In love with a girl from Birmingham…

I have a life long love of the Birmingham Railway and Carriage Works diesels - both the Southern Class 33 and the Scottish 26. Whilst a Lima 33 was in my childhood collection, much detailed and repainted over the years I never had a 26 - until my rebirth in N gauge a few years ago that is...

Today I can enjoy the sight and sound of a Class 26 regularly in the Dee Valley so imagine how lucky I felt to enjoy join Terry Pickthall for an official cab ride from Glyndyfrdwy to Corwen and back aboard 5310 a few weeks ago.

I could describe the physical senses in technicolour; the sights, sounds, the smells - the raw visceral sensation of the experience... 

But it meant more than that, a conversation with a friend and an escape from my busy mind. 
Calming, focused yet relaxed. 
The ability of the train, the railway and the journey to transport me not just along the valley but away from the day to day worries and connect with myself again, to recharge.

Me looking relaxed! Terry Pickthall photo.

That is what the railway means to me.
This girl from Birmingham just a vessel of my dreams...


So it seemed almost inevitable that despite my first cab ride being in the Class 47 (the model Tim and I had most examples off with 7+ Lima examples between us) it is 5310 that will be recreated in model form. A cheap and slightly tired but mechanically sound Dapol N gauge model will arrive shortly, decals and paint are in hand. The unique combination of refurbished chassis with airbrakes, leaf springs and angled steps - along with a body with end doors will make this a unique model for sure - and one that I will enjoy creating. 

It was also an opportunity to hand deliver the Compendium to Terry, whom enjoyed reading it later in the day on his 'lunch break'. sending me this rather novel picture of the magazine on the controls of the 26...

The Compendium. Terry Pickthall photo.

I live with the railway. I love hearing the trains... but whilst many find that the draw, the prime source of inspiration, relaxation or whatever their particular drug - for me it is secondary to the model. Model trains are my first love, and always will be - finding a way to connect to them through these real things adds depth, meaning and is deeply rewarding and the real railway itself, a physical and metaphorical means to transport me to new and familiar places but miniatures and the sense of play that comes from enjoying them will always make my heart sing. 

Watch out for 5310 on the blog again soon - until next time, more soon...

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  1. There's something very special about a cab ride James. I wasn't a fan of class 47's particularly when I was younger, but when I volunteered at Bodmin, it was 47306 that became my favourite engine. It was very work worn and unrestored, I always felt like I was working a shift for BR when riding or working on it. The railway environment always looks different from the cab too. Aspects of the track like the cant of the track and gradients are more noticeable. Wonderful stuff. I've never seen a class 26 but they seem like purposeful engines, lots of character. I look forward to seeing your model. Take care. Tom

    1. Thanks Tom, kind words - wise too, I agree with all you share of your experience.


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