Monday 31 December 2018

Christmas Reading (3)

From Thirty Years Ago
This present from Mrs fbb was purchased from Seaton's splendid second-hand bookshop ...
... and was a Christmas Day surprise.In fact the book was first published in 1972 (1975 shown here) ...
... but this 1988 edition involved some significant updates and re-writes. The most recent edition shown on-line is from 1998.
It classes itself as the Railway Modellers' Bible.

It is certainly very thorough beginning with what would seem to be an unnecessary question.
It then goes on to talk about where to build your layout, what sort of layout you might want and how to construct the baseboards. This is all good basic stuff but perhaps most entrants to thee hobby will have been attracted by a magazine or someone else's layout so they will have a good idea of where they want to start.

But the good advice is still worth considering, even if it is 30 years old. Like ...
... keep your pointwork away from baseboard joints, especially if you need to dismantle the various sections. Getting the bits to join will be an absolute pig - straight track is bad enough! This became painfully obvious on a club layout which fbb was working on. Pointwork joins NEVER worked properly when the layout was being re-mantled.

But, all this shows that you could start a lifetime of railway modelling using a book published in 1988.

What has changed in the thirty years is the quality of the illustrations. This is the pre-1988 "loft layout" in the permanent Peco exhibition at Beer.
This is a not very good quality clip from a video from recent times.
Some might argue that the quality of the layouts has improved noticeably. Partly, of course, that is due to the steady improvement in detail and manufacture of proprietary models.

fbb guesses that today's modelling team at Peco would want better than the modified Airfix footbridge in the 1988 illustration!
An entertaining read from not quite so way back nevertheless. As Mrs fbb suggested when proffering the gift, there may, indeed, be tips and ideas which the old man can adapt and adopt for his less than expert back yard model!

Not that he will need it on his "end to end" layout, but it is good that your elderly bodger can look up how to wire reversing loops.
A railway modeller should always keep a spare D P D T switch or two in his bits and bobs box! fbb has four.

Bus Spotting Department
Travelling back to Abergynolwyn from a village near Llanbrynmair (lower right) ...
... via Machynlleth and Corris ...
... the fbbs found themselves behind a T4, the latest of the Traws Cymru manifestations.
The journey was the 1645 from Aberystwyth. Mrs fbb attempted a picture but was unable to switch off he flash, hence poor quality.
The bus seemed empty! nopasengers boarded or alighted between Machynlleth and thee turn-off for Abergynolwyn.
Today the fbbs return from Abergynolwyn to Seaton (hence brief blog) in good time for the traditional Hogmanay celebrations. 
There might just be a "wee dram" before retiring to bed (probably at about 2130!) There was a suggestion that Mrs fbb (a Scottish girril) should blacken her face with soot and rush next door with a lump of coal but, on further consideration, beddybyes seems much more attractive.
This year's advent calendar began with a review of the nonsensical flummery that time has created with the Father Christmas, Santa Claus and Kris Kringle fantasies. But an even dafter nonsense is to realise how fabricated the "Santa" character is - and how recently that fabrication took place.

The urban myth that it was all down to Coca Cola is twaddle. We need to go to a Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, Divinity and Biblical Exegesis and a highly successful American Political Cartoonist.

The former was Clement Clark Moore ...
... and the latter, Thomas Nast.
Moore wrote a poem (Anonymously for fear of ridicule in the halls of academe) called "A Visit from Saint Nicholas".
It is better known as "'Twas  the Night before Christmas". In it he describes the arrival of the goodly saint with reindeer, the chimney descent, the bag of presents and the character of the rubicund hero of the story.

Thomas Nast drew the pictures ...
... which accurately reproduce Moore's "traditional" description.
Ho ho ho!

But two lines may surprise our reader.
Saint Nick was AN ELF! And illustrated as such. 
Accompanied by miniature reindeer and miniature sleigh, his elfin stature clearly helped overcome the typical "When Santa Got Stuck In The Chimney" type of problem.
the poem was first published in 1823 making the whole Santa jollity less than 200 years old.

The real CHRISTmas story is a tad older, at 2023 years approx. The events were probably collated in about 40AD and included in Matthew's and Luke's Gospels about 30 years later. There is no record of anyone challenging their authenticity at the time of writing.

Get the story right and the revealed truth of the Reason for the Season is far more important than a fictional jolly Elf! It all came upon a midnight clear:-

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.
 New Year's Day Quiz : Tuesday 1st January 

Sunday 30 December 2018

Christmas Reading (2)

Firstly From 40 Years Ago
Bryan Palmer attends the same church as the fbbs and he also helps at a local charity shop. Occasionally, railway-linked items are donated but are unlikely to generate much interest, so fbb gets "first refusal". Hence this intriguing volume:-
On-line copies are available dated from 1980 (as above) up to 2007, but it is not a publication that fbb has experienced before.
The idea of the books is simple; it catalogues every OO gauge locomotive available (or due for introduction) with a short description and history of the full sized 12" to the foot version.

The adverts are telling. 
Seven companies were offering British railway models.

By 1980 Triang had taken over Hornby and assumed the name; also with Triang were the old diecast Hornby Dublo locos, marketed as Wrenn.

Jouef (French) and Lima (Italian) were absorbed by Hornby; most Airfix (GMR) models were also taken over by Hornby whilst Mainline sort-of became Bachmann who now own the Liliput brand.

Most of today's models are produced in China and something of a growth industry is models produced exclusively for retailers like Rails of Sheffield and Hattons of Widnes. These are sometimes partnership deals with existing companies, sometimes commissioned direct from China.

Either way, most of the locos shown in this 1980 book can still be bought today, either as new re-tooled models or on the second-hand market.

Beatties was a Riches to Rags tale.
Started by its founder, Colonel Beattie, the name was taken over on his retirement; and a small shop in Southgate, London grew into a chain of 60 toy stores by 1990. In our volume a new branch was announced to open in Liverpool. But, ten years later, the company was in trouble and by 2001 it had disappeared.

As can be gathered from their advert, Hornby were making much of their model of the APT (Advanced Passenger Train).
The "real thing" article was supremely optimistic.

Six pre-production electric sets (APT-P) will be used between London Euston and Glasgow.

British Rail expect full production to commence shortly.

It is hoped to construct some seventy sets to replace loco-hauled trains by the mid 1980s.

Initial trains were not a success.

The first runs along the London-Glasgow route took place in December 1981. The result was a media circus when every problem large or small received front-page coverage and the entire project derided as an example of BR's incompetence. The trains were withdrawn from service again by the end of the month, to the great amusement of the press.

The APT project was cancelled in 1986.

Plans for a production version, APT-S, were abandoned, and the three APT-Ps ran for just over a year before being withdrawn again over the winter of 1985/6. Two of the three sets were broken up, and parts of the third sent to the National Railway Museum where it joined the APT-E. The patents for the APT's tilt system were sold to Fiat.

The Hornby Model does appear on second-hand sites from time to time.
Despite the cancellation, many of the APT's claims to fame materialised with the Virgin Pendolino, ironically with the Fiat tilting train technology sold by BR!

This interesting little book is packed with useful background information and will expand the real-world knowledge of many a OO layout builder.

And the book cost fbb a massive 0p!

Thanks Bryan.
Yet again, the "wise men" narrative has accumulate so much clutter that its real meaning is lost in a morass of soppy twaddle.

These men were the nearest thing to scientists that you could have in a few years BC. Yes, they "studied the stars" as astrologists, seek to find meaning; BUT, in so doing, they and many like them discovered so much that we would now call astronomy.

The astrological pattern of the stars led them to recognise something very significant astronomically. A powerful star )a message from God rather than anything that we can now identify) drew them to the new "King".
But their gifts lead back inexorably to the prophets of 500+ year previously. Their gifts recognised that the 2-year-old toddle was, indeed, God's given Messiah.

GOLD : A King, eternal in heaven ...
INCENSE : A priest as an intermediary between Man and God ...

MYRRH : for embalming dead bodies!
The destiny of the child was to open up the way to heaven through forgiveness, bought with his willing self-sacrifice to pay the prescribed punishment price for sinfulness.

The Messiah would complete all that was necessary to "save" mankind. All mankind has to do is to accept the true CHRISTmas gift through faith.
 Christmas reading blog 3 : Monday 31st December 

Saturday 29 December 2018

Christmas Reading (1)

Feeding The Body And The Mind
Yesterday, fbb and Mrs took a short drive into Tywyn (which we used to call Towyn when fbb were a lad) to replenish family comestibles whist the younger set was riding mountain bikes round a lethal course at Coed-y-Brenin Forest Park.
This hiatus in the seasonal jollity of patronising and amusing comments about old age and ineptitude at almost anything gave the oldies a chance to spy out the location for family Sunday lunch in a caff.

It is in the old Market Hall, the aged ones were told. From memory this didn't seem too attractive ...
But Streetview was out-of-date and in reality things looked more promising.
After booking, fbb turned in eager anticipation to Clock Tower Books.

There he found a Christmas gift (from fbb to fbb) for a modest £2.
Published in 1990 it includes a reasonable but general introduction to trans and their UK history. Mr Gladwin has then published a wide selection of pictures offering a delicious pot-pourri of reminiscences from systems throughout the British Isles.

What enhances the "mixed bag" content are pictures of service vehicles which do not always figure in modern tram "albums". The illustration of a Manchester parcels van was new to fbb.
But it was a picture on the back cover that persuaded fbb to part with a whole £2.
Your author's first ever tram ride was from Colwyn Bay to Llandudno as above but on a grey and miserable evening enjoyed on a family holiday. fbb was 3! And the tram pole came off the electric string, prompting an athletic conductor to shim up the trolley and, using astounding physical skill, wiggle himself and the pole back into pole position.

But back to the book. One enjoyable activity is to try to find the present day location of some ancient pictures. Fitzalan Square in Sheffield was easy ...
... but only the Tetley's pub frontage is recognisable today.
Butts Island in Rochdale was a popular meeting place ...
... now replaced by more impersonal road improvements.
The building on the far left has lost some of its upper embellishments but the terrace next door still exists.

Two from Doncaster. Firstly the Balby tram terminus at Oswin Road.
The main road linking with the A1M passes this way now ...
... with multiple traffic management appurtenances.
On the other side of town we see a party of the great and good about to cross North Bridge after its rebuilding.
Behind the policeman were steps down to the "old" road (now Marsh Gate) where a small bus station for West Riding services was located.
The bridge (over the East Coast main line) was rebuilt yet again ...
... and is now superseded by a mega flyover to the right of the above shot.
And finally to Torquay. Facing the eastern end of The Strand ...
... the old picture shows the installation of a tram junction, left into Babbacomme Road and right along Victoria Parade.
The building behind the clock tower has long since been replaced ...
... but the two shops on the left are relatively unscathed.


£2 well spent.
Of all the bits of the "traditional" Christmas narrative, the story of "the Magi" is the most corrupted and falsified.

From Matthew's Gospel account ...

Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time when Herod was king. Soon afterward, some men who studied the stars came from the East to Jerusalem.

We are not told:-
how many there were.
what they were (definitely not kings)
how they travelled -  no mention of camels

And they didn't wear silly hats ...
... a really daft idea for a long, tiring and risk journey! fbb doesn't think they had curly beards either. Even if they were well groomed when they left "The East", they would have been pretty disreputable by the time they got to Bethlehem, even after a quick de-coke at the Palace.

After putting the fear of God (literally!) into King Herod, they continued to Bethlehem.

And so they left, and on their way they saw the same star they had seen in the East. When they saw it, how happy they were, what joy was theirs! It went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. They went into the house ...

NOT to the stable/cattle shed/cave.

No one has any idea where their names (Gaspar, Melchior, Balthazar) came from or why they are depicted as being from different races. These names appear in about 650 AD - from nowhere!

... and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped him. They brought out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and presented them to him.

And when did they arrive? If Herod "at Bethl'em in his fury" ...
... killed the boys aged 2 and under, we may assume that their arrival was up to two years after the birth.

So Jesus was a toddler, not a baby; a child of approx 2 years of age.
What seems very clear is that they gave Jesus some incredibly useless, even laughable gifts.

But Matthew was anxious to explain the whole truth about CHRISTmas. Hence the three weird (but VERY expensive) visual aids.
 Christmas reading blog 2 : Sunday 30th December