16mm Projects

Alan Poxon : Ten Trucks For The Fourth Baron

One wet weekend, we paid a visit to the railway museum at Penrhyn Castle without realising that there was such a long walk from the car park. The highlight was getting up close and personal with the Penrhyn 'main line' Hunslet, Charles, resplendent in black livery with stunning blue and red lining.

More recently, I had been admiring two 16mm locos owned by a fellow enthusiast with the same lovely Penrhyn livery. It was no surprise therefore, that when Accucraft brought out a model of Hugh Napier with the same paint scheme, I just had to put my hand in my pocket.

When Hugh Napier was built in 1904, it was the last of a class of six 'large quarry' Hunslets built for Penrhyn Quarry. The slate quarry, at the time, was owned by George Sholto Gordon Douglas-Pennant, the 2nd Baron Penrhyn. He was 68 years old at the time and named the locomotive after his 10 year old grandson Hugh Napier Douglas-Pennant. On the death of his father in 1927, Hugh Napier became the 4th Baron Penrhyn and took charge of the quarry where the Hunslet locomotive carrying his name was still at work.

Hugh Napier with a short slab train

Although my rake of slate wagons looked good behind Hugh Napier, the locomotive was based in the quarry galleries hauling waste to the tips and slate slabs from the working face en route to the cutting sheds.

This project was to recreate a small rake of each type of quarry wagon to haul behind Hugh Napier. First off were the quarry waste wagons by Lineside Hut. These were very simple wooden kits that went together well but needed the addition of hooks a both ends to allow them to be used as a rake.

Penrhyn slate waste wagons

The short wheelbase and light construction required the addition of significant weight before the wagons would run smoothly behind the Hunslet. Slate loads were fabricated from balsa which was broken to replicate the size and shape of the quarry material destined for the tips. In 1913, Penrhyn quarry adopted Henderson Inclined Cableways above their 400 feet deep excavation. Many waste wagons had metal rings fitted to attach to these Blondins and the Lineside Hut model came with these as an option.

Detail of the load of slate waste


Slab wagons in North Wales slate quarries came in a variety of designs but I opted for the simple flat-bed model similar to that on display in Penrhyn Castle. Lineside Hut have a range of such designs and I chose the basic model. To this I added my own rough wooden spacers that support the slab above the flat-bed to allow chains to be passed around the load for lifting. On the prototype, the weight of the slate slab alone is enough to keep it in place during transportation. My load was slate pieces, liberated from the new path at Parkwood Railways, held in place by Blu Tack.

Slab wagon


The slate slabs often overhung the ends of the wagon and a small runner wagon was usually placed behind the locomotive to protect the backsheet. For this, I used one of my PS Models slate wagons that had suffered in a derailment. A new flat-bed was made from balsa sheet that had been deeply scribed to represent the planking. The prototype in Penryhn Castle has a shallow wooden lip around the edge of the flat-bed which I fabricated from coffee stirrers. This lip is to hold in place the assortment of chains, couplings and tools used by the quarrymen.

Runner wagon


3d printed tools were obtained from SLR Models and stuck to the runner wagon along with suitably rusted chain and coupling. The runner wagon already had a small amount of additional weight added underneath but the slab wagons with their load were already heavy enough. Three link chain was needed between Hugh Napier and the runner wagon but the rest of the rake is more closely coupled using black fishing swivels. The waste wagons need three link couplings due to the overhanging load at one end of each truck.

Ten trucks for the fourth Baron

Now, I wonder if Hugh Napier ever hauled Penrhyn fullersite wagons?

January 2022




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