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.
The 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!
Fortunately, 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.
Back 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!