menu Menu

Bury St. Edmunds Model Railway Club

My Image

Stacks Image 716

The ad hoc BSEMRC Newsletter

Issue Three

Thursday 30th April 2020

Stacks Image 721
Well we're still in lockdown and I've once more got my iMac perched on the kitchen worktop, whilst Janice has still taken over the dining room with her stuff.

Thank you for the positive responses from the previous two "editions", they are much appreciated.

If anyone has any editorial and the such like, then please forward it to me at: as I am running low.

Cheers for now,



We Want To Get Out Of This Place (A personal perspective) - Matthew Portious

We want to get out of this place
(with apologies to the Animals)

Well the short answer is that we can’t. We are where we are, we have virus on the loose that kills, particularly the elderly and vulnerable. I suppose the good news (from a purely biological point of view) is that it does not kill the young and fit, those of reproductive age are spared and those who have finished with that sort of thing are cleared out to make room for the next generation. Not much fun though if you come into the at-risk category.
The government finds itself in an impossible situation, whatever they do there will be deaths and recriminations. To isolate or not to isolate? There can be little doubt that the original decision was the correct one, as the immediate priority was to stop the NHS getting overwhelmed, but this has now been largely achieved at least for now.

The next thing is to get the ramped-up testing in place. They have been well behind the curve on this, probably because Public Health England (who have not had a good war so far) told them they would cope and then failed to deliver in spades. Testing is going to be part of any escape strategy (of which more later) and a it is almost impossible to have too much. The much promoted promise of being able to process 100,000 tests a day in the lab will probably be narrowly missed but the ability to take and handle all those swabs and then send out the results will be at least a week behind and probably more. It’s a massive logistical exercise and uses up a lot of trained staff who are also needed elsewhere. The NHS is not good at logistics and training takes time.

Finally there needs to be enough PPE for everyone, and this is a long way off. Shortages are always part of any war, and every Covid affected country has this problem. Like Spitfires in the last war this is only going to be solved in the long run by setting up our own national production lines and stopping relying on the Chinese for these and many other things. Till then it is bound to be a bit make do and mend. Priority, whatever promises are made by the politicians, has to go to those most at risk looking after ventilated patients on ITU’s. We know from Italy those are the most at risk, and we can’t protect all of the people all of the time.

Once we can cope better with the virus the needs of the economy require some sort of release from lockdown, and debates rage about how and when this should happen. This is a political decision as it is effectively a trade-off between direct deaths from Covid (which we can measure) and indirect deaths from missed cancers, suicides, and the depression that comes from being locked up and unemployed which is far more difficult to establish at least in the short term. I can’t tell you when, but I suspect that it will be soon as otherwise the young at least will take matters into their own hands.
As to how this will happen, I can only make informed guesses but probably have access to a bit more information than those locked up (sorry that should be locked down) at home.

The risk to the under 60’s who are otherwise fit and well is incredibly low. The politicians keep telling us that every death is a tragedy, (I disagree; we are all going to die it is just a matter of timing) but it does not make much difference if the 21 year old dies in an RTA or of Covid19 and one more or less offsets the other. It is the risk of the asymptomatic youngster visiting and infecting grandpa that lockdown has been trying to prevent. But putting people in simple age categories is far to simple and attitudes to risk vary enormously, to some a 1% risk of dying is huge to others small and people need help putting it into context. In fact the chances of my dying of non Covid related causes in the next year is about 1-2% so a 2% risk from Covid is not that different, however were I to be an obese hypertensive diabetic and I am suddenly looking at a 25% risk and that would make me think twice. So as far as letting us out and about I think that we are all going to have to make our own risk assessments. There will need tools to help you decide what your risk is and to put that risk in context, and when making the assessment we will have to consider not just ourselves but our families, both those with whom we live but also the extended family. Can we risk visiting the grandparents or mum in her residential home?

Secondly any let up has to be coupled with a massive contact tracing programme and isolating of potentially infected people to limit transmission to a manageable rate and thus prevent a second big peak. This has been highly successful in South Korea and New Zealand, but in a country as densely populated as ours requires testing on a massive scale. There has been talk about contact phone apps to help with this. To make this work they are going to have to abandon or at least modify the massive swabbing hubs that have been set up at airports and shopping centres and make swabbing available much more locally. Who want to drive for an hour or more each way feeing awful for a test? Swabbing should be available no further away than your local hospital (though probably not on the same site).

With this combination I believe a controlled safe let up is possible. No we will not be able to congregate at football matches for a long time yet, going to the pub may be difficult (especially in The Nutshell) but going to work, visiting a limited number of friends or family (at least to start with until we see how it is working), sending the kids to school and going to the gym should all start up again.
It may be that like a forest fire there will be flair ups requiring local measures for a few weeks to damp things down again, but it will, indeed must, allow the economy to get going.

In the long-term things will have to change forever unless we find a vaccine and I am not holding my breath on that. The old normal has gone forever, we will gradually learn how to live with Covid19 at home, when shopping, in the pub or in hospital, developing ways of reducing the risk to an acceptable level for most of us. Indeed I suspect we will not even know when we have reached the “New Normal” until we look back and say nothing has changed for a year or more now so this must be it, and that may be a long time coming.

Matthew 27/04/20

Painting People - Ian Bilbey

As my layout has no scale rules, I can have extra large people.
I sometimes come across boxes of largely paint less Britains figures.
I never pay more than £5 for one, or £1 for an animal.

I strip them with Nitro-mors, and then spray on a coat of car undercoat.
I usually use the red oxide colour rather than grey as it is warmer.
Here is a picture of the one figure I had that was unpainted, plus a few sheep and cows.

My Image
As all the figures and animals have so little paint on them when I get them, I have to
look on the web to find out what they should look like.

I use Humbrol matt colours, starting with the skin colour on people, deliberately going over the edges.
But you all know how to paint stuff. The originals would have been hand painted, but very speedily.
I guess they may have used gloss paint, but it is much easier to add a coat of this at the end.

My Image
I use a little bit of sponge for the cows markings. I do not have any women, children or dogs yet.
Also plenty of non white people worked on the railways, so need to add a few of them too.
My Image
They all seem to end up looking a bit startled - apart form the cows and sheep - who seem very laid-back.
My Image

How I Became A Train Spotter (Part 1) - Alan Johnson

Both my parents had been born and bred in London so it wasn’t long after the war that we moved back there. Then after a couple of moves we finally settled in the north west suburb of Hendon. The house was nice with a good sized garden and, best of all, the main Midland line into St Pancras ran along the bottom.

To start with I only watched the trains go by and didn’t take much notice of things. Some time later, once I made friends with several of the local lads, I joined in with the loco spotting. I got to know about the Loco Shed Book and then I was away.

A short cycle ride and we were at Cricklewood depot. Here we all started to get numbers by the dozen. This trip was a must each weekend to catch those ones which were only there for refuelling. Cricklewood was a fairly large depot catering for the enormous coal trains that came down from the midlands, those being the Garrotts, 8Fs and latter the 9Fs.

The depot had a quantity of Jintys and 08 diesel shunters for shunting duties. But there was always the stranger there which made the trip worth while. As the 9Fs started to arrive on their first trip to the Brent sidings we were spotting them quite often in order, including the Crosties.

We began to form a nice group of train spotters and things started to expand. Neasden was only a couple of miles down the North Circular Road and this was a different region altogether, nothing special about the shed, but again there was the odd special there waiting, especially on a Wembley cup final day.
It wasn’t long before we ventured to Willesden. This was a midland region shed and quite large. This shed catered for the goods traffic down the west coast main line. On one visit to the shed, we were stopped from going around, but just then a very kind engine driver came along and showed us around the sheds, and who was at the back of the shed but the Royal Scott.

“Climb up into the cab” he said, and that didn’t take long before we all were in there!

Old Oak Common was just across the road, and again this was a different region. It is a very large depot serving the western region. Being the main depot out of London, it was always a busy place. Each Sunday we cycled to our local sheds we called this “the rounds”.

It wasn’t long before we covered every shed in the London area and the loco shed book looked very impressive.

It didn’t stop there as I was fortune enough to have a father who was interested in dogs. What has dogs got to do with railways you might ask. Well, he was a top judge and travelled all over the country so it gave me the opportunity to go with him and see other areas.

England, Wales and Scotland were visited and seeing locos we could never see in London made me the envy of all my friends.

How I Became A Train Spotter (Part 2) - Alan Johnson

Many years passed since the steam days and we are well and truly in the diesel & electric era.

We are probably into the 1980’s now and my son is about 10 years old. He has also taken to railways so he too had to have a loco shed book.

At first it was just a few numbers whenever we saw something, but gradually we started to visit places on open days. Norwich then Colchester and Cambridge were just the start of things. The train to London was the main method of transport. Here we covered all the possible depots, diesel and electric, some of them were the old steam sheds, where others were new buildings. Cricklewood was a good example of this, gone was the old steam shed that I loved as a boy and a new depot was built on the other side of the main line, just not the same atmosphere. One interesting visit was to East Ham electric depot As an apprentice plumber back in the early 1960’s I worked on the building installing the plumbing and spent many a happy hour under the platforms with a plumber who told me hundreds of jokes, and never repeated any.

When my son was 12 years old we decided to venture further afield, and a route was worked out that took us on a trip of several hundreds of miles.

Straight after school on a Friday we would pack my van up with enough stuff to see us over the weekend and then set off across country to pick up the M1 motorway.

Once we were near Nottingham, guess where we headed for, yes of course it was Toton. Here we were writing down the numbers by the dozen. But we had to move on so we could stop the night at a service station near Sheffield. On the way we called in at Shirebrook, Barrow Hill and Westhouses by then it was dark.
The next morning after a tasty breakfast we headed off to Tinsley, where again we were writing down the numbers by the dozen. We then headed across to the east and found Wath, from here it was onto Doncaster both the works and the depot. This provided us with another over night stop. The next morning we set off again,we carried on still heading east until we came to Knottingley and on again to Immingham. At this point we headed towards home via Lincoln then Peterborough,March and last of all Cambridge.

This rough description we repeated about once a month during the summer months so we had the long evenings and good weather.
The alternative route was to head west across to Manchester then down to Crewe where we parked up by the station and used the van headlights to read the numbers as the locos went passed. The next day we headed to Birmingham. From here we set of home, again calling in at Cambridge.

Puzzle Corner

A Railway Trivia Quiz just for fun and no using Google!! :-)

Submitted by Mike Hamilton

1 How many able bodied people can a Docklands Light Railway train seat (that is seat, not carry)?

2 In which year was the Severn Tunnel opened?

3 Between which two cites doe the "Mayflower" express train run?

4 D2999, "Falcon" and "Kestrel" were all prototypes from which manufacturing company?

5 What transmission feature is common to "Black Fives" 44738-75 and 712000 "Duke of Gloucester"?

6 In 1998 who was Director of British Rail's Inter-City sector?

7 Where is the world's first iron railway bridge now on show?

8 In which month and year were train services withdrawn from Bampton, Devon?

9 Which type of power plant did a.c. electric E2001 have in 1956?

10 Who designed the L.N.E.R. Class J94 0-6-0 ST engines?


Name these train stations..

Submitted by Chris Sharpe

✏ πŸ‘πŸ„πŸ–
πŸ‚ πŸŽͺ
✨ ❌
πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ πŸ’¦
πŸ‘ 🌳
🏏 🌊
🀴🏽 βœ–



And that wraps up Issue Three of The Anorak.

Any comments, articles, hints and tips etc. would be much appreciated as I have now run out of material.

Please email me at

In the meantime keep well and keep safe.

Cheers for now,