St.Albans and District Model Engineering Society

September 2022 Club Night Report

The September Club Night.

The unexpected caught up with us for this evening.  Our Chairman called the meeting together on time and then handed over to Secretary.  The moment of history that was the death of the Queen could not lightly be passed over and I spoke a few words of how she touched so many people and the mourning that the country was feeling at her passing.  We have a new everything now including new problems, all we can do is to ‘Carry On Carrying On’.


We now had to handle our immediate plans of the forth coming exhibition.  Secretary said how good it was to have members sign up for the jobs early on so that the organizing could be done so much more easily.  We have not so far had any response from the Mayor’s Office so unsure if he is available to visit.  It is possible Civic Duties take priority.

I handed over to Clive who is managing the logistics, both in members fitting in with the many small parts that together make the show work and the transport of all the background equipment.  This is all working out nicely.

Then our Chairman introduced, at great expense I might add, fellow member Brian Stringer who is our speaker for the evening.

Brian started with the history of the Liverpool and Manchester railway and the Rainhill trials to find a locomotive for the new railway.  Lion was the second generation loco designed by Robert Stevenson and Brian traced its history and the changes made so that there was now very little left of the original and then followed its long time in retirement to work as a pumping engine.

Rescued half a century later, Lion was eventually put back together to function as a railway engine again and placed as a long term exhibit on a plinth at Liverpool station.  However this did not last long as Lion entered a whole new career in films the first of which was The Ghost Train written by Arnold Ridley who had a starring part as Corporal Godfrey in Dad’s Army later in his life.  The films followed until Lion was getting worn out but fortunately Lion was rescued by the Liverpool museum and restored inside and out and eventually attended the 150th anniversary of the Rainhill Trials.

Brian started telling us of his experience in building his 3 ½. Inch gauge version of Lion which looks very elegant and workmanlike in its appearance.  He had to wait nearly 3 years for the boiler to be made and had built most of the model before it arrived.  It did not fit!  Errors, which can occur in such complex drawings were identified and so ‘adjustments’ had to be made to compensate.

Brian was quite open in his comments on whether the model was a proper representation of the original.  The prototype was so old a locomotive that even bits that were not on the original had still been there for nearly 100 years, so Brian felt that historically there was no problem.

We had a break for tea and there was much conversation and then our Chairman called us all back. Brian then told us of his grandfather and his exploits before moving on to his own experiences in industry from humble beginnings as a ‘gopher’ to starting up his own business in Albert Street St.Albans.  He had a hand in several well-known products including production of the moulds for Sir Clive Sinclair’s first ever handheld electronic display calculator.  He trained up many Tool Makers and had a small circle of 5 who pooled their expertise where necessary for the difficult to make tools.

Brian was very entertaining as a speaker and has to be one of our oldest yet, but still had an excellent grasp of the subject to hand.  Brian was given a well-earned round of applause for his friendly and down to earth talk.  The evening was filmed and the camera used to project the image of his Lion on the screen for all to see.

Thanks go to the chair movers and shifters and as always to Jack and Neil who ably look after the refreshments.

Roy Verden