By Journeyman


Never when I started to write about my experiences here in Devon did I imagine that it would run to 20 instalments. It was 20/09/2010 when it all started in MEWS and I fully expected to have my 5”g. Terrier finished long before now, but those of you who have been following my jottings will fully understand why it has taken much longer. The final hurdle, that of the painting and lining out is proving to be the most difficult to move forward.

With everything else to do with building the loco, my mentor has been able to provide expert advice, help and encouragement, but the one thing that eludes me with the paintwork is getting myself into a position where I know just what I am doing before I start. I think this is because no matter what you read or are told about this specialised skill, in the end there is no substitute for having an experienced person beside you to show just how all aspects of the work, be it equipment, thinning, application etc., etc. is done, OR lots of trial and error until things are just right, by which time you have gained enough experience, practice and confidence to  have a go in the reasonable expectation of making a good job.

The year continues apace. We are enjoying our days at the Club track, the in-house computer boffin taking a break from the bytes and bits and microchips to serve tea, coffee, cakes, buns and sweets to our eager passengers, and myself helping with the passenger carrying which we do on the first and third Sundays of each month from April to October.

Some days it is all we can do to keep the queues from becoming unmanageably long, but the G.B.P. have infinite patience  knowing their turn will come. At half a mile for 60p they know it is great value and some go round 3 or even 4 times in the afternoon. The happy faces make a busy afternoon very worthwhile. Birthday parties add to our fun. We have two venerable 7 ¼”g. club Wrens that soldier on year after year and two diesel outline locos, the newest being a Class 20 ‘Whistler’ brought into traffic last year, all of which do sterling service. We have had a very busy season, more so than any other year and we think that the social media have worked to our advantage – “ had a great afternoon at the miniature railway at Southway, such great value” (Plymouth, that is).


November is upon us and our news is that we will be leaving the Styx here in West Devon for N.E. Dorset to be near my dairy farmer son and his family. Those of you who are in their 7th decade and with grandchildren will know the importance of being near to them to see them growing up and hopefully contribute to their development and, who knows, nurture an interest in engineering, or indeed any other interests and aptitudes that they may have. We have spent all of this year disposing of the contents of my forge, and the engineering workshop is near to being packed up ready for relocation.

Within a week of putting The Styx on the market in early November we have had a firm offer and in our turn have had an offer on a property accepted just 10 minutes drive from the farm. Apart from having all the features guaranteed to please the i-h. c. b., there is space to put up a workshop in the garden immediately next to the house, a situation I have always wanted, no more having cross a wind and rain swept yard to braving winter weather and summer storms to pursue the greatest hobby on Earth ! We earnestly hope that all goes smoothly, as do our purchasers and sellers, both very keen to complete as soon as possible.

So I will draw this 20th instalment to a close, wish all model engineers a very festive season with all those wonderful heavy parcels to open and hope to be reporting in the new year from not so deep in The Styx.