Nearly ready for NEC

We are in the last few days before Blackfriars Bridge goes to the Warley Model Railway Exhibition at the NEC this weekend. Still time to add a few more people and carts in suitable scenarios.

Over the past couple of weeks scaffolding and workmen have been added to the arches and a completely new signal box and gantry have been added at the fiddle yard exit.

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Station throat photo

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The new extension board leading to the fiddle yard as built, before any scenic items added.

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New signal box and gantry under construction.

Locomotive Power

This page will be updated when more information is available and more recent photos of those under construction will be added in due course.

GNR Sturrock steam tender 0-6-0+0-6-0

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In 1863 Sturrock invented the steam tender, an auxiliary engine designed to give extra power at starting or at low speeds. The tenders he had built ran on six wheels, which were coupled. Fitted to his 0-6-0 goods engines, Sturrock’ s steam tenders enabled heavy mineral trains to be hauled more easily, including on gradients. However, the enginemen disliked having to look after what were, in effect, two locomotives.
A scratchbuilt loco. It would never have ventured through the widened lines onto the LCDR and the last steam tenders remained in use until only 1868, but it is a talking point whenever it appears!

GNR 126 Class 0-4-2T no.49

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The eleven 126 Class locomotives were built at Doncaster works between 1869 and 1871. They were a Stirling design, but were generally similar to earlier Sturrock 0-4-2T locomotives.

LCDR Ruby class 2-4-0T no. 145 ‘Onyx’

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The Ruby class locomotives originated as 2-4-0 engines that had been built by Sharp Stewart in 1856 for the Dutch-Rhenish Railway. Six these were purchased by the LCDR in 1861. They were initially used on the Victoria to Dover services, but were later used in the London area where tenders were an encumbrance and were rebuilt in 1865/1865 as 2-4-0 tank engines.

As built, our model of Onyx bearing the number 145 and painted black is slightly too late for our period.

LCDR ‘Scotchmen’ class 0-4-2WT ‘Jura’

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Martley had wanted more powerful locomotives than those already in use to work the cross-London trains and put out a tender for a new 2-4-0T class. The tender was won in 1865 by Neilson & Co, but they suggested that 0-4-2T engines of the same design as the Sturrock locomotives used by the GNR would be better. The GNR apparently had no objections and 14 locomotives entered service in 1866. These were to become the ‘Scotchmen’ class and worked the cross-London services into the mid-1870s.

LCDR Reindeer class 2-4-0 ‘Reindeer’

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Tenders for six new engines (to be paid for in instalments) were invited in 1864, but only one, from Brassey & Co, was received. The engines were delivered in 1865. They were originally used on express services between Dover and London, but later relegated to lesser duties.
Under construction from plans described as being Reindeer class, but this is potentially incorrect as the appearance is closer to the Enigma class.

LCDR 0-6-0 ‘Huz’

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‘Huz’ appears to be something of an anomaly. Apparently Martley had intended to purchase two 0-8-0T engines, but when similar locomotives of the GNR were refused permission to run on Metropolitan Railway lines that order was cancelled. In 1867 he then proposed the purchase of three condensing 0-6-0 tender locomotives specifically for working freight traffic over the widened lines. Although these were never built, the authorisation remained in place and in 1873 two Sharp Stewart 0-6-0 tender locomotives were purchased from stock. These became ‘Huz’ and ‘Buzz’

LCDR 0-6-0ST ‘Hercules’

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‘Hercules’ and sister engine ‘Ajax’ had originally been built in 1856 by Hawthorn & Co as 0-6-0 tender engines and were purchased second hand by the Chatham in 1860. Both were rebuilt at Longhedge works in 1865 as 0-6-0 saddle tanks and were used at Herne Hill and Battersea yards as well as hauling goods trains on the Metropolitan extension.

Our model has been scratchbuilt.

LCDR 0-4-2 ‘Brigand’

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‘Brigand’ was one of two locomotives purchased from Sharp Stewart. They were built in 1861 as part of a batch of locomotives designed by Patrick Stirling for use on the Glasgow and South Western Railway, but were diverted to the Chatham! It is unlikely they would have turned up at Blackfriars Bridge as they were employed mainly on trains around the Medway towns, but occasionally worked excursions to Victoria.

MR ‘Metro’ Tank 4-4-0T

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First produced in 1864 for the Metropolitan Railway (now part of the London Underground), but also used by other railway companies, these locomotives were designed and built by Beyer Peacock. The Midland Railway ordered six from Beyer Peacock in 1868.
Our model was made from an IKB Models kit.

MR Kirtley 0-4-4WT no. 789

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These locomotives were built to the design of Matthew Kirtley. The first six were delivered in 1869 and had been built by Beyer Peacock. A further 20 were supplied by Dubs in the following year. They were to provide motive power over the widened lines for both passenger and freight services.
Our loco is made from a London Road Models etched brass kit is, with nickel silver chassis and lost wax brass and whitemetal castings.

LSWR Beattie 4-2-0WT no. 314

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The LSWR built 88 Beattie 2-4-0 well tanks between 1863 and 1875 to haul their suburban services in London.

The loco currently in use was built for our other project, ‘Seaton’, and shows the class as rebuilt and is out of period for Blackfriars Bridge, but is to be replaced in due course by another of a more suitable period.

Populating the layout

A model railway layout isn’t just about the track and trains, the whole scenic effect is important. We have slowly been finishing off the station frontage, piece by piece.

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The arch on the left is Holland Street and is almost ready to receive the roadway complete with vehicles.

We also decided to add working lights to the station so we can show the layout in near dark.

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The platform seats have been bespoke made (by Chris Cox) and are replicas of LCDR seats of the period.

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For a station set in 1870s London our biggest headache is finding suitable road vehicles and people in the numbers and variety that we require. Articles have been written in the model railway press about putting together little scenarios rather than randomly dotting figures around the layout. Having managed to purchase some figures in Victorian dress approximately right for the period (there is no such thing as ‘Victorian dress’ – fashion changed rapidly every few years) we have been painting them up and are now starting to put them in situ.

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We were surprised at just how many advertisements were present on the walls and those in the model have been reproduced from near contemporary photographs.

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Some other figures are a work in progress, but inclusion on the layout may be delayed as my 3 year old granddaughter enjoys playing with them!

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Road vehicles are available, but we probably need a production line to make sufficient Hansom cabs, carriages, carts and drays. Some we can use off the shelf and others can be modified. Again our sources include old photographs from the time.

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This will be used to honour one of our members, Simon Harris – no connection as far as we know to the firm of I & B Harris of Aldgate. It is now in place next to the organ grinder!

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And once I have found a suitable monogram/coat of arms to go on the sides this will be taking a journey along Southwark Street.

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Under Construction

The first board to be built was the station end. The carcase of the main building was constructed integrally with the double-skinned framework. The outer skin had cut-outs made in it to allow for the windows and arches were cut out in both skins. As all the trackwork was at first floor level, risers were incorporated on this board, and all others, to support the track base.

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The first board under construction

Although we used SMP for the plain trackwork, all the points were bespoke and made using Masokits components, which entailed bending up countless chairs and then soldering them in place on copperclad sleepers.

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Bill ad Simon making one of the points

 

Baseboards and track
JB and Bill working on the track

With the track in place the planked platforms were made using individually cut strips of wood glued in place.

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Part of the planked platforms

Consideration was then given to the overall roof, with the trusses and end pieces being soldered up from individual pieces of brass.

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Roof trusses

These were then fixed in place, along with the supporting pillars and girders, with the end being set into the main brick pillars of the station, which were then faced with brick plastic sheet.

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Roof in place showing how it was recessed into the pillars

These pillars, as well as the rest of the brick structures (apart from the buttresses of the main building) were cut to shape from brick plastic sheet, which was painted in situ to try to replicate London brick.

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The station approach ramp partially built

As we required multiple identical buttresses for the station building we used a different technique to ensure reproducibility. A single buttress was made then a mould was made of this using a two part silicone rubber compound. The individual buttresses were then cast from this using an acrylic resin. More information about this will follow in a future article

The bridge over Southwark Street is being made from brass. Each girder requires many small riveted angle irons to be soldered onto the brass sheet bases and again this will be covered in another posting.

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Part of the bridge in situ

Blackfriars Bridge Station in 4mm Scale -Information about the layout

Having gained a reputation for modelling the somewhat unusual it was going to be a tricky challenge to find a replacement for our previous P4 layout, the ‘Ulpha Light Railway’, but with our two previous offerings having a distinct northern flavour it was agreed that we should, as a London based club, model something closer to home. Certainly when it comes to railway modelling we’re no southern softies and Blackfriars Bridge offers an eclectic mix of a mid-Victorian London main line station with some unique features, combined with a challenging research project. And it all started with an old OS map!

Challenges along the way have not just been an apparent lack of information or even inspiration, but other problems have impacted on progress, not the least being the loss of our club rooms (on more than one occasion) and the limited number of modellers involved. The research has been a project in itself and it is amazing what has turned up in records from many different sources. Some of the more interesting include the original rating plan (showing not just the track layout, but also the use of various parts of the two storey building), a Francis Frith photograph of Blackfriars Road Bridge with the station in original condition in the background and sketches of the station frontage onto Blackfriars Road. Even now something new may be discovered and we are constantly revisiting our own archive to decide what details should be included. With almost every aspect having to be bespoke it is only now that we have found ourselves making significant progress on this project (although extra pairs of hands are always welcome), but it is still a ‘work in progress’.

Opened in 1864, Blackfriars Bridge represents part of the London, Chatham & Dover’s ambitious and successful attempt to gain access in to the City as well as tapping into lucrative goods traffic from the north. This route, known as the ‘Widened Lines’ saw agreements with the Great Northern, London & South Western and Midland Railways, all of which secured running powers in exchange for capital investment and whose stock is represented on our layout.  In addition to the imposing station building designed by Joseph Cubitt, the station contained a turntable and a pair of hydraulic wagon hoists which feed the lower level goods depot – a working turntable and wagon hoists are also a feature of our model.

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Set in 1873, our model will be an accurate replica of the station in the prime of its brief existence before the opening of St Paul’s (or Blackfriars as it is now known) and the closure of Blackfriars Bridge to passenger traffic on the 1st October 1885.  Most of the main station building was then demolished and the site restructured as a goods depot.  Even in its short life as a passenger station the track layout was changed several times: we have chosen to build it before the opening of Hopton Street Goods and the spur that was put in to link the line to the South Eastern Railway.Blackfriars track layout diagram.jpg

The above sketch of the layout plan and a front elevation (artistic impression only) give an indication as to how the layout looks.

The Strategic importance of the Metropolitan Widened Lines and Blackfriars Bridge in WWII

Book croppedAs it was recently the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain the following may be of interest.

When building our model of Blackfriars Bridge station set in 1873 we were well aware that the present day bridge across Southwark Street was not the original. Among the resources we used to try to determine what it may have looked like we came across a book entitles “London Main Line War Damage” by BWL Brooksbank[1]. Helping us to understand the construction of the bridge girders, this book has several photographs on pp83-85 showing the damage to, and rebuilding of, the bridge. It also details all events involving enemy action that caused damage and disruption to rail services throughout the war in the entire London area.

What this book also gives is an insight specifically into what happened at the Blackfriars Bridge station site during the air raids and also into the importance of the line. The Metropolitan Extension of the London Chatham & Dover Railway provided that company with a line into the City of London and later formed links for traffic from the GNR and MR. In the Second World War it was to form an invaluable, even if extremely vulnerable, part of the railway system giving a route to get traffic such as coal to south east London and into the south east in general. The photographs of relevance to us in the book related to the severe air raids on 19-20 April 1941, which followed on from other heavy raids in the previous few days. It appears that a parachute mine had a direct hit on the Southwark Street Bridge at 22:15 on 19 April 1941 and information about the damage and restoration is given on page 80. Six lines over the bridge collapsed into the street below and the other two sidings were also damaged. Holborn and Blackfriars stations were closed. The down local line was reopened (for steam trains only, not electric) on 1 June and the down and up through lines were cleared by 2 June. The sidings on the west side had been made available for freight trains to work single line to Loughborough Junction. The up local line was not restored until 29 June. The same raid also caused damage to the signalbox at Blackfriars Junction (the original of which had been destroyed by fire in the attacks of 16-17 April and had been replaced by a temporary box with a frame of limited capacity) and all lines had been blocked. Blackfriars Goods was also damaged, at both high and low levels, with further damage to the stables, hydraulic hoists and a turntable. Several railway employees, including signalmen, were killed or injured.

There are quotes from a report by Lt Col Mount showing how extensive the damage was.

”’This is the most comprehensive damage of a girder bridge I have yet seen.’ Two of three girders (span 90ft) carrying four running lines collapsed into the roadway. A third girder, carrying some sidings on the east side, was pushed off abutments at one end. Also, considerable damage done to one of two main girders of separate bridge carrying the two ‘Market Sidings’ on west side. Latter bridge restored first, with trestling and leaving space for the double tram track. Siding lines slewed into the running lines to provide a single line for freight traffic. Meantime, trestling and steel joist weigh-beams to restore Up and Down Main lines and then the Local lines to be tackled.

“On 26 May, Mount reported that three tracks in operation, over steel trestling kindly lent by War Office. Trestling required for fourth track would be recovered from Blackfriars Road Bridge, also damaged in the raids. Rebuilding of bridge urgent, but required 1,000 tons steel: War Office, nor as before LMSR, cannot provide any more trestling at present, so SR CME prevailed upon.

“The Blackfriars main power signalbox close by, which had already suffered fire damage on 16/4 and was under repair, was completely destroyed. Four men, occupied hand-signalling, were sheltering in a steel bell-type refuge but killed by blast. Spare 24-lever power frame installed temporarily to work junctions either side of bridge.

Mount’s following comment shows how badly the Germans wanted to destroy the cross-Thames traffic. “It appears that the enemy has made several attempts to put the MWL[2] at Blackfriars out of use, and with other recent incidents at the river bridges it may indicate deliberate attack on cross-Thames communications.

The importance of the Metropolitan Extension is covered later on in the book (on page 137). The Thames crossings in the London area constituted the pinch points for traffic for South-East England. The evolution of the railway system had not resulted in crossings capable of conveying a substantial flow of freight over the Thames without major deviation. They were confined to the Chelsea and Barnes Bridges in West London, and the Blackfriars Bridge that connected the LPTB ‘MWL’ with the eastern section of the SR. The use of the East London Line between Spitalfields and New Cross had (ostensibly) been ruled out as a significant link.

There were concerns that the MWL may have been flooded by damage to massive sewers and water mains. The vulnerability of Blackfriars Bridge was also recognised. In December 1939 nearly 2,000 wagons were crossing the bridge each day (two thirds from the LNER and one third from the LMSR). New connections were put in at Kings Cross to allow traffic to be diverted, in an emergency, to the East London Line via the Metropolitan Line at Kings Cross. There was also a new crossover put in place at Ludgate Hill to enable either half of Blackfriars Bridge to be used. The other vulnerability of the line through Blackfriars Bridge was that the line was mainly on elevated sections with viaducts and many bridges.

Apart from the raids of April 1941 detailed above, some other raids deserve a mention to highlight the vulnerability of the system; there are many other examples in the book of damage and disruption relating to the old South Eastern and Chatham lines. The Blitz in September 1940 led to a suspension of traffic over the MWL on at least two occasions. A report of the situation on the morning of 9 September 1940 showed that the LNE goods services north and south of the Thames via both the ELR and MWL were suspended at the request of the Southern, while the SR reported that they were unable to accept any traffic from LMS or LNE via the MWL. … Later in the day the SR could accept a limited amount of priority traffic for Hither Green or Herne Hill via the MWL by prior arrangement. Restrictions remained in place for several days. In fact the problems appear to have persisted for about ten days. The LMS reported on 19 September that the most serious difficulty was working the traffic for the Central and Eastern Sections of the SR, having been unable to send it over the normal routes. From the previous night, however, it had been possible to send a few trains from Brent to Herne Hill and two other SR stations via the MWL. The following day there were more problems when a raid on the night of 19-20 September 1940 resulted in damage to the signalbox at Herne Hill, where all lines were affected. The Fast lines were clear by 08:00 on 21 September and normal working resumed at 16:30 on 23 September. The same raid also saw the Blackfriars to Elephant & Castle line hit by high explosive at Pocock Street/Hill Street, cutting the Through lines and the Local lines were considered unsafe. Traffic off the MWL was suspended until the lines were cleared at 08:40 on 21 September. The Down Through line was not reopened until 26 December 1940 and the Up Through line not until 10 February 1941!

The vulnerability of the MWL to flooding was shown by a raid on the night of 15-16 October 1940. A bomb penetrated the Clerkenwell tunnel at 03:35 and fractured the Fleet Sewer flooding the lines between King’s Cross and Farringdon. Normal working was resumed on 18 October.

[1] “London Main Line War Damage” by B W L Brooksbank. Published 2007 by Capital Transport Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85414-309-9

[2] Metropolitan Widened Lines

The Blackfriars Bridge MRG Blog goes live!

This is your very first post to a blog all about the Blackfriars Bridge Model Railway Group and their progress (or otherwise) on constructing a 4mm scale model of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway’s original Blackfriars Bridge station which opened in 1864. The station architect was Joseph Cubitt and our model is set in the 1870’s just before the station started undergoing various changes and reconfigurations. In fact the more research we’ve undertaken about this station the more we’ve come to realise how much the station changed in its short 20 year lifespan before it stopped being used for passenger traffic and was partially demolished to allow for increased running line capacity and pure goods traffic use via its sublevel infrastructure.