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Field Research Trip




blog-0086129001423665822.jpgWhen I decided to base my layout around the never-built line to Witney through North Leigh, it was simply a whim, derived from a map shown on Martin Loader's website about the Fairford branch.


As I have got 'drawn in' to the scenario, I have begun to learn more about the area and have found, to my surprise, that some of my 'fiction' is closer to the truth than I thought. My layout incorporates several 'features', including a quarry, saw-mill, and.lime kilns.




From studying maps, I knew that all these items were present in the area so, as a break from too much time bent over a workbench, I decided to make a 'field trip' to carry out some prototype research.


An initial web search revealed that the remains of a limekiln still exist at the village of Fawler, close to the OW&W main line. The kiln is now a grade II listed building, described at http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-252462-lime-kiln-at-sp-3688-1730-fawler-oxfords


On my visit, I chose the wrong route to approach and, after fighting through dense brushwood, found myself on top of the kiln. I scrambled down the slope for a view of the face and also noticed that there seemed to be an old trackbed at the foot of the slope, running alongside the River Evenlode. Further on, I found much more evidence of old workings, including quarry faces and loading bays!




When I got back home, I looked up some old OS maps of the area and found, to my complete surprise, that there had been a branch line to the quarries and kiln, off the OW&W main line! With the exception that my model is narrow gauge, it seemed as though my 'fiction' was turning into reality.




On a beautiful sunny afternoon, I continued my exploration of the area and took a photo of the view across the valley below North Leigh, where the railway would have run towards Witney, before meeting the high ground around New Yatt, where my layout provides a tunnel.




In North Leigh itself are the remains of a Windmill, which I shall try to include in my back-scene. There is also a preserved sawmill in the area that can be visited - see http://www.combemill.org/




Finally, I drove across the valley to Wilcote, where the Manor still stands. To avoid intruding on the privacy of the present owners, I shall show one of Amy's paintings. Nothing much seems to have changed since the 19th century!




A very useful and inspiring day's research, which encourages me to spend more time on detailing of the layout itself. I still have my Andrew Stadden figures of the Wilcote family to paint, as well - perhaps Amy and Blanche will soon have their new dresses :)



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Nice blog : That windmill looks like a nice modelling project, mind you, I was a little surprised to see some of Mikkel's pigeons on the roof.

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Sounds like you had a good day. I'm fascinated by the research side of planning and building a layout as much as the physical side of it. I have some time off next week and hope to fit in both a trip out towards Litlington to take some general photos, and a trip to Lewes library to leaf through some old trade directories to give me some more ideas for further potential goods traffic.

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Hi Mike, I'm quite mesmerized by this post. Fiction inspired by reality - that I can deal with. But is this reality inspired by fiction?! Are you sure that brushwood wasn't an entry into another dimension? Is that last painting by Amy real, or a model, or a cyberspace object?  I'm not even sure if this whole account is just something you've made up or if that branch was actually there. My head hurts :-)


Seriously though, the fact that your layout turns out to be closer to reality than you thought just goes to show that it is well conceived and could have happened, er, did happen, in reality. Ok so the gauge is a bit different from what was actually there, but for an OO modeller that's nothing new! :-)

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It was a remarkable day, Mikkel, not least for the glorious sunshine in February.


I was a little suspicious that things were not quite normal, when No.184 appeared with a train of  6-wheelers on the OW&W main line :)  My mobile phone stopped working, too.




ps as a reality check, I had to remove some cars from the photo, to make the painting of Wilcote Manor!

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Yes, she was a stylish lady, if a little staid in comparison with young Blanche.  A pity she didn't add the date, though.



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