When it comes to building a layout, my first job is always to sit down with a pen and paper and write up a list of what I want it to offer. Given that as modellers we will be spending many months, if not years, building the layout and then hopefully many more years exhibiting it for hours at a time, I’m often surprised how many people seem to make things up as they go along!
As most layout ideas I’d come up with over the past couple of years were considerably larger than the scope of the competition allowed, I gave this some significant thought, worrying about building something that turned out to be very dull to operate. As a result I came up with the following as a bucket list:
-Through running, allowing traffic destined for places not modelled to appear on the layout.
-A principally industrial setting, with large buildings visible to close in the scene.
-A reason to run some BR trains onto the layout, even if just a shunting loco.
-Space for at least 2 short rakes of wagons to be left on the layout.
-Bleak winter landscape.
-Smooth slow speed running, meaning shunting moves take some time to complete.
-A believable historical setting, giving a reason for each move to happen rather than just pushing wagons around for the sake of it.
-No road bridges and definitely no buses on top of them!
-Something to make the layout stand out from the crowd if possible.
As was touched on in my last post, this created a few headaches after the abandonment of the initial design, but I have managed to incorporate nearly all the features into my final plan I believe, so here we go:
I’m not really sure if this qualifies as a ‘Bitsa’ layout or not – it’s not trying to model a small part of a location but certainly relies on an enlarged scheme to make it work! Hopefully the below plan shows how the layout forms one component of a larger industrial complex, alongside a busy BR mainline.
The idea is that a small ironworks had been located here for some years prior to the opening of the railway, which passed a mile or two away, crossing the end of the valley in which the Works was located. A tramway was constructed by the iron company, allowing them to bring in raw materials and export finished product considerably more efficiently, and as a result the works grew rapidly. Eventually, the tramway was upgraded into a railway proper, and exchange sidings were built alongside the main line. At around the same time, the iron company saw potential to develop a new, more efficient Coking Plant, and, due to a lack of space on the original site, this was constructed adjacent to the exchange sidings, linked to the Works by way of the private railway.
Difficulties in operation with all trains needing to reverse twice to leave the site led to the installation of a new steeply graded spur and further sidings served directly by the GCR in the early 20th Century – these new sidings were laid out on the site of further old works, (leading to the layouts name…) and led to a vast improvement in operability, providing a second access route to the Coking Plant for inbound raw materials and outbound coke for distribution in the local area.
Things stayed much the same until the mid 1960’s when the works, by now owned by British Steel, lost its iron making capability (which had been somewhat left behind by much larger more efficient works within the local area) and was converted to a rolling mill, steel billets being delivered by BR from the Don Valley and further afield.
It is during the early 70’s period the layout is set, well the winter of 1972/73 to be precise, although I will make no apologies if certain things appear that push that date a little – the overall aim is to construct something where everything blends together and looks ‘right’.
Once the plan was confirmed and I had a setup I was happy with, work commenced quite rapidly, with the trackbed being cut from 12mm ply that was conveniently left after we had some work done in our bathroom at home for the rear sidings, and 5mm foamboard for those in the foreground. (A small height difference between sidings makes a huge visual difference I find.) The location of lines being roughly drawn in to give a feel for how everything would look:
Turnout construction is now well underway – I will cover this off in the next post as this one is already a bloody great rambling monster!