Thursday, 4 July 2019

Locomotives of Shelvetop Shed

I haven't done a model railway post in a while so I thought I'd make one on the motive power I generally use on my micro shunting layout. Most of these are in line with the setting of the layout being the twilight of steam on British Railways, although there are some that don't strictly tigh in with this. Not all pictures of the locos show them n my layout but some are feature them on the larger club layout which I am member of.

Diesel Locomotives 

Most of the locos are steam however its not exclusively as there was diesel traction at work in the 1950s & 60s alongside steam. I've started with diesel as I have less of them compared to steam engines.

Dock Shunters

I have two old Tri-ang 0-4-0 dock shunters. These are great little machines that are not actually modeled on any real loco but are a generic shunter, that is entirely built on around a power bogie from the Tri-ang transcontinental sets from the 1950s. Tri-angs power 1950s power bogie/motor were/are really simple and reliable. I got my first dock shunter from ebay at a price of £6.70 and it was listed as a non runner, more out of curiosity than anything else. After I cleaned it up a bit and put it on a circle of track I quickly built it went like a rocket. After that I went back on ebay and bought the second one for £12. A little bit more expensive but still pretty cheap. The only criticism I have is they have older wheels with bigger flanges so they are more prone to derailing on my newer points, there are replacement more modern wheels for them out there but I am yet to obtain any. 

Class 06

This particular model is the Hornby Collectors Club model of 2008 (there are quite a few collectors club models) hence the Midland Pullman livery. I am yet to receive this years model which is also a class 06 in yellow Network Rail livery. Note that none of these liveries were ever carried by real class 06s, but thats what many people like about Collector Club models. The real class 06 were built by Barclay from 1958 to 1960 with 8 cylinder Gardner Diesel engines and were mainly used on the Scottish Region of British Railways. 

Class 08

One could not have a layout set in the UK centred around shunting and not have an example of the most numerous class of British locomotive ever produced. The prototype of this class of Diesel electric 0-6-0 was built in 1952 although the early origins of this type of loco design date from the 1930s. Between 1952 & 62 just under 1000 were built with around 100 still at work on the national network or private industrial sidings. This particular model was from my childhood Hornby 'battle zone' set but with a replacement body from ebay in gree British Railways livery of the 1950s&60s.

Limia Diesel shunter

As is typical with the Lima products sold in the UK they are totally unauthentic based on North American or Continental European designs rather than British. However that does not put me off as I think freelance models give you more room to be creative without violating authenticity to much. As such I repainted and this into a Ministry of Defence livery similar to that seen on the locomotives working in the large depots that have internal rail systems like that at Bicester or the at military docks like Marchwood. Why the military livery? No reason really other than I thought it would be a bit different and thus bit more interesting. 

Class 33

Introduced in the early 1960s on the Southern Region of British Railways the class 33 were initially intended for passenger train and express work, but could be found doing all sorts of jobs throughout the network. Like quite a lot of my model railway stuff I got this second hand off ebay. It was actually pretty hard to find a relatively cheap one in the early green livery rather than the corporate blue livery applied in the 70s and 80s. This Lima model might not be as detailed 
as other manufactures (I picked out some of the details such as the vent grills myself as they weren't painted separately) but you get what you pay for and when you weight these engines down you get a pretty decent runner. Although I have noticed the tires seem to come off this engine a bit but thats not really a big problem. This is still a cheap engine that can just about fit on my headshunt and I don't think it looks out of place shunting.

Collectors Club locos

And so now we move onto steam engines starting with those I have received each year when I choose to renew my membership of the Hornby Collectors Club. The each year hornby make a new model on an 0-4-0 chassis specially for the club members. As such some of these can be highly collectable if not entirely authentic.  

D Class industrial tank engine

This was my first collectors club loco, which was the club loco for 2005 I think. Unique as its in Southern Railway green. The D class (a term which is rarely used by Hornby when cataloging these) was first introduced by Hornby in the early 1990s. Initially based on the real locos that worked on an Ironworks in Wales. Since then however it has sort of been the go to design by Hornby for small industrial tank engines and been produced in a variety of unauthentic or fictional liveries. 

Class 0F Pug

The club model for 2006 the year of HM the Queen's 80th birthday. So to celebrate this the club model of that year was adorned in the Royal Claret livery used on the royal train with the running number of 80 and the name "Queen Elizabeth II" below the royal cypher. The locomotive for that year was an 0F class 0-4-0ST.

Holden Tank engine 101

The club model for 2007 a model of the experimental Holden tank engine in British Railways green livery with the early 'unicycling lion' emblem on the side tank. The original engine was a one off experiment by the Great Western Railway chief engineer James Holden. Originally built to test the concept of burning oil rather than coal, an experiment that evidently proved fruitless as the loco was converted to coal burning and used as a shunter at Swindon works until withdraw and scrapped in 1911. Like the D Class Hornby have adopted the design as standard 0-4-0T shunter/industrial loco and produced them in a variety of non authentic (such as this one) and fictional liveries. 

Freelance 0-4-0 tank engine

The Club model for the Diamond Jubilee year of 2012. Like the 2006 model it is in Royal Claret livery with the royal cypher and name "Queen Elizabeth II" however with the appropriate number of 60 and silver lining. 
The tank engine here is not based on any real locomotive (freelance) but in fact is Hornby re-using the moulds for the Thomas the Tank Engine sets of the early 1990s. I actually had one of these sets (still do in fact although it boxed away) and they put thomas on their 0-4-0 chassis probably for cost reasons (despite the book & TV character being based on an E2 0-6-0T!).

0-6-0 locomotives

The most common type of steam loco wheel arrangement generally used for short and medium distance goods trains. I have two locomotives of this wheel arrangement which are along with the 33 the largest locos om the layout. 

Fowler 4F 

This is an old airfix model I bought of ebay for under £20 and is a descent runner. In fact the only problem I have with it is the couplings. It is only fitted for one coupling at the rear and this was a small interlocking type with a very small hook. However this did not interact well with my peco uncoupling ramps, and the fitting has proved difficult to replace with the larger interlock type which work better on my layout. I have resolved to glueing a new coupling which works but is by no means the ideal solution. The 4Fs were the workhorses of the London Midland & Scottish Railway being built from 1921 as the Midland Railway class 4 goods. Batches built by the LMS after 1924 had some minor improvements such as mechanical lubricators. 

J15 Goods Loco

The most numerous class of locomotive ever to run in Ireland north or south. Built by the Great Southern & Western Railway between 1866 and 1903 making it the oldest type of real life loco used on the layout. They continued in use up to the end of steam traction on the railways of the Republic of Ireland in 1963. Following nationalisation in the republic they were found throughout the network doing everything from the goods trains they were designed for to branch line passenger trains and yard shunting. This loco is a scratch built/kit bashed model built  on the chassis and using the motor of a Tri-ang Jinty.

0-6-0T locomotives

Yes the "T" really makes all the difference as it denotes a tank engine. Unsurprising being a shunting layout most of the motive power is by tank engines. 0-6-0Ts were by far the favoured wheel arrangement for shunting engines in Great Britain a legacy still seen today by continued use of the Class 08 and other classes that are derived from it.


The Fowler 3Fs to use the official classification were built by the London Midland & Scottish Railway between 1924 and 1931, although the Jinty was really the final refinement of a design originating the 19th Century. Through various modifications, upgrades changes and other improvements gave the Midland Railway and later the LMS a large family of relatively similar class culminating with the Jinties.The Jinties were intended from the start for shunting and light branch line work, for which they were ideally suited which is unsurprising given they were a modern 'for the time' take on a tried and tested design. 
My first Jinty in late British Railways livery is a Hornby product bought second hand. I had the horrifying prospect of damaging the wire on top of the motor one day when removing the body for cleaning but fortunately it was nothing a little solder couldn't fix.  
The Jinties were not only found on the LMS but also on LMS owned or partly owned lines like the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway. My second one is in Northern Counties Committee livery and is an example of two that were regauged and sent to the LMS owned lines in Northern Ireland. It was a limited edition produced by Bachmann (and is I have to say more detailed than my  Hornby one but was also more pricey). 

J72 tank engine

Think of this as the east coast version of a Jinty. Kinda like the Jinty this is a 19th Century design however unlike the Jinty it was not really modified or upgraded (guess that means Jinties are west coast versions of J72s? ;-)) in fact they have the distinction of being produced pre grouping (pre 1924) post grouping and post nationalisation (post 1947) in virtually unchanged batches. Designed by Wilson Worsdell for the North Eastern Railway in 1898 and classified as E1, the J72 classification being received when they passed into London North Eastern Railway (LNER) ownership. This model is an old Mainline Models bought second hand and although noisy is a good runner. Painted in the unofficial British Railways branding used just after nationalisation on many goods, shunting and branchline engines due to a shortage of transfers of the "Unicycling" Lion emblem. Many retained this lettering well into the 1950s not receiving the new emblem until they required a visit to the works.

Pannier Tank 

An icon of the Great Western Railway, that companies earliest pannier tanks were originally saddle tanks but when the GWR upgraded these with belpaire fireboxes this required the removal of the top of the tank leaving two stradling the boiler on each side. Crews and staff favoured pannier tanks to conventional side tanks as they provided easier access to key areas. They were used for shunting and branchline work This class of pannier tank is a 5700 class which although not the final refinement were the most iconic and among the last to be withdrawn by British Railways in 1966. although some sold on by British Railways soldiered on shunting on National Coal Board collieries and even the London Underground. The last not being withdrawn by London Transport until 1971 (making them the last standard gauge steam locos to be withdrawn on the British mainland accepting private lines). This example in early British Railways livery was produced by Bachmann.


Another Victorian design that lasted to near the end of steam, although I am not quite sure how as they were limited by there small size to pu it lightly, they were in the lowest power classification for British Railways standard gauge locomotives. They were built by Brighton Works between 1872 and 1880 for South & South East London commuter trains. They were well suited being light and fast. However this helped grow the suburbs of the metropolis that meant more people commuting into the city which meant heavier trains which the Terriers were unsuited for, so in a way a victim of their own success. Even before the 20th Century they were being deployed on other duties across South England, mainly shunting and running on branch line that were lightly laid and unsuitable for heavier more powerful locos, they famously worked the railway on the Isle of Wight. This superbly detailed model in lined British Railways livery with the early emblem is by Dapol.


On top of the 0-6-0 tank engines there are a number of 0-4-0 tanks that aren't Hornby Collector Club models. 0-4-0Ts were popular on many industrial lines which has sharp curves which 0-6-0Ts might have found difficult.

0F 0-4-0ST 'pugs'

Built by the Caledonian Railway between 1885 and 1908 as the 264 Class specifically for shunting. The term 'pug' being a nickname for a Scottish industrial saddle tank loco.
Many continued working through LMS and then British Railways ownership. It was the LMS who classed them as 0F.
They remained in use doing the same job until the last was withdrawn in 1962.
They were known to often run with homemade tenders as their bunkers did not have a great coal capacity to put it mildly.
These have been part of the Hornby range since 1983 with the appearance of Smokey Joe.
This model has continued as part of the Hornby range to present and proved to be very popular being their best selling locomotive. It was inspired by an old Glasgow engine in the twilight of steam that had the nickname chalked onto the side of its tanks.
Of the four I own (one already mentioned) two are 'Smokey Joes' however one of these has been repainted weatherd and had the early 'unicycling' lion emblem of British Railways applied onto the side of the tanks, in order to conform more with photos of the real 0F 56025.
The other is in the original Caledonian blue livery.

D Class

Another example of Hornby's go to design for an industrial tank engine, accept it is modeled on a real D class. One of the earlier batches of D Classes from the 1990s modeled on a Dowlais Iron Works loco from South Wales. The real life loco was built by the Iron Works in 1907 and actually named in 1911 in honour of a visit by the King who actually named the engine personally. The D class are unusual for industrial 0-4-0Ts as they have some mainline engine characteristics most noticeably belpaire fireboxes. 

Limia Switcher

Like most of Lima's forays into the British market this model in unauthentic to anything on the UK railway and is based on tank engines built by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO). However it was a cheap buy and a descent runner. So I have kit bashed it a little bit to try and angliscise it a bit so it looks like a freelance imported industrial tank engine (which is supported by the very short wheelbase). 

Other locomotives

These two engines are not locomotives that run on the layout but nonetheless might still be seen on it.


Ajax is a narrow gauge (009) 0-6-0ST that was bought for my first attempt at a proper layout which was a narrow gauge halt. Bought off ebay it has never worked and sat to the side until shelvetop shed came along and I found I had a LOMAC loader wagon with no load. So I decided to put Ajax on it as if it was being transported to or from the workshops. 

Lost engine

I had made a mistake when applying the backscene to the layout and was left with a gap between the base and the beginning of the backscene. Fortunately it was behind the shed and could only be seen from a certain angle. I came across this non motorised airfix kit of a Class 21 pug from the 1970s with parts missing and though if I built it with some extreme weathering to look abandoned for scrap it would fill that gap nicly. Due to its nature it was only £0.99 so I snapped it up. There were indeed some important parts missing such as one side of the chassis but that did not bother me as it did not impact what I intended for it in fact it helped a bit. I built it not even using all the parts, leaving the roof off to make it look more abandoned and scattering some others about the layout as 'spare' parts. The buffers I used on the Limia tank engine. So I built painted and roughed it up a bit and now although it can only be seen at a certain angle hides the gap in scenery perfectly. As it can only be seen at a certain angle I call it the lost engine and it adds a bit of interest to the layout when I invite people viewing it to see if they can spot it. 

Monday, 1 July 2019

The Defining Battle in Ulster history?

What is the defining battle in the history of Ulster and the Ulster Protestant identity?
probably the first candidate is the Battle of the Boyne, and it is understandable why many could come to conclusion. It is after all the battle emortablised in myth, legend, artwork and song, not to mention the parades of the Orange Institution across the province and beyond.
the image of William III crossing the Boyne one of the most well
known in Ulster folk lore
The Boyne is certainly an important battle and one that is forever enshrined in Ulster Protestant culture and identity. However I don't think it is the defining battle.
Next candidate you could say is the Siege of Londonderry, it is according to the traditional view the moment the Protestants of Ulster had their backs to the wall so to speak. The moment when they knew nothing but defeat and retreat, seemingly abandoned by their fellow countrymen on the island of Great Britain had to fall back to their plantation citadel with its crumbling walls. Yet despite this the right people were in the right places at the right times and sustained by religious and national pride endured throughout the horrors and hardships to their victory. There is no doubt the symbolism of the siege of Derry is powerful and a worthy candidate.
There is no shortage of battles in Ulster history but today I am of course going to speak of the Somme.
The Somme is to Northern Ireland and Northern Irish identity (or atleast unionist Northern Irish identity) what Gallipoli is the Australia or Vimy Ridge is to Canada.  It is when the young nation finds it feet and secures it future through the blood sacrifice which honored by a grateful empire sees them take their place as equals in a great imperial family.
There are of course some distinct differences between the two dominions and Northern Ireland of course. One is the legal entities and jurisdictions of both Australia and Canada were defined before the Great War. Where as that of Northern Ireland was defined after. Whereas the two battles in regard to the Canada and Australia helped forge a common national identity for Ulster Unionists it defined the right to continue to exist.
Signing of the Covenant 1912
The road to the Sommes role as its defining battle really begins in the late 19th Century with Ulster's opposition to Home Rule, that being self governance for Ireland within the United Kingdom. However it really takes place when the Third Home Rule Bill passes the House of Commons in 1912 due to a Liberal and Irish Parliamentary Party (the moderate Irish nationalist party of the day) coalition. This in turn leads to the events of the Ulster Solemn League and Covenant in which Ulstermen sign in their thousands pledging to resist "the current conspiracy" by "all means necessary." Thousands of women also sign a mirroring covenant pledging to support the men in their struggle. These documents are one of the defining moments in the creation of the modern Ulster Protestant identity. The Covenant is to Ulster what the declaration of Independence is to the United States of America, in that its a founding document, a justification for the country to exist.
The founding of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and subsequent arming of that force (ironically with guns provided by Germany) in the months that followed seen Ulster folk preparing to make good on their pledge. Whether or not the UVF would have went to war over their own government is a matter of debate and merely academic. For events in Europe overtook the events in Ireland with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
The charge of the Ulster Division 1st July 1916
This seen the call to arms the opportunity for Ulster to show its loyalty to the Britain and likewise for Britain to reward that loyalty. A special division was formed from the ranks of the old UVF. The 36th (Ulster) Division. It was the conduct of the 36th Division on that first day of the Somme the 1st of July (which is also the date of the battle of the Boyne in the old calendar) 1916 in that it was the only British unit to reach any of its objectives despite possibly being given the most difficult of tasks in taking the Schwaben Redoubt. This is despite the horrendous slaughter and appalling casualties. Indeed the Division suffered so many casualties that it was withdrawn the next day. Its experience at the somme was one from which it never fully recovered but despite this struggled on through the rest of the war and again proving its metal on other occasions.
Drums from Hamilton Flute Band whose members served in
36th Ulster Division are still emblazoned with the old regiment badge
over 100 years on
It was (at least in the folk memory of Ulster) that in 1921 saw the creation of Northern Ireland as a separate jurisdiction to the Home Rule parliament being set up in Dublin, and the next year when home rule turned to independence following the Anglo-Irish conflict saw Northern Ireland given the ability to determine its own future when under the terms of the Anglo-Irish peace treaty Northern Ireland was given the ability to opt out of the Irish Free State and continue as part of the United Kingdom. An opt out it chose to exercise.
Like other battles the story of the Somme is told in song and ballad, possibly the best being the song "bloody road to the somme" which is relatively accurate in the general detail of the battle in the the 36th Division became a victim of their success and got "cut off with no one to support them" and Mown down by fire from three sides" As John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir wrote in History of War:
"North of Theipval the Ulster Division broke through the enemy trenches, passed the crest of the ridge, and reached the point called the Crucifix, in rear of the first German position. For a little while they held the strong Schwaben Redoubt (where), enfiladed on three sides, they went on through successive German lines, and only a remnant came back to tell the tale. Nothing finer was done in the war. The splendid troops drawn from those Volunteers who had banded themselves together for another cause, now shed their blood like water for the liberty of the world."
This song is an excellent as lays out the struggle of the Home Rule debate and evokes characters from the Ulster cycle such as the warrior Cuchulainn the Hound of Ulster and Connal Clean the ancient King of Ulster both figure who defended Ulster from hostile southern Irish forces. It even evokes the flag of Northern Ireland (the red hand and crown).
memorial to the VC's of Ulster's division in the grounds of the
Ulster Tower, Thiepval, France
The valour of Ulster's division is shown in that it received no fewer than nine Victoria Crosses many of which are still celebrated today, including the first to be won in the battle. Pte William McFadzean was posthumously awarded the VC when he threw himself on a grenade that fallen into a trench full of his fellow soldiers, thus symbolising the sacrifice of the thousands of Ulstermen who fell that day.
There were many quotes from Britain's grates regarding Ulster's Division, which perhaps fueled the idea that it was the province's loyalty and sacrifice that ultimately seen it spared the political death sentence of Irish independence.
The King at the time George V said on the day of the armistice
  "I recall the deeds of the 36th (Ulster) Division, which have more than fulfilled the high opinion formed by me on inspecting that force on the eve of its departure for the front. Throughout the long years of struggle, which now so gloriously ended, the men of Ulster have proved how nobly they fight and die"
Winston Churchill often regarded as the greatest Briton of the 20th Century said of their conduct:
"The record of the Thirty-Sixth Division will ever be the pride of Ulster. At Thiepval in the battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916; at Wytschaete on 17 June 1917, in the storming of the Messines Ridge; on the Canal du Nord, in the attack on the Hindenburg Line of 20 November the same year; on 21 March 1918, near Fontaine-les-Clercs, defending their positions long after they were isolated and surrounded by the enemy; and later in the month at Andechy in the days of 'backs to the wall', they acquired a reputation for conduct and devotion deathless in military history of the United Kingdom, and repeatedly signalised in the despatches of the Commander-in-Chief."
dedication tablet in the Ulster Tower with the King's quote
More recently the Ulster historian Richard Doherty recorded: "Whether town dweller or country lad, volunteer or regular, officer or other rank, Catholic or Protestant, the Sons of Ulster knew a comradeship and a trust in adversity that should be a lesson to us all."
But perhaps the greatest and most memorable quote is from someone who apart from this quote is largely forgotten. Wilfred Spender was a staff officer attached to the 36th Division and would go on to help establish the Northern Ireland Civil Service as well as reform the returning members of the former UVF into the Ulster Special Constabulary. He wrote of the battle:
"I am not an Ulsterman but yesterday, the 1st. July, as I followed their amazing attack, I felt that I would rather be an Ulsterman than anything else in the world. My pen cannot describe adequately the hundreds of heroic acts that I witnessed... The Ulster Volunteer Force, from which the division was made, has won a name which equals any in history. Their devotion deserves the gratitude of the British Empire."
It is often said there is no greater honour than to elevated to by others and its certainly true in this case which is perhaps why this quote in particular is remembered and celebrated today. However he goes on to write "The Ulster Division has lost more than half the men who attacked and, in doing so, has sacrificed itself for the Empire which has treated them none too well. Their devotion, which no doubt has helped the advance elsewhere, deserved the gratitude of the British Empire. It is due to the memory of these brave fellows that their beloved Province shall be fairly treated."
Again this feeds into the folk memory that it was through sacrifice that Northern Ireland was allowed to remain in the United Kingdom while the rest of the island broke away. 
Ulster Tower, Thiepval France
Likewise the people of Northern Ireland were quick to ensure their sacrifice would never be forgotten funding the erection of a permanent monument on the battlefield itself. In Fact of the many monuments and memorials on the old battlefields of the Great War the Ulster Tower was the first to be erected.  It was modeled on Helen's Tower on Clandyboyle estate in County Down where Ulster's Division was encamped before deployment and was thus the last Ulster landmark many had seen. Although not the grandest of these noble monuments it set a precedent which all of Britain followed. Hence the battle not only helped shape the British identity of Ulster but helped Ulster shape in part the identity of Britain. 
It is for these why the Somme is possibly the defining moment in Ulster Protestant identity to this day. Furthermore unlike the Glorious Revolution the First World War is still very much a part of British national memonry with the various events and traditions introduced to remember the war such as Remembrance Sunday and the wearing of poppies still a very much a part of British life and identity not just that of Ulster.