Working on Modelling British Railways Diesel Locomotives over the last few weeks has made me quite nostalgic for “old” railways. In the search for information (can't rely entirely on Wikipedia after all), I unearthed my old train spotting book.
Hard-core anoraks will recognise the PVC cover (a cagoule for my spotting book, do they make a matching one for me?) which protects the seventeenth edition from 1986.
Flicking through, I discover a couple of things:
Firstly, I was a rubbish spotter. There's not many numbers crossed through in here. To be fair, I knew that already. I like watching trains. I love travelling on trains. When I do the first, I'm usually wishing I was doing the second. Truth is that I might have enjoyed poking around a yard but I never did and even if I had, I'd have been as interested in the buildings and general detritus as I would “copping” all the numbers.
This continues on to my modelling. For me it's the overall impression that matters, not the nth degree of detail. Rivets? Useful to give the weathering something to work around but I couldn't care less how many there are. I'm much more interested in the crews skin-tones than the finesse of the wheels. As long as the model works, then I'm happy. You get chucked out of the paramilitary wing of the P4 Society for saying that sort of thing.
Second, didn't we have a lot more variety on the railway in the old days?
Looking through, there are 03 shunters, Class 25s and 26s and Peaks. Some were just hanging on but all of these were represented in reasonable numbers. This is all far more exciting than the procession of multiple units were get today.
There would also have been interesting goods trains. A line of containers might be efficient, but the artist in me prefers a mix of 4-wheel wagons. They just look so much nicer.
I've always thought that when a time machine is invented, I'd like to go and see steam engines operating for real but a bit of me wouldn't mind a day or two in early blue diesel land now.