Station Road Steam: It’s just like a Crewe Works in miniature!

Pete Kelly visits a hive of miniature steam locomotive activity near Lincoln where even new constructions are going on.

Following the passage of a main line steam special, I remember overhearing one young enthusiast born into the modern traction era say to another: “Did you see that kettle go through?”

The remark, while totally understandable (after all I was young once!) seemed totally dismissive of the motive power that had served the world’s railways through good times and bad for well over 120 years.

Amid all the paraphernalia of a busy workshop, you can just imagine the ground shaking as the full-sized Stanier Pacific No. 46222 Queen Mary thunders by!

Yes, steam was dirty, labour-intensive and costly to operate, but let’s not delude ourselves that it was crude, because when you really start to examine the engineering details that went into a main line steam locomotive, a surprisingly sophisticated picture emerges – and that’s why I like to get up really close to those beautiful live steam locomotives that represent a considerable step up from our own railway modelling activities and appear at model engineering exhibitions throughout the country.

Starting at Gauge O, they go up to 3½, 5, 7¼in and increasingly larger gauges culminating in proper narrow-gauge railways – and when you realise that a 7¼in ‘Duchess’ Pacific locomotive and its tender can weigh up to a third of a ton, you realise that these are no mere playthings.

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

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