Tuesday 30 April 2024

Bullleid’s Clever Collapsing Loco

Very occasionally the rather unusual Q1 Class locomotive would visit Combwich. And here we see Guildford shed’s 33019 departing with a goods train for Poole. 

They were very clever in that they could be folded almost flat like a camera bellows to save space in busy engine sheds. Lighting the fire would of course build up boiler pressure, which in turn would allow the engine to expand. At the end of the shift, the reverse would happen as the engine cooled down. That Oliver Bulleid was a clever chap indeed, I’m sure you’ll agree. But sadly he never extended (pun there) the same design element to the water tender. 

In unlikely event of ahead on collision, the engine would collapse in upon itself, making it very safe in the event of such an incident in the hands of a reckless crew under the influence of moonshine. Though of course such behaviour wasn’t generally accepted even in those far off days. 

Note the 405 line VHF television aerial extending out of the cab roof which allowed the crew and those in first class to watch television whilst the train was on the move. Alas bridges could occasionally be an issue if the crew forgot to lower the aerial in time, so for this reason such modern onboard entertainment was short lived. 


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Saturday 27 April 2024

The British Rail Ham Sandwich

Waving Willy and Waving Wayne wave in the arrival of the new covert mobile moonshine production rail car. Bought secondhand from British Rail, Laboratory 20 was originally used to develop food items and beverages for the British Rail catering department, known more commonly to you and I as ‘Travellers-Fare’. The vehicle which replaced Laboratory 19 has a fully fitted kitchen and extensive water boiling facilities, thus making it perfect for conversion in to a moonshine production plant.

This very unit was used in the initial creation of super-hot but completely tasteless coffee in a thin paper cup designed to burn the fingers of the customer. But more importantly it was used for the development the world-famous ‘British Rail Ham Sandwich’. 

This culinary delight was crafted using near dated cheap supermarket value white bread, and filled very creatively with a thin slice of sweaty ham skilfully arranged to make it look like there was more filling than there actually was. There was also a premium ham sandwich with the addition of an orange processed cheese slice. And with presentation and longevity being key, it was presented just above room temperature in cling film, and if you were lucky enough to be travelling first class, it was served on a BR ‘double arrow’ monogrammed paper plate. 


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Tuesday 23 April 2024

St George’s Day 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Deliberation Dave and Jimmy Hootsmaloots introduce a new shunting engine to Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse. Hubert treating every new engine arrival with suspicion, for when not chatting in Latin he has to earn a crust, or more likely earn a carrot shunting wagons around. 

But with the price of coal these days, Hubert isn’t too worried, because Hubert unlike the engine can also be fuelled on raw turnips, something that is a plenty in Little England according to The Ministry of Misery. 

On that note, today in Little England, we celebrated some chap called Saint George, who I gather was not remotely English. But us English are an odd lot, and anyway it’s a great excuse to go to the pub to quaff too much fake Australian and German lager whilst shouting “Ingerland” in finest World Cup football fan style before going home and dropping takeaway curry all down ones football shirt shouting at GB News on the telly.

Monday 22 April 2024

Pipe Organs & Spiders’ Web Sites.

 Monochrome Monday

Little Andrew Barclay and his trusty loco trundle down the 1 in 20 grade out of the colliery. Stopping is always fun, especially if the rails are wet or greasy or quite often both both. But Andrew Barclay and his partner in crime Noddy Nobhob (twin half cousin of Waving Wayne) make a great team, extracting every bit of braking power from the tiny engine, and in Noddy’s case - waving. 

On days off, Andrew Barclay plays his full sized pipe organ which is literally built into his ‘two up-two down’ in nearby Radstock. It’s taken him 20 years to build it from plumbing spares, old engine boiler tubes and pewter beer tankards. 

Noddy Nobhob, on his days off is building a huge website in his garden shed for his vast dead spider collection using those orange woven nylon string bags oranges come in. Noddy also collects diecast model buses and loves a sunday fry up with spam fritters and mushy peas garnished with a whole raw sliced onion. 

Much to everyone’s surprise, Andrew Barclay and Noddy Nobhob are currently single, but are actively seeking free and single ladies for fun nights in and maybe marriage. A working pulse not necessary.


Tech for the photoholics: Nikkormat FT2, 55mm Micro-Nikkor. Ilford FP4 - home dev & scan


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Sunday 21 April 2024

The Thong & Flasher

It’s a lovely sunrise at Combwich West (not many know that Combwich has 2 stations, but that’s a story for another time), as the first train of the day departs. To the left we see lights are on at The Thong & Flasher, well that’s what the locals call it anyway. The pub has 2 letting rooms, they’re popular with crab fishing types and trainspotters, also Cindy Proper-Job the landlady attracts a certain type of customer. 

As our train trundles over the crossing, we note that the lights are on in the loco shed office. It looks Barry Bullhead’s powder blue Morris Minor is parked outside (he wanted a Vauxhall Cresta as a company car really). Barry, the former time and motion man from the Ministry of Misery has just started his new position under the infamous Dr Beeching. We all know what that might mean for the railway. 

The good people of Combwich have been expecting Barry Bullhead’s visit for some time, and have been putting clothing shop display dummies on all the trains to give the appearance of more passengers than there really are. It’s hoped that Barry won’t actually want to travel on any of the services, shop dummies aren’t exactly known for their conversational skills, but neither are Barry’s. Fingers crossed. 

As always, click, swipe, tap, lick, wiggle or whatever you do to enlarge.

Friday 19 April 2024

Clever Cat Spots Business Opportunity

Click to enlarge 

Not front end Friday 

Click to enlarge
A day or two ago the long arm of the law intercepted the moonshiners, Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery looks on at the warehouse which until a day or two ago was full of casks of moonshine. 

Today all that remains are broken casks and the smell of liquor everywhere after everything was destroyed. The repurposed cattle wagon used for running moonshine across the Somerset border is a reminder of the once flourishing but illicit business which Barry had an unofficial but major interest in. But even the wagon is about to be towed away for scrapping, for cattle tends to be transported by road these days. 

Whilst Barry dwells on the demise of the business which will undoubtedly reappear in time, Bob Geeza Cat spots a full wooden cask of moonshine up on the warehouse roof and the large tank above the locomotive which was missed by the long arm of the law and meows to himself “business opportunity”. But whilst Bob is indeed a very clever cat, communicating his plan might be tricky, for few humans speak in ‘meow’, and few cats speak ‘human’ 🐾


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Monday 15 April 2024

Monochrome Madness: Waving Wonders and Exploding Moonshine on Flat Holm

Monochrome Monday. Bob Geeza Cat, Waving Wayne and Waving Willy and in the cab Waving Wally are as usual waving in sync, with Double Denim Dancing Dando having his usual shimmy. Meanwhile another moonshine still has exploded on Flat Holm out in the Bristol Channel, thus making Flat Holm slightly flatter than before. 

You’ll be pleased to know that nobody was injured, for this is a regular occurrence and the moonshiners have an underground bunker they can quickly take cover in if it looks like things are about to go pear-shaped, or mushroom shaped in this instance 🍄

Pic taken on real b&w film, the very grainy Fomapan 400, grabbed with my Nikon FE through a 35mm lens.

Saturday 13 April 2024

Whimsical Wonders at Brew Street: Basil's Brush, Waving Willy, and the Mystery of the Rooftop Duo

A happy Saturday at Brew Street, Freddy the Flag keeps an eye on the crossing whilst Waving Willy has jumped off the mobile moonshine production steam lorry to watch the arrival of a shiny wagon. 

Basil The Brush, identical half brother to Spence the Spanner, has just repainted an old wagon into ‘Somerset Collieries Radstock’ livery after finding an old photograph. As well as being a railway historian, Basil is a dab hand with his brush, and with a few simple but swift dabs of paint can produce outstanding results in just a minute or two. He’s even able to get different colours out of the same pot using the same brush. Though as my art teachers back in the day used to point out, white and black, or black and white technically aren’t colours. And neither is grey for that matter. And whilst beige is a colour, it shouldn’t be. Especially metallic beige on a Toyota Prius (with support stocking grey wipe-clean interior) much favoured by elderly bungalow dwellers around Eastbourne. 

Meanwhile Colin sits in the dinghy drooling over a tray of moonshine he’s just bought from Waving Willy, Colin is sorted by the look of things. And of course over there to the right, Bob Geeza Cat, stands next to Waving Wayne, who as usual is waving for no apparent reason. But who are those standing on the roof? One of them has a bag full of golf clubs, and the other a mystery case.… I’m sure we’ll find out in due course.


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Friday 12 April 2024

On This Day in History

I was looking for something else and this image from this very day 31 years ago on 12 April 1993 popped up of Pannier tank No. 1618 as it nears Tenterden on the Kent & East Sussex Railway. I grabbed on my Mamiya C33 with 80mm Sekor, Fujichrome RDP100. 

I wonder if this view is still possible? Hopefully, for preserved lines are much better at trimming their bushes than those on the national rail network. But I’ve a hunch the tree might not be there, some of the overhanging branches look a little past their prime. 

Looking outside this year, spring looks a little more advanced than that of 31 years ago, but of course every year it varies a little one way or the other.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Mysterious Fires, Corpses & The Cayman Islands

July 1965 saw the very last goods train pass the site of Polbrook Gurney Colliery. The pit-head and associated buildings were demolished within 6 months of closing in 1962, with former Pedant & Armchair pub closing its doors the following year. 

If you can find the site now, little remains other than the platform lurking in the undergrowth and a boggy area which used to be the canal basin and coal wharf. But there is a newish bungalow, more on that shortly. 

A housing estate was to be built on the former colliery site, but due the the instability of the land, that’s still to happen decades later. This is unusual, for housing estates are often built in unsuitable places, with flood plains being a particular favourite, and of course above old mines with collapsing tunnels. 

For many years the former pub was rented by recluse Nasal Nigel which then become derelict after the police on a routine visit discovered his heavily decomposed corpse clutching what appeared to be a TT gauge Flying Scotsman locomotive and local legend Beryl’s nylon knickers tied very tightly around his neck. Nigel’s green rubber raincoat with special pocket saved his body from complete decomposition, making identification relatively easy, though of course there was never any chance of confusion.

After 15 years standing empty, the former pub was demolished after mysteriously catching fire, despite being disconnected from gas and electricity for many many years. But in happier times the cellar had been used as a moonshine store, so that could have something to do with the fire. 

On the site there is now a bungalow called ‘The Pedant’ as a link to the past much enjoyed by the inch high nefarious misfits and socially challenged. Until his recent departure to the Cayman Islands, Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery owned the extensive bungalow, which is rumoured to have gold taps in the kitchen and several bathrooms. Not 2 taps for each sink and bath, but 3, the third one being used for moonshine dispense. Though that is just a rumour. 

But on a lighter note, a group of enthusiasts are keen to reopen part of the Dorset & Somerset Canal, and have been granted permission to clear the canal basin and 2 miles of the former canal for boat trips and model boating. But as with all projects they required extensive finance, so if you’d like to help, you can donate here www.buymeacoffee.com/Nevardmedi3

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Streamlined SDJR 7F

Rumour has it the Airfix based their well-known plastic kit on the brick, wood and tin engine shed on the one here at Combwich. The unusual feature was the powered propeller over the entrance. This apparently dates from the 1920s when the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway used the shed for aerodynamic streamline testing of the S&DJR 7F 2-8-0 which was given an aerodynamic shell. Apparently the streamlined LNER A4 and LMS Coronation pacific classes were inspired by this ground breaking experiment a few year later. 

Sadly no photographs of the streamlined S&DJR 7F exist anywhere, and tests were halted after only a week or two when the powers that be abandoned the project, after deciding that there was probably no need for a streamlined engine mostly used for pulling coal trucks around at no more than 33.9 MPH. 

The discarded cladding found use for chicken hutches and bomb shelters during WW2. And apparently one section still exists to this day in Mrs Miggins’ guesthouse garden as a shelter for her swing hammock not far from that there Burnham on Sea. 


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