Sunday, 10 January 2021

More pondering

 Another updated plan, I’ve now reached v15!

Too much pondering and not enough physical modelling you may think. “The Devil is in the detail” and I may be overthinking some aspects of this plan. In the end I hope I will have thought of most of the gremlins that might creep into this project.

In looking at the previous plan, I started to contemplate the proposed signal box diagram and the comments made. This brought me around to asking what happens beyond the bridge (scenic break) on the left. The realisation then struck me that the large expanse of the bridges across the 6 tracks exiting stage left would not provide a very good scenic break. Even with well placed trees the exit would still be difficult to disguise.

After a couple of more drawings the below plans should help to resolve both of my above thoughts.

Plan 1

Plan 1 is the starting point and one that I’ll be using at home. As space is at a premium in the ‘Man Cave’ my intention is to use cassettes in the fiddle yard area while at home. The spot heights have been included to give me an idea of inclines which will create the different track levels. The Engine Shed entrance is a concern but as long as I keep it all in the same plane (with no twist in the track) all should be OK. Another question raised by a reader has been where is the coal stack? It seems coal stacks were not photographed very often especially in the Cornwall area. I do have a recollection of seeing a photo of a coal stack built over tracks somewhere but currently cannot find it. So I’ve suggested this might have been the case in this restricted Engine Shed layout. The Warehouse at the back is still up for debate. The building is intended to help hide the exit of Rospeath Lane at the back of the layout, and my intention is to base the building on the Penzance Workhouse, just have to see if this works out.

Plan 2

Initially this plan was drawn with the purpose of designing the signal box diagram with all track work beyond the bridges being fictitious. I then realised the plan could future proof this project. What if I should ever get the opportunity to run full length trains along the main line? If so I’d need larger fiddle yards at each end. Plan 2 would allow all three tracks access to a traverser on the left. At stage right a few trees should help to hide the mouse hole through the backscreen but Stage left the expanse of bridges makes hiding the exit impossible. I then remembered seeing Paul Marshall-Potter’s Albion Yard layout at a Newark show. He cleverly extended a row of cottages into the fiddle yard area which negated the use of a hole in the wall type scenic break. Borrowing his idea should help me disguise the exit beyond the bridges on the left

The photo above has been taken from a reasonable distance (about 1 foot) from the baseboard edge opposite the Running Shed. The PVA Tub is supporting a piece of foam board where the scenic break will be, with the back scene running in front of the pin board behind the cottage mock-ups. As trees in this area of Cornwall can be on the stunted side I’ve brought the warehouse back onto the layout. The warehouse may be a little far-fetched for this location but I don’t think trees would do the trick here.

For now I’ll be working towards Plan 1 keeping in mind the creation of a jigsaw piece for the interchangeable area with Plan 2. When viewed from the front at an exhibition this area would be hidden behind a movable/hinged display/information screen.

One of my main concerns about this project has been the depth of the baseboards especially the right hand one being 3’ 6” deep. Creating the full size mock-up has convinced me that I’ll be able to cope. After all while building the layout I’ll be able to turn the boards around. Once built, I’ll have to stand on a tool box to reach but it seems it will be manageable.

Saturday, 12 December 2020


Rospeath Lane MPD - the Back Story

A fictitious BR(WR) Engine shed in Cornwall.

I hope you are you sitting comfortably? I suggest with a coffee and couple of biscuits to hand, or whatever tipple and nibbles this hour of day dictates. This is a long entry and you may need sustenance to keep you awake.

I’ve been planning an Engine Shed project for some time now. Unfortunately I’ve had to revise it due to the reduced space in my ‘Man Cave’. Initially I had 16 feet in length to play with but a decision earlier in the year meant I now only 11ft. My idea is to create a visually pleasing scene with ground rising from front to back which will result in different levels of track. The plan below is the result of these ideas.

I printed a full size plan of the above and started to lay out buildings and rolling stock to check on how it would look.

Even though I’d initially based the track layout on Leamington Spa Engine Shed it somehow didn’t feel right. I’d certainly fulfilled all that I’d set out to achieve with the design, but still felt it was lacking purpose.

So… I set out to find a location. Initially this was a difficult task due to wanting to locate the project in Cornwall, along with the added complication of having to find a location that fitted the above trackplan. Cornwall is a relatively small county with almost no extra space for the placement of fictitious routes (let alone any requirement for another Engine Shed). To model one of the real Engine Shed locations would take far more space than I have available and also would not satisfy me visually. So sticking with my current track plan I was on the lookout for any feasible fictitious locations or justifications to move an existing engine shed. After a little research I came across the 1898 proposals for railways to St Just and Sennen.

In April and May 1898 two applications were made under the Light Railways Act 1896: one for a route of 21 miles between Penzance and  St. Just via Newlyn and Sancreed; the second, a proposal made by the Lands End and Great Western Joint for a 20.5 mile route from Marazion to Sennen also via Sancreed .

The route between Penzance and Newlyn was to be operated by an electric railway running along the quayside and promenade.  Steam power along this section was deemed to be too disruptive for the hotels and tourist attractions on route. The line would then be operated by steam between Newlyn and St. Just. The route between Marazion and Sennen would Serve Heamoor (Hea), Sancreed and St.Buryan. Both proposals were rejected with a couple of reasons given being:  there was no connection between the two routes at Sancreed; and the mileage of the two routes did not justify two separate administrations.

In November 1898 both proposals were resubmitted with amendments. This time at a local inquiry held in Penzance on the 30th/31st January 1899. The inquiry found in favour of the Penzance, Newlyn and West Cornwall which was duly approved. The record states: “The two schemes were competitive schemes to serve the same district, and were heard together at the local inquiry, The attitude of local authorities and landowners was generally against the Lands End, St Just and Great Western Junction scheme, and in favour of the Penzance, Newlyn and West Cornwall scheme which was accordingly approved. An Order was submitted to the Board of Trade on the 17th May 1899.” (1)

At first I thought, what a pity, but then the approved scheme was not built. What if the decision went the other way especially as the Penzance hoteliers seemed to be against the Penzance to Newlyn section being operated by steam. I would have thought that the electric railway section may have struggled with heavy fish traffic from Newlyn, let alone the complication of changing from steam to electric power for such a short distance. So my thoughts are that the Lands End, St. Just and Great Western junction scheme was approved with a junction at Sancreed for Newlyn. This scheme would require a junction east of Marazion for these lines running west of Penzance.

So looking along the mainline east of Marazion for terrain that might fit my initial plan I came across the area south of Crowlas where Rospeath lane crosses the mainline. Perfect … so I’m proposing the junction would have been east of Marazion level crossing about where the current A394 crosses the mainline.

Brit Nat Grid Ref: SW 51724 31967
BNG Eastings, Northings: 151724, 31967
Latitude, Longitude: 50.135694,-5.475712

A station with sidings similar to Marazion or Gwinear Road would have been constructed between the junction and Rospeath Lane Bridge. An Engine Shed would have been constructed near Crowlas to serve Penzance, St. Just, Sennen and Newlyn.  Then the original engine shed would have been rebuilt and extended in the 1930s by the GWR using loans provided by the Government to relieve unemployment.

Brit Nat Grid Ref: SW 52261 32726
BNG Eastings, Northings: 152261, 32726
Latitude, Longitude: 50.142735,-5.468695

This, to me anyway, would make sense that a locomotive shed and storage yards would have been created here rather than Long Rock and Marazion. Traffic generated from the St. Just and Sennen would have included China Clay, fish traffic from Newlyn, along with the seasonal broccoli and potatoes crops. With Marazion having generous sidings to cope with the latter two crops, my thoughts are these sidings would have been located at the new junction in this area rather than Marazion.

The area I’m looking at for my project is below…

Unfortunately, as previously stated, I’d designed the track plan before looking for a location and though the location fits my thoughts on lie of the land, it’s not a true representation of how the track might have been laid out. So I went back to the drawing board and now think I’ve come up with a new trackplan.

For me this one feels right. I think the addition of the main line gives the layout a location and purpose. In achieving the above I’ve unfortunately had to increase the total scenic baseboard size to 9’ 6” long by 3’6” wide at its widest. I know this will create issues if it is ever invited to an exhibition. This was something I struggled with during planning as I couldn’t create a plan I was happy with that would be easy to transport. Why should I compromise on what I what to achieve for events that will be a long time in the future and may never happen. For the moment I’ve also dropped the idea of a Diesel Maintenance shed, although the line between the Running Shed and mainline is still there.  It may depend on Class 22 allocation for the Sennen and St. Just routes.

It’s not a true representation of the location but it has enabled me to position the model in an area where I can put some meaning to its existence. Also I think I live far enough away to duck the wrath of Kernow folk. The river is to represent the Red River that runs through this area. Overall the location seems to fit with my initial idea of how I want to present the model, with land sloping up away from a river and scrub land. The Red River looks to be more like a large stream rather than the size I was initially intending but will still give the visual effect I’m after.  Unfortunately I’ve had to curve the main line to achieve the layout but think visually this adds to the scene.  Access and departure from the shed will be via a complex bit of track work which I admit may be not prototypical. My excuse is I wanted to use some of the main line to give added interest in operation, otherwise the main line would be superfluous. In the space I have available the track work is the best solution I can come up with (note this is v11). My initial Signal Box diagram below should help explain track formation. I still need to get this ratified by someone more knowledgeable.



The rest of the points within the engine shed area would have been operated by shed staff using levers next to the points. This will entail two lever frames on the model, one for the signal box and one for the shed area. Interlocking the signal box lever frame would be something I’d also like to do but it is probably for the future.



Using the above gradient diagram and an OS map I’ve calculated that at this location the main line gradient is 1:103 (from left to right on my track plan). On the model this will result in a rise of 28 mm on the main line from left to right. The entrance to the Engine shed will be at approximately 7mm up from the left and, apart from the coal wagon sidings, will be level throughout the shed area. This will make the Running Shed below the level of the mainline by about 21mm on the right. The coal wagon siding will be higher than the rest of the shed area but I’ll decide on how much as the build/planning progresses. My aim to have subtle and believable changes in track levels that reflect the slopes of the surrounding land.

Unfortunately since the reduction in size of my ‘Man Cave’ I will only, if I leave the door open, have room for a full length fiddle yard on the left. On the right the mainline runs into a wall so running trains along the mainline will not be possible…but who knows what the future may hold? The overall idea is the three sidings at the front will give me an excuse to either display wagons or coaches, or enable some shunting entertainment. The mainline will be used for locos arriving and departing under the control of the signal box. All engine movements (arrivals/departures) will be scheduled via the creation of a timetable. for trains arriving and departing from Penzance and thous that might have run on the fictitious lines to St. Just, Newlyn and Sennen.

A major flaw in the new plan is what happens to locomotives leaving in the up direction (exit stage right) to Hayle or Gwinear Road for shunting duties? As I’ve no room for a fiddle yard at that end I’ll either have to lift the loco off the track or move the whole layout to the left about 18” to create a small fiddle yard. Trouble in doing the latter is the layout will block the room’s entrance. Hmm… Should I curve the mainline through 90 degrees to enable a fiddle yard? Further thoughts to be mulled over I feel…  Will there be a v12?

The extra bit that I’m hoping to do is create some sort of operational feature that will replicate the day-to-day problems faced by shed staff, something that will put me (or any other operator) in a Shed Master and Running Foreman’s shoes. This may take the form of a card system that will dictate what happens to a loco when it arrives on shed or being prepared for its days’ work. I’m still gathering information on this so it's an idea that, I hope, will develop during the course of this project.

Next ‘mind-bender’ is a timetable for this project. I'll be cobbling the timetable together from a Penzance June to September 1957 Passenger Timetable and a Sept 1957 to June 1958 Freight Timetable. To this I'll add the fictious works of the St. Just, Newlyn and Sennen lines. This will give me a locomotive allocation and something to work with for Shed management.

Progress will undoubtedly be slow on this project but I’ll post updates as and when I have something to report.

Thanks for take an interest and reading this far… hope you didn’t fall asleep too many times.

((1(1)    Information taken from the Light Railways Act 1896, 31st December 1899 report.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

The Cave is getting smaller

 It's happening...

Framing in place ready for plaster board.

With two holes in the ceiling (the existing loft hatch and the new one the other side of the wall frame) it was a tad cool to work in the room, so I'll be working on the dining room table for a couple of days.

I took this time to start creating a better mock-up of the bridges to trial the construction.

Looking from the fiddle yard.
I have the length of the girder bridge and one of the abutments too short but overall it looks like it will look OK.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Making the layout fit…

Finally, this is the new track plan to fit in the reduced size of my Man Cave.

I've been able to reduce the scenic area by 1ft and taken 1ft off the staging/fiddle yard board, bringing the overall length down to 11ft. This has been achieved by using two 3 way turnouts. The other alteration to the previous plan is the proposed inclusion of a Diesel Maintenance shed and refuelling point. I found an excuse to include Diesel locomotive facilities after reading that some sheds provided small maintenance units for the early arrivals of class 08 shunters. I also found a photo of a single track diesel maintenance unit being built in 1957 at Woodford Halse. OK this was not on the Western Region but the caption does state that these facilitates where built at other sites around the country. Anyway it is only a suggestion and time will tell if it is included.

Below are some photos of the full size track plan with some mock-ups laid out to trial what the layout will look like along with different track levels.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

A couple of Videos of Tredethy Wharf

I'd forgotten about these two videos that were taken at the Immingham show back in 2019. Just thought it might be worth posting links to these videos on YouTube.

Class 08 shunter on a full chine clay trains

Class 08 shunter on an empty clay train

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Being forced to revisit thoughts on next project

Previously I outlined my thoughts on what might be my next project in There were a few different ideas but eventually I'd settled on the Engine Shed project and made a start on constructing a few of the buildings.

Well what has happened since then, and why no blog updates? Well, six months ago we took the decision to close the holiday cottage business. You may well ask why this should stop my blog updates. I’ll explain… The ultimate intention is to sell the property; in the meantime we have let the cottage on a short term tenancy agreement. This brings me to the ‘ no blogs’; well, to sell or to continue with short term tenancy we have to empty two sheds of our ‘bits and bats’. These two sheds really belong to the cottage so the contents need storing elsewhere. After discussing all options we decided that the only practical solution is to section off 5 feet of my ‘Man Cave’. This is making use of the external door at one end of the room giving access from outside off the driveway. Unfortunately doing so means I now only have 11ft by 8ft 6in. Must admit that from initially having 23 feet by 8ft 6in a couple of years ago to now only having the 11feet by 8ft 6in has affected my modelling mojo. The Engine Shed building was put on hold as I did wonder if the Engine Shed project was one I could continue with without serious compromises being taken with the track-plan.

I'd got as far as painting the internal walls before gluing the four main walls together. A start had also been made on constructing the roof at which point I discovered I was missing the smoke roof vents. After a quick email to Timber Tracks they kindly posted all that I required which arrived very prompting. Since then, as mentioned, my mind has been wrestling with how I might proceed with this project. Is a four road engine shed now too big for a track-plan that I could possibly fit into the reduced space now available?

 All is not lost... my next blog will reveal how I've decided to continue.