Saturday, 18 July 2015

Ubiquitous! [1]

From the Lain : Ubique = "Everywhere".
Near Billing Town did LMS
A stately signalbox decree;
Where Alf, that famous signalman,
Sent goods trains, measureless to man,
Down to Castle Ashby.

Some time in school year 1957/8, English teacher Mr Heathcote instructed class 3AL in the joys of Parody; writing a comedic version of a well known poem. Your esteemed blog writer, then aged 12/13, could only manage the above, based on Xanadu by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Well you all knew that, didn't you?

But there was a Billing station, closed in 1953; there was a signalbox (illustrated above) and the main man there was called Alf.
When Lat, Eng, Hist, Trig and Alg (etc) homework (etc) failed to excite, a short cycle ride took the little (?) chap to the crossing to watch trains go by. There weren't many; but Alf would occasionally come to he door after receiving the ding ding for "train entering section" and announce, "the motor's on its way."
Uninterestingly, "the motor" was the train for Wellingborough Midland Road consisting of two maroon suburban coaches (dirty) and a 2-6-2 steam loco (even dirtier). 41277 comes to mind; a Wellingborough based engine.
But the train often went backwards with the loco pushing and, mystery of mysteries, the driver was looking out of a window in the front carriage (or back carriage if it was going forwards, i.e. back to Northampton)**. The engine and the carriages were equipped for "push pull" operation (self explanatory) but the whole set-up was always called a "motor train" (non explanatory) by Alf and other railwaymen.

Commercial premises have long since replaced Alf's domain ...
... but the station house remains and has returned to use as a private dwelling.
But back to our story.

fbb was snuffling through the second hand shelves at Buffers model shop near Axminster when he espied something different.
Interesting? Indeed, look at the brand, "Airfix" and not a kit.
From 1975 to 1981 Airfix also manufactured a line of ready-to-run model railway stock in OO gauge. Based on British prototypes, they improved in detail and prototype accuracy compared to British outline model railway stock from other British ready-to-run manufacturers such as Hornby. A model of a Great Western Railway (GWR) 0-4-2 autotank steam locomotive and GWR autocoach are amongst some of the many memorable and important product releases.

So what happened to Airfix model railways?

The brand label was changed to Great Model Railways (GMR) in 1979, although the Airfix name was still included. However, Airfix left the model railway business in 1981. The models were sold to one of its main competitors Palitoy which produced the Mainline range of products.

The former Airfix moulds together with the Palitoy-designed 2P 4-4-0 and Class 56 diesel were later re-sold to Dapol Ltd ...

... and then subsequently to Hornby.

Mainline Railways were used to form the basis of the Bachmann Branchline models.

Confusing isn't it?

But it must be right 'cos it's on Wikipedia!

But there is no doubt that Airfix models were more detailed and realistic than any others of their day. The GWR autocoach stands up well against newer products; it is remarkably accurate for its age although the cream colour is too pale.

But please don't take fbb's word for it; because real live autocoaches were and are, to coin a phrase, ubiquitous.
More real ones and more model ones tomorrow.

** Or did it go forward TO Wellingborough and backwardly forward to Northampton? fbb cannot remember.
The fbb's cat, Jacko and "a lady" enjoying the Open Golf.
Yesterday early evening.

 Next rail blog : Sunday 19th July 

1 comment:

  1. I travel over that crossing regularly and it q. hard to 'see' how the original line looked - I thought the house had been the station - but that was a more modest wood cabin long gone. My pride and joy is a large map depicting northants rlys in the 1880s - absolutely miles of track .. and the most north easterly outpost of the GWR ... at Ayhno..