PROTOTYPE QUESTION OF THE MONTH
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.