It seems that many write interesting stories about their layout, so here goes. Hope others find it interesting.
I started model railways when I was at school in South Africa and managed to buy a Lionel set from a classmate (much to his dad’s annoyance I found out later!). Half my room was taken up by my layout. University and work followed with little happening to the railway.
In 1973, shortly after my wife and I were married, we had walked along the Thames and gone into a Café for refreshments, when a little boy and his parents came in and he was carrying a Hornby catalogue. My casual comment about how I’d love to start a railway again resulted in my opening my Christmas presents (our first Christmas together) and finding Oliver Cromwell, five “blood and custard” coaches, a few wagons, H & M controller and some track. How exciting! That was 45 years ago and it started many happy years of us modelling together. I do the main construction work while my wife paints the people, plants trees, etc.
As we moved house from time to time, various layouts were started (is one ever finished?). Children arrived and space was needed. About fifteen years passed with everything stored away neatly. About six years ago, the boxes were opened and it was like Christmas all over again as I discovered things that I had forgotten that I had.
Our children are married, we now live in a lovely house with a large garden, in the New Forest. I started out enthusiastically building a garden railway but this came to a sad end during the notorious storm of a few years ago. I also realised that English weather was not the best for 00 scale outdoor railways, although I did run trains in the snow! I lifted the terminus that was housed in a wooden cabin, moved it into the garage and started all over again!
My 3.6 x 2.25 metre (approx 11’9″ x 7’4″) layout is now in a garage, attached to a hoist and is raised to allow the car to escape the winter frosts. About three years ago, my son gave me a Dynamis which opened up the whole digital world to me. Sadly the Dynamis decided that it would no longer programme locos and the cost for Bachmann to look at it before any work is done, meant that I needed to look elsewhere.
My final choice was NCE Power Cab and, so far, all the reviews have proved absolutely correct. It is a joy to use, although I think that a major improvement would be a dial to access locos, instead of scrolling. If anyone says that old locos can’t be changed to digital then don’t believe them. One of my finest runners is my original Hornby Oliver Cromwell, bought in 1973 for that first Christmas. You can see it in action hauling a rake of maroon coaches on the video.
There is still a lot to do – more carriage lighting circuits to wire up, ballasting of track, building and installing signals, etc. I am 78 and, apart from still working, am also an organist, so time is limited. But it does provide hours of fun, when I can get to it, as it gradually takes shape. It is not based on anything in particular and a purist would frown at it. However, I enjoy it and just focus on what I like, while trying to capture the character and mood of English villages and countryside.
Diagram of track plan – not to scale. Cabin Manor is on the level above the four, parallel tracks (up and down main, up and down loop)
A big thank you to John – what a wonderful narrative. It just goes to show this hobby really is a life long affair.
That’s all for today folks, please keep ’em coming and don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if today is the day you start your layout.