Some of my older colleagues remembered a large British Railways “0” gauge model in the early 1950s, which visited “BetterHomes” exhibitions and hobby shows, but could give no details. Eventually, some years later I obtained a copy of this booklet, and was surprised by the sophistication of the models and the fact that they were all apparently made by British Railways own staff in a workshop at Stratford. I would have expected them to have been supplied by Bassett Lowke or the Leeds Model Company. The models were described as “fine scale” with an “exact scale replica of real railway track”, the locos picking up current from outside third rails. The public image of British Railways in the first years of Nationalsaton was not good, and it began to improve in 1951 with the appointment of John (later Sir) Elliot as chairman of the Railway Executive. Elliot, a journalist by profession, was appointed Public Relations Assistant to the General Manager of the Southern Railway in 1925, where he was responsible for turning around the public perception of the railway by various imaginative measures. After filling various senior positions, he was appointed chairman of the Railway Executive in 1951, when he greatly strengthened the Publicity and Public Relations department at HQ and in the regions.
The model railway dates from this period, and the booklet carries a recruitment advert. Policy at the time was that steam would continue to be needed for at least 30 years, as money gradually became available for wide scale electrification. There was an urgent need to recruit boys straight from school (the leaving age at the time was 14) to train as steam engine cleaners. They had to be small enough to climb through the fire hole doorway, to clean the fire bars and boiler tube plate! An unusual little item.
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