A Pug’s Home?

No, I’m not talking about a kennel!  Those who have been keeping track of what feels like an odyssey in my search to find a idea for a layout will know that the scale of my ambition has been reduced to something achievable and I have decided to create a small shunting layout.  The idea is to have a fictional scene set in Scotland in the early 1950’s and be a home to a much modified Hornby Caledonian Pug (click here to find out how I came about this idea.)  The Caledonian Pug 264 class has a complicated history and rather than repeat it, I’ll refer you to one of last years “model of the week” blog posts (click here to read.)

The Caledonian 264 (pug) class arguably has a fame that is a little disproportionate to the number built (32) and number saved (0.)  It’s fame largely comes from the Hornby model 56025 “Smokey Joe” that has been in the range every year since 1983.  Interestingly, the real Smokey Joe was the St Rollox works pilot and was kept immaculate.  I’ve purchased a picture with copyright of the real 56025 for the blog (see below) that gives you an idea of what the real thing looked like.

Caledonian Pug Real 56025 Smokey JoeThe locoyard Caledonian 264 class is number 56038 and it worked from Dawsholm shed (code 65D) in it’s early British Railways career.  Dawsholm was a relatively small shed compared to St Rollox and as such has modelling potentially but only for those with a lot of space.  In model terms a large model railway shed will 4 lanes wide and two large locomotives deep, however this was tiny compared to the true cathedrals of steam and the “small” Dawsholm was home to 61 steam locomotives.

For me this poses an interesting thought; if you were to model a true home for a pug, you would need a massive layout.  Despite their diminutive proportions, many Caledonian Pug worked in large settings.  The next interesting thought is concerns the locomotives that would have worked alongside Smokey Joe and 56038.  I like many of you will be well aware that Scottish modellers are under-represented by ready to run model manufacturers, but I think it would shock many to find out how massive the gap is.  If you wanted to model Dawsholm in early BR times in 00 scale, you’d need to build kits for 55 of the 61 locomotives, with the remainder being four Caledonian pugs (Hornby) and two standard 4MT 2-6-0’s (Bachmann) making up the numbers.  Building a home for a Caledonian Pug would be no easy feat!

A woeful looking no 2 - N3452 1885 at Baroney Colliery, Auchinlek, Ayrshire 9-9-1968Fortunately, the plan is not to make a home for a pug, but rather a place it visits.  Shunting would often be done by one locomotive covering different business and industrial sidings.  The expense of a steam engine for one industry would be prohibitive for most industry.  For the purposes of my plans for a toy factory, a locomotive would visit and I think a Caledonian Pug could quite plausibly have done the job before shooting off to somewhere else nearby, perhaps visiting once a week.  This means that no engine shed will be necessary in my model.  If however, I was to model a bigger industry, particularly coal or a power station, a locomotive or a few and a railway to serve it would be justifiable.  In case this is something you like the sound of, I’ve included a couple of pictures of industrial pugs.  The picture above shows a typical industrial pug at Baroney Colliery, Auchinlek, Ayrshire in 1968.  It shares some similarity to the Caledonian Pug and I would think it could be reasonably recreated from a Hornby model.  A different view of another locomotive at the same colliery is shown below.

W4775 1894 at Barony Colliery Auchinlek 1968Back to the layout plans, I’ve decided that a simple shunting scheme be fine, although I was hoping to be able to have a line running past to add some variety.  Obviously the lack of Scottish prototypes means it is somewhat restrictive in terms of what could run past the sidings without building a kit.  Fortunately however, passing trade could be hauled by Scottish BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4T 80009 for the time being and who knows, perhaps another Caledonian prototype will be produced in model form in the future.  The only present Caledonian prototype options are the 264 pug or the Caledonian Single.  The Caley Single is a celebrity rather than a useful type and the model is an awful old Triang moulding that was revived recently by Hornby with a better mechanism but no other improvements.  Both are pictured below.

I therefore add my voice to the Scottish modellers and ask that something better be produced.  The Caledonian Railway had some stunning locomotives and I am certain that they would sell well if produced.

In the meantime I’ll continue to plan Caledonian Road!  Watch this space!

3 thoughts on “A Pug’s Home?

  1. Thanks for the support, Dave! 😊
    The reason there’s a family likeness with the above pugs is that the 264 class was essentially an off-the-shelf Neilson product. If you like modern industrial terminology, it was a standard platform that could be tailored to the specific needs of the customer. As you may well be aware, Neilson built very similar pugs for the NB which became LNER class Y9. You can still see one in the museum at Boness. Add to that the multitude of locos built for industrial concerns across Scotland (and possibly one or two in northern England too and you have a pretty successful design.
    I remember rushing out in December 1980 and using my meagre pocket money and a traded in Airfix 31 to acquire a Caley blue version which I then repainted into 56025!
    I was bubbling over with inspiration after buying (with my ‘Yopper’ money ) a copy of Brian Morrison’s ‘Scottish Steam Album’ a week or two earlier!
    I suspect we may well see a kit of a ‘264’ in the next couple of years!


  2. My grandfather Robert Graham of 3 Banks Road Kirkintilloch was a pug driver for most of his life. I have a photograph of him with the same model of pug as shown at the Baroney colliery taken around 1901. Would be good to know more about this pug and where it might have been working. We dont know what pit he worked at (maybe Woodilee) but might be possible to work that out from the photo. I am happy to share it. Was this pug still working in 1968?


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