By Steve Pickthall
The origin of Mrs Ps Teas was seeing a review of Rob Bennett’s tea van kit in one of the garden railway magazines. I like to build small scenes into the railway to provide focal points, and the 12 inch to the foot Mrs P liked the idea of being in charge of a catering outlet. We already had Rob Bennett `s caricatures of Mrs P and myself bought by our eldest son as a present, so a tea van kit was ordered.
Unfortunately its arrival coincided with me suffering a serious illness, so the kit was put to one side along with other projects bought to pass the winter evenings. Eventually, as I recovered I could no longer stand daytime television and saw the tea van as an ideal project to aid recovery.
It was well made and finished, and glued together easily. I modified the roof to be detachable and then thought about adding detail. Rob advises that dolls house furniture is an ideal source of detail, but the only appliances I could find locally were too big, so the next part of my recovery was to make a griddle, hotplate, tea boiler and oven from an old brass letter box and copper pipe off cuts. Using a blowlamp for silver soldering and tin snips must be good therapy for stroke recovery as I didn’t set fire to the house or myself (hot metal certainly speeds up ones reflexes). Mrs P herself carried out all the painting including the two seated figures, mischievous black cat and pigeon.
To satisfy the environmental health police (and save painting the inside) I lined the inside and work surfaces with Aluminium sheet to represent stainless steel. Steps with regulation handrail were added, and LED lighting which uses IKEA warm white LEDs and battery box.
The cakes, bread, mugs and the toaster are all dolls house items
The camera shy Mrs P can just be glimpsed hiding behind her toaster as Steve and Jones take Dai to task after he has held their train to wait for the arrival of a delayed coach party (trains on the WVR are run to a timetable you know). Meanwhile Sooty the cat has seen his opportunity to pounce on the greedy pigeon that can usually be found around the van, hunting for crumbs.