Monday 31 July 2023

Monochrome Monday

Monochrome Monday

Here we are at Combwich, and the Highbridge and Bridgwater trains are both timed to depart within 2 minutes of each other, just enough time for Hissing Sid the signalman to reset the route between trains. 

With just a few minutes until the steamy spell of Bedlam, Derek and Clive are chatting about the price of the much celebrated Combwich crab and how it’s almost doubled in price in recent times. Clive standing to the right does look rather like Deliberation Dave with his stance, but that’s just coincidence I’m sure. 

And as we pan right, Waving Wayne is waving again (he’s never been seen not waving in all his 52 years), just a friendly Monday morning wave, spying Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse giving Harry the Hammer a few words of wisdom, in Latin of course. As it always the case, it’s almost the end of Harry’s shift, he being on nights tapping and bashing things with his hammer. Though they’re unlikely to spot Wayne through the gap between the locomotive and its train. 

And finally, despite being in the middle of the summer, it’s looks like another dull day, but from a photography aspect, those clouds do make for a great photo, so much better than an even grey sky. 


With the colour meter empty, a few sovs here will ensure tomorrow’s post is in colour

Sunday 30 July 2023

Grease Nipples & Ball Joints

Sunday on Combwich shed. 

There is little action as 41248 sits silently next to the water tower waiting to be steamed up overnight in preparation for the Monday service. 

Alfred and Mutley standing next to the signalbox are performing a little routine maintenance. Mutley particularly likes using a grease gun, and takes great joy in seeking out grease nipples to press his gun into. Luckily there are plenty around including the steering rack on his Austin A30 which needs greasing up at least once a week. 95 year old Beryl often appears on a Sunday with her Austin 7 for her weekly grease-up, her grease nipple ball joints do get rather stiff without a regular application of Duckhams finest. 

For those who like hanging about public toilets, which I’m sure out of the many followers of this page there must be a handful, please don’t add the loo next to water tower to your bucket list of ‘must visit’.  It really is a most unpleasant place, especially on Sundays, for whilst Mutley gets around most things with his grease gun, the same can’t be said about bleach. 


Bleach fund, let’s get that loo cleaned

Saturday 29 July 2023

The Annual Cat Leap!

Here we are at Catcott crossing again, and as is the norm for the last Saturday of July, it’s the annual event of watching Bob Geeza Cat leap on to the footplate of the passing 10.32am Highbridge Docks to Evercreech Junction goods train. If you zoom in to the right, you can see our intrepid Bob poised and ready to jump. 

Standing in for the more usual Midland 3F 0-6-0, we have a magnificent S&DJR 2-8-0 locomotive. The luxuriously large open expanse of warm flat metal between the buffers and the smokebox will make landing a doddle for sure - as long as it’s not been polished with an oily rag that is. If that is the case, Bob will quite likely end up in the old canal (or ‘Rhyne’ as we call it in these here parts). 

To add to the joviality, our equally intrepid moonshiners along with our regular wavers have arrived in their ‘new’ Sentinel flatbed steam lorry to cheer on the proceedings with several shrill toots of the steam whistle and a few samples of their latest 180% proof ‘shine. Toot toot - go Bob!


Please help keep the trains running

Friday 28 July 2023

Fabulous Friday

 Front End Friday aka #FEF 

It’s not generally known that the Highbridge line closed for a week in the early 1950s. This was due to an administrative error at HQ in that there London due to some faceless civil servant minion ticking the wrong box on some paperwork. In olden times such errors were frequent, much of it being due to the chaos caused by the aftermath of WW2.

However the little people weren’t going to suffer without a rail service, for no alternative bus service had been provided or for that matter even been thought of. More active communities keen to keep their rail service would frequently borrow an ancient engine from the local museum to keep trains running. In olden times most town museums had an ancient engine in fully working order just in case. It could be borrowed for up to 3 weeks using a library card. You could also borrow wagons and passenger carriages too, but failure to return on time could result in a 1d fine per day - that I believe is around 25p in today’s money, but I’m happy to be corrected. 

Here we are at Catcott Crossing as such a train blasts through with a healthy head of steam helped more than a little by moonshine drenched steam coal. Regulars of these posts will notice triplets Waving Wayne, Waving Wally and Waving Willy cheering the reinstatement of their rail service. Several of you I know have been missing Bob Geeza Cat and will be pleased to see his appearance on the locomotive tender. 

And finally, it’s believed that The Titfield Thunderbolt Ealing Comedy was inspired by activities such as this on the Highbridge line, but of course that might just be complete nonsense. 


Please help to keep trains running

Thursday 27 July 2023

Summer of ‘69

A late July Thursday in 1969, the overnight mist and light rain is starting to clear, but this is only temporary, for the weather forecast is another mixed day of sunshine and showers with temperatures struggling to reach 68 Fahrenheit. 

Somewhere on the west of England mainline, sees a tatty Mk1 hauled by an equally tatty Class 22 heading east. The carriage was only painted BR blue and grey in the latter half of 1966, but it must have been a rushed Friday job. However it will be heading for fresh paint job in September, hopefully the preparation will be less rushed this time. 

Our intrepid photographer, is officially here on assignment for the British Rail publicity department with his trusty Mamiya C33 and a few rolls of Ektachrome - this shot being the result. Coming towards us, a light engine Class 33 is heading to an unknown destination, it having escaped from the Southern Region most likely at Reading

And finally with the weekend within sight, The Rolling Stones are top of the UK Hit Parade with Honky Tonk Woman. Oh for that time machine.


Time machine research fund

Wednesday 26 July 2023


Wednesday morning at Moorewood Colliery. Doug has accidentally locked himself out of the engine winding house again. It never used to be locked, but since moonshine is stored in there, management decided to put a lock on the door and one of those slow operating spring loaded lever arm things. Doug forget to put the wooden wedge under the door to stop it from closing. 

Meanwhile to the right, Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse is giving Barry Bullhead and Clive one of their daily Latin lessons before collecting the latest tranche of coal. Such a clever horse.


Monday 24 July 2023

The Very First Mobile Telephone

The inch high people of Little England are 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.


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Sunday 23 July 2023

Sunday Service

It’s Sunday at Polbrook Gurney Colliery. 

On this line, there isn’t normally a Sunday service, though to be honest there is little need for one on other days either due to the line running from the edge of nowhere to the middle of nowhere and all other places of insignificant nowhereness in between. 

Today the local museum are testing out their recently restored GWR steam railmotor, and here it is slowing to pick up a few of our regulars. Control in London are completely unaware of what’s going on here, and it’s just as well for its highly unlikely that they’d be happy. But of course in Little England of olden times, communications aren’t what they are these days, and it took ages to get anywhere. Though of course if travelling by public, transport little has changed even in these modern times. 

Barry Bullhead and Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe are keen to see if the engine within will have enough spare steam to heat a moonshine still, and of course lack of passengers will leave lots of space to store casks and jars of illicit booze. 

Meanwhile, to the right, Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse is thinking that whilst he loves the ruby red finish, what idiot decided to paint the roof white?


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Saturday 22 July 2023

Returning the Empties

Saturday morning and Liz & Teresa are returning their crate of empty moonshine jars for a refill, the moonshiners having set up a temporary shop and store in the little used goods shed at Catcott. Note Liz & Teresa’s tatty old heap of a car, the various shades of primer, rust and faded paintwork help it to blend into the dry summer landscape when they’re on nefarious exploits. They have different coloured cars for different seasons of the year by the way. 

PC Rob Banks has been waiting for them in the corrugated iron loo and has popped out to flex the long arm of the law. Though we must remember that he’s only around an inch high, so it’s actually quite a short arm. It’s also made of plastic, so flexing isn’t really a thing either. 

In retaliation, Liz knows his superintendent well, her husband being in the same Masonic lodge as the superintendent, and politely reminds him that he’s not wearing his police jacket. Poor Rob is already under warning for not dressing properly when on duty…..


Whilst I write and photograph these moonshine exploits, I’ve never sampled any, please help to change that

Friday 21 July 2023


 #FEF aka #frontendfriday

It’s Friday morning, and here we have the 09.35 to Evercreech departure. A scene on my Combwich layout that I started around 1981. Apart from 15 years or so when it was stored and wrapped up in my parent’s attic, it’s been in my possession ever since. It’s much modified and enlarged since its original incarnation, but the track is original. The soldered construction is a little dated now, but it very much has stood the test of time (and no, I’m not going to relay it). Only tie bars for the point blades being replaced maybe 20 years ago. 

As the layout has evolved it’s had several names, it was initially called Churchstanton, then Stogursey, and finally Combwich when I resurrected the layout around 1999 from its polythene wrapped incarnation. 

Combwich never had a railway, but in my make-believe world it grew in to a town which warranted a railway, an extension of the SDJR from Highbridge. A ridiculous idea, but that’s half the fun of the parallel universe. 

But people in the real world have been taken in, several years ago I received an email from a resident of the real Combwich saying that they know where the station used to be. I didn’t reply, for I didn’t want to spoil their joy. And whilst the layout is completely fiction, the last bit is completely true.


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Thursday 20 July 2023



PC Rob Banks is getting a ticking off by the superintendent for arriving late at a possible crime scene involving a hidden moonshine stash. “Why did you bring the car by rail when you could have driven it?” To which he nervously replies “I accidentally put diesel in it, instead of the recommended 4 star petrol, and now it won’t move, but luckily I was next to a railway yard with a crane, a suitable wagon and a locomotive. I’m only 23 minutes late”. To which the Super replies “Well I suppose you used your initiative, but I cannot excuse your attire, where is your police issue jacket?”…….. 

Meanwhile Freddy the Flag listening in calls out, “Siphon the diesel out of the car and put it in the locomotive, the car can than be filled up with some of the moonshine and be driven back to the police station and nobody will be any the wiser, after all filing the paperwork for this almighty ¥$€§%& could take weeks!”


A huge thanks to those who support these posts

Wednesday 19 July 2023

Refuge Bags

Another level crossing scene. Here’s part of Combwich, another one of my layouts dating back to the very early 1980s, although this section here is ‘only’ around 20 years old. I always cover my layouts when not in use, it keeps them fresh. Dust really ages layouts. Those budget big black plastic refuge bags  (cut down either side to make a big sheet) make effective dust covers. I use the ‘budget’ ones because they’re very thin, ultra light in weight so they won’t flatten what’s underneath. Beware that cats love sitting on them, especially if there’s a model railway underneath.


Help support these (almost) daily posts 

Tuesday 18 July 2023

End of the Line

 After 12 hours searching, Graham the LNWR G2, finally tracks down missing Wendy Wagon and Barry Brakevan who’d eloped by gravity down a remote branchline after a brief romance. They weren’t too bothered, they had reached the end of the line anyway.

Sunday 16 July 2023

Mother Knows Best

Nasal Nigel in his slightly sticky green bus-spotter flasher mac loves to watch the passing trains at the level crossing. But he really must stop putting his wiener through the wire mesh. He’s been here all morning shuffling to and fro with the gates as they open and close. Still, it’s okay, mother has some ointment to relieve any tenderness later. Mother always knows best.

Saturday 15 July 2023

Sunrise Shimmy

Saturday is forecast to be a little wet and stormy, however a splendid sunrise briefly illuminates Double Denim Dando having a little shimmy. Our dancing hero, who had a series of tap dancing wins in the now defunct West of England Tap & Morris Dancing Championships in the early 1950s always gives out such positive vibes and is a joy to work with. Though he can be a little slow getting on with the actual job in hand. 

Regulars of my nonsense will no doubt recognise him, for he has many jobs, an entertainer, moonshiner, bare footed grape crusher, as well as his more official role of railway shunter, though he appears to have lost his pole for popping those couplings off between the loco and wagon whilst still on the move. Despite being 77, he’s more nimble than a ninja one third of his age, so can nip between locos and wagons coupling and uncoupling without the need of that aforementioned couple pole. 

For a month or so in the summer around 8pm, the evening sun penetrates my den and illuminates Fountain Colliery. I usually notice this too late, but made a point of pointing a camera at it an evening or two ago, today’s photo being the outcome. 


If you enjoy these posts, please send some positive vibes

Friday 14 July 2023

Gone in a Bang

Enthusiastic automotive cleaner, shiner, buffer & polisher Barry Scott has just arrived in his shiny new MG Magnette. Today he’s been asked to give the steaming heap next to his his pride & joy a deep clean, buff & polish. When he finds out they expect it to be done for free, he’ll be gone in a bang!

Thursday 13 July 2023

Customer Experience


Down at the docks, management again have been on the beg and borrow in an attempt to improve the ‘customer experience’ with the local museum giving them the loan of a rather splendid Great Northern Railway express passenger loco. And indeed it does make a most splendid sight, even though it will be limited to a breathtaking top speed of 13mph due to the state of the track and tight curves. 

Several of the regulars from the land of the inch high are here to witness the event, but the thoughts going through potential passengers’ heads (or ‘customers’ as well call them these days) is that they wish the improvements could been more focused on the coaches behind the engine. 

The peasantry class accommodation is still a rather ancient repurposed cattle wagon with rat infested bales of hay to sit on. And for those with cash to splash, it’s still the urine and fungus smelling 4 wheeled Victorian era carriage with upholstery so old and sticky, it could could be the carpet from The Kettle Inn over there in the distance. On the plus side, it was repainted in to British Railways passenger carriage carmine red in 1950. 


You can help to improve the ‘customer experience’ here

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Midweek Misery

Midweek Misery.
Peter Peckett hated Wednesday mornings, so to liven things up, he could think of nothing better than to remove the mooring ropes from unmanned fishing boats. He’d then watch them float away towards the Bristol Channel dragged by the ebbing tide.

Tuesday 11 July 2023

The Flange & Flangeway Society

Before Barry Bullhead worked for the Ministry of Misery, he was 51% of a failed comedy duo known as The Grumble Brothers. Here they are between gigs with Barry & Larry checking out wheel flanges and flangeway clearances. It was a passion for them, having always been interested in the underside of things. Their very last gig got them thrown off stage for demanding the audience remove their skirts and trousers. 

Whilst Barry went to work for The Ministry of Misery, Larry set up a super-finescale model railway group aimed at fanciers of wheel flanges, flangeway clearances and the underside of things that cannot be seen unless lying on one’s back looking upwards. Upon joining the Flange & Flangeway Society (aka FFS), new members are given a micrometer and a set of dentists’ mirrors as an incentive. There is also a bi-monthly journal hand scribed onto finest Welsh slate by late middle aged hobbits who still live with mother. 


You can donate to The Flange & Flangeway Society here

Monday 10 July 2023

Sentinel Steam Lorry

Moonshine Monday. 

The little people as regular readers will know, have been trying out all sorts mobile moonshine production vehicles, they’ve used a narrowboat, various forms of rail and a diesel lorry. To add to their expanding portfolio of transport they’ve just taken delivery of an old Sentinel steam lorry, which has the bonus of being able to run on anything that burns, including surplus moonshine which can be piped straight through from the still if things get desperate. 

Here they are outside The Miners pub making one of their many deliveries in the area, and it looks like Double Denim Dando is performing a little shimmy to camera, he always does this when the still starts to produce booze. He also does a shimmy when he makes a sale, in fact he’s never been seen not doing a shimmy. 

The Sentinel Steam lorry is a recent Oxford Diecast release, which yesterday afternoon underwent a light weathering to make it look like it’s been around for a while. 


These little scenes take time a create and photograph

Sunday 9 July 2023


After a plethora of thunderstorms last night, the trackbed has flooded between The Pedant & Armchair and the colliery. There are two options, speed into the flood and get very wet, or go to the pub which opens in 7 minutes and wait for the flood water to recede. I’m guessing the latter will win.


These little scenes take time a create and photograph, help to ensure their continuity

Friday 7 July 2023

171 Shopping Days To Christmas

With just 171 shopping days until Christmas (at time of posting), the little people have temporarily popped up the Christmas tree to check that it’s okay, for its much easier to sort it out now in the dry warm summer weather should there be any problems. 

Several of the inch high take in the fine sight as the morning Frome to Binegar via the Nettlebridge Valley line goods trundles through the scene of industrial rural tranquility and grot. 

There is much going on here, but possibly the most notable is over near the pub, for it looks like Neil is proposing to 93 year old Beryl. Though he might just be begging for beer money. The snivelling little tick is only ever seen kneeling, for being made of resin is somewhat restricting in stature - hence his parents christening him Neil in anticipation. 


These little scenes take time a create and photograph, help to ensure their continuity

Tuesday 4 July 2023

When Scales Collide

What happens when the land of the inch high collides with the land of the two inch high. 

The inch high have been following Chris from the land of the two inch high all morning as he makes irritating twanging sounds on his tiny ukulele much like the Pied Piper of Hamelin did trying to clear the land of plague infested rats with his flute. Like any instrument, the flute can also be equally irritating in the wrong hands unless of course in the clasp Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson. But nothing is as bad as a recorder in the hands of a 7 year old of course. 

PC Rob Banks has been pursuing Chris around in his noddy car, and with his squeaky less than authoritarian voice keeps squealing something about crimes against music, which is of course true in this case. But there are some great ukulele players out there as with all instruments, so I mustn’t be dismissive of the little instrument which brings much joy to school children and the elderly with matching polo shirts who love to perform Wagon Wheel and Folsom Prison Blues in their coordinated ‘uke-troupe’ attire at the local church fete. 

And the reality, last week I made a scenic O gauge ‘photo plank’ for product photography. I don’t have room for a bespoke O layout layout, so came up with the idea of something that can be placed in front of my various 1/76 scale layouts. It’s simply a 3 x 1 foot scenic board with a yard of Peco O gauge track which can easily be stored out of the way when not in use. And yes, Chris is a 3D print of yours truly by those lovely people of ModelU. 

And finally, for any wags mentioning George Formby, cleaning windows and leaning on a lamp post, there’s a stale warm flat half pint of lemonade with a raw egg depth charge waiting for you in The Pedant & Armchair served by Nasal Nigel in his new Western National bus green mankini. 


These little scenes take time a create and photograph, help to ensure their continuity

Monday 3 July 2023

Miner Monday

Driver Wee Willy Winky pauses on the crossing next to The Miners Arms. The pub name hinting that it was very popular with the vertically challenged and the under aged drinker. The tiny car parked outside confirming his thoughts. Apologies to any short-arses offended by this post.

Sunday 2 July 2023


On the Somerset Levels even in the height of summer it’s frequently foggy first thing, this being due to the very high water table of the boggy land. Here we are at Catcott as the 7.05 am Highbridge to Evercreech Junction slows to pick up and drop off Nobody. It would do the same at Shapwick, Ashcott, Glastonbury, West Pennard, and Pylle. Nobody was a well known omnipresent local chap, who lived off cider and hung around in fields scaring off birds.

Concrete streetlight fanatics will note the new platform lamp standard that’s in the process of being installed. But the problem is that the station and surrounding area has yet to be linked to the national grid, so for now it’s just decorative.


These little scenes take time a create and photograph, you can send me some love here

Saturday 1 July 2023

Living Museum

It’s 1996 and Polbrook Gurney Colliery and surrounding area has become a ‘living museum’. Visitors at great expense, can experience a rose tinted view of the ‘good old days’. For this publicity photo many of our much loved albeit now elderly regulars have turned up, they now being volunteers to give them something to do in retirement which has to be better than playing bingo and injuring themselves on the local bowling green. The more observant will note that they appear not to have aged one little bit, that’s the beauty of being made from white metal, plastic and resin. 

The mine no longer brings coal up from the still plentiful seams below. But thrill seekers can take a trip to the bottom and back to witness badly dressed dummies lit with funny coloured lights pretending to chip away at the coal face to all the sounds of a real working mine, albeit from a worn tape loop which has stretched a bit. 

The Pedant & Armchair, once the popular haunt of dull lonely men and nasally afflicted trainspotters now caters for the day trippers, vintage enthusiasts and grockles. Curiously it now sells far better beer than it ever did in olden times, and it even does scampi & chips in a plastic basket for those more adventurous foodies and gourmet seekers. Readers of this regular drivel will be thrilled to know that pickled winkles, eggs and onions are still available. 


These little scenes take time a create and photograph, you can send me your love here