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The REAL true story of the WCPR - Members Personal Layouts. - Model Railway Layouts. - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Wed Nov 18th, 2020 01:22 am
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Colin W
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More on a Back Story for my WCPR Setting

As I'm unlikely to ever build a layout fitting with my interests in the WC&PR I've contented myself with building and modifying rolling stock as an activity in itself. That work continues on the original Topic here:

WC&P Railway – A Virtual Layout with Real Models

but the time has come to expand on the scenario which I've had in mind for operational purposes.

It would be a shame if Railway Modelling became so serious that we could not adopt a lighter note now and then and with this in mind, I was reminded of this classic “Back Story”

History has known many great liars.  Copernicus, Goebbels, St Ralph the Liar [he is shown holding a sign which reads `St Benedict the Liar'] -- but there have been none quite so vile as the Tudor King Henry VII.  It was he who rewrote history to portray his precessor Richard III as a deformed maniac who killed his nephews in the Tower.  But the real truth is that Richard was a kind and thoughtful man who cherished his young wards.  In particular: Richard, Duke of York, who grew into a big, strong boy.
Blackadder The First (the scripts)

which brings me to:

FAKE NEWS! – Or the REAL true story of the WC&PR

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.

The full story has never been told until now. Thanks to earlier investments extending the line to Portishead, only a short distance from the docks plus the Wharf on The River Yeo, the railway had some useful external trading connections as well as the highly desirable scenic coastal country route which it followed. Lots of potential in a time of great optimism. All it needed was more investment than its limited traffic could generate and hence a Partner was needed.

The GWR was interested. Seeing an opportunity to extend its hold on Somerset’s rail routes with the S&D an aggressive competitor knocking on its backdoor along another route to the coast at Highbridge and Burnham. It also feared that it could let the S&D or even SR gain a strategic holding smack in its own territory.

Intense and secret negotiations took place during 1936, the various parties vieing for advantage with the WC&PR a highly desirable prize. The GWR triumphed; with the aid of its better connections to “The Ministry” a deal was struck placing GWR as the Partner holding significant control as reward for being the keystone investor. As befiting those times, the was even a “Secret Annexe” to the agreement in which the WCPR would automatically concede 100% ownership to the GWR without compensation “if Force Majeure strategic reasons of National Importance arose”, e.g. in the event of war. So rosy and bright were the times that this appeared to be a remote risk.

This small but crucial fragment of the agreement documentation papers was found bundled up in the Barn Loft at Highfield “Frog Lane Farm” many years later by Farmer James Hardwick. How it came to be there remains a mystery to this day ……..




Inspiration for this construction comes from the draft memoires of WC&P’s last Receiver, Henry Edward Fulford, written after closure of the line 1940. Full details of the original version are here:

https://colonelstephenssociety.co.uk/weston%20clevdon%20topics/last%20days.html



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Colin

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 Posted: Wed Nov 18th, 2020 02:42 am
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Colin W
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WC&PR had been frustrated when it could not run its line through to Weston seafront but the goal of better town access had not been given away. 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 would allow extra WC&PR trains to branch off and terminate at the GWR’s W-s-M Locking Road or main stations and Goods traffic also could access the large facilities at the main station precinct. 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.




This of course required GWR agreement and it became the key benefit over which both parties negotiated. The end result, as they say was History! 

Once the deal was signed, a frenetic period of activity ensued. First up a 2nd Terrier was purchased, the former "Ashtead" #53 then 2653 from the SR (see LB&SCR Terriers,) by the WC&PR for £800 in April 1937 (this bit for real!). Perfect for general duties as No2 "Portishead" was long overdue for a major turn around. The GWR connection was laid over the winter months and a prosperous summer 1937 beckoned! 









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 Posted: Thu Nov 19th, 2020 02:08 am
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Colin W
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Let Operations Commence!

With the ink barely dry on the historic Agreement, track was laid and newly acquired #4 was duly decked out in WCPR colours#. The very first "test" run in late April 1937 saw #4 pulling an empty goods rake of WCPR and PO wagons as far the Westown Goods Yard.




Not visible in this shot but there were some very puzzled looks on the faces of the local "Spotters" on Platform 1, given the deal was not widely advertised in those pre-Twitter days. "Wot's goin' on here?" etc heard as the little train pulled past the empty Mainline Station. "Never thought I'd see the day!" "Wot's the GWR coming to? etc. If only they knew passenger services might also be coming soon!


# They didn't seem to have the correct loco insignia yellow that day though.



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 Posted: Thu Nov 19th, 2020 02:38 am
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Petermac
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An interesting story Colin although I can think of the odd "liar" you missed off your list ...... :roll:

The agreement between the GWR and WC & PR does remind one just how friendly and fair business agreements tend to be ..... :hmm :Red Card



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 Posted: Fri Nov 20th, 2020 01:22 pm
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The Q
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I'm sure that's what happened..
Now what was in the vintage scrumpy I bought in Banwell..



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 Posted: Mon Jan 11th, 2021 12:36 am
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Colin W
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More on the REAL WC&PR Story

I realise that "Fake News" is so 2020 and things have moved on but there are some interesting developments over in the WC&PR's other parallel world.

Going back to the Col. Stephens Museum site (which is well worth the visit despite the near impossibility of finding things!) there was this interesting topic which sits alongside the story of the WC&PR closure. see:

A Close Run Thing

where new light is shed on the events which highlights that WC&PR closure was not as inevitable as had been thought! The Railway had made money between 1933-5 even in those depressed economic times. Some 100,000 passengers travelled in 1937 and 42,000 tons of heavy freight were hauled.

Extending this to my alternative world it seems with better management of the National economy, my upside scenario for WC&PR operations would be entirely "plausible" and so it continues to play out.

Hot on the heals of the arrival of #53 /2653 "Ashtead" (post 2; now WC&PR no 4), the heavy workload still proved too great for just one loco. Flexing their muscle, local management (not bothering to ask the GWR) sought urgent relief in the shape of some SR leases. The Terrier was ideal with its light weight and proven performance and so before long there was a new arrival to share the load, SR #2662 fresh from Hayling Island duties.  SR were happy to play ball looking for a way into the market and blissfully unaware of the Faustian contract which the WC&PR had already gotten itself into!

Here 2662 is captured trundling through the Somerset countryside on its way to interesting new duties.









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 Posted: Mon Jan 11th, 2021 04:24 am
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Colin W
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SR 2662; another angle.



The model is the Hornby version (R3783) which is reasonably accurate to the prototype and I think very good value at GBP 81 or nearly GBP 50 less than the comparable offering from Rails/Dapol. I just need to get those terrible couplings off and crew + some DCC on board now. OMG my Terriers are multiplying :twisted:



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 Posted: Tue Jan 12th, 2021 04:41 am
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Longchap
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The Terrier is certainly a fine looking loco Colin and with a good working history, much like the workaholic Panniers.

The task of installing a multitude of decoders and crews to is known to most of us, so have fun and let those footplate chapies get dirty!

Have fun,

Bill



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At 6'4'', Bill is a tall chap, then again, when horizontal he is rather long and people often used to trip over him! . . . and so a nickname was born :)

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