(According to Peter Sheppard)
This could be a while, so I hope that you are sitting comfortably......
This is a mixture of my personal history with model engineering and how the LM & WR got started.
I am what you would call a career anorak! I have always been interested in trains, ever since I was old enough to turn the key of my clockwork Hornby train set! Even in the day job I am involved in the safety analysis of railway signalling systems. I moved from the traditional electric train set (I graduated from the clockwork!) into SM32 (live steam narrow gauge in the garden). I decided that I wanted to build a steam engine. I bought a lathe, a second hand Myford ML7. I bought the material for the frames and the wheels. Now I had 20/20 vision (I still do!) and I was finding it far too fiddly. So I needed something bigger to work on! One year, whilst on holiday in Cornwall was charged with looking after the dogs whilst my wife took the children up to St Michael's Mount. I just happened to have a copy of Exchange and Mart to read with my tea. In there was a part built Simplex for sale. A trip from Plymouth to Bournemouth to look, followed by a trip to collect and "Pennine" (a 5" gauge part built Simplex) was mine.
At the time I was fortunate to be a member of Plymouth Miniature Steam. I could not have asked to be amongst a more pleasant group of model engineers who were more than supportive of this first venture of mine into 5" gauge live steam. With their help (thanks Don, John, Malcolm, Dave and many others) the boiler passed its hydraulic test. The frames were tested on air and approximately 18 months after bringing Pennine home from Bournemouth she had her full boiler ticket and was running at the Plymouth track whenever I had the opportunity. I did however, still coveted the 7.25" gauge. For me, size was important! I liked the idea of a petrol based engine. Instant "grunt" at the turn of the key and no messing about with coal etc. (don't get me wrong, I love steam engines, it's just nice to have power at the turn of the key!)
Pennine came with me when we moved to Trowbridge. She had several runs at a local private railway (The Great Bulkington Railway) and with the owner's help (thanks Nev), she was fitted with O-rings that significantly improved her performance. I still wanted to go bigger! A new group started at Shepton Mallet (The East Somerset Society of Model Engineers). They had plans to build a 7.25" track (somewhere!) and I can claim that I was one of the founder members of that group.
At the same time, I was still looking for somewhere in the Trowbridge area to build a 7.25" railway. I approached the council (most Model Engineering Societies seem to have links with their local council somewhere!) Whilst they couldn't directly help, they put me in touch with the Hope Nature Centre, a local group who were planning a centre for Special Education Needs (SEN) adults in part of Southwick Country Park, just down the road from me in Trowbridge. I looked at the site, proposed a route, it was combined with the request for planning permission for the Hope Nature Centre and the planning request was granted. So, I had a site and planning permission, I was just waiting on the Hope Nature Centre to get their funds together and all systems were go.
At the time, the nearest 7.25" tracks to me were either Bristol or Swindon, so I thought that there might be a place in Trowbridge for a 7.25" society. The TAD GLS was born. I described the Ground Level bit as being similar to the "flat-earthers" only we were dealing with steam trains (but considered to be just as strange!) I had the odd enquiry, lots of spam to the e-mail address, but no serious interest.
At around this time I started building my petrol hydraulic engine Stumpy (see the link to rolling stock from the main menu). Unfortunately the funds for the main part of the Hope Nature Centre were a long while coming, in the mean time it became apparent that it was very much a commercial railway that was required and that was something that I couldn't support as it is a hobby, not a day job!. So I started looking for a new home for Stumpy.
At the time I was still a member of the West Wiltshire Model Engineers, but by then I had sold (actually swapped) Pennine for a part built Midge (a Great Western 11xx Dock Tank). I tinkered with Midge but the main focus was on Stumpy. In the meantime I purchased Mouland, a small 7.25" gauge narrow gauge outline 0-4-0 steam engine, that came with approximately 100 yards of aluminium track and two, 2 axle chassis. Also, around that time I purchased a set of parts for Holmside (an 0-6-0 standard gauge tank engine), together with about 20, fifteen foot lengths of heavy duty aluminium rail (part worn and no sleepers). As it turned out (by pure luck) both lots of rails were identical in section!
To find out why I decided to create LM & WR Co. Ltd., follow this link
The original railway was built by Grahame Every, myself (Peter Sheppard) and my younger son, Robert. We were assisted by Fred (a friend of Grahame's) and Terry Hayward from the college. On running days we have been helped (on an ad hoc basis) by Mike Hanscomb, Pete Beacham and my eldest son, William.
We have recently been joined by Paul who has an electric powered Hymek and is prepared to "muck in" over various weekends to get the track back up to scratch, to keep it that way and to help with the extensions and enhancements we've got planned.
If you want to join us, please feel free to contact me to have a chat. We are not a society, there are no membership fees, we just ask that if you agree to turn up, you do so! You will be doing it for the love of it (there is no salary, or expenses) but at the same time we will not be asking for any financial commitment from you.
I do it because I enjoy playing trains, seeing my "creations" work and I enjoy the pleasure that the children get out of riding on the trains.
I can be contacted on:
Home: 01225 753960
Mobile: 07971 590205
This is the end of the History, so
On to the LM & WR !