Sunday, 19 November 2017

Bicton And Bazalgette ...

... Sun And Sewage!
Bicton House and Park was the ancestral home of the Rolle Family (as in the street in Exmouth) ...
... who sold the house to Devon Council where it became their Agricultural College.
Before that disposal, however, the ancestral family had developed the park as a tourist attraction and what better an attraction than a miniature railway.

A search for suitable stock coincided with the disposal of stuff  from the once extensive narrow gauge system that service the vast Woolwich Arsenal site.

A diesel loco, named Carnegie ...
... the last loco to be delivered to Woolwich, was acquired. More importantly a steam loco (also from Woolwich), languishing unloved and rusting in a yard at Brackley ...
... was rescued and restored. Track and other useful bits and pieces were also acquired. The two locos became the mainstay of the line with opened in 1963.
The original line also had working ex Southern Railway signals, now purely decorative.
Both locos eventually reached a crisis point where boiler repair (steam) and a new gearbox (diesel) would have proved prohibitively expensive for a line which had become a purely commercial operation within the privately owned Park.

But the railway still runs, although when the fbb's visited yesterday, the timetable was decidedly limited.
So, meet up with Family Fearnley, a quick bevvy in the caff; and off to join the 1145.
The 18" gauge line  trundles round the grounds in  large loop (click to enlarge the graphic below)  ...
... with the spur to the Hermitage station, upper right. Here the loco swaps ends ...
... and hauls you back to the start. Each passenger is given a guide card as demonstrated by young Miss F ...
... who was not grumpy (honest!) but merely exerting massive mental effort into spotting the large numbers beside the track which accompanied the guide. The young lady's literary skills were perhaps inadequate for reading out the "useful information" but spotting the numbers was fun! Assistance was provided by one older brother.
The autumnal colours were delightful, of course - enhanced by a sunny but chilly day.
Back at base, a chance to examine the modern motive power ...
... a rather boring diesel loco with cosmetic steam engine appurtenances; but much easier to manage than live steam!
Apart from lovekly scenery, there is a nice little museum, mainly filled with heritage agricultural stuff like this very early 1917 Fergy ...
... and a fine collection of Mamod steam powered models.
Then to lunch (splendid), gazing over the Sunken Italian Garden ...
... to the obelisk, erected in 1746.
But Sewage? Come with fbb to Crossness sewage works at Abbey Wood, stuck on thee eastern end of Thamesmead estate.
It is hard to believe that this glorious interior is ...
... a pumping house for human effluvium in very large quantities. It was created by Joseph Bazalgette ... 
... as part of his massive engineering project to rid London of the likes of the Great Stink of 1858.
But to get to this noble pile, you have to take a half mile walk alongside the modern sewage works. Wouldn't it be a spiffing idea to run a lovely little narrow gauge railway from gate to pumping station?

We are excited to announce that planning permission has been granted by the London Borough of Bexley for "the installation of a Narrow Gauge Railway and modifications to an existing building for use as depot facilities for the railway".

Ahead of us we have a major fundraising challenge to cover the purchase of track materials including 1400 metres of rail, 600 timber sleepers, drive screws, fishplates, and the track bed preparation and ballast, before the track laying can commence.

We need to recruit able volunteers for the exciting and challenging task of constructing a new build 18 inch narrow gauge railway, so close to the track of the iconic Royal Arsenal Railway.

And the locos? Well, now; here's one of them ...
... arriving for Crossness, Kent via a slightly circuitous route from Bicton Park in Devon! Carnegie (the diesel) is currently at the Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey.
Here, also, an 18" gauge railway is being re-created.

Once upon a time, Bicton Woodland Railway was the only 18" gauge railway operating in UK. Soon there will be two more, all linked with the historic lines that traversed the Woolwich Arsenal yard.
As it turned out, just one of today's bits and pieces blog became a fully-fledged production - so there is some "stuff" to postpone until tomorrow.

 Postponed variety blog : Monday 20th November 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Saturday Variety

Japan Impresses The Press?
Many blog readers will have come across this snippet of news last week.
Apparently the staff had not checked the timetable. Timing as "tight" as 20 seconds is not new. When fbb was nobbut a lad, he was guided round bits of London Underground by Paul Cresswell, a trolleybus fanatic and Underground "geek"
Way back then (late sixties) tube trains were timed to an accuracy of 20 seconds - except, being the UK, and being LT, they were actually scheduled to an accuracy of ⅓ of a minute!

But just look at the train - one of the super swish bullet-plus jobbies.
Except it wasn't. The train concerned was on the Tsukuba Express line serving suburban Tokyo.
Trains run half hourly on each of three service patters, RAPID, SEMI-RAPID and LOCAL.
The ORANGE trains are extras at peak commuter times. The line runs north east from a terminus on the "circle" line (upper right on the map below).
But they are most definitely NOT bullet trains; maximum speed is 100km per hour.
In today's unhelpful fashion, you don't get a timetable, just a coded departure list.
There is a rather spiffing bus station at the Tsukuba terminus; but the Japanese do usually get it right!

Thorncombe Exhibition Extra
When fbb was on holiday in Instow, he was reminded of James May's model railway extravaganza when, at the second attempt, a OO locomotive travelled under its own power along the former railway track, now a footpath, between Barnstaple and Bideford.
The actual loco which completed the run was a "Western" class.

fbb reported that this engine is still in the possession of Buffers model shop and occasionally ventures out on the shop's test track.

Last Saturday it was one of the locos that performed on the shop's club layout at the Thorncombe Rail Activities Club annual show.
Very few youngsters attend Model Railway shows these days; too busy on Social Media?

Back in the good old days there would have been a clutter of "small boys" watching adults clad in jacket and tie, possibly with pipe, busying themselves with their layouts.
These days, a few kiddies come along with enthusiast adults ...
... but generally such creatures are a rarity.

But Thorncombe had a good entertainment for the youff.
Wagons are labelled with letters; you shuffle a pack of cards and the challenge is to shunt the trucks and haul a train away with the vehicles in the right order. It was very popular with the few folk under the age of 93 who attended!

T M Travel Tells All
The on-line secret timetable change for service 30 was finally revealed to an expectant clientele with leaflets available on Monday 13th November, the first day of operation.
The extra vehicle needed to cover the increased frequency had been displayed at Crystal Peaks shopping centre during the previous week.
The original three vehicles are Optare Versas.
FJ03 VXA had a previous life with Wellglade core company Trent Barton where it flew to Spondon  in green ...
... and Ilkeston in blue.
It was all so much easier when everything was red and cream.

The new leaflet has a map, not easy to follow unless you know what it represents ...
... but it is in trendy colours.
The timetable is there, of course ...
... showing the increase from every 30 to every 20 minutes. The leaflet does include an advertorial panel ...
... and readers may amuse themselves by matching claim to timetable. Crystal Peaks to City takes 42 minutes!

Get Ready For Excitement!
Black Friday advance information from Arriva.
Clicking for details doesn't yet give much of a clue.
fbb can hardly contain himself until Friday.

More stuff tomorrow. Today fbb is visiting Bicton Park in company with the Fearnley Family and a brief report may well appear as part of tomorrow's collection.

 Next "stuff" blog : Sunday 19th November