One of the things I enjoy most about this hobby is the research side. Early on in the planning stage, I like to get out there and get some reference material. Not just on the railway aspect of things, but the scenery, the buildings, even the people. It’s no good ensuring that your 1923 locomotive is pulling the correct 1923 stock if the figures are dressed in 1940s fashions, for instance.
But then again, sometimes you get a perfectly legitimate reason to get a bit silly with the scenic details. For instance, today, while I was walking through St Pancras Station, I came across this:
It’s that staple of the steam era country station, the milk churn. Specifically, four of them being used to advertise a promotion on dairy goods, smack bang in the middle of a station that’s come to symbolise the future of rail travel in Britain. Incidentally, there were also displays for bread (using flour sacks), fish (nets) and fruit (crates). So you can, perfectly legitimately, be completely random with your accessories.
Or how about this on the right? There are several of these old GWR benches in what was once Windsor & Eton Central Station. Most of this grand station, famous for its royal connections, has now been turned into a shopping centre. The railway is limited to a single platform with a shuttle service to Slough, hidden away at the back. But even if there were no longer royal trains, the owners weren’t going to let this illustrious history go, and so the shops are largely housed in original station buildings and, as you see here, they’ve salvaged several GWR station benches. Coopercraft produce these in OO scale.
Windsor also houses what might be the biggest anachronism of all – a locomotive that was cut up in 1912. Or at least, a replica thereof. The locomotive in question is The Queen, a Great Western ‘Achilles’ class and the non-working replica was built for the Royalty and Railways exhibition. The tender was sadly scrapped (although parts have been saved by the Bluebell Railway for their new ‘Brighton Atlantic’ – the tender originated with the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway).
This is a terrible photo – I was on my way to a dinner party, so the engine was snapped in the evening. Anyway, despite my appalling photo, this does give you a legitimate excuse to put historic and even non-existent locos on a modern image layout. If you want this particular locomotive, both Triang and Hornby have produced the ‘Achilles’ class and it’s available fairly readily second-hand.
These are just three examples. Plenty of stations up and down the country – not just those directly linked to preserved railways – can boast features from the steam age. Whether they were deliberately put there or simply left over, it’s easy enough to find an excuse to have more-or-less any historic feature on your modern layout. There is, as they say, a prototype for everything.