Understanding prototype practice via WTT Appendices


Understanding prototype practice via WTT Appendices

Postby Bigfish » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:10 pm

Santa kindly brought me a copy of "Right Track no 15 - Railway Operation & Signalling" with Messrs. Essery and Shackleton, and a jolly interesting and informative show it is (so much so that even the Lady Wife watched the particularly riveting bit when the banana train arrives and gets shunted....).

Mr Essery recommends learning about how railways operated in practice by studying the relevant appendices to the Working Timetable ie back to the primary source material.

I've gradually reached the conclusion that what I'm modelling is "Midland in the 1930s".

So I wondered if someone could advise me on what particular documents I should swot up on, and even maybe point me in the direction of a suitable commercial source (eg copies of the originals).

Many thanks


User avatar
Tim V
Posts: 2429
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:40 pm

Re: Understanding prototype practice via WTT Appendices

Postby Tim V » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:30 pm

It's important to understand that any pre 1960 document will give you what you want. Post 1960, the railway changed out of recognition.so don't restrict yourself exclusively to Midland 1930. A book from another period may give you answers.

On my WR shelf is a Service Time Table. An appendix to the timetable. A general Appendix. A signal appendix. A signal regulations book. And most important a rule book. Virtually everything stems from the rule book.

Most are originals, though some are reprints. Acquired over many years from second hand dealers, passed to me, found in junk shops....

Unfortunately, official documents will only give you part of the story. A lot of how the railways were run was not written down. However, this is not an excuse for the operation seen on most models, which bears scant resemblance to the real thing.

A favourite of modellers is to produce a picture showing some "odd" arrangement. Unfortunately, the photograph was probably taken, as it showed something unusual. Photography was relatively expensive pre war.

Do not be drawn into copying other models operations. You don't know how well the builder has done their research.
Tim V
Scalefour News Editor

Armchair Modeller

Re: Understanding prototype practice via WTT Appendices

Postby Armchair Modeller » Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:57 pm

In very general terms the appendices to WTTs are descriptions of specific exceptions to general operating practices. This might include things like descriptions of how particular private sidings were operated, limits on the number of wagons that could be operated between particular points on a line, even which side of the brake van the guard should look out from to avoid being hit by another train in a tunnel.

Unless you have a specific location in mind for your model, they might not be particularly useful. Even with a specific location, there might be nothing special to record.

Ebay is a source, as are secondhand book sellers. You may occasionally find them on sale at preserved railways.


Re: Understanding prototype practice via WTT Appendices

Postby Bigfish » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:50 am

Thanks chaps for your helpful replies, much appreciated. To my shame having read your replies I recalled that I had already acquired (but never read!) from the Signalling Record Society the MR 1904 "Rules & Regulations for the Guidance of Officers and Men", and the Appendix to the WTT no 25 (1913). So I dug them out and what astonishing documents they are. They are so detailed and comprehensive, covering every imaginable situation (presumably built up by precedent/previous catastrophe) - I have no idea how anyone could possibly have remembered them, since you surely didn't all walk around constantly thumbing through them for the relevant para. I was particularly struck by the constant use and importance of head and taillights of various colours and combinations, and of handsignals. I notice that Rule 201 appears to have fallen into neglect by the modern railway companies: "When a deficiency of room occurs in a train while on the journey, the Guard must request the Station-master to telegraph to the next Station where carriages are kept, to have one or more in readiness to attach on the arrival of the train, reporting the fact in his journal. He must also report in his journal if he has habitually either an excess or deficiency of room in his train." Nor is the comfort of "ladies travelling alone" attended to by the Guard any more (rule 197). Good to see how much progress we've made since 1904....

The DVD I referred to had a particularly interesting section in which the Warley MRC recreated actual chunks of operations from the contemporary timetable. I'm surprised there seems to be so little written down about what you actually did in detail on a day-to-day basis to run a railway. Presumably everyone was too busy doing it. Can you think of anything which might shed light?

Return to “Operating in Practice”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest