BLOG: Two transitions – one weekend


Next weekend (November 11/12), Hornby Magazine will be attending the Spalding Model Railway Club’s annual exhibition at the Springfields Event Centre along with our ‘OO’ gauge BR Western Region exhibition layout Grosvenor Square. This will be the layout’s third outing in the past 12 months, but unlike previous exhibitions with this one we thought we might do something a little different over the weekend.

Usually, the layout is operated in the BR steam/diesel transition period with a wide selection of appropriate BR Western Region motive power and rolling stock together with a few ‘surprise’ visitors. This enables us to present the layout with both steam and diesel locomotives, together with the occasional steam-operated auto-train, diesel railcar and Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) too. Usually our cut-off point is around 1965 allowing the final years of Western steam as well as the first year’s of the ‘Westerns’ to be covered.

However, a chance conversation between Mike and I has resulted in a further transition period being planned for the Sunday which will see us operate the layout in the transition from British Railways to British Rail, offering the opportunity to introduce a few BR blue diesels to the mix too – which, of course, is right up my street! That said, the strict policy will be pre-Total Operations Processing System (TOPS) numbering to the BR blue locomotives operating alongside their BR maroon, green, two-tone green and chromatic blue counterparts.

Our conversation came about following the recent arrival of Hornby’s ‘OO’ gauge BR Mk 1 carriages in BR blue and grey – more specifically the BR Mk 1 Open First (FO) and, for the first time, a BR Mk 1 Brake Second Open (BSO) – which offer new train formation options, plus with the Class 50 Co-Co ‘Hoover’ celebrating its 50th anniversary this year too, it seemed the perfect excuse to add a little extra variety into the mix with Hornby’s recent release of D400 in plain BR blue too. Plus Paul Chetter’s sound file for the Class 50 is too good to leave at home tucked away – any excuse.

Most of my ‘OO’ motive power fleet is firmly fixed in the TOPS period, although I do have a few BR blue examples of pre-TOPS diesel locomotives including a couple of Class 52 ‘Western’ diesel hydraulics and a BR blue Class 22. To my knowledge, these have never turned a wheel in exhibition use, so this weekend I’m planning to check them over, run them in, add some drivers and install Digital Command Control (DCC) decoders. Ideally, digital sound decoders would be preferable, but we shall have to wait and see. It’ll be a good opportunity to run some of my BR blue and grey rolling stock too and both Mike and I will be raiding our collections to ensure we can put on a proper show.

Luckily, we also have an accompanying roster of DCC sound-fitted Class 31, 37, 46, 47 and 50s in BR pre-TOPS blue, together with a colourful selection of ‘Hymek’, ‘Warship’ and ‘Western’ diesel hydraulics – plus one or two diesel prototypes too. DMUs will supplement the main line services, and Dapol’s delightful ‘OO’ Class 122 diesel railcar will mark its debut on the layout with digital sound during the weekend as well – Mike just installed sound in this unit today ready for next weekend, but he now needs to get the bufferbeam details and destinations fitted too.

So, there you have it – Saturday is planned to be our steam/diesel transition and Sunday will be our British Railways to British Rail transition – two transitions in one weekend. Oh, and a busy few days pulling all the elements together between now and then.
We shall look forward to seeing you at Spalding next weekend! Full details can be found in the latest issue of Hornby Magazine or online at

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