The train shed: Liverpool (Cheapside) G.W.R.

Discussion in 'WR Action' started by jonte, 16 April 2018.

  1. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    I shall, Steph, although still mulling over the gauge.

    Many thanks for your interest,

  2. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    Praise indeed, Dave, thank you.


  3. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    Thanks, Paul.

    Scale and proportion went west some time ago if I’m honest, Paul, but the payoff in the interests of functionality- and my modelling limitations - was a necessary evil. Perhaps the use of different materials in places could have made a difference, but using (mainly) what I had to hand, made this a somewhat thrifty project to complete, and although not essential, I reckon it’s an added bonus on the enjoyment front.

    I think in future, especially where small buildings are concerned, I’ll return to plasticard; if nothing else, styrene strips produced by the likes of Evergreen are not only accurate in form, but can be a massive time saver, especially when that element may occasionally be in short supply.

    Thanks again for your interest and kind words,

    Alan likes this.
  4. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to do any modelling at the moment, so thoughts have turned once again to the planning of an eventual layout. I’ve also been toying with a couple of ideas.

    Here’s my latest:

    1079B82B-6908-46C3-92C8-6AD68396395B.jpeg F7C2936A-F718-4196-B9F3-550DAFEEACC2.jpeg 94AE7806-0015-4EA3-999E-89F7EE1AB814.jpeg

    Sporting a distinctly SR livery and appearance, this blobby looking object currently looks nothing like a GWR signal cabin (unfinished project from a couple or so years ago - yes another unfinished symphony - the roof hasn’t been fixed down for a couple of reasons and the porch roof is languishing somewhere in my wardrobe). However, as the earliest cabins as far as I can tell, resembled those of the cabins that guarded the turnpike roads of yore, I guess it would pass muster in that respect, and the addition of a conical vent from Churchward or Scalelink would fairly impart that Western look. I’ve even considered sanding off the moulded slates and glueing on some ribs to give it that GWR joint LNWR look of some cabins found in the north west of England. But bottom line is, I just like it, warts’n’ all. Actually, it’s just a cut down Dapol job - as I’m sure you can tell - with some embossed plasticard to help alter the sides and rear upper storey, with an added porch from same, and with the staircase suitably reorientated. It still needs windows and doors, but I’ll sort those eventually, hopefully from commercially available items.

    So what’s all this got to do with the price of fish and what on Earth is that criss-crossed girder section leaning against it?

    Good questions.

    Well, Cheapside’s first cabin was a small affair, which, like many model buildings, was built in half relief inside an integral arch in the retaining wall of the cutting, immediately adjacent to one side of the tunnel. As demands occasionally increased over this small BLT, and the railway grew accordingly, it quickly became overwhelmed so that a second cabin was required, one with a better, elevated, view of proceedings.

    But I thought you said Cheapside only had 3 points? Well, it did - at the time I wrote it - but I soon realised that it was operationally boring. Therefore, something not too ambitious, would be required to provide a little more interest.

    See where this is leading, Westerners? Yep, a different track plan - for starters.

    For sometime, I’ve been impressed with the relative simplicity of Glasgow Queen Street, with its mainline terminus of only say 8 or 9 points (visible) as well as its full width overhead signal gantry which would enable me to keep the semaphore signals in one place and prevent foreseeable accidents with a forest of platform end signal posts, especially with my clumsy hands.

    The trouble is, my skills are limited, and the only realistic way of making my gantry work would be to have runs of wire-in-tube leading from each of the possible 8 or more signals (each side of the gantry) which would show up like a pimple on the end of a nose if I was to use an open sided truss type gantry.

    So I came up with the idea of having a raised signal cabin atop a closed girder beam gantry, enclosed by a gantry ‘fence(?)’ of part open-sided metalwork (the criss-cross stuff in the above photos), part closed girder sides e.g. Wills vari-girder. Now, examples I’ve seen in photographs, normally have the closed panel sections surrounding the cabin while the open stuff traverses the tracks below with the semaphore posts attached to them. In my case, as it’s the intention to hide the wire-in-tubes, I’m thinking of doing it the other way round so that the panels hide the tubes behind, if that makes sense? Btw, the criss-crossed section in the photo is from another Dapol kit - continuing the Dapol plunder theme - this time the footbridge kit which I’ve had stashed away for a rainy day. Incidentally, the height of each section is 25mm while the dimensions of each Wills vari-girder section is 22mm square, or so I believe, so it wouldn’t be too hard to match the two.

    There’s also another reason I fancy the idea of an overhead signal cabin.

    I mentioned that at the moment, I’m unsure about the choice of gauge. The scale stuff is my preference as I’ve said before, but as I’ve only one point constructed, another in a bubble pack waiting to be built, an almost finished sector plate and only one working loco in P4, it would be some time until something of interest could be anywhere near playable, especially as time is again limited for the time being, so pragmatism dictates something more assailable: ‘OO’ gauge. In time, when time permits, I would also like to cut my kit building teeth on a loco or two without the need for compensation, just to get a feel for things, and this uncomplicated style of build lends itself better to ‘OO’ gauge, although I’m sure many competent P4 examples exist. It would also allow me time and funds to accrue the necessary tools for the job, especially those lovely adjustable jigs.

    I suppose now is as good a time as any for opting for ‘oo’ with the release of the new Peco BH range, but again, here lies another predicament for me: I’ve a load of Peco Code 10o gifted me by my brother-in-law a couple of years ago, who is essentially a sailing ship modeller, and I just hate to see it lie idle. Using it would certainly be a cheaper option too.

    So how to disguise it? I’ve already decided to secrete much of the rail under the shed using ballast/blocks ‘Temple Meads’ style; additionally, as viewing will be across the platforms and from platform level, much of the track will be out of sight of the observer. Outside the shed, perhaps the addition of platform awnings will screen some aspects, and an iron bridge crossing the cutting will also serve to cast some valuable shadow befor it disappears into the tunnel. And in this respect, use of an overhead gantry filled with timber planks as planned, would also cast some additional shadow over the slightly tall rail sides and short chairs. It’s interesting to note that in many pictures and videos say of Paddington station, once shadows are cast as suggested, much of the track detail is lost and the rail takes on a deeper profile, not unlike my courser choice. Perhaps I’m just trying to kid myself andI’ll wake up in the morning and smell the roses, but there is still much appeal in this simpler approach.

    Time will tell, Westerners, and there still may be plenty of time yet to ponder before I can dive into the modelling pool once more.

    Thanks for reading.

    BrushType4, Bob 81C and John57sharp like this.
  5. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    I apologise for resurrecting this long-forgotten thread of mine after so long, especially as I have no modelling to offer (if you’re anything like me, I only like looking at pictures so feel free to move on without reading any further), but in lieu of such, I’ve decided to fulfil a promise to @Osgood - or any other WT-er in the unlikely event that they might be in the slightest bit interested in this remotest of possibilities (if that makes any sense?).

    Eventually, I intend to start a new thread chronicling the construction of this layout, and create a link to this for continuity, so if anybody is interested, bear with me and I’ll do so in due course, providing details of gauge, size and track plan which I hope some will find if interest.

    It’s unlikely that I will be attempting to do any modelling until the warmer weather arrives, but my goal at present is to at least construct a working chassis for a Manor Class loco in the time available.

    Until then, thanks for looking.

    P.S. the kit-bashed signal box in the previous post won’t be making an appearance; I’m going back to an original idea for Cheapside’s box.

    Liverpool (Cheapside) G.WR. - a history.

    According to some, Joseph Willamson (1769-1840) was simply an ‘eccentric’ business man; a philanthropist, best remembered for his labyrinth of tunnels hewn from the soft sandstone bedrock on which stands the City of Liverpool. Apart from mention of one or two apparent unusual traits, this rather unkind description of a man who did a great deal of good for the poor of the city is unqualified.

    However, there is no doubt in the minds of many that this slur is due to the very tunnels for which he is renowned, creations that many saw as mere folly.

    But look at little closer, and you’ll find that the ‘facts’ don’tquite fit.

    You see, Williamson was an inspired businessman of working class roots, whose acumen saw him grasp every opportunity to work his way up the ladder in his future father-in-law’s tobacco business, eventually acquiring the business for himself following the former’s death. But add to this the fact that, unbeknown to his late father-in-law, Joseph had been busy squirrelling away the healthy profits of his own successful tobacco businesses for several years hitherto, in essence, making him a direct competitor of the hand that fed him. Already it is plain to see that Joseph had a ruthless streak to his character, essential some might say to the development of the accomplished empire builder he was to become. Ironically, it was these private interests that ensured the necessary collateral to acquire the business from its eventual owner: his brother-in-law. That, and the fact he’d married into the family!

    But it was this very ruthlessness, drive and foresight that made him the man he was; a man who not only did business with the up and coming port of Liverpool, but also with its established contemporary: Bristol (perhaps not in usual in itself, however this willingness to speculate and refusal to be tied to one master, would provide the impetus for a whole new venture) and further evidence of a man who wasn’t averse to doing a deal with the devil by having a foot in both camps. So you see, the Mole of Edgehill, as he affectionately became known, never did anything without a reason. Even one of his eccentricities which has been described elsewhere, wasn’t the peculiar act it first seemed after hearing the full story - in the interests of keeping to the plot, I shall refrain from regaling you here with that tale, save to say that how else does a rich man ensure that his many acquaintances are indeed true friends? So you see, everything done for a reason.

    Therefore, is it likely that this shrewd businessman and tunnel engineer – you can add that to his list of attributes – would merely waste the last of his years and flout his hard-earned wealth boring holes in the ground and paying the masses to pointlessly move earth from one point to another, then back again, for no other apparent reason other than he could?Perhaps. However, whilst on the surface (no pun intended) his honourable intentions to busy the recently demobbed soldiers of the Napoleonic War and provide them with an honest income cannot be challenged, the reasons that this was simply the good deed of a man of considerable wealth wishing to share some of it via trivial means should, and has to be folly in itself, especially in light of the evidence.

    So what on earth, does all this have to with railways?

    Even in his latter years, when attention had turned away from a more recent venture of property developing in the Edge Hill area of Liverpool, his passion for business was never far from Joseph’s mind. Perhaps it was a sheer stroke of luck that Joseph took up residence and located his tunnels in that particular area, but it cannot go unnoticed that Edge Hill was also the site of the western terminus of the pioneering Liverpool-Manchester Railway of 1830. Like many of his contemporaries, Joseph was struck by the prospect of railways and the opportunities they could provide, especially in terms of investment, and with it all happening in his own back yard, well, the temptation to do a little prospecting of his own was just a little too hard to resist.

    Already a man of influence, Joseph had the ear of several landowners especially Lord Derby, a conservative bitterly opposed to change and, like so many of his ilk, averse to the notion of these new-fangled iron-horses traversing his land. Indeed, it was Derby who was instrumental in delaying Stephenson’s venture, and possibly one of the reasons why Stephenson looked to exploit Joseph. That, and of course, his experience at tunnelling through sandstone rock, essential to Stephenson’s goal of getting his line the final couple of miles or so into the City, and essentially, the environs of the lucrative docks.

    But with his interest already piqued, Joseph had no intentions of extending his benevolence to a possible rival in Stephenson, as he’d already commenced a project of his own;one that would be in direct competition with Stephenson’s by attracting business from more southwesterly provinces; one which he could drive through without incurring high costs; one which a wealthy financier of Joseph’s standing – with a little additional investment - could deliver. He had the ambition, the finance, the workforce, and much of the engineering know-how that had allowed him to make a start, in effect, putting him ahead of his competitors. Most importantly, however, in this dawn of the railway age, he had the ear of the gentry, essential to getting any proposal through Parliament – or even just to broach the subject. As mentioned, the biggest obstacle to the plans of any railway entrepreneur, were the landowners and canal companies, especially the latter who saw the railways as a threat. For what Joseph had in mind, however, the owners of the only canal affected along his proposed route – the Sankey (St. Helens) Canal – had no axe to grind with him, satisfied that Joseph had no desire to poach the relative small fry of an upriver wharf which it served. Indeed, Joseph had bigger fish to fry down in Liverpool’s docklands, enhanced by the conveyance of City businessmen, ‘for hire or reward’, into the heart of Liverpool’s business district, an area known to its inhabitants as Cheapside. No doubt, with Joseph’s gentle powers of persuasion, the canal owners, having had the pros and cons of such a venture spelt out to them, would have succumbed to the inevitable.

    So, returning to Joseph’s biggest hurdle, how would he persuade the reluctant landowners to come on board and offer their full support, both financially and politically? Apart from the prospect of change, many claimed that the sight and sounds of these horseless carriages would prove detrimental both in terms of aesthetics and to the welfare of their livestock, to say nothing of broaching their revered hunting grounds.

    However, Joseph could circumvent these issues by offering assurances that the urban part of his line would be mainly subterranean, and that his proposed terminus of Warrington, a town several miles to the south east of Liverpool situated on the upper reaches of the Mersey, and which many considered Joseph’s home town, could be reached by skirting the banks of the estuary along its entire length, obviating the need to encroach on the estates of any country pile (apart from Speke Hall, of course, however we’re thinking here in terms of ‘real estate’ of the influential). What Joseph intended to do with his line on reaching Warrington would be a matter of concern, something he was acutely aware of and perhaps a moot point, but Joseph knew only too well that financial enticements were key to maintaining the interest of any potential investor, and securing the trade from all ports west, including the nugget in the form of the Port of Bristol, would, he considered, be enough for them to grant him at least a listening ear.

    Perhaps it was naïve nee foolhardy even of Joseph to have started his project without Royal Assent – I prefer to think it as yet another mark of his enduring prowess and confidence at getting his own way, and let’s not forget his unwavering support of Liverpool’s poorest in the process - but by Spring of 1828, two years prior to the opening of the Liverpool-Manchester Railway in 1830, the subterranean section of his scheme had all but been completed and was ready to burst forth from the rock-face in Dingle, close to where the C.L.C.would later plumb the depths into Central High Level Station.

    But, you see, even for those of privilege, not all hurdles were so easily overcome, even in more clandestine times.

    I refer here to the acquisition of locomotives. Even for Joseph, especially at this relatively embryonic stage of railway development, this was to prove a monumental task . From where was he going to secure this fundamental detail of any railway system, past or present, without giving the game away? While, to date, he’d somehow managed to carry on covertly constructing the built environment of his railway beneath the streets without attracting too much unwarranted attention, it would no longer be as easy to conceal his plans from prying eyes, as the Stephenson’s were the ‘go-to’ of the time in terms of loco construction and purchase, with their superior engineering knowledge, work force and foundries.

    Obviously, Joseph still had much to do if his venture was ever to see the light of day.

    But there again, personalities of Joseph’s standing wouldn’t let something as trivial a detail as this put pay to their best laid plans, and although not a matter of record, other avenues would undoubtedly have been explored- was it for instance Joseph who first sparked the seed of rail travel from the southwest in the mind of a certain engineer while discussing the prospect of locomotion, and whose son’s name famously became synonymous with railways in this region? That’s how deeply influential the Mole of Edgehill was in those innovative times. Indeed, a bridge for crossing the Mersey at its first narrowest point was outsourced to the engineer Charles Vignoles (he of the iron rails). Essentially of wooden construction – unlike his later iron construction in Oxford – it was to have been akin to a method he had become familiar with during his army service and more durable than one at first might think (and of course, economically sound). Coincidentally, Vignoles was later employed as a tunnelling engineer himself at the behest of Stephenson, for a later railway venture beneath the streets of Liverpool, and from which his services were ignominiously dispensed with; in favour, I believe, of a certain Mr. Gooch, no less.

    Sadly for Joseph, however, he was beginning to face his greatest nemesis: his ailing health. Project managing, as we’d call it in this day and age, eventually proved nigh on impossible, and during bouts of illness, others were beginning to round on Liverpool and his other target, Bristol, as history has shown. Undoubtedly, without his dynamism and oversight, the project was doomed, and regrettably never got any further than that unremarkable Dingle rock-face.

    Finally, on 1st May 1840, the great man succumbed to ‘water on the chest’ and died along with his, and mine’s, hopes of God’s Wonderful – as it eventually became known - ever gracing this most northerly of outposts – as indeed it should (Cheapside is a far more fitting location for an Inter-City railway station than Lime Street, or at least I’ve always thought. Consider Exchange Station (Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway) on the other side of Dale Street from Cheapside and its far more salubrious surroundings in the business district).

    What therefore, one wonders, would Cheapside station have looked like?

    Attached is a (rather poor) sketch of the dungeon-esque conditions likely to have formed part of this subterranean world, that would have seen the embarkation and disembarkation of members of the poor (like me) and other goods – as well as providing cover for the ubiquitous turntable or traverser for the release of steam locomotives - with its soot-stained brick arched ceilings and longitudinal cast-iron beams stretching its length.


    Meanwhile, the upper-echelon of Liverpool’s Georgian society would have enjoyed the more genteel surroundings of a train-shed, located in the only part of this underground creation open to the elements: ‘in order to relieve the ladies of their claustrophobic tendencies’.

    The station building, almost certainly entirely constructed below ground level, would either have been of stone and brick construction in typical Regency style, or of timber as many of the earliest stations were, anything above ground consisting mainly of an atrium, perhaps with a covered iron awning for the protection from the elements of the upper classes as they alighted their horse-drawn carriages.

    So what, if anything, is left to substantiate any of this?

    Certainly no trace above ground would have remained following extensive war damage and post-war modernisation, although perhaps one day, when funds allow, the friends of Williamson’s Tunnels Friends of Williamson's Tunnelsmight excavate the terminus buried beneath, along with much of what remains of his extensive tunnelling – or, more likely, during the pending navigation of these old underground passageways, which will once again see a number of the city’s stations of yore returned to service.

    And wouldn’t it, indeed, be a fitting epitaph for a remarkable man who, amongst other great achievements, did so much to relieve the suffering of the poorest in one of our greatest cities, long before the creation of the Welfare State?

    Watch this space.

    Alan, Ressaldar, BrushType4 and 2 others like this.
  6. John57sharp

    John57sharp Active Member

    Jonte that is a most interesting tale indeed, and I look forward to reading more in due course. I keep half an eye on developments from the Friends and it is amazing what is being discovered, so who knows what else lies below the great City? Maybe even that infamous steam locomotive reserve is sat waiting for service in that subterranean shed.......? (Tongue firmly in cheek)

    jonte likes this.
  7. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    A man after my own heart, John.

    Many thanks for reading and I hope I won’t disappoint ;)

  8. Brian T

    Brian T Western Thunderer

    Fasinating Jonte,you just never know what lies beneath....

    The more i read,(and especially looking at the drawing) the more imagies were being conjured up of lonely shaft`s of light piercing the damp quite darknesss of the tunnel`s,which are occasionally broken by the shril shrek of a steam loco`s whistle,and then that crossed with some post technilogical age fused with mechanical beast`s of a futuristic age,and you could almost have a steam punk vision.....

    Or is that just me, :rolleyes:

    (royalty free download)

    Great stuff,

    paulc, Alan and jonte like this.
  9. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    Liking your, ahem, train of thought, Brian;)

    Glad you enjoyed it; didn’t really think anyone would.

    Many thanks,

  10. adrian

    adrian Flying Squad

    I enjoyed it - it's just I'm still lost in Williamson's Tunnels!
    jonte likes this.
  11. Alan

    Alan Western Thunderer

    I do like a good back story and that is one heck of a good back story, Jonte.
    jonte likes this.
  12. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    That’s why I’d always take a ball of string down with me, if I was ever brave enough to venture there :)

    I’m really pleased that it seems to have captured your interest, Adrian.

    Many thanks,

  13. jonte

    jonte Western Thunderer

    Very kind of you to say so, Alan, and I’m glad you took the time to tell me.