Last night I had the real privilege of meeting a hero, they, (whoever ‘they’ are), say you should never meet your hero’s for fear of disappointment, but this was a real pleasure.
The hero wasn’t a person, but a layout, Peter Denny’s Buckingham. The layout now in the custodianship of Tony Gee is being restored to working order, and from ‘playing trains’ last night its well on its way. Tony has written some of the story in the first edition of FRMR http://albionyard/thirty/ but when you see the challenge that Tony and his team of friends has overcome, it makes it all the more remarkable. Buckingham is unusual in that it portrays a railway, rather than as most UK layouts a station or single location served by fiddleyards or staging areas. This means that when playing trains, a train actually goes somewhere and does something tangible. Now many of the Canadian and US readers will be rolling their eyes at the ceiling at this point and saying Derr! It is though very different in the UK and ‘location’ modelling is very much the standard, Fremo style exhibitions and modular meets not having gained any ground here. I’ve enjoyed myself operating many layouts over the years, but this was noticeably different, and has sparked an idea that has been gestating for quite a while.
For a while I’ve been at that point ‘between projects’ or ‘resting’ as our thespian luvvies would have it. I’ve a wide range of railway modelling interests, but only one life, so its time to focus again. Albion Yard still exists, mothballed. From the layout I have the scenery, buildings, trees, track and stock specific to the Forest of Dean. I’ve a good amount of hard copy analogue research data, and access to unpublished images too. I have similar for some other potential projects too, where in UK tradition I could make a layout of a location.
And then what?
Like Albion Yard, likely end up collecting dust while I do, or think of, something else. Last night may have been a milestone in how I model in the future. I like trains to ‘do something’, and Buckingham meets that criteria beautifully. Chris Nevard’s Buckminster Ironstone http://nevardmedia.railex-2014.html whilst only a ‘Y‘ as a track plan had something about it in addition to his beautiful modelling. Loading the wagons meant you ‘did something’ more than just run a train. And there really is something in that.
The project layout above, whilst good to look at and more interesting than an inglenook layout to operate, still acts as a simple in, shunt, out, layout. Which is ok for a while for me, but I want more functionality ( I think …). The DVD layouts appearance can be changed, it has a lighting rig that allows different lighting, and has jigsaw components to swap out. In essence that’s it though.
The books above are part of my thought process, good old hard copy analogue works. There’s a lot of shite talked about you can get what you need from the internet. There is very little for me, even relatively recent times such as the 60’s where film and cameras were becoming far more common. Its true to say that images over the past few years have become more prevalent, but only in in some subject matters and more recent eras, but for many historical railway projects the internet is still a desert. So, out with the maps and books and signalling diagrams, and I should make the obligatory reference to a mug of tea or glass of wine, it’s an internet railway modellers Godwins Law. The basic concept to see if I can make a modular layout representing Forest of Dean branchlines, with the operating ethos of Buckingham, and retaining the visual impact for me of the Forest area, and capturing the atmosphere which has worked so well with Albion Yard.
I’m fortunate in having a reasonable space that it may be possible to have four locations, including Serridge Junction, Whimsey, Acorn Patch, one of the collieries, maybe based on Eastern United or Princess Royal. Not copies but pastiches, LDE’s (layout design element) encompassing a series of 6ft x 18inch ‘Shelfies‘ to capture the areas portrayed, as eye level modules that can be exhibited separately ‘I-layouts’ as Chris Nevard, called them, or joined together to take an operating ‘railway’ to an exhibition. I’ve got the space, the final frontier is the dedication and motivation.
At the moment I’m on the horse looking at the distant ridge line, the horse is thinking ‘kinell’. I’m thinking, ‘can I cross that frontier?’
Dunno, stay tuned.
* Layout Design Element see Tony Koester
Reblogged this on sed30's Blog and commented:
Some ideas and a classic
Got to be Ross on Wye mate………..
Interesting thoughts Paul.
Through a friend, I was invited to the home of a retired telecomm engineering chap who had an O layout predominantly in his adjoined garage, but with a double track along the fence to a shed at the bottom of the garden. Ideally five operators were needed to keep the job going, based on a card system. The job i enjoyed was the yard shunt which involved making up trains as well as shunting inbound trips, but most of all there was a loading hopper for an aggregate like ballast. Wagons were loaded three at a time then shunted into the yard prior to fetching more empties.
The “shedman” would turn off an engine into the yard and you would need to “shackle up” the loaded minerals, shunt the brakevan onto the rear then despatch the train, all the while performing the loading process and shunting the empties.
It was a busy session but it was full of purpose and was so much fun, even though you were effectively sending ice cream carton loads of chippings down the other end of the garden. Other operators ran the passenger service but freight wss so much more enjoyable !!!
Of course O is so much more workable because of this kind of activity possible, but it also needs room, which is why the hobby is always a compromise.
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Kim and I also went to pay homage to Buckingham in the summer. As you say it’s not always a good idea to meet a hero lest you be disappointed but in this case I came away even more in awe of a railway, bits of which are the best part of seventy years old, than I was before. Kim and I looked after Buckingham whilst Mick and Yvonne Simpson saw to Grandborough. Tony guided us through the controls but the design, all based on signals with no section switches, was so intuitive that we soon picked it up and four hours passed in a flash. To me, it remains the ultimate model railway.
Your idea of a FofD system made up of modules which can go out independently or as a complete railway is excellent. I have been following a similar theme with my fictitious North Somerset Light Railway with Highbury and Tucking Mill soon to be joined by William Smith’s Wharf.
Another railway which is inspired by the ‘system’ style favoured by our transatlantic cousins is my good friend John Greenwood’s North Cornwall railway which features in the latest MRJ (235).
I going back to reading some more of your blog entries which I have shamefully only just discovered.
I read the North Cornwall article too and again it re-affirmed my idea that there’s something in this ‘grand scheme’ concept. It is re-assuring too that its at the finescale end, particularly because of the issues of couplings and how they affect curve radii etc even in 2FS. I know a project like Severn & Dean will be easier using autocouplings of some kind which allow sharper radii, but that takes away the prototype look which I want to retain as far as possible. I spoke to Tony a few days back and he’s agreed to help me refresh point building skills, so the first part of S&D may have hand built points, plastic chair/wood sleeper. If they don’t take up too much time its possible the system may be hand built, which will give a little extra realism and track planning and laying flexibility. I look forward to seeing William Smith’s Wharf too, just make sure you don’t have any panniers on it, I can’t afford the distraction of thinking, hmm S&D in 2FS, I can get much more in …
For anyone not familiar with Jerry’s work its here: