Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Preserved layouts, the best of both worlds?

A trend seems to be developing amongst railway modellers in the last few years and that is the desire to model preserved locations, either real or fictional. This blog is going to look at that trend and also some of the pros and cons of such an idea.

Britannia races through Quorn on a demonstration TPO on Joey Evans' excellent OO recreation of the GCR station
(photo courtesy Joey Evans)


As can be seen in the above picture is quite possible to recreate a station on a preserved railway, one advantage of Quorn (or Rothley) on the GCR is that Bachmann produces the buildings to complete the scene (although now quite difficult to find) which certainly offers a head start on a project.

Quorn has many advantages for the preserved railway modeller. If you are limited for space (as Joey is) the actual station fits into a reasonably small space and the break can come relatively near to the reception siding (in the foreground), if you aren't limited for space then you can incorporate features like the turntable, goods shed and dock. The other major advantage is that (at present) it's also the only through station on a preserved line that has fully functioning double track operation. Although with clever cut off points Bewdley on the Severn Valley could give the same operational qualities. I will look further at other locations in later blogs but for now I'm just going to focus on Quorn as an example of what can be achieved.

The real Quorn station (featuring yours truly!) during a freight charter with 8F 48624. Photo by Joey Evans

The above image shows Quorn station on the GCR as it is today, quite literally as the photo was taken last week! Which provides another good reason for modelling a preserved station that all the research you need is available at pretty much anytime. No trawling through countless photos online or in books looking for that one detail you can't find, it's all right there to see and record 'live' as it where. The negative is the rivet counters out there will pick you up on any and every mistake you make!

When it comes to stocking a preserved layout in my opinion things can become a little difficult. It's a commonly held belief that 'anything goes' on a preserved layout and that to a degree is very true. Liveries can be mixed together to have, for example, a London Transport livery pannier hauling a rake of mark 1s or blue diesels running alongside pre-grouping livery steam locos.

The genre really does provide a chance to run every conceivable era from one (pioneering) right through to era nine (post privatisation) as Joe Connell's photo below shows even the very latest in diesel technology has made it on to preserved metals at diesel galas.

DRS 68025 emerges from Bewdley tunnel at the recent SVR diesel gala, photo by Joe Connell

But wait! There is a drawback to this idea (in my opinion) and that is if you want realism you shouldn't really go dragging long since departed classes out of history and back into the current world. Dragging the likes of Hornby's D16s and Bachmann 3Fs back into existence  isn't really cricket in my opinion. But those who want to, it's your railway at the end of the day! The same possibly applies to bringing back long lost members of 'famous' for example bringing back another A3 or Duchess wouldn't really work but another pannier tank or Black 5 would go relatively unnoticed.

So far we have only really touched on the idea of building models of real locations and there are many of them to choose from, we have already looked at Oakworth in a previous blog, we've touched on Quorn in this one and I plan to look at several others in future blogs. However, there are two other options to consider, one is to design your own station and create your own little preserved world or you can find a station that is long since closed and bring it back to life in model form. The big advantage to this is nobody can really tell you it's wrong and you can tailor the track plan to suit your location too. Generic buildings can be used as well in this scenario rather than being tied down to precise replicas.

Populating these layouts with locos and rolling stock is an interesting challenge, a layout I'm currently working on (nowhere near complete) is a fictional preserved station and I have chosen as resident locos, a B1, black 5, 8F, pannier tank and Hunslet Austerity (J94) and a class 37 along with a reasonable selection of passenger and freight stock to represent the home fleet and then other preserved locos can visit for galas.

There are several other ideas that make a preserved location appealing:

  • modelling a mainline connected location, like Keighley or Kidderminster Town in real life, allows for modern and preserved to mix together.
  • A shed scene can be made like Didcot or Carnforth which can provide a home for an eclectic mix of locos from different eras or regions in a small space.
  • Small stations can be realistically modelled in small spaces and play host to big locos realistically. For example stations like Oakworth has seen big locos like City of Wells, 8Fs, Jubilees and many more in it's time which would look very out of place on a normal branchline but fit a lot better in a preserved location.
That's all for this blog, I hope it has made interesting reading and doesn't come across to preachy in places. As I said earlier it's your railway and you do what you want! This is just food for thought. Thanks to Joey Evans and Joe Connell for allowing use of their images.

Hope you enjoyed reading this one, keep enjoying your modelling and hopefully see you all soon. Tony :)

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