Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Cawood, Wistow & Selby Light Railway


This Sunday's model isn't missing in the conventional sense, I know exactly where it is. In fact it would be fairer to say it's simply resting.

The station you see is Wistow, and formed part of my Father and I's first exhibition layout - The Cawood, Wistow & Selby Light Railway. Inspiration came from an Oakwood Press book found in a York second hand book shop. We liked the look of the buildings, of which there were 2mm:1ft plans, and the area. At the time it also seemed similar to a fiends models of the East Suffolk Light Railway which were very popular on the circuit.

As it was our first model we did a whole load of things we wouldn't do now:
The baseboard is chipboard braced with 2X1 wood. Heavy.
Originally the scenery made extensive use of cheap flock powder which faded from luminous to beige in the daylight.
The model was too long to set up at home.
Despite being only 12 and later 15 feet long (Cawood station was extended after a while) we had two stations.
I was still learning kit building so the stock had to be largely inappropriate RTR such as a GWR railcar. This didn't bother us much as neither really appreciated the niceties and thought this could be improved.
The layout stood on trestles.
Landscape contours initially didn't exist - the area is very flat. However it was pointed out that even flat areas aren't so when the scenery was re-done, plasterwork sorted out the lumps.
It didn't fit properly in the car, at least with 3 of us in there - at that point I couldn't drive and my Dad never passed his test so Mum had to ferry us around.

On the other hand, it worked.
The points used Peco motors.
All the track was hand built SMP including the single slip on this board.
The board bolted together to form boxes.
We had lights.
Spratt & Winkle couplings were fitted to everything.
There was quite a lot of detail.

All stuff we have repeated ever since.

In fact we were, and still are, quite proud of this model. The buildings were brick-papered cardboard and pretty scale. The station layouts (we had Cawood and Wistow) weren't too far off even if they were compressed - Wistow is over 1/4 mile long in real life. Cawood gave us a particular highlight, at it's first show one a long term friend looked at it and said, "Blimey. Cawood station". It turns out he had lived in Yorkshire years ago and used to drive by the remains every day and recognised it from this - so we much have done something right !

Over the years we made many improvements. The scenery was completely re-worked. That cornfield took 12 hours work with plumber's hemp ! Woodlands Scenics replaced dodgy cheap flock. Details were added. The stock improved a bit. Controls were re-wired at least once. This station was even shown on it's own as a static model at a hobby show held at my school.

As an exhibition model I think it only ever attended 4 shows. After that we built Melbridge Dock having learned many useful lessons. As for our first effort, well Wistow & a single Scenic board are in the shed. Cawood station survives in a box. Many of the details were rescued and appear on subsequent models so the spirit lives on. In fact the buildings were done again in 3mm scale to appear on Flockburgh. Who knows, perhaps we might be tempted to have another go at this prototype some day.


Darren C said...

Hello Phil - I actually live on the site of what was Cawood station and am looking for any pictures (other than those on Flickr) to build up a history of the location so would be interested to know if you have any reference material left over from your construction of the Cawood model. Thanks, Darren C.

Phil Parker said...

Darren - You aren't the only one. Max Johnson also lives on the site (is he your neighbour ?) and has sent me some plans of the results of his digging. Apart from that I don't have much more information that isn't in the book - and even this is out of print.

CDR007 said...

Hi Phil - I have a wooden handle shovel that reads "Cawood, Wistow and Selby Light Railway - Presented to - Mrs. Hy Liversidce of Driffield House York - Cutting the first sod of the railway - July 11, 1896.

Any idea of it's history?

Phil Parker said...

Such a shovel was a commong presentation item for the dignitry who performed the official ceremony at the start of construction. They would dig out of the first sod of earth and then retire for a posh meal while the real builders took over.

That's quite a bit of history you have there. Ideally, it should probably be on display in the county museum or at the NRM. No idea of its value but it certainly has some.

Phil Parker said...

From the book:
The contract for the line was let to Messrs Whitaker Bros of Horseforth,
near Leeds, and the ceremony of cutting the "First Sod" was performed at
Cawood, by Mrs Henry Liversedge, on 11th July 1896, with usual celebrations,
and a comemorate medalion was struck.

Anonymous said...

Hello Phil - We have just moved into the Wistow station house and are having lots of fun looking into its interesting past. I would love to see your model of our house??!! Thanks Liz H.

Phil Parker said...


I'll see what I can do. I can't remember if we built the Wistow house but I think the Cawood one was the same design and I'm pretty sure we did that one. I will have to di trough some very old photos in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, try to get a copy of the book on the line as I think it includes a plan which will be interesting to compare with the current building.

mary bardet said...

I under my grandfather was the station master at Cawood
before he was transferred to York when the station was closed one of my cousins has a certificate given to him on his marriage from the station staff his name was George William Dale
Mary E Dale Bardet

Edwardian said...

The Cawood and Wistow models are full of charm. It would be good to see these boards dusted off and brought back into use.

Rails of Sheffield have just announced models of the two pioneering NER 1903 petrol-electric autocars.

As I understand it, both these cars were transferred to Selby for use on this line in 1908. It just so happens that the announced versions should be a perfect match for the period the autorcars were on the Cawood branch.