Thursday, March 5, 2015

Filming the freight train

I thought it was high time i made some videos of my model railway project, here 1099.013-3 takes a freight train around the layout.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Banbury Cross

The current Banbury Cross dates from 1859 and was built to celebrate the marriage of Princess Victoria to Prince Frederick of Prussia. Later additions also commemorated the coronation of King George V. It was the first cross the Oxfordshire town had had for over 250 years after several previous medieval crosses were destroyed by the Puritans. The destruction of the crosses is just one event from the town's radical past.

Banbury has a long history of radical religion with Puritans also disputing the erection of a maypole in the town in 1589, the maypole was destroyed sparking riots. The old crosses were destroyed in 1600 as they were seen by Puritans as objects of superstitious veneration. Even before the Reformation Banbury was known for its unorthodox religion, the phrase "Banbury gloss" meaning twisting of the truth may refer to what was seen as erroneous readings of Scripture.

Camden's Britannica from 1610 stated that Banbury was known for "cheese, cakes, and zeal"! In the 17th century the phrase "Banbury Man" was used as a derogatory term for a Puritan which is evidence that the town well known outside for religious radicalism. The town had become one of the major centres for Quakers and also Presbyterians also flourished. By the 18th century however the town's religious zeal was on the decline with the High Church (establishment backed Anglicanism) welcomed in the town though religious radicals continued to have influence.

The Banbury Cross is mentioned in a nursery rhyme "Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross" though this likely refers to the earlier crosses as the earliest recorded versions of the rhyme predate the current cross by some margin in the mid-18th century.

Colvin, Christina, Janet Cooper, N H Cooper, P D A Harvey, Marjory Hollings, Judith Hook, Mary Jessup, Mary D Lobel, J F A Mason, B S Trinder and Hilary Turner. 'Banbury: Introduction.' A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 10, Banbury Hundred. Ed. Alan Crossley. London: Victoria County History, 1972. 5-18. British History Online. Web. 3 March 2015.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hereford Cathedral

Hereford Cathedral is one of the great cathedrals of the British Isles and is the home of the Mappa Mundi, a 13th century map of the world and the largest mediaeval map still in existence. The current cathedral's origins date from 1079 though a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Ethelbert (and before that a church) has been on the site since the 8th century. The original cathedral was destroyed by the Welsh in 1055.

Some of the original Norman church remains though much has changed as alterations and rebuilding have continued over the centuries. The cathedral suffered some damage in the civil war but the biggest damage to the cathedral occurred in 1786 when the west front and tower collapsed. Restorations and rebuilding of the cathedral continued into the early 20th century.

The cathedral was built almost entirely from local sandstone giving it its red appearance. The various stages of construction and rebuilding have given the cathedral a characteristic look with a variety of different styles. The Mappa Mundi dates from about 1285 and hung on the wall in an aisle, little regarded though perhaps it was nothing that much out of the ordinary at the time!

'Hereford'. An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, Volume 1, South west. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1931. 90-144. British History Online. Web. 3 March 2015.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

GWR 48XX/14XX Class

The 14XX class was a branch line steam locomotive built by the Great Western Railway in the mid-1930s. Seventy five of these small tank engines were built which had a 0-4-2 wheel arrangement, the four wheels at the front of the design being powered, of which 4 were preserved and survive today on heritage railways and museums. The example shown here 1450 is seen on the Severn Valley Railway.

Although dating from 1932 the origin of the 14XX class (originally called the 48XX) was the GWR 517 class from the 1860s. This design was continually modified and improved over the years with the  48XX locomotives built as a more modern version of the ageing 512 class locomotives.

The 14XX (as they become after World War 2) could work with an autocoach, a coach with a driving cab at one end getting rid of the need (and wasted time) of the locomotive having to change ends of the train at termini. When in push mode with the autocoach the fireman remained in the locomotive with the driver operating the locomotive via controls in the autocoach cab. The driver communicated with the fireman using an electric bell.

Typical routes a 14XX and autocoach were used on included High Wycombe-Aylesbury, the last running using this motive power being in 1962, and Bourne End-Marlow. The 14XX class had a decent career (though nowhere near as long as their 517 class forerunners) and made it to mainline steam's final decade with the final withdrawals in the mid-1960s.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bridgnorth Cliff Railway

The Bridgnorth Cliff Railway is a funicular railway that links the high and low parts of the Shropshire town of Bridgnorth. The railway was built in the 1890s to help provide an easier way to travel between the 2 parts of the town, the high town being where Bridgnorth Castle's ruins are. Before the advent of the funicular railway traveling up to the high town was a 200 step climb so no doubt the opening of the railway was warmly welcomed by most!

Originally the railway used water and gravity to operate with water being pumped into a tank in the "top" railway car to counteract the weight of the "bottom" car and hence allow movement. This was changed to electricity when the railway was upgraded in the 1940s and the original wooden railway cars were replaced with lighter aluminium ones in the 1950s, these remain in use today. The railway is only 61m in length though rises a height of 34m.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Planet was the UK's last manned lightship having served in Liverpool and later in the Channel Islands. The ship was built and launched in Liverpool in 1960 and served as the Mersey Bar lightship until 1972. After leaving BAR station Planet was sold to Trinity House and headed south serving until 1989 at CHANNEL station. Planet was then sold and has been restored to its original condition, arriving at its current berth at Liverpool's Albert Docks in 2006. Planet is now open to the public as a cafe and a museum.

Lightships are ships which act as lighthouses of course. They were used where the waters were too deep or conditions were unsuitable for building a permanent lighthouse. Most lightships have been replaced by permanent structures or buoys nowadays but there are still a number of unmanned lightships around British waters.