"Perchance you were to visit the town of Trottingham, County Shire on a weekday afternoon. You would see the young colts and fillies playing in the streets of the housing estates, when all of a sudden a noise draws them from their games, to a single road, leading to the centre of town. A stallion stands in the middle of the road, a green flag in his mouth. He turns to the side and waves it. What responds is the low, loud blast of a steam whistle, as the most peculiar locomotive passes through the crossing, hauling 11 gleaming carriages along the former back roads towards the terminus at the town centre. As it passes, the gleaming brass nameplates proudly bear the name "CELESTIA" and the legend "FAIRLIE'S PATENT", and from the cab sides, the image of a white alicorn. This is the Trottingham Vale Light Railway, 24 miles from Trottingham to Longbridge where it meets the Equestrian Rail network, serving day and night."
This is my pet project, the tale of a narrow gauge railway in Equestria, combining two of my great loves - ponies and trains. Back in April/May last year, I won a part built 009 model of a Double Fairlie, fully painted but lacking a chassis. Struggling to come up with a name for it, I eventually went with "Celestia", which ultimately sparked the idea of ponies building and running a narrow gauge line. The design and livery are replicated here, although I can imagine that being on the footplate isn't easy for ponies.
With the debut of Pipsqueak and his accent (however varied it may be), I gathered that ponies from Trottingham speak with English accents. But it can't just be Cockney, like Pipsqueak's attempted accent, so there had to be more British ponies. Hey presto, the region of County Shire. I could come up with a headcanon where British locomotive designs were used and (unlike the show) engines would be portrayed accurately.
Having spent last week in Wales visiting the narrow gauge railways there, I felt inspired to finally draw this picture, instead of waiting for the 009 model to be up and running. Yes, this type of engine actually exists. In fact, the image is pretty much identical to a photo I took of Double Fairlie "Merddin Emrys" leaving Porthmadog on the Ffestiniog Railway (which I think the TVLR to be most similar to). So what we see here is locomotive number 1 "Celestia" charging through the valleys, having just left Colton and coming up on the extremely narrow Foalwyn Tunnel.
"The main engine on the Westbeach and Longbridge Tramway when it first opened was a solitary 14XX tank engine, brought on the cheap from the Equestrian Railway Network when they were proving to small for the ever increasing passenger services. The engine itself, No. 1402, proved more than capable of meeting the requirements for the intense goods traffic coming in from the port at Westbeach, and proved popular with both railway staff and locals who lived near the line. The future of the railway took a turn for the worse though when the engine crew had a run in with a new police pony on the narrow lane the railway shared with the road coming out of Westbeach, who noted the engine as a 'High danger to the public' due to it lacking Cow-catchers and Side-plates when the two thirds of the line were shared with the roads, and the engine crew as 'Regular law breakers' for admitting to having run the service like that since opening day. Unfortunately the tramway company had to give in, and the engine was sent to the Equestrain Railway works in Canterlot to be fitted out for tramway running, due to lack of funds making it not viable to buy in a specially designed tramway engine. When however, a Y6 steam tram was brought a few years later as a spare engine, it was soon found that the choice to convert the 14XX had been a good one, as the Y6 only seemed capable of handling the quieter goods work during the winter.
An unusual occurrence on the line involved the watering of the engine at the Westbeach end of the line. Alas, the layout of the wharf station that was shared with the narrow gauge Maryllyn railway was so tight that the designer had not been able to incorporate a water tower capable of completely replenishing the tanks of the engine, leading to the practice of filling the final amount of the tanks by bucket from the river just down the line on the return trip. It was soon found that it was easier to lift water from the river with the aid of magic, leading to the late addition to the rules and regulations log 'One of the train crew must be a unicorn'!"
So, ever since I drew the Octaparents in the 'Departure' piece I've been slowly chipping away at writing a short history of the narrow gauge railway they were seen travelling on, much inspired by 's 'Trottingham Vale Light Railway', but with the inspiration being that of the Talyllyn instead of the Ffestiniog.
However, the other night I hit a bit of a snag, as in reality the Talyllyn's wharf connects (Or used to anyway!) with the mainline railway network at Tywyn, and this seemed like a likely thing to do on my version, alas, what could I base it on? Then the idea struck me on basing it on one of my favourite railway lines which is sadly no longer, the Wisbech and Upwell tramway (With a hint of The Titfield Thunderbolt thrown in for good measure!)
If I had a 00 gauge 14XX on me right now, I'd seriously consider fitting it with cow-catchers and side plates, they actually fit the look very well. That, and in reality the engine is actually a crimson/burgandy colour on paper, alas my scanner is just silly!
"Vinyl? Why are we doing this again?" "I don't care, they gave me a flag!"
So, once every week I go to the museum in town and just practice my drawing skills by drawing one item from the collection on display. Today I decided to draw a sketch of a 5 inch Gauge steam engine, designed to look like one of the many 4-4-2 wheel arrangement loco's built by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company, this one specifically being engine number '1405'. Unfortunately it was only when I was about to start drawing that I realised I'd accidentely brought my 'ponies' sketchbook with me instead of one of my work ones, so Octavia and Vinyl got thrown into the mix as well so as to not make a random steam engine pop up out of no where in that book.
To say I'm not a professional painter by any means, I'm really pleased with how this has turned out, even though I've only just noticed Octavia's British Rail driver's hat from the 1980s looks totally out of place against a steam engine from the late 1800s. I would use the term 'chuffed' to express my delight, but you know.....irony and all that!
Also, FUN FACT: this is one of the few times that I've actually drawn a train with it's wheels, now do you see why I often cover them with a large cloud of steam?
Once again we return to the Trottingham Vale Light Railway, and in a way we're getting a look into the future. Just like with the last image, the rolling stock is based on 009 models I am building. Key word being building. The engine is largely complete, but unpainted, so this is basically the debut of its planned livery (although the paint I have is darker than the shade I used here). The lining will be challenging as I have never done that before, but it accentuates the Victorian look I want. The coaches are also unpainted. Feedback on these liveries would be appreciated. Here we see the railway's no. 2, "LUNA", waiting with a train at Portmareion station on a warm summer's night, while the guard loads goods into his compartment and the station master talks about various goings on.
I have come up with so many things about this railway. For some reason my headcanon tells me the series takes place in the 1860s, justifying the limited technology the ponies have. The Ffestiniog Railway began using steam locomotives in 1863, although the designs I've used date from the 1890s (but they're so much nicer to look at). Following the history of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway (which the Trottingham Vale is based on), the line has connections to a tramway that, while independent, shared the line to Portmaredoc station. Two more engines were brought on in the 1920s, but ultimately the line closed in the late 1940s and they began to dismantle it. It would've been lost forever had it not been for a very large campaign to save it... There's more if you want it. This picture was a real challenge, since I had no images of the George Englands to work with. Of the 4 or 5 days I spent working on this, only the last one was spent drawing ponies.
I must give credit to ~bobthedalek, who influenced the design of the station master. I was going for something based on Mr Parkin from the BBC show Oh, Doctor Beeching, but I saw his lineart and thought I'd merge the two together. The colouring may be different, but they could easily be different ponies.
As the years wore on, the Trottingham Vale Light Railway saw an increase in traffic at Portmaredoc Harbour. Since opening the shunting had all been done by Earth ponies, however by the 1920s even they were finding the loads to be too heavy. The board of directors decided that a new locomotive was required. Word soon reached them that a planned railway in Far Sawneigh had been shelved due to disagreements with local landowners and the two locomotives that had been ordered were up for sale. Not one to miss a bargain, the TVLR Co. took up the order. The first locomotive to be delivered had been built by Falcon Works. This became the railway's number 3, "Faust", named for a mythical Goddess said to have created the world in a time long forgotten. Shunting became its primary duty, although it was not unheard of for it to haul a special train every now and then.
It's been a while, but we finally return to County Shire. Faust's basis is rather obviously that of Sir Haydn from the 2'3" gauge Talyllyn Railway, seen here running on a line based on the 1'11.5" Ffestiniog Railway. The wonders of 009 modelling, allowing us to mix engines whose prototypes have different gauges and pass it off with the old saying "it's my railway and I do what I like". Speaking of 009, Faust's model counterpart is still being worked on at the time this was posted. The painting is complete and it runs, however I've discovered it's far too light. It can barely pull itself up the gradients on my layout and can't even pull one coach without struggling, so at present it can't even be a shunter. This will of course be remedied in the near future. Take note of the clover on Faust's cab side. In Latin, the name Faust means 'Lucky'.
"Westbeach Town is the main of two stations to serve the town. The other, Westbeach, is located roughly a mile further down the line on the side of the harbour wharf. Being larger than the station at the harbour, longer and mixed traffic trains usually stop here to split their loads, carrying on down the branch to the quayside station. During wet or icy weather, trains also terminate at the Town station due to the sharp descent between the town and harbour. Local folk lore states the reason being due to an overloaded train overshooting the harbour station and the engine coming to a stop teetering on the edge of the quayside! Whilst there is no concrete evidence of this event occurring, it does offer an explanation as to why lifebelts are issued to the engine crews should they be called down to an emergency in the harbour in such weather!" - History of the Westbeach & Longbridge Tramway
Been working on this for the past few days whilst it's been raining outside. Amusingly, since I've been finishing it today, the sun has remarkably decided to rear it's ugly head!
Amusingly, the incident described above did actually happen in real life, on the Alderney Railway on the Channel Islands, on 28th November 1911. The only difference being that the engine went straight over the end of the quay and into the sea, the crew jumping clear just in time. The engine was recovered and repaired, though the crew did indeed have to carry two lifebelts on the engine after the incident!
I have been writing up the totally fictional history of Westbeach & Longbridge Tramway over the past year, and I'm sure there are some of you out there who are probably mad enough to read it when the main body of it is finished. The only problem is where to put it, it doesn't seem like FimFiction material
Not going to lie, the cabless quarry Hunslets are one of my favourite types of engines (Along with the Ivatt Atlantics and the Wisbech Y6's/J70's to name another two). There's just something about them that looks so...nice, especially when you look at the photos of them scuttling around Penrhyn quarry in North Wales. They certainly have a lot of character to them.
It's quite nice working in this style too. Not something I'd do often, but it's nice to keep the skills in shape
the weather was so good lately, I couldn't help but take advantage of it and go out in the garden to lay some more track and play with my cho cho train, and the rolling stock (that I made from scratch)
hooves up all you ponies who would do the same if you could.
p.s. that is actually a good likeness of my train. though it usually pulls allot more stock.