History on Wheels

Dear reader, you would have to visit a Star Trek convention in California to see as many anoraks as at a model railway exhibition in England, and the one Chris Webb and I attended at Barton Peverill School, Eastleigh was no exception.  So you can imagine my discomfort on first meeting Bruce Harding, who knows just about everything concerning transport in Wessex, as against me, who knows only name, date of birth and, oh yes, 1066.  Well, to my surprise I was in for a most pleasant hour or so as Chris and Bruce chatted about railways.  Read on, enjoy, and be wise. – Derek Pickett

HISTORY ON WHEELS (or 4mm to 1 foot – OO to those in the know)

by Chris Webb

I mentioned Wessex Wagons to Derek; oh, he said, that sounds like an interesting article for the Wessex Chronicle.  Little did he realise the fascinating local social and industrial history that lurked in every Wessex railway station!  So it was we arranged to meet Bruce Harding (right) of Wessex Wagons, a delightful niche company he runs with his wife Helen down in Stogumber.  To cater for model railway enthusiasts and collectors, Bruce markets models of the railway wagons that belonged to local traders, mainly coal merchants.  Over 50% of all rolling stock on Britain’s many railway companies in 1910 belonged to such private owners.

Wessex Wagons’ news sheet is a snapshot of firms long since gone.  For example, A.E. Early of Winchester had their own coal wagons which they could send off to their preferred colliery, to arrive back full at Winchester Chesil station to be off-loaded and delivered by horse and cart to their customers.  They knew their customers and the type of coal that kept houses warm!   

An enormous amount of effort is put in by Bruce and his many contacts to ensure the accuracy of the firms who owned wagons.  If it is not correct, collectors in particular will not buy.

Wagons that Bruce is offering include C. Gething Turner of Bournemouth Central; Marlborough College; Taylor & Anderson of Farnham; Weedon Brothers of Goring and Wheatley.  Your scribe has a friend called Tony Lamdin in Adelaide, South Australia so what better Christmas present than a wagon of Lamdin & Sons of Haslemere who were distant relatives; and so the list goes on.  Ewens of Emsworth; A. Hinxman of Devizes; Charles Hill of Tetbury; Alfred Horsman of Compton near Newbury.  All suitable for running behind your Hornby GWR locomotive – or LSWR, or Midland Railway – as part of an authentic goods train.