by Gary Day
Photograph by Paul Wright

The Only Way is... Romford

Railway modelling for many of us is about recreating childhood memories. For me it was the Great Eastern Main Line. Despite the lure of the LMS with their magnificent Pacifics, it wasn't until I moved away from Essex that I realised how much I loved the Great Eastern with its varied EMUs and the resplendent diesels allocated to Stratford depot. So why Romford? I wanted a location which offered an interesting mix of railway operations and also a busy street scene. Romford offered all of this; an atmospheric coal yard, a branch line to Upminster with its red brick Midland station building unusually situated in LNER territory and a busy four track suburban and main line. The first step was the research, which I found as interesting as the modelling itself. The internet is a great font of knowledge. I was able to source numerous photographs from websites such as Flickr, to help recreate the virtual scene. However, nothing beats visiting the site and taking photographs and notes of the real thing. The key here is to take as many photographs from as many different angles as possible, as you never know when you will be able to go to site again or if indeed whether the subject will still be there when you go back. While on site, I also took the opportunity to visit the local library and was able to secure an Ordinance Survey map of the area for the era that I wanted to model; the 1970s early 1980s. Through my work as a railway engineer, I was also fortunate to secure copies of the permanent way layout and original LNER drawings of the station. I was however lacking information on the now demolished coal yard and goods shed. I will therefore need at some point, to visit Chelmsford library to view the Great Eastern Society's archive drawings. As the railway is elevated above the road and the main station building is integral with the western bridge abutment, this is where I needed to start my setting out from. I drew up the elevation using Microsoft Visio drawing software based upon dimensions from the LNER drawings and my extensive library of photographs. Sizing the building was relatively easy as it was possible to count the brick courses from my digital photographs. Once the drawing is complete, the next step is constructing the western station elevation. But that is another story......

There were two Queen Mary Brake Vans located in Romford Goods Yard (S56302 and S56304). They were positioned at the end of the sidings (apparently after an accident), in order to prevent loaded coal wagons shunting down the incline from the main line and over-running the buffer stops into South Street. The Bachmann version provided a good basis to recreate the above image. What I considered to be a relatively straightforward detailing job, proved not to be the case. I started off by replacing the moulded handrails with 0.5mm brass wire. Three link couplings and vacuum pipes were added. I also fitted flush glazing by applying very thin Perspex. This small detail enhanced the model considerably. I wrongly presumed that my Exactoscale P4 scale wheel sets would simply slot in where the Bachmann versions once sat. This was not to be the case, as the wheels rubbed on the moulded brake shoes. Another solution was therefore required. This came in the shape of a Brassmasters bogie kit. This basically requires the existing plastic bogie sides to be butchered and fitted to the sides of the newly constructed brass frames. The bogie sides need to be hollowed out for the wheel bearings and bogie connecting pins. Care needs to be taken here to ensure you do not go straight through the frame. Although the kit instructions were straightforward, the way in which the component parts connect makes for a very delicate construction. My biggest mistake was to construct the frames without considering how they would fit to the proprietary model. This error resulted in me having to dismantle my newly constructed frames in order to drill out for the securing screw. I am sure that construction of the Brassmasters kit would be perfected with practise. However, I am left to wonder whether I could achieve a better result with a Comet bogie kit. Perhaps I will try the Comet bogie for the sister wagon. To finish off, I painted the interior to match the photo I have and applied some light weathering. Overall, a pleasing project with lessons learnt along the way.

The Completed Brake Van