use; perhaps they do have safety rules here after all. With typical German efficiency a replacement arrived whilst we were at a photo stop and no time was lost. Can you imagine that happening over here?

We arrived back at Bad Doberan in time to catch a train back to Kuhlungsborn at 3.35 with a return to Bad Doberan at 5.20. Here we had a shed visit but although I took several photo’s it was virtually impossible to capture a complete loco and the photo's I did manage were not very good so none pasted here.

Along the way we managed more photo’s to show more of the street running (including of course yet more video).  This is about the best and captures the street scene well. The road here is really narrow and heaven help a vehicle that dares to try and pass in the opposite direction. The signs are quite clear and the railway takes priority so drivers end up backing up or trying to hide on the somewhat limited pavement between litter bins, shop displays etc.



With many happy memories and countless photos we caught a train at 18.30 back to Rostock and a welcome evening meal. Next day was to see a change of location and a visit to Hamburg. More of this in part 4.



Phil received the following letter from Tony-

Firstly I wanted to say thank you for all your efforts in producing the newsletter, not being able to meet up it has helped me feel still in touch.  Who would have thought when you started, it would have run to 37 editions. I hope you are able to continue and well understand why you have reduced it to fortnightly.
You asked whether anyone has had their covid vaccinations yet.  Adrienne had her first one on 16th Jan, but she is 80, I am not quite there yet, so have not had mine. By all accounts I expect to receive it in February.
I have attached an article which maybe suitable for inclusion in a future newsletter.
All the very best.




During lockdown, I decided that before I completed the scenery at the approach to the
terminus station on the branch line of my layout, I would add additional trackwork and sidings to increase operational interest.  This involved adding points and also replacing a point with a double slip to existing track that had already been laid and ballasted.  Although a bit tricky this has now been completed as per the attached photo.  The double slip can just be seen at the left of the picture.



The next problem I had was that there was not room on the existing control panel to include extra trackwork on the mimic diagram or the relays to work with the points. This meant adding an extension to the panel on the right hand end, as shown in the next 2 photos.



Whilst the panel is now complete  I still have to finish the wiring from the socket on the panel to the point motors etc. under the baseboard. Working underneath the baseboard is not something I relish now so I will do this a bit at a time.



When I first built the panel and connected it up I found that there were 4 or 5 LED’s that were not working. Since LED’s are usually fairly reliable I first assumed that I had either got the polarity wrong or there was an error in the wiring. Once satisfied that the wiring was correct I removed the offending items and replaced them and  checked they were working before refitting them to the panel. They are 3mm LED’s and are a push fit into the panel. Once these were reinserted in the panel they stopped working.  On close examination I found that the internal connections in the LED’s were almost exposed on each side and this caused a short circuit across them when they were fitted to the aluminium top.  The  arrow in the following photo shows the area I am referring too.



The fix is quite simple, just a case of easing each side of the mounting hole with a needle file and holding the LED in place with a blob of glue.   Maybe I have been unlucky in acquiring some sub standard quality LED’s. I thought it worth mentioning however as  if any readers have occasion to mount them through metal panels it is something to be wary of.
In case anyone is wondering, the PCB in the middle on the bottom of the panel is a Heathcote Electronics Shuttle Unit. This enables 2 trains to run alternately from the Terminus Station along the branch line up to the Main Line Station and back.
Installing this unit was rather involved electrically, as control of the trains for starting, stopping, speed and direction is all done by the unit itself.  So when the unit is engaged for operation (done by the square blue button on the panel) you have to arrange that every piece of track covered by the shuttle service is switched from the standard controller to the track output of the shuttle unit.  As all the points on the layout are electrofrog  this means that the frogs of any points on the route also require switching. This has been achieved by using a 6 pole changeover relay operated from the blue button and a lot of wiring.
Tony Haward




The Martians are Coming!


Thought someone might be interested in these, the left hand one reminds me of the Martian Fighting machines! They are actually for musicians to light their music scores. Both have flexible necks, with two brightness settings, rechargeable batteries, a recharging socket and a clip for fixing. I’m finding them useful as extra lighting over a dark corner of my hidden sidings and also for working underneath baseboards.



Shows it pays to take an interest in your children’s activities, you never know what may be thrown out that can be “upcycled”!






Since this second lockdown we have been decorating what was my daughters bedroom but I still managed to find time to start and finish a village above the tunnel on the left hand side of the layout in my shed. You can see the results in the attached photos, (please note track entering tunnel to be straightened and the walls of the diesel depot still to be painted) but all in all I am pleased with the results. The clever ones among you may recognise the large warehouse building and one tunnel mouth, (the other three I have made from Scratch) saved from the original Havil layout.









A Reverse Lifting Baseboard Section


Over the years with Havil we have had two different lift out baseboard sections, neither of which proved to be great sucesses. For my transported layout I wanted one and after much thought decided to go instead for a dropping section. As you’ll see I’ve made it lightweight, solidly mounted on hinges at one end and the other end secured by one of the clamps used for locking table tops together. This way you can get quite tight alignment between the tracks at the joints. If I want scenery in the future I could easily make a light drop in structure. So far (fingers crossed) it’s proving reliable.



This has completed both the up and down lines, so almost a year since it last ran in the south I’m 95% up and running which I’m pleased with. So I can at last sit back and watch trains again!






I’m not sure if it had anything to do with the Beach Boys but back in the 1970’s there was a craze for beach buggies. Now living in North London is not the obvious place to own a beach buggy, there isn’t a lot of sand, except down the builder’s merchants, but the bug or buggies well and truly got me!

Kit Car magazine was purchased and studied with the conclusion that a GP Buggy was the best looking, so my heart was set. Unfortunately, on contacting the company my plans were soon thwarted by the price of the kit which included everything you needed except for the chassis, engine suspension and mechanicals. The company did however have a reject kit, this was just the body shell with the bonnet, albeit in different colours, without windscreen, seats, exhaust system etc. etc. The body also had a few blemishes, but I did not care. The kit was purchased!

The next problem was obtaining a donor VW Beetle. In the 70’s they were very cheap, you couldn’t do it these days, they go for thousands. Anyway, I had a stroke of luck, there in the Exchange and Mart was advertised a VW Beetle chassis and engine, it belonged to someone who had started a build but had run out of money. That was also purchased. It was starting to come together. Just as well I had very understanding parents and lived in a house with two attached garages, one of them exceptionally large!

Most beach buggies are built on shortened Beetle chassis, so the next problem was how much to cut out. My second bit of luck was to see a complete buggy for sale in a local garage showroom. Equipped with a tape measure and a friend to keep the salesman busy, I lay under the buggy and measured. The chassis was duly cut with nibblers and rewelded to the correct length, the body was lifted on and to our surprise it fitted!

The VW wheels were sent away to be widened, apparently wheels have to be round, so we didn’t attempt to weld them ourselves. A windscreen was made from channelled aluminium with a rubber insert. When we fitted it, it didn’t appear to have enough strength. If a fly had hit it at speed it would probably have collapsed, so a solution was needed.

At the time I worked for Henlys the Jaguar, Triumph and Rover distributor. One of the current cars was the Triumph Stag which had a T shaped roll bar. Here was a solution to my windscreen problem that was also a great feature! We made our own roll bar, covered it in leather cloth and then fitted it to the chassis and windscreen. It worked brilliantly! A removable roof was made from wood and leather cloth with a Perspex window, we then painted lines on the Perspex to look like a heated window. Don’t ask me why!

Henlys also came to the rescue for the supply of tyres and seats, plus various other bits and pieces. We had a Jaguar XJ6 that had been sitting in a pool of petrol following a tank leak. The contamination to the tyres was deemed to be too dangerous to use on the Jag but with the light weight and lower top speed of the Buggy they would be ideal and free of charge. The seats were from a Rover 2000 that the customer had specified special front seats to be fitted, so the old ones were just taking up space in the workshop, again without cost.




The exhaust was made from two motorbike silencers with added pipework, the instruments and various other essentials were found at the breakers yard, Jones Brothers in Waltham Cross where everything appeared to be “30 bob mate”, well everything you declared anyway!

Henlys came in useful yet again. The nearly finished car needed painting, so after hours our paint shop was commandeered, and our excellent sprayer was bribed. it came out of the paint shop in a suitably outrageous Aston Martin Amethyst colour.

The next problem was to get it registered. To do this you had to have the bills for the purchase of all the bits, not easy as lots had come free of charge from work and the breakers yard weren’t renowned for giving receipts or presumably paying their tax. You then had to have an appointment at County Hall in London, where the car had to be inspected, a lot of ogres worked at County Hall, one of them was one P Bicknell Esq. On completion of the inspection, they gave you some sort of certificate which enabled you to register the vehicle. To get the car to County Hall you were allowed to drive on the road without number plates, as long as you had insurance, an appointment letter and you went directly there and back, no driving off to see the girl friend! This did not go smoothly. Driving down towards Kentish Town I had to stop at traffic lights where there just happened to be a bobby standing. He looked at the car and said “allo allo allo, where are your number plates” I told him I was on my way to County Hall to have it checked, but he was not amused. He told me that I was not allowed to drive on the road without said plates and I would not be allowed to continue, I pointed out that I had a letter of authority and a specified time but he still wouldn’t let me go. I said he could ring County Hall but he refused. I was starting to get a bit annoyed and anxious, so I said to him if you don’t know the law then I will have to call the Police, he said he was the police, so I said I would have to call a Police officer who knew the law. He said he did know the law!  this went on for about ten minutes without progress when he suddenly walked away without a word. Needless to say, I went home by a different route.

The Buggy was then registered through Henlys where I could choose a number from their allotted list. I chose PGW7L as my MGB was FSY7F. The project was complete! Great fun was had for a few years, but like all buggies they are pretty horrid to drive, they are so light on the front that they tend to go straight on when you want to turn.  I preferred the MG so the buggy was mostly driven by my cousin and friends and was sold when I got married.





NEW Model Railways Documentary on Amazon Prime TV for 2021


For those of you that have access to Amazon Prime Video you may be interested in the following hour long documentary. If you type the title in search you will see there are similar programmes including an older one from Bob Syme and one of Mr Porsches grandsons very large layout.


Building a Model Railway

The latest production from Studio Scotland on the back of their 3 part Building a Model Railway DVD series, was developed for television and is now available on Amazon Prime TV in full HD. Despite the challenges of 2020 - This latest television and digital download production (Not available on DVD) began airing over the Christmas season. The documentary has been carefully produced by taking many elements from the Build a Model Railway DVD series and includes additional interviews and footage.

A highly informative and entertaining 60 minute documentary that is jam packed with so much to see and experience, a visual treat for both model rail enthusiasts and just about anyone who loves to watch programmes of interest. A big thank you goes out to the many modellers who went the extra mile to help complete the production. For those who prefer a Digital Download this can be purchased from the Studio Scotland web shop.





Following redundancy, my son Mark has set up a graphic design business. You will remember he designed our new membership cards. Should you need or know someone who may wish to use his services at a reasonable rate please use the link below to his website.



Excalibur Auctions Ltd


For those of you who may have something to sell or get asked what to do with my dads railway stuff etc I see there is a local auction house Excalibur Auctions Ltd
'Established Auction House - specialising in movie memorabilia, music memorabilia, posters, autographs, comics, vintage toys and model railways - large collections and individual items all considered. FREE no obligation valuations in the comfort of your own home if preferred.' You can click on the link below to see more.



T&DMRC Single Line Working newsletter

Phil has arranged with Peter Warren of Twickenham and District MRC access to their Single Line Working newsletter.

To view it

Click here.





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







Answers in the next issue.


Q1 What is the length of the Victoria Line?
A: 19km  B: 21km  C: 27km
Q2 How many stations does the Victoria Line serve?
A: 16  B: 18  C:22
Q3 What was the proposed name for the Victoria Line?
A: Vickery Line  B: Victory Line  C: Viking Line
Q4 Which station would you head to if you wanted to get to Electric Avenue?
A: Brixton  B: Stockwell  C: Vauxhall
Q5 The Victoria Line was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II, but in which year?
A: 1959  B: 1969  C: 1972
Q6 Which station on the Victoria Line gets its name from the area it serves, which is believed to be named after a historically documented figure?
A: Blackhorse Road  B: Pimlico  C: Warren Street
Q7 Below which station’s platforms is an air raid shelter comprised of two tunnels?
A: Highbury and Islington  B: King’s Cross St. Pancras  C: Stockwell
Q8 What world’s first does the Victoria Line boast?
A: The first to feature the ‘Mind the Gap’ message.  B: The first automatic passenger railway  C: The first Underground line to feature advertisements.
Q9 Who or what is Seven Sisters station named after?
A: Severn sisters  B: Seven elms  C: Seven nuns
Q10 The Victoria line is the UK’s most frequent train service and the world’s second, behind which other city?
A: Moscow Metro  B: Sydney Metro  C: Brussels Metro
Q11 The Victoria line is the second shortest on the network, behind which other line?
A: Northern Line  B: Circle line  C: Waterloo & City line
Q12 Do you know the name of the station that lies between Oxford Circus and Victoria?
A: Green Park  B: Euston  C: Warren Street

Thanks to Barry for this quiz.





1) Caledonia
2) Richard (Dick) Whittington
3) Catherine Parr
4) William Pitt (The Younger)
5) 1431
6) Norwegian
7) Julia Gillard (2010-2013)
8) Sir Walter Raleigh
9) Cambridge
10) Smallpox