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This week sees the release of a new blockbuster style film ‘Dunkirk’; directed by Briton Christopher Nolan, whose stars include Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and some singer or other Harry Styles (I didn’t think I would ever include his name in a post on here!); is of course about the the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 27 May and 4 June 1940.
As it is probably not mentioned much in the film (as I have not seen it yet) I thought it would be worth revisiting a past post from May 2015 that commemorated the 75th anniversary of the event and discussed the vital part played by the Southern Railway.
The Dunkirk evacuation, code named Operation Dynamo, was decided upon when large numbers of British, French, and Belgian troops were cut off and surrounded by the German army. The event is renown for the use of a flotilla of 800 small ships used to assist in the ferrying of some 338,226 soldiers to safety.

southern-railway-coat-of-arms-1923-1948The Southern Railway played very much an unsung role in Operation Dynamo, as once back on English shores the soldiers that did not require immediate hospitalisation or were already based at local South Eastern England barracks were dispersed across England away from the main reception ports of Margate, Ramsgate, Folkestone, Dover, and Newhaven. During the nine period of Operation Dynamo the Southern Railway laid on and coordinated an amazing number of special trains comprising of : 327 from Dover, 82 from Ramsgate, 75 from Margate 64 from Folkestone and also 21 ambulance trains.
These trains, known as ‘Dynamo Specials’ moved 180,982 troops, many of these services were routed via  Redhill, Guildford and Reading, in order to bypass the capital and avoid congestion. Where possible during this period the Southern Railway maintained its usual passenger services with the except of some ‘omnibus replacement services’ to free the most heavily utilised routes between Guildford, Redhill and Tonbridge. Not only was coordination required of the departing trains but also the routing of the return empty stock workings and the necessary prepared engines required to keep the transportation of soldiers as quick and efficient as possible.

The Southern Railway mustered at very short notice nearly 2000 additional carriages, many borrowed from other railway companies including 47 complete rakes from the LNER, 44 from the LMS and 40 from the GWR.  Also 180 engines and crews were required from across the network, to operate these services.

To avoid delay at Dover and Ramsgate it was decided that the soldiers, many of whom had not eaten properly for days, would be fed on the trains. Just simply feeding the men provided Southern Railway with a major logistical problem,  therefore certain rail stations were designated feeding stations. These stations included Headcorn, Tonbridge and Paddock Wood Although the Royal Army Service Corps were primarily responsible many local Women’s Voluntary Service members were involved to provide food and drink, much of which was also donated or paid for with monies rasied from the local communities. Due to the number of trains involved only an eight-minute stop for soldiers to be provide with food and drink that bearing in mind this could have been 550 per train, was again an impressive feat.  Trains often had to pull into a siding at these food stops to ensure that any ambulance trains had priority over the use of the main lines.

Given that Southern Railway had practically no time to organise and plan such an activity, what it achieved without the use of modern day communication systems was very impressive; improvisation and word of mouth were the order of the day. One unknown Army general was famously heard to say: “I wish the Army could operate with as few written instructions as Southern Railway does in an emergency.”

The Southern Railway, as well as coping with troops from Dunkirk, was also evacuating no less than 48,000 school children from the coastal areas due to fear of a German invasion. It should not go unmentioned that a number of the Southern Railway’s shipping fleet and crew, varying from cross channel passenger vessels, Isle of Wight ferries and cargo vessels were actively involved out on the channel itself,  with a number being either badly damaged or lost to enemy action.

We should also pause to remember the 68,000 of our soldiers whom didn’t make it home safely from this particular French campaign.

I hope this post goes, once again, a little way to remember and honour the part that the Southern Railway played in the overall success of Operation Dynamo out of what was a defeat in military terms in Flanders.

 

Today the 9th July 2017 marks 50 years since the end of steam on the Southern Region. During the final weeks in July 1967 there were officially 72 steam engines left in service that obviously included a small number of Bulleid Merchant Navy’s (6) and West County Class locomotives (18 including two in original form) but also a number of British Railways standard classes such as BR Standard 5MT and 4MT 4-6-0s, 4MT 2-6-0s, 4MT 2-6-4Ts, 3MT 2-6-2Ts and Ivatt 2-6-2Ts. The other loco class active until the end was the USA 0-6-0T at Guildford, Southampton and Eastleigh. These final steam allocated duties up to the final day final day  included boat trains to Weymouth or Southampton Docks, some standard service trains to Weymouth and also a few freight and departmental turns. The old West of England line west of Salisbury had already been taken over by the Western Region and steam was effectively eliminated on the line from late 1964.

35028 awaits the off from platform 19 of Waterloo on today’s Waterloo Sunset tour to Yeovil and return.

Merchant Navy Class Bulleid Pacific 35028 was one of those locomotives in service until nearly the end. She is now happily preserved and extremely well maintained by the Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society.  She has just returned to regular main line service following an extensive overhaul,carried out by LNWR Heritage at Crewe, to gain a new ten year boiler certificate.

36028 just before today’s departure. Picture copyright and courtesy D Puddicombe

She has now returned to her home base at Stewarts Lane and has already this  week on the main line including a tour  to commemorate the last Bournemouth Belle on the 5th July (which was also Clan Line’s last actual day in BR service).

I am honoured to travelling behind her today on the UK Railtours Waterloo Sunset railtour today to Yeovil Junction and back to mark the 50th anniversary.

My model of Bulleid West Country 34013 Okehampton

One of the Bulleid West Country Class locomotives that also survived to the end of steam on the Southern was 34013 ‘Okehampton’ which unfortunately did not get preserved but she appears left in model form, although possibly slightly cleaner than she actually ended in service.

The Bachmann Europe team met up this week with the model trade press to update the market on the latest developments and progress, a full report can be found on the RmWeb forum here and I take this opportunity to update on those items of a Southern / Southern Region interest. As in previous years at this Media day no new product  announcements were made. All images on this post are copyright and courtesy of Andy York / BRM and or Bachmann Europe.

Firstly, in 00 gauge the relevant SR updates from Bachmann are as follows:

The impressive SECR livery sample of the 60′ birdcage stock

Since the London festival of model railways where I reported on the ex South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR) 60′ Birdcage stock BR Crimson livery sample being shown, the livery samples for the SECR

The SECR 60′ composite livery sample

and SR Olive Green versions have now been received and signed off. I have to say the decoration and lining look extremely fine and

The other SECR brake 3rd livery sample

well done. The SECR dark lake version in particular is very impressive and must be a first  such accurate and highly detailed ready to run rolling stock for the pre-grouping era . Delivery is expected in September.

SR livery sample of the ex SECR 60′ Birdcage stock

The first releases will comprise of the following:
39-600 SECR 60’ Birdcage Brake Composite SECR Dark Lake

SR Composite livery sample

39-601 SECR 60’ Birdcage Brake Composite SR Olive Green
39-602 SECR 60’ Birdcage Brake Composite BR Vermillion
39-610 SECR 60’ Birdcage Composite SECR Dark Lake
39-611 SECR 60’ Birdcage Composite SR Olive Green

ex SECR Brake 3rd in SR livery

39-612 SECR 60’ Birdcage Composite BR Vermillion
39-620 SECR 60’ Birdcage Brake 3rd SECR Dark Lake
39-621 SECR 60’ Birdcage Brake 3rd SR Olive Green
39-622 SECR 60’ Birdcage Brake 3rd BR Vermillion

Bachmann H2 Class CADs

The ex London Brighton and South Coast H2 class Marsh Atlantic 4-4-2 announced in September 2013  is being delayed by another 3 months as an issue with the curvature of the rear splashers was identified and a decision made to address that so it is likely to be around February/March 2018 when they are finally released. The CAD drawings can be seen left.
Two versions are due for initial release:
31-921 – 32424 “Beachy Head” BR Black Early Emblem
31-920 – 2426 ‘St. Albans Head” SR Olive Green

Bachmann Ransomes and Rapier 45T steam crane CADS

Bachmann first announced the 45T Ransomes and Rapier steam crane in March 2015. They were introduced by a number of railway companies, including the Southern Railway, during the war and some lasted into the 1980s.

A further CAD view of the 45T steam crane

The impressive CAD artwork is shown left, not all the gear wheels will work but some items such as the outriggers will be positionable.
Initially they are producing four versions:
38-800 SR livery,
38-801 GWR Livery
38-802 BR black livery
38-803 BR red livery

Lastly from a Graham Farish  perspective there is an update on the N gauge version of the ex SECR 60ft Birdcage stock and also the ex SECR C class 0-6-0.

Graham Farish C Class 0-6-0 CADS

Firstly the ex SECR C Class 0-6-0 that was announced in January this year is now at the CAD stage as per the image left. The model will feature a NEXT 18 DCC decoder socket, coreless motor, loco drive, fine cab detail and NEM couplers, the initial release will comprise of:
372-775 C Class 0-6-0 No. 271 in SECR plain green livery
372-776 C Class 0-6-0 No. 1256 Southern Railway Black livery
372-777 C Class 0-6-0 No. 31227 in BR Black livery with early emblem

Graham Farish EP of the N Gauge 60′ Birdcage stock

The first EP samples of the 60′ Birdcage stock were on show, they were first announced in July 2014,  and these are likely to be available in the second quarter of 2018. The initial releases will be sold as three coach sets, as follows:
374-910  60′ Birdcage Stock – 3-Pack – SECR Wellington Brown
374-911  60′ Birdcage Stock – 3-Pack – SR Olive Green
374-912 60′ Birdcage Stock – 3-Pack – BR Vermillion

Good to see further progress being made on the above items. As any additional information comes to light I will post accordingly.

This months picture…

Bulleid Merchant Navy class 21C14 'Nederland Line' built from a Millholme kit, heads to London with the up Devon Belle having taken over the train at Wilton. Adams O2 built from a Wills kit, shunts the ash wagon on shed. My Grandfather, a Ganger,  can be seen taking a break leaning on his ballast fork near the platelayers hut.

Bulleid Merchant Navy class 21C14 ‘Nederland Line’ built from a Millholme kit, heads to London with the up Devon Belle having taken over the train at Wilton. Adams O2 built from a Wills kit, shunts the ash wagon on shed. My Grandfather, a Ganger, can be seen taking a break leaning on his ballast fork near the platelayers hut.

This weekend sees the first proper exhibition outing of Canute Road Quay at the Exe Model Railway Society’s exhibition. Having made its successful debut at the RMweb annual South West Area Group members day in Taunton at the end of April. This was not really an exhibition as such but a gathering of like minded friends and modellers, so this weekends event is its first true public outing.

USA tank No 72 crosses the quayside access road

The Exeter MRS exhibition is being held at the The Matford Centre, Matford Park Road, Marsh Barton, Exeter, Devon EX2 8FD. Opening times are 10am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday.  By all accounts this is an excellent show so well worth attending, and I am very much looking forward to exhibiting, ably assisted for the weekend by friend and fellow modeller Simon Paley.

In addition to this weekends show, Canute Road Quay has now also been invited to attend the Risborough MRC Railex Exhibition next year on 26th /27th May 2018 at  Stoke Mandeville Stadium, Stadium Approach, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP21 9PP and also their smaller Risex Exhibition in February 2019!

 

Regular readers of this blog will know that this time of year I tend to head south to where ‘summer comes soonest’, to coin a phrase from that well know Southern Railway Publicity poster.

I am soon heading very South (well about 4 and bit  hours and approximately 1600 miles in a plane south) for a blend of Spanish, African and Latin American influences,  exploration including a dormant volcanoes and a lavascape, rest, relaxation and hopefully some sun, possibly dark sandy beeches and sea too (might help you guess where). Normal service on this blog will therefore be resumed at the end of the month.  Before I get in to full holiday mode I just thought I would give a couple of brief updates on a few Southern related model items.

Engineering Prototype of the Dapol ex LSWR B4

Firstly, Dapol have now released images of the first assembled Engineering Prototype of their 00 gauge ex LSWR B4, announced back in 2014, This follows on the tooling test pieces that they had on display back in March at the BRM / Warners / MRC London Festival of Model Railways . So far the EP of just the one version of the 5 variants promised has been shown but I believe the other variations will follow.

Dapol B4 EP rear 3/4 view.

As a remind those variations so far announced are:

  • ‘Normandy’ (Number 96) as preserved by the Bulleid Society on the Bluebell Railway
  • ‘Caen’ (Number 90) Southampton Docks brown livery with Drummond Chimney
  • Number 88 in Southern black
  • Number 30082 in BR black, early emblem
  • Number 30096 in BR black, late crest

Secondly, The Kernow Model Rail Centre have received the second batch of livery samples of the their Gate Stock Pull Push sets and also the first main livery sample of the Bulleid Diesel numbers 10201 and 10202.
With respect to the Gate Stock there are still a number of tweaks being made to finalise the liveries.

The Kernow Model Rail Centre Bulleid Diesel 1st livery sample of 10201 . Picture courtesy and copyright KMRC

Although the first EPs of the Bulleid diesels broke cover, like the Dapol B4 tooling samples, back in March at the BRM / Warners / MRC London Festival of Model Railway as reported here, the livery application upon them had been undertaken by the factory from their own research rather than against approved livery artwork. The samples now received still have a few minor corrections to be made as the running numbers and BR early emblems are placed too high on the bodyside. The bogies require the axle boxes and springs painting black and the wheels will be the correct Bulleid pattern rather than the simple wheels provided for testing purposes. (The first engineering sample had the correct wheels).

Builleid Diesel 10202 livery sample. Picture courtesy and copyright KMRC

It should also be noted that these models have a centrally positioned 5 pole motor (not coreless) with two brass flywheels driving each power bogie via flexible drive shafts and having had the chance to test run the first EP they have a good weight to them, are quiet, smooth and powerful.
Kernow Model Rail Centre have also confirmed details of the final pricing and ordering details with respect to the pre-orders and this information can be found on the Kernow website here.

The 10203 versions will follow later.

Production slots for both the 10201 /2 Bullied Diesels and the Gate Stock are currently being finalised but it is hoped should be by the end of August, which neatly gets us back to summer and holidays how this post started.

This months picture…

Drummond 0-4-4T M7 No. 243 is one of the 6 painted in Malachite Green after the war but is one of those that were unlined, she is a repainted Hornby model. She has just shunted the ash wagon for filling by the gang.

Drummond 0-4-4T M7 No. 243 is one of the 6 painted in Malachite Green after the war but is one of those that were unlined, she is a repainted Hornby model. She has just shunted the ash wagon for filling by the gang.

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