I hope you are all having a Merry Christmas and that you are all looking forward to a wonderful New Year.
Rumours from Warley National 2016 indicate that Model Rail magazine are considering commissioning a Wisbech and Upwell J70 Steam tram, famously associated with Toby the Steam Tram from The Railway Series ( and the Thomas and Friends TV series).
Model Rail are requesting feedback on livery options and whether to produce a version with opening doors, sounds and removal sideplates!
I know what I’d choose (all of the above).
These models will be more than welcome on Brewery Pit, so I look forward to hearing further news. Pictured below are my J70 and Y6.
Last Sunday (12th July) I had a great time exhibiting my OO Gauge layout: Brewery Pit at the Chasewater Railway in Staffordshire. The exhibit was included as part of the railways Burton Brewery Locomotive Day.
Brewery Pit was set up in the Chasewater engine shed where visitors could stop by to photograph the real brewery engines and stock. There is a steam sentinel in the shed, which is of the same design as the one I am building as part of the Five Shunter Challenge. This particular one once worked at the Walsall Gas Works and was apparently the last of its design to be built.
It was raining at the start of the day, but when the sun broke out at lunch time the crowds of visitors soon followed and enjoyed cab rides and vintage truck displays and the beer tent.
It was great to see Brewery Pit pulling a good crowed, particularly at lunch time. Me and my wife foolishly tried to scoff a full English breakfast as the largest group of visitors arrived to watch the trains run along the layout. I attempted to multi-task, but I admit that the breakfast did go cold.
It was nice to see so many children captivated by the little trains shunting on Brewery Pit. One child insisted that the tram engines were moving too slowly. I tried to explain that they are speed-regulated to 40mph, but I don’t think the child in question was that interested in my justification. One 3-year-old visited three times and had to be dragged away by his Mom.
I also met up with Joe Stamper and his Dad who brought along their vintage Bass truck for the day. Joe also brought along his delightful model of the Neilson, Reid & Co 0-4-0ST Steam Locomotive that operated in the Bass Breweries in Burton. He tells me that he still has some work to do to it (including replacing the dome). I took some photos of it with some brewery wagons and it really looks the business. Joe has done a great job on the paint work. I’m looking forward to seeing the completed version.
I was really pleased how many people told me that I had captured the ‘feel’ of Burton-upon-Trent. I only ever see the layout as something that needs ‘more work’, so it is great to get some positive feedback. Many people also asked whether the layout was N-gauge, which doesn’t surprise me as the large buildings at the rear of the layout dwarf the little OO-gauge locos.
My favourite comments from the event were:
- Toby doesn’t have a face – said by a child watching the J70.
- Where is Toby’s face? – said by another child watching the Y6.
- That tram best not have a face! – said by an adult while watching the J70.
The best bit of the show was watching the brewery engines fire up in the shed and move out outside while we were test running the layout (we then had to wipe the diesel fumes off the track).
See the video below:
I hope that I get to attend next year.
In this series of articles I will introduce the locomotives that I operate on Brewery Pit.
One of the main engines that see’s regular use is my J70 steam tram. The J70s were introduced to replace the ageing Y6s, and were famous for running on the Wisbech and Upwell Tramway in Cambridgshire. J70s and Y6s look very similar from the outside, but are quite different underneath the tram body. The fundamental difference is that J70s have six wheels (0-6-0), while the Y6s have four wheels (0-4-0). The side skirts are also formed in a slightly different way, with the J70s including moulded foot steps (Y6s have ladder-like steps) and a curved lower section to the skirt.
My model is made from a Silver Fox resin kit that was bought for my birthday in September 2006. I opened up the side windows using a knife and added hand rails. I decided that I wanted my steam tram to include a boiler, and I just happened to have a Dapol plastic pug kit lying around (many railway modellers do, for some reason). I cut up the boiler and mounted it onto a piece of plasticard and added some hand wheels to either end. The boiler isn’t accurate as it has a saddle water tank, but I didn’t really care at the time (and still don’t).
I wanted to represent an engine running between 1948 and 1950, so I purchased as many books as possible and looked at the photos of the various steam trams and settled on No. 68217, which was one of the last steam trams to run on the line.
I weathered the boiler using weather powders and sealed it with a matt varnish.
The tram was painted with a now discontinued shade of brown from Tamiya’s acrylic range (I think it was Tamiya, I can find out if anyone really needs to know).
The final weathering job shown in the pictures is not accurate to how the model now looks, as it was repainted to better fit in with my Y6 later on.
You cannot obtain a 0-6-0 chassis which would fit such a small loco, so there is little choice but to install and 0-4-0 power bogie. I was a little excited at the time I bought the kit and urgently insisted a black beetle motor bogie be sent out to me ASAP. Unfortunately, the wheelbase (distance between each wheel) of the bogie was quite wide, now I know that this is a skirted loco and little of the wheels is seen, but when it is seen it looked weird.
The motor bogie was converted to DCC control and was a poor runner and it was eventually replaced with better black beetle bogie with spoked wheels (a nice touch), a shorter wheelbase and 27:1 gearing (meaning it can travel much slower than my previous 15:1 version).
My J70 is currently waiting to have a DCC ‘stay-alive’ capacitor to be installed, but more on that some other time.
The picture above was taken on Salent Street just as the big freeze took hold on 4th January 1948 in Restington, Cambs.
British Railways J70 68217 is pictured on the tramway with a mixed goods train. Cars parked in the streets were an increasing problem for tramway traffic, with frozen doors and engines causing further delays for tramway freight through this long cold January.
Fireman Nick Shire was known for stopping to help stranded motorists with their frozen cars by piling scorching-hot cinders underneath car doors and bonnets to help them thaw.
The cow-catcher fitted steam trams were also used as stand-in snow ploughs, operating across main lines, private sidings and branches within the local area. Little photographic evidence of such operations is yet to come to light.