16mm Projects

Alan Poxon : Tubs, Trams & Hutches

Nowadays, the word tram is used to describe a light railway passenger vehicle that runs along tracks in, or alongside, roads. However this is a relatively recent use as indicated by the mining term trammer who is someone who moves the mined material from the working face to the surface. Traditionally a trammer pushed mine wagons that were variously called tubs, trams or hutches depending on which part of the country, and what type of mine, you were in.

I was once assured by an elderly resident in a Derbyshire lead mining village that the term tram was derived from the surname of Benjamin Outram who was a Derbyshire engineer responsible for building early horse-drawn railways. Depending on where you live, these plateway, waggonway, gangway or tramway lines connected mines and quarries to nearby canals. However, Outram lived from 1764 to 1805 and there is evidence that the term was in use well before then.It is believed by some that mine wagons running on rails, rather than sleds being dragged along the ground, were first introduced by the German miners brought to Cumbria in 1563 by Queen Elizabeth I. The innovative copper mining technologies introduced by these miners had been catalogued in the book De re metallica published in 1556. This shows mine wagons running on parallel wooden planks laid on the ground. The word tram is given, by some sources, as being of Germanic origin from about this time.Mine wagons remained essentially the same dimensions for hundreds of years, limited by the capacity of the trammer to push the loaded wagon along the rails. From the 17th century, they were of all wooden construction with wooden wheels on wooden L-shaped track. Mine wagons evolved by adopting first metal wheels and later metal edge rails. Similarly, the body of the mine wagon gained metal fittings before some eventually becoming all metal in construction. Straight, or sloping, sides of the wagon gave way to more curved forms with the introduction of metal bodies.In the Pennines, fireclay is often found in association with coal and the same type of wagons was evidently used for mining both.

Having visited an abandoned fireclay mine and seen the jumble of rusty metal that used to be a mine wagon, I decided that it would be nice to have a couple of heavily weathered tubs to pull behind my only 45 mm gauge battery diesel. I wanted the model to represent a metal, curved-sided wagon and the Swift 16 small tub fitted the bill. Not much construction involved with these resin kits, just drill holes for the tubes that takes the axles and another hole for the hook at either end.

On a tour of another mine in Northern England, our guide informed us that hereabouts fireclay is more commonly known as ganister and the rectangular mine wagons used are called trams. Perversely, in these mines trammers were called drawers. This particular mine was a series of workings along the moorland edge that were linked, at one time, by a tramway to a firebrick factory. Originally worked by horses, and later a tractor, nothing remains as the track had been sold for scrap and the wooden trams burnt to recover the metal parts. However, in one of the spoil heaps was a broken wooden box that had once been the body of a tram. Tarry black paint was peeling from the wood and a single metal fitting remained. These metal rings were apparently used to lift and empty the trams in the firebrick factory.

This was the second model that I wanted to build. I used Lineside Hut Dinorwic flat wagons as the basis for the models which, I estimated, were of the correct size and, more importantly, they came with metal lifting rings. The body was scratch built from wood with lines etched to represent the planks.

Painting of all the models started with the usual primer followed by the body colour of red oxide for the tubs and matt black for the trams. Weathering began with RailMatch Light Rust for the wheels & axle boxes followed by liberal amounts of Town & Country Scenics Rust-it paste. This water-based paste comes in two shades of brown that well represents the characteristic iron staining found in many fireclay, or ganister, deposits in the Pennines.

All I need now is a rake of Scottish coal hutches.








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