The honourable slipper boy - Part 3

This is the third and final part of a story based on a real incident on the Great Western at the turn of the century. It draws on the transcripts of a court case at Old Bailey. The story is narrated by Dennis Watts, a slipper boy in the employment of the GWR. The story began here.

Having produced their damning evidence, Detective Benton and constable Walmsley rounded up the four thieves and took them to court. I was the star witness at the trial, and made sure to tell the story well. Based on my testimony, Woods and Lawson were convicted and put away.



Unfortunately Fraser and Marsh - the two other slipper boys - got off free. I hadn’t counted on that. After the trial they returned to work and cornered me.




I ran off, but they chased me…




…all over…




…the goods depot.




In the end I had to call for help…




…and soon we were four against two.




We quickly overcame the two villains, tied them up, and… 




…packed them in a couple of tea crates. They were forwarded that night on the 2AM goods, labelled for Thurso.




Because you see, dear reader, I haven’t been quite honest with you…




I’ve got a gang of my own, and we didn’t want those amateurs intruding on our turf. Not that they were any competition, really. We’re a pretty organised bunch. My uncle the goods checker is on board, and Watts the GWR copper. Handy people, if you’re into goods scams. You see, we don’t deal in petty theft. We aim much higher than that: We have ways…




…of making whole trucks…




….disappear.



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Editor’s notes:

You may be wondering how much of this actually happened. The story roughly follows the real events recorded in the proceedings from Old Bailey up to the point of the trial (albeit in a simplified form, and with the names altered). The original theft of the satins and silks, and the clever detective work of matching the pieces of wrapping did thus in fact happen. The appearance of our “hero” the slipper boy as the star witness at the trial is also true, as is the fact that two of the thieves were released after the trial.

From there on, the story is fiction. Or is it? A closer reading of the court proceedings leave certain questions unanswered, and it is these “loose ends” that inspired the rest of the story. As for making whole wagons disappear, I refer to “GWR Goods Wagons” by Atkins, Beard and Tourret (1998 edition) which in the preface states that 3 wagons were added to the condemned list in 1908 because “they had not been heard of for 10 years” (sic).

PS: I’m using the term “truck” rather than “van” or "wagon", as that is the term used by all the staff in the testimonies of the court case at Old Bailey.


Comments

  1. Well, the conclusion to the story was well worth waiting for, it was most enjoyable. It really does add another dimension to the model, this story telling and photography. Of course it is done so well and cleverly too, but you have added something wonderful...you've done for models what Andrew Martin did for the railway novel and it is just as authentic. By the way, I love your new-look Header! Excellent.

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    1. Many thanks Iain, these stories usually end up becoming longer than I plan for, which is one reason it takes ages between each update! I liked the idea that this story is "based on" real events (well, to a point!).

      I think there is some potential for modelling to become a way of reproducing real historical events - big and small - which would be interesting to explore more.

      Glad you like the new header :-)

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  2. It’s been a great run and I’ve enjoyed the series. Great idea and implementation! I especially like the way you used the different locations and angles inside the building to tell the story. Hope there's more in the future.

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    1. Thanks very much. It's safe to say that there aren't many angles I haven't photographed on this micro layout now! One advantage though is that I've learnt something about layout design from trying out different angles.

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  3. An excellent final part to the story, and I think perfectly believable.

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    1. Thanks Mark. One disadvantage of focusing on the "human" aspect of railways like this is that you have to accept the compromises involved with the figures. Some of the scenes would look more realistic without the figures, simply because it is hard to make figures look real (especially with my limited figure painting skills).

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    2. I actually think your figures are excellent. Not only do they look great in the photos (and I guess at normal viewing distances they'd probably look even better without the camera being so cruel), but from your previous posts I know just how much work went into adapting the figures you can get to be more appropriate to the setting. At the end of the day any real railway scene is always going to be covered in figures from drivers/fireman to station or goods yard people to passengers. Without them the scene would look very empty indeed and nowhere near as realistic as they currently do.

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    3. I'm glad you think so. Yes the camera is very cruel, and the figures are the excellent ones from Andrew Stadden, so from a distance they look good.

      I remember reading an article by a US modeller whose advice on figures was to leave them out entirely, as they would always detract from realism. I don't agree with that, but it certainly can be challenging to get the figures right, I think. To me, the most realistic ones are those that stand in a relaxed pose somewhere "in the distance", as an integrated part of the scene. And that's not exactly how I'm using them in these stories :-) But it's an OK compromise, I think, if the intention like here is to bring out the human element of railways more.

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    4. I guess the problem is to do with movement, in that we expect the locos to move but everything else stays still and draws attention to the static nature of figures and animals etc. Having said that a moving loco without a driver looks wrong, especially on anything with an open cab. As you say getting the balance right is always going to be tricky, but certainly int eh photos you take (where everything is static) they work really well.

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    5. Yes, movement and I think also the fact that human bodies are soft and curvy, which can be hard to capture in a miniature model (witness the thousands of stiffbacked travellers on model railway benches). And there is the issue of faces. If there is one thing the human brain is good at, it's scanning faces and capturing every tiny detail and hint of emotion. That's a tough one to be up against in 4mm scale.

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  4. Brilliant photography and modeling! A true inspiration!

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    1. Tusind tak! Your own layout looks fantastic, I'm off to explore it some more now.

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