Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Model Week : Testing the goods yard

The re-laid goods yard with the HOe switches have not been stuck (or fixed) down yet. A couple of goods trains have been tested on the track and all is fine. Fixing will happen soon!

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Cathedrals (8) : Worcester

The magnificent cathedral at Worcester has early Norman origins with work starting on the cathedral in 1084 but not finishing until the early 16th century. However, this replaced an earlier building with dated from 680. No remains of this first cathedral have survived.

The cathedral contains a number of different architectural styles from early Norman to Perpendicular Gothic. The former survives in the cathedral's crypt. The cathedral has two transepts which cross the nave. The building has a chapter house and a cloister. The central tower once had a spire though this has now gone. The cathedral contains King John's tomb, other burials include Prime Minster Stanley Baldwin.

Sunday, 6 June 2021


Yesterday I headed to Spondon, in the East of Derby. A fine place it is too with a 14th century church and some great views of Derby in the valley below from atop a bridge which crosses a main road. You can see my photos here.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Model Week: Wagon and track

A new wagon has joined the Birches Green freight fleet, this is another Liliput open wagon. We already have a few of these, two are permanent members of the departmental fleet and fitted with track cleaners. This new wagon will be part of the general freight pool. We've also bought two proper HOe switches and used them to replace the N gauge ones in the freight yard. The N gauge switches are being used on the N gauge layout. 

We still have two N gauge switches on Birches Green but replacing them would cause too much upheaval as already ballasted track would have to be lifted and this would be a colossal mess. What we'll do instead is look for ways to hide the visible N gauge sleepers.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Cathedrals (7) : Coventry

Coventry cathedral is one of the most extraordinary buildings in the country, though that can be said to have been thanks to the Blitz! Coventry's first cathedral was built in 1095CE but was demolished during the Reformation, the only medieval cathedral to suffer this fate. The second cathedral was begun in the late 14th century and was a parish church dedicated to St Michael, one of the largest parish churches in England with one of the tallest spires. It was elevated to cathedral status in 1918.

In 1940 the cathedral was almost destroyed by German bombers, only the tower, spire and parts of the outer wall survived. Work on a new cathedral began in 1956 next to the remains of the old cathedral. The new cathedral had a Modernist design and the juxtaposition of this superb structure next to the remains of the old cathedral is poignant and forward thinking. The result is a building that truly captures the imagination and spirit of remembrance and reconciliation. 

Sunday, 30 May 2021


Yesterday i visited Leominster in Herefordshire, a nice little market town though quite similar to a number of others i have visited. There is indeed a bit of a template these towns largely follow; Medieval church, Victorian buildings, old signs, antique shops, ruined by too much traffic! At least in Leominster's case there was a bit of a one-way system so it avoided the endless roar of Range Rovers that ruins places like Moreton-in-Marsh. The church, a former priory, was also rather fine. You can see my photos here.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

My week(ly) in 1979

A couple of months ago we uploaded some scans from a Living magazine from 1973 found in Mum's loft. Another magazine has been found, My Weekly from March 1979 and here are a few scans from that. Its not as funky as the 1973 magazine to be honest but old adverts are always of interest.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Model Week : The good old days

With not much going on model railway wise at the moment i thought i'd put up these two photos of my OO gauge layout from the mid to late 1980s. The photos were damaged so only about half was scannable but it does show how the layout used to look when i had it in my parent's garage.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Cathedrals (6) : Lichfield

Lichfield's first cathedral was built in 700 to house the bones of St Chad. In 1085 the original Saxon church, which was made from wood, was replaced by a stone one. However, this church was in turn replaced by the current cathedral in 1195. The building was completed in the 1330s. The cathedral was badly damaged during the Civil War including the destruction of one of the spires and all the stained glass. Restoration began in the 1660s but was not finished until the 19th century.

The cathedral is the only English medieval cathedral with three spires though is one of the smallest cathedrals. The cathedral was built from local sandstone and contains a large number of statues of kings, bishops and saints on the exterior.

Saturday, 22 May 2021


After a couple of weeks on Merseyside it was nice to go somewhere else, and that somewhere else was Uttoxeter in Staffordshire. A nice market town with the usual medieval church, various other old buildings and lots of pubs. I'm always impressed at the density of pubs in places like this considering there are none within easy walking distance of where i live in Birmingham! You can see my photos here.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Churches (105) : All Saints, Hereford

The church of All Saints in Hereford has existed since the early 1300s it replaced a church from the previous century which collapsed. The church has a nave, chancel, North and South chapels and a tower with a spire. The spire learnt over for centuries due to problems with the church foundations until extensive rebuilding work in the 1990s. It's spire still has a twist due to the rusting of the metal fixings of the stone in the spire.

The church is built from coursed rubble. The church has the second largest chained library in England, the largest being in the cathedral a short walk away!

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

West Midlands Places (5) : Erdington

Erdington is nowadays a suburb of Birmingham though the village has existed from Saxon times and was listed in the Domesday Book as Hardintone. Erdington was mostly arable farmland with a mill at the bottom of a hill where the river Tame flowed at Bromford.

Erdington Hall manor house was also next to the Tame, the river used as part of it's defences. The manor house was demolished in the 17th century. The parish church of St Barnabas dates from 1822.

Erdington remained a rural farming village until the arrival of transport links including a turnpike road, the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal and the railways, Erdington and Gravelly Hill being two railway stations in the Erdington area. Erdington gained a number of industrial works including Fort Dunlop, once the largest tyre factory in the British Commonwealth.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Liverpool success

After last week's failure to achieve "Plan A" i headed back up to Liverpool on Saturday to give it another try! This time the plan worked perfectly, my carefully worked out plan to see four new stations on the Wirral was correct, which pleased me of course. I even had enough time to see a fifth new station! You can my photos from the two Liverpool trips here.

Friday, 14 May 2021

Churches (104) : St Peter and Paul, Aston

The parish church of St Peter & St Paul in Aston is now in Birmingham though when the church was first mentioned in the Domesday Book, Aston was surrounded by fields and indeed was a larger place than Birmingham! When the church was completed in the 12th century it was one of the largest in the Midlands at the time and may have been the ministry church for the large Aston parish.

The church was rebuilt and reordered in 1480 including the current tower and spire. The church was rebuilt again in 1879.

The church was where my Mother was christened and her parents married.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Model Week : Adding some rubbish

Unlike my 1:1 world, Birches Green is quite tidy and doesn't have piles of rubbish hanging about all over the place. Well let's change that. I've turned a couple of wooden coffee stirrers into piles of timber. These will be placed at various points around the layout.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

West Midlands Places (4) : Harborne

Harborne is an area of South West Birmingham. The oldest area of Harborne is centred around the parish church of St Peter. The church is mostly Victorian (the tower is 14th century) though has been built on the site of earlier churches dating back to Saxon times. St Chad of Mercia is thought to have preached here. Harborne is listed in the Domesday Book.

Harborne became part of Birmingham in 1891, it was also transferred from Staffordshire to Warwickshire. Since 1974 it has been part of the West Midlands.