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|Some of you may, for reasons similar to mine, know that Lantern Yard was a fictional place in George Eliot's Silas Marner. We had to read it at school and apart from the odd line "Eppie in de toal ole", all I recall is thinking, even then, 50 odd years ago, that both Lantern Yard and Raveloe were great layout names!So, when the time came to knock up a fairly big scenic set-piece, Lantern Yard was a no brainer, as they say. Any layout I might make (unlikely now) would then be Raveloe.
It's been kicking around for years. I started it when my youngest grandson was born and he starts senior school next year!
It contains a model of the wooden ex working boat on which my wife and I lived and cruised a while back, Heather Bell, a 1937 wooden Nurser built boat, for Christopher and Daphne March, a brother and sister team who ran her hard up to the War and, when Christopher went in the Merchant Navy for the War, Daphne and her 60 year old Mum ran her even harder, mainly up the Worcester cut to Tipton with grain, then the Cannock coalfieds and back to Worcester with nutty slack. But she also went to a dozen other places, including being the only narrow boat that ever shot the Severn bore (account published in the Green Book of Lady Margaret Hall, for this lady was a well educated one!) Other tales of HB can be found in various books since written by the ladies who learned the ropes of canal boat handling aboard Heather Bell, later known as the Idle Women, after the small early plastic badge they wore with IW on it, which was actually an abbreviation of Inland Waterways.
Heather Bell is also the only other boat mentioned by name in Tom Rolt's famous work, Narrowboat, apart from his own Cressy. The ladies on HB used to stop at Tardebigge for tea with the Rolts. Tom's widow, Sonia has also taken tea with us on HB in the boatyard whilst we restored her.
Here's the model so far with early brickwork painting and the later stages of the filler. The layout is purely fictitious of course, as it has to be to get everything in.
You can see the beginnings of the railway tracks, which are 9mm gauge to represent the 15/18" estate railway that runs to the wharf. This is entirely because I have made a lot of stock including locos for N-Drive over the years in O9. It's also all I have space for!
Here's current progress on the model of Heather Bell. I have decided to make the model of this wooden boat also in wood.....Steamed pear, my favourite wood. As my wife and I restored the real boat we know every inch of her, having put 3 oak trees into the restoration. I have drawings of her too to help with the restoration, so this model will be as accurate a 7mm scale canal boat as you're likely to see. She was a very good example of the elegantly shaped boats built in oak and elm by the Nurser brothers at Braunston.
You will notice the bottom boards are wedge shaped in plan. This was so they could be driven into each other from the sides, the extra length being sawn off later. Imagine sawing all those ends by hand. 2 feet by 3-4 inches of elm!
The long member going right along the boat was what acted as a keel on a wooden narrow boat. 10 x 4". It was known as a kelson, which, on a "normal" boat was the piece that sat horizontally on top of the vertical keel. The other big members are the huge engine beds, the originals of which were still in our boat.
Buildings-wise, we have the Lengthman's hut which is in my introductory post and the cafe, which is now finished. In order to extend the cafe's facilities a rather lovely old caravan, found by the blacksmith next door, has been pressed into use. Here they are.
Having sorted my photos out, I can't find the finished version of these two, but here they are in position temporarily, with the beginnings of the loco shelter and the end of the blacksmith's house.
The caravan began life as a "critter", with the luxury of a Portescap motor, intended for an O/16.5 W&L 2-6-2, but I seem to have lost the loco kit and still have the Portescap. But the critter lost its bonnet and Austin Ruby grille/exhaust pipe and went back to caravandom for a much better use. It now sits at the right height with side boards round it to stop draughts and a rickety set of steps up to the door.
That pretty much is that for this serial set-piece builder!