Every year, the Old Locomotive Committee (OLCO) organises a get-together, called 'Lionsmeet' for modellers of the 'Lion' locomotive (and similar models of designs from the early days of railways). On Saturday 8th August 2015, 'Lionsmeet' returned to the home of Guildford Model Engineering Society (GMES) at Stoke Park, Guildford.
I travelled by train to Guildford and there's a brief write-up at By Rail to Guildford.
My train took me to 'London Road (Guildford)' station, from where I walked along London Road to Stoke Park and signed in as a visitor at the GMES entrance. For more details of GMES, go to their website here.
The Steaming Bays are always the centre of activities and I found a number of our members there, together with John Brandrick (Chairman), Jon Swindlehurst (Treasurer & Membership Secretary), John Hawley (Magazine Editor) and Andrew Neish (Lionsmeet Organiser).
The Steaming Bays at Guildford M.E.S., with John Brandrick and Andrew Neish talking at the table in the centre of the picture. The lifting trusses in the foreground allow models to be conveniently transferred directly to and from parked vehicles.
Guildford is the 'home club' for both Andrew and his father David and together they were steaming David's reliable 'Lion' model. Jon Swindlehurst steamed his very successful 'Lion' and other 'Lion' models were also being prepared for service.
John Hawley kindly took me to the Clubhouse for a welcome cup of tea. The Clubhouse detained me for a while, because an interesting display of models had been arranged. My eye was taken by a handsome 0-4-0 tank locomotive named 'Cynthia'. Published as a 5 inch gauge design, "Gemma" was serialised in "Engineering in Miniature" magazine as a model of the Great Eastern Railway 0-4-0 built by Neilson & Company in 1874 (incidentally, there's a little about Neilson's in my post North British Locomotive Company Limited).
The label on this striking model read: "Gemma built as the drawings came out in Engineering in Miniature c1983. She has had a hard life and can pull 3 adults with the blower full on. Living in the Gunnislake area in Cornwall at the time she is in the East Cornwall Minerals Railway livery. Our garden railway reflecting the full size a mile away. David and Lily Scott Reading."
There was a live-steam model of 'Invicta' from the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway. Mention of the Canterbury and Whitstable always reminds me of my favourite dialogue from the film 'The Titfield Thunderbolt' which I quote in my eponymous post here.
"Canterbury Lamb (Invicta) a 3.5 inch steam locomotive built from the design by 'LBSC' (Model Engineer Volumes 107 & 108). Prototype built by Robert Stephenson in 1829 for the Canterbury-Whitstable Railway which opened in May 1830. Peter Christmas - GMES."
Work in progress: Wheels and (far left) chassis: "Will be 'Royal George' by Timothy Hackworth 1827. No 'real' plans survive - so half the battle is to produce the 'engineering drawings'".
Work in progress: Foreground: "5 in Gauge Lion under construction. Owner - John Hawley. Built to this stage by Michael Lee, loco and tender chassis completed. Running gear started. Boiler by Blackgates. All to LBSC design." Background: "Boiler for 7.25 in gauge Lion. Designed: John Hawley (OLCO). Built: Peter Carr (Kingswood Boilers)."
It was good to see that John Hawley is producing what he calls "Lionswarf" and is modelling, as well as editing.
"A few of the components required to construct the leading and crank axle/wheel assemblies. I'm experimenting with round keys and semi circular keyways." - John Hawley.
In addition, one end of the Clubhouse housed a large well-detailed 4mm scale layout based on the long-gone G.W.R. terminus 'Cheltenham Spa St. James'.
A view of part of the 4mm scale layout.
Fortified by a cup of tea, I found the Safety Officer, was kitted out with a High-Visibility jacket and then allowed to survey the running lines on foot. There are two 'deformed oval' running lines.
The inner circuit is an elevated dual-gauge track which features clockwise running. Colour light signals are provided. These operate automatically from short track-circuited sections in appropriate positions. The outer circuit is ground level 7.25" gauge with anti-clockwise running. This circuit also has signalling but the signal heads (which are removed after a running day for security) were not needed for 'Lionsmeet'. Part of this circuit is dual-gauge 5"/7.25", giving rise to some impressive dual-gauge pointwork. The ground level track has an attractive brick-built carriage and locomotive shed. A spur, complete with a number of semaphore ground disc signals built in 'Southern Railway' style leads to a turntable. This is a mature site and the extensive steaming bays with the large traverser are substantial and well-engineered.
Lionsmeet 2015: Looking across the steaming bays towards the Carriage Shed.
Andrew Neish moving the impressive Traverser in the Steaming Bays.
The steaming bays featured a 'Locomotion' model, lifted clear of the rails, operating on compressed air. A fascinating sight! There's a video clip on YouTube here. When you've watched the video, use the 'Back Button' to return to this post.
'Locomotion', lifted off the rails, was running on compressed air.
There are two other layouts offering live-steam running. The first is a well-established 32mm gauge fully landscaped layout intended for narrow gauge models.
The 32mm gauge landscaped 'narrow gauge' circuit.
The second is a more-recent Gauge 1 layout featuring a double-track oval with sidings. This is built on a raised baseboard.
Gauge 1 elevated layout under construction.
Various models of 'Lion' were steamed during the day. Sometimes the driver would be alone, sometimes one or more passengers would be taken - informality is the style of 'Lionsmeet'. Occasionally, OLCO members without a 'Lion' model would be given the opportunity to drive. David Neish kindly allowed me to take a turn on his 'Lion'.
David Neish passing over the Sector Table which gives access to and from the Steaming Bays.
'Lion' with a rather smart driving trailer passing over the Two-leaf Swing Bridge.
One performer was in the striking red and green livery from the film and carried 'Thunderbolt' nameplates.
'Thunderbolt', in the striking livery from the film.
The host society had provided a splendid buffet lunch in the Clubhouse, so most railway activities ceased for a while, before resuming with added gusto. Later in the day, both John Brandrick and John Hawley had a drive.
John Brandrick driving David Neish's 'Lion'.
John Hawley at speed with Jon Swindlehurst's 'Lion'.
John Dalton from Chelmsford M.E.S. had brought his 7.25in gauge 'Lion'. I'd first seen this model at Kinver during 'Lionsmeet 2010 (there's a brief description here) but at Guildford, I managed to get a ride behind this engine.
John Dalton's 7.25in 'Lion' performed on the ground level circuit.
David Neish was determined to steam his Gauge 1 Aster 'Lion'. It was set up on the Gauge 1 layout and, with assistance from Roger Hayward, was successfully steamed. I found the management of these Methylated Spirits powered models most strange - no water gauge, no pressure gauge (but there is a safety valve). Although water can be added, this is done from a dispensing bottle against boiler pressure. Apparently, when it runs out of water, the absence of steam to the blower means that the boiler remains safe! After a bit of experimenting, 'Lion' successfully completed a lap and honour was satisfied. An OLCO member had brought his own Aster 'Lion' which he had never steamed and, with suitable ministrations from Roger Hayward, this, too, operated to the owner's delight.
Two Gauge 1 Aster 'Lion' models.
At 'Lionsmeet' 2014, a new member surprised us by displaying an early 'Lion' model he'd acquired. Well, no, he didn't bring his locomotive and run it at Guildford. Instead, he surprised us by arriving in his veteran 'Alvis'.
One OLCO member arrived in this veteran 'Alvis'.
We enjoyed wonderful weather and the Guildford Club had made us most welcome, so it was another successful 'Lionsmeet' and thanks are due to all concerned. As a tailpiece, I couldn't resist this picture of Roger Hayward's unusual live steam narrow gauge locomotive 'Nanny Bubbles' which he ran on the 32mm gauge track.
Lionsmeet 2015: Roger Hayward's narrow gauge 0-4-4T 'single-ended Fairlie' 'Nanny Bubbles' on the 32mm gauge layout.
[Video clip of 'Locomotion' model added 22-Aug-2015]