Saturday 30 July 2022

The Milk Train

Saturday morning, and Paddy & Shamus are waiting for the train to Tiverton Junction and then on to Exeter for a day out exploring the pubs. But they  should have checked the timetable, for the passenger service ended last year. But hopefully cider loving Colin is guard and will get the short milk train stopped so they can travel in the brakevan in exchange for some takeaway cider or beer upon their return.

This is the latest section in recreating the Hemyock branch line (it’s part of a much bigger layout). Unlike Hemyock, which is mostly scratch built, this cameo is using some wonderful secondhand buildings. Sadly the stone work (scribed plaster I think) on the delightful buildings to the left was literally crumbling away with age, but a good application of diluted PVA has stopped the deterioration. 

Next, Culmstock….. the baseboards have arrived… 

Friday 29 July 2022

Taco Oven

It’s #frontendfriday again. Old trusty 58086 sporting a then new design of supersized black rubber loco lamp, poses in the brewery yard next to the brewery’s new ‘mechanical horse’ resplendent in red and cream. 

58086 after withdrawal in 1959 after many years on the Highbridge Branch, spent its final months next to the water softening plant on Bath Shed. Many think the loco was scrapped in 1960, but in fact it was bought by the brewery for use as a shunting loco. In the late 1960s, the loco was shipped to Latin America for use at a little known treacle mine, and so the tale should have ended. 

But, bringing things up to date, purely by chance, the engine was recently discovered by celebrity chef and loco fanatic (who wishes to remain anonymous, because he was trying to find a brothel at the time) lurking in the back of a seedy restaurant being used as a taco oven. Plans are underway to bring it back to the UK for restoration.

Thursday 28 July 2022

Gnat’s Todger

With all the recent small fabulous loco releases we forget the good old Hornby ‘Pug’. This an eBay find from 15 or so years ago, since repainted and numbered to represent one that was at Radstock for a short while back in the 1950s. The motor protrudes in to the cab, so some canvas side screens were fabricated from some black wrapping tissue (bought for wrapping presents for the mother in law). I found that widening the wheel back to backs by a gnat’s todger improved running - less waddle and slightly better pickup as it hugs the rails better. 

The 3 contractor’s side tipping spoil wagons are from the excellent white metal kits by RT Models. Here is the delightful consist creeping up the grade over the colliery weighbridge on my Polbrook Gurney Colliery layout.

These little scenes take quite a bit of time to create and photograph  - if you have a moment you can support me here 🍻

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Hubert Returns

I know a few of you were worried about the disappearance of Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse. Especially because he was last seen near a pet food factory. Whilst that turned out to be true, it was a vegan pet food factory where only vegans are used, not horse meat. Phew. And since that scare, Hubert has been with Shamus on the island of Ireland island teaching Shamus Latin whilst seeking out the best pints of Guinness stout. 

On the left, it looks like Nasal Nigel is back sporting his very latest sticky green bus spotter flasher-mac, the old one being destroyed by the MOD due to it being a public health hazard. Our Nigel is a little upset, because Mother bought him a replacement one without that ‘special pocket’ incorporated which allows him to fiddle with his Triang Hornby Type 3 diesel loco unnoticed in public.

These little scenes take quite a bit of time to create and photograph  - if you have a moment you can support me here 🍻

Tuesday 26 July 2022

Plan C

Tuesday morning at Brew Street. The management have hired in a shiny rail car for the occasional passenger service. Pete & Dud are trying to locate the coal bunker whilst Eddie thinks he might know where the water filler cap is. The first train might be some time. Plan B - forget all that messing about and simply tow it with the Peckett. Plan C - go by narrowboat. Sorted. 

Monday 25 July 2022

End of the Line

Monochrome Monday. A hot sunny Monday in late July 1967 sees the first of many demolition trains at Combwich, the line having closed in March 1966. A private contractor was used for much of the work, they also providing the little ‘Planet’ diesel loco. Not only could this loco run of diesel, but it also had a clockwork mechanism. Okay, ignore that last bit.

Sunday 24 July 2022

High Summer - Camping Tips

High summer out on The Levels, there is little if any wind with temperatures already up in the mid 80s. Not great if camping, but the trick is to go to bed early and get up early. As soon as the sun hits the canvas, it gets rather hot and stifling inside the tent, and really not great if having over indulged the night before on the local cider. But clouds are forming up over there on Mendip, so there’s hope of a nice breeze building up from the Bristol Channel a few miles west of here. This will mean another day is possible cycling around seeking out hard to find cider farms and remote pubs out on the confusing network of lanes and droves. And of course, one can always have a cooling dip in one of the algae infested rhynes that crisscross this unique landscape.

These little scenes take quite a bit of time to create and photograph  - if you have a moment you can support me here 🍻

Saturday 23 July 2022

Mobile Telephone

The inch high people of Little England are back from their holiday. They thought it good to get away before the ankle biters break up for their summer holidays and the prices double. 

Today they’re celebrating the launch of a new mobile telephone service. The telephone box can be operated from anywhere on the UK rail network, it being mounted on a flat wagon coupled to a brake van. The brake van contains batteries and a radio transmitter to link to the GPO exchange. 

Of course many of our usual characters are here…. From left to right, not so celebrated photographer Ivan Locksmith (he took this photo using a self timer delay) casually poses puffing on his pipe smoking something from his greenhouse. 

Retired boxer and wrestler Gaylord Grip props himself up on the brake van, his new job being ‘technical brute force’ to assist the back room boys in the brakevan technical area. Of course Royalty Liz & Margo are here to make to first telephone call (probably to call the pub to see when it opens). No event would be complete without our professional gin testers. 

Up on the tank, Neil and Neal are having a staring competition, they’re a couple of odd lads, you’ve probably met them at railway shows doing DCC demonstrations. 

Of course no event would be complete without smooth talking local bounder, cad and ladies’ man, Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe, and definitely not a ladies’ man, straight talking Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery. They’re almost certainly involved, though something tells me the concept of a railway mounted ‘mobile telephone’ needs somewhat refining. But we must never get in the way of ingenuity, however flawed it might at first appear. 

Pete & Dud are operating the engine, and will nip back in to the cab in a moment. Pete has spotted something on TTTS’ hat, it’s possibly something to do with a seagull that flew over a short while ago. Bill from the Old Bill also has his eyes on TTTS, that is nothing new to be honest. 

And finally to the right, part time tap-dancing railway guard duo, service station and cafe owners Messrs Leigh & Delamere are performing one of their signature synchronised tap-dancing and mime acts in celebration for the camera. 

These little scenes take quite a bit of time to create and photograph  - if you have a moment you can support me here 🍻

Thursday 14 July 2022

Up in the 80s

Apologies for lack of posts this week, I’ve been rather busy with location photography supported by borderline 2G cell cover and ‘hotel wifi’, which we all know is useless for anything other than sending a text. 

Anyway, here we go; it’s Thursday morning deep in The Forest at Fountain Colliery. It’s a cloudless sky, and later on temperatures are due to hover around the mid 80s Fahrenheit, which means it will be more than a little hot in the tiny loco cab. But they’re tough at the colliery, so a wet knotted handkerchief over the head will suffice along with several cups of piping hot tea. 

And later on, there is the pub over there in the distance where pints of warm cider or beer can be imbibed at shift end. This is Britain of the 1950s, ice is only something experienced outdoors (and inside for many) in the winter, and certainly something never enjoyed in drinks, unless you’re from the USA or very very posh and have one of those there new fangled refrigerator things. 

These little scenes take quite a bit of time to create and photograph  - cheers 🍻

Monday 11 July 2022

Monochrome Monday

Monochrome Monday, the daily pick up goods from Radstock trundles past Polbrook Gurney Colliery Halt with a short train which today unusually includes a grain hopper. Notice the colliery shunting engines up over there to the right. The colliery lines to the right were laid on an old canal, the ancient bridge now going over a railway instead of water. 

Sunday 10 July 2022

40 Years On…. Falklands Conflict

40 years ago, 11th July 1982, I bicycled over the shore at Woolston, Southampton and photographed the Canberra returning from the Falkland Island conflict. Everyone was out to enjoy the spectacle, the weather being very similar to now - hot, sunny and still. Photographically, those witnessing the event are probably more interesting than the subject, and very much a snapshot of the English on a day off. The youngest in these images will now be well in to their middle age. Photography all my copyright. 


Evening Sun

Only the weeks around midsummer does the sun penetrate my railway room, Fountain Colliery being ideally positioned to capture the rays of evening light shortly before sunset.

Saturday 9 July 2022


At weekends, railways in Little England are replaced with buses. It’s been the law since 1948. However after spotting a legal loophole (don’t ask me for details, I’m not a lawyer), Driver Gaylord Grip, Barry Bullhead (from the Ministry of Misery) and home-brew Clive are trialing a new ‘Bus Replacement, Rail Replacement, Bus Replacement, Rail Replacement Service’ aka the rather catchy ‘BRRRBRRRS’ (try saying that after 9 pints of 8% rough cider). 

This ground breaking initiative will allow the railways to run at the weekend, but it will also honour those 350 year contracts with the bus companies to continue to provide that slow miserable service us whinging Brits so much love. 

Barry Bullhead has decided that the ‘BRRRBRRRS’ must have an average speed of no more than 9mph, and that all routes must be the most convoluted possible. Careful consideration has been explored to ensure that all travel connections cannot be met, and that the last service from town on a Saturday evening is at least 3 hours before the pubs shut and the theatres close. 

*Trivia* on this day 55 years ago, the 9th of July 1967, British Rail Southern Region ran its last steam hauled services.

Feel free to support me with this regular nonsense, these little scenes take quite a bit of time to create and photograph  - cheers 🍻

Friday 8 July 2022


Harriet maybe isn’t the prettiest of engines, but she always does her best to make her huge eyes look encapsulating and does fabulous job with her lippy. Meanwhile, high up on the distant roof above Harriet, Nasal Nigel looks down in awe. He’s usually more interested in double decker buses and playing with his Triang Hornby Type 3 diesel he keeps in the special pocket of his sticky green flash-mac. It being bought by ‘Mother’ several years ago (the mac that is), after she got fed up with the regular expense of having to clean his Harris Tweed sports jacket every time he went bus spotting. 

To the right, Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head), we all must know by now has had a thing about Royalty Liz & Margo for many a year, but increasingly has a thing or Goths and Steampunks, it’s all that dark leather, burnished steel and brass you see. For the weekend, Ned already has some welding goggles lined up to borrow from the smithy in the workshop behind him. He’s also eyeing up the blacksmith’s leather welding apron and gloves. 

To the left, smooth talking local bounder, cad and ladies’ man, Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe, and definitely not a ladies’ man, straight talking Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery look on. In contrast to Ned, they wonder if a racy pink little number might be better attire for Harriet. That or a nurses’ outfit.

Feel free to support me with this regular nonsense, these little scenes take quite a bit of time to create and photograph  - cheers 🍻

Thursday 7 July 2022

10 Years Ago to the Day

While trying to find a photo for today, this one came up from exactly 10 years ago to the day. A scene on Brewhouse Quay, a 4ft by 2ft micro I built the previous year. I’d just installed some ready-to-plant lighting (DCC Concepts I recall) for a magazine review, so here is one of several images grabbed with a long exposure. Brewhouse Quay now lives in the Scottish Borders, it having been sold on to a pal a few years ago.

Wednesday 6 July 2022

6 July 1952

An old 6x6cm colour transparency of the crossing keeper’s cottage at Catcott on the Highbridge line which ran across the Somerset Levels. Cloud is starting to build up over Mendip in the distance, the weather forecast is possible storms by mid afternoon. The date date scribbled on to the corner of the card slide mount reads 6 July 1952. 

Tuesday 5 July 2022

Lighting Up Time

Lighting up time at Brewhouse Quay, as Bath's ex-GWR Pannier tank No. 4631 is captured resting on the quay after tripping some empty vans down from Bath Goods. July 1964.

Saturday 2 July 2022

The Old Kettle Sprint

It’s Saturday morning at Brew Street, and time for the annual ‘rail race’ also known as ‘The Old Kettle Sprint’. This unofficial race which has been running yearly since 1946, involves 2 similar locomotives, each with a single brake van. The short trains have to race to the single line section behind the photographer, the first to the single section winning. But being of a similar power output, the two engines usually collide, this frequently resulting in bent metal (and plastic in this case). 

Working from left to right, we note that bus fancier Nasal Nigel is back after a few weeks away at Her Majesty's pleasure, he having had one of his episodes involving his sticky flasher mac and a OO Triang Hornby type 3 at the local bus station. 

Comical Ned (With the funny shaped head) pops out of the brewery distribution warehouse, having heard that Liz & Margo have been invited as formal adjudicators in the event of a draw. Ned has had a royal crush on these two ladies for years and years ever since having seen them in the highly acclaimed Picture Post.  

As things get underway, Waving Wayne starts the race, though there has been a little confusion, because as we all know, he’s been waving nonstop since 1952 without a break. 

Smooth talking local bounder, cad and ladies’ man, Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe, and definitely not a ladies’ man, straight talking Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery appear to be in charge of proceedings. This means that there will almost certainly be some foul play, possibly in the form of seized brakes, sudden loss of steam pressure or a drunken loco crew due to their tea being laced with some illicit 170% proof moonshine. 

Meanwhile Liz & Margo are looking forward to the whole ghastly event being over so they can head for a few gins at the local boozer. 

Feel free to support me with this regular nonsense, these little scenes take quite a bit of time to create and photograph  - cheers 🍻

Friday 1 July 2022

Look, No Hands!

It’s #frontendfriday again, and such a familiar tag, even the iPad I’m posting this from auto fills the tag in, that’s probably due to the fact that it’s the only tag I ever type, so the ‘A/I’ doesn’t have to try too hard I presume. 

Deliberation Dave is riding ‘hands free’ up the bumpy grade in to the colliery with a fresh batch of empties, for many a lesser man would be holding on for dear life. He’s always been good at balancing, for as a nipper he used to enjoy riding his bicycle without holding the handlebars. He is still very proficient at the skill, and has even worked out how the steer the bicycle with subtle leaning in the direction he wants to go. Obviously the same technique cannot be applied to a locomotive guided by the rails. And also the skill can be rather challenged by those winding Somerset lanes, those Hawthorn hedgerows generally leaving a reminder that the skill can always be improved upon. 

In contrast, Shunter Rhod, doesn’t have Dave’s skills, and would rather lean on his shunter’s pole to remain upright, even when standing still. In fact he’s never been seen without his pole, he even takes it with him when having his end of shift shower, claiming that it’s helped him avoid slipping up on the shared bar of soap in the colliery bathhouse. 

Help support me with this regular nonsense, these little scenes take quite a bit of time to create and photograph  - cheers 🍻