SANDY

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Bassett-Lowke Gauge 1 island platform (c.1937), TCS, Biggleswade - July 2014

BACKGROUND

THE LAYOUT

Sandy is different from our other layouts in that it is Gauge 1, rather than 0 Gauge, and - other than a resin windmill, made by Garden Railway Specialists - it uses exclusively vintage items.  In fact, virtually everything was first made by the German based firms of Bing and Carette (for Bassett-Lowke) and Märklin (for Gamages) during the ‘Golden Age’ of Gauge 1 1909 - 1914.  This not necessarily to say, however, that these particular items are quite that old.  As it all came from Germany, the outbreak of the Great War obviously brought a halt to production, and three years later Carette later went out of business altogether, so the Carette items certainly date from that 1909-14 period, and indeed many have ‘running numbers’ which are actually dates, ranging from 1909 to 1914, each understood to refer to a new printing of the lithography. It is more difficult to date the Bing and Märklin items, although some undoubtedly come from the revived production of the early post-war period.  The major exception is the Bassett-Lowke large-scale island platform, which is later.  In fact, this can - if one accepts the circumstantial evidence - be dated quite accurately, as it came complete with what is presumably its original crate, bearing a Belfast address label, and with the bottom lined with pages from the now-defunct ‘Morning Post’ for 1st July 1937. Unfortunately, it is missing its original chimney. A friend therefore made a replacement for me - complete with a totally anachronistic satellite dish, which does add a humorous note!

Aside from the locomotives, rolling stock and accessories, the track is also of the period, and is by Märklin (some is marked ‘Gamages’).  There are only two radii of curve, and the smaller of them is impractical for use by anything other than the two 0-4-0 ‘112’ tanks (and even then it is distinctly ungainly) so in practice we only use a single oval of track as a running line.

Aside from the Gauge 1, I also have a collection of Gauge 2 rolling stock by Carette, some of which we usually bring along to provide additional interest.   As Gauge 2 is hardly ever used now - even by collectors - it is not uncommon to find Gauge 2 stock that has been re-gauged to Gauge 1 (the difference in size not being very great).  Although I would not do this myself, I do have some pieces of Gauge 2 that have been converted in this way by previous owners, and some use is made of them in the trains.


REQUIREMENTS

Sandy, In Befordshire, is where the East Coast Main Line from London to Edinburgh, owned here in pre-Grouping days by the Great Northern Railway, was once crossed by the Varsity Line from Oxford to Cambridge - now closed east of Bedford - which was part of the London & North Western.  It was also one of the names used by Bassett-Lowke for its stations, including the large-scale island platform seen in the photograph - a very lucky co-incidence, because even before the building was purchased (at an auction in Towcester), the Gauge 1 collection had already been set on a GNR/LNWR theme, these two pre-Grouping companies, who owned the London ends of the East Coast Main Line and the West Coast Main Line respectively, being the ones (together, perhaps, with the Midland) that were most favoured by Bassett-Lowke and Gamages in the years immediately preceding the Great War.

The minimum area required for a sensible layout would be approximately 8’ x 12’ - but more would be better, especially length-wise.