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The Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway Company - Members Personal Layouts. - Model Railway Layouts. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Fri Apr 10th, 2020 12:39 am
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Colin W
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WC&P Railway – A Virtual Layout with Real Models
I've a new project which because of a change of plans I’m now starting here as its own Topic. It concerns the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway Company (WC&PR), the Southern terminus of which was barely 800m from the mainline GWR station of Weston-super-Mare (W-s-M), that in turn is my prototype northern location for Weston-Heathfield layout (W-H).
 
For reasons of space there can be no track, W-H modest though it is, occupies all the available room I have downstairs BUT that doesn’t stop me from having and building models!
 
I am fortunate to have access to excellent online historical material which I can use here to provide some background. It might be rather more than the norm but please bear with me so I can properly share the story as it evolved for me with some of my younger followers.
 
In Mid 2018 the WC&PR just was something which I knew had existed pre-WWII as I’d walked along the old track beds in the 60’s at the terminus. Even then there were no other obvious signs of former railway activity. Then along came this new (re-release) from Hornby (R3528).
 

  
At that point I knew nothing about the Stroudley A1 Terriers but it didn’t take me long to discover the wonderful story of Col. Stephens’ light railway lines and their stock. Nor did I know if I’d ever see another release of the WC&PR loco in my time, so I grabbed one quick, for that proverbial rainy day! Well blow me down, but soon afterwards Hornby came out with news of a complete retooling of their A1 and Dapol / Rails announced their planned extensive new range. Then a whole new flurry of web interest in these new non-mainstream locos and praise for their refinement relative to the earlier Hornby right down to the rivets!!!
 
To my undemanding eye the old Hornby is still a lovely model, the re-release version benefits from good paintwork and overall look even if it can’t withstand close scrutiny by the camera. To me it looks the part even knowing there is better coming to market. In Part 2 I'll add some historical background to the story.   
 



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 Posted: Fri Apr 10th, 2020 07:29 am
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col.stephens
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I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your thread Colin as I have a particular interest in the light railways of Col. Stephens.  Unfortunately, the old Hornby model shown has a few defects.  As well as the mistake of having four sandboxes on the front drivers (a problem inherited from Dapol from whom Hornby bought the model), Hornby managed to get the WC&PH livery wrong.  The gold lettering should be chrome yellow.  A very informative and pictorial book by Peter Strange, if you can obtain a copy, was published in 1989 by Twelveheads Press.


Regards,


Terry 

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 Posted: Fri Apr 10th, 2020 08:32 am
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Colin W
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Thx Colonel

The defects with the Hornby are well acknowledged but since I never saw the original loco, I'll allow my imagination to work overtime at OO Scale. The new Dapol Rails release is going to address many of the issues you raise and more but at nearly twice the price.

 I was given the Dapol model (as pre-order) last year but 7 months on thanks to COVID-19, the revised delivery date from Rails is uncertain #. So to Plan B, I asked to switch my present to a Peckett which can find useful service on Weston-Heathfield as a Gas Works loco.

Sadly the Peter Strange book you quote is out of print and I'm unlikely to find one here but I do have the permission to reproduce a few of the photos which I have access to. Watch this space.


For those who might be expecting a Dapol Terrier in the later batches, the Rails "expected late October onwards" advice I had in this post earlier was old news.

Today "Oliver Rails" on RMWeb advised:

"The actual fact is that the first 3 versions of the terrier are ready for despatch, with the others not far behind them. The current issue is obviously that with Covid 19 closing many places including Dapol, no deliveries are being scheduled. As soon as this changes and we have new info I will let you know."



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 Posted: Fri Apr 10th, 2020 12:25 pm
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Colin W
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I’m indebted to Paul Gregory, Secretary, WC&P Railway Group who has granted me permission to use their considerable resources, see (https://www.wcpr.org.uk/ ) including their maps and images. Additionally, I’ve got permissions from other sources that I’ll acknowledge along the way. In combination these have permitted me to build up an excellent idea of what the WC&PR was like in the period of my interest – the 1930s and to provide background to the project. There are several other valuable resources covering this and other light railways managed by Col. Holman F Stephens, see references at bottom. Sadly, three published books are all out of print.

The line Portishead to Weston was 13.8 miles and had 19 stations, 6 of which were stops by demand and many lacking even a basic shelter. A typical trip time was from 1Hr to 1Hr 10min but punctuality was not their strongest point.




Reproduced with the permission of WC&PR Group

Weston-super-Mare Ashcombe Rd Terminus Details


'Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland' (with additions)
https://maps.nls.uk/index.html


My personal interest here is that the disused track bed I followed led me to my friend's house on Milton Rd (Gold button). At top, less than 100m away is the location of the former W-s-M maternity Hospital, Ashcombe House where both I and my eldest son were born so it would be strange indeed if I didn’t have a particular affinity to the workings of this former railway company.

References:
The Colonel Stephens Society, https://www.colonelstephenssociety.co.uk/
The Col. Stephens Museum https://colonelstephenssociety.co.uk/weston%20clevdon%20topics/index.html
This BBC film from 1988 was helpful. https://youtu.be/kU0Luzd1SkQ?t=1531

  



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 Posted: Mon Apr 13th, 2020 01:06 am
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Colin W
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On the merits of a Virtual Layout

Clearly there is some practical downside to not having physical track, buildings, scenery etc. but to address this minor issue I have a cunning plan, of which more later!

Meanwhile, not distracted by such matters, I can concentrate my efforts on getting some rolling stock and in this department I'm quite lucky. There is of course no RTR beyond the loco and perhaps the odd Private Owner wagon but to make up for it, plenty of resources in the form of information, promising kits and other modellers efforts.

WC&PR Wagons

WC&PR Group's information on wagons proved most helpful. It seems that like most other things on the Railway they were recycled, in this case mostly ex- Midland Railway, 6 and 8 ton plank wagons, brake wagon. This photo shows two 3-plank open wagons nos 14 and 19 and the lettering:



Reproduced with the Permission of Weston-super-Mare Library and the WC&PR Group

I've accessed the Diagrams for the relevant 3 and 5 plank MR wagons from the The Midland Railway Study Centre - Carriage and Wagon Database   http://www.midlandrailwaystudycentre.org.uk/CW/index.php

Also suitable Slaters MR Kits for these are available. From the photo, it appears there were substantial modifications made by the time they came to the West Country. Next step is ordering kits, wheels and the like and some research on where I might suitable Decals for these and the Coaches. 





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 Posted: Sun Apr 19th, 2020 06:27 am
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Following along Colin.



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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2020 07:02 am
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The Q
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This will be followed with interest,  as I've crossed the GWR lines many times coming in on the Locking road to go into town  and then also further on the WC& PR.
I would have thought you could do a plank diorama, to sit on a shelf.



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 Posted: Thu Apr 23rd, 2020 07:33 am
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Colin W
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The Q wrote: I would have thought you could do a plank diorama, to sit on a shelf.Hi "Q",

I could if I had a spare shelf and some spare room :roll:

My Westown-Heathfield (W-H) is set up in a multi purpose area, in Aussie terminology, a Rumpus Room. In fact I was just on my way there to get on my exercise bike and watch some Basketball. It is also a main thoroughfare, to the laundry and the back patio. If you look back some way on my W-H topic p4 Post #106 there's a photo of the grandchildren working in the remaining available space in the room which will give you a better sense of the space.

We have a large house but sadly limited suitable free space. My under house space is far too dusty as it is has a mostly dirt floor in the old Australian style and barely enough headspace for me already. Using roof space is out in Oz, temps can reach 60 degrees in summer (C that is!)

If I do eventually tackle an end to end plank I'd like it to be long enough to do a decent job of it so it's back of mind for now.




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 Posted: Wed Apr 29th, 2020 05:42 am
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Colin W
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Rolling Stock - Some Plans Take Shape

Thanks to a lot of excellent guidance and input from col.stephens of this manor, progress has been made on all aspects of planning for the Railway's rolling Stock. 

1) Portishead No 4 WC&PR

Here the decision had already been made to keep the Hornby model but I've the opportunity to tackle some corrections and detailing tasks that are within my capabilities to bring the it closer to the prototype. These are all pending arrival of supplies so work remains on hold.

2) Coaches

Through its chequered history the railway managed to garner a diverse range of coaches from unwanted American Clerestories with end balconies to recycled stock from other light gauge railways such as the London and SW Railway and Taff Vale (later GWR). For the period matching No 4's time at the WC&PR (1937 -1940), the ex LSWR and Taff Vale coaches #15-17 and #18 make for an attractive set of stock. They have several added advantages; available plans and kits in hand which are a suitable starting point and other modellers work in O and OO gauge that I can draw on, and most importantly, get started on!

3) Wagons

Like the coaches, wagons were all someone else's hand me downs, mostly ex-MR and there is excellent documentation of the stock and its sources held by the mid 1930s. I've learnt that wagons No 14 and 19 (see post #5 for photo) predated the main influx of ex-MR 1877-87 era wagons and are not easily identifiable, being made before accurate records were kept! The main stock in use by the '30s were 3 and 5 plank wagons


Reproduced from the out of print “Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway", by Peter Strange ISBN 0906294 19 3 Published 1989 by Twelveheads Press, with the approval of the publisher.

This is a 3 plank 6 ton open wagon taken when still with the MR


NRM DY 2490, released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) licence by the National Railway Museum

Slaters Kits and various other items for all my required wagon stock are "pending" from the UK, it seems everyone is buying modelling materials these days.













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 Posted: Mon May 4th, 2020 11:47 pm
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Colin W
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Hornby Terrier adieu???

Will I ever learn?

When the new release of this loco popped up in 2018 I saw a model that I thought would never reappear any time soon, or later. The WC&PR being the ultimate expression of "boutique", even in Col. Stephens portfolio of diverse railways. So I bought one and, predictably (remembering my luck) the loco started showering sparks out the cab during its first running in, a fatal motor short. Fortunately this happened weeks before a UK trip so I was spared the pain of sorting out a return from remote Oz. Duly replaced (and a spare motor bought JIC) the replacement ran in ok then sat awaiting further attention, i.e. now.

Roll forward 18 months and suddenly the prospect of the Dapol model finally emerging from Chinese hibernation causes me to reassess. The Hornby is a cute little loco despite its limitations and I might even forgive those inaccuracies since it's never going in a beauty contest. But does it work?

In fairness, experience gained over that time has raised the operational bar for me by several notches. Could the Terrier "jump" that high? On the rolling road the first thing I noted was a growl from the drive chain at medium speed, they were supposed to have a "bark" from the exhaust but not a growl. It is a surprising amount of noise from such a small mechanism.

As to running, it is standard 0-6-0 Hornby; stalls on my long frogs, far less tolerant of minor track unevenness than my Bachmann locos, dodgy plungers etc. Wipers were quickly added and on the rolling road it runs very smoothly now at lowest speed steps. There is however one big stumbling block, I'd need a big SA to get decent running and there's just nowhere to put all that kit. Oh well, another lesson learnt!



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 Posted: Tue May 5th, 2020 07:57 am
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Having had similar experiences with new locos Colin, I feel for you.

Whilst I'm not the other side of the world from UK, I am "abroad" so there are postage delays and one does feel a bit "remote" when it comes to dealing with problems.

It annoys me that we are often expected to be the test bed for poor quality models from the manufacturers.  By "poor quality" I don't mean a couple of rivets missing from the inside cylinders, I mean the performance.  As you identified, adding additional or alternative pick-ups, improved the running - why didn't the manufacturer do this at source ?

Reading reviews, we often see criticism about tenders being a scale 2mm too long or the wrong shaped coal shovel.  To me, by far the most important thing is "does the thing work" !!  i.e. does it pick up power easily and well and do the motor and motion work without any glitches.

I had a spell of buying locos on a well known auction site but, following an unacceptable level of poor performers, I suppose expectedly, I ditched that.  I say "expectedly" because in most cases, people only move locos on because they don't perform ................

Fingers crossed you find your "ideal" but I won't hold my breath !!



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 Posted: Tue May 5th, 2020 09:55 am
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Colin W
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Peter,

My list of problem loco purchases reads like a trip to Hades.

The diversity of problems I've experienced is quite remarkable, ranging from an internal short on a brand new King (Hornby), to an Oxford Rail Dean Goods that emulated a kangaroo then followed by it's replacement which ran well but had a screw left on the speaker face, eventually causing both speaker and DCC chip to short. Then there were those poor running 0-6-0 and 0-4-2 Hornby locos, not really faulty but just poor designs that ultimately were on-sold. So the WC&PR problem was relatively minor, "by then I was getting used to it".

In total I make it 9 duds so far which is remarkable as I only have 12 or so locos all up!

Perhaps 2020 was a turning point with a Pre-owned "Airfix" purchase turning out to be a rather nice old K's Kit 48xx? I'm not counting my chickens yet, after all there's a Hornby Peckett and a Dapol Terrier still to come up to scratch once they get here. :roll: :???:



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 Posted: Tue May 5th, 2020 10:44 am
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OMG Colin - that sounds like a nightmare.

It seems to be the way things go nowadays - price increases coupled with reduction in QA.

Maybe, just maybe, when we've sorted this darned virus, the world will return to the days when people actually cared about what they were doing rather than just collecting the pay packet on Friday night or, in the case of France, exactly 35 hours after they started work that week - to the second !!!



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 Posted: Mon May 18th, 2020 09:26 am
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Colin W
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After a couple of quiet weeks in the WC&PR corner of the bunker, the doorbell announced a big delivery from Eileen's today; kits, wheels, transfers and various gubbins all required for my wagons and coach building activities.



3 MR wagons and a brake all scheduled to be constructed as Col. Stephens stock. Axles for these and extras for the various Ratio GWR coaching stock I have and whose own accompanying wheels are very plastic and ordinary. Brass rod and a handrail jig, the list goes on.



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 Posted: Mon May 18th, 2020 11:07 am
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I love it when I get a bag of assorted goodies from UK and, being in France, by the time it gets here, I've usually forgotten what I'd ordered so it's even more exciting. 



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 Posted: Sat Jun 20th, 2020 11:24 am
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Colin W
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Planning part 1 – Now to a Back Story

Hard to believe over a month has clicked by since my last update and to be honest nothing much has been done in a hands-on sense, just a lot of thinking and expanding on my ideas to cope with the lack of a layout.

The prototype setting of WC&PR offers limited operational opportunities (map below) because the Ashcombe Rd terminus in Weston-super-Mare (W-s-M) was a most modest affair, barely a line-side halt (Image). Also, there are two excellent prototypical layouts I know about, one each in OO and O gauge so I thought doing something different would have more appeal.




'Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland' (with additions)
https://maps.nls.uk/index.html





John Flann’s Hintock is my inspiration; he took a GWR / SR Dorset setting and created a parallel back story with amazing modelling potential. My plan is a far more modest affair but a hat tip to his superb work.

Col. Stephens Railways’ mostly ran on shoestring budgets and WC&PR was no exception, having gone bankrupt once in 1911 before the Colonel took over, it struggled even under his management thru to 1940 and final closure.

In my “parallel world” the dire economic times of the Depression Era were turned around when the UK quickly abandoned the Gold Standard and the pound was devalued. By early 1931, the boom days of the 20’s were becoming a reality again and the local railways were picking up in activity while still suffering from decades of under investment.

Demand for travel to the seaside at W-s-M and the appeal of using the scenic route to/from Portishead meant that the Ashcombe road terminus proved to be totally inadequate in those few sunny summer months. Folk were keen to take a leisurely cruise down the Bristol Channel to W-s-M Pier on a Campbells Steamer for a Fish and Chips lunch and some bracing sea air then make a return rail trip through scenic North Somerset.

It was at this time that  WC&PR's “cunning plan” was hatched. It so happens that as the light railway route left Worle, it is at one point less than a mile from the GWR line with only farm fields between the two. A simple line between them for summer use allowed extra WC&PR trains to branch off and terminate at the GWR’s W-s-M Locking Road or main stations. This is shown overlaid on the map of the period, broadly following a footpath of the era and with a bonus of avoiding a second crossing of the main road into town.





Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland' (with additions)
https://maps.nls.uk/index.html


The purple line is the new connection, violet outlines the WC&PR terminus (upper) and W-s-M station (bottom left).

Following this investment, the fortunes of the WC&PR took a positive turn and access to the GWR main lines opened all sorts of opportunities for holiday packages and more freight traffic. In terms of my virtual layout it means that my goods and passenger WC&PR stock can head into Westown until some future time should something more tangible eventuates.




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 Posted: Sat Jun 20th, 2020 03:43 pm
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That sounds like a good story Colin.  :thumbs

I think had there been less rivalry between the various companies, many a line could have benefited from shared facilities and consequently, many of the smaller companies could swell have survived.

It's always fun creating these "raison d'etres" for our layouts but I think doing so is better than simply having a ficticious layout.  If nothing else, it helps one decided on the type of stock required.

John Flann was indeed a master at such sleight of hand planning.




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 Posted: Wed Jun 24th, 2020 10:37 am
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1939 /40 RAF Locking had opened and they started Building  aircraft at RAF Weston Super Mare Airfield.  A little more diversion of history, would provide a lot of traffic for a station at Locking road bridge. In those days there being thousands of service men at Locking...



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 Posted: Wed Jun 24th, 2020 01:04 pm
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and .........................................................?  :hmm :hmm :hmm 

Go on - Somerset gained independence after Britain was invaded by the Italians.............

:mutley :mutley :mutley



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 Posted: Wed Jun 24th, 2020 04:40 pm
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Hi Colin,

Locking is south of the GWR line. The only candidate for "cooperation" would be the GWR, a veritable wolf in sheep's clothing when it came to branch lines that wanted to use access to the GWR. They always ended up having to sell out to the GWR at fire sale prices, The GWR already had access to the Weston at Clevedon and Portishead, and in the end bought the line after the company went under in 1940 and used it for storing coal wagons. Taken up for the rails afterwards.

The original line was intended to run through the streets of Weston to the beach to meet the boat trippers. Looks to me like Clevedon would be a lot more interesting to virtual model, given the sheds. gas works, and connection to the GWR.

Nigel



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