An Article on the Original 1953 Track.

Text of an article appearing in the 'Model Engineer' magazine of 18th June 1953.


On Saturday May 9th, the Newton Abbot & District Model Engineering Society's passenger carrying railway in the Penn Inn Park, was opened by the chairman of the Newton Abbot Urban Council, Mr. N.P. Roberts, J.P. who is president of the Society.
It was a great day for N.A.D.M.E.S. members, also for visiting Societies who came, some with locomotives, from various parts of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.   All had great praise for the enterprise of the society - the youngest in the South-West area.   A well known member of one of the oldest Societies in the area remarked that N.A.D.M.E.S. had certainly "shown up" the South-West by its go-ahead policy which the club has adopted ever since its inauguration five years ago.   The site, which is very picturesquely situated, was decorated with shields, emblems, B.R. posters and 480 ft. of pennant flags, banners, etc.

The First Run

At 3 p.m. H. J. Cooper, vice-president, after a short opening speech, asked the chairman of the council to open the railway.   The chairman, his speech delivered, and with his wife and the Clerk of the Council, climbed aboard the waiting train headed by a Hielan Lassie built by I.C. Moxham, vice-chairman of the Society.   With a blast on the whistle he drove off to break the red, white and blue tape stretched across the track, amid cheers from over a thousand spectators.   Later, the track was cleared, and some 450 passengers were carried without mishap.

The track marshall, L. Hunt, prepared a running time-table for the nine locomotives present, but it could not be adhered to, owing to the number of "customers".   At times there were three locomotives on the track which called for some efficient signalling, but all went well, and each of the locomotives present got in at least a full hour's running on the track.

The Track

This is roughly egg-shape, 366 feet around, with one 40 ft. radius and two 35 ft. radii.   The 1-in. x 1/4-in. steel rails are supported on sleepers which lie across a double circuit of 2-in. x 2-in. x 3/16-in. angle-iron, clamped to the concrete "A" shaped pylons, which vary in height from 10-in to 2 ft. 7-in.  There is also a turntable (which does not wobble about) to run the locomotives to and from the steaming bay.   Adjacent to the steaming bay is a water tank, the base of which is used for an oil and coal store.   The tank has a pipeline to it and can easily be filled by hose from a nearby tap.

The show-piece is perhaps the station - Penn Inn Halt - the foundation of which is built up with concrete blocks, and is in the form of three walls with staggered ties for strength.   The plank platform is laid on top of the foundation, and is so constructed that it can be removed during the winter months.  It is 13 ft. long, and is a double one, i.e. on both sides of the track.

At the rear is a wooden railing of the type seen on railway stations.   The station board is typical of that seen on the full-size railways; it has raised letters cut out of wood and screwed on the baseboard.   The station is painted cream and brown, the G.W.R. station colours.   The whole railway is fenced in from the public so that nobody can stray onto the line.   There is also guard rail at the steaming bay to keep operators there from getting too near the track.

The society is insured against third-party risks and boiler burst.   A test committee has been formed and all boilers and cars have to be examined before going onto the track.   The third-party insurance is covered by the society funds, but that against boiler burst, though handled by the society, is paid by the owner of the boiler.   Each boiler is insured for £5,000 and the owner pays a premium of 15s. per year to the society.   When a boiler has been passed by the Test Committee, the owner receives a Test Certificate which also acts as a receipt for his 15s.   Third-party coverage is £10,000.

Additional attractions at the opening were demonstration runs on the as yet unfinished car track, and passenger hauling by E.T.A. Sims with his showman's engine described in the April 23rd [1953] issue of The Model Engineer [magazine].

Before the chairman of the council opened the track, his wife, Mrs. N.P. Roberts was presented with a bouquet by Gillian, the four year-old daughter of vice-chairman I.C. Moxham.   The flowers were grown in the garden of the society's founder and oldest member Mr. S.G. Underwood.

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