My father has always loved the railways, as an engineer he spent his life working for British Rail. He would come home and talk about substations and electrification, buzz bars and 24KV like they were some kind of secret government experiment. He even built a miniature rail network in my bedroom, and we spent many a Saturday afternoon sending the Flying Scotsman on circuitous journeys to deliver the mail. Locomotives, especially steam engines, were his thing. The great behemoths of iron that were still running when he was a child after the war, the epitome of Victorian engineering — they had a character and a charm that are somehow lost on the modern trains of today.
As I was thinking about the Antiquarians and then ever-growing collection, I wanted them to be a little quirky, and the idea of them building their own full-size train set took me straight back to when I was a kid. A little indulgent maybe, but the more I thought about how they would need to ship various items in secret from one museum vault to another – the more I liked it. All it needed was a beautiful old loco and a whole bunch of unused lines of track. The idea that they would be able to move between times and places using a network of old disused lines was appealing. The more I thought about travel and all the time that gets wasted waiting around for trains, planes, etc., I saw there was a perfect opportunity to store more of their overflowing artefacts. We waste some much of our lives trying to get to work or other places, a lot of the first book was written (and re-written) on the commute. I hate travelling, and writing got me through the journey every day. I thought it would be great to have someone collect all of this wasted time and put it to good use.
So that’s how I came up with the idea for the Antiquarian Railway Line, partly because of my dad and maybe a bit of a reflection on the whole travel experience – the spaces that occur between leaving and arriving.
Art by Ben Wootten. (c)2015 Ben Wootten and Rossi Publishing Games