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Class 5 at Kidderminster



I’m building a model railway in the attic at home though progress is slow! It’s 00 gauge and portrays mainly the steam age with some early diesel intrusion. It isn’t based on a real prototype but has GWR and SR flavour. I’ve a selection of engines from all four regions!


I go to Aberdare Model Railway club (currently based at Aberamman Church Hall) once or twice weekly, where I’m the ‘wiring expert’. We have several club exhibition layouts, two in 00 gauge and one O gauge.  We usually exhibit at other venues locally in South Wales two or three times a year. We are quite a large club with over 15 members. When a layout has been exhibited several times it is usually sold and a new layout built, to further public interest! We sometimes have trips annually to Bristol MR Exhibition at Thornbury, and the NEC near Birmingham for the top annual UK model railway show.


My interest in railways dates from my pre-teen years when steam reigned! I lived in Croesyceiliog about a mile from the main SW – NW railway line running from Newport to Shrewsbury, on which there was very heavy holiday rail traffic. We’d play football or cricket in playing fields alongside the railway line and stop play to watch whenever trains passed!  Because of dieselisation, the heaviest express steam locos, Kings and Britannias were transferred to this route alongside the Castles and Halls. Later Warship, Hymek and Western Diesels arrived. An interesting time for avid train spotters like us!


My early memories of steam railways go back to when I was 7 and then junior school trips (very fast and Castle hauled!) to Windsor castle and the river Thames, and to London Airport. We also some years for holidays were taken with mother, caught a train (or some years a coach) to Southampton and then ‘foreign’ Southern locos to Bournemouth Central or Bournemouth West  whence a taxi to Upton where we stayed every year for 15 years for two weeks every year, spending most time on Studland beach, catching a bus into Poole and another (open-top) bus if lucky to Sandbank ferry! Sometimes we’d catch a bus then as well to Studland village or near-by to the path to the beach from the Knoll house Hotel, or on into Swanage.  We did stay in Studland itself for two years with my mother, brother and sister.


When I moved to Aberdare there were still mystery train excursions to eg Hastings, Brighton and Margate as examples, setting out and not knowing the day trip destination until we were partway there. Then annual outings to Blackpool to see a show and the Illuminations. We saw for example Lulu, The Nolan Sisters, the impressionist Mike Yarwood and flamboyant entertainer Danny la Rue (very ‘blue’ and risqué to a live audience!) and arrived back home 7.30 the next day at Aberdare Station tired, but having had a very good day out.  We saw the organist Phil Kelsall  (still resident organist to this day) at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, and have danced there, as well as going up to the top of the tower one year.


There was a charter rail trip one year to Carlisle via the Settle and Carlisle line, on to Peterborough and return, though on the return part of the outing, the diesel engine class 47 ‘Resolute’ proved to be less than resolute, breaking down and leaving us stranded for nearly three hours!


The Rhondda steam group now sadly amalgamated with a Bridgend area group through RCT lack of support or funding ran several coach trips to preserved steam railways.


I’ve visited the Severn Valley Railway, the West Somerset Railway, the Swanage railway, the Mid-Hants line, the Llangollen railway, the Nene valley line, the Forest of Dean railway, the Gloucester and Warwick railway, the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam railway, the South Devon railway and coach outings to Llandudno and Warwick castle.


There is also a steam group in Aberdare who hold talks and show railway dvds at the local RAFA club, but have no pretensions to open a steam railway locally! Very nice people all round!!