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Alnwick to Bamburgh Express

Alnwick to Bamburgh Express
The Alnwick to Bamburgh Express

One of Rowland Emett's illustrations shows three carriages 'themed' with stereotypes of Scotland, Wales and Stratford-upon-Avon (see below). The management of Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway opted to substitute a Northumbrian-themed wagon for Emett's Warwickshire coach.

The load is a 'replica' of Northumbrian prehistoric rock art along with crates of Craster kippers. Each crate is authentically stencilled 'Robson & Sons, Craster'.

Riding on the rock art are two famous Northumbrian smallpipe players: Billy Pigg (1902–1968) and Kathryn Tickell (born 1967; depicted as on the cover of her debut album from 1984; see below). Hitching a ride back towards his home on the Farne Islands is Puffin Billy.*


The flat bed wagon was scratchbuilt on an LGB chassis using 'lollypop sticks' and stripwood. The rock art was modelled using a custom blend of clay (buff with 10% [by weight] builder's sand and 2% manganese carbonate) and fired to 1260C ['stoneware'] ). The crates were made from inkjet-printed sides and kippers, glued to a cardboard cube.

The human figures were adapted from Preiser 'Adam and Eve' mouldings. Clothes were tailored from masking tape then given a coat of PVA glue before painting. The bagpipes were made from Milliput and small panel pins. Billy Pigg's spectacles are from fusewire, with clear UHU glue holding them in place and also acting as lenses. 'Puffin Billy' was modelled from Milliput around a wire armature extending down as legs.

Hidden under the rock art is a small MP3 player while concealed inside the crates is a small loudspeaker. So the sound of Northumbrian pipes can be heard as the wagon makes its way.

* As so dubbed by Nigel – thanks.

Emett cartoon

The Rowland Emett cartoon which inspired the Alnwick to Bamburgh Express

Kathryn Tickell

The cover of Kathryn Tickell's 1984 debut LP

Billy Pigg

The doyen of Northumbrian piping, Billy Pigg

rock art

The prehistoric rock art at Roughtling Linn

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Text and previously unpublished images copyright Bob Trubshaw 2018–2019