Relic Hunting for Low Level

From time to time I’ll search for Wolverhampton Low Level related stuff on e-Bay.  The platform ticket (which is the avatar I use both here and on RMweb) is one recent example of this.  The photo below shows this, along with a couple of other recent finds.

The June 1971 edition of Railway Magazine was sourced following a tip-off from Neil Rushby that it contained an article about the (then) imminent closure of the GWR mainline between Low Level and Snow Hill.  While the article itself doesn’t really tell me much I’d not read or seen elsewhere before, it’s nice to have and really helps to set the scene for the layout.  It’s interesting to read something written at the time the layout will be based, rather than the more recent sources.  It is accompanied by a couple of photos, one of Low Level with the bubble car stabled in one of the centre roads and an 08 in the former up platform (with a varied selection of parcels vans and a couple of vanfits).  The other shows the bubble car pausing for custom at Priestfield on its way towards Snow Hill.

The pink sheet of paper (actually there are two sheets stapled together) is a BR handbill (which also dates from 1971) showing the timetable and ticket prices for the Low Level – Snow Hill passenger service.  Six weekday departures left Low Level bound for Snow Hill (with an additional 13:50 departure Saturdays only).  Journey time was 32 minutes (compared to 35 minutestoday on the Midland Metro – although that includes additional stops and takes you right into the centre of Wolverhampton), calling at Priestfeild, Bilston, Wednesbury, Swan Village, West Brom’, Handsworth, Langley Green and Hockley.  There was of course, we are reminded “NO SUNDAY SERVICE”.  A second class day return would cost you the princely sum of 40p; a one month season ticket £7.20.

One which got away recently was a 1971 Locoshed, mainly to confirm the Bescot 08 allocation at the time; I’ll keep looking.  The plan is to display these finds on the fiddle yard screening of the layout – assuming I get the time to continue with the layout build since the arrival of the new family member at chez Forrest:

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P4 Track Co Turnout

I had a couple of days off work this week and thought this might allow a bit of modelling time.  It did, but nowhere near as much as I would have liked.  The current list of tasks for my WLL project is broken down into rolling stock, buildings (& other structures) and track.  Having done some work on buildings and rolling stock recently I thought maybe it was time to look at track and I managed to find a couple of hours to have a go at putting together one of the P4 track company turnout kits.

I had high expectations for these products, in fact it would be fair to say they were one of the things which attracted me to building the layout in P4 rather than EM.  They have small pips on the timbering which allow the chairs to locate in the correct position.  I’ve not used steel rail or plastic timbering before and have previously made up my own common crossings and switch rails so these kits are quite different to anything I’ve built before.  The first one (of three which I’ll need) is a B8  left-hand turnout, which will form the junction of the former goods avoiding lines at the rear of the layout.

Overall I found construction to be a quite a pleasant experience, although must admit I struggled a little to follow the text of the instructions (I’m never good with instructions and was confused further by my LH kit having a RH template in the pack, as the astute will have already noticed in the photo above!).  Despite the pips on the timbers, a set of gauges are still required to ensure accurate alignment of the rails, mine came from EMGS (who can supply these to suit 18.2mm and 18.83mm gauge to members of the society).  As designed the kit is intended to make a straight turnout, but I found it easy enough to introduce a gentle curve to match the drawing I have prepared in Templot (which is based on a scan of a 1:500 plan of the station).  I suspect this may be more of a challenge when it comes to the C10 turnout for the down platform though.

At this stage there are still some details to add.  The detail in the chair components is far superior to the C&L components I’ve used previously and overall I’m very impressed.

Testing with a spare coach bogie seems to confirm all is well; hopefully I’ll find a little time over the weekend to add the remaining chairs.  I think it probably took about 3 hours (excluding tea breaks) from opening the pack to get to this stage; probably another hour on top of that to add the remaining details – although this should reduce as familiarity and confidence with the product increases.  At £35 each they aren’t cheap, but as I only need a few, I think the advantages in prototype fidelity and ease of assembly do make them good value.