Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Fake Britain? Fake News?

Fake Products Sold At Fake Prices?
It’s probably fair to say that "fake" is fast becoming one of the biggest buzzwords of the age. But behind the word is a rather tricky - and largely unsolved - etymological story that takes us back to the secret slang of early 19th century criminals.

It seems to have been a criminal slang word for any kind of deception or even attack; so explains adictionary of criminal slang. 

To fake any person or place, may signify to rob them; to fake a person, may also imply to shoot, wound, or cut; to fake a man out and out, is to kill him; a man who inflicts wounds upon, or otherwise disfigures, himself, for any sinister purpose, is said to have faked himself; it also describes the doing of any act, or the fabricating any thing, as, to fake your slangs, is to cut your irons in order to escape from custody; to fake your pin, is to create a sore leg, or to cut it, as if accidentally, with an axe, etc., in hopes to obtain a discharge from the army or navy, to get into the doctor’s list, etc.; to fake a screw, is to shape out a skeleton or false key, for the purpose of screwing a particular place; to fake a cly, is to pick a pocket; etc., etc., etc.

This intriguing map popped un-announced into fbb's in-box a few days ago.
Its progenitors have sought to identify the geographical locations of a huge range of fictional towns, villages and grand manor houses.
Places that could never be identified (usually part of mythical narratives) are show highlighted with a swirl. But the majority have been placed using clues from the original authors or, sometimes more accurately, because the same authors have admitted to the real location. Here, for example, we have "Heartbeat" country ...
... with Aidensfield and Ashfordly; also Elsinby on the coast from "spin-off" Hospital series "The Royal". We also have Darrowby (All Creatures Great and Small) and TV's Emmerdale (once Emmerdale Farm). There is also Dickens' Dotheboys Hall and the eponymous Downton Abbey whilst many authors have set their tales in the South Riding of Yorkshire.

Several railway fictions feature.
Here is the line from Mallingford saved by the Titfield Thunderbolt ...
... in the 1953 film. But fbb has also spotted Northanger Abbey (Jane Austen), Carsely (The Agatha Raisen detective series of books), Kembleford (TV's "Father Brown") and the gloriously nostalgic "Much Binding in the Marsh" from the heady days of steam radio.

Off the coast near Barrow in Furness (Braddage) is the Island of Sodor ...
... home to Thomas and Friends and the Rev Wilbert Awdry's Ffarquhar Branch model railway which started it all.
But one piece of this fascinating map, arguably, offers a more obscure model railway connection.
A little knobble at the mouth of the Firth of Forth shows the Craig and Mertonford Railway.

When fbb was nobbut a lad, this piece of modelling history featured often in the pages of the "Railway Modeller", as here in December 1961. (fbb had reached the heady days of age 16!).
The modeller, P D Hancock ...
... could well be described as the "inventor" of narrow gauge railway modelling. Following the lead of such real-world lines as the Festiniog and Talyllyn, he created his own "county", links to mainline railways ...
... and a whole microcosm of modelling magnificence set in Scotland.
His locos even carried their very own company crest!
The quality and skill of the modelling was astounding, especially as almost everything had to be hand built. There were a few "basic" kits on the market which might help with locos and rolling stock, but mostly this was real modelling from scratch of a standard rarely seen today.

Nowadays, if you wish to build your own narrow gauge layout, the range of ready-to-run models is huge and growing, here, for example, from Peco ...
... and there are some splendid locos to match (if your piggy bank is full and quickly replenished)!
The above is from Danish manufacturer Heljan, but, as they say, other brands are available.

For those who are mystified by "OOn9" it means to OO scale - 4mm to the foot - but running on a track gauge of  9mm (standard "N" gauge between the rails).
Again, PECO track is shown here and note the irregular sleepers, just like the real thing!

What this availability means is that anyone can begin to emulate a P D Hancock model without needing the hundreds of hours of patience and skill that he called upon to create the Craig and Metronford.

If you are in any way interested in the history of Railway Modelling (not everyone's cup of tea) you might pick up one of PDH's many books at a second-hand shop. Well worth a read.
He certainly inspired your blogger to begin his tentative climb from toy train to model railway, a climb interrupted by over 50 years of modelling inactivity, but now rejoined in the back yard of fbb mansions. Sadly there are insufficient years of life-expectation for the old bloke to aspire to anything remotely skillful!

But it is relaxing - and fun!

But expensive.

Tomorrow we are off to Lancashire. And fbb has a Tippi Hedren experience!
The full "Fake Britain" map is on-line (here)

 Next Rosso blog : Wednesday 23rd January 


  1. Andrew Kleissner22 January 2019 at 07:34

    I remember the Peco "crazy track" when it first came out, and feeling a bit annoyed with it - after all, it is something of a caricature! Some narrow-gauge lines, at least, had track of a very high standard (at least when built!) - the Festiniog did, so did the Lynton & Barnstaple, and I would imagine the Vale of Rheidol too. Of course industrial lines were a different matter entirely! I rode on the Shannonbridge Bord Na Mona peat line in Ireland about 20 years ago and even the "main line" trackage had to be seen to be believed!

  2. As one of the map's creators I really want to thank you for this coverage. I'm a railway buff and so ensured that the Craig and Mertonford, along with a few other notables, made it into the map.