Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Early Layouts

The layouts we operated couldn’t have been more different. Mine began with an up and down shunting strip on a board in the garage and ended with a double tracked main line with two stations running around a large double garage. The layout had the capacity to run 9 coach trains with plenty of yard space for wagons and spare locomotives. My friend James’s was more of a model than mine with beautifully built buildings and scenery on a looping branch line with a mainline running around the back. Sadly I have no pictures of either but I still have fond memories of walking around to his house with a small bag containing a locomotive and rolling stock.

My very first proper layout was an 8th or 9th birthday present form my mother and Father. I had always had a hankering for something narrow gauge after visiting the Talylln and Ffestiniog railways and had probably pestered my parents for months over the issue. I remember visiting the Ffestiniog with my father on a very wet weekend. Inside Boston lodge works lay a number of narrow gauge layouts. All were to different scales and each modelled a different prototype but this I think certainly set the seed that would blossom over the next 20 or so years.

The First Layout

My father constructed a beautifully made baseboard that could be lifted onto the kitchen table. The railway was built to 009 standard, featuring a dock or port area with a number of sidings and an oval loop running around the outside. Stock was a variety of Lilliput and second hand items bought from Hatton’s model shop in Liverpool. The only locomotive on the line was an 0-6-2 called Zilletal from the Zilitahn railway but this proved more than capable of keeping me interested. I Anglo sized it a little by balancing a GWR safety valve cover over the back section of the boiler; I saw it as an attempt to make it look almost Welshpool and Llanfair in style. The layout had no buildings or scenery but this changed later that year as I created a welsh landscape with small quarry, tunnel and slate/dock transfer sidings. I built a small halt and used buildings from the Wills Grotty huts range to give the feeling of an old falling apart welsh narrow gauge railway.

Sadly my interest waned partly due to the fact 009 was so expensive and I really wanted some modern image 00 stock. My father was a great believer in selling or throwing away things that became inferior and investing in better models. So the layout went to the tip and the locomotive and stock were taken to Hatton’s and exchanged for a Lima intercity 125 and 7 MKIII coaches. This at the time was a great move but I do wish I still had the layout.

The Second Layout

The second railway was probably the most ambitious and sadly never got completed. My parent’s house had a spare double garage at the bottom of the garden that used to belong to a row of houses but had become derelict. Through some odd planning issues the land and garage had become my parents and my father decided to rebuild it for the great model railway. Being a large rectangular space with good light and insulation it proved the perfect place for a large-scale express main line. Base boards were constructed that ran around the outside of the room allowing enough room for two large stations and yards plus scenic breaks for the double track mainline to run through.

The scale was 00 H0 track running both steam and modern image dependent on which year it was that day. My father was always unhappy using peco H0 track and wanted to convert everything to EM gauge. His idea was to model GWR Brent station with a small branch and storage sidings. The track and stock would be built first and then installed once everything was ready. Now by this time my interest had moved onto other things and the prospect of spending 10 15 years on a layout seemed like an eternity to me. I also didn’t see the point in going super fine scale on a project this big, the cost to convert one locomotive was high enough. At this point I had my first car and was more interested in classic cars, So the railway was shelved indefinitely.

Sadly I have no images of the layout but I have most of the rolling stock and locomotives, which over the last 4 years have grown somewhat. The modern image stock has all been sold apart from my trusted class 47 and the GWR steam locomotive fleet now totals 73. Many of these are duplicates of classes but each feature different details. I hope one day to have at least one model of every class of GWR locomotive ever built, some project, I think you will agree!

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