Friday morning saw me rising bright and early, but not to do the usual thing of heading into my office in the City of London. No, I was off to collect a rental van for the day, and pointing it due west I headed off on a road trip along the M4, for yesterday I was White Van Man.
And three hours later, I arrived at my destination where I was greeted by Neil, a fellow Scalefour Society member. He showed me up to his loft, where the reason for my journey was kept. Half an hour of dismantling and heaving later, and the back of the hire van looked like this:
As Rolf Harris would say, "can you guess what it is yet...?"
Well, that dismantled layout in the back of the van was previously set up in Neil's loft, and it looked a lot more picturesque like this:
Detail of the far end, during the course of dismantling (although not in a Beeching style):
If it's starting to look familiar to you, then you may well be right...
I have just become the latest custodian of the Ulpha Light Railway :-)
This was built by the Norwood MRC as an exhibition layout, and originally written up in an article in Rail Model Digest No. 3 which appeared in 1996. A few years later it was acquired by Neil, and he has kept it safe for the last five or six years, in excellent condition but not used a great deal operationally.
Last week, as a stepping stone to moving on to fulfilling his own plans to build his own layout, he listed it on Ebay, where it appeared very, very briefly. For as soon as I saw it (at about 6.10am...) then I thought that it (i) looked excellent and (ii) would be the perfect test track for stockbuilding. So after letting my wife wake up (!) and then asking for her agreement to take over part of her garage with it, at least in the short term - it's my car that's been kicked out onto the drive, not her motorbikes - I agreed to buy it.
There is only one small flaw... I'm a Great Eastern modeller, and this is resolutely set in Cumbria...
However, after getting it all back into working condition and checking it out thoroughly, I have plans to shift the location slightly. Preliminary enquiries have established that there were chalk quarries on the north-western side of Saffron Walden...
For now, it's putting it up in the garage and admiring the excellent craftsmanship. thank you Norwood MRC, and thank you Neil for allowing me the privilege of owning it.