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Great Grand Fenwick Railway (and Sons)
proposed layout based on the bits in hand

This is the 'back story' created for a proposed layout. I was helping a chap get started and looked to see what I had in hand to offer, that turned out to be two Fleichman 'starter sets' with some second hand Fliechman track and points, a couple of Minitrix tank engines, a Tomix shunter and two Germanbuilt railbus units with some dilapidated four wheel coaches, a couple of six wheel coaches and some goods stock.

I used Anyrail to try out ideas and came up with the following track plan - note it would be a lot better if I had a couple more RH points or a three way point at the end of the right hand curve and a R point on the lower yard line to access the bay road via a loop so the marshaling yard didn't need to be used as a headshunt for accessing the bay road . . .

Image showing the model railway track plan for the proposed Grand Fenwick layout, essentially an oval of track with hidden loops at the rear and a station with some sidings to the front

The Covering Letter

Reference your train set idea - I had a rummage and found some odds and ends you can have to avoid spending money until you are sure this is something you want as a hobby.

What I have is all somewhat elderly (it does all run okay though) and 'European' rather than British.

One option would be modelling the railway in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick (from the books The Mouse that Roared and The Mouse that Went to the Moon by Leonard Wibberley).

Purists will tell you to 'model a prototype' rather than just make something up, but really there are so many compromises in modelling that basing something on a real world example just means you have some kind of structure to work from.

Creating your own structure is equally valid providing it explains everything on your layout and the layout itself conforms to whatever standard practices apply on the notional prototype.

To give yourself complete freedom you could have the Duchy bordering on Ruritania (another fictional country from the book The Prisoner of Zenda) which is connected by the railway, Ruritania might then have a rail link to Germany.

Below is a rough 'back story' for the layout that sets the location and explains the facilities provided, some elements have been included simply because I have the necessary parts in my bits box.

This is based largely on my memories of the 'Mouse' books and rather more vague memories of reading 'The Prisoner of Zenda' as a child. I Googled them to refresh my memory but there is little relating to railways in any of the books, so you have a pretty free hand.

This was written rather hastily and you could probably write something better, but it might be handy to have at an exhibition when someone sidles up with a suspicious look in their eye and demands to know what prototype it is based on.

If you do take it to exhibitions you could decorate the layout with posters advertising Grand Fenwick's industries and attractions, keep a straight face and claim to be the Grand Fenwick International Model Railway Touring Team.

Grand Fenwick and the Great Grand Fenwick Railway

CapitalFenwickImage showing the Grand Fenbwick flag, a two headed eagle type bird with each beak holding a small ribbon, one marked yea the other Nay
Ethnic groupsFenwickians
Population6,000 (estimated)
CurrencyFenwickian Pound

The Duchy of Grand Fenwick is no more than five miles (8 km) long and three miles (5 km) wide and lies in a fold in the Northern Alps in the general area of Geneva-Montreux-Chamonix. It is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament and the sitting Duke or Duchess as head of state and commander of the armed forces. It hosts no embassies but there is a Ruritanian Consulate, operating from the back room of the bakery in the capital city of Fenwick. Grand Fenwick has only one Consulate, in Netherthong (Yorkshire, England), operated by a retired former Fenwickian postal worker who now cares for his elderly aunt. Grand Fenwick has 'visitor' status at the United nations, although the visitor badges have to be handed in when the representatives leave the building.

The Duchy takes its name from its founder, the English knight Sir Roger Fenwick who, while employed by France, settled there with his followers in 1370. Thanks to Sir Roger, the national language is English. The capital is the city of Fenwick, built around a medieval castle and the nearby Methodist chapel is recognised as being the smallest cathedral in Europe.

Grand Fenwick has three borders; to the west (across some Alps) lies France and to the East (again across some Alps) lies Switzerland. These borders are ill defined and unmarked, they are crossed only by goat tracks which are used in the summer months by shepherds, lost ramblers and trinket smugglers. The difficult terrain means that cross border trade is very limited and neither the French nor the Swiss bother to mark these borders on their maps.

To the north lies Ruritania and here a river valley provides easy cross-border access, the river being bordered on the west by a road known in Grand Fenwick as the Great Trunk Road and in Ruritania as Fenwick Strasse. The road extends from a side street in the small Ruritanian town of Smurn all the way to Fenwick, the capital of Grand Fenwick.

Although Ruritania is German speaking it was not included when, in 1871, German confederated states united in creating the German Empire under Prussian leadership. Ruritania had been party to the confederation and the reasons for its exclusion are debated to this day. The Germans claim that it was because two pages of the Kaiser's atlas had stuck together but the Ruritanians maintain they fought a War of Independence in the 1880s following a disagreement on the design of telephone boxes.

Evidence for either claim is sparse however the 'war' may refer to a fracas in 1889 at a small bar that straddles the Ruritania/German border. Historians have noted that the door to the gents in that bar does not match the other doors in the establishment and bears a striking resemblance to the doors on German telephone boxes of the period.

The river valley that crosses from Ruritania into Grand Fenwick passes through an area of ancient glacial terminal moraine close to the border, creating a rapids that precludes river borne traffic. Upstream of the rapids is a marshy area known as The Great Moist.

The river valley extends some two miles south west to the Fenwickian town of Onador, at the foot of Mount Fenwick (elevation of 2,000 feet or 610 m). On the northern slopes are 400 acres (160 ha) of vineyards whilst on the southern side there is the 500 acres (200 ha) Forest Preserve and Bird Sanctuary.

One feature of the mountain is the Great Falls, a waterfall some a 20 foot (6.1 m) high, the source of the river Fenwick that leads northward to Ruritania and thence into the Rhine. South of Mount Fenwick the river valley it splits into two smaller valleys, one leading south west for three miles to the capital Fenwick, the other leading some two miles south east up into the Alps and the small town of Nether Rhymney.

Map showing Grand Fenwick including orads, rivers, railways and towns with inset showing location of the country surrounded by France Ruritania and Switzerland

Economics and Industrial Developments

In spite of the road and sometime rail links to the rest of northern Europe the country retains a largely pre-industrial economy, based largely on exports of wool and Pinot Grand Fenwick wine, but the development of the trinket industry has made an increasingly important contribution to the foreign currency reserves over recent decades.

The hillsides where the ground is less fertile support flocks of sheep small herds of cattle that provide meat, dairy products and wool. The most valuable export remains wine, followed by wool, coal and trinkets (the exact value of the trinket trade is uncertain due to high levels of smuggling). Principle imports today are manufactured goods (other than trinkets), petrol, paraffin and wine bottle corks.

The Fenwickian trinket industry was founded in the late 1920s by an itinerant Romanian gypsy tinker who settled in Grand Fenwick when his horse died. He married a local girl and settled down to raise a family. His wife, a keen minded business woman, had inherited the smaller of the nation's two sweet shops from her grandmother and he spent long hours in quiet reverie as he stirred the great cauldron of boiled sweet mixture on the open fire in the yard.

The legend has it that he had a dim but persistent memory from his childhood that repeatedly interrupted his musings. His father, a travelling theatrical pig and goat trainer, had befriended a troupe of skittle throwers who seemed unusually affluent for members of the travelling theatrical profession. His father had plied the leader of the troupe with his home brewed vodka and the man had taken out a large duffel back and briefly held open the top. The little boy only gained the briefest glimpse of the contents but that glimpse lead to a life long fascination bordering on obsession.

He had demonstrated a certain engineering acumen in making his wife a marzipan slicer and when he told her of this recurring memory she encouraged him to branch out from tinkering into trinket making. Long hours at the forge, anvil, lathe, dunking bucket and tinkering bench followed as he mastered his craft, but it was not long before he was pushing the limits of the available technology and introducing a subtlety of design hitherto unheard of in the industry.

The business soon outgrew the converted coal shed at the rear of the sweet shop and a disused barn in the foothills of Mount Fenwick close by the town of Onador was purchased for conversion into Grand Fenwick's first factory. The factory made use of the river flowing from the Great Falls for its power, and with the great wheel driving all manner of trinket making machinery output increased rapidly.

The firm almost failed in the dark days of the mid 1930s but managed to hang on by virtue of the entrepreneurial spirit of the Fenwickian shepherds, who had adopted smuggling as a side line and built up a substantial trade with specialist black market trinket dealers in both France and Switzerland. Trinkets are today the fourth largest sector in the Fenwickian economy.

The fifth largest and youngest element in the economy of the country is the coal, gas and coke industry. In the aftermath of the First World War the Welsh coal industry collapsed, resulting in mass unemployment. Two Welsh families decided to seek work abroad and through a family connection in Yorkshire they heard that Grand Fenwick was keen to 'expand its coal industry'.

Having made their way to the Duchy they found that a better description might have been 'to start a coal industry' as there was no coal mined in Grand Fenwick and supplies had to be obtained from the Ruritanian coal field. In the post war era Germany was driving up the price of Ruritanian coal and this was causing hardship to the Fenwickians.

Messirs Jones the Pit (a former miner) and Evans the Coal (a former coal delivery dray driver) scouted the country and in the mid 1920s they found a small outcropping of good coal at the head of the south eastern valley into which they sunk a drift mine. They named the mine Rhymney after their home town and the settlement that grew up around it was named Nether Rhymney in honour of the Yorkshire branch of the family. Nether Rhymney is now the third largest of the three towns in Grand Fenwick, surpassed only by the capital Fenwick and the border town of Onador.

Origins of the Great Grand Fenwick Railway

In the early 20th century a railway was proposed extending from Dresden in east Saxony south-west via Luxembourg and into France. A counter proposal was put forward by Ruritania, claiming an easier route further east and offering a line that could access both France and Switzerland via a convenient arrangement of alpine valleys.

There were objections from Lichtenstein, which had hosted a line from Austria Hungary into Switzerland since the 1870s, but relations between Austria Hungary and the German Empire were strained at the time and some deft skulduggery by the ageing Ruritanian Queen Flavia secured the Ruritanian route based on an extension of the existing line to the Ruritanian capital city of Strelsau.

The planned line was to be a branch from Strelsau, running south west via Smurn and thence into Grand Fenwick, following the river valley on the opposite bank of the river to the road leading to the small town of Onador. There it was to make use of one or other of the the deep valleys to the south to reach into either France or Switzerland, the final choice of route was to be decided based on on the market price of Dresden china at the time.

The potential for future expansion, taking a line down the unused second Fenwickian valley and thus serving both those countries was touted as a major feature of the route and plans were provisionally drawn up for both lines. In the event the preliminary surveys for the lines to the south were only conducted for the northern parts of the Fenwickian valleys.

Construction of the line commenced and the railhead reached as far as Onador, close by the Great Falls at the foot of Mount Fenwick where materials were stockpiled pending a decision on which of the two routes to the south was to be developed.

The Ruritanians had developed an advanced form of tinned custard, custard having been a delicacy in the country since its introduction by a band of itinerant French cooks in the middle ages, and the availability of milk supplies from Grand Fenwick had prompted the building of a large tinned custard factory in the Ruritanian border town of Smurn.

With the line to Onador completed a regular service to Smurn was quickly established by the Ruritanian state railway, initially carrying a steady supply of milk churns to the custard factory. A limited passenger service was subsequently introduced, allowing Fenwickians to access to the 'big city' delights of Smurn and starting a debate about the effects of excursionism that rages to this day.

It was then discovered that there were problems with the proposed routes to France and Switzerland and progress on the railway was halted. The planners had been working from the best maps available but it seems the French and Swiss cartographers mapping the area had largely lost interest when they reached the border with Grand Fenwick. As a result several rather large Alps were not included on their maps and these were found to straddle the proposed route.

Whilst the proponents of the line reconsidered their options supplies continued to be delivered to the rail head but when the plan was eventually abandoned the backers lacked the funds to recover them and the great pile of rail and other materials was abandoned in a field just to the south of Onador.

The Fenwickians objected to this eyesore but the German government refused responsibility and did not deign to reply even to a solicitors letter. The problem was only finally resolved many years later, thanks mainly to world war one and the consequent development of the Fenwickian coal industry.

Expansion of the Railway into a National System

The problem with new coal mining enterprise was its distance from the capital Fenwick, some six miles on the map but closer to twelve on the roads. The solution proposed by the miners was to build a railway from Nether Rhymney to Fenwick following the line of the valleys and to this end they formed the Great Grand Fenwick Railway Company and Sons. In truth the proposal had as much to do with the age of Mr Evans' horse which was by this time finding the twice weekly trip from Nether Rhymney to Fenwick and back to be hard going.

The mine owners petitioned the government for support, pointing out that the route had already been surveyed and arguing that building the line would allow Grand Fenwick to leapfrog directly from the fifteenth to the twentieth century in one bound.

The government was satisfied that the plan was workable but the detail that really fired their interest was the suggestion that the cost of coal to heat the Grand Chamber of the castle, in which parliament was notionally based, would be dramatically reduced. The present heating arrangements, consisting of a couple of candles in a biscuit tin under the table, had proved inadequate in the winter months.

For many years the government had reserved the upper rooms of the Grey Goose Inn for discussing matters of state in cold weather but although conveniently situated for the lounge bar the rooms lacked the opulence they felt they deserved and inebriated women, who had to pass through the room to reach the ladies, often sat down and joined in the debates.

The effect of the railway connection to Smurn on Fenwickian youth had been a matter of much debate and some members of parliament were less enthusiastic about the plan to extend the railway deeper into Grand Fenwick. The Minister for Transport and Horses, the only farrier in the country, lead the anti-railway lobby. He regularly expressed grave concerns about the dire consequences of having 'vast hoards of excursionists traipsing about the place' and voiced vociferous opposition to any extension of railway services.

The minister's wife owned a small café in Onador and by chance Mrs Evans and Mrs Jones, the wives of the mine owners, happened to call in to the café for tea one afternoon. Whilst there they discussed the proposed line at some length, noting that its building would not only dispose of the unsightly pile of rails and other materials in Onador but would also provide tourist access to the Great Falls and thus boost the economy. The Minister, although still gravely concerned about the potential growth of excursionism and it effects on society, withdrew his objections.

A commission was formed, headed perhaps predictably by the brother in law of the Prime Minister, who equally predictably added his wife (the daughter of the Minister of Transport and Horses) to the payroll as his senior adviser on women's matters and catering. His son turned down the post of Chief Clerk, reasoning that the position might not last for long whereas his career as an assistant in the hardware shop offered a more certain future.

The Commission sat thrice weekly other than on national holidays, or when the room at the Grey Goose was already booked for the Parliament. In spite of the best efforts of the Prime Minister's brother in law the Commission reached a conclusion after only three months. He was at home with a head cold on that fateful day so the rest of the commission decided to finalise the plan and join the people in the lounge bar below. A vote was passed forming a Railway Board and as the little used line to Onador from Ruritania already existed it was decided to join the two, forming a junction at Onador that would facilitate northward exports. The branch line from Nether Rhymney actually joins the existing Onador to Strelsau international route about half a mile north east of Onador.

Once the line from the coal mine in the eastern valley had been constructed the route was extended south west from Onador all the way to Fenwick. Additional sidings were provided at Onador to marshal trains to and from Ruritania depending on their subsequent route. To save money the Ruritanian Railways were contracted to provide the motive power and rolling stock for the line.

The regular rail service proved popular, particularly amongst the well to do ladies of Fenwick as a new electric 'hair waving' machine had appeared in a hairdressers in Smurn and the price of Ruritanian tinned custard in the southern areas of Grand Fenwick was halved. Doubts about exursionist tendencies persisted however and there were some sensationalist newspaper articles making dark reference to the dubious delights of the notorious Ruritanian cribbage dens in the less well illuminated areas of the town.

The hard times of the 1930's saw the Ruritanian rail system fall into bankruptcy and in spite of the subsequent recovery Ruritanian international rail traffic had all but ceased by 1939. Grand Fenwick was left with a railway line and a demand for both milk and passenger transportation, there was sufficient goods stock to cater to the country's needs and the collapse of the Ruritanian State Railway had by chance left two six wheeled carriages on a siding at Onador, but all services had to be horse drawn for a time.

A deal was then struck with a Ruritanian scrap metal merchant who had 'acquired' two unused steam locomotives parked on a siding just south of Smurn but had no way of transporting them to his yard. Those two engines were hauled by horses into Onador and refurbished by a team of specialists consisting of the bicycle shop owner, two lads from the trinket works and a miner who had inherited a set of spanners from an uncle in Rotherham, England.

International passenger services had ended with the closing of the Ruritanian State Railways branch into Grand Fenwick, other than for the weekly hairdressing and cribbage excursions to Smurn, and the outbreak of war brought an end even to this traffic. Throughout the war internal traffic on the Great Grand Fenwick Railway was almost entirely freight, although passengers could ride in the guards van by prior arrangement. Tickets were dispensed with when the original supply ran out.

Meanwhile the war first restricted then ended dealings with France and the Swiss attitude to neutrality severely curtailed cross border traffic to the east. This reduction in international trade had a profound impact on Grand Fenwick, causing hardship and a shortage of work particularly affecting the trinket industries.

Taking a leaf from the American President Roosevelt's book the Duchy decided to employ the hapless trinket workers in infrastructure projects, the largest of these being the laying of a further branch from the Onador to Nether Rhymney line, connecting it directly to the trinket works.

The international line from Ruritania to the junction station at Onador is today the principal link with the wider world. The internal lines to Fenwick and Nether Rhymney, with the branch to the trinket works, constitute the full extent of the Fenwickian national railway system.

Tourism and Postal Services

The tourist industry was understandably hard hit by the two wars. The building of the railway had not in any event brought any great floods of tourists into the country, although the owner of the small café at Onador (who is also the wife of the current Minister of Trade) has stated that it does provide a vital fillip to the economy.

When her great-great-grandmother had first started serving teas in the era before the First World War the main clientèle consisted of Germans, holidaying in Ruritania, who had simply boarded the wrong train and had disembarked at Onador to catch the next train back to Smurn.

One particular tourist has however earned a place in the hearts of the Fenwickians, a small man who had claimed to be an emigré Russian Count but who was in fact a postal worker from Latvia, on the run from the authorities following a stamp recycling scandal.

He had arrived in Fenwick in 1936 driving a stylish motor car, curiously lacking in both number plates and serial numbers, and had captured the heart of the young Lady Gloriana.

The Count, as he is universally known (his real name being virtually unpronounceable as it contains no vowels), had courted her assiduously and had gained access to many state secrets. Amongst these was the discovery that, due to the very particular mineral content in the soils of the vineyards on Mount Fenwick, adding iron filings to the resulting wine produced a highly volatile liquid.

With war clouds gathering over Europe the Count had reasoned that the Germans might pay well for this information and decided to steal a sample to take to Berlin. To simplify the transportation and disguise his true intent he added the iron filings to the barrel of wine strapped in the rumble seat of his supercharged jalopy before setting off.

To be fair to the man advanced chemistry forms no part of the training of a Latvian postal worker and the actual meaning of technical terms such as 'inherent instability' and 'violent exothermic reaction' did not form part of his lexicon, but then politics was more his natural home.

Although this was in truth a dastardly act of betrayal it seems, perhaps, that his time in Grand Fenwick may have altered his character for the better and his memory was de-sullied to some extent by a final unexpected act of heroism.

When passing through Onador at speed, heading for the Ruritanian border, he swerved to avoid the milk maid on her rounds in the early morning mists and lost control of the vehicle. He passed through a hedge without mishap but in trying to return to the road he ran into a tree with a severe jolt. The resulting crater was later made into a children's paddling pool as a monument to his gallantry.

The Lady Gloriana was distraught, only after his demise did she find out about his murky past but still the little postal worker had touched her heart. She petitioned her father to establish a postal service in memory of her first great love and the service was set up with three post offices, two post men and a post woman, one for each of the three valleys. The country has four post boxes (two in Fenwick), each modified from a wine barrel and painted red to memorialise the explosive origin of the postal service.

In the 1970's the Master of Heraldry completed a degree course in Management with a little known postal university located above a curry and cheese emporium in Bradford. Keen to utilise his new knowledge, and to promote his new Management Consultancy business, he added notices to the post barrels warning people never to post metal objects such as 'pots, pans, fire irons and anvils' as 'Residues of wine mixing with any spilt ferrous materials could lead to sub optimal modes of functionality'.

Plans to have a metal cap badge for postal staff, the design featuring an exploding wine barrel, were dropped when it was discovered the minimum order would have to be for a hundred badges, this was considered excessive for a service which had grown to only nine employees. The official badge adopted for the postal service, which remains in use today, is a small wooden bung from a wine barrel. This is traditionally attached by safety pins to whatever headgear the staff member is wearing.

External postal services require a country to be a member of the Universal Postal Union under whose auspices each country accepts the validity of another country's stamps but Grand Fenwick's applications to join the union, posted in Smurn, were repeatedly intercepted by Ruritanian postal agents and never reached the UPU. The Ruritanian Postal Service hoped that Grand Fenwick would then sub-contract their mails but they had underestimated the wily Fenwickians.

An arrangement was struck in 1938 between the owner of the bicycle shop in Onador and his sister in law's great nephew's cousin (by marriage), who was the owner of a bicycle repair shop in Monaco. Monaco was at the time the farthest end of the trinket smugglers route west and their gateway to the Mediterranean and the trinket markets overseas.

On arrival at the French shop the Fenwickian stamps were steamed off in a small, heavily curtained back room for onward sale to specialists stamp dealers and philatelists around the world and replaced with French stamps of appropriate denomination before being placed in the nearby post box. Letters to Grand Fenwick were sent enclosed in an envelope addressed to the Monaco address. On arrival in Monaco the stamps were again steamed off and replaced with Fenwickian International Stamps and the mails were then forwarded to Onador by way of the fortnightly trinket smugglers visits.

The Fenwickian international postal service remained in operation in the early years of the second world war, mails being covertly transported to and from Monaco by the trinket smugglers until the German occupation of Southern France. An alternative route leading to a rather dubious international trinket dealer in Geneva was established but a few months later in 1943 the Swiss interned the mules used by the smugglers.

The local Swiss chief of police had long tolerated his wife's dark fascination with trinkets, but when he found an as yet unfilled velvet lined rosewood trinket box under his son's bed he decided to act. At the time he justified the seizure on the grounds that the animals belonged to an ally of one of the warring powers and under the terms of the Geneva Convention they had to be interned.

In 1948 external postal services were resumed, again via Monaco, but subsequent changes in the black market trinket trade including a switch to an international route based on Marseilles rather than Monaco inevitably required certain alterations to the postal service.

The facilitator of the service in Monaco is now a tobacconist, the only son of the French bicycle repairman and philatelist. The current arrangements are based on the transporting of the mails in a cardboard box by train from Onador to a hairdressing establishment in Smurn from where the box is posted to the tobacconists shop.

The task of transporting the mails to and from Smurn is still performed by the current owner of the bicycle shop in Onador, grandson of the founder, who takes great pride in being entrusted with the 'diplomatic cardboard box'. An investigation into allegations that the box was also being used to smuggle trinkets was inconclusive as, being a diplomatic cardboard box, no one was allowed to open it.

Gas, Electricity and Sporting Facilities

Mains gas supplies are available only in the towns of Fenwick, Onador and Nether Rhymney, the first two being supplied with coal gas by the Grand Fenwick Gas, Coke and Tar Company works on the outskirts of the village of Lower Tickling, established by a former pig farmer when the railway provided reliable supplies of coal from Nether Rhymney.

Nether Rhymney itself has limited gas supply from its own small coke works, established in 1954 to provide coke for certain processes in the trinket works and with a view to providing bar-b-cue fuel for the the anticipated tourist boom.

Electricity for the the capital Fenwick is drawn from the French national grid. It is unclear as to whether the French are aware of this but when questioned Fenwickians point to the Charter given to the countries founder by a grateful French nation. There remains some disagreement regarding the exact detail of the clause that is obscured by a ink blot (possibly a wine stain) on that treaty.

In 1951 electricity became available in the east and north of the country from The Great Dynamo, which was attached to the water wheel at the Onador trinket works. This project had been vigorously promoted by the Grand Duke and the work was paid for out of the public purse, ostensibly with the intention of recovering the investment by way of payments for supplying power for electric lighting at the trinket works and other nearby homes and establishments.

In reality however the late Grand Duke had supported the water wheel electrical power project in part because he had decided to build a crazy golf course on the vacant area on the outskirts of Onador where once the pile of railway building materials had been stored.

The ground had been set aside as a children's play area and the new circular children's paddling pool had proved popular. The Duke was of the opinion that improving the facilities at this site, with its close proximity to the railway station, might finally unlock the vast untapped potential of a tourist boom but he realised he would need an electricity supply to power the miniature windmill.

Laying in a cable from Fenwick to Onador was ruled out on the grounds of cost and in any case relations with the French in the immediate post war era were somewhat tense. This was mainly due to an imbalance in the cross border illicit wine and trinket trade which, although unofficially condoned by the French government under the terms of the founding Treaty of Grand Fenwick, was widely believed to be favouring the Fenwickians.

Take up of crazy golf was initially unexpectedly slow and in support of his ambitions the Grand Duke made crazy golf the National Sport, offering to subsidise the national team were it to enter into international competition. Unfortunately the consequent upsurge in demand for crazy golfing equipment lead to a near riot when the newly formed Sports and Recreational Activities Department in the in the garden tools shop was found to be selling billiard cues labelled as 'precision putters'.

In the event the Grand Duke's hopes of securing the family fortune with revenue from the crazy golf course were thwarted by the Ruritanian Minister for the Exploitation Of Tourists, a rather shady one-eyed former bar owner from Smurn. On the pretext of protecting the non existent Ruritanian crazy golf sector he placed a five hundred percent 'transit tax' on golf balls destined for Grand Fenwick and the resulting upsurge in golf ball smuggling threatened to strain the already fraught relations with France and Switzerland to breaking point.

With the government demanding a change of policy and financial ruin fast approaching the Duke fell into a rage and after consuming several bottles of wine he single handedly attacked the newly completed course with a metal handled putter. This had little effect on the concrete elements but easily smashed through the wooden roof of the newly commissioned miniature windmill.

Unfortunately the Bakelite connection box supplying the power to the windmill motor was attached to the inside of the plywood roof panel and proved no more able to withstand the onslaught. The metal putter fractured the connection box and shorted out the wiring within, plunging the trinket works into darkness and the Duke to his grave.

His untimely death and timely life insurance pay-out brought his only daughter Gloriana to the centre of power and provided her with a tidy income. Her elevation was not without cost however, as at the tender age of twenty six she had to abandon her acting career in England and return home to assume her new role as head of state. The timing was in fact opportune as her career had taken something of a set back when Margaret Rutherford had decided to henceforth do her own stunt work.

Gloriana broke with tradition and erected the Duke's mausoleum at the centre of the crazy golf course, on the site of the former windmill. Its Doric columns are said to constitute a 'world class challenge' to crazy golf enthusiasts, although this claim is usually attributed to the owner of the nearby café and there has been little interest shown by the world wide crazy golfing community.

Trading and Cultural links with other countries

Relations between the English speaking Fenwickians and the German speaking Ruritanians have ranged over the years from grudging acceptance to outright enmity. During the two world wars they aligned with opposing sides, but as each sent their entire army to fight with their respective partners no actual fighting took place between the two countries.

During the first war Grand Fenwick sent their older boy scouts to patrol the border and built the Scout Hut on the outskirts of Onador, the second military establishment in the country after the castle in Fenwick. The Girl Guides then demanded the right to do their patriotic duty and be included in the border patrols.

After some debate it was decided that the Rover Scouts and Ranger Guides over the age of sixteen would patrol the border areas on alternate weeks. Ruritanian spies reported all of these developments and the Ruritanians followed suit to maintain the balance of power.

The war was not over by the time of the Grand Duke's birthday as had been hoped, indeed it dragged on for several years and in 1917 the Scout Master left the country. Apparently he had borrowed a shotgun from a farmer and set off to fight for pacifism. His departure was kept a closely guarded secret so as not to alert the Ruritanians to the sudden weakness in the Fenwickian Defence Plan and the tallest boy scout was required to dress up in the scout masters uniform on the weekends and 'make himself visible' to the Ruritanian border patrols.

This subterfuge came to naught when Princess Olga, a 17 year old Ruritanian Girl Guide, fell pregnant. It was then realised that although the two sides had instituted a policy of alternate weeks for Scouts and Guides to undertake their patrols the two were not synchronised, one side changing the guard on Friday, the other on Sunday.

Both countries were now facing an unanticipated population boom and secret negotiations between the two governments and the mother of the Princess lead to the Treaty of Smurn, under which both sides withdrew their forces either side of a six hundred yard (in Fenwick) or six hundred meter (in Ruritania) corridor along the border.

This stratagem was itself not entirely successful and when the Chief Guide of Grand Fenwick was subsequently found to be pregnant the treaty was amended with both sides withdrawing their forces from the border area to form a 'mobile reserve', basing them in their parents homes.

Following the Armistice in 1919 the Scout Hut, with its easy access to the hairdressers in Smurn, became the Summer Residence for the Duke and Duchess until the Dukes untimely retirement to the Home for the Bewildered.

His son, faced with the bill for hauling coal up to the hut gifted the building to the state for use as a holiday home for tourists, the beginning of a long involvement with the tourism industry that perhaps inevitably lead to his demise.

The rise of the Nazi party in Germany was viewed with mixed feelings in Ruritania, not least because the Prince saw their approach to politics as being perhaps not in his own best interests.

When Germany occupied the Sudatenland the Ruritanians, aware of the fate of Luxembourg in the Great War, turfed over the railway line across their border with Germany to discourage similar expansionist moves in their direction. Later they disguised the three customs posts on their border by adding large signs proclaiming them to be the entrances to 'Camps für die Behandlung von Infektionskrankheiten' (Camps for the treatment of contagious diseases).

The gathering war clouds were also viewed with concern in Grand Fenwick, the army was not mechanised as the van had broken down, the navy would 'do its bit' but was confined to a small lake in the far south west and the country had no air force other than a single, as yet untested, man-carrying box kite.

The events on the border during the previous war had lead to a large number of citizens and subjects of Grand Fenwick and Ruritania holding dual nationality and the Minister of War and Tourism gave a speech in which he warned that the nation had a large number of potential fifth columnists and might even harbour some sixth columnists.

A secret meeting with the Ruritanians was held at the Fenwickian Northern Command Headquarters (formerly the Scout Hut), which at the time was not occupied by tourists.

Many of the younger delegates were related as a consequence of events on the border two decades earlier and although neither side felt that neutrality was politically acceptable it was agreed that direct cross border hostilities would be avoided if at all possible.

A secret treaty was drawn up under the terms of which, should hostilities commence, the two nations would erect a fence along their common border and generally be as quiet as possible so as not to attract the attention of the warring parties.

With the outbreak of war Ruritania and Grand Fenwick again supported opposing sides and the border was officially closed, although both governments were allegedly aware of the milk deliveries to the Ruritanian custard factory being made under cover of darkness. There were also rumours that certain cribbage dens and a hairdresser in Smurn had a mysterious supply of fresh eggs that was maintained throughout the conflict.

In 1945, having tacitly supported the German side in the war, the Ruritanians further disguised their customs posts along the border by covering the signs with large notices in English, French and Russian stating 'Camp for the Treatment of Dysentery' and issued the border guards with medical lab coats and face masks. In the event non of the advancing allied forces entered Ruritania.

Relations between Grand Fenwick and Ruritania in the immediate post war era were somewhat strained, not least because it was never decided who should be responsible for maintenance of the border fence. The issue was eventually resolved when the five farmers with land along the border decided to undertake this duty themselves to stop pretentious officials from prowling the area and leaving farm gates open in their wake.

Relations with France have varied over the centuries but a shared fondness for wine and the popularity of the Grand Fenwickian trinkets in the tourist centres of France have provided a basis of common interest which has allowed the two countries to tolerate if not embrace one another.

During the second world war trade with France and Switzerland had continued for a time although restricted by the difficult nature of the terrain. Access to France was eventually denied by irate German border guards after a border post was destroyed when a soldier tried to make 'mulled wine' using a magnum of Pinot Grand Fenwick and a large iron pot.

As noted earlier the Swiss had interned the smugglers mules during the war but a change in government in the neighbouring Swiss canton in the immediate post war era saw a reduction in border patrols and a consequent surge in trade eastwards. This lasted until the chief of police, a covert trinket connoisseur, retired some six years later. The wider population of Switzerland remains largely unaware that Grand Fenwick exists as it was never marked on their maps.

By tradition the children of the aristocracy in Grand Fenwick are sent for schooling in England and the Duchy retains close links with Britain, although the Fenwickian government strongly denies rumours recently published in the Ruritanian magazine Fische und andere Kunsthandwerk (Fish and Other Handicrafts) that these links consist largely of unpaid debts to British educational establishments. Increasing Competition and the Nationalisation of the Railway

By the 1940s there were two cars in Grand Fenwick, one belonging to the Duchess Gloriana, and the other belonging to the Count of Mountjoy. At one time or another lorries, usually ex-military vehicles, had been purchased by local traders but these had little impact on the fortunes of the railway and the Great Depression in the 1930s meant that those road vehicles which were not sold to Ruritanian firms were soon up on bricks.

The position following the Second World War was slightly different, again military surplus vehicles were available but these were of better quality and a regular trade in lorry delivered wine was established with the Ruritanian hostelries, many of which were located some distance from the railways. The railway coal traffic was maintained, not least because the owners of the mine were also shareholders in the railway and the owners of the trinket works, concerned about damage caused by potholed roads continued to favour the railway.

Currently there are some five cars, two vans, three lorries, six tractors, two Vespa scooters and an elderly ex British army BSA motorbike licensed for road use (along with a coal fired steam roller and a rather large paraffin powered lawn mower).

There is only one petrol station, located in Onador, and this is also the bicycle shop. The shop has a petrol pump on the forecourt but diesel fuel is stored in steel drums and dispensed with the aid of a hand pump. The bicycle shop front and its petrol pump are re-painted each year at the expense of the state in acknowledgement of its vital role as the conduit for the mails.

When the British National Health Service was established the nations three doctors, eight nurses, five midwives, two dentists and lone vet petitioned for something similar to be adopted. They argued that this would mean they no longer had to pay for the services of a Ruritanian accountant and that this would help the nation's balance of payments.

The lone vet was included in the resulting service as he had on occasion been called upon to do minor surgery at the hospital on behalf of the Grand Duchess, who was of the opinion that his evident skill with horses 'made him a good bet'. Grand Fenwick remains to this day the only nation which has a contribution based health service covering not only its citizens but also their livestock and pets.

There was much debate on this issue as both dentists resided in Fenwick whilst the vet lived in Nether Rhymney and the MP for Onador felt that this constituted a less than nation-wide service. Following a number of heated debates and a small fracas in the lounge bar it was decided that it would be sensible to put the entire health service into a train of suitable rolling stock. In this way it was felt people could attend the doctor's clinic while their children had their teeth attended to and the vet checked out their pets.

Two second hand four wheel passenger coaches (original built for a line in Bavaria) were purchased from the Ruritanian railways and to complete the train a horse box and a box van for supplies were purchased.

With only two locomotives at its disposal the railway was pushed to its limits when running the service, as the medical, dental and veterinary train was required to spend some time at each of the stations it was relocated every two days, being backed into a siding and left there whilst the locomotive resumed its normal passenger and general freight duties.

Not least because of ongoing disputes regarding the provision of engine coal for the mobile medical, dental and veterinary services the Great Grand Fenwick Railway Company & Sons was partly nationalised in 1954, the state taking responsibility for the track and contracting the original owners to provide the services. This unusual arrangement was largely due to the state having insufficient funds to purchase the two locomotives and rolling stock.

Much to everyone's surprise a German Federal Railways goods train arrived at Onador in 1959, having mistakenly overshot its intended terminus at Smurn due to a failed signal, and a regular international freight service was restored. It is not clear whether the German railways are aware of this resumption of service but Fenwickian hospitality in the form of bottles of wine and exclusive trinkets for the train drivers have ever since served to oil these vital wheels of commerce.

To cater for the resulting upsurge in freight traffic a small diesel locomotive was purchased in 1961 by Mr Evans, the current co-owner of the Rhymney mine, this was leased to the railway company with the caveat that his son be allowed to drive it during school holidays.

The growth of road traffic and the switch to diesel power on the railways means that total oil imports now amount to about ten barrels a month, more than quadrupling the pre-war requirements. The petrol and diesel fuel are siphoned from a pair of small rail tank wagons by arrangement with a Ruritanian fuel merchant who accepts payment in Fenwickian coal. A third and larger tank wagon caters for the nation's paraffin needs under similar arrangements.

Fenwickian coal is of excellent quality but its sale in Ruritania was for many years banned in order to protect their own mining industry, which was owned by the brother in law of the head of state. The solution found was to load the coal into the wagon or wagons at night and attach these to the morning milk train. This train operates as an express under the terms of a treaty with Ruritania to ensure supplies of milk to the tinned custard factory in Smurn and it passes through the border at eight thirty, half an hour before the Ruritanian border guards assume their duties.

Modernisation of the Railways

With the end of hostilities in 1945 and the possibility of a resumption of international traffic it was decided that passenger services should be reinstated to cater for the expected tourist boom. To this end the two rather elderly six wheeled passenger coaches were refurbished. These are hauled by the larger of the two tank engines, the engine was never intended for passenger work but the lack of steam heating was not considered an issue as tourists would only visit in summer.

The coaches also provided the day to day national passenger service and conditions on the train in the winter months became what can only be described as a 'heated issue' during the 1950 election campaign. Neither of the political parties actually proposed a solution, concentrating their campaigns on the failure of the other party to come up with one, but a train of events was already in play that would to some degree resolve the problem.

By fortunate happenstance an electrician and self styled 'tour guide' who lived in Onador had celebrated his birthday with a trip to Smurn, not for once in the company of his wife, a lady noted for her unusually curly hair and her 'sleep on the couch' eyes.

Free of the constraints normally applied by his wife the electrician explored the less well illuminated back streets of the town, finally entering the dim lit portals of The Nine Toed Lady, a notorious cribbage den. By the evening he was involved in a hard drinking game of Five Card Wheeze, known in Ruritania as 'fünf Stufen zum Galgen' (Five Steps to the Gallows).

As the night progressed several bottles of spirits were consumed and the stakes were repeatedly raised such that even the proprietor of the establishment, overcome by greed, decided to participate. Luck favoured the electrician and by morning he had won sufficient funds to pay for all that he had drunk and was also the new owner of a pair of Adolf Hitler's shoe laces, the proprietors glass eye and a war surplus soviet army mine detector.

He secreted the shoe laces and the 'novelty marble' in his workshop, intending to sell them to the highest bidder when he retired. The mine detector required repair but he had read of 'treasure hunters' using such devices when seeking hoards of buried gold and he set to work in his shed to undertake the repair of the equipment. After receiving several electric shocks and setting fire to the shed on at least two occasions he had the device working but the buried treasure proved elusive.

He widened his search area and on a field trip along the river valley north of Onador he found several unexploded bombs buried in the soft alluvial loam, dropped by a bomber which had lost its way during a wartime raid.

All markings on the bombs had long since been eroded by the acidic waters but as they were fairly small he reasoned they were probably of an incendiary nature. Having an entrepreneurial bent he steamed out the contents of the bombs for use in fireworks to be used for the grand opening of his planned 'Tourist Information Centre' in Onador.

He then converted the steel casings of the bombs into small coke burners, which he hired out to passengers at the three main railway stations at Fenwick, Onador and Nether Rhymney.

The cold winter proved a boon and receipts from the heaters swelled the funds available for building the new Tourist Information Centre mobile kiosk. Six months later, following the firework display (which is still spoken of to this day), his widow sold the coke burner business to the railway.

In the 1960s the matter of train heating again became a political issue when children attending the only secondary school, located in Fenwick, began making regular use of the railway service. The parents of children living in Nether Rhymney felt that as their youngsters boarded the train first they were paying more than their fair share of the coke burner hire fees as by the time the train reached Onador the compartments were warm. This was not altogether fair or indeed true and it was only the draughty nature of the coaches that had thus far protected their offspring from the carbon monoxide produced by the coke burners.

The railway company held a number of public meetings without reaching any agreement but when one of the coaches broke an axle the issue quickly climbed the political agenda. This was in part because the Prime Minister, who lived in Onador, found himself sharing a rather crowded single coach with large numbers of school children.

The Prime Minister's suggestion that the start of the school day should be put back by an hour met with fierce opposition from the parents. A suggestion that the school be relocated to Onador, to reduce by half the children using the available carriage on each leg of its journey, was abandoned once the costs had been calculated.

Meanwhile the arrival of the small diesel engine, although it was only used for goods trains, had already demonstrated the higher speeds possible with modern rolling stock and engines. A campaign for the modernisation of the railways was started by the press, many of whom were also sharing the overcrowded passenger coach on the morning run.

The debate raged for several years but eventually the modernisation plan was adopted and with government support the Great Grand Fenwick Railway Company & Sons was able to purchase two diesel rail-bus units from Germany. These had been built as demonstration vehicles following a successful export order for Japanese railways however the plan to ship them out to the Far East was subsequently dropped. The engines had been removed and the intention was to use them as passenger coaches hauled by one of the two steam locomotives.

A chance meeting between the Fenwickian Minister of Roads, Footpaths and Space and the head of sales for a somewhat disreputable novelty cribbage board manufacturer from Strelsau at an illicit all night high-stakes ludo tournament brought the offer of a set of three Soviet tank engines and a manual. A deal was struck, several barrels of Pinot Grand Fenwick were dispatched by rail on the early morning milk train, bypassing customs controls at Smurn, and three large crates and a parcel duly arrived in Onador, marked 'industrial kitchen utensils'.

The engines were unused and crated but they were elderly designs and proved to have less power than the intended power units for the rail-buses. Once the engines were installed it was found that each rail-bus had a capacity of 40 passengers when going down hill and 35 when running uphill on the line to Nether Rhymney and the Trinket Works branch.

Current Fenwickian railway rolling stock is branded with the New Improved Corporate Logo and goods stock is to be painted in a standard colour, a stock of Soviet era Russian camouflage brown paint having been acquired at an exceptionally good price. Passenger stock will continue to be painted in any colour considered appropriate by the Railway Company, depending on what is available at the bicycle repair shop.

The proposed New Corporate Logo, another product of the Master of Heraldry's degree course, consisted of a rectangle with inward pointing arrows at either end, reflecting in his words 'the essentially internal focus of the system's modality and purpose'.

Unofficially the four outward facing pointed corners also served to underline the often prickly relations Grand Fenwick has with its closest neighbours, France, Switzerland, Germany and Ruritania.

The Master of Heraldry was rather pleased with the new logo and when interviewed in the lounge bar of the Grey Goose Inn he stated that . . .
'This design, devoid of traditional but outmoded features of elucidative textural identification, reflects the current thinking in terms of non linguistic centric trans-national corporate branding, harnessing a dynamic arrow styled motif in which the symbology serves to emphasise the synergy generated between the two ends of the main line.
This logo also maintains consistency with the most up to date trends in arrow based railway iconography and will allow the rolling stock to blend seamlessly with the wider world of modern logistics.'

The original proposal was to have the existing markings removed but the two designs have now been combined to produce the New Improved Corporate Logo, not least because the older markings did not then have to be painted over (there was some doubt about matching the original body colours as the bicycle shop had since changed suppliers).

There have been no substantial changes to the railway since the completion of the branch to the trinket works other than the change of name of Fenwick Terminus to Fenwick International Terminal, although the proposed platform canopy has yet to secure funding. Plans to replace the staff and heated waiting rooms at stations with ticket machines and bus shelters to more closely reflect modern practice were not approved on the grounds of common decency. The signalling on the line, where it exists, remains as wire and rod operated semaphores on wooden posts and supplimented as necessary by railway staff 'waving vigorously' (proposals to supply the staff with coloured handkerchiefs to better distinguish them from friendly tourists were rejected in the basis of cost).

The two steam engines are still in working condition, they are used to provide excursion trains in the summer and to supplement the lone diesel locomotive on coal trains in the winter. When not in use they reside at the two original engine sheds built for them, one at either end of the line. The diesel goods engine is stabled and maintained on a siding at the Trinket Works where it can be seen from Mr Evans' son's bedroom window.

The two rail-bus units are stabled at the platform roads, one at either end of the line, although this may change as one of the drivers is set to inherit his aunt's cottage in Onador and would be faced with a three mile walk home from Fenwick. When one or other driver is on holiday or unwell the two units are combined into a two-car unit although this does mean the service frequency is halved.

Visiting engines are small German branch line freight or mixed traffic types used for the German services running into Ruritania. These sometimes arrive unexpectedly when the German driver gets lost but some are regular visitors and one of these occasionally stays overnight in the bay road and head shunt at Onador as the driver's sweetheart is a waitress in the café opposite the station and lives above in a small flat.

The Layout

The plan was originally based on a plain interior door (hence the name Onador) but has been reduced in size to fit in the alcove. The track and rolling stock is mainly second hand items purchased at the local model shop, these were mostly German Fleichmann N Gauge, hence the basing of the layout in that part of Europe.

The track I can offer is all Fleichmann Piccolo pre-ballasted, to save money the points at the rear are to be operated by fishing line pull-strings fitted with coloured identification beads from the trimmings shop. The end 7.5 inch radius curves are exceptionally tight but the Minitrix 0-6-0 tank engines (one a Hornby Minitrix engine, in the guise of a British dock tank engine) and the Tomix small diesel cope well. The two Fleichmann V-100 diesels are of course fine and the two rail buses are Japanese Tomix models and can handle the tight curves.

I would suggest that home-made water-slide transfers be used to cover the logos and script with GGFR markings.

Image showing the model railway track plan for the proposed Grand Fenwick layout, essentially an oval of track with hidden loops at the rear and a station with some sidings to the front

Given more room, such as the original door based plan, the four Fleichmann curved points could be replaced with Trix or Peco set-track curved points (the Trix 3rd/4th radius type or the new Peco 2nd/3rd radius set track points) and the end curves could be eased to Peco 2nd or 3rd radius which would allow the running of British outline stock. Fleichmann 3rd radius is 15 inches, making it a very tight fit for a standard door, Fleichmann flex track could be used, but it is expensive and I dislike laying such tight curves.

Additional boards could be added in future, one on the left extending some four and a half feet by a foot deep to house the Fenwick end of the line, the other extending a similar distance to the right with the Nether Rhymney Mine and station to the front and a two track 'fiddle yard' hidden behind a back scene to represent the line to Ruritania. These two boards would be connected via points added to the rearmost loop on the main board and this arrangement would fit in the 15 feet available against one wall in the living room.

When not in use the end extension boards could reside on a shelf under the main board with the rolling stock, controller & etc. in boxes sitting on the floor below.

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