Friday, June 16, 2017

Hereford Society of Model Engineers

Walk the loco

With my new Engineering in Miniature role looming, it's time to get out and about a bit. My first trip out was to Hereford Society of Model Engineers.

Based on a 5 acre site just outside the city, about 10 minutes drive from Hereford Model Centre even if you get stopped at every traffic light, the society has grown over the last 20 years to enjoy two tracks, a boating pool, workshops and clubrooms. Over 90 members take part in club activities including regular running sessions.

Howards Halt

My invite for was for the regular Tuesday work session. Over 25 (sorry, I didn't count) men turned up to do all the important maintenance jobs the site requires. Grass was cut, re-sleepering took place, fences were painted and construction of a new archway continued. So many people turn up to do this every week that a local buttie van stops off to sell sandwiches and cake to keep them all going.

Chocolate cake

All this effort shows in well-maintained grounds that look fantastic. The group are fortunate in owning the site, having effectively been gifted it by the local council. That's not quite as generous as it might sound - the land floods in bad weather thanks to its close proximity to the river Wye. And floods properly. See the flood board on the tunnel entrance in the photo above? The water has been up to the top of there.

Santa Fe loco

Fortunately, flooding can be anticipated and 4 days notice is usually given. This allows for locos and rolling stock to be hoisted, using a crane built by the members, onto supports in the especially tall engine shed, out of harms way. Other infrastructure is either removable or can stand getting wet. Water usually creeps up and recedes slowly, so it doesn't even disturb the ballast. Replacing wooden sleepers with plastic is an ongoing project that makes sense though. 

Turntable and loading ramp

When dry, there is nearly a mile of ground level 5 and 7 1/4 inch track. In addition, a separate raised track supports 3 1/2 and 5 inch gauges. Both tracks have turntable facilities that both rotate locos and allow engines to be rolled out of the back of vehicles. I always wondered how this happened, now I know!

A modest boating pond is available and I certainly fancy giving it a go in the future. In fact I don't expect this is the last visit I'll make as I was made incredibly welcome by all the members. If you live in the area and are interested in model engineering, or just fancy taking the family for a train ride, check them out.

Hereford Society of Model Engineers website. 


Huw Griffiths said...

I take it you also checked out the waterworks museum next door.

Phil Parker said...

That's a pleasure for another day...