Friday, 14 January 2011

3 Generations in one class of Locomotive

My interest in trains stems back to my father who was a passionate steam enthusiast and excellent model maker but its possible to trace the interest back to his father and grand father. Effectively the interest in trains and modelling goes back 4 generations. Unfortunately many of the models have long gone but I do have photographs that show some wonderful looking specimens. I am going to start with three particularly interesting models that mean a great deal to me spanning 3 generations of modelling. The fourth generation will have to wait as it’s classed more as live steam model engineering.

My Grandfather Cyril Ellis was a very competent modeller and engineer specialising in scratch built EM and 00 models in the 1950s and 60s. He had built a variety of LMS and GWR locomotives and was planning a layout of St Ives when he sadly died in his early 50s. As a family we don’t have much to remember him by something my father used to point out on numerous occasions. When Cyril passed away my father lent his tools and equipment to Cyril’s brother Ron Ellis. Ron was also a keen model maker and engineer who used the equipment until he passed away in 2007. Unaware to my father, and me the equipment was disposed of rapidly, much of what would have been my grandfathers and his before him disappeared never to return. All the equipment had been stamped with W.H. Ellis and C.R. Ellis; I still have a rummage of old tools just in case I see some initials. Thankfully my father was able to get some light tools and machining equipment but sadly that was it.

The 57xx is the only thing left of Cyril Ellis' modelling career. Made in the early 50s its completely scratch built in brass with a handmade motor. The only thing bought were the wheels sets everything else was either turned on a lathe or cut on a workbench. The model is built to 00 gauge but it was intended to be converted to EM. The locomotive won a number of prizes for the outstanding quality of modelling but it is no comparison to RTR 57xx available today. I have it sat on a point made by his brother Ron (incidentally the only thing of Ron’s we have) in a display case. There is also a box, which accompanies it with his address and details of another locomotive he was building that sadly no longer exists. The only other items are 3 badly knocked about modified triang coaches that were in the stages of a rebuild.
The 96xx is one of the few models my father refused to part with. It was his first kit built locomotive on a scratch built brass chassis made in the 1960s I think sometime in his late teens. This was intended to run on his father’s layout. The detail is quite remarkable and shares some of the details of his fathers; I think there must have been some healthy competition. It retains its original box dribbled with lumps of araldite that looked to have been mixed on its top. My father had up until about 8 years ago a complete set of Exley coaches, that he used to buy once every month with his father from Hatton’s model Shop on Smithdown Road, Liverpool. His uncle Ron Ellis had a complete set of LMS Exley coaches bought around the same time. Other locomotives and kits made by my father included a Bulldog 4-4-0 which was sold to buy 0 gauge models and 2 white metal wagons, a GWR 3 wheel milk van and a shunters pole wagon which are safely put on display.
The third loco an outside-framed buffalo is my creation made out of the remains of a triang chassis and a mainline 57xx body. The motion is built from plastic and brass, with dummy plastic card outside frames and brass brake gear. This was more of a small project to see what I could do with the remains of what was really only fit for the bin. It could do with some extra detail and a driver to hide the motor but I think it goes nicely with the other two.

So there we have it, the 3 GWR Ellis family panniers, spanning 60 years of modelling each one constructed from the materials of its time.  

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