Shoo! Fly! and Company G? Railways Magazine January 1942 WW2 and ACW

Two interesting pages from a random issue of Railways magazine Volume 3, No. 21 January 1942 which I scanned before I passed them on.

Above is a 1941 era Cruiser tank “en route to embarkation points” – official LNER photograph – and obviously a propaganda shot. such open daytime shipping shows our allied armoured might, replacements only a year and a half after the disastrous loss of tanks at Dunkirk and the Fall Of France in May 1940.

And now from WW2 to the American Civil War (amongst the early Wars to use railroads)

“Shoo! Fly! don’t bother me!

For I belong

to Company G!”

This 1860s minstrel song instrumental can be heard here on this Library Of Congress

According to Wikipedia: “Shoo Fly” is among the songs (“John Brown’s Body” is another) claimed as compositions by T. Brigham Bishop.

According to Bishop’s account, he wrote “Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me” during the Civil War while assigned to command a company of black soldiers.

One of the soldiers, dismissing some remarks of his fellow soldiers, exclaimed “Shoo fly, don’t bother me,” which inspired Bishop to write the song, including in the lyrics the unit’s designation, “Company G”,_Don%27t_Bother_Me

Wikipedia also mentioned a Spanish-American War troop connection in the 1898: “when flies and the yellow fever  and mosquito were a serious enemy.

Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album

(about 22 minutes) in on  Join Bing and Sing Along  (1959)

and its the second track on the Disney Children’s Songs album No. 3

… notably without the Company G part.

So Shoo Fly – temporary railway loop or American Civil War minstrel lyric sung by black (Union?) Soldiers (of the USCT US Coloured Troops?)

And the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B? That’s another story, another war and another Company.

Blog posted by Mark Man Of TIN, 7 October 2022


I have not followed this Anne Parrish link up for The Perpetual Bachelor (1925)


“Some suggestions for toymakers” 1911

Some charming figures – Illustration by J.R. Sinclair from H G Wells’ “Floor Games” of 1911

Cheap and charming civilians, especially period ones in 54mm, are still hard to find. Not much has changed since 1911 then!

Working again researching and blog posting about H.G. Wells’ book “Little Wars” of 1911, I was reminded of this great illustration page of characters.

This book was expanded by H. G. Wells from a small end section of “Floor Games” of 1911 into two magazine articles and the famous book.

The charming railways section of “Floor Games” is explored and illustrated more here:

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 5 December 2021

Now with Added Trains …

A Russian Civil War armoured trains gaming scenario from the Wargaming for Grown Ups website:

Spurn Head Refortified – Railway Modeller September 1978

Sail power and steam power – Sailway tracks?

An interesting article from some random railway magazines I was given from the 1970s.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 16 May 2020

Hornby goes Steampunk – Cogs with Everything!

Geek points – yes, those are Airfix spacemen!

Didn’t expect this one … OO HO figures, rolling stock, waggons … cogs with everything!

Brief Hornby intro to Steampunk

Short BBC interview with Laurie Calvert

Interesting or humorous development. It might engage some adult collectors or some teenage or child railway modellers, inspired by Steam Punk / Harry Potter / Philip Pullman / Mortal Engines / ImagiNations …

Not sure if I prefer my Steam Punk a little more Rowland Emmett

Dinosaurs and Railways? Like Doctor Who, been there before (or in the future?) Do a Snooville!

Hopefully it will catch the interest in the same way this Junior Modeller WW1 article did for me in the 1970s

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 1 May 2020

Railway Civilians 54mm size

Fashions from different decades 1950s onwards 

1950s Civilians came up in email chat with Alan Tradgardland Gruber for his 50s Very British Civil War scenario using Herald figures.

Civilian figures in 1:32 or 54mm scale are usually a bit scarce but I remembered a trial pack of such figures that I ordered years ago. Still available online, these seem to show some odd sculpting and range of fashions or decades.

Somewhere / sometimes there is a weird spindly wraithlike child in this set. Sometimes not.

One lady appears to have forgotten her skirt, unless slacks are becoming fashionable.

Stylish 40s and 50s ladies …

Pure 40s and 50s ‘Brat Pack’ – hello Frank …


Size comparison with 54mm Prince August and original Hollowcast figures –

The Diana like figure could be a passable ‘dead spit’ of Jane the 1940s wartime comic ‘strip’ hero by Norman Pett. Is there a secret camera in that handbag?

Now just where do I get a 54mm / 1:32 dachshund?

O Gauge 40 – 42mm figures

I wasn’t sure how these measure up as O Guage figures (at about 40mm) with my other figures (40-42mm) but spotted these interesting mixed characters amongst the myriad scales and variations of painted and unpainted railway and architect figures …

… and so I bought their last two packs (for now)

They are great fun and I shall put them aside for future projects.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN 29 April / 17 May 2020 in Lockdown but finally posted on 5 December 2021

The Battles of Saxby or Lord Harborough’s Curve 1844 to 1846


IMG_1919Back in 2017 I started researching a story for gaming, little realising that two years would quickly slip past until we have now reached the 175th Anniversary of the Battle of Saxby in mid to late November 1844.

Origin: Reading through a stack of railway magazines that have been given to me to pass  on to my Railway modelling family, I found an interesting gaming scenario in Back Track magazine in an article “The Battles Of Saxby” by Tim Warner, Winter 1988,  Back Track Vol 2, No.4

Not all landowners during the railway mania boom were too happy to have their land cut up by railways or too impressed by the compensation money offered.

The 6th Earl of Harborough at Stapleford Park was one of these who robustly defended his land using his estate workers against the trespassing surveyors of the Midland Railway Company and their team of navvies and prizefighters.

Pistols were allegedly drawn by surveyors, clubs and iron pointed staves carried and bare fists used.  Artillery was even mentioned! The estate Fire Engine was deployed as a primitive water cannon and the railway company was threatened by letter that:

“We have barricaded the towing  path and have in readiness a few cannons from Lord Harborough’s yacht. If you force us to use them, as a last resort, the blood will be upon your hands.”

What could have led to this armed brawling?


The Earl of Harborough and Disraeli’s fears  would be seen at the time as not without founding, with the rise of Chartism and the spread of Revolutions across Europe in the late 1840s.





A Victorian moshpit … and crowdsurfing.



This is the bit with the primitive water cannon … IMG_1914

Fire engines, yacht cannons –  you couldn’t make this scenarios up.

The story made it into the national press of the day …

The Earl of Harborough continued to make life difficult for the surveyors and Midland Railway Company.

Disraeli’s novel Sybil version aside,  the coming or blocking of the railway is a strong theme in Mrs Gaskell’s series of Cranford stories written in the early 1850s but set in the 1843/4 period of our Battle of Saxby.

Lady Ludlow refuse to sell any of her land at Hanbury Court or Hall to the railway company, preserving the estate for her profligate absent son, Septimus. He  later sells the land anyway secretly to the company. The land agent Mr Edmund Carter is killed in an accident at the railway workings. This all featured in the recent BBC version of Cranford set in and the Christmas special when the railway finally arrives in 1844

The Earl took to civil disobedience rather than civil war …

Civil Disobedience 1840s style …

Assaulting officials such as a customs officer or watchman was not out of character for the Naughty Earl who had several times in the 1820s and 1830s been in court or featured in newspapers and court cases. More on him in another blogpost.

The Cuckoo Tunnel collapse of fine trees (or their valuable timber)  should be viewed with the fact that this was a Capability Brown designed landscape .

It is possible to scout using Google Earth and Street View some of the surviving terrain.



The Earl of Harbororugh had the ‘misfortune’ to have 6 daughters but no son to take the estate on and carry on the title.



Tim Warner has also written an article on other contested railway lines in his  article

Further research

That was one article. other accounts of the ‘Battle of Saxby’ – other accounts bring out different aspects of the story and characters.

Stapleford Park website (now a hotel and country park) notes that around 1770, Lancelot “Capability” Brown was commissioned to turn the 16th century deer park into the idyllic landscape of today, so no wonder the 6th Earl was fond of the trees and views.

Syston And Peterborough Railway Wikipedia entry

Here is how the story is told on the Syston And Peterborough Railway Wikipedia entry, which explains some of the ; railway politics’ and financial pressures to get the line finished.

“However, because of the railway politics of the time, the Syston And Peterborough Railway was supported by George Hudson who was involved with the Midland Counties Railway which, was in the process of merging into the new Midland Railway.
The Midland Railway at that time was the main line from London to the North East of England, via Derby, Leeds and York. The Midland adopted the Syston And Peterborough Railway line ‑ along with the Nottingham to Lincoln Line ‑ as part of urgent moves to hinder the expansion of the Northern and Eastern Railway northwards from London to York (Hudson’s base) .

“The route was surveyed in 1844  and plans lodged with the various county offices on 30 November 1844 …” [According to Tim Warner’s article, the Battles of Saxby happened around the 12 to 14th November 1844, so this was cutting it fine.]

“The engineers for the line were George Stephenson and Charles Liddell. The surveyor was J.G. Binns

This is probably Jonathan ‘George’ Binns,  Chief Surveyor Midland Railway 1816-66,  known as George, who was from a Quaker family, so would normally have been a social reformer and opposed to violence as a means to an end.

Jonathan’s older brothers Charles and William from a Lancaster literary and farming family were also involved in railway surveying.

Surveyors, the Quakers and Railways are topics which are closely linked, so that it is not perhaps so surprising that Charles came into contact with George Stephenson, the great railway engineer, and was engaged as his private secretary. Stephenson settled in Chesterfield (Tapton Hall) in 1838 intent on developing the mineral resources of the area. In 1837, together with his son Robert, Joshua Walmsley MP (Charles’s father-in-law), George Hudson (The Railway King) and others, he established George Stephenson & Co., and Charles Binns was appointed the General Manager, a post which he held until his retirement on ill-health grounds in 1884.

While Charles does not seem to have ‘practised’ as a Quaker, certainly his family connections with the Friends seem to have made him a ‘good’ employer, by Victorian standards, being especially keen to develop educational facilities for the Clay Cross area. The reverse of the coin was that in 1872 Charles announced that the assistance the Company gave to the employees and their families would be withdrawn should the men be so presumptuous as to found or join a trade union.”

The cost estimate was £7000,000, or £15,000 a mile. Even before the Act [of Parliament] was passed there were problems where the line approached the estate of the Earl of Harborough.”

The original Midland railway  plan was to follow the course of the Wreake through Stapleford Park. The River Wreake is a tributary of the River Soar. Between Stapleford Park and Melton Mowbray, the river is known as the River Eye and becomes the Wreake below Melton Mowbray. The river was canalised in the late 18th century, though after the building of the Syston and Peterborough railway in the mid 19th Century, the canal was disused and fell into ruin.

“Not only did the Earl refuse to sell the land, he put up notices forbidding the surveyors entry to the Park.”

So the scene is set for a confrontation with the railway company:

“A group of surveyors, walking along the towpath of the Oakham Canal, were confronted by Lord Harborough’s men and ordered to return to where they had come from.

Since it was a public right of way, the surveyors refused, whereupon they were arrested and put in a cart, presumably to be taken before a magistrate. They were stopped by a policeman who pointed out that the surveyors were in the right, so they were simply tipped out into the road.”
“In what became known as the “Battle of Saxby”, the Midland Railway men returned with reinforcements, to meet a similarly enlarged force of estate workers. The railwaymen were chased away …”

The railwaymen “returned two days later, early in the morning, to find Harborough’s men waiting for them once more. The mayhem came to the attention of the authorities, who imprisoned some of the Midland men and fined some estate workers for damage to surveying equipment.”
“In spite of his Lordship’s opposition, however, the Syston and Peterborough Railway Act was passed on 30 June 1845. The law was now firmly on the Midland side, but Lord Harborough continued his opposition. Even though the Act included an amendment which would take the [railway]  further away, there was another brawl which resulted in him driving his carriage full tilt into the railwaymen.”

This record is listed at the National Archives at Kew:

Midland Railway. Branches and Deviations from the Syston & Peterborough Railway: Robert Stephenson, Charles Liddell, engineers. J.G. Binns, surveyor. Deposited 30 Nov. 1845. Act 9 & 10 Vict. c. li.    [including]

Northern Deviation from Melton Mowbray. In Melton Mowbray, Thorpe Arnold, Brentingby & Wyfordby, Saxby, Wymondham, Edmondthorpe (Leics.); Whissendine (Rutland).

“This amendment included a tunnel under the Cuckoo plantation, his Lordship’s favourite part of the park. Unfortunately it collapsed during construction, and most of the spinney fell into it. The Earl was furious and a further Act of Parliament in 1847 arranged for yet another deviation.”

How the story ended – after Lord or Earl of Harborough’s death

Lord Harborough’s Curve around Stapleford Park was a nuisance for the express trains.

“In 1880 when the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway built a branch from Bourne in Lincolnshire to Saxby, the opportunity was taken to reduce the curve with Saxby station being moved in the process.”

“Lord Harborough had died in the meantime [in 1859] and the estate had been bought by Lord Gretton of Burton upon Trent, who was more sympathetic to the railway. The Midland had, after all, made his fortune by taking his beer all over the country and, indeed, his son was later to build the Stapleford Miniature Railway within the park.”

“Although most of the branches are gone, or at least no longer support regular passenger services, the Syston and Peterborough Railway is still in daily use as part of the Birmingham to Peterborough Line.”

The Oakham Canal

Invested in by the 4th Earl of Harborough in the 1790s and skirting the edge of the Stapleford Estate, this was the towpath that gave access to the Earl’s land by the Midland Railway Surveyors. The Canal was not a financial success for the backers such as the Earls of Harborough.

Railway companies arrived in the area in November 1844. When they were approached by the Midland Railway company about proposals for the Syston and Peterborough Railway, the shareholders recommended negotiation. A deal was struck, with the Midland Railway paying £26,000 and 200 fully paid up £40 shares for the canal.”

“In 1844, the canal had carried 31,182 tons of goods upwards, with around 72 per cent of it being coal, and grain and wool amounting to 4,120 tons had passed down the canal. The lack of a proper water supply had resulted in the canal being closed for nearly five months during the dry summer of 1844. The construction of the railway was authorised by Parliament and a second act to allow the canal to be sold and abandoned was obtained on 27 July 1846.”

“The railway from Syston to Melton Mowbray opened on 1 September 1846. It would be more than a year before the sale of the canal was finally completed, on 29 October 1847, but just six months after that, the line from Melton Mowbray to Oakham opened on 1 May 1848. The purchase price enabled a final distribution of £44.35 to be made on each of the original shares.”

The Melton Waterways Society has proposed a restoration of the Melton side of the project:

Stapleford Park Wikipedia entry

Further reasons for the Earl’s objections become clear – his financial interest in the canal network, rapidly being challenged by railways. It was a clash of cultures and between then rising and failing modern transport technologies.

“The 6th Earl objected to a proposal in 1844 to run the Syston and Peterborough Railway through Stapleford Park along the course of the River Eye. Its construction would threaten the struggling Oakham Canal, of which he was a shareholder.”

“The dispute led to a series of brawls and confrontations between the Earl’s men and canal employees on one side and the railway’s surveyors on the other with up to 300 involved in each skirmish.”

Up to 300 on each side gives an idea how large this skirmish was when it comes to gaming this scenario.

Syston and Peterborough Railway website  

Excellent mapping of the area and annotated Google Earth pictures of the remains of Lord Harborough’s Curve can be seen on this useful website:

saxby map
An example of some of the excellent maps on the Syston and Peterborough railway website.

This excellent website gives a further interpretation of the story.

The ‘Battle Of Saxby’ from the Syston and Peterborough Railway website

“Stapleford Park is an estate lying four miles east of Melton Mowbray; in 1884 the owner was Lord Harborough. The Oakham canal, in which he was a major shareholder, skirted the estate to the north.”

“In October 1844 the Midland Railway announced the intention to build the Syston to Peterborough line, and Lord Harborough was approached as one of the major landowners on the route. He made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with the new line.”

The reason or pressure for invading his land by distraction and force becomes more obvious:

“The deadline for getting approval from Parliament was a tight one so the Midland Railway  set about surveying the route without the agreement of his Lordship, and the surveying team soon came to blows with staff from the estate.”

“Things escalated to the extent that hired thugs were brought in by both sides, culminating in a mass brawl on November 16th [1844] which the few local police could do little to prevent. The surveying chains ended up in the canal, and the railway side gave way. Court appearances continued into April 1845, from both sides, and the skirmishes entered local folklore as the ‘Battle of Saxby’.”
“In mid 1846 the Midland Railway  decided to look for an alternative route; by this time the two outer sections of the line were open and the hold up was costing a great deal of money.”

The Canal Company in which Lord Harbourough had a financial interest was failing, especially due to a lack of water supply in dry weather, an ongoing problem that had shut the canal throughout half of 1844.

“They had originally intended to curve the line around the Park on the route of the canal, which the Midland Railway  had bought for that purpose, but now they surveyed a shorter line to the south of Stapleford, which would tunnel under the Cuckoo Plantation to hide if from the big house. Work began on this diversion, but unfortunately the tunnel was very shallow and it collapsed, taking much of the plantation with it. All work stopped and there was stalemate again.”

this was the loss of the trees that so upset Lord Harborough, the landscape he wished to preserve.
“Desperate to get the line open, the Midland Railway accepted that they would never get the cooperation of Lord Harborough so they built their line in a tight curve well to the north of Stapleford Park on land not contested by His Lordship; he was paid £22,000 by the Midland to finally resolve the dispute.

Lord Harborough’s Curve

“It was far from ideal; the curve meant that speeds had to be kept low which became more of a problem as the years passed and expresses were more tightly timed. The station serving Saxby was built at the beginning of the curve, well away from the village but ironically very well placed for Stapleford Hall. Construction costs, on the other hand, were far less because there was now no tunnel to build, saving £35,000.”
“Not until 1892 was the situation fully resolved, by which time Lord Harborough was long in his grave; the curve was eased and a new line constructed very much on the alignment that had been planned in 1844, with a new junction station and a branch to meet the Midland & Great Northern Railway at Little Bytham. The main line was four tracked around the curve as far as Wymondham Junction.”
The old trackbed of Lord Harborough’s Curve can still clearly be seen, a relic of the days when landowners were all powerful and even George Hudson had to accept defeat.

The Midland Railway development was driven by George Hudson (1800 –  1871) was an English railway financier and politician who, because he controlled a significant part of the railway network in the 1840s, became known as “The Railway King” – a title conferred on him by Sydney Smith in 1844 (the year of the Battle of Saxby). After financial scandal in 1849,  Hudson became bankrupt, lost his Sunderland seat as MP and was forced to live abroad to avoid arrest for debt.


Gaming the Battle of Saxby will be a future blog post 

Curiously, Wymondham a few miles to the North-East of the Saxby Battle is the site of one of the last surviving 19th Century navvy houses.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 24 November 2019 – 175 years on.




Airfix Railway Figures reviewed 1980 and painted 2019

Exciting new arrivals in 1980, still going strong almost 40 years later.

Figure review from Model Railways magazine October 1980

I remember these figures arriving in the shops, coming as I do from a railway modelling family. Eventually a few spare unwanted ones with berets or flat caps, painted black, joined my Airfix soldiers as French Resistance workers, ready to blow up trains rather than repair tracks.

Thankfully these fine figures, along with earlier Airfix railway Civilians and Platform staff, are still available from Dapol:

I have been painting and basing a mix of my old original figures and new ones bought from Dapol for a gaming related Railway project next year 2020.

They might be old figures, some dating back to 1980, but I have tried out what is for me a new technique – using tinted wash from Citadel.

I thought these railway navvies were looking a little too clean, so some brown tinted wash would bring out the shadows as well as the grime. A brown tint would work well with farm workers, workmen and navvies.

The tinted shaded figure is on the left of each pair, to the right the unshaded figure.

The wash works well to pick out face details and also creases in clothing.

The Citadel website shows several ways of applying the shade or wash, either as an overall wash or in recessed shadowed areas. They even have a video to show you how:

and there are various internet forum areas to discuss these paint washes and modelling.

So I shall carry on painting and basing some Airfix railway figures, odd ACW artillery figures and Waggon Train Civilians to give me some useful Civilian figures for future gaming projects.

Blog Post Script B.P.S.

The Wargaming Pastor on his Death Zap budget conscious website has another ‘Peaky Blinders’* style use for these vintage figures – Dapol Gangs

* Don’t ask, I’ve never seen it.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 23 November 2019.

Inky Stephens and Spike Milligan


IMG_0633One of my Christmas 2018 gifts from the family, a heavy hint when seen in a local junk / antique shop, was this wooden station.

Possibly handmade, it is also in the style of Hugar Model Railway buildings.

The inscribed brickwork is interesting, possibly the work of a woodworking amateur or Hugar style company.

The tin or paper advertising signs are similar to Hugar too.

Interesting Stephens Ink advertising poster – similar to the Hugar station.


What it was meant for with OO gauge train and railway figure for scale. Hornby Coastal Freight set loco and carriage.

Looking up Stephens Ink led me to Victorian London, the inventor Henry “Inky” Stephens, his house and gardens in Finchley (now open to the public) and a chance to sit and ‘chat’ with  a famous toy soldier collector …

Part of Inky Stephens’ Wikipedia entry

The Stephens family Ink business brought him a good fortune, left in the form of a house and gardens to the people of Finchley.

IMG_0691 (Stephens Archive Collection) website – that model railway link.

In the grounds of Stephens House, a Grade II listed Victorian house and Gardens which are both now open to the public, is an interesting statue of a past President of the Finchley Society. Sounds pretty dull.

That past president was none other than Finchley resident Spike Milligan WW2 veteran and Goon. He has an unusual bench statue …

Spike Milligan statue bench, Stephens House and Garden, Finchley.

I marked Spike Milligan’s birthday centenary on the Man of TIN blog in April 2018.

You can see Indian elephants on his bench statue, reflecting his childhood in India in a military family. I wonder if a toy soldier is hidden away in the carvings?

So the next time I am in London with spare time, after visiting the Guards Museum toy soldier shop of course, I might find time to go and sit on this bench in the company of some tiny men …

You might beat me to this. If you are in Finchley, you can pop in and ‘chat’ to Spike on his bench, about toy soldiers … or take a selfie with yourself, Gunner Milligan and a toy soldier of course!

BBC Radio Interview with Spike Milligan, In The Psychiatrist’s Chair

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN on Sidetracked 22 October 2019

And to finish … Goon but not Forgotten


Do A Snooville …


snoo 03 crop
Dinosurs, Doctor Who and Railways  – The picture I remember from this article in the  1970s …

snoo 04 crop

snoo 01
Another inspirational Railway Modeller article from my childhood …


snoo 02
“Do A Snooville” in The Christmas edition, Railway Modeller December 1977 – this kid did love it, even in black and white.

snoo 05