Monday, 8 May 2017

800 Not Out!

fbb Jumps Ship; Changes Trains?
For the last two years, fbb has been a subscriber to Hornby Magazine, once published by Ian Allan, but now sold off, like most of that once prestigious publishing house, to other enterprises. There was , originally, no intention to become a mensual reader, merely buy an occasional copy of anything that took the chubby one's fancy. But he was lured in by the offer of a free parcels van (worth £29?).
It is still in the box in which it was delivered having never run on the Peterville Quarry Railway!

Hornby Mag had become a little tedious for your ageing modeller. The editorial team was very keen to promote the latest technology (DCC control, sound and lighting in the loco) all of which added mightily to the cost of a simple little tank engine! Each month the review section was populated with products that were "excellent value" (i.e. a small tank engine at £129 without DCC, far too expensive) and now available in the livery of the Wiggleton and Wisket Dreggles light railway.

No reflection is intended on the quality of Hornby Mag; just that its perceived readership was way beyond the modelling middle road occupied by cheapskate fbb. Your author has never spent more that £50 (and that was painful) on a locomotive, relying almost exclusively on second hand.

So renewal time passed and fbb decided to return to the magazine of his youth with a two year subscription to Railway Modeller. The June issue has just popped through the letterbox and it is emblazoned with the self-congratulatory news that it is the 800th edition.

fbb can just remember the 100th edition!
Ian Allan returned to the field of modelling trains with the Model Railway Constructor ...
... which fbb bought occasionally, but somehow it never had the friendly authority of the Modeller.  It closed.

The Railway Modeller was, for its first few years, an Ian Allan publication ...
... which was sold to Peco for £100. As part of the package, Peco also received its editor, C J (Cyril) Freezer) whom fbb met at the company's Seaton showroons way back in the 1950s. What an honour that was at the time!

In the interest of completeness, fbb should mention that there was, again in his youth, Model Railway News. Somehow this periodical never drew the youth's attention. He only every bought a few sporadic copies.
With the 88th edition comes a souvenir booklet containing buckets of nostalgia for elderly hobbyists.
Here is a picture of Mac Pyrke's Berrow layout which, more than anything else, helped a spotty fbb believe that he could build a model railway.
There is also a very early picture of Rev Peter Denny.
His "Buckngham" model was an inspiration to thousands of modellers in the sixties and seventies but the standards were very, very high. Peter died in December 2009, aged 92 after a lifetime of service to the Church and a lifetime of astounding railway modelling.

Also in the booklet are memories of  model retailers long gone. Beatties had a national network of stores ...
... but went into administration in 2001. Then there was Bassett-Loke from fbb's birth town of Northampton.
19-25 Kingswell Street is no more and the showrooms had been absorbed into the Beatties business.

Whilst fbb did no modelling from the mid sixties until three years ago, he did try to keep up with the hobby with a view to possibly starting again in due course.

Colour came to the magazine in the 70s ...
... with a massive eight pages thereof in 1972.

Possibly the biggest change over the years has been the improvements in photograph and printing. By clever digital manipulations bits of picture can be "glued together" to keep big layouts all in focus as well as in glorious colour.
Such technology simply was not around 800 issues ago.

Some things are just plain disturbing. Withing the commemorative booklet is a picture (ex catalogue or advertisement) of the first two-rail loco produced by Hornby Dublo.
The picture doesn't do this lovely litt;l tank engine justice - it looked far better than the crude re-touched image shown above.
Why disturbing? This was the first (the only) locomotive that fbb bought new for his teenage layout. It was 36/-. This would inflate to approx £33 today. And a note for purists; the R1 was initially sold with standard Hornby metal couplings, not the chunky (and ugly!) brutes shown above.

The model was introduced in 1959. fbb was 13. That is 60 years ago.


So here it is, the 800th edition.
We will dip into its entertaining pages in due course.

Will the content be more to fbb's taste? Only time will tell; he has another 22 months to go!

Will fbb be around for the 900th edition. Statistically possible. 1000th? Much less likely!

Also through the front door (the letterbox is too narrow) has come a fascinating book on the real, full sized railway. A "first glance" review is planned in a day or so. Meanwhile there are quite a few oddments (quality oddments, of course!) from various sources that need our attention,

 Next quality oddment bog : Tuesday 9th May 


  1. "mensual". Thought it was another fbb misprunt until I looked the word up.
    I did wonder what it might be a typo for, though. Sensual? Surely not. Menstrual. Definitely not. So I looked it up, and discovered the origin and meaning.
    fbb. Educating, informing and entertaining.

  2. Not bought RM since about 1965, but sad to see that they've dropped their former strap line of "...for the average enthusiast". That line was the absolute antithesis of today's hyperbole.

  3. Ah, Beatties! My claim to fame is that Colonel Beattie once paid for my lunch circa 1969. A local vicar, who was train mad took me and a couple of school friends to the shop in Southgate. As the reverend gentleman was such a good customer, Colonel Beattie took us all to a restaurant for a meal.