Dear Members

This week has seen a return to some form of normality in the Bicknell household. We made our first outing to the high street together, well actually to the shops in Welwyn Garden City and found them to be very quiet. We went in the new Postino Restaurant in the old post office building, Howardsgate. There we enjoyed breakfast and were given a free cup of coffee as it happened to be its first day of opening. If all bodes well, and the Indian virus is kept at bay we will be back in our clubroom from the 23rd June. For the moment, enjoy the sunshine and Bank Holiday weekend, relax and read your latest newsletter.
Finally, has anyone else noticed that the pollarded lime trees in Parkway have more than a passing resemblance to Zulu dancers!





Keep safe
Phil and Nigel



Please email all submissions to  or





Part 5


Wednesday 31st May

Today was a free day to spend at Wernigerode or perhaps to travel again on the Harz which was included in our three day pass. The tour manager had planned to travel from Wernigerode to Drei Annen Hohne onto Eisfelder Tamuhle and to the terminus of the Harzquebahn at Nordhausen. We had intended to join him to cover the extra bits of line. However due to some very unfortunate circumstances he was unable to do this.

We consulted the timetable and found that it was actually quite difficult to reach Nordhausen and return in a reasonable time. The only connection required the 7.25 from Wernigerode to Eisfelder Tamuhle arriving at 9.18. This was formed of a railcar rather than steam hauled so not that appealing. A half hour wait until 9.43 followed before the next train onto Nordhausen. This was also a railcar. Arrival at Nordhausen was at 10.23. There were three short workings only as far as Ilfield at 10.38, 11.38 and 12.38 but nothing through to Eisfelder Tamuhle until 13.25 which arrived at 14.01. A seven minute connection at Ilfield at 14.08 would then have seen us back at Wernigerode at 16.33. Altogether a long day with a long wait at Nordhausen and no steam!

The section of line from Ilfield to Nordhausen is electrified and operated by trams that run through to Nordhausen Bahnhofsplatz and Krankenhaus. This has a more frequent service and operates more as a commuter and shopping route. If the rest of the Harz system closes it is likely that this section will remain. The line carries few passengers overall mostly tourists and they usually opt to go on the Brocken line. The lines are therefore heavily subsidised but for how long remains to be seen.


Left: 99 222 at Brocken. Not a good shot but  it shows a different view of the station 
Right: 997240-7 at Eisfelder Talmuhle


Left: 87013-8 and 187016-1 at Eisfelder Talmuhle         
Right: The two Mallets on the vintage train at Drei Annen Hohne


After studying the timetable at length we concluded that it was not really practical and the thought of more steam on the Broken seemed a much better idea. So it was that we caught the 9.40 train from Wernigerode through to Broken arriving at 11.21. A quick turn round saw us on the 11.36 back to Drei Annen Hohne arriving at 12.36. Another quick connection at 12.40 and onto Eisfelder Tamuhle arriving at 13.48. Another fairly short wait and we were heading back to Drei Annen Hohne at 14.08 arriving at 15.16. Leaving there at 15.53 we arrived back at Wernigerode at 16.33.


Left: 997239-9+997232-4 – Wernigerode shed
Right: Mallet 995901at Wernigerode


At Wernigerode we spent some time watching arrivals and departures,  including the two Mallets, and watching activity at the shed from the thoughtfully provided viewing platform. The Mallets run a vintage charter train for which advanced booking at additional cost is required.


Left: Mallet 995902-4 at Wernigerode              
Right: Mallet 995902-4 at Wernigerode shed


The evening saw a return to the bar with the ‘G gauge railway delivering the drinks. Tomorrow will see us heading back to Wuppertal for the final day.





A Lockdown2 Project



Many of you will remember Philip Carpenter, past Chairman, sadly no longer with us. When Phil realised that his time with us was limited, he gave away quite a few of his locomotives to members, myself included. He knew that I was interested in the L&Y so I received an Ironclad 0-6-0 and a Dreadnought 4-6-0. The 0-6-0 is a good runner and has appeared on Havil a number of times. It is in early BR livery and is scheduled for a transformation sometime to an immediate post-grouping livery. The 4-6-0 in red livery was a different matter altogether. It is a white metal kit by Millholme with a brass chassis and a Triang X04 motor. The pickups were missing as was the tender link, so it was a non-runner. The valve gear was from a Triang or Dublo model, rather crudely fixed to the body, rather than the chassis. Phil had acquired it some years before and had added lining and new lettering.



The loco sat in a box for many years while I considered how to make it a runner and then repaint it. I consulted Tony Wright at a CMRA exhibition about how to tackle it. He advised a Comet detailing kit for the valve gear with new cylinders, and the advice from Comet was to go for a Duchess detailing kit. The driving wheels are unusual in that they have equal spacing, very rare, as mostly the second and third axles are further apart to fit the firebox between them. This meant that the coupling rods had to custom made as the originals were rather weak. I am sure the kit came with valve gear and cylinders, so it is a mystery as to why these weren’t used.
The first step was to remove the paint and make good any problems with the body. The paint was very thick in places, particularly the smokebox and parts of the tender. It looked as if the model had been dipped in paint. Paint stripper did very little, the red paint came away with some work, however the black paint was unaffected. In the end I used caustic soda to do the job. Be warned that this is very harmful to handle without good gloves, and my years of lab training paid off. With a glass fibre brush, knifes and emery paper eventually all the paint was removed. The caustic does soften epoxy resin and two of the splashers came off. Several of the cab and tender steps were damaged so I replaced them entirely with brass versions.
Turning to the chassis, I used a Hi-Level gearbox and can motor and replaced the original centre flangeless drivers with new flanged ones. Pick ups were fitted to all six driving wheels using phosphor bronze wire and copper-clad plastic.



The connecting rods and crossheads came from a Comet Midland Compound detailing kit along with the Duchess valve gear and universal coupling rods to create a workable solution. An 8F kit would maybe have worked better as the Dreadnought had the usual LMS style motion bracket, largely obscured by the footplate steps, a feature missing from my model. Anyway, my first essay with Walschaert’s motion went well, using lace making pins supplied by Tony Wright. As none of the parts were designed to go together it was a case of two steps forwards and three back several times, just trying to get everything correctly aligned and held in place. A combination of low melting point solder and screws eventually got everything in place.
LYR cylinders on the Dreadnought and Crab have Hughes’s pressure relief valves in a recess in the cylinder block, so I had to devise a way of making these in the white metal cylinder covers. Interestingly both the Hornby and Lima Crab models are inaccurate as to the shape of this recess, so I am very pleased that mine is a better job!
The original bogie re-fitted was a nightmare as the wheels now shorted against the new cylinder end faces. The original cylinders were narrow plastic. A slow process of filing away metal began, and then it became apparent that the bogie was longer than it should be to fit properly into the chassis. The chassis didn’t correctly align with the driving wheel splashers, so I am not sure exactly what was going on with the original builder. I fitted a replacement bogie from a GEM kit. Due to the layout of the front end of the chassis and the body retaining screw it was necessary to keep the underslung swing link to the bogie. Using a countersunk screw there was enough clearance under the bogie. The chassis was moved a couple of millimetres forwards and now the wheels are centred under their splashers.



Turning to the back end of the loco, I had to make a new footplate from sheet brass and solder a 6BA nut to it to provide a fixing for the back of the chassis to the body, doubling up to retain the tender link. The original motor had been too long to fit a backplate in the cab, so I found a suitable one in my box of spares and added some packing to the back of it to clear the new motor.
The tender wheels run in the rather crude bearing holes in the cast white metal frames. I didn’t fancy making a new chassis and it runs pretty freely, so for once there was a job I could leave for another day.
The tender needed a new link fixing and rear coupling to replace the original wide Triang one. A vacuum pipe and lamp brackets were fitted to the loco and tender buffer beams. All the handrails were rather heavy wire held in place with split pins, the way it was done in 1960s models. I replaced almost all the handrails with 0.4mm brass wire and Gibson knobs, which is a great improvement. Two sections remain as I ran out of short knobs.
Painting started following a thorough wash of the body and tender. I used an etching grey primer sprayed on then Crimson Lake in two coats. The black parts were painted next where possible by air brush, otherwise by paintbrush. Thankfully these locos had a simple lining, if you discount the steps, eight in all. There’s only one boiler band at the smokebox end, and the splashers and cab sides. The tender lining is rectangular, although the cut outs in the frames are a little fiddly. As always with my early period preference for LMS locos the exact livery is a matter of almost infinite choice with regard to the crest or not, numbers on the cab sheets or tender, or LMS in small letters in place of the crest. Some locos were turned out from Horwich in plain black with stencilled numbers, such was the hurry to get the locos working! I have retained the original number and you will have to wait until it is turned at Havil shed to see if both sides are in the same livery!



After the two coats of red, drying before the black is added.
It is quite likely that I have had more work to do than building the loco from scratch. Anyway, it is a fitting tribute to Phil Carpenter’s friendship and it has been a thoroughly absorbing project for Lockdown 2. 




Phil Carpenter demonstrating lining at CMRA 2009.




The East Midlands 125 Farewell
Thursday 13th May 2021



On Thursday 13th May the Branch Line Society in partnership with East Midlands Railway and 125 Group did a tour raising funds for Railway Children and the Railway Benefit Fund charities as the following weekend EMR would be Retiring the HST from Service. The route we took was London St Pancras - (via MML) - Kettering - Corby - Manton Jn - Oakham - Melton Mowbray - Syston East Jn - Syston South Jn - Leicester and the same route as the outward journey with 43274 in EMR Purple and 43102 in Intercity Swallow Livery.


43274 Supporting the EMR purple Livery at Leicester after work the journey up from St Pancras unfortunately I didn’t manage to get any pictures of 43102 in InterCity Swallow Livery 


So the start of the journey I caught the 08:56 Thameslink service (2C15)  form Hatfield which was 8 minutes Late my original plan was to the catch 09:26 from Hatfield but I change it to catch the earlier train just in case that the 09:26 was cancelled or running very late as I had to be at St Pancras for 10:21 as that was booked the departure of the tour as I arrived into Kings Cross it had change since the last time I was there which was February 2020 when I caught an LNER Service to Doncaster. By the time my train arrived at Platform 6 at Kings Cross it was 10 Minutes Late when I got off the train at Kings Cross the first sound, I hear is a Class 66 (66720) idling in Platform 7 as Platform 7 to 11 are being rebuilt as part of the ECML Upgrade.
So, as I walk over to St Pancras in the Rain via WHSmith for Food and Drink when I got into St Pancras and when up to the East Midland I notice a que of people I first it people for the coffee shop but then I notice someone who I knew it turns out it que for the tour as the HST was coming of an inbound Passenger working from Sheffield dure to the size of Platform 1 at  St Pancras they wanted everyone on as soon as Possible for the Ontime Departure originally I was going to use my phone to take a picture I didn’t have enough time to do it so I walk up my coach which was Coach E and Seat number 69.


This was looking down my carriage form my seat.


We left St Pancras bang 10:21 bang on time under the Headcode as 1M17 so as we travel Up the Midland Mainline passing Though Stations such as St Alban, Luton and Bedford on the Down Fast we then cross over to the Down Slow at Kettering South Jn then passing though Kettering Platform 2 so we can turn off at Kettering North Jn for the line for Corby, Oakham and Melton Mowbray which is new track for me as most Midland Mainline tours I have been on goes via Market Harborough to Leicester. So as we cross over at Syston East Jn and Syston South Jn just before then going past Leicester LIP which is home of the UK Rail Leasing Company with it yard full of Rolling Stock such a x4 Ex LNER Class 91, Ex Greater Anglia MK3 coaches and DVT, Class 37,43,47,56,58 so as we arrive in Platform 4 at Leicester at 12:04 1 minutes early as I got of train the weather was sunny consider only when we left London it was Raining as I got the train I walk up to the Power car of 43274 to take some pictures as we only have and 15 to 20 minutes break/leg stretch.





A few shots on whilst at Leicester and 56098 moving around the Yard.


So I boarding my coach ready for the at 12:20 departure the route was same as the outward Journey on the way they did the raffle the top Price was a EMR Cab ride but unfortunately I didn’t get any tickets because I forgot to get cash out back in London in the morning but I didn’t come empty handed as the 125 group was walking though the train with a trolly selling their merchandise such hats, window label from the LNER Let’s go round Again Tour and printed picture of 43102 and 43274 as we re-joined the Up slow at Kettering North Jn we then past though Kettering Platform 1 we then cross over to the Up fast at  Kettering South Jn as soon. As we pass though St Alban, I know we was only 20 minutes away from St Pancras and it was time for my Final HST to come to an end as we are arrived in Platform 2 St Pancras I got off the train and waited for everyone to clear so I can film my Final MK3 door Slam once I finishes filming that I then walked up to the end of platform to filmed it leave for the Last time as soon I stopped filming.
 I then walked back over to Kings Cross in the rain again got into the main station at Kings Cross just missed the train by a minute, so my train was not until 15:22 as the train in to arrive into Platform 3 after working 13:54 from Ely to London Kings Cross (1T35) an 8 car Class 387 Electrostar (387103 and 3871XX)I then I boarded the train as it will form my train the 15:22 London Kings Cross to Cambridge (2C36) as soon I was in my seat an LNER MK4 set with 91110 Named Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight on the rear of the train pulled into Platform 1 after working 12:45 Leeds to London Kings Cross (1A30) as my train Departed Kings Cross I knew my day was coming to an end as I arrived back into Hatfield I then got into a Taxi Back home and started to edit my video form the day.
I hope you all like this story from my HST trip to Leicester on the Wednesday before the trip both me and my mum had our second Vaccine Jab unlike last time, I had no issues with it as I’m writing this a week later, I will now leave some pictures taken though the day. 







The Final Picture is a screenshot of me editing the video.
Until Next time Stay Safe Out there




How can we attract young people to the hobby,
or should we care?




As I have remarked before, there are an awful lot of older blokes at model railway exhibitions. Of course there are young kids, brought along by parents and a smattering of younger men but there are very few teenagers indeed.

Is the hobby of model railways fast becoming the pastime of grumpy old men, just waiting to die or is there another generation waiting to fill their shoes?

It is probably true to say that railway modelling is hardly regarded as 'cool' by the general public. 'Playing trains', and 'trainsets' are terms one still often hears. There is also a great deal of confusion between what is a 'trainspotter' and a railway modeller.



Some celebrities have kept their interest a dark secret for years for fear of losing street cred.. Who, for instance would have dreamt that Rod Stewart has actually TWO model railways and that his singing career started because his Mum thought he should go out and 'get a life'. Pete Waterman (who started out as a train spotter) of the Stock Aitken Waterman music production team is also a keen railway modeller. Two other modellers are Michael Palin and Jools Holland.

But four swallows a summer does not make. Some model railway clubs are experiencing an alarming decline in numbers due to the attrition of old age. As the average age in clubs creeps up and up, it must become less and less attractive to young blood. After all, who wants to spend that much time with a bunch of old fogies?

It is true that a few clubs are still thriving but they are probably in the minority these days.

Being an old fogey myself, I blame it on TOYS R US and the like. When I was a boy, very few toys were available indeed and if I wanted one, I would have to, often as not, make it myself. Nowadays, you can buy a wonderful model of just about anything. The only skill you need to learn is how to open the packaging! Thanks to immediate post war shortages, I gained a lot of skills which has put me in good stead for the rest of my life.

Rather surprisingly,  Thomas the Tank Engine,  Ivor the engine, Jack the Station Cat, and more recently Teddy Mac and the Railway Bears are still very popular with small children. However there seems to be a large gap once more mature interests take over.  Some sons follow their father into the hobby early on, in adult life but as the number of younger middle aged involved in the hobby falls, so naturally the offspring has no parenting mentor to follow.

The interest in the opposite sex takes paramount place quite naturally in the teenage years. There is nothing new in this though, believe me!



But does the drop in club membership prove that interest in the hobby is dying or is it that the hobby is just changing? Looking at the continuing plethora of wonderful RTR models entering the market place, nothing would appear further from the truth. Only a handful of people can better or equal modern RTR equipment by scratch building and for the most part, why bother at all when you can have perfect model of a Schools class in a heartbeat?

For the more obscure needs, the 'garage enterprise' has become an integral part of the hobby and it is possible to buy just about anything as a kit.

This may explain in part why the current emphasis is on ultra realistic scenery and dioramas.  This may be the last bastion of manual skill and creativity. Us old folk maintain our interest driven by the nostalgia of childhood memories. The inaccessible and sterile modern railway, (preserved lines excepted), is rather unlikely to stir similar passions in the young heart but the need to capture a 'special' part of the landscape will remain as strong as ever.

The home computer explosion has changed many things forever. These days, you can be in touch with other modellers who share your interest at the touch of a button. They may very well live in OZ, Colorado, Brazil, France or the UK. It really doesn't matter. Close and lasting relationships are formed in this way, even though you may never actually meet. People even get married after romancing on the internet so this is not at all surprising.



In the early days, most people were thrilled just to see a train, any train, running through a tunnel and perhaps some rudimentary scenery. We have all become much more sophisticated and demanding. Thanks to the internet and a huge range of published books, we can accurately research almost any railway subject we choose. Armed with a simple 'point and shoot' digital camera and some basic IT skills, you can share your interest with the world.

Perhaps this has led to a specialisation of interest. I know one modeller whose only interest is the Tollesbury Kelvedon line, the Crab and Winkle. Any other railway subject leaves him cold. His interest is far from solitary however, thanks to the internet.

Then there is the 'scale explosion'. From garden railways to T scale, the range of scales in use these days is staggering. Enthusiasts may group together by sharing a specific railway interest, a scale or indeed both. 

Computers are not just for staying in touch and sourcing material. You can also operate and even build your own digital railway. Let's face it....'train sim.' is not going to go away and we may lose more and more to the digital world. The fact is that as graphics become better and better, some may prefer to drive their own digital loco on the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway rather than actually take part in rebuilding the actual line!

So can the model railway club still fulfil a role in the future?

Many clubs gather around one large model railway. If it is the wrong scale, gauge or prototype it is unlikely to appeal to a newcomer. Other clubs offer a much broader range of layouts and will support members layouts as part of the experience. The Falmouth Model Railway club, for instance, supports six diverse layouts.

Many people simply just do not have the room or finance to build a model railway and the current rash of pizza layouts and mini dioramas supports this. Let's face it, how long will it be before one is bored to tears running a loco on twelve inches of track! Where better to keep your layout than at the clubhouse?

The model railway club would seem to be the most obvious place that could solve many of the problems faced by the person starting out. The only initial outlay is the membership fee.  Skills in any aspect of the hobby can be learnt whilst using the club’s equipment and most members will be happy allow others to operate their stock where it is not owned by the club.

Taking a club layout to a model railway exhibition can be a wonderful opportunity to socialise and have some fun for the members. At many exhibitions, one is often preaching to the converted but they can attract many people off the street. Another possibility is to have club open days.

The old Jesuit saying, "Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man" has a ring of truth to it. Most layouts are not in the least bit interactive and it is rare to see someone explaining to the visitors what is going on. These days, unless the exhibit is interactive, young folks will have hardly any interest in it at all.


A young visitor is invited to operate the harbour shuttle - photo Mick Thornton


Quite often, I have allowed a young person to operate a railcar service between County Gate and the harbour. This always results in a clamouring queue and from some of these kids, new enthusiasts may be born. One club operates an O gauge layout which is nothing but a lot of loops. On each track is a beautiful train which can be operated by a kid. 'Rug Rat' heaven!

Sadly, a number of layouts at exhibitions are now displayed too high for kids to see. To me, this seems an utterly dumb thing to do.

So much more could be done to 'get em young'. These days, care is of course needed when dealing with minors but a well organised 'junior section' in a model railway club could be the key to the club's survival. Exhibition managers could also help by inviting a club to bring their junior section layout as well as the 'grown up model'. Let the kids run it at exhibitions and maybe give a prize to the best.

Perhaps joint projects could be developed with local youth groups and community youth workers. Sadly, some clubs are still very cliquey and much needs to be done to make them more inclusive.


sadly, some clubs are still very cliquey


Many quite large model railway clubs have just not kept up with the internet revolution. A good example of an IT aware club is the Chester Model Railway Club which has a comprehensive and updated website. Remember, it is no good just having a website. It has to be easily found, using search engines like Google.  How else will you coax the solitary modeller away from his PC? A regular newsletter is also a plus, published both on paper and on the net. Some clubs even run an online forum.

Apart from being able to "Play Trains" on a club layout, a MRC can offer valuable social skills, and education, learning about electrics, carpentry, DIY, photography, digital systems for the brave, history of railways etc etc also valuable modelling help and advice.

Above all that, a model railway club can offer friendship and the feeling of being wanted among like-minded people. The 'club experience' however, will only be as good as those in it. They can also be a place where bullying and unpleasantness is commonplace. Sadly, a number of clubs are still run by testosterone rather than common sense.



Featured on the 009 Society website.










Hi Phil,  Kim and I have now had both jabs, suffering a bit but glad all done. Thanks Bob
P.S. Full of wood at the moment building another layout that will fit in my car 




T&DMRC 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.


  1. How many days does it take for the Earth to orbit the Sun? 
  2. Where is the lowest natural place on planet Earth?
  3. Norwegian artist Edvard Munch is famous for painting which iconic piece?
  4. Who invented the iconic Little Black Dress?
  5. Which drivers have won the most Formula 1 championships?
  6. Name Pixar’s first feature-length movie?
  7. What happened on July 20th, 1969?
  8. Who is 3rd on the all-time list of female tennis Grand Slam champions?
  9. What is the all-time most-streamed song on Spotify to date?
  10. Name the longest river in the world?





  1. How many stripes are there on the US flag? Answer: 13
  2. What’s the capital of Canada? Answer: Ottawa
  3. Which language has the most words (according to dictionary entries)? Answer: English 200,000 words
  4. Who invented the World Wide Web, and when? Answer: Tim Berners-Lee, 1990
  5. What city do The Beatles come from? Answer: Liverpool
  6. Which football team is known as ‘The Red Devils’? Answer: Manchester United
  7. What was the most-watched series on Netflix in 2019? Answer: Stranger Things
  8. What’s the national animal of Australia? Answer: Red Kangaroo
  9. Name the largest (not highest) mountain range in the world? Answer: The Andes - 7000km long, 6962m high.
  10. Which famous graffiti artist comes from Bristol? Answer: Banksy