Sunday, 6 August 2006

Catching up

Well, it's been some time since I last posted. In the meantime we've moved in to the new house, been on holiday and generally been busy with all the things there are to do when you move house!

While we were on holiday (or should I say, while we were on our way) I managed to persuade Becky to take a bit of a detour between junctions 22 and 23 of the M5 so we could stop off at a couple of locations on the route of the Somerset & Dorset Railway Highbridge branch.

First we stopped at Bason Bridge then Edington Junction. At Bason Bridge apparently the old platform still survives in the undergrowth alongside a farm track but there's nothing visible. At Edington the station house and station hotel still survive as does part of the old platform apparently although it's on private property so I couldn't see it.

The most interesting thing really was to see and get a feel for the countryside, so much a key characteristic of the branch with the flat Somerset levels stretching away towards the hazy outlines of distant hills on the horizon.

Back at home I made a rather unhappy discovery - the garage walls leak! This will clearly require some work to waterproof things - I'm waiting for a freidn who is a building surveyor to come and advise! It could be a little while yet before I'm in any position to start building the model railway!

Finally, I've been giving some thought as to the supposed real-life location of the planned model. Initially I hadn't been too bothered about this, being happy for it to be a purely fictional location based on the S&D branch. However, having an actual location in mind allows you to connect your piece of fiction with what really was. The less hurdles you have to jump towards believability the better in my opinion.

OK, some might argue that I should go the whole hog and simply create a true-to-life model of an actual location. For some this might be the way to go, but for me this doesn't allow enough flexibility. To me, a model railway should still allow you to use your imagination, even if each individual aspect is based on a particular prototype. After all, this is how the imagination works - by taking various elements from different places and combining them into something new. Even our memories of places and events are often selective - combining the best bits and discarding others to create what is often a rose-tinted view of the past. I think this has a lot of parallels with modelling.

Anyway, it's proving tricky to find a location. Anywhere worth having a railway connection already had one at some stage in the past, so looking at a map of the area there really aren't any obvious places just crying out for a branch line terminus! Currently I'm confining my search to the Somerset levels because I like the idea of modelling this landscape simply because it is so distinctive. (The drawback is that it's not so easy to hide things when there are no hills!)

The only possibilities so far seem to be North Petherton (just on the edge of the Quantocks south of Bridgwater) - the possible scenario being an extension of the Bridgwater railway south towards Taunton which ran out of steam (so to speak) due to finiancial difficulties and the construction of the GWR line. Or Cannington - north west of Bridgwater, also just on the edge of the Quantocks. I'm aware that this is just adjacent to Combwich, and Chris Nevard has already constructed a good pseudo-history for his model to here, so I don't want to steal his thunder!

Another alternative is to find a location where no settlement exists (or perhaps where there is a farm or small hamlet) and propose that this grew into a decent sized village or small town during the late 19th century. But again - where?

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