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The Race to the North

Terry Smith

TERRY SMITH looks at the development of this new Starter Set from Gaugemaster, with Kato track and Dapol rolling stock.

Union of South Africa A4 Locomotive

When we first looked at offering our own N Scale Starter Set - using the excellent M1 Kato Track Pack and the super detailed Dapol N Scale Rolling Stock, we were limited by what stock Dapol had available in quantity at the time.

As it turned out, they had enough of the ex-GWR Hall Class and suitable BR Collett coaches in stock for us to put a set together. After a little research we turned up a train that regularly left Paddington at 17.15 to Oxford, often made up with this stock, and our first set the "Home Counties Commuter" was born.

After the initial success of our first set, we felt that if we could commission special models in advance from Dapol we could tailor make sets to our own specifications, and a list of possible options was drawn up. Various train configurations were considered limited to what tooling Dapol had available. A set featuring a unique Terrier and a couple of Maunsell coaches became "The Hayling Islander". A 14XX Pannier Tank Locomotive with an Autocoach and Milk Tanker was offered as the "Great Western Rambler". Steam sets were not all that was offered, we also put together a Modern Image set in the form of a DB Schenker Class 66 hauling "Silver Bullets".

Gaugemaster N Scale Sets

Previous sets in the range. Some may still be available from your local retailer.

We then got notification that Dapol were to offer a new model of a fully valanced A4 Locomotive, and with the thought of coupling this to a rake of four teak Greasley Coaches the seed of the "Race to the North" set was sown.

Realising that this would be a premium set we certainly gave it a lot of consideration and its future hung in the balance, but with the thought of a unique Garter Blue LNER A4 locomotive, pulling those beautiful teak coaches on a starter set oval larger than you get in most sets, we finally gave it the green light. Looking at what versions of A4 Dapol were going to offer, we quickly commissioned 4488 "Union of South Africa" as our exclusive locomotive, and ordered enough coaching stock to allocate to our set.

The name of the set came about after research showed surprisingly few named trains that would have used this colour combination of rolling stock. In the 1930s the two great Railway companies that offered trains to north of the border from London were the LMS and LNER. These companies started naming their premium service trains to Scotland, the LMS ran from Euston to Glasgow and had trains such as the Royal and Coronation Scot, while the LNER named trains included the Silver Streak and the well established Flying Scotsman.

Both rail companies boasted at the time that it was they that had the fastest service, and this reignited the use of the phrase which was first used in the late 1890s for Scotland bound trains. When we looked at LNER named trains it turned out that they either had unique liveries such as the Silver Streak or that they were overnight trains made up of sleeper cars, which was not really helpful as we already had the Garter Blue locomotive and teak coaches earmarked!

Flying Scotsman

An A4 pulling the Flying Scotsman in the 1930s.

It turns out the only option we had that suited our combination was in fact the "Flying Scotsman"! Now if we had plumped for that some would have thought we had got it all wrong and would have expected a Green A3 at the head, even though in the real world an A4 regularly pulled the train. In the end it was the over use of the Flying Scotsman name that put us off although in all intents and purpose this is what this set is, and we finally plumped for the name "Race to the North" which we feel suits the period and the train perfectly.

Gaugemaster Race to the North Starter Set

GMKS005 Race to the North Starter Set

Only 289.95

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