Monday, 22 August 2011

Glad Tidings

And so to the third of the trio of contract carriages I’ve been working on - the NWNGR / WHR ‘Gladstone’ observation carriage.

I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder so it’s always gratifying when something you’ve been storing for nearly 20 years comes in handy, in this case a book of 7mm drawings of WHR stock. I first bought them when a kind fellow modeller was helping me scratch build a chassis for a Chivers ‘Russell’. (He did 90% of the work and I did a bit of the filing on the frames, coupling rods and cranks) Anyhow, the book it was just the job when I was asked to knock up a ‘Gladstone’ in styrene.

Compared to some of the FR carriages with all their beading and rounded windows this one really is a bit of a doddle.

Very unusually for my carriages this one has fixed internal divisions which help a lot with strength and keeping the shape, this is due to the carriage’s open / closed / open design.

There’s not really too much to say about the build of this one, it’s rather straightforward.

Of more interest, to me at least, is its nickname of the ‘Gladstone Carriage’, so-called because the Victorian Prime Minister is believed to have travelled in it during a holiday in Nant Gwynant.

It’s strange how there is this connection between Liberal leaders and the FR / WHR.

Some wag once suggested the FR, as well as having England engines, Fairlies and the ‘Ladies’, should have a grouping known as the ‘Dead Liberal Prime Minister’ class. Indeed, once WHHR trains are running properly on the FR/WHR system we could have a train hauled by Palmerston and David Lloyd George pulling the Gladstone Carr.

Gladstone himself is one of our more interesting political figures. Not because of his debates at the despatch box with his great rival Disraeli but for his dedication to seeking out fallen women to ‘rehabilitate them’, an activity he continued during his periods in Downing Street. Imagine what the tabloids would make of that today?

It’s also got me thinking about how in the 19th Century it was quite the done thing for railway companies to ingratiate themselves with political leaders by naming locomotives after them, and how attitudes have changed since the Second World War.

True, there was a Battle of Britain called ‘Winston Churchill’, and we could also count the renaming of an A4 ‘Dwight D Eisenhower’ after the Supreme Allied Commander and later US President, but I wonder whether we will ever see a modern locomotive named ‘Lady Thatcher’ or ‘Tony Blair’?

I haven’t forgotten, of course, that the wreck of Palmerston was briefly and most-unofficially renamed ‘Harold Wilson’ as a prank on the FR in the 60’s, but that doesn’t count.

1 comment:

  1. 'Lady Thatcher' (class 37): frail but cosmetically restored older locomotive which tears up the tracks behind it

    'Sir Anthony Blair' (HST): the only known rail vehicle able to U-turn on plain double track, now exported to the Middle East, possibly derelict

    'Call Me Dave PM of the Year' (Pacer): unable to transport passengers anywhere but the LCD displays still take credit for it