Narrow gauge layout

My word, there really is some talent out there. Have a look at Julian’s narrow gauge layout. Just superb.

Have a look at the comments below.

“Dear Alastair,

having seen lots of layouts on your mailings, I thought it was time to send in mine. This is my layout. Its taken about 7 months to get to this stage.

It is a 00-9/narrow gauge layout, loosely based on several railways I have visited or seen in the UK and Europe. My first train set was a wind-up Maccano set my Great Aunt bought in the 1950’s. Since then I have owned Hornby OO, Garden LGB G and N-gauge railways.

The N gauge set took up an entire loft and I built it with my son and daughter. When we moved house I discovered the downside of not creating scenic dioramas with removable links!

This set is a much smaller but highly detailed Narrow gauge setup. I chose narrow gauge as I wanted larger rolling stock and building than N gauge, and with ageing eye-sight, OO is easier to see than N!

The base is a strengthened pasting table 730mm x 1500mm that used to be my desk. One day I was playing with some parts ordered through e-bay, the the next, the computer and papers were gone and track and hills had started to appear! The design was researched, but in the end grew more organically than planned! It provided a few headaches to fit it into the limited space.

The whole setup was designed to be portable so that it could be taken to shows and exhibitions. I have used layers of pressed paper board glued together, then carved, and plaster/cloth contoured over. I mixed paint pigment and PVA glue into the plaster so chips do not show. Tree locations were bonded into this mix so the trees can be removed for transport and relocated with ease, or just moved around.

Scatter flock was added in about 4-5 layers to build up a realistic effect around the houses and fields. The creepers and ivy on the buildings were added not only to disguise joins, but that is also what you would expect to see in real-life.

Each building fits and locates into the scenery base and has an electrical connection for LED lights. Most of the building are Metcalf bases, then customised. For instance the Yorkshire barn as supplied would never have a roof that over laps the walls!

Each building has 1 or more lights so the lower floors can be separately controlled from the upper floor to add realism.

The street lamps, outside wall mounted lights on the buildings and station platform lights are on separate feeds to add to the realism at night.

The bridges are adapted from Peco mouldings. All the track work is Peco, and I run a variety of locos and rolling stock.

The buildings are named after either places in the north of England with a slight twist to them, or after my wife and our dogs. There are several small scenes within the layout – the cows walking off to the barn to be milked, the boy throwing the stick for his dog across the bridge, and his mum shouting at him! A lady about to topple over trying to hang up the washing, and a couple leaning on the fence by the barn looking out over the country side.

Sadly my narrow gauge layout is up for sale now as I am relocating to the southern hemisphere and I cannot fit it into my carry-on luggage! So if there is a reader who would like to show it, it is available.


narrow gauge layout

narrow gauge layout buidlings

model railway crane

model railway passenger car

narrow gauge model railway

narrow gauge layout curves

model passenger bridge

narrow gauge bridge embankment

narrow gauge stone bridge

model train track plan

narrow gauge layout model

narrow gauge layout bridge scene

narrow gauhe layout bridge

model railway buildings

narrow gauge layout

model train view inside tunnel

narrow gauge model train bridge scene

model train LED street lamp

model railway embankment building

Wow! Amazing stuff. A big thank you to Julian for sharing his narrow gauge layout.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide, if today is the day you start your railroad adventure.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

model train answers

70 Responses to Narrow gauge layout

  1. Cameron says:

    Great Layout. It takes a lot of careful planning to get a layout working like that in such a compact space. Also great job on the greenery. Thanks for posting.

  2. TOM says:


  3. Pete Jones says:

    Great layout Julian, especially like the scenics, well done and thanks for sharing with us.

  4. Ron says:


  5. Paul Brady says:

    excellent lay out with amazing detail

  6. Toni says:

    An interesting layout for the railways. Looks as if it is a hamlet in a British countryside. Nicely done, I kind-a-like it.

    Thank you Julian for sending it in, to be posted here.

  7. Paul Campagna says:

    Really nice job. I’d love to visit that village.

  8. Nice one Julian , shows what can be done even on a small layout

  9. Maverick405 says:

    I love the detail of the soot above the tunnels and the autumn leaves lying around

  10. WoW it’s a great layout, it just goes to show anyone can build a layout nomatter the size of the space there is, just just need to proceed with what they have available. Thank You!!!

  11. Paco Gayon says:

    Julian, you are a terrific artist. Your ability deserves a larger set up. Love to see your display some day. Do you come over to the Tampa Bay area?

  12. Looks very impressive

  13. John Seale says:

    super layout…great detail & contrasts w/texture

  14. Glenn Roach says:

    Julian Have u looked into putting the layout parts in one or two steamer Trunks or just just building a shipping crate for it and just sending to your new address. If your children are old enough and not moving with you does either one or just your son want it since they have helped u on your earlier layouts. If not that is their lost not to have to show to any grandchildren old enough to get a starting interest in model railroading of their country’s history and getting the enjoyment that u have gotten out of running it also.

  15. Ben Zalewski says:

    A beautiful layout. Really like to bridge with both traffic and rail on it.
    Thanks for sending in so many photos.
    –Ben Z

  16. Chuck59 says:

    Fantastic layout with great detail.

  17. chris says:

    Really great layout, lovely scenery and great little features

  18. Tom says:

    Wonderful layout … much detail. A job well done.
    way to go Julian.

    I hope it would spark some interest in your family to carry on.
    what a legacy that would be for you.

    Thanks for sharing with us.
    Thanks Al for presenting this fine layout

    Note: I see another Tom is already listed. So from now on I will use Tom N also: So from now on my responses will be: Tom N

  19. Dirck Hecking says:


  20. Bob Mackey says:

    What a brilliant layout. congratulations. My next layout must be a narrow guage.

  21. paul Otway says:

    A really beautiful layout

  22. Kaustav says:

    Truly wonderful! Though I model American trains, I can never get over the poetic beauty of British and European layouts. 🙂 I love the semaphors and the night shots.

  23. It’s a great lay out. you did a lot with the space you have.

  24. michael says:

    Fantastic layout looks superb

  25. Lester B. says:

    WOW That has alot of time and love put into it!

  26. Julian Holmes says:

    Bob, I am looking for offers of over £1000.00. To date it has cost about £2,300.00, excluding my time!
    There is some minor detailing that needs to be carried out – like the ballasting and final touch-up to paint and trees. The cables under the board need to be tidied up too.
    It has been a great deal of fun to create, but I cannot take it with me sadly, so it has to stay in the UK. All the buildings and trees can be removed for transport. I do have some rolling stock and locos that I would be willing to include, as well as a transformer to get you going.

    regards, Julian

  27. Julian Holmes says:

    Do you come over to the Tampa Bay area?

    Paco – I do! I am actually a dentist, so I am in effect modelling every day, as well as creating artistic scenes and miniature engineering feats! I lecture in the US about every 6 months. I will be in Las Vegas in February, and I guess I will work some pictures of this layout into my presentation too!

    Regards, and thank to you, and everyone else, for the great posts. My profession tends to work in isolation, and I guess modellers do so to. Thanks to Alistair, we can share our creations, so a big thank you to him also for taking the time to run and maintain this www site.

  28. Milton White says:

    Stop sending these Al. It’s back to the drawing board for me after seeing Julian’s amazing effort.

  29. RJ says:

    YES I agree ,,Yet another stunning model railroad layout

  30. Jack Burkle says:

    This is the most highly detailed model R.R. I have seen posted or in person so far , bar none. Just the right amount of items for the space you had w/o creating what would look like someone just wanted to see how many things he could cram into limited space!

  31. yolli says:

    Cool layout… I’m just about to embark on my own N Scale layout. Ill post pix when I finally start it. The hints & tips have been awesome too, by the way. Thanks

  32. Jay Reese says:


    Your layout has an amazing amount of activity and detail packed into such a small space, yet it doesn’t look crowded. Too bad you aren’t able to take it with you.


  33. Dennis says:

    Great layout. Lots of stuff going on. Too bad you have to leave it behind. So, you build another in the southern hemisphere.

  34. Mark says:


  35. Barry says:

    Fantastic. A true master modeler.

  36. John Reynolds says:

    Eggerbahn, Lilliput, Roco — some very old friends that now appear lost. Very amazing little layout. Very, very, nice.

  37. jim morris says:


  38. Hanford Brace says:

    I don’t know you but if you sent one or two of the close up pics to me and said that they were a foreign country in Europe and true regular picture of track and buildings I would have to just be in awe because I would not be able to tell it was not a real place you took pics of where you lived. They are extremely realistic!


  39. roger gledhill says:

    I have a question for the trainiacs, as I am, among you.
    Suppose I have a track spur that I want to have spare engines to go to.
    I want the engines to go there and stop, to to be activated until later to
    then come into the main line. I understand that I have to have one transformer
    on one side of the break and one on the other. How do I best separate
    the tracks on one side of the break and those on the other side of the break?
    If I don’t have the engines on the far side of the break activated and do them by hand, how do I keep from haning these tracks activated?

  40. ROBIN says:


  41. Edward says:

    Great scenery…nice work!!!

  42. john andrew says:

    trainiac,you do not need a second transformer ,just measure your longest engine length and cut the rail to about an1 inch (25mm aust) longer and the number of cuts should depend on the length of the spur then solder a wire to each end of each rail and join with a switch set the switches where the rails are cut so that you can see that you don’t have an engine on two sections only one rail needs to be cut this is for DC, for DCC it is not needed John A

  43. Bill S. says:

    really GREAT layout

  44. Dave Whatley says:

    Great pics, I would like to see a vid with the trains running.

  45. Julian says:

    That is one of my ancient sets now!! I did build a shipping crate that was designed as a dust cover too. But way to heavy for hand luggage. It went to a great home in the north of England, and I learnt a great deal of the errors I made. So the new build is more structured and corrects many of the glaring faults that you can see in the pictures above.
    I’ve started a modular layout in HO/OO Gauge so it’s back to my childhood! There will be 3 or 4 2×6 boards that can be assembled in a series of different links so interest can be maintained. And I’m building the scenery in modules too so it’s easier to lift off and repair or renovate as required.
    The creamery and brewery are in progress – left over bits from this narrow-gauge set. Like most modellers I have a box of ‘useful bits’ that drives my wife insane!! I’ll post some pictures of the 1st board which is all most complete.

  46. Victor Heffern says:

    A lot of love shows in this layout. Beautiful job.

  47. Mr George Albert Archer says:

    I’m in the process of reconstructing a layout that I purchased that is made from 2 interior doors with folding table legs attached. Tracks are lined up so that they connect at the junction of the tables. the person I bought it from said it was built by an army officer so that he could easily move it whenever he was reassigned. Together the layout measures 64″ x 86″

  48. Linda says:

    Wonderful job. Great details, looks very real. Even more incredible when you show what a small space you had to work with.

  49. very nice ,It’s to bad you don’t have more room !
    I am going on 67 years old and still build with N scale stuff and my eyes are not what they used to be but I muddle through , it some times take a few tries to get things wright but I get it going after a few times ! I am slowly getting used to the print out buildings so they look good enough to use ?
    Be well and stay safe Sir !

  50. Ron Schultz says:

    Nice . Its shows a lot of work was done to get this small Railroad going with all the little details .

  51. Robert Shuman says:

    Very Nice. Great detail. And a lot of activity in small space. Good job!

  52. Bruce says:

    Julian, what superb work you do. If you really relocate so often, hope you can “play trains” during construction. Must get enjoyment both building and operating at same time.

    I use O gauge and just about to move to new house. I surely could use your talents and I have a request. I need a scenery builder to teach me. You could be professor and I the student. You then teach while demonstrating in real time. I then would sit, take notes and study. When you have “taught” lol your tips and tricks, my scenery would be complete. I supply the eats, tea, coffee, ale etc. during all classes.

    Hope your next efforts are at least equal to that you have demonstrated in this post.

    Bruce in SC USA

  53. Jim says:

    Julian your layout is a work of art. It demonstrates the talent that so many model railroaders have. You are a Master artist.
    This website provides the ability for us model railroaders to display our hidden talents. Thank you for sharing your work of art ,and thank you Al for another great post.
    Jim from Ma., USA

  54. Ross Johnston says:

    Thankyou for showing us your layout. The scenery is great!! I liked the whole look of your layout. I hope you start a new layout in the Southern Hemisphere. Cheers Rossco, Adelaide Australia

  55. Charles Wood says:

    A great example those like me with limited space. Compact yet elegant

  56. Perry Torregano says:

    J would love to buy your layout, gut I live on the other side of the pond in the USA.

  57. Nick says:

    Exquisite lay out! I like the ultra close up pics in particular. They bring out the detail so much better than the distance shots. Keep up the close shooting, Julian. NRT

  58. Brian Messenger says:

    Julian, great layout. I love seeing other narrow gauge layouts from around the world. You have packed a lot of detail in a small space. I model American narrow gauge HOn3 on a small 12 inch wide shelf running around the room. I live in South Africa where model railroad stuff is not that “easy” to lay your hands on quickly. 90% of the time, have to order via the internet. Hope you stay in the hobby.
    Brian – RSA

  59. JULIAN My hat is OFF TO YOU Great job!

    My first comment as I viewed this is ” OMG” then I re-viewed It 3 more times.
    Outstanding and you are leaving it behind? Can’t wait ’til I see you next one.

    Good luck on your next move Bill

  60. Mike Ilkenhons says:

    Stunning work… the night shot is perfect.. the close ups really do this layout justice. The detail is well thought out and executed… very, very realistic looking as if you are standing on the street in those shots… somany great ideas to consider “borrowing” from… Well done Julian…

  61. Appookta says:


  62. Bill Baldwin says:

    I’ve read all the comments but I can’t seem to find the dimensions of your beautiful layout. What size is it, and what scale? Someone used the word “poetic”. This and “efficient” would seem to sum up the wonder of it. Congratulations! You’ve proven that great layout come in all sizes!

  63. CARL ANGDAHL says:

    Hreat job in such a compact space. Your trees are amazing.

  64. I love the ideas train people come up with, as for this one, it makes me want to start a new layout, but a lot smaller. I must say, the details are top quality in my book.. The bridges are my favorite, and you don’t have to use straight track to go throw them like most people do. Two thumbs up on this one 👍👍

  65. Beautiful details

  66. Steve says:

    That’s a crazy lot of stuff in a small space !
    Amazing job and attention to small details.

  67. Steve says:

    That’s a crazy lot of stuff in a small space !
    Amazing job and attention to small details.
    Do u live a few hours from Norfolk va ?
    Is it for sale ?

  68. David McElwain says:

    Hello Julian,
    Excellent model and your photography helps to transport us to a very believable time and place. I’ve enjoyed your images and consider the vistas you created some of the best I’ve seen. A job quite well done.
    Regards, David McElwain

  69. Mark Hawk says:

    What a great looking layout. Your layout reminded me when I was stationed overseas in Germany (W. Germany then) and my travels all over Europe and the UK. Your layout looks so much like the little Hamlets in Europe and there in the UK.
    Excellent photography. Your lighting on your layout is excellent also. I really hate to see you lose your “little treasure” that you have put lots of time and energy and thought into. I also hope you can come up with away to take it with you, or a person to take it and enjoy it like you do. Best of luck

  70. Gary M from Long Island says:

    Julian……!!! a lot of detail packed into a small area…….great job…….great detail.

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