Saturday, December 29, 2018

Layout planning thoughts.

The track plan is something I've been giving some serious thought to over the past weeks since the last blog post. I don't rightly know what I want yet. I've been exploring ideas though. Firstly, I was really impressed with some of the pictures over at Dave Enefers website. Particularly the second page  , link shared here again so you can see what I'm on about. Those pictures of the railway running in front of the farm houses and barns are very atmospheric and appealed to me in a big way. My grandparents lived in small farmhouses not at all dissimilar to those.
concept 1
This first concept is very basic, but it would allow continuous running of trains, something I have found to be very important as I often get distracted and drawn into conversations about my modelling which if I'm working a shunting layout leads to a lack of action on the model. Simple shunting into the one siding by the barn is available but it's not much.
I think it would also be important to me and the layouts presentation to incorporate "tatey clamps" or graves. These are where the potatoes are stored in long, low piles between harvest and distribution to the rest of the world. A couple of sidings serving graves would allow more shunting. But, (and this is a pet peeve of mine on model railways). If you're going to shunt an open wagon into a siding, it should leave it loaded and vice versa. It would destroy the illusion of the model to have an out of scale hand move potato loads in and out of the wagons. To that end I extended one of the sidings off stage behind the farmhouse so they could be loaded/unloaded out of sight, an idea I've used before.
Concept 2
I'm still not happy. These schemes are immensely flat and lacking depth. Everything is layered and parallel to the baseboard edges. This doesn't appeal to me at all.

Holmes Hall an old concept for a Gn15 layout.
The sketch above illustrates something I've wanted to develop for a few years. Being able to watch trains run towards you. In this "Holmes Hall" concept the trains run towards you at the right hand side before swinging around a sharp curve into the yard. This was envisioned as a triangular layout, not unlike the Crowsnest tramway. How plausible this would be in 1/32 scale I'm unsure yet. But I would certainly seek to incorporate the idea on any layout.

Wraggmarsh Farm. (line map from Stewart Squires Potato railways book
overlaid on Google maps)
Wraggmarsh Farm (or house) on the Fens, near Spalding had an extensive railway system serving the potato fields and had its own private dock on the river Welland so produce and supplies came in and went out on boats. It has some interesting elements in it. The loading dock for example, but as basis for a layout that would be little more than the old "fox, chicken and bag of corn" shunting puzzle. It would be great for me but not so for a viewing public. Could I fit something like that into a Holmes Hall continuous run concept? We'll have to see.

Friday, October 5, 2018

The History and Social influence of the Potato

This book was the subject of a meme that appeared on my Facebook feed the other day.
Not as silly a book as it may seem.
I did some research on it. Apparently it is a well researched, well written, and highly regarded book on the subject of the potato.
Does it have anything about the potato railways of Lincolnshire in it? I don't know. The book is some 700 pages long so I'm not too sure I'll be reading it all to find out. If anyone would like to read it you can find it on the Barnes and Noble website.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Lincolnshire Potato Railways. Some Inspiration

The main purpose of this page, other than to inspire you with "Taatey Railway" scenes, is to act as placeholder for the research images I find.

Dave Enefer has a couple of pages of Potato Railway images over at his excellent site covering the railways of Lincolnshire. All are from Nocton, but with such a huge estate that's no surprise.

Page 1 is here.     Some very nice shots of trains in the fields at Nocton on this page, as well as workers loading potatoes.

Page 2 is here     The best thing for me about this page of pictures is the images that contain shots of farm buildings.  Any model of mine will include some farm buildings acting as view blocks and exits to the hidden storage areas.

The Lifu rail truck  This might be the most important piece of film out there in relations to potato railways. The LIFU rail truck. manufactured by the liquid fuel company of the Isle of Wight.
Of course if you're very, very lucky, you might find one of these old cigarette cards on a well known online auction site. This is quite valuable to see as it suggests it was a chain driven four wheel driven creation. A model of this will certainly find its way onto whatever potato railway layout I build.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Lincolnshire Potato Railways, Some history

Perhaps before I get started on this journey, a word or two about Lincolnshire Potato Railways.
Whenever people ask me where I am from in England and I tell them "Lincolnshire", the vast majority have absolutely no idea where it is. Some will be honest and say they have no idea, others say yes, they know. But the blank look on their face tells me otherwise. So a quick geography lesson is in order.
Lincolnshire, historically speaking is the second largest county in England. Situated on the East side about half-way up the country. It can be said to be ignored by much of the rest of the UK, despite having some of the best beaches in Europe and a truly wonderful area of outstanding natural beauty in the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Lincolnshire. The area in Red. The should clear up any confusion.
It has always been a agricultural county, having some very fertile land for growing crops, and a very varied range of produce is grown on the land. We, of course, are most interested in the humble potato.
The "Taates" as they are known locally, are grown on the low lying coastal land, known as The Fens, and on the flood plain of the River Witham towards the county seat of Lincoln.
Lincolnshire. The major Potato Farm railways were just to the South East
of Lincoln, and the area bounded by Boston, Spalding and The Wash (The Fens).
The first railway was laid in 1908 as an experiment that was clearly found to be successful. The real explosion in the development came after the end of WW1, when ex-War Department track and stock became available at very cheap prices.
It is difficult to estimate just exactly how many farms and how many miles of track there was. The accepted estimate is approximately 140 miles of railway on 50 farms. Some were short lines that would run from the middle of a field to a loading dock alongside a road barely a mile in length. While the estate at Nocton covered 8,000 acres and had about 22 miles of track.
Why is this rich source of railway inspiration for the modeller ignored? Well, most of these lines were horse worked. The farms already had horses, it was a convenient source of power.  There are only about a dozen locomotives recorded as operating on these lines. One steam loco, (that turned out to be too heavy for the ground). A unique paraffin fired rail truck, and a few internal combustion loco's Simplex,  Rustons, and one from Robert Hudson. The lines by nature, could also be temporary, with rails being laid into a field when the crop was ready to move and when that was done, moved to the next.
Inspiration does exist in the form of photographs and later on I'll share some links. But if you're really interested in learning more, the 'bible" of Potato Railways is Stewart Squires excellent book called, quite unsurprisingly, The Lincolnshire Potato Railways. Published by the Oakwood Press. It's is also known as Locomotion paper number 163.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The kick off.

So, how did I get here? Why, after years and years of procrastinating over a Potato Farm Railway layout did I get the urge to build one?
Well, It is Canadian Modeller Craig Parry's fault. He is the current owner of The Crowsnest Tramway layout originally created by Roy C. Link many years ago. He was showing it at the national Narrow Gauge convention in Minneapolis. The model is a 1/32 scale model of a two foot gauge railway. I'd never seen 1/32 scale narrow gauge before and I was struck by the nice physical size of the locomotives on display.
Craig and I talked at length about the layout in his possession and a bit about 1/32 narrow gauge. I mentioned that I'd seen a 1:32 scale kit in the vendor hall of the Malcolm Moore V8 locomotive. I mentioned I was thinking about buying it but I don't really need to work in another scale. He'd seen the same kit on sale too and remarked that at the price it was being sold at, it was a really good deal, and that it would make a very nice model indeed with a Black Beetle power unit underneath it.  So I quickly nipped back upstairs and bought it.
This kit has kicked the project into action
So, I now have a new kit of a two foot gauge locomotive that needs a power unit. I have no track, no rolling stock (though as I will explain later that's not entirely true) and no layout.
All I have at the moment is years of research and enthusiasm for Potato Railways. Which is as good a place as any to start.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Introduction and Explanation.

Here we are. Another new layout scheme and another new blog to go with it. If all goes to plan, this will turn into something I've wanted to create for a long, long time. A Model Railway layout based on the Potato Farm Railways of my home county of Lincolnshire in the U.K.
The title of the blog goes back about 10 years to when I was first corresponding with Roy C. Link of Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railway Modelling Review, as he was about to publish an article about my Purespring Watercress layout in issue 70 of said magazine. We had discussed Watercress Railways and my Lincolnshire heritage and he had mentioned in passing that he hoped to one day see a layout based on the Lincolnshire Potato Farm Railways. Back then there were no Potato farm layouts around. Now I know of at least two. Two Sisters Farm and Tates Railway, but it's still a neglected subject.
I have heard tell that some notable modellers have used the phrase. "I'm going to work on my Lincolnshire Potato Railway Layout" to describe a project that will never get started.
As a Lincolnshire Yellowbelly of many generations, the Potato Railways of my home county have long held a fascination for me. I have copies of both editions of Stewart Squires excellent book on the subject and have spent many hours poring over the photographs and text, tracing routes on maps,  looking for the inspiration to start the layout. Many schemes have been concocted over the years, perhaps I still have some of them around. If so, I'm sure I'll share them as things develop.
So sit back, enjoy the ride, and feel free to contribute if you have something to share.