February 2010

One of the most appealing facets of the Eastern Extension of the Metropolitan and Widened Lines was the multiplicity of railway companies vying for a slice of the East End pie (that would be eel pie, then), both passenger and goods – especially the lucrative traffic to and from the docks.

In the post today came a parcel filled with A0 sized General Arrangement drawings of the underframes for LNWR Mansion House 4-wheeled close-coupled carriages. Unlike other LNWR carriages, these weren’t painted in the famous flake white and dark claret livery, but varnished dark Burma teak – better to withstand the sulphurous fume of the Outer Circle.

A rake of eight will be built – reflecting the pre-1897 formation – and will specifically be of Mansion House Set 7, as the individual carriage numbers are known.

This blog is supposed to be a Journal charting the progress of a thirty-year long project; a replica of the competition between the underground and Great Eastern railways in East London c1890-1900s. The model/work of art/layout/trainset/folly (call it what you will, we can debate semantics later), has already been in planning for almost a decade, so it’s no flash-in-the-pan hair-brained scheme. It’s a well-thought-out hair-brained scheme. The research continues, but this year it’s time to end procrastination, put saw to wood, solder to brass, glue to plastic, paint to model, and begin construction in earnest.

It is a big project; I’ve already hinted that I anticipate it will take about three decades to complete, and yes, I am well aware of the historical arguments against magna opera, but rather than tackle the whole project at once, which could be overwhelming and might lead to abandonment (and is generally the crux of opposing arguments),  it will be divided into smaller, self-contained segments, each with a completion target of about five years.

This year should see the baseboards and track of the first segment in place, along with some mocked-up civil engineering,  the first loco, a carriage or two and some wagons… at least that’s the plan. So, with the certainty of derision from the scoffers, whispers of failure from the naysayers and cavilling from the party poopers , what am I waiting for? Pass the saw!

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