Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Thornycroft Building #4 - Museum

In the photo below the Museum is the building bottom right.

 The Thornycrofts Motor Works, Basingstoke, 1928 - Britain from Above


A museum and garage with a lean-to boiler house in the north west corner. The museum is probably the place where Steam Van No.1 was stored. This being the first Thornycroft commercial vehicle shown to the public in 1896, two years before Thornycroft moved from Chiswick to Basingstoke.

Time Line

This building was a later addition to the site. It appeared by 1914 but without the large windows above the doors at the front. It may have had a ridge roof rising from the top of the doors.

The windows appear on a flat frontage above the doors by 1928 and the roof was a single plane falling from front to back. Sometime in the 1940s or early 50s the building was extended to the north and over the railway siding entrance, which cut through the corner of the building. It was also extended at the front to join the next building forming a 'L' complex. The roof was changed to a serrated arrangement, which must have been more efficient in dispersing heavy rain and allow in more light. This later building still existed in the 1960s but did not last until the end, believed demolished in the 1980s..


For the period of our layout (1920s/30s).

Corrugated iron on three sides and roof with brick wall pierced by tall narrow windows at the rear. An artist illustration of the works shows skylights in the roof but from photographs it appears there were none. In fact the artist rendition of the building rear is quite different to the photographs. This may indicate an earlier arrangement.

Two rows of sliding garage doors ran the full length of the front with 6 large windows above. The doors have been estimated as 12 or 13 feet tall.

Architectural details of the north wall and boiler house are not clear from available photographs. We have assumed it is a boiler house due to a flue rising from a corner of it.

The Model

The next photo shows the model in situ on our full sized layout plan in a similar orientation to the real building shown above.

The design and general construction is the same as the Wood Store.

The rear row of sliding garage doors are fixed to give strength to the model but the front row are operational. They are 'L' shaped and are trapped within a sandwich of the front fascia. The windows above are opaque dummies. A textured 'concrete' floor is provided since it can be seen with the doors open.
We have modelled the north wall without windows and the boiler house with double doors. The flue is made from a cocktail stick with a track pin atop for a bird guard. Alongside the boiler house seems to have been a fenced area that is assumed to be a coal bunker or slag dump. All this may be inaccurate to prototype as no clear images have come to light of this side.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Thornycroft Building #3 - Island Building

Have you ever seen anything as weird as this?

Island Building

This building only appears as a distant view in photographs. It is difficult to see the details but upon scrutinising the roof it seemed to have a central chimney, until we saw a pole coming out of it! But, it was not until we zoomed into this photograph that we saw a swan neck on top of the pole with a blob on the end. Clearly a lamp post!

In the photo below the Island Building is on the left of the factory just below and to the right of the white ended building.

The Thornycroft Motor Works, Basingstoke, 1928 - Britain from Above


This was a building of two halves. The eastern half was the works fire station and contained fire appliances. The western half was a pump room. It contained 11 pumps and meters for the underground oil and petrol tanks alongside. A dispensing stand for filling vehicles existed outside the doors.

(Between 1928 and 1939 a paint mixing shop, built of corrugated iron, was positioned in line at the western end. Architectural details of this have not yet materialised for accurate modelling of it).

Time Line

The island building was a later addition to the factory, built sometime between 1914 and 1919. It did not last until the end, probably demolished shortly after manufacture ceased in 1969 when the site was taken over by a variety of small firms.


Difficult to determine from photographs but probably brick with slate roof. The roof had hips at both ends with vents at the apex. The long roof sides extended below the hip roof level. A lamp post with swan neck projected from the centre of the roof and rose above the height of surrounding buildings.

The Model

The next photo shows the model in situ on our full sized layout plan in a similar orientation to the real building shown above.

The building design and general construction is the same as the Wood Store.

Without a colour photograph the decor is guess work. Red doors are provided at the fire station end and blue for the pump room. A mistake was made in the roof design in that the long sides do not extend below the hip ends. One day we may remake the model to correct it.

We intend to provide working lights for some of the buildings on the layout and this one is the first to be fitted - not the inside (this model has opaque dummy windows) but the tall lamp post on the roof. The post is held in a cube of hardwood at its base, which is glued to the roof. Drain pipes on the real buildings were blue so it is assumed lamp posts were painted similarly.

The LED Lamp Post

This will be explained in full detail. Manufactured models can be bought quite cheaply from China on eBay but the swan neck models I saw are even more oversize than the scratch built model created.

The starting point was to find a small enough LED. 3mm (18 inches in N gauge) was the smallest found that was readily available.

The post was made from scraps of wire. At least one of the two power wires needed to be solid so that it holds the swan neck shape when curved. The gauge is not too critical as the circuit is low power. Had I thinner wire to hand I could have made the post more to scale but as it is the post is 12 inches diameter in N gauge.

The sheath from a thicker wire was stripped and slid over the solid insulated power feed wire and two very thin bare twisted wires for the return. The swan neck end was thinned down a little by scrapping the plastic sheath.

The wires were then soldered to the tails of the LED very close to its body and the excess tails cut off.

The lamp shade was made by sliding a metal washer over the LED and glue to its body. To this a thin strip of sticky paper was wrapped around the circumference to give more depth. A circle of paper was then cross cut and slid up the post and over the solder connections. Next, a piece of wire sheath from a thicker wire was slid up the post to the lamp assembly. Epoxy resin glue was dribbled into the assembly to form the convex lamp shade. The swan neck was quite easily bent to shape.

Below is the wiring diagram for one LED with parts identified.

And with that it is good night from me!


Friday, 13 December 2013

Thornycroft Building #2 Timber Drying Shed

Timber Drying Shed

In the photo below the Timber Drying Shed is the Dutch Barn like structure with the white end about midway up and far left of the works.


The shed, and the adjacent canopied area, were used for natural seasoning of timber. Planks were laid out inside the shed on a raised floor and beams below.

There is a superb photo from 1902 of the interior here. At the end of the store are piles of ash felloes (outer circle of wheel that attaches to the spokes), along the sides are oak staves (vertical posts), and in the centre rough sawn oak planks.


The shed was one of the original buildings from 1898, or thereabouts. It had an enclosed, narrow lean-to extension on stilts along the west side. By 1914 the extension had been replaced by the large open sided, canopied space. Between 1928 and 1939 part of this was enclosed and it is reported as being a 'washing space' At this time the ends of the shed were repainted a dark colour, most likely blue. It is believed from close scrutiny of photographs that a railway loading platform was not provided, or if it did then it was much lower than a normal platform. In the 1940's or possibly early 1950's the shed and the canopied area were demolished and replaced by a brick built warehouse together with a full size railway loading platform. It was known as 'The Wharf'. This later building lasted until the end.


Timber with corrugated iron roof. Timber pillars support the shed. Vertical wooden laths from ground to roof on the ends and east side. Louver panels on the west side. This construction gave a free flow of air through the building for timber seasoning. By 1914 the laths had been removed below floor level so that the lower part of the building was open between the pillars.

How entry was made into the shed is not known. From the 1902 interior photo there appears to be a door on the East side but this seems impractical as it opened onto a narrow alley way in our period of interest. We believe entry was not via the ends of the building. This leaves the sides (or the floor), which are mostly hidden within the surrounds so, how entry was made is less important from a modelling aspect.

In 1928 The canopied store had a corrugated iron roof with 11 skylights near to where it joined the shed. A 1939 photo shows only one clear skylight. Perhaps the others were blacked out with dirt or replaced with corrugated iron due to rot(?).

The Model

The next photo shows the model in situ on our full sized layout plan in a similar orientation to the real building shown above.

The design and general construction is the same as the Wood Store. The model is built onto a base of corrugated cardboard that raises the ground level to the top of the railway track. The base is painted with a mixture of grey emulsion paint and PVA glue and is then sprinkled with granite dust that is rolled into the mixture and the excess shaken off. The finish gives a fine texture and looks like concrete.

Pillars are cut from wooden barbecue skewers and chiseled square, as are the stacks of 'oak beams' positioned on the concrete floor. Each row of beams is spaced off from each other with 'planks'. What a mind numbing task that was and reminds us that a lot of materials were spread about the yard like barrels, oil drums, castings and debris. All this will need to be modelled to some degree.

Whilst gutters have been modelled (because we generally view models from above) I have not added drain pipes because they are a bit lost on buildings in this scale (N gauge). We can add them later if required. I made a mistake with the east side by giving it louver panels instead of the vertical laths of the prototype but, as it will be mostly hidden on the layout I'll leave as is. To correct it I can design a new decorative layer and stick it over the east side.

The skylights are transparent but do not show up well in the photo on the right. When light is shone from above it beams into the interior, much like a 1919 picture of the shed we found in an archived 'The Commercial Motor' magazine.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Thornycroft Building #1 Wood Store

The imposing feature of Thornycroft Sidings model railway is the industrial buildings. These are constructed before the baseboard and trackwork, (whereas for Cliddesden the baseboard and track was laid first because the rural landscape there is more dominant than the buildings). Most of these early  Thornycroft Sidings postings will be about the industrial buildings. This being 1 of about 15.

Most of the written material publicly available that we have found focuses on the history and development of Thornycroft vehicles. There is some commentary and images of the factory departments and processes involved in manufacture but nothing written about the changes to the factory site over time, unless you know otherwise.This Blog maybe the first attempt at investigating that history.

Wood Store

In the photo below of the real factory the Wood Store is the building top left.



The Wood Store held timber and other natural material in a dry, airy environment. Wood, particularly oak and deal (Scots pine), featured strongly in early vehicle bodywork construction.


The six bay Wood Store was built well after the inaugral buildings of 1898. It is recorded as being in use by 1917, which suggests it was needed in line with the massive expansion of production for military orders during the first world war. An extension, added before 1928, increased the length to 10 bays. The building survived to the end but fell out of use in latter years.



Concrete floor and 'I' girder frame infilled on three sides with a warm, orange/brown old English brick bond. The extension used a lighter coloured brick. The goods loading side comprised full height louver wooden panels for free air flow. Doors were of the roller type. An 'I' girder gantry ran the whole length of the building except the extension gantry was made of wood. A hoist was fitted to the gantry to assist loading and unloading of railway wagons to/from a wooden floor positioned at mid height.

This wonderful picture from the late 1920's/early 1930's of an A3 six wheeled lorry unloading straw (probably used for vehicle seat padding) provided much close up architectural detail of the building to aid design of the model.

Sometime between 1939 and the 1950s the loading side was remodelled in corrugated iron with sliding doors and the long gantry taken down.

In the original building the interior was open plan with metal trusses to support the roof. Wooden trusses were used in the extension and two rows of concrete pillars with floor beam brackets moulded in. No pillars evident in the original building. From the roof trusses two rows of industrial pendant lamps ran the length of the building about a quarter in from front and back.

The east facing roof was covered with diamond shaped shingles throughout its life. A 1960 photo shows the west facing roof to be corrugated iron! The model assumes it was shingles in our period of interest. Five louver venting structures sat atop each side.

On the south end was an entrance door and a sign above declared it as 'Stores Office'.

The North end wall was painted white and the company slogan painted on. From a distant 1939 aerial photograph only the Thornycroft word is legible. There has been debate on what the other words were. After much scrutiny of the photo the first word seemed to have a U and T bearing some resemblance to Trust and the last word looks like Transport. A search in Google for 'trust thornycroft transport' gave the Hantsweb web site, which stated the company slogan as being 'Trust A Thornycroft With Your Transport' - a perfect match!

The Model


An overview of model construction is presented here with key points elaborated. The next photo shows the model in situ on our full sized layout plan in a similar orientation to the real building shown above.

The decor is created in a graphic editing program and printed on an Epson inkjet printer with Durabrite Ultra ink. The ink has good colour retention properties and is waterproof. Some parts are printed directly on 0.35mm card and cut out. Others are printed on A4 sticky label sheets, which is then stuck to the card. Gutters are formed from 80gms printing paper using the card as a former to make the channel.The construction is modular with 10 stacked together. This gives rigidity and strength to a model that is 445mm long! (massive for N gauge). A plinth is built in that will disappear into the groundwork.

I have an idea to use corrugated cardboard to raise the ground to the level of the railway track surface and around the building. The next photo shows how this might be achieved by cutting back part of the cardboard so it sits on the sleepers butting to the rail. The inset is an upside down view showing the cut back. Another idea being considered is to flood the ground with plaster or clay, a more messy and permanent solution.

The 10 roller doors are all operational. Each is scored horizontally 0.5mm apart and the door bent around a rod to encourage curvature. They are held in guides either side of the opening. Handles are formed from wire. Armed with a scalpel point on a door handle it can be raised and lowered. When the door is raised it bends to run along the inside face of the roof.

The hoist gantry is Plastruct 1.6mm 'I' beam. The assembly is delicate and will break with rough handling. The hoist itself is a naive construction of washers, wire and thread but it can be pushed along the gantry with care.

The only internal decor is the concrete and elevated floors since they are visible when doors are open.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Cliddesden In Print

Subscribers to 'Your Model Railway Village' part work should find that in issue number 8 our Cliddesden model railway is featured across four pages.

magazine snapshot
(content displayed with permission).