IT IS 100 YEARS since a certain ’Lylia’ first wrote for the journal Models, Railways and Locomotives. That was almost certainly Lillian Lawrence, or LBSC to give him his later nom de plume, or Curly - his preferred sobriquet. His articles are still appearing today - his description of building the SR Roedean is currently running in 2012, albeit as a reprint from English Mechanics of 64 years ago.

No less a person than Henry Greenly, his first editor, wrote in February 1912 about the excellent article on building a small steam locomotive from an “enthusiastic amateur of the ‘make-as-much-as-you-can-yourself’ school.”

Greenly added: “He built model locomotives from the simplest materials and with the simplest tools in the early days of the present era - successful working models. His experiences are, therefore, worthy of every consideration by those whose model-making career is not so extensive.”

Greenly’s introduction could also have served for the epitaph of the man who was to go on to popularise model engineering for everyman in his shed.

Greenly was referring to an article about how Curly developed a little 0-6-0 tank engine from a vertical geared engine with a single acting oscillating cylinder and spirit-fired ‘pot’ boiler. That developed into a horizontal cylindered version driving though spur gears and that came to finish up as a double-acting oscillating cylinder driving the leading axle. A superheater was added. The drawings show the development.

However it was ten years later that his career as a model engineer teaching others how to build models took off. that was after the famous ‘battle of the boilers’. When Curly’s little coal-fired Ayesha was pitted against the large Greenly designed Challenger weighing more than double Curly’s little Atlantic, model engineering would change forever. It became the province of the amateur with a home workshop.

And it set off many years of instruction and inspiration for readers of Model Engineer magazine when in 1924 he wrote his first ‘Shops, shed and Road’ column. Over a 44-year period he went on to publish some 112 designs, working 16 hours a day, six days a week. He continued to write until a month before his death at the age of 84.

First design of many