Published: 24th July 2014
Train model makers Bachmann Europe plc celebrated its 25th anniversary over July 20-21 and co-inciding with this was a big announcement at the firm’s Barwell, Leicestershire HQ, that the company was entering the narrow gauge model railway market.
As Britain marks the centenary of the start of World War One, Bachmann is making the hugely significant move into ready-to-run 009 (4mm scale, 9mm gauge track) by announcing its first models will be based on WW1 War Department Light Railway equipment.
The first locomotive will be the iconic American-built Class 10-12-D Baldwin 4-6-0T, of which 495 examples were built for WW1 service. Not only were they the most numerous steam locomotives built for allied war service, but many achieved further fame post-war in service on narrow gauge lines in Britain, classic examples being the steam fleet which operated the long-lost, but far from forgotten, Ashover Light Railway in Derbyshire and an example which worked on the Welsh Highland Railway in North Wales.
Britain’s only working Baldwin 4-6-0T, WDLR No. 778 owned by The Greensand Railway Museum Trust and based at the Leighton Buzzard Railway, was present at Barwell for the event, together with a WW1 ‘D’ wagon from Leighton Buzzard. To mark the occasion of the visit and new product announcement, Bachmann Europe plc presented a £1,000 cheque to GRMT Chairman, Cliff Thomas, towards the locos forthcoming overhaul, which is likely to start next year.
No. 778, representing WW1 open cab condition, will be one of four variants to be produced by Bachmann. The others will be the extended cab No. 590 which worked on the Welsh Highland and two Ashover LR versions, Peggy (open cab, crimson livery) and Hummy (extended cab, black livery). The locomotive models, likely to be available in about 12 months, will be supported by bogie open wagons and vans. Bachmann is working with GRMT to ensure the model will be as accurate as possible.
Also present at Barwell for the 25th anniversary weekend was the Midland Railway – Butterley’s 0-6-0T ‘Jinty’ – actually No. 47327, but repainted into Somerset & Dorset JR livery as S&DJR No. 23 in May 2013 following sponsorship by Bachmann related to the launch of a 00 scale model of the loco in this form.
Following its appearance at Barwell, rather than returning to its Bedfordshire home No. 778 (and the bogie wagon) were taken to the Golden Valley Light Railway, the 2ft gauge line at the Midland Railway – Butterley which runs between Swanwick Junction and Newlands Inn. The Baldwin will appear on the GVLR over August 16-17 hauling a newly-restored Ashover Railway coach.
The body of the vehicle was recovered by the MR-B in 2008 and the meticulous restoration has included manufacturing new replica bogies. The coach, much larger than the GVLR’s normal Manrider passenger vehicles, undertook clearance and brake tests on July 3 as the effort to ensure it was ready to be pulled by the visiting Baldwin approached a conclusion.
The combination of a loco of the same type which once worked the Ashover line, a genuine Ashover coach and a typical Ashover wagon, will recreate a scene lost since the Ashover Railway closed in 1937. On August 17 the event will also feature a performance by the Ashover Band, which accompanied the opening of the ALR on April 7 1925.
Baldwin 4-6-0T WDLR No. 778 will also be one of the stars appearing at this year’s big WW1 narrow gauge commemoration event, the Moseley Railway Trust’s September 12-14 ‘Tracks to the Trenches – 2014’ gala – see http://www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2014/tracks-to-the-trenches/.