My interest in trains is largely owing to this locomotive: a Southern Railway Bulleid Q1-class No. C1 (33001). Known by their nick-name of Charlies or ‘Coffee Pots’, this class was designed as a wartime economy locomotive by Oliver Bulleid, making use of already existing patterns for many of their parts, as goods locomotives intended only for a short life. Although the same weight as the Q-class, their predecessors, they were 50 per-cent more powerful, and proved to be fine machines, lasting much longer than originally intended. Considered ugly by some, they are very popular with enthusiasts. The locomotive had two cylinders with Stephenson link outside admission piston valves, and was provided with a five-nozzle blast-pipe. It represents the final version of the goods 0-6-0 development on the Southern Railway (and for that matter, in the world) which can be traced through the examples preserved on the Bluebell Railway of the SER “O1”, through the SECR “C” and SR “Q” classes.
Withdrawals began in 1963, during the implementation of the British Rail modernisation plan, which saw the end of steam operations on Britain’s railways, the last example of the Q1 class being withdrawn in 1966. C1 is the sole survivor and was restored to working order by the Bluebell Railway in Sussex on two separate occasions under successive agreements with the National Railway Museum in York, where it is now on display and where I was delighted to come across it during a visit in June.
Given my interest in railways which was developed at an early age in London, it was only natural that when I saw a poster for a model railway exhibition in Dún Laoghaire at the weekend that I should explore what was on display in the concourse of County Hall. There were some very interesting layouts including one made from Lego bricks.
Visitors were asked by the Model Railway Society of Ireland to vote for their favourite display. I’m not sure who won top prize. But my vote went to stand number five, where onlookers were given a flavour of what O’Connell Street, the main thoroughfare of Dublin, looked like sixty or more years ago in the 1940s.
Nelson Pillar was the transport hub and trams used to set off from here to various parts of the city. The layout included cars, vans, pedestrians and even cyclists. To get an idea of the display I recommend this short vimeo by Brian Durcan. The High Definition version is available here. Altogether there were fifteen layouts on show, including some from Northern Ireland.
O’Connell Street: This layout is a 4mm scale (1:76) representation of the capital’s main street and its trams as it was in the last year of tramway operated in 1949. The buildings on the west side of the street were modelled using ordnance survey maps and photographs of the period. The civic monuments including the Nelson Pillar grace the centre of the street. Many figures of people in the model including cyclists, horse transport and “internal combustion engine vehicles” sharing space with working trams, busses and trucks.
Castlefinn: Built by one of the MRSI members this is a OO9 gauge layout of Castlefinn station in County Donegal, on the Donegal narrow gauge railway line. It shows Castlefinn as it would be today if it were reopened by a preservation society. The railcar is similar to one operated by the Clogher Valley Railway. At the exhibition I was able to purchase a copy of Edward Patterson’s book on the CVR.
Other Layouts/Displays: Letterkenny Station – Donegal Railway Heritage Centre. For details of their museum at the old station house in Donegal town, see here.