Saturday, 6 December 2014

Cathedrals Colours and Coaches

Here is typical English church.
That row of four small windows is part of a "clerestory" or clear storey. The construction was designed to provide extra light.

Early railway coaches were lit by gas; and one way to improve ventilation was to build your coaches with a miniature clear storey in the roof.

So, in 1961, we all became deliriously excited when Tri-ang advertised their model of the historic Great Western Railway "Lord of the Isles".
The prototype locomotive, Great Western, was built as a 2-2-2 locomotive in April 1846, but was soon converted to a 4-2-2 arrangement, with all eight wheels set rigidly within the sandwich framing, rather than in a separate bogie.

Locomotives were eventually re-built with a four wheel bogie and this is the version that Triang produced.

Locomotives of this class were extremely fast and had an estimated top speed of about 80 mph. They were used to haul the Flying Dutchman express train which, for several decades, was the world's fastest train. In 1852 the daily service from London Paddington Station to Exeter (194 miles) was achieved with an average speed of 53 mph; with the flatter section between London and Swindon covered at an average speed of 59 mph.

Then, the journey took an unimaginable 3 hours an 45 minutes! Today a typical journey by First Great Western HST is two hours.

From a railway modeller's point of view, this was the first really "old" loco to be produced for the mass market. It was sold separately and in a set with three clerestory coaches. (Yes, fbb has remembered "Rocket"!)
Again, there were the first such to be marketed for non specialist buyers. The coaches were too short to be a truly accurate model but caught the imaginations of children and adult enthusiasts alike.
A more accurate version of the model appeared under the Hornby banner in 1982.
A couple of full sized coaches are preserved at the Didcot Railway Centre. One is still awaiting restoration but the other has been lovingly rebuilt.

Some of these carriages lasted in passenger use until the late 1950s ...
... following which a few spent further time as departmental coaches as did 1941. This was recovered from Cardiff in 1968 in a very poor state.
Since then it has been restored to its original condition, including such items as gas lamps, and upholstery which has been specially recreated for the carriage.
Note that this coach has a more complex painting scheme than the Hornby model as shown above; although some versions were sold  with a better attempt at the correct Didcot paint scheme.
Other railway companies adopted similar ideas in design and this North Eastern Railway vehicle was restored at the Beamish Museum in County Durham.
A privately owned preserved coach of the Great Northern Railway is cared for by the Bluebell Line.
This magnificent beauty was for the use of the company's Directors, allowing them to travel in the lap of luxury ...
... to inspect their profitable and growing investments. This vehicle was used as "The Old Gentleman's Coach" in the year 2000 film "The Railway Children".
And, more prosaically, fbb has bought a Hornby clerestory (like the 1982 type) for his model. It looks really ridiculous being hauled by his Bartolli's circus diesel shunter. Now what he needs (but cannot afford, as yet) is a class 1400 0-4-2 tank loco to pull it.
Airfix produced one back in the late 1970s! More recently Hornby produced similar.

Isn't Technology Wonderful?
fbb and Mrs enjoyed a meal at their local Italian restaurant, "Amore".
The meal was splendid, complete with a complimentary glass of wine (1730 to 1830, Tuesdays to Thursdays). But there was a problem with the till; it would not function.
Eventually "the boss" was summoned. He swtiched the thing off at the mains, then back on again and poked a little screwdriver into a reset hole and all was, eventually, well. "This often happens," he commented to the crowd (of two) who were eagerly awaiting their sustenance. He then turned to the waitress-cum-bar tender and advised, "just make sure there aren't any little red bits on the screen and it will be OK." It was good to see the technology expert at work! "Little red bits", eh?

Mrs fbb was excited about the seat covers ...
... "like on an old bus," she suggested. Whereupon the waitress offered an alternative, "seats on an Underground train." fbb thinks that the moquette is not from the London Undergound but may be similar to that used on bus seats. Any offers?

And not RT moquette either (see comment below).
 "good" days 
Whilst we may engage in fruitless debate about how long one of God's days was ...
 ... we miss the point. What matters is (a) that the sequence of "creation" bears a miraculous resemblance to the conclusions of modern cosmology and (b) that it is the purpose of "creation" that matters. After each "day" is concluded, we read "and God saw that it was good."

The word "god" is the Anglo-saxon word which becomes our modern "good". So God "creates" ...

1 : Light from Darkness
2 : Matter from Emptiness
3 : Peaceful Green from Volcanic Fire
4 : Structure from Chaos
5 : Life from Sterility
6 : Mankind (Special) from Animal (Varied)

... and all of these were intrinsically - good.

But you can hear the objections over the ether. Hunger, Wars, Terrorism, Natural Disasters, Disease - they don't sound too good. But what separates mankind from other animals is creativity, spirituality and the ability to make moral choices. History shows that mankind as a body tends towards misuse of these freedoms; described biblically by a simple three-letter word.

The real antidote to the three-letter word starts with Christmas. But it takes a couple of thousand years of history to get there.
 Next railway blog : Sunday 7th December 


  1. Well, it looks very much like RT moquette, though you can buy the real thing, and many others, here:

  2. Sorry not RT (omit the "s" in "https" above). Have added an RT sample above.

  3. It used to be the case that the Cellar Bar at the Manchester University Students Union had Network SouthEast moquette on the seats.

  4. You'll be saving your pennies for Hatton's recently announced casting starting at £99 then. Or will this be another Buffers bargain!

  5. Andrew Kleissner8 December 2014 at 20:54

    Sorry, you've got the wrong GWR prototype loco - a broad gauge flyer. What you want is a "Dean single" (standard gauge).

    By the way I was at a Cru. camp with you (and a certain senior busman) at Westbrook, possibly 1972.