21 First One In

Geoff Taylor
Arrival at Penmaenpool

A while back I looked at Space and how we use it, in particular looking at a Fremo layout I’d been invited to see. I really like the concept of joining layouts together for an operating session. Last year 2020 has obviously put paid to a large part of the social side of the hobby, and I suspect many of us didn’t realise just how big a part that played. In terms of the social element Geoff Taylor’s Cambrian layout above is one of those rare ‘system’ layouts for the Uk with several locations modelled, and to operate it Geoff when circumstances allow, invites fellow modellers and enthusiasts to visit and operate the layout.

Barmouth Junction
Barmouth Junction

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to see and take part in operating this layout. The first thing that strikes you on entering the location is the quality of the modelling, it is some of the best you’ll see. The layout is OO gauge with hand built pointwork and track, this immediately gives a natural flow and prototype feel to the locations modelled.


The thing that I found particularly inspiring, was the layout is built in a relatively small space, but the choice of locations means the the trains travel a good distance before appearing again on the layout, or entering the three storage sections. This means some pretty good climbs with curves as well, hidden from view.

Dolgellau / Dolgelley

Geoff’s careful selection of the locations means that the essence of the Cambrian coast line has been pretty faithfully captured, and if you’ve seen images of the prototypes, you’re transported there, even before a trains appearance.


The line is worked to a timetable sequence, which gives the operators a real feeling of the line ‘working’ rather than running a procession of trains through a fixed location.


DCC powered, the operating protocol is to drive a train in the sequence to ‘your’ location, so whilst you know which train is arriving you don’t actually see it until it serves on scene. Signalling is done at each physical location, so there’s potential for a signalman and driver for each location. If it’s a non stop through train you can sit back and just enjoy the train in the scenery.


Not only does the scenery give a sense of time and place, but the stock does too, almost exclusively steam power firmly setting the layout into the late 50’s.

Penmaenpool Derby Lightweight

One of the side benefits of this type of layout system, is that it encompasses the positive social elements of our hobby. This allows the exchange of ideas, and information across the visitors, whom often have a wide variety of backgrounds, scales and interests in this engaging pastime.

Barmouth Junction

As we head into 2021, there’s hope on the horizon that later in the year the social side of the hobby may be able to look at holding events. I do wonder if a way forward to start isn’t going to be traditional shows, but meetings of small groups of friends in a similar manner to either Fremo meets, or as Geoff does with ‘Penmaenpool’. In discussion with a close friend we can envisage village halls and similar venues being booked by perhaps a small group of friends, and layouts being taken there just to ‘show’ amongst that group. The venues will be keen to get some trade back through the doors and a small hall is likely viable for a single day hire among five to fifteen people. From small acorns..

It’s a long way off yet, however when I look at the friendships that I’ve developed via the hobby, I do get a positive buzz that ‘we’ will see the pandemic through. Twenty One is likely to be a year of change, to start we’ll be kicking the Covid-19 can down the road ahead of us for a while yet, but sooner or later that tin can will get stuck underneath a hedge, and then, it’s up to us!


My thanks are to Geoff for allowing me to talk about his layout and illustrate this post using pictures from the operating sessions I’ve been fortunate enough to attend.

This entry was posted in accurascale, Airfix, Bachmann, barmouth, barmouth junction, blogger, Branch Line, British Rail, cambrian, Cameo layout, dapol, DCC, dcc sound, dolgellau, Eastern Region, Exhibition, finescale, free-mo, fremo, fremo module, friday flashback, Friends, Great Western, Hattons, heljan, history, HO, hobbies, Hobby, Hornby, Inspiration, Layout, LMS, LNER, man cave, mancave, Midland Region, model, model photography, Model Railroad, Model Railway, modeling, Modelling, Modelu, n gauge, Narrow Gauge, new year, O Gauge, o scale, OO, OO Gauge, Oxford rail, peco, penmaenpool, prototype, railway, realism, research, scale, scale modelling, Scottish Region, shelfie, signalling, skill, Southern Region, toy train, Toy trains, toytrainset, track, train set, train show, trainset, Uncategorized, Wales, Western Region. Bookmark the permalink.

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