Amongst the hundreds of old railway magazines I have recently been given to pass on to my railway modelling family members, I wondered if there was a special little article or two that I remember reading in the mid 1970s.
One of them was, I was sure, a Junior Modeller sort of article about WW1 using Airfix WW1 figures. I checked all the Railway Modellers first. as luck would have it, I eventually found it, after flicking through thousands of pages.
I remember this April 1976 article very well as a child from the railway magazines that were around in our house. The Junior Modeller pages were about as much as I could understand of these technical grown-up magazines.
What I liked about this article was that the Airfix figures and models were ones that I recognised and owned. I could perhaps do something similar?
It was written by a young person as well, a 15 year old called Julian Chambers.
I hope somewhere that a mid 50-something Julian Chambers still has this gem of a 009 little layout tucked away. Interesting to read about a planned possible extension through the quarry tunnel. I wonder if this ever happened.
The text mentions of Bellona houses and Jouef trains didn’t mean much to me at the time – what was 009 anyway? As it was the photographs that I remember best, I have edited the pages to produce some close ups of the photographs by Roy Chambers.
The difference between a model railway or diorama piece like this and the wargamer’s approach is that these Airfix figures and tank are fixed or “pinned down” (in the old, entomological rather than gaming sense).
Without figures fixed down and based, you could fight this scenario over and over again, bringing in reinforcements by train. The closest to Bellona trenches and these troops you will get now is the small offerings in the Airfix Somme Centenary set – now sold out on Airfix.com – so get it while you can. https://www.airfix.com/uk-en/battle-of-the-somme-centenary-gift-set-1-72.html
I clearly recall these many of these photographs 30 to 40 years later, so often did I pore over them. (Star Wars still hadn’t happened by then).
I even wonder if the way I sketch out scenario maps for gaming is influenced by this terrific little map that I looked at so often. It linked so well with the photos.
Julian Chambers mentioned an interesting little colour illustrated Blandford style book Railways and War before 1918 by Denis Bishop and W.J.K. Davies, 1972. Not sure if I ever found this amongst the Blandford Uniform hardback colour books in the local library but I now have this on order (lots of them still out there affordable second hand) along with the sequel Railways and War Since 1917: featuring World War II (in Colour) by Denis Bishop and W.J.K. Davies, 1975.
So thanks Julian Chambers for the inspiration still many years later, Roy Chambers for those photos and Railway Modeller with its Junior Modeller page (does it still have this?). You made a small boy happy and a grown-up small boy even happier still to rediscover that this was just as good as he remembered!
Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, Sidetracked blog, 15 August 2017