Monday 5 March 2012

Goods Wagons

I have been collecting suitable 00 Gauge rolling stock for the layout for a while now.  I think they'll set the scene and the era of the layout.  As I am hoping to model the 1930s period, 1932 to 1939 I'll need LMS stock, a few of the the Big Four's stock and some private owner wagons.

CH Burt was a coal contractor.  Based in Woodford Halse, some six miles from Blakesley, the station there was on the Great Central Railway but there was a connection to the SMJ line.  I have assumed a delivery of limestone is being delivered locally.  Williams was a coal merchant who was based at the SMJ Hub of Towcester.  An excellent picture of this wagon appears in the British Railway Journal.  The Coalite wagon was also photographed on the line.  As a smokeless fuel, coalite was popular amongst householders and Williams of Towcester regularly received deliveries of it.

JG Stanton was a coal merchant based at Brackley six miles south west of Blakesley and where I was schooled.  Brackley had two stations, one on the Great Central mainline, linked to the SMJ at Woodford Halse and also the on the London and North Western Railway which connected to the SMJ at Banbury.  So although this is not strictly an SMJ wagon, it is certainly local.  The cattle wagon is a Large LMS (Midland) one.  Built from a kit, I bought this one ready made on Ebay as a bargain.  Cattle wagons were common on the line, there was a huge livestock market at Banbury and Cattle docks were a feature of most SMJ stations. I have photo evidence of the GWR 5 plank wagon at Towcester and Stratford upon Avon so I am happy to run it through Blakesley.

5.Blakesley Hall Miniature Railway

The Blakesley Hall Miniature Railway was  constructed by Mr CW Bartholomew who was the occupant of Blakesley Hall.  It was to 15 inch gauge, and originally operated an American outline 4-4-0 Steam locomotive around the grounds of the Hall.  Later it was famous for having a diesel locomotive, albeit hidden under a steam outline body, as early as 1909!  This makes it possibly the first diesel locomotive in the world even if it was powered by a car engine.  WJ Bassett-Lowke, the famous model engineer was based in nearby Northampton is known to have been involved in this pleasure line.  It was opened on high days and holidays to the public, including the Annual Flower and Produce Show.

The Bartholomews owned collieries in Wombwell in South Yorkshire and coal was delivered, at no cost, to the household via the siding at Blakesley station.  As a an engineer, Bartholomew was keen make use of his line to carry the coal 1/4 mile to the house.  He managed to gain access to the SMJ trackbed under the Railway bridge (Bridge 25) and built a small station next to the mainline one.  He also arranged for a siding to meet the very end of the mainline railway's siding for coal deliveries.

My model of the platform and shelter of the Blakesley Hall Miniature Railway.
Bartholomew bought six V tipper wagons and one flatbed bogie truck to add to the three bogie passenger carriages already in existence.  15 inch gauge tippler wagons were not common and it is believed that he bought these through mining contacts on the continent. They allowed coal to be shoveled from his own collieries' wagons to the Halls' boiler room almost directly.

4. Bridge 25 - Across the Railway.

Crossing the railway from the village to Blakesley Hall was an unclassified road.  It crossed the SMJ Line on a hump-backed bridge.  This was Bridge 25 on the SMJ.  It was originally Ironstone and red-brick but there was an upgrading of the line by the LMS Railway in the 1930s.  During this time, the Bridge was strengthened and the parapet walls were re-built with blue engineering brick.

An Ex LNWR Super D 0-8-0 passes under the Blakesley Station Bridge.

This weekend, I spent an hour drawing up sketches of the bridge with a view to making a model.  I mocked up the bridge in foam-core board.  It was successful and so I used the mock-up as a skeleton for the model.  The foamcore-board is covered in Slaters English Bond Brick and Dressed Stone embossed plasticard.  Painting was with water based emulsions.  Making a decent ironstone effect that actually looks like the oolitic limestone of the region was not easy.

The foamcore basis of the model can be clearly seen here, withe the original ironstone and blue engineering bricks replicated.
Here is bridge 25 mocked up in place on the baseboard.  It will form the scenic break at thr right hand end of the layout.  You can see the standard gauge and the Blakesley Hall Miniature Railway line side by side as per the prototype.

The Bridge is looking well bedded in now.  The construction of this end of the layout is nearing completion.  The 15 inch gauge line is now complete.

Saturday 25 February 2012


These are very light because I want to transport the layout, possibly on my own.  The largest boards are 4 foot by 2 foot.  They are made of 6mm ply with 2cm by 4cm supports.  The two boards that will feature the layout are contoured at the edges to make the viewing area deeper.

These are the two boards upon which the scenery will be featured.  You can see the contoured edges that bring the layout six inches closer to the audience, adding depth to the scenery.

Some evidence of planning here!  The plan in the foreground is the OS Map of the station.  I used it to get the key features in the right places.  Some compromises have to be make of course or I'd need a 12 foot baseboard.  I have drawn out the key features on the boards and I checked the length of the platform (a major compromise) with rolling stock.  It will accept a 2 coach train with ease.  You'll note that I have arranged the layout so the viewer looks south.  This gives a great view of the signalbox and station building.

I took the opportunity to place trains on the full sized layout.  Apart from my own amusement, I also wanted to see whether my compromises are acceptable.  This view looks towards Stratford.

This is a view that you'll not be able to see when the layout is complete but it is the view from the station approach road.  A Stratford bound 4F awaits a clear line.  The lines in the foreground will be the 15inch Gauge Blakesley Hall Miniature Railway station.

 I thought you may want to see how I make the contours of the scenery.  I want the scenery to be very light and so I use polystrene as a former, either foamcore board (available through art shops) or old food packaging ( such as pizza bases).  On top of teh formers, I use a skin of cereal packet card torn into strips and glued to the formers with a Hot Glue Gun.  On top of all this, I use an old fashioned papier mache skin.  I apply two layers of paper (obtained form my recycling bin at work) wetted and stuck down with PVA glue.

So here are the two boards together with the integral backscene in place.  This is now looking very good, having been spray painted grey and printed scenery cut out and applied.

6.LMS Ro-Railer - a brave experiment,

 In April 1932, the LMS trialled it's revolutionary Karrier Road and Railbus on the SMJ line.  It ran a good number of press specials and then entered a very short period of service taking passengers between Blisworth where it connected with Euston trains and Stratford upon Avon.  At Stratford upon Avon, it transferred onto it's road wheels within minutes and drove to the Welcombe Hotel without the passengers getting out of their seats.
The Karrier RoRailer attracts alot of attention as it stands at Stratford Upon Avon station having transferred from Road to Rail at the Cattle Dock.
Here is my model.  It is an older Keyser model with alot of detail added from photogaphs.

The signal is off because this is an express service.  Note the buffers which were never used.

It's 1932 and the Karrier Experimental Railbus heads back to Blisworth to connect with a mainline service to London.

You can see the ro-railer here:

You can find out more about this unique vehicle here.

or a very in depth article here:



It is a real place!  It is a small village of around 500 souls.  It is in South Northamptonshire, not far from the Market Town of Towcester.  It is in the valley of the River Black Ouse, which a almost a stream at this point.  It is an ancient settlement, mentioned in the Domesday Book and it sits on the Ironstone Hills, the local stone giving the buildings a lovely brown/orange colour.  It is a very agricultural area, even now, and it's flower and produce show has and still does attract attendance from across the local area.  Blakesley Hall, long demolished, was the home of the Bartholomew family.  Charles Bartholomew constucted a 15 inch gauge railway between the station and his house under the tutilage of the famous model engineer Mr Bassett-Lowke of Northampton.

This is the 1950s map of the village.  You can see village on the hill and the railway down in the valley.  Towcester is on the right of this map and Morton Pinkney is to the left.  Blakesley Hall is clearly shown although the minature railway cannot be seen, having been removed during the WW2 scrap drive.

You can find out more about this lovely village at

This map of the line puts Blakesley in it's context with the rest of the railway line.