A railway in the shed

Scamp the family wire-haired Terries is not too impressed with the wonderful Meccano crane.

Scamp the family wire-haired Terries is not too impressed with the wonderful Meccano crane.

I COME from a railways background on my father’s side of the family and live in Nettlestead in Kent, on the Medway Valley Line. My grandfather was a signalman and crossing gatekeeper at Wateringbury, and three uncles also worked on the railways, one as one of the first drivers of the original steam-hauled Golden Arrow. My father served with the Royal Engineers and 148 Railway Operating Company during the war. He then became a goods guard and finally a passenger guard until his retirement in 1981. So steam railways and all things mechanical are in the blood.

One Christmas, my brother received a small Meccano set and over the years this grew and grew. I was always on hand to pass across nuts, bolts, cogs, panels and girders and marvelled at the creations being built. At school he studied Technical Drawing and Engineering and one of the last builds he created before going off to Associated Electrical Industries (AEI) in Rugby (on his BSA motorbike) at the age of 18, was a motorised crane. It trundled up and down the garden path, and the gib went up and down and round.

He also had a great interest in model railways and a layout was built in his bedroom. It grew too big and seeing how dedicated he was, my grandfather generously offered to buy a shed in which to keep the railway.

The shed duly built, the layout began to take shape. You had to crawl under the layout to be able to stand in the middle. Houses were built and track and roads laid. The walls were painted to resemble the sky and Airfix planes were suspended from the ceiling. The shed moved with us and there are still remnants of the sky on the walls.

My brother mostly travelled on his BSA to and from Rugby, coming home most weekends, and he had completed his first year at AEI. On November 5th, 1967, having decided to travel by train, he was on the fateful train that crashed at Hither Green and he lost his life at the age of 19. Despite this tragic event, we never gave up on the railway.

Best of British is brilliant and I use many of the Twenty Questions for our church quizzes. The magazine is worth every penny.

Yvonne Cronk, Nettlestead, Kent.