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Following on from marking the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe day earlier this month on 8th May, today marks 80 years on since the evacuation of Allied soldiers commenced from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940. This is essentially a repost from 5 years ago but the sentiment remains true and strong.
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 just 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.

 

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It’s a cold, crisp and frosty December morning as we approach Christmas at Canute Road Quay and the crew on board ex LSWR Adams B4 Class No. 100 try to keep warm whilst shunting on the quay as flurries of snow start to get heavier.

As the festive season and New Year break is upon us, I just wanted to say very many thanks to all of you whom have taken the time to read this blog over the past 12 months. I hope you have found such ramblings interesting and informative.
I have always enjoyed corresponding with many of you that have made contact me either directly at shows, email or via the comments field on my various posts. I look forward to corresponding with you again in the New Year.

My outings with either Canute Road Quay or Fisherton Sarum  planned for 2020 and beyond can be found on my Exhibition Diary page here. I also thank those friends and family whom have assisted me exhibiting / playing with my train sets during 2019.

A further flurry of activity will be taking place at the start of the new year with both Hornby (January 6th) and Bachmann (February 5th) announcing their new ranges and I will bring you all the  Southern Railway / Southern Region related news on here as soon as their announcements are made.

I once again take this opportunity to thank the various manufacturers, publishers and retailers whom have allowed me privileged access to some of their plans and developments and often taken on board feedback, suggestions and advice, with the sole aim of promoting and furthering modelling of the Southern Railway / Southern Region.

Seasons greetings, whatever your faith or beliefs, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all! Fill up your life with as much love, compassion, tolerance, peace, happiness as you can and hopefully some time for modelling!

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This weekend, 23rd and 24th November,  is the annual, self styled National Model Railway Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham organised by the Warley Model Railway Club. It has become a major event in the model railway calendar with a large number and wide of layouts along with many associated trade stands, the key manufacturers and model railway press all present.

An Adams B4 shunts past an arriving Andrew Barclay at Canute Road Quay. Picture copyright and courtesy M Wild  / Hornby Magazine

As has become usual the last few years I shall be at the show all weekend with Mike Wild editor of Hornby Magazine on their stand A44. Every year Mike has one of his many layouts on the Hornby Magazine  stand A44, however this year there will be an extra special display with not one but four layouts and they will all be in different gauges too! Two of which will be making their public debut, assuming that Mike manages to actually finish them on time, he does like a deadline…

The first, very much complete layout,  in 00 gauge will be my very own Canute Road Quay and it will be joined on the stand by: in N Gauge Barrenthorpe Shed, in 009 a narrow gauge Lynton and Barnstaple style terminus, and in 0 gauge (the magazines very first 7mm exhibition layout) a diesel depot scene. The latter two are so new they don’t even have a name yet!

Livery sample of the Hornby upcoming LSWR Warner brake van, note the fixed side lamps

One of the items that will no doubt be on show on the Hornby stand (not the Hornby Magazine stand) will be the livery samples of their forthcoming ex LSWR/SR/BR(s) Warner 20 ton goods brake van that was announced as being part of their 2019 range in January.
75 of this type of van were built between 1915 and 1921.

The SR version note lamp irons and different ducket style

They were known to staff as ‘New Vans’ a name which they kept well into the 1950’s! They were up-rated to 24T by the Southern Railway and became SR Diagram 1543.
I was able last month to take a sneaky look at these samples and take a couple of quick snaps of both the LSWR and SR versions on Canute Road Quay.

Six versions will initially be available:

  • R6911 –  No. 9646, in LSWR goods brown livery
  • R6911A – No. 5359, in LSWR goods brown livery
  • R6913 – No. 55062, in SR Pre 1936 goods brown livery
  • R6913A – No. 55009, in SR Pre 1936 goods brown livery
  • R6915 –  No. S55040, in BR unfitted grey livery
  • R6915 –  No. S55032, in BR unfitted grey livery

Although the show is considered by some a bit of a Marmite show (and who does not love Marmite!) I believe it is still well worth a visit and compared to other hobbies / events still a good value for money day out.
It is a chance to see inspirational modelling in every scale and gauge from across the UK and even Europe along with the major manufacturers and traders all under one roof.
If you are coming along at the weekend, please make sure you drop by the Hornby Magazine stand  A44 have a look at Canute Road Quay and a natter. I look forward to seeing you there!

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The results from the annual Wishlist Poll for for 2019 for new 00 models are now available. The purpose of The Poll is to provide an easy way for modellers and collectors to tell the major manufacturers and commissioners of ready-to-run railway models what they would like to see made from new tooling (excluding models announced, tooled or made since 2005).

My kit built U Class, could this be a candidate for an RTR?

Once again, as per last year, the the SR U class 2-6-0 tops the SR/BR(s) list and was this year 5th overall (it topped the SR list and was fourth overall last year), the USATC S-160 2-10-0 was 1st this year.  The second place SR loco was the humble Q Class 0-6-0 ,  which was up from 11th to 6th overall this year. The top 10 for SR/BR(s) were as follows (overall position / number of votes):

  • U Class 2-6-0 (5/353)
  • Q Class 0-6-0 (6/328)
  • Z Class 0-8-0t (12/282)
  • K Class 2-6-0 (13/280)
  • SECR Wagons, Vans and Brake van (24/242)
  • Bulleid Leader (28/228)
  • LSWR Wagons, Vans and Brake Van (32/223)
  • SR W Class 2-6-4t (33/221)
  • SECR D1/E1 Class 4-4-0 (35/220)

The complete results file can be downloaded here 1. Results – The 00 Wishlist Poll 2019 – Most Wanted  and by category here 2. Results – The 00 Wishlist Poll 2019 – By Category

As always it will be interesting to see how many of these items feature in the manufacturers plans in the coming years.

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If you so wish, wear your poppy with pride today, pause respectfully for two minutes at 11 am this Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day tomorrow remembering all those, both service and civilian personnel whom have given their lives for the freedom that we all enjoy today, and should you feel so inclined, support the sterling work of the Royal British Legion.

Marking 101 years since the end of the ‘Great War’, unfortunately not the war to end all wars, and although this post is mainly written to commemorate this especially poignant anniversary it is also dedicated to all Railway companies across the country and indeed the world that lost many staff; not only those drafted into the military services, but also those lost whom continued their duties on the railways keeping the networks up and running, we should honour and remember them all.

When You Go Home,
Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow,
We Gave Our Today

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Locomotive 333 was built originally by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway, designed by Billinton, as an L class 4-6-4 ‘Baltic’ tank. She was given the name Remembrance and became the companies War Memorial engine and carried a plaque with the inscription:

“In grateful remembrance of the 532 men of the L.B.& S.C.Rly. who gave their lives for their country, 1914-1919″

In 1934, under the auspices of Maunsell they were rebuilt as Class N15x (an appropriate Brighton-style suffix) 4-6-0s, and fitted with standard Urie LSWR tenders along with smoke deflectors. Now number 2333 ‘Remembrance’ retained its name, plaque and status within the Southern Railway.

Inscribed on James Scott’s Victory Arch, at Waterloo station: “Dedicated to the employees of the Company who fell in the war.” and the names of those London and South Western employees who gave their life are honoured within the arch.

And just to end this post, as written by Paul Hunter – the poppy is more than a one time of a year symbol:, 

I am not a badge of honour, I am not a racist smear,
I am not a fashion statement, to be worn but once a year,
I am not glorification of conflict or of war.
I am not a paper ornament a token,
I am more.

I am a loving memory, Of a father or a son,
a permanent reminder of each and every one. 
I’m paper or enamel, I’m old or shining new,
I’m a way of saying thank you, To every one of you.

I am a simple poppy, a reminder to you all,
That courage faith and honour,
will stand where heroes of all kinds fall.

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This weekend, 14th and 15th September sees the annual Faversham Model Railway Club exhibition being held at the The Abbey School, London Road, Faversham. ME13 8RZ.  I am looking forward to exhibiting Fisherton Sarum at this show as I havent exhibited this layout in a while, the first of its two appearances on the road this autumn (the other being  Beckenham and West Wickham MRC on the 19th October.)

ex LSWR Adams 0395 class 0-6-0 No 3441 awaits here next pilot tern on Fisherton Sarum.

There will be 18 working layouts across a variety of scales, gauges and prototypes. And a selection of traders.
The show is open on Saturday between 10am to 4.30pm and on Sunday between 10am and 4.00pm.

A quiet period on shed with Bulleid pacific 21C102 “Salisbury” being cleaned, A Drummond 4-4-0 L11 “Large Hopper” No 405 is being coaled. An Adams 0-4-4T O2 No 213 also simmers on shed.

It is also good to be exhibiting Fisherton Sarum again within Southern Railway territory even if the Eastern section in Kent rather than the South Western section.

The venue is just off the A2 London Road and if coming via train it is only approximately an 8 minute walk from Faversham station (up side exit)

If you are planning on coming along,  Fisherton Sarum is stand number 7 located in the hall one, please drop by and say hello, it is always a pleasure to meet and chat with readers of this blog.

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Today, 6th June,  marks the 75th anniversary of the Allied forces D-Day landings, Operation Overlord,  on the Normandy coast, the largest ever wartime seaborne invasion landings, that bought about the start of the end of the Second World War. We rightly commemorate bravery of the 156,000 allied troops involved and the as many as 4000 young men that fell to bring about the liberation of France and ultimately Europe some 11 months later.

It should also be remembered that D-Day was not just about one day but an incredible amount of planning and logistics both leading up to and for the many months that followed to ensure that men and machines, munitions, supplies and materials were in the right place at the right time to ensure success. Whilst much is reported about the 6000 plus ships and vessels that sailed across the channel,  it was very much the railways of the time that played a big part in these logistics supplying the many south coast posts such as Portsmouth, Southampton, Poole and Portland. The Southern Railway was of course at the forefront of these logistics.

For example to build the temporary ‘Mulberry’ harbours, Designed by Major Allan Beckett of the Royal Engineers,  that were built over six months off the Normandy coast by around 55,000 workers used  210,000 tons of steel, 1,000,000 tons of concrete. All these materials would have arrived at the coast ports for loading onto vessels by rail. This construction still stands as one of the greatest civil engineering feats of modern times.

The Southern Railway reported, later that year, at its 1944 Annual General Meeting that some £1,000,000 was spent on the additional sidings and equipment necessary to meet the needs of Operation Overlord. During 1944 over 26,000 special trains were run, with over 550,000 on duty service personnel carried.  Eighteen of the Company’s steam ships and their ‘modern’ train ferry ships also played an active part. All of this took place whilst maintaining a practically normal level of standard service trains to allow the civilian population to move from home to work as usual.

Lest we forget not just the young brave military personnel but also the dedication and efforts of the railway workers that worked tirelessly, in all too often difficult and life threatening conditions themselves, indeed many did also fall, to ensure the success of Operation Overlord.

No pictures with this post just thoughts and thanks.

 

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T14 class No 461 heads west passing the ‘daffodils’ appearing on the embankment between the main line and 21c159 “Sir Archibald Sinclair” waiting on shed.

May the angels protect you, may the sadness forget you, may goodness surround you and may your God always bless you. The budding trees, the new flowers, and birds that sing, whisper to me that it’s Easter, that and supermarkets full of chocolate of all shapes (many irrelevant), sizes and special offers!

Here is wishing a warmth in your firebox for your soul on Easter & always!

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The latest books hot of the press from my good friends at the Irwell Press are firstly two new publications in the excellent hardback “Book of the” series to cover the Southen Railway Moguls. The two volumes cover the initially ex South Eastern and Chatham and later Southern Railway, Richard Maunsell designed and produced 2-6-0 Moguls, the N and N1 Classes in Part One and U and U1 classes in Part Two. The third is a paperback version the Southern Workhorses No.1 Q Class 0-6-0s. Number two in the series of Southern Workhorses, still to be published, will be the Bullied Q1 class.
These three publications all follow the usual brilliant Irwell Press “The Book of Series” with historical background information about each class, their design, liveries and spheres of operation, photographs along, with particular details and photographs of each individual locomotive taken from their works records. the books are of the usual high standard of detail, information and photograph reproduction that we have come to expect from the Irwell Press at a reasonable price of £29.95 for the Mogul hardback versions and £15.95 for the paper Q class publication. As they say available from all good bookstores, and probably some not so good ones too!

Book of the Southern Moguls Part Two N and N1 classes

Book of the Southern Moguls Part Two U and U1 classes

Southern Workhorses No. 1 Q Class 0-6-0s

As with all the Irwell Press‘The Book of the” series they are invaluable for Southern Railway historians and modellers alike and well worth a read.

Further information about my N1 model, converted from a Bachman N class,  illustrated above can be read on my Talking Stock posts #12 here. My U Class model is built from a DJH kit, whilst the Q Class was built from a then Wills now South Eastern Finecast kit, sometime ago when I was in my early teens,  and is now running on its third chassis but still makes the occasional appearance on Fisherton Sarum!

 

 

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It is fifty six years to the day when Dr Richard Beeching’s report “The Reshaping of British Railways” was officially published on the 27th March 1963. This is a sneaky repeat post from six years ago on the fiftieth anniversary, buts its still spoken about, with many opinions to this  to this day, so my thoughts below are still relevant.
Beeching was at the time Chairman of the British Railways Board. The report identified 2,363 stations and 5,000 miles of railway line for closure, 55% of stations and 30% of route miles, with an objective of stemming the large losses being incurred during a period of increasing competition from road transport (that also had the support from the then Minister of Transport Ernest Marples whom it appears had connections to the road construction industry and had also appointed Dr Beeching in the first place).

The Reshaping of British Railways report published on 27th March 1963 The Reshaping of British Railways report published on 27th March 1963

Many of the ex Southern Lines especially in the South West of England, already coined the ‘Withered Arm’ were closed as a result of the report.  A few protests resulted in the saving of some stations and lines, but the majority were closed as planned and Beeching’s name is to this day associated with the mass closure or ‘axe’ of railways and the loss of many local services in the period that followed.

One such line that was included in the report for closure was the Tamar Valley line, however due to the poor road links in the area some of the line was reprieved and survives to this day between Plymouth, Bere Alston and Gunnislake. In fact there is currently a growing movement and support for the line to be reopened north of Bere Alston back to the south end of Tavistock.

In addition to the main report there were a number of maps included within Part 2 of the report  that diagrammatically showed data such as : Density of passenger traffic, Distribution of passenger receipts, Density of Freight Traffic, etc. and of course the main outcome of the report the map of Proposed Withdrawal of Passenger Services. I have reproduced part of a couple of these maps in this post showing the Southern Region area.

Map 3 of the report shows the Distribution of Passenger Traffic Station Receipts Map 3 of the report shows the Distribution of Passenger Traffic Station Receipts (click for larger version)
Map9 Map 9 of the report shows the Proposed Withdrawal of Passenger Services (click for larger version)

Map 9 Proposed Withdrawal of Passenger Services shows the almost total eradication of the ex Southern Railway lines in the South West as already mentioned above, and a number of other lines in the South of England identified for closure. Happily some of these lines have now since reopened as preserved railways such as the Alton to Winchester line that between Alton and Alresford now forms the Mid Hants Watercress line.

Although the Unions at the time released their own version of the report titled “The Mis-shaping of British Railways” a number of facts (although in some cases the basis of collection of some of these facts have been questioned) within the report appear compelling and it is perhaps not surprising that the conclusions reached were so wide ranging.
The report with respect to freight on the railways proposed the move to quicker, higher capacity trains, serving the main routes, transporting greater loads to hubs. Not with the then traditional wagons but trains loaded with containers. Does that seem familiar today?
Whilst Beeching is a much maligned name  for the passenger line closure section of the  report it is easy perhaps forget that this report dramatically modernised freight on the rail network promoting containerisation and long-distance freight haulage.

Who knows if the current growth and success of the railway network as it stands today would have been possible if some of the harsh decisions as a result of “The Reshaping of British Railways” were not taken…

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