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Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Work On Volk's Railway Continues...

A little while ago, the terminus at the Marina end of the Volk’s Electric railway was pulled down as it was old and dilapidated and needed rebuilding. 


The Aquarium Station had last seen serious refurbishment and structural attention back in 1983, for the centenary of the opening of the world’s first passenger carrying electric railway. However, since then, besides running repairs and repainting, the station had received little in the way of renovations.







Part of Brighton and Hove's Rejuvenation
So, in the autumn of 2016 both the Aquarium station and the Car Sheds just next to the Peter Pan station were brought down, Cheesemur, the contractors who have been tasked with the construction work, had to cut down the scaffolding which had been holding the building together for 15 years as many of the bolts were rusted shut. The sheds, and the scaffolding, had become a familiar sight for many visitors and residents, so it was almost sad to see it all go, however, thanks to the efforts of British Airways’ i360 and the local council’s many other endeavours there is a great deal of rejuvenation going on around Brighton and Hove, so a sparkly new Volk’s will be a welcome addition!

Since the Car Yards and Aquarium station were demolished, a programme of reconstruction has been undertaken from the ground up. However, because of the seasonal nature of the railway's timetable, there has been little interruption to the railway's timetable.  This being so, once the work has been completed by summer of 2017 the work won't interrupt the normal running of this popular seaside service.

Ravishing Rolling Stock!
And if you're wondering what happened to the rolling stock while all this construction work was going on and the Car Sheds are down, you won't be disappointed to find that they too are having a major spruce-up! The cars have been sent to Alan Keef Ltd, an engineering firm specialising in narrow gauge railways for industry, commercial, heritage and private coach and rail. So when they come back, we expect to see beautiful, fresh trains running in and out of equally trim stations.

(The photos here illustrate the construction work that is currently going on at the Aquarium station because your correspondent simply forgot that work was going on at the Car Sheds at the same time. This blog will be updated as soon as he’s been down to the site to get some photos of the progress of the work taking place there!)






Saturday, 28 January 2017

Things Are On The Move Again Around Brighton Toy and Model Museum


Castor and Sir Glanville
Well, it’s a New Year and time for a rethink of where things go in order to maximise the space that we have available here at Brighton Toy and Model Museum. The first thing you’ll notice when you enter the museum is that the model of the Sir Granville traction engine has been moved to a position just behind the steam roller Castor in the foyer. Once the plinth that the Sir Granville usually stands upon has been fully repaired, it will return to service in this new location. In the meanwhile, a new display for shop sales has taken the place that the Sir Granville used to occupy, meaning that we can lay out more vintage treats that you can buy and take away to enjoy at home.

The Sterling Steam Loco
Changes to the museum’s exhibits continue. Once you’ve bought your ticket and made you way up the steps into the museum proper, the Sterling, which currently stands at the head of the steps into the museum will be moved to a new location. It will soon sit upon its own section of bridge, which will span the passage from the central O gauge display to the OO gauge at the back of the museum.

Where The Sterling Will Go
Once the display cabinet in which the Sterling steam locomotive currently resides has been freed up, we’ll be able to put out other displays for which we don’t currently have a secure, protected place to exhibit.

The Bridge, Under Construction
Changes aren’t only afoot in the world of steam. Museum staff Andrew and Jordan have been carefully cataloguing and recording a number of different puppet theatre backdrops. Now that stage of the museum’s housekeeping work has been completed, it will soon be time to put them out for the public to enjoy. Of course, it’s not so simple when you’re always having to invent new ways to maximise the use of the limited space for all the beautiful things we have to show. But somehow Gordon, the museum's handyman extraordinaire, always manages to amaze the rest of us by coming up with ideas and constructions that do just that.  He is currently building the section of bridge upon which The Sterling will be displayed, and he is also creating a set of unique shallow cabinets that will make the most efficient use of space in Puppet's Corner, in which the now catalogued puppet theatre scenery will be exhibited.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

We're Going To Be On TV Again!

Yesterday, as a favour to our chums at the BBC, we closed our doors unusually early.
They brought down a film crew and made themselves free among our many exhibits of toys and models. They interviewed Chris Littledale, curator and founder of Brighton Toy and Model Museum, about all things model train and model for a few minutes and then got on to the real interviews.

Theo Pathitis was interviewing Giles Chapman for The One Show, BBC 1’s flagship teatime talk show, about his latest book on Corgi cars. And what better place to carry out such an interview than in front of our huge collection of Corgis, Matchbox and Dinky Cars. Glenn Butler, owner of the collection that Brighton Toy and Model Museum hosts was also on hand to give a few extra details on the finer points of the history of British made toy cars and trucks.

We’re always happy to play host to any TV companies who need a
venue to record interesting TV shows about toys and models. Chris and his collections have appeared in several TV shows about the Golden Era of models and toys, and being an expert in this field, he’s always happy to chat about the subject with more authority than just about anyone. The interviews were filmed between 2pm and 4pm with the crew finally finishing filming all the cutaways and establishing shots at about 6.30.

Even if you’re not a with a TV production company you can get that VIP experience. While Chris won’t always be on hand to give a lecture, we do offer free guided tours of the museum. If you’re in a group at the museum on a Thursday afternoon, all you have to do is ask. One of our trained members of staff will be able to take you around all of our displays, talking about the history of the items and maybe bringing back many of your own memories of the playthings you had as a child.

At the time of posting this blog we don’t have the precise airing date for the segment that was filmed with Messrs Pathitis and Chapman, but we’re told some time in February.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Demolishing Aquarium Station and Volk's Car Yard

There are many things going on in Brighton at the moment. A lot of regeneration and renewal, which is all a welcome sight.

The i360 proved contentious, a lot of people think it’s great, many others are disappointed by it and would have loved to see something different for a modernised seafront. But love it or hate it, you can’t argue that it is indeed iconic and has been a welcome boost for business in the area. You just have to walk along the prom to see the restaurants are all bustling at all hours.

Another programme of renewal which hasn’t received so much attention is the demolishing and rebuilding of many of the structures used by Volk’s Electric Railway.

Volk’s Electric Railway, as I’m sure you’re aware, is the oldest electric railway in the world, running from the Palace Pier to Peter Pan and Black Rock every summer since 1883. Over those years the buildings at the stops have come and gone and workshops have been built where the trains can be repaired and maintained to keep them in perfect running order for holiday makers and residents of Kemptown to commute along the seafront.

So, just as the rolling stock needs attention, so do the infrastructure that supports them, and that is why most of the buildings on Volk’s Railway property have been pulled down over recent weeks.
The first building that was brought to our attention as having been pulled down was the workshop next to Peter Pan. It’s true that the building was far past its prime and the options were clearly to overhaul it completely or rip it up and start again. It had been patched up so many times that a new start on the site really was the best option. Then we also noticed that the ticket booth at the Aquarium Station had gone too.

It’s unlikely that anyone will be sad upon seeing the buildings removal. And the contractors are already at work creating a substructure that will support a new Aquarium Station and visitor centre at the pier end of the line telling of the history Volk, the current electric railway, the seashore electric railway that today we call the ‘Daddy Longlegs’ and the other contributions and influence that Volk made toward electric powered railways, tramways, streetcars and vehicles throughout the rest of the world.

Construction on these projects to build a new station, visitor centre and yard/workshop will be quick, it's scheduled to be completed by spring 2017. That means that there should be plenty to see and do when the railway reopens for the summer season.

Our Last Running Day Of The Year!

We love our Running Days here at Brighton Toy and Model Museum. It’s unfortunate that we can’t put more on, but in order to preserve these valuable model trains, we’re only able to put Running Days on every so often, and when we do, it’s always a special occasion.

If you haven’t been to one of our Running Days before, it’s a chance to see many of our precious, rare model trains running around our purpose built diorama in the company of other rail fans and model train aficionados. The central area of the museum is normally kept behind Perspex in order to protect the exhibits, however, during the Running Day we take the barriers down so you can get a super view of the trains as they pull into and out of stations, and speed around the track, just as the makers, including Hornby, Marklin and many others intended.

Taking the acrylic screens down also means that you can get some great photography, without reflections, distortions or flare. If you’re a lover of old train sets, or vintage toys generally, this really is a pre-Christmas treat that’s perfect for you.

Admission is ten pounds for adults, five for children, but the price is halved for friends and patrons. Why not become a patron on the day and start enjoying the benefits of half price entry right away? As well as seeing our unique collection of trains, you’ll also, naturally, have full access to the museum so you can see all of our exhibits, from soft toys, Corgi and Matchbox cars, Meccano and their competitor construction kits as well as many other rare and fascinating toys from the past.

The trains will be running 11am to 1pm and from 2:30pm to 4:30pm on Saturday December 3rd, so put the date in your diary!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Due For Arrival; The Jenny Lind Locomotive

Jenny Lind
There’s a gap one of the display cases in the Brighton Toy and Model Museum’s foyer at the moment. What used to be a shelf dedicated to the glory days of the Brighton Belle is currently standing empty. But not for long.

Jenny Lind was a famous singer of the  1840s. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, and known popularly as ‘The Swedish Nightingale,’ Jenny Lind found fame throughout Europe and North America, reaching the peak of her success in the 1840s. Her first performance in London was in the opera Robert le Diable in 1847, with Queen Victoria in attendance. It was only two years later that she would announce her retirement from the operatic stage, and still nobody knows the real reason why.

Given a Famous Name

Awaiting The Arrival Of The Jenny Lind
As she was already famous throughout Europe, and she made her British debut in 1847, boilermakers E. B. Wilson and Company of Leeds built a steam locomotive for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, and it was named ‘Jenny Lind’ in her honour.

The loco’s design proved to be extremely successful and was used as a blueprint for successive steam engines throughout the 1840s 50s and 60s. Indeed the design was so useful that form of the Jenny Lind became a specific ‘type’ of engine. With more than seventy individual locomotives being built for a number of different railway companies, it became the first mass produced consistent type of railway locomotive in the world. In fact, the type became so consistent that the manufacturers chose to charge a premium from railway companies that ordered an engine that deviated from the type in any way.

The Perfect Location

Now obviously we don’t have one of the original Jenny Lind type locomotives, but we do have the next best thing: a 1-16 scale 3.5” steam powered model of the original engine as engineered by Bill Hinchley of the Milton Keynes Model Engineering Society. The engine has been donated to Brighton Toy and Model Museum due to the strong links between the original Jenny Lind engine and Brighton, indeed, where better for it to find a home than Brighton’s famous model museum?
The final exhibit is currently being prepared, the brightwork polished and the paintwork buffed. The model of the Jenny Lind will see its own debut on the 14th of October and will sit alongside paintings of the Brighton coachworks which used to be next door to Brighton railway station, a model of The Leader, an experimental steam engine of the 1940s built in the Brighton Coachworks and several other pieces of memorabilia of Brighton’s steam past including original lamps from the historic Brighton Belle.