Railway of the Month
In the current February 2007 issue of Railway Modeller, the
Railway of the Month is:
Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway in 4mm scale EM gauge
This model of the Somerset Stephens outpost was built and described by ANDREW ULLYOTT.
I have lived in Weston-super-Mare for most of my life and have always had an interest in local history, particularly concerning railways. When a few years back I decided to build an exhibition layout, I was determined to find an interesting local subject to model. The answer lay in the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway or WC&PR. This was a delightful little light railway that traversed the north Somerset countryside along the Bristol Channel coast between 1897 and 1940.
Now, mention the line to most people and it’s only a matter of time before its initials WC&P raise a smile. If the initials weren’t enough, some of the tales associated with it are infamous. By far the best known concerns a lady at Weston’s main GWR station who asked a porter for the fastest way to Clevedon. When the porter suggested that she try the WC&P, she reportedly hit him with her umbrella.
The original intent was to run from Weston seafront through the town’s streets and then across the sparsely-populated Somerset countryside to Clevedon, but a dispute with the local council caused the abandonment of street running and theWeston terminus to be built a mile inland at the junction of Milton Road and Ashcombe Road. Thetramway converted to a ‘Light Railway’ in 1899 andextended to Portishead in 1907, primarily to tap into the lucrative stone quarry traffic in the Gordano Valley.
The line was built on a shoestring and lost money from the start. Consequently, it spent most of its working life in the hands of the receivers and in 1911, they appointed one Colonel H.F. Stephens, with whom the line is most associated, as General Manager.
Despite the Colonel’s best efforts and those of his successorBill Austin, the fortunes of the line steadily declined and the receivers finally pulled the plug, the last passenger train running on 18 May 1940. It passed into the ownership of the GWR which used it to store coal wagons for a short time, but the cost of upgrading the infrastructure was prohibitively expensive and it was closed permanently in September of that year. Two of the line’s locos, both ‘Terriers’, passed into GWR ownership.
The fortunes of the towns’ former GWR branches have varied: Weston’s development as a major Victorian seaside resort saw its branch replaced with a loop line in 1887 which remains in use today. Clevedon’s branch closed in 1966 as did that to Portishead in 1973, though part of it remains in use for freight traffic to the docks at Portbury. Hopefully one day this will be extended into the town itself.
An in-depth biography of Colonel Stephens and his other railways is outside the remit of this article, but further details can be obtained from the Colonel Stephens Society, the website of which is: http://www.colonelstephenssociety.org.uk
Additionally, there is a very good website devoted to theWC&P (and with which the author has no connection) at: http://www.wcandpr.org.uk
I mentioned that the line was built on a shoestring and this is typified by the track. The WC&P initially used untreated half-round sleepers to save money, but these soon rotted and had to be replaced before the line opened. The solution was certainly innovative. Every third sleeper was conventional, whilst the two intermediate sleepers were replaced with a concrete pot with a wooden insert, rail being spiked rather than chaired in all cases.
I could not see the point of scratchbuilding track (and stock for that matter) in 16.5mm(00) gauge and didn’t trust myself to work to the perceived tighter tolerances of P4 (18.83mm) so chose EM (18.2mm) instead. I think I made the right choice at the time. After all, it’s my hobby, so I’ll do it my way thank you very much. As far as I see it, everybody has to compromise at some point in the process; it’s just a question of when.
You can get the same things wrong in coarse or fine scale, in 00, EM or P4. If it’s not quartered correctly, or aligned accurately, it won’t work properly regardless of how far apart or what profile the wheels are.
There is a great deal of information out there to help you make your models as accurately as you want to. I joined both the EM Gauge and Scale four societies, together with the Colonel Stephens Society and all have proved invaluable for prototype and line information.
Thankfully, the back of the buildings are a lot simpler than the fronts, which I decided not to model, though the two terraces have unusual reverse-hipped extensions which attract a lot of comments at exhibitions. Mostof the buildings use Wills pantiles and all buildings are bedded into the layout, thosewhich span baseboard joints being removable.
I deliberately didn’t model gardens in detail as I decided that it could not be seen from two feet away so I wouldn’t bother withevery last detail. Scatterings of Woodland/Green Scene foam and scatter provide an acceptable compromise for the time being.
Walls are either scribed DAS as per the buildings or Slater’s Plastikard, whilst fencing is scratchbuilt from Evergreen strip and fishing line.
Signals are from MSE, located with the aid of photographs though I am not sure that they were ever used beyond the original Board of Trade inspections. Point and signal rodding is from the Brassmasters etch whilst ground frames are scratchbuilt.
2-4-0T No.1 Clevedon
Like most of the WC&P’s stock, it is small which creates ‘challenges’ when trying to motorise. The chassis was scratchbuilt innickel silver whilst the bodywork is brass. Like most of my models, it took several attempts with stuttering forward and backward steps before it was completed. The chassis uses conventional Alan Gibson sprung horn blocks with a Mashima 9/16open-frame motor and Branchlines flywheel driving Sharman wheels through a 38:1 slim-line Branchlines motor mount. Troublesome running has seen the rear suspension soldered rigid.
With such a short wheelbase, the enginedoes not have spectacular hauling properties despite the lead crammed into the boiler butI like to think of the engine’s performance as prototypical rather than a defective result of my modelling abilities.
Some of the fittings are proprietary parts whilst the chimney and dome were turned for me by the late Bob Haskins.
A1X ‘Terrier’ 0-6-0T
0-6-0T No.3 Weston
The railcar body was fretted out from a single sheet of nickel silver and folded up into a lidless box shape, before adding the roof. Panelling is from microstrip plasticard, stuck on with cyano. Motorising caused afew problems, since the prototype only had 2' diameter wheels and had no under-slung equipment behind which I could hide a motor. Sharman does an 8mm wheel and Branchlines a rather nifty 34:1 two-stage gearbox, designed for trams I believe. The final gear is small enough to fit on the axleand is driven through a layshaft with a neoprene joint from a Mashima 1015 motor and flywheel in the railcar body. Flat out, the railcar crawls along and makes a lovely racket. The front of the gearbox is hidden behind the large radiator grille whilst the small motor sits below the window.
The railcar’s trailer is manufactured in much the same way. I could not for the life of me find a way to fit Alex Jackson couplings so the railcar and trailer use screw-links.
The model was the first piece of rolling stock built for the layout and is an off-the-shelf Falcon Brass kit. It is motorised asinstructed through a Mashima open-framed9/16 motor sitting vertically in the luggage compartment. I compensated the non-driven axle using an inside bearing MJT wagon unit and added the plethora of pipes and control rods from brass.
Bogie coaches Nos.1, 2 & 4
Nos.7, 8 & 13
Nos.15 & 17
|This is an abridged article from Railway Modeller magazine, where more details of the modelling products used can be found. Why not take out a regular subscription?|
The Peco Group of Companies
Address: Peco, Beer, Nr. Seaton, Devon EX12 3NA, England
Tel: +44 (0)1297 21542 Fax: +44 (0)1297 20229