Complete Working Railway in A Room by Robert Machray
VIEW OF THE "COUNTRY" THROUGH WHICH THE RAILWAY RUNS.
A £10,000 TOY.
The seven beautiful illustrations which appear in this article are taken
from photographs of what is without doubt one of the mechanical marvels
of the day. They clearly set forth the most complete, and, at the same
time, the most costly miniature model railway system in the world.
So perfect, indeed, is this line and its equipment that the first
cursory glance at these pictures of it will certainly cause the beholder
to imagine that he is looking at presentments of some portions of the
London and North-Western Railway or of some other well-known, full-grown
railway. But his eye, on gazing a little longer at these views, will
take note of the curious circumstance that the entire system appears to
be embraced within the four walls of a single room. Having discovered
this, he will look still more closely, and then he will see other things
which will immediately excite his interest, and he will forthwith "want
to know" all about it.
This wonderful railway is owned, controlled, and operated by Mr. Percy
H. Leigh of Brentwood, Worsley, one of the suburbs of Manchester. This
gentleman has no professional connection with railroading, but for
some years past he has amused himself with models of locomotives and
their practical working. "Some men spend their money on racehorses,
others on yachts, and so on," says Mr. Leigh, "but this railroad of mine
is more to my fancy."
I am not permitted to state how much exactly this hobby of Mr. Leigh's
has cost him, but I am not betraying any confidence when I say that in
one way and another a sum not far short of ten thousand pounds has been
spent on his Liliputian line. This large amount may be accounted for by
the fact that Mr. Leigh was not to be satisfied with anything short of
perfection in every detail. His instructions to the contractors who
built and equipped the "road" were that there were to be no "dummies,"
and that everything was to be made accurately to scale. How faithfully
and thoroughly Messrs Lucas and Davies, of Farringdon Road, have carried
out his commands will be evident from the following statement with which
they have been kind enough to supply me.
The country, if I may so term it, within which the railway runs, is a
great, oblong, single-storied building, consisting of one chamber,
ninety feet in length by thirty feet in breadth. It has been added on to
Mr. Leigh's residence, and was specially constructed with a view to
giving the line a sufficient range for its successful operation, and
also to afford it protection from damp and other undesirable effects of
the weather. The room is provided with a double floor—a wooden one, on
which stand the trestles supporting the track itself, and, two or three
feet below it, another of concrete. An even temperature all the year
round is secured by means of two rows of hot-water pipes. When these
precautions are considered, it will be seen that this railway system
probably enjoys the most perfect climate in existence.
The line has not yet been given any comprehensive name. Perhaps it is
almost too soon for that, for it is hardly more than finished; indeed,
the goods-engine remains to be delivered by the builders. But it might
be christened, from the names of the two stations on it, the Oakgreen
and Beechvale Railway.
First of all, to describe the track. The road-bed is made of pitch pine,
mounted on sixty-five trestles, three feet from the floor, and the track
extends to 276 feet, of a double line of rails. Of the rails all
together there are 1,200 feet; and some idea of what this means may be
understood from the fact that when they came from Sheffield, where they
were specially rolled for Mr. Leigh, they formed two solid heaps of
metal, each as high as a man. The rails are of mild steel; they are
double-headed, and about an inch in height; some of them are nearly
twelve feet long. They are fastened down to 2,000 pitch pine sleepers by
4,000 malleable cast-iron chairs, held in place with hard-wood wedges
and 16,000 screws. All the fish plates, bolts, and nuts used in joining
the rails together are exact miniatures of those to be seen on an
ordinary railway. The track is ballasted with nine hundredweight of
limestone chips, and the gauge is six inches.
Details which involve a large number of figures are apt to be rather dry
and tiresome; but in the present case, if frequent reference be made
from the letterpress to the illustrations, it will be seen with what
extreme care, and with what extraordinarily minute and even loving
faithfulness, all the features of a first-class modern railway have been
reproduced in miniature.
OAKGREEN STATION, WHERE THE LINE STARTS.
The line starts from Oakgreen, the principal station, where are located
the offices of the management. In front of the buildings is a platform
twenty-four feet long, provided with the usual seats and other
conveniences for passengers, of whom a few may be noticed waiting for
the express to convey them to their destination. The platform is
sheltered from the elements by a glass roof, while the gates admitting
to it are of the regular palisade type. At the further end is a
passenger foot-bridge of trellis-work covered over; it stands high above
the line, and is reached by two staircases, and everybody is warned not
to venture to cross the railway by any other means. At the same time
there are level crossings for the greatly daring.
Behind the station proper is the goods station and siding, forty feet
long, the goods shed itself being four feet long.
Both of these stations, and indeed the other station and the whole line,
are beautifully lighted up, when necessary, by electric lamps fitted
with reflectors. There are in all fifty-eight of these soft, lovely
lights; and a particularly tall one will be observed in the goods
station for the purpose of affording sufficient light to that very busy
portion of the company's undertakings. The lamps are supplied from
storage batteries placed under the track, and their illuminating
capacity is enough to light up the whole room without bringing the gas,
with which it is also fitted up, into requisition.
The electric lamps also serve the purpose of lighting up both the signal
cabins and the signal posts along the line. There are three of the
former mounted at the side of the track, and they contain no less than
twenty-six levers, from which stretch flexible wires and runners to the
signal posts. The last-named, which are twelve in number, are three feet
in height, and are fully equipped with semaphores, lamps showing red,
green, and white, platforms and ladders. Besides these, there are also
worked from the signal cabins sixteen sets of points, by means of rod
connections and levers. Every particular with regard to the signalling
and the shunting has been thought out and executed with the most
laudable and painstaking thoroughness and accuracy. And these
arrangements decidedly add a somewhat picturesque element to the line,
while they also strengthen the effect of reality which is the chief
impression given by this marvellous railway.
WYNNSTAYBEECHVALE STATION, SHOWING TUNNEL IN THE DISTANCE.
It is, of course, impossible to enumerate every matter of interest
connected with the line itself, but it must be stated that there have
been provided two turntables to take the locomotive and tender, and that
the turntables have four levers for the points, and also that they have
been furnished with spring buffers; and, further, that a tank, into
which the boiler can be emptied, has been let into the track.
In the course of the length of the line, the train passes through a long
cutting, forty feet in extent, and two feet deep. To heighten the
illusion, the sides of the cutting are covered with grass, and on the
top of both sides there is a dwarf hedge. This portion of the road
supplies it with its chief scenic attraction. Some distance from the
cutting there is a road bridge across the railway, three feet long by
two feet wide. Before reaching the second station, Beechvale, a long and
fearsome tunnel has to be negotiated—its actual length is eighteen
feet. The station-house, platform, and other accessories of Beechvale
are very similar to those at Oakgreen.
TURNTABLE FOR THE ENGINE AND TENDER.
The locomotive, with its tender, is five feet long and about eighteen
inches in height. It is of six-inch gauge, and is an exact duplicate on
a small scale of an express of the London and North-Western Railway. It
is a real working locomotive, most exquisitely made. The only points in
which it differs from its model are such as come from its comparatively
diminutive size. Thus, its boiler has not the usual number of tubes, it
has no injector, and steam is got up in it by a charcoal fire, the
charcoal being kept at a great heat by a "blast."
SNAP-SHOT OF THE TRAIN EN ROUTE.
The cost of the engine and tender was £320 or a little more, and it was
made entirely by Mr. Lucas, of Lucas and Davies. It took him nearly nine
months to complete it, but from this period there would have to be
deducted a good many hours when he was called away to attend to some
other piece of business for his firm. And here I may remark that it
took eighteen months to build the line, five months of which were
occupied in fitting up the large room already mentioned.
The speed of the train on the straight portions of the line is six miles
an hour, but it is considerably less on the curves at either end, which
are twenty-six feet in diameter. The contractors experienced a great
deal of difficulty in getting the curves exactly right, as the six-inch
gauge of the railway, no other line being of any assistance in this
particular, introduced an entirely new problem in railroad construction.
The engine can travel six times round the entire length of the system
without its being necessary to renew the charcoal fire.
DEEP CUTTING, FORTY FEET LONG.
There are both a passenger train and a goods train. The former consists
of three carriages and a guard's van. One carriage is a first-class
corridor, a second is a third-class corridor, and the third is a
composite first-class and third-class carriage. Each of them is fitted
with the usual upholstered seats found in compartments belonging to
their classification; there are hat racks and blinds, mirrors and
lavatories and so forth in every carriage; there are carpets, too, on
the floors of the first-class. The guard's van has not been neglected,
but in its dog-boxes and other appointments is a facsimile of the vans
that go out daily from Euston. As a matter of fact, the whole train is
panelled and painted throughout in the familiar colours of the London
and North-Western Railway. The carriages are mounted on bogies, and have
been completely equipped with carriage springs, grease boxes for the
axles, spring buffers, draw-bars and screw couplings right and left. The
two corridor carriages have the proper extending covered ways.
The goods train is quite as remarkable in its way as every other part of
this railway. It is composed of ten trucks and vans, and has besides a
guard's brake-van fitted with a screw-down brake of the usual sort.
There are two high-side trucks, four medium, and two low; two covered-in
vans and two cattle trucks, and, if a glance be taken at the
illustration which exhibits the goods train most completely, it will be
noticed that all of these trucks and vans are loaded with appropriate
articles of freight—logs of wood, slates, casks of beer, marble, and
other things, while the two bullock wagons are filled with animals.
All these trucks and vans are fitted with hand lever brakes,
tarpaulins, chains, hooks, stanchions, and everything necessary for the
handling of the no doubt enormous goods traffic of the road. They are
all mounted on carriage springs, and have grease boxes, spring buffers,
and every other device in use on the London and North-Western
Railway—from which they have been copied, like everything else on this
Liliputian line. The greatest railway in the world took a friendly
interest in the smallest, and supplied it with the drawings and models
from which it and its rolling stock have been imitated.
THE HEAVY GOODS TRAIN—THE TRUCKS LOADED WITH
One tiny detail I think I must mention in conclusion, and it is that the
management have thoughtfully provided fourteen hand lamps for the
service of the line.
In acknowledging my indebtedness to Mr. Leigh, I should like to say that
he has found in his miniature railway not only a source of continual
amusement, but also a means of doing good to others, for he has on more
than one occasion shown it in operation to large gatherings of people,
who have flocked to see it both on account of the interest naturally
excited by it, and also for the sake of "sweet charity," the proceeds
realised from these exhibitions being devoted to some worthy object.
For the photographs which accompany this article we are indebted to Mr.
J. Ambler, of Manchester.