Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Couldn't Resist This...!

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"just a blog"

Sunday was an eventful day for Briers Grove. Having spent the last few evenings cleaning the track in sections, I decided to just turn the power on and see what ran.

First out was the 0-4-0 Elkin shunter, so far so good, no stops and starts.

Second on the line was the Briers Grove 0-4-0 shunter, took it round to the fiddle yard and took out two GWR coaches and they ran a treat, though one point was sticking.

Left the running for a time, sorted some kits out and then some modelling, went back to running and the current was working around the track nicely - some good running. Ended the evening running a class 58 diesel and the two shunters with stock.

Also tested the next modelling stage for the curve, one minor adjustment to positioning and it was sorted.

Had two sticky points, that I know about, but all in all, I'm really happy.

Track Plan

Briers Grove - track plan
You'll have to forgive me for such a poor track plan, unfortunately my drawing skills are useless and my skills at Illustrator are not that clever either.

I'll try and draw another track plan for next year...!


As a modeller, you sometimes need to consider different ideas to the one you had originally chosen, especially when modelling areas within the layout.

I'm currently working on a small station yard for Elkin Station, this then leads in to the copse area by the tunnel. I had originally wanted to place an old vehicle wreck within the bushes at the back end of the yard, however room was not adequate enough and I had to change my idea a little.

I still kept the general idea of the yard, but adapted my idea around the space, my wrecked vehicle will go somewhere else now.

Another aspect in flexibility is to see how different ideas and models might work when presented. I had originally decided not to have houses on the layout, this has now changed and some houses are now included replacing the original idea.

Development Of An Idea pt2

Running Stock

I never wanted to buy locomotives for a region or even time; I wanted to buy certain locomotives because they mean something to me. I’ve always loved Flying Scotsman, but only numbered as 4472, as 60103 it never really appealed to me, however if the question was asked of me, 4472 scrapped or 60103 preserved? I always opt for Flying Scotsman in preservation, with or without a corridor tender and ‘bat wings’!

I purchased big locomotives, mainly named, but some a little less known, (to me anyhow). This is why I never wanted to model a region or place, working within these restrictions would have meant limitations, something I would hate within a modelling environment. When I finally got round to understanding model railways a little more, Keith Plum, Roger Elkin, Pete Watson, Rod and Geoff, Lawrie Smith, Richard Kilner and a few more that had allowed me to operate their own layouts, my attitude changed somewhat toward small locomotives and how they are used.

I acquired various locomotives, including diesel and two DMUs, one modern and one with an older livery. Within my own mind I was already acquiring stock for what I had intended to be a show layout, I can run most regions, apart from Southern.

LNER, LMS, GWR, BR and my own livery are all included as independent running if I so wish, my stock is normally mixed though. Out of the Big Four, GWR always appealed to me, but coming from LNER area, and having a link to Top Link works, my purchasing has mainly stayed with LNER. My Great Great Uncle was a Top Link driver, he being Bob Marrable, seen running the Elizabethan and driving Silver Fox in the footage.

Layout and Location

As mentioned before, I don’t run within a real location, although the back scene setting would indicate Northern England, perhaps near the Lakeland or Yorkshire areas. My stations do not really represent any region, although Elkin Station which is hand painted, is Rogart Station from the Highland Region.

I mix fencing from different regions, different station equipment and different eras of machinery. This layout is not about regions or places; it’s about what I like and what I perceive it to be.

The Story

My fictional company, Walmington Railways (My love of Dad’s Army) runs the Briers Grove Branch Line. Its’ original concept was to operate a preserved steam railway, but as more and more privatisation came in, the company diversified into the distribution of goods and passengers on a commercial scale within the local area.

During the week, Walmington Railways operates a passenger service from Briers Grove terminus to Walmington Junction offering a connection to mainline services. Besides the passenger service that Walmington Railways offers, a modern DMU also runs a passenger service across the remaining line that has been restored as an alternative transport service to the nearest town (un-named).

The passenger franchise offers the opportunity to run a steam hauled service during the day, DMU service at peak times and a GWR Railcar at other times due to passenger numbers. Besides the passenger franchise, Briers Grove also attracts tourism; this offsets the cost of running the railway and offers visitors the opportunity to see steam hauled running.

At weekends the line turns into a steam extravaganza, with their own stock and visiting locomotives, Briers Grove attracts many railway enthusiasts. Named locos such as Flying Scotsman and Mallard often make appearances on the line, running specials. The connection from the town and Walmington Junction also offers people the ability to travel via the railway without the use of motor vehicles.

I built Briers Grove so that part of the scenic boards can be used for modular use; this allows me to offer different scenarios or themes. Elkin Station goods yard has the ability to house large locomotives; this allows enthusiasts to see the locomotives close up with special passes.

I am also building a country pub into the layout, this offers the ability to house special events, such as steam fairs, vintage rallies and motorcycle rallies for example. This modular format allows me to have two goods yards for week day running and these offer the second part of the commercial side of Walmington Railways.

Briers Grove is the terminus station and head quarters of Walmington Railways, it offers a goods yard and operates a commercial delivery service for the local communities employing local people and offering an alternative to long distance road haulage.

Elkin Station also has a goods yard, but this also houses the maintenance facilities of Briers Grove, you’ll often see maintenance vehicles within the depot area. Elkin Station is a two track station with one island platform, so in normal working conditions an up and down road. The station also has a passing loop; this is used for freight traffic coming into Elkin Station or for holding freight when commuter services may cross within the timetable.

Briers Grove is a high level station but serviced by a low level railway. With new facilities for disabled access (lifts), Briers Grove offers an excellent viewing arena for enthusiast weekends. With the bay platform and four coach main platform, the engine shed, water & coaling facility on separate rails. The bay platform also houses the small parcels service facility, including mail. The main platform is normally reserved for steam hauled locomotives, however when the DMUs are running, the three car DMU often resides within this area.

Briers Grove goods yard houses a warehouse, coal yard and other aggregates for local use and distributes timber loads from the local community. One of the sidings doubles as a coach holding area for when coaches are being rotated or housed over night. Both Briers Grove and Elkin Station have station shunter engines, both housed within their own sidings for storage and coaling.

Stations on the Briers Grove Branch Line (named stations may increase with time)

Briers Grove
Elkin Station
Hinton St. Mary
Walmington Junction (mainline connection)
Branch Line continuation(services to un-named town unlisted)

Development Of An Idea

Over the years that I have been interested in railway modelling, steam has played a greater part of the interest, although I don't really know loco designs, apart from one or two.

Most modellers pick a region, a place, a time or a combination of them to create their own unique version of running a railway. There are some, like myself, that have opted for a fictional place, but not many take the view of creating a preserved railway, most end up running a 'regional' or 'time/era' railway.

My original layout Rogie Falls, offered a scenic location with various locomotives and running stock from The Big Four, to British Railways and modern running stock. My time or era is reflected within the concept of a preservation society role, but with a modern working branch line offering an alternative transport method for passengers wishing to connect to the rail network.

Having worked within the distribution industry for many years, I have always believed that the rail network offers far greater opportunities for employment and the distribution of goods locally, rather than HGVs. Using a branch line network to distribute goods and, having a BRS delivery system spanning the entire country. But that’s getting into politics, which, model railways do not really play a part in, but this is my concept, an era of nationalisation centred on a preservation society running this part of the network.

This is where the preservation society comes in to the concept. My love of the wonderfully kept stations in rural and some suburban towns always gives me a sense of belief that of an idyllic life style. From a photographers view this would give us the time and era of neatness, unlike the current system. Flower beds, swept station platforms, fencing repaired, and so on…, a sense of pride.

(Part 2)