Thursday, 12 September 2013

Great British Model Railways Volume 1

Kind folk do send me books for review (any reader able to do so is most welcome to).
Edited by Ben Jones and the Modelrail Team
Bauer Media

Volume 1 first published August 2013, 128 pages paperback.

Through your reviewer's door in early September there dropped two worthwhile new model railway publications. The larger is a cross between a magazine and that now popular bookazine format. Volume 1 implies there may be more. Detail aside, the simple and very worthwhile objective is to showcase a lot more of Chris Nevard's outstanding model photography. More about Chris can be learnt here . 

Largely unencumbered single page or double spreads energise this work, One of my favourites is Bulleid Q1 33030 on shed at sunset at Hectorage Road. Layout names covered include St Merryn in P4, Pete Waterman's Lemington Spa in O and Pendon for EM. The narrow gauge scene showcases Ddault in 009 whilst Irish broad gauge has Ballyconnel Road in 3mm (yes 3mm and by three Kentish gents). A trip to France takes in the metre gauge Reseau Breton at Pampoul. This is not intellectually demanding material (unless you intend to emulate these in which case your brain and your fingers will certainly have to work); it is however a very delightful flick through and a snip at the price for what you get.

At roughly the same time the September dated Model Rail dropped in. This carries a loose A5 28 page supplement, densely tabulated, called "Who does what? The definitive model and kit directory 2013". It costs £2.50 bought solo. It will carry a lot of appeal to Train Collector readers. There are horses for courses and the point of this production is to tabulate every current model commercially available, be it a kit or ready to run, covering locomotives and traction inherited or built by British Railways and successors. The design is such that classes with no coverage also stand out.

 Inevitably in such a production there will be a few wobbly edges. Metropolitan locomotives are included, quite some number including the ACE Bo-Bo, but there are no EFE LT EMU sets. Certain narrow gauge  engines manage to qualify and are included like Beeston sleeper work's 3' gauge Bagnall 0-4-0ST and Lynton & Barnstable Manning Wardles. Within a budget production, some passing by the way is inevitable. Many smaller but high class ranges are in like Golden Age and Masterpiece Models. What cannot be gainsaid is that no-one has attempted to combine in one listing on a prototype driven basis RTR and kits before. Right at the end is a helpful manufacturer address and website listing. Applause is due although I will close with a paradox, sticking to their guidelines as they do, there is no Stephenson's Rocket (Dapol kit C046)! The editors must also be rather glad MTK is not in business any longer.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Carrick City of Adelaide leaves Irvine 9th September 2013

Carrick ARRIVED in Irvine 30th May 1993

Back in about 1988 when I was curator at the Scottish Maritime Museum, I took part with Campbell McMurray in the first steps that moved the Carrick/City of Adelaide. In the event in 1989 both of us moved on from the SMM but not before (and receiving from both of us a lot of time) the Linthouse Building was on the move. The latter despite one or two ups and downs must be judged a complete success for the museum. Without such a display building, I cannot see how the museum could have continued.

Carrick/CoA should have been a great success as well. But Carrick had been neglected well before the SMM came on the scene. Carrick (as I remember her) is actually an index of British attitudes to maritime preservation. Everyone wants it done but the serious money required tends not to appear or only after a great deal of painful head banging.

Carrick could have been to Irvine what Trincolmalee is in Hartlepool but somehow or other the deep political drivers that would be needed never appeared. Indeed the museum has had several dices with death in the meantime. Braehead has been an up and down saga. Dumbarton has been a consistent star. I believe the museum is much healthier now than say 10 years ago. Sam Galbraith is a chair of trustees of great ability. And can the museum be blamed that its neighbours in power chose to spend £14.8 million of Millennium money on The Big Idea? That was a project that spectacularly bombed and whose legacy is an unwanted bridge across Irvine Harbour being one of the three main obstacles to City of Adelaide's exit. Imagine the result if that money had gone to the clipper.

In the end Sunderland and Adelaide (with no real direction from Scotland beyond the sense they wanted it far away and the land back for its owner) had to compete. Adelaide has de facto won and I wish them well, although I don't imagine it will be easy. Why did Sunderland lose? Because in the end it is a political game and Sunderland's politicians were not fired up. Somehow not enough of them could see the big picture. But may I suggest this fits in with another related agenda. Sunderland has taken its museum service out of the Tyne & Wear joint service this spring. It has in its patch Washington F Pit museum which hardly ever opens. There is the Air Museum now NELSAM (easy to understand, not). Just follow the SIGNS to that operation to get an index on the matter. The lads there have a wonderful collection, a lot of ambition (thankfully a load of sheds) but they are tucked out in the Sunderland sticks and as I know from attending an open day this summer, the resource they would need to be viable will be considerable. And viability is important, if something is restored but cannot earn its keep (allowing that a trust's fund raising may balance the books) it can't work. I grew up with the Norfolk Wherry Albion which remains a success story but the Trust there has managed to keep things in balance. To have made Carrick work in Sunderland would have demanded her being part of a historic quarter redevelopment like Trincolmalee. I wonder to what extent Sunderland's leaders looked down the road at nearby Hartlepool and thought is there room for two?

The preserved railways of the North East show the same process. The Weardale is a big project with ambition, a good intellectual case, Look at in 2013! It has become a disaster. Look at the Bowes Railway in SUNDERLAND's patch. Again the intellectual case is unarguable. It is a major monument. Has it flourished in this time span? No it has struggled from crisis to crisis. So the story of transport based heritage in Sunderland in the last two decades is not a flush of successes.  

Nor should it be forgotten that for many of these last 20 years Sunderland did have an historic ship to attend to? Do not forget the Manxman and its stay at the Pallion Shipyard and how through 2011-12 it was scrapped there ( Does it surprise Carrick is not going to Sunderland? Disappointed yes, surprised no.

Where do I plan to be on Monday? Irvine with my wife Fiona (who I met at the SMM) - god willing. It will be a very historic moment, I hope it is not the end, I hope Carrick does reach Adelaide and that they love her in abundance! If anyone from the SMM recognises me on Monday, I shall smile and offer my handshake.

Robert Forsythe  

My FB album

Photos also at
and its neighbours. 

Twitter feed of the move of Adelaide Carrick is at 

The ship finally left Irvine 20th September and reached Chatham on the 25th. Only to find it was still not plain sailing . This link is also very pertinent .

Money wasted which could have been spent on the clipper. 

Friday, 6 September 2013

NELEP Adonis conference Newcastle

Back through the rain from NELEP conference Twitter #NEgrowth13. Transport including Rail certainly gots its mileage. The business angle is probably driving an into and out of region connectivity agenda more than the perils of local rail franchise (even though I had confirmation no wires to Middlesbrough at the moment). Told that the rail TOCs and Network Rail were invited and they did not bother to come. It was a high powered packed out house, though with Labour MPs mocking from the front page of the Journal. Behind the scenes some delegates convinced me that a lot about Ashington Blyth & Tyne, Leamside and Peterlee is going on although I still need to wave a flag that it all needs connecting region wide and publicising.
Two supplementaries: we were given the text of a Lord Adonis speech (not what he actually said to us). He speaks up for Metro on Ashington Blyth and Tyne, Leamside and even Consett!
Contrast: not many friends here A few MPs turned out including Guy Opperman.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Putin, Pope Francis and Syria

How to make a muddier situation muddier (or how to really pile the pressure on Obama)  . I see a world in which using chemical weapons is banned, a rather nasty regime then uses them repeatedly. The world mithers about what to do and the Pope gives Putin a large stick with which to beat Obama. But then the Syrian Orthodox Church and Assad seem to be on one side. It is I know difficult to know what to do but say you see two groups of bullies in the playground having a fight in which a load of innocent girls are caught in the middle, to use Jesus' words spoken in the same area, do you walk on the other side? If the POPE can bring peace to Syria it would be a miracle worthy of the vicar of Christ.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Gays in Russia

Russia is and always has been a great country. However at numerous points in its history it has been managed by what can only be called institutionalised thuggery. Now with a former KGB officer managing to adroitly maintain power, I fear the same process is at work and if it continues for decades it will threaten British interests. Support of the Assad regime is an example. Another index of institutionalised thuggery are attitudes to homosexuals. Hitler's Germany demonstrated this. So it is with considerable concern I read this .