Then and Now: A funny-looking engine!

Ian Lamb recalls his first encounter with a Sentinel Y1 single-speed geared locomotive (and much later in life a lovely model version) and tells where the survivors can be seen and even ridden behind today.

Five hundred years ago murder, rape and pillage were commonplace in the ‘Debatable Land’ of the Borders between Scotland and England that was so lawless that neither country could govern it.

At Kershopefoot, its epicentre, Truce Days sought to bring justice and peace, but here around 50 years ago an execution was carried out quietly and without ceremony of the Minister of Transport’s order to close the Waverley Route between Edinburgh and Carlisle.

After stalwart and determined efforts campaigning for the route’s reinstatement, it has been reopened from the Scottish capital as far as Tweedbank. Dare we dream for future progress? Hawick beckons!

A dream came true for Ian Lamb when Model Rail commissioned from Dapol an exclusive model of the very Sentinel he remembered.

Military conflict never seems far away, and once more – around 80 years ago – this country stood alone against the might of the advancing German troops and their intention to annexe Great Britain.

Initially, for some, this necessitated evacuation from the cities, and in my own case – not born yet – my mother, elder sister and brother found themselves on a farm in the village of Stichill, near Kelso.

I do not know how long they stayed there, but the experience must have been positive because they went on holiday there on at least two occasions not long after the war’s end. Being a railwayman, my father was on a reserved occupation as a wagon repairer at St Margaret’s depot.

No. 6515 Isebrook is seen in steam at the Buckingham Railway Centre at Quainton Road.

It was on one of these holidays that I recall seeing this ‘funny-looking engine’. We had travelled as normal by train from the Waverley to St Boswells before boarding the usual one-coach local service to Kelso.

As I looked excitedly around Kelso station, I noticed this Y1 engine. Whether it carried the NE number 8138 or BR 68138 I cannot be certain, but I well remember looking long and hard at this strange apparition, vowing there and then that one day I would try to model it.

For the full article and to view more images, see the September edition of Modelling – available now!

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