Birchley House and Railway
Saturday, 2 July 2022
The rather splendid Birchley House, near Biddenden in Kent, used to come with its own delightfully miniature railway which ran right past the fine and historic pile.
... and their two toddlers, Edward and Catherine, moved into Birchley House, a run-down 17th Century mansion outside Biddenden, Kent, and started renovation.
Two years later, Drummond moved on to a quite different project.
He decided to build the biggest, most show-stopping, fantasy scale miniature railway in their home’s five-and-a-half acres of grounds.
His idea was to turn into a lifelong obsession and even intended digging a 202ft tunnel to allow his steam engines to pass under the property’s drive.e concentrated on the railway in the grounds. He put down another 200ft of track, and, in 1980, set about his biggest engineering feat – the tunnel under the drive.
He then looped the track around the front gardens, making a run of a quarter of a mile, before creating an extension into the rear groun ds to make a half-mile circuit in all.
All the while Drummond was also expanding his stock of engines. He now has four – all steam locomotives – in his sidings. He also built a signal box – a perfect replica of the type found on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway.
The work inside the house, overseen by Jennifer, was equally substantial.
Birchley is an impressive Grade II mansion, but when the couple bought it for £11,800 it was in dire need of care and attention. During their first winter, the snow would blow in through the holes in the roof. The interior was dark and miserable and the grounds were overgrown.
But now the Randalls are selling Birchley because their children have all flown the nest and the six-bedroom house, with its beautifully landscaped grounds, including a covered swimming pool, is too big for them.
Birchley’s new owner can either buy some engines and keep the line working – or Drummond will be quite happy to dismantle the whole track and take it away.
The article is dated 2013 which ties in with one of the Sunday 4th dates of the "final" open day.
But it seems that the "dismantle and take away" option was what happened.
The line is, indeed, no more; hence the firmly closed front gates.
We start at the station ...
Here we go:- veer right and into the woods ...
The line has been "gone" for over ten years and it's passing was a sadness for many.
Weird isn't the word!
More Matford model railway snippets will now follow as part of the Sunday Variety blog.
Talking Of Tail-Chasing Model Railways
fbb has, at last, assembled a simple circular test track which will enable him to do "stuff" more effectively on the dining table - especially in inclement weather.
Seen here is fbb's extension of his tank wagon collection, progressing into the complex world of cylindrical tanks for the transport of cement and other powder products.
Six so far! More to come.
Nexct Variety blog : Sunday 3rd July
Friday, 1 July 2022
Where Is Wadhurst? and Why
The mapping web site "Where's The Path" - fbb's fave - doesn't think it exists; but Streetmap does!
And there it is, on the wiggly railway line between London and Hastings. As you would expect, the station is some distance from the settlement from which the station takes its name. Both are in East Sussex.
The next problem was caused by an item for sale in one of Seaton's Antique shops, a sign which fbb spotted as he went for coffee with "the girls" (all aged!) last Saturday.
fbb's encycloaedic but rapidly decaying leeedle Poirotesq brain cells could not dredge up a Birchley Railway.
YouTube offered a few videos, this from 1989. We first get a trackside view, then take a ride round as a passenger.It is worth the five minutes plus to appreciate this delightful layout.
But where is it? One source suggested Biddenden in Kent ...
For the record, Google Maps seems confused. It shows "house" against some farm buildings and "farm" against the big house.
Further on-line searches brought a clue.
Birchley Railway Open Day 4 August
Birchley railway is up for sale and our estate agent is trying his best to find a buyer – see our website www.birchleyrailway.com
In consequence Sunday’s Open Day may well be the last under the present management. Depending on whether the future owner wishes to keep the railway running is an unknown factor and all the equipment may be removed sometime soon.
Our Final Day will be supporting Action Duchenne again. Duchenne’s disease is a form of Muscular Dystrophy which affects only young boys who rarely reach 20 years of age.
Please come and help us support this really worthwhile Charity.
There will be a barbecue and refreshments including Jennifer’s home made cakes (Eat your heart out Mary Berry).
Free parking and unlimited train rides
Admission Adults £5; Children £2.50; Family 2+2 £12.50
Other interesting stands arranged by Action Duchenne themselves.
See you Sunday,
August 4th fell on a Sunday in 2013 and 2019. Is that a clue?
Matford Models 2
Of course, end-to-end layouts are fascinating, but often with less happening. One example at the Exeter show was a substantial model in "P4".
Protofour or P4 is a set of standards for model railways allowing construction of models to a scale of 4 mm to 1 foot (1:76.2), the predominant scale of model railways of the British prototype.
The P4 standards specify a scale model track gauge of 18.83 mm for standard gauge railways. The standards were published in Model Railway News by the Model Railway Study Group in August 1966.
Just as in the prototype railway, on a model the wheel-rail interface is the fundamental aspect of reliable operation. So as well as a track gauge, P4 also specifies the wheel profile and track parameters to use, which are largely a scaled-down version of real-life standards with some allowances for practical manufacturing tolerances.
The accurate track gauge and scale sleeper spacing does look much better than conventional OO gauge (16.5mm). Contrast and compare P4 ...... with OO.As well as striving for accuracy, you would need to fit P4 wheel sets to all rolling stock and locos.
The layout has used a neat touch to save too much trackwork, namely a double track line that has been "singled", the reduction to one track including a bridge ...
Models of real locations are rare, largely because real locations are large. This is an N gauge (9mm track) representation of a location not too far from the Marford exhibition centre.
And fbb Nearly Forgot ...
Tomorrow - more on both topics.
Auntie Frances to the Rescue
The withdrawal of Stagecoach 9A between Seaton and Lyme Regis is a big cut, removing an hourly service ...
Next Miniature Mystery & Modelling blog : Sat 2nd July
Thursday, 30 June 2022
Once Upon A Time ...
The dedicated trainspotter of yesteryear was generally equipped with pencil, notebook and his "Combine". fbb's (above) cost ten shillings and six pence, a small pocket-money fortune for the callow youth. For those unaware, the pocket-sized volume listed every British Railways locomotive arranged by marque and number. The tradition was that you underlined the number when you "copped" the engine.
And you got the "namers" as well!
... But Now:-
But today there are far fewer locos and much much more information. This book popped through the letter box at fbb mansions and fbb really doesn't know why - maybe it was an offer consequent upon taking out a new subscription for Modern Railways.D1666 was renumbered as follows:-
The loco was named:-
Odin 03/65 to 07/90
Irresistible 07/93 to 10/02
Duke of Edinburgh's Award 11/03 to 03/04
BRC - British Rail Crewe Works
03/65 to 02/94
European Metal Reprocessing, Kingsbury
Of course the "Combine" did not list deceased engines! What is quite sobering it to tot up the number of locos in each class and then look at today's much diminished railway.
You can even look up, for older locos, what its number is now and what it was before the TOPS computerised system was introduced.
fbb started his visit with lunch ...
Because not all our blog readers are convulsed with excitement about matters model railway, fbb will slip in snippets over the next few days. The aim of these mini reports will be to show things slightly out of the ordinary.
There weren't many!
Most layouts were "end to end", lacking the continuous runs of tail chasing trains familiar in fbb's youth. But there were a few like that.It was good to see trains tunning round in circles rather than waiting for the operators to send a realistic train at realistic speed some 12 feet along a layout. Sometimes realism can be a bit tedious however detailed it may be.
There was a good O gauge layout which was designed to watch the trains go by. The sound of a train clattering over the rail joints is very satisfying in the larger scale. Sadly, fbb failed to attempt a bit of video due to memory problems. The lack of memory was not on the phone but in fbb's head.
Apparently no one was injured - except perhaps the diver's pride, but the situation is a little "unfortunate".
Next Playing Catch-Up blog : Friday 1st July