Black Dog Halt or Black Dog Sidings

Black Dog Halt article from Model Railway Constructor 1987

This is one Sidetracked blog post that I should have posted for World Mental Health Day on October 10th.

Modellers and gamers that I know talk about visits from the Black Dog, a metaphor for depression made popular by Winston Churchill but dating back older than him, possibly to the 18th century and lexicographer Samuel Johnson of Oxford Dictionary fame.

Maybe Railway Modellers down in the Coal Dumps are visiting Black Dog Halt …

I have written on my various blogs about the benefit of modelling and the hobby community for positive mental health, especially for veterans the Models for Heroes:

Sadly I don’t think this Black Dog series of articles was ever completed as I think from memory that the MRC magazine closed in 1987.

Originally called Black Dog Sidings, here is an even better metaphor or analogy for model railway modellers who have lost their modelling mojo or zest for tiny railway life. They could write or say “I’m in the Black Dog Sidings …”

Read more history and see then and now photos at

However as a disused station halt (1863 to closed 1952 / 1965) turned cycle path, there is some coverage of this former Chippenham Wiltshire GWR railway line on Wikipedia

Linked to Bowood House and Lord Lansdown, there is an interesting WW1 footnote:

The station was provided with a long goods platform served by a single siding and ground frame. This was often used by Lord Lansdown for the temporary transfer of valuables to his London residence.

During WW1 a top level war cabinet meeting took place in a carriage berthed in the siding. At the time a military unit was stationed in outbuildings opposite the station.

Laura Lian’s gates photographed Geograph / Ron Strutt Wikipedia Commons.

These magazine articles came from a batch of 60s to 90s Railway magazines kindly lent by a work colleague for the modelling and history articles. I’m not sure I have the magazines for this Black Dog series of articles anymore.

In conversations with my model railway family (we’re all one inch tall and made of plastic), they had mixed reactions to the recent TV series Great Railway Modelling Challenge on Channel 5.

One point we didn’t make in our brief email conversation on the programme (and that the Bake Off type challenge programme didn’t make) was the positive mental health and social benefits of modelling and the modelling club or community.

Here’s hoping you avoid Black Dog Sidings and Black Dog Halt …

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 22 October 2019