Monday 17 June 2024

Electric Power, Tellingly ...

 ... Ran Trains At Hellingly

It is almost a clone of a very well built model railway village - but it is real, located just north of Hailsham in East Sussex.
Despite fbb's increasingly insane attempts to create rhyming headlines, this piece of verbal nonsense is utterly wrong. The village in not pronounced Helling-Lea (as in meadow) but Helling-Lie (as in untruth), but like all journalists, fbb would never let reality spoil an otherwise memorable (???) headline.

The station was on the cuckoo line ...

... with both building and canopy now in private hands but very obvious from the "Cuckoo Trail" footpath.
For part of the station's life it had an extra platform, built of wood, and oddly separated from the "cuckoo" train by a post and chain fence.
Wikipedia tells all!

In 1897, East Sussex County Council began building a large mental hospital (then cruelly called a "lunatic asylum") in open country not far from Hellingly station. A short branch line was constructed to bring in building materials.
The first loco was a small 0-4-0 saddle tank Which remained in use until patients arrived at the hospital which opened in 1903. The decision was taken to electrify the line at 500 volts using a simple overhead cable.

A loco was acquired for the purpose of hauling a few coal wagons to power the hospital' boilers. The coal also fired a small power plant which was hooked up to the wires.
The line branched off south of the station platforms so trains had to perform a reversing manoeuvre at the junction.
From the opening of the hospital, passengers were also carried using a sweet little 12 seat tram.
Trips ran "on demand" if there were connecting passengers from the Cuckoo Line. There was no timetable.

Both vehicles were kept in a shed and sidings near the main hospital buildings,
There were two intermediate "stops", simple sidings used for loading produce grown on the hospital estate  and conveyed the short distance to the kitchens.
Visitors were rare and the passenger service was withdrawn in 1935 but freight was still hauled by the diddy little steeple cab loco until 1959 when the hospital went over to oil fired boilers.

After a period of decline, the hopital closed completely in 1994. 

Someone has actually modelled the loco running on "O" gauge track but but scaled at 10mm to the foot. 
In fact the line was standard gauge so a more correct model should be to 7mm scale. But sweet, nonetheless!

Better still is a slightly fanciful model (plus owner's commentary) showing all three locos in operation together,
But back to reality. 

Below a picture of the "freight" loco plus brake van inside the hospital grounds.
Possibly the brake van was used for internal transport from siding to kitchen.

The hospital had a rather grand central building ...
...with a large collection of wards and ancillary buildings ranged in a rough semi circle around the central block.
So the question is, of course, "what can be seen today"?

The answer is, almost nothing. 

After closure, the site remained derelict for some years but has lately been developed for housing after demolition of all the original properties..

The route curving from the cuckoo line junction (green diamonds map bottom)
... has almost disappeared. But the trackbed off to the development ...
... has become The Drive
... the main access to the modern housing development, which began in 2010.
After a straight run past the site of the two former sidings, this road curves round ...
... and fizzles out where the main hospital buildings once stood.
You wonder how many residents of The Drive even know that their road used to carry the track of a railway which carried few passengers, was not part of the National Rail system and was electrified by overhead wires.

Some writers claim that it was the first overhead electrified standard gauge railway in the UK.

It looks as if, after the passenger service ceased, staff and visitors were conveyed by coach!
And was the loco green or blue?
Maybe this book has the answer?
Worth buying, if still available? Beware; some offers on Amazon are ridiculously expensive for a 32 page softback booklet!

Tank Wagon With Sprung Wheels
fbb was intending to illustrate his "exciting new technology" photographically but the springing is so minimalist you may not even notice the difference. Here is the wagon as delivered ...
... and here is the same wagon depressed by some over scale pressure from Mrs fbb's delicate but aged finger.
Hmm. Now a closer look at one wheel not depressed ...
... and below, almost as depressed as Marvin the Paranoid Android!
So the springing does work; but it is not as squidgy as fbb's original Peco Wonderful Wagon long since consigned to that great breakers yard in the sky.

Is the tank wagon worth the extra cost of sort-of springs?

Emphatically - NO!

 Next Coach Travel blog : Tues 18th June 

Sunday 16 June 2024

Sunday Variety

We Tend to Adore 'Em, Stations Like Horam

The Cuckoo Trail tuns from Heathfield to Polegate whilst, pre-closure, some trains ran all the way from Tunbridge Wells West to Eastbourne.

When we look around these station sites today, we observe loads of new housing and thus loads of new population.  Now if only Richard Beeching, or more importantly the Government of his day, had prophetic wisdom akin to that of the Old Testament, today's sad environment, fuel crises and economic situation might have  changed the policy.

But without that vision, there were simply too many railways carrying too few passengers and costing the wages of far too many staff.

There were (equally simply) far too many railways running to the south coast; including that from Tunbridge Wells to Eastbourne. You would have to be in cloud cuckoo land (GROAN!) to believe it was ever viable even back in the 1960s.

So Horan station ...

... picturesque though it was, ceased to be. In fact there is only sparse evidence left. The station buildings have gone ...
... as has much of the property on and near the road bridge. Many of the older houses have been demolished to make way for plots of more closely packed smaller residences.
A new footbridge adjoins the road bridge with a collection of shops opposite.

When Streetview chuntered past, at least one business appeared to be terminal. But fbb does like the title "Horam Emporium"!
Where the station building once stood ...
... is now a Care Home.
Horam is now served by Stagecoach ...
... offering a service 51 every 30 minutes ...
... ironically following very closely the route of the full-length cuckoo line. You would guess that trains never ran every 30 minutes! Maybe that is another reason not to belittle Beeching!
But, if you toddle down to the Cuckoo Trail, there are still some minor treats to enjoy. There are some bits of platform ...
... a station sign ...
... and a genuine Southern Railway concrete lamp ...
... with a genuine replica BR Southern Region "sausage" sign. 

You could stand on the platform, half close your eyes and just imagine a steam train wheezing and clanking to a halt for passengers south to Eastbourne.
Tomorrow we step one station further south with an electrification story.

Warehouse Workability Worries
It slowly dawned on the chubby one that his not very well though-out model could prove troublesome.

OK, the roof comes off to reveal the control panel ...
... but, from time to time there will be wiring work to be done inside the panel. So ...
... fbb doesn't want the delicate scenery that is affixed to the panel to be crushed, soldered or electrocuted! The warehouse walls (currently two off) must be separate from the panel "box".
If you look closely you can see plastic slots ...
... bodged on both "walls" ...
... into which the panel "box' itself can be slid. It is all held together when the roof is put on.

All that has to happen now is that the model needs to be integrated with the wires that lead into and out of the control panel.

But that's another story!

And there us more detail to add, plus lighting.

Pinterest Puzzle Place
fbb has said (quite recently; actually in yesterday's blog about Udimore) that he likes to solve puzzles, especially if they involve public transport.

Of course, one person's puzzle can be another person' easy peasy. But fbb could not readily identify this bus, again from Pinterest.
Other pictures from the same batch did not reveal any owners' name ...
... just variations on the dark blue.

So where is it? The easy route might be to use the registration mark, but fbb has long-since lost his list of the old letter codes. It, like everything else, would be all on line - but less entertaining for the grey cells!

So he first decided to try the destination.

This time the terminus pub, Rodbourne Arms, appeared to be the only one in the country and it was in Swindon.
It looked like a typical 1930s suburban hostelry, and one picture showed that it had a pleasant beer garden to the rear.
But a drive along the long Cheney Manor Road revealed no such building!

More research needed!

What about this picture of the boarded up watering hole ...
... a fenced off demolition site ...
... with bus shelter? 

Next appears a fence round a rebuild, then ...
... Open Street Map reveals what is on that site now.
Replacing a convivial boozer is ...
... a branch of Farm Foods! It almost looks like a rebuilt pub frontage but it isn't - it is a new-build.

And what of service 2?

It is now service 5 ...
... and the former Rodbourne Arms is now called The Broadway (map above upper right).

Service 5 goes much further and is now cross-town running every 10 minutes.
A Uni chum of fbb's, Albie Cox by name, used to live at Haydon Wick. (Utterly irrelevant factoid!!)

"Swindon's Buses" (erstwhile "Thamesdown") are now part of GoAhead.
The livery is brighter these days!

 Next Electric Cuckoo blog : Monday 17th June