Another Amazing model railway layout

Gavin kindly got in touch and sent in the following. It’s an impressive track layout to say the least.

“Dear Alastair,

I have been receiving your hints and tips for some time now and thought you might like a peek at my model railway in Gauge 00. It is my first model railway and I started it 5 years ago when I was 3 score and ten years young.

I wanted to re-create some of my home town of Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire UK during the 1950`s when every building was covered in industrial pollution and the L.M.S. railways were still operating as I always liked their crimson colour scheme.

I also wanted to try and create the contrasting countryside and hills and moors which surround Halifax and Sowerby Bridge so I went on location and did panoramic photos for the backscenes.

All the shops and house are lit up inside at night and the shops are complete with interiors. A lot of the buildings are scratchbuilt and the rest are from the excellent Metcalfe card range. These will be replaced in time with the authentic buildings in their right locations.

The hills are from scrap Polystyrene hacked to shape with a breadknife and finished of with course sandpaper to the right kind of “shapes” befor plastering with normal household filler brushed on nearly dry and tainted with black powder paint as a base colour.

With experience and experimentation you can get some very realistic contours and geological features with this method. As the plaster is drying I dipped the almost by now dry 1″ paint brush into green,orange blue or black powder paint as I went along until I had the topographical and colour effect I was aiming for. Just practice as you go!

Buildings were from picture mounting board or balsa wood etched like the sandstone buildings, walls etc of this area.

I drew the buildings on the computer from original on site photos that I had taken, scaling them as I drew them. The railway bridge was made from a high density pizza base which is round and comes on some makes of pizza. It has the surface finish of the sandstone and looks quite realistic.

There is still a lot of finishing work to do, more people and balasting etc. but I have been buiding a 1/12 scale Colin Archer radio controlled cruising yacht in between which is a replica of a full size version I built in Sydney, Australia 35 years ago and which is still sailing out there to this day.

Yours sincerely,


I think Gavin’s work is superb.

Don’t forget, my favourite modelling resource is here – there’s hope for the rest of us!


PS Hey James – check out the copyright sign on the bottom of my site. It’s been there since day 1.

PPS Latest ‘ebay cheat sheet’ is here.

80 Responses to Another Amazing model railway layout

  1. Jim Cope says:

    Stunning. Great perspectives. Great set design. One of the very best examples of a balanced foreground and background. First rate craftmanship. The work of a master. What a treat to see. Thank you.
    Jim Cope, East Marion NY USA

  2. Barry Palmer says:

    You’ve done an excellent job on the backdrops which is what most layouts really need including my own. It give the entire seen such great perspective and thereby adds a lot of realism. Thank you for sharing. I wish more people would share they train layout pictures as you and I have done because that also helps me get ideas. Congratulations, well done.
    Barry Palmer

  3. Bob says:

    Superb buildings and background.

  4. david says:

    The scenary and buidings are superb …well done

  5. John Listermann says:

    Beautiful backdrops, terrain and structures. Great work. Do they not ballast track? Only thing I noticed that would greatly improve the pictures.

  6. Colin Styles says:

    The way he has integrated the model scenery with the background is about the best I’ve seen. Well done!

  7. steve says:

    Gavin….One of the best ! Every right to be proud of this fine work !

  8. Dave Metrano says:

    Great job on this layout. I plan to copy the canel scene.

  9. Sheila Osburn says:

    Absolutely superb! What is the size of your layout? Amazing detail!
    Sheila, Louisiana, USA

  10. James Stewart Taylor says:

    That is so impressive. Wonderful detail.

  11. John T says:

    Fantastic scenary and so realistic, thanks for the top tips and inspiring designs. Well done
    John – Milton Keynes UK

  12. Chris says:

    just looked at pics first before reading the discription and was thinking looks like sowerby bridge and low and behold it is. looks brilliant and wasnt there in the 50’s but a lot of the buildings are still there

  13. whofreak1 says:

    All I can say is WOW!!

  14. david says:

    what a layout,full of fantastic scenary.and done so well well done

  15. WADIE says:

    First class work 10 out of 10

  16. Barry Clay says:

    Wonderful scenery,well done !

  17. Trich Trouton says:

    Absolutely stunning. Being a very “new chum” to this incredible hobby & being in the same age bracket as you Gavin, your fantastic layout has really spurred me on. I just love the scenery.
    Trich Trouton Australia

  18. Peter Jacobs says:

    Every layout of this status just gives me the encouragement to carry on.

    A perfect example, congratulations.

    Peter Jacobs, Whitby Ontario, Canada.

  19. Gruffalo says:

    What wonderful replication! If you travel to the Yorkshire countryside, you can see this scenery in real time – and this replication is an excellent copy. I only hope that my budding effort can produce something half as good!

  20. Ralph Berry says:

    A wonderful Gavin model. To model a real scene is always a challenge as somebody will always know if you leave something out.

  21. Tom says:

    Very nice scenery..well dome

    Tom – Shrewsbury PA, USA

  22. Herb Phelps says:

    I don’t know how all of you guys do it. I’m retired and I don’t have the patience to build these layouts. I go fly fishing and that only requires patience for one day not months or years. I love checking these layouts out and appreciating all of the time you put into them.


  23. Albert Weir says:

    I am ansolutely stunned that layout is awsome simply awsome there are no other words to describe it
    This is a beautiful job

  24. Alex Garfield says:

    Just brilliant!!

  25. Michael Chartres says:

    I am just starting a layout. I would be very pleased if my effort is half as good as this one. Fantastic.

  26. Jim collins says:

    Fantasic Gavin, a real pleasure to look at. Many thanks Jim. (3 score and 10 + 5.

  27. Jay Reese says:

    Gavin: Excellent job on the scenery – I especially like the hill top with the sheep because of the way it blends so well into the background.

    Jay, Fairfield, Ohio, USA

  28. Dennis says:

    you would think it was a photo of the real thing

  29. Bruce B says:

    Those photo backgrounds are absolutely sensational! I can’t believe how well they have been blended into the scenery. The weathered stone masonry on the buildings is equally impressive — what a beautiful layout!

  30. William Fritz Sr says:

    How about some good old “O” gage fast track
    I have been trying to get some track layouts
    all I cahn find is HO & N

  31. jess lester says:

    outstanding layout. Where are the trains? Only saw one engine.

  32. Peter says:

    Hi Al, I hope that when I do my layout I can acheive the detail that both Dave and Gavin
    got on theirs. Here in South Africa we have a sad shortage of enthusiast shops but fortunately I found you and all your followers. Tried your house plans, they are great and fun to do. Keep up the great work. Regards Peter

  33. Ben Taul says:

    wowwww greaaaaaaat i never been to or aussie land Ben Nebraska USA

  34. Galvin&Al you all do a realy good thing ,I am new to this and going to try som of this it is all realy good

  35. Ed Dunaway says:

    Outstanding attention to detail.
    Very impressed with all the pictures.
    Amazing Work Thanks for sharing…..

  36. Glenn says:

    Fantastic scenery! Jealous, jealous, jealous. The sheep were “off the hook” as the young folk say. Please don’t stop sending in pictures. Your work is amazing!

  37. john corry says:

    superb effort,
    you may be interested to hear Sydney is hosting an International Fleet review OCT 3-11,40 warships, 20 Tall ships, flybys ,etc

  38. Art Gibson says:

    Great modeling. That is my wife’s favorite part of the U.K. She will enjoy seeing your work, also. Art and Pat Gibson – Topeka, Kansas USA

  39. Bob Bouskill says:

    Great work! You have succeeded. Love your arched bridge but I still don’t see which are the the pizza parts.

  40. David Airth says:

    Very smart. I like the canal part best

  41. Roland Burch says:

    Great job on the scenery. Bring the scenes to the backdrop.

  42. Charlie Wray says:

    Gavin, Thank you for sharing ,I can only say it was an unbelievable treat.

  43. Steve Rowe says:

    Well done Gavin, well done!

  44. Malc says:

    what a really wonderfull railway, excellent workmanship 10/10

  45. Methuselah says:

    BEAUTIFUL, Gavin!!! I love the way you have incorporated the background photos. Now, if I could just figure a way to do something similar with a 19th century desert scene in the western U.S. – – –

  46. GOPAL DAGA says:

    Wonderfull job. I am thrilled . you have put all the effort and lot of hard work & thinking. You imaginations are par excellence.
    Eep it up!

  47. richard says:

    definitely not the B&O

  48. bofe1958 says:

    great job. reminds me of watching “last of the summer wine”

  49. Rod Mackay says:

    I just loved picture 4 with the sheep, superb bit of scenic work, keep it up!

  50. Steven Rege says:

    Love it!

    Thanks for sharing.


  51. Andre says:

    I am sooo jealous!

  52. frank says:

    Incredible scenery and detail. Please share it with as many as you can.

  53. Ken Hecker says:

    Al, Gavin’s layout should be considered a national treasure. I wish I had seen countryside like that when we visited England, Scotland, and Wales (with a day trip to Paris on the EuroStar) in 2009. BTW, are there any of those hairy cattle on the layout? They were my favorite thing of all.

    Ken Hecker
    Fullerton, CA USA

  54. Ed Dunaway says:

    WOW Very Impressed with all the detail more pics PLEASE!!!!

  55. Jimmy R says:

    What a layout, so realistic, would like to see some more of the details, certainly one to be proud of.

  56. Tom Davey says:

    Hi Al I am recently retired and have by accident acquired numerous Model train locos, carriages etc.
    I have found that there are several armatures in need of rewiring and with no one in Sydney OZ to help I wish to give it a go myself. Is there one of your contributors who can advise me as to the wire sizes the wire lengths and other info that may assist me in my new endeavor

    With Thanks Tom

  57. Byron Lusher says:

    I guess this is what they mean by museum quality

  58. says:

    A veritable library of inspiring design ideas. Every picture provides a wealth of ideas just in its detail! Thanks for a chance to enjoy these beautiful pictures,


  59. Babs says:

    At three score years and 16, I am about to embark on this wonderful adventure as a you and me time for my 5 year old grandson. I can’t imagine that we will be able to achieve anything even close to yours Gavin, but we will give it a try. Maybe some day we can feel confident enough to post here as well. Great work and a true inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

  60. John says:

    WOW I`m blown away as all the others are! Any chance of getting someone to film it for you with a bit of lighting and send Al a Youtube link so as we can all see this fantastic layout moving and alive.

    All the very best 4u in your senior years…..

    Another John also in Milton Keynes

  61. Ken says:

    Gavin I am in the throes of starting a layout and you have given me the best inspiration ever but I hope I can be even 1/2 as good.
    It is the best I have seen so far after months of trolling the net.
    Send us more.


  62. david says:

    Im just getting started but that is awesome work love to have backdrops like that someday keep up the great work!

    Dave in sequim, wa u.s.a

  63. Bob Tinker says:

    Fantastic just starting on a similar setup for the Hawkesbury escarpment north of Sydney NSW hope to be half as good as yours also our major show at Liverpool starts today hope to get more feedback.
    Best of modelling to all
    Bob Tinker

  64. Steve Bee says:

    I’m glad I still have a couple of years to go to reach my ‘3 score and ten’ years – I’ll need that long to work out how to get such a terrific-looking result from a model train set that is still a mental image only! What about on-line tutoring, Gavin?
    Congratulations on giving us all something to aspire to.

  65. Willie Butler, Jr says:

    That’s some nice scenery of the English country side. I love those canals .

  66. Cindy says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! It looks so real. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought you took pictures of your landscape where you live.

  67. Tim says:

    As a ‘fellow’ Yorkshireman I have got to say – its a right bobby-dazzler.
    Seriously the scenery and backdrop are excellent and you have made a great job of capturing the area look. It gives us all something to aim for.

  68. Robin Wood says:

    Would like to make contact as Im am in the same line (LMS) and started this year at age 70. I am modeling in east lancashire and really would like to see if I could have copies of the background photos as they would be just right for my layout, which is to be based on the lancashire / Yorkshire border I have had trouble finding the right photos for backdrops!

    Anychance of communicating


  69. Robin Wood says:

    Hi, Just another thought, The backdrops are so good perhaps you could tell us how you produced such lengthy and brilliant backdrops.

  70. steven joyce says:

    Definite great use of backdrops . wish I had picked a fe of those European ones while i was over there

  71. Jay F. Brown says:

    I thoght it would be a working layout, not pictures. The pictures were very impressive.

  72. bill says:

    I am just starting to construct a layout and I am overwhelmed with yours…I hope I can build something half as good . Thank you for the inspiration. Best Regards, BILL

  73. John Keller says:

    Wonderful layout Gavin!! Superb!!

  74. Ben says:

    What a fantastic diorama, just outstanding workmanship,Gavin should be very proud of his work

  75. Bill Hassiepen says:

    Excellent layout! Well done!!!!!

  76. Jim Holt says:

    Fantastic, some of the best work that I have seen in my three score and five, gathering parts and pieces to build another layout, I have a truly high bar in your work to attempt to match. Thank you for the goal.
    Thanks to this fine site for the exposure of all the various ideas and examples of great work.
    Jim in Arizona

  77. Erik says:

    Beautiful scenery! I love the photo background. Is there a track plan?

  78. Appokta says:

    Astounding, Gavin. Most of these look like photographs of the countryside, they appear so lifelike! I can hardly believe my eyes – nor can I make my brain believe that this is just a “model” and not the real thing! Well done!

  79. Bev Lunney says:

    True artist. Come visit Ringling museum Sarasota Florida, USA.Amazing models there .

  80. wayne watts says:

    I would like to think that I have an eye for very good realistic work, and you do. Very, very good.

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