Friday 31 May 2019

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Golden Age (17) : Excellent Intentions

"Excellent Intentions" by Richard Hull has an interesting twist on the interwar crime novel. The trial of the person accused of murder takes place throughout the book with flashbacks to the discovery of the murdered man and the police investigation. The twist however is that the identity of the accused in the dock is not revealed until the end of the story.

This means that throughout the investigation and the interaction between the detective and the possible suspects (of which naturally there are a lot as the victim was rather unpopular - not an uncommon Golden Age theme) you don't know which piece of evidence is relevant to the trial.

An interesting and enjoyable variation on the Golden Age murder mystery.

Monday 27 May 2019

BGLR : A bit of scenery

There hasn't been a huge amount of progress at Birches Green this week though the new tunnel and wall has has some more work done on it, some painting (in a rather dark flint grey - a bit darker than I intended to be honest) and also a bit of green scenery to hide the gaps!

Sunday 26 May 2019

Railworld Wildlife Haven

One place I've wanted to visit for some time is Railworld in Peterborough, though these days they are going in a new direction as a wildlife haven and very nice that is too. However I wanted old trains and there are a few interesting items in their yard including an Alco "switcher" locomotive from the USA which was used at a Welsh steel works. I also had a look at the Nene Valley Railway's station in Peterborough which is next to Railworld. I shall return one day to explore the NVR more. You can see my Railworld photos here.

Saturday 25 May 2019


Today I went to Peterborough for the first time, its about two hours away by train but worth the trip even in a cramped Cross Country Turbostar! The main purpose of my trip was to visit Railworld which will be detailed in another post. I also spent some time at Peterborough station itself and saw one of the new Azuma trains... which interestingly I saw the Home Secretary alight from! You can see my photos here (trains only no Javid!)

Wednesday 22 May 2019

BGLR : New tunnel

There has been good progress with the tramway extension and the resulting scenery change on the main layout that will take place underneath it. A wall has been built at that end of the layout with a new tunnel mouth. It is starting to look pretty decent. This of course has the added benefit of reducing the amount of track that needs to be ballasted.

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Golden Age (16) : Antidote to Venom

Freeman Wills Crofts was my favourite "Golden Age" author though I did not enjoy this story as much as his others. It follows the downfall of the director of the zoo in Birmington (is that supposed to be Birmingham?) who finds true love with a mistress but needs money to continue his double life and keep his wife placated.

Unfortunately when an inheritance fails to boost his coffers as hoped he is forced to look elsewhere for money and, with the help of his accomplice / blackmailer, uses a snake in his zoo to perform what he thinks is the perfect murder...

It isn't a bad book though takes a long time to get going and has an unusual though not uninteresting structure. It is an fascinating exploration of the criminal mind and how a seemingly respectable person can drop into the moral sewer. It just needed a bit of a pruning.

Sunday 19 May 2019

Surrender at Stewartby

Yesterday I visited Stewartby which was a model village built for workers of the London Brick Company in Bedfordshire. My visit didn't last very long though as a torrential rainstorm unfortunately was striking Stewartby at the same time I was there. So with wet feet I took a few photos and then surrendered and headed back home. You can see the photos here, I'll have to return one day when there is dry weather forecast!

Friday 17 May 2019

BGLR : Tram extension running

As can be seen from the photo below the tram extension now has track laid (though not fixed down) and the tram has been tested on it. One thing i didn't consider was the tram pantograph and the support for the shelf above the extension, the pantograph just fits though less than a millimetre clearance! Next step will be to add a tunnel section under the tram extension board for the main layout.

Thursday 16 May 2019

SVR Diesel Gala 2019

The Severn Valley Railway Diesel Gala is one of the biggest preserved railway events of the year (at least for me) and this year's one did not disappoint with a great selection of guest locomotives including the prototype HST power car. It was not running due to technical issues so was only on static display but it was still the gala's rock star. I travelled up from Kidderminster to Bewdley and then up to Hampton Loade before returning to Kidderminster. You can see my photos here.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Lapworth & Kingswood

Today I returned to Lapworth station, which is probably my favourite of all. Now Lapworth station is actually in Kingswood and I haven't really been to Lapworth itself before, so I had a walk between the two villages as well as walking some of the Stratford Canal through Lapworth/Kingswood. I did not manage to find Lapworth's church but I did see some interesting things in this glorious part of Warwickshire. You can see my photos of Lapworth & Kingswood here and my photos of the Stratford Canal here.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Golden Age (15) : Murder in the Bookshop

Carolyn Wells' "Murder in the Bookshop" is about the solving of two crimes: the murder of a book collector and the theft of a valuable book. It is also a fascinating insight into the world of wealthy bibliophiles in 1930s New York, with their private libraries and insatiable needs for rare classics.

As this is a fairly typical Golden Age story the crimes committed are quite unfathomable and the police are clueless, thus private detective Fleming Stone is bought in to solve the intricate crimes.

Overall the story is a bit mundane and drags at the start however it does finally get going and even includes some kidnappings, fake deaths and mysterious goings on by a man in a cape. Though remains pretty implausible. No one committed simple crimes in the Golden Age!

The characters such as Fleming Stone are not fleshed out in any way, which is a shame and does make the story hard to love.

Decent but not great.

Monday 13 May 2019

Another stop at the Tramway Museum

Today I went to Crich Tramway Museum for the second time, and walked the incredibly steep mile long path up from Whatstandwell again! Luckily my heart did not erupt from my chest as it seemed like it might and reach Crich before me. The Tramway Museum is well worth an exertions though, it really is one of the best preserved railway sites around. I took a ride on heritage trams and also took a lot of photographs, which you can see here.

Saturday 11 May 2019

Back to Bedworth

Today I made a second trip to Bedworth, to walk the Coventry Canal that passes through the market town but also to take some photos of the town itself which I didn't do the last time I was here. The main focus was the canal again though, this time in the opposite direction. I didn't get to the junction with the Ashby Canal as planned due to time restraints but that can always be done another time. You can see my canal photos here.

Wednesday 8 May 2019

BGLR : Tram extension begins

The layout board has had a small extension for Phase 3 of the tramway. This will also form the roof of a new tunnel section on this end of the BGLR loop. While evaluating the layout I think a Phase 4 extension may be possible at some stage but we'll concentrate on building this piece for now!

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Warwickshire Places (6) : Henley-in-Arden

Henley-in-Arden is a small town near to Wootton Wawen and about half way between Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon. The first mention of Henley-in-Arden dates from the reign of Henry II in the twelfth century. Henley-in-Arden became a market town in the shadow of Beaudesert Castle (which no longer exists) on the hill which overlooks the town.

The church of St Nicholas (officially in Beaudesert though only a few metres from the High Street) dates from 1170 and may be built on earlier Saxon remains. Near to is is the slightly younger church of St John the Baptist on Henley High Street. Next to the church of St John the Baptist on Henley-in-Arden's High Street is the Guild Hall. Like the church the Guild Hall is also of fifteenth century origin [1]. Although some original timbers remain the building has been extensively restored. The Guild Hall is still used for meetings of the ceremonial Court Leet who meet every November.

The Court Leet has been meeting since at least 1333. Nowadays the Court Leet has no legal jurisdiction but administers the Guild Hall Trust which owns the Guild Hall and some other properties in the town.

Nowadays Henley-in-Arden is an affluent little town inhabited mostly by people who are retired or work elsewhere in the nearby larger towns and cities though there are many eating places in the town and it is well known for its ice cream. Henley-in-Arden is served by a railway station on the North Warwickshire Line.
Guild Hall

Henley-in-Arden station

One of the many pubs in town

Henley has many historic buildings

A tractor passes through

Church of St John the Baptist

[1] Nikolaus Pevsner & Alexandra Wedgwood, Warwickshire (Penguin, 1966) p. 310

Sunday 5 May 2019

EVR up to Wirksworth

It is nearly a year since I visited one of my favourite preserved railway lines the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway (EVR) so I headed up there from Duffield to Wirksworth yesterday. My journey back being hauled by a delightful Victorian steam locomotive. I also had a look around Wirksworth which is a wonderful town in the Derbyshire dales. You can see my EVR photos here.

Wednesday 1 May 2019

BGLR : Return of Percy

There has been some more stock rotation at Birches Green. Percy has returned from the reserve fleet to replace Tango was the active shunter / light train loco. Tango in turn has replaced Ruby as the reserve shunter / engineering train loco, Ruby has gone into reserve.

Another change has been the addition of a new local passenger train consisting of a single coach. The reason for this was the arrival of the Rail Car. This has replaced the push-pull coach on commuter services and meant that there were four active locomotives but only three normally scheduled trains (express passenger, light freight and heavy freight) so the BGLR has added another train to the mix so that everyone has something to do!