Model Rail (UK) - - Know your stuff -

I’ve bought a Bach­mann Wick­ham trol­ley (BR steam era), but can you tell me how they were used? I imag­ine BR had hun­dreds of them buzzing about all over the sys­tem, be­tween trains.

Jimmy Barnes, Cardiff

Chris says: The Wick­ham trol­ley was a means of trans­port for per­ma­nent way crews of two or three men. In my time liv­ing be­side the South­ern Re­gion, dur­ing the 1950s/60s, I don’t re­call ever hav­ing seen a Wick­ham trol­ley. That might have been be­cause of the prox­im­ity of the live third rail, but at that time most of the daily rou­tine of track main­te­nance was car­ried out by a ‘ganger’ on foot. He would walk his sec­tion, out on one track, back on the other, check­ing for prob­lems and knock­ing loose keys back into place with the key­ing ham­mer which he car­ried over his shoul­der. Where a Wick­ham trol­ley was used, the track gang could cover a longer length. The trol­ley would be stored, off the track, in a line­side shed. A tim­ber deck with rails en­abled the gang to lift the trol­ley and turn it through 90º to trans­fer it be­tween track and shed. As it would oc­cupy a track sec­tion, it would be treated as a train and the ganger would com­mu­ni­cate ac­cord­ingly with ad­ja­cent sig­nal­men, usu­ally by sig­nal post tele­phone. At that time, there were plenty of sid­ings or yards where a trol­ley might be parked while the gang worked, but if none was avail­able a cou­ple of strong men could sim­ply lift the trol­ley onto the line­side. How­ever, with Bach­mann’s model, which has its trailer per­ma­nently at­tached, you will need to have a handy refuge sid­ing into which you can run it.


Above: An in­spec­tion trol­ley at Cold­stream sta­tion in 1961.

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