Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tyseley works open day

The weatherman said wet and horrid, but I'd been given a free ticket to Tyseley's open day and since I had a good book to read, fancied a little train ride.


Arriving at the gates, the first things everyone saw were a couple of fairground rides - a traditional roundabout with horses and a rarer version with Austin J40 cars running around in a circle. I didn't know much about these, but thanks to James Finister, I can point you at this fascinating website. The cars were made by disabled Welsh miners from leftover Longbridge steel and sold as pedal cars or used for roundabouts. Sadly I was too big for a ride so pressed on inside.

Big steam engines
Tyseley is a locomotive works or as described by one of the stewards on being asked if they ran trains all week, "a locomotive factory". Basically, if you have a big engine to restore, take it to Tyseley along with a pile of money and they have the skills and facilities to make it better for you.

As such, we have a large workshop, turntable and very short running line. The open day is mostly large and impressive locos standing around in steam and occasionally shuffling about for the spin on the roundabout.

There's a bit of trade, mostly loco preservation societies selling second hand books and model railway items but it's about being in proximity to large engines. Too close a proximity if I'm honest as the open-air roundhouse (what happened to the building planned many years ago?) puts everything too close together for photography.


I found it more interesting to take pictures of the ground for modelling reference. Yards are ballasted with incredibly fine "stuff" or laid in bricks. These don't show up well in photos but even though this is a modern site, it's the nearest I can get.

One problem with all this is that's a hard core enthusiast territory. A pannier and coal tank topped and tailed a pair of coaches for rides and a Peckett wandered around with a brake van and shunters truck, but you've really got to like big lumps of metal not moving very far.

To induce families to come along, someone had the bright idea to add music. Thus, we had a folk singer called Autumn entertaining us with a few of her own compositions played out over a PA system that started at 11 and was wound up well beyond this. Standing next to the speaker was unpleasant. No matter how good the music was, guitar and vocal folk doesn't come across well this way.

Mind you saying, "I'm in the little red train in the corner" doesn't play well to an anorak audience who'd prefer to listen to the hiss of steam.

Worse is to come. Waiting for some turntable action, one of the organisers was next to me chatting to someone from an Arts organisation. Next year, they hope to get a beatboxer, the term was explained to the organiser, who will interact with the crowd.

Apparently this will involve said artiste giving a "shout out to the man in the woolly hat." or similar. Ignoring the fact that this covers about half the audience, it's just not going to go down well with the targets of the "shout out". These aren't people who want to interact with someone wielding a microphone. Quite a few of them will be introverted enough that this is pretty much their worst nightmare. They are very happy wombling around looking at steam trains. Trying to "big them up" will see them heading for the exit.

Now you might say this is fine, more room for families, but why should they be driven away just because someone in the Arts world feels he needs to impose his version of fashion on a wildly inappropriate place? How would he like it if a group of them invaded a nightclub, took over the microphone and started to explain the finner points of Stephenson's valve gear WHETHER THEY LIKED IT OR NOT.

Even in the rain, Tyselely isn't cool. But that's what the audience likes.

Rant over, more pictures on Flickr.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds a bit like many home layouts - lots and lots oflocos and little space to run them. But thats all part of the hobby?