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Birch Vale Pictures from Honley Tank

Dave at Honley Tank


I promised some pics. of my layout ˜Birch Vale' so here is a selection.
First, can I say that ˜Birch Vale' is getting rather long in the tooth! It was first exhibited way back in 1968 having been built by Maurice Daniels in OO gauge. When Maurice moved house he could no longer house his layout and he put it in my keeping in order that it should not be destroyed. With Maurice's agreement I changed the track to P4 and later to S4, slightly extended the scenic section and added more complete hidden sidings.
Maurice and I had met when we were both researching the Hayfield Branch, he for Birch Vale & me for the terminus at Hayfield. My model of Hayfield was also exhibited in 1968, but while Maurice had used Peco code 100 track, I had scratch built track onto copper laminate sleepers and with code 70 rail. While my track looked more convincing than his, the quality of his buildings and scenery showed mine was in need of much improvement! None the less while still OO the two layouts were exhibited several times coupled together by a set of hidden sidings such that the joined layout was a reasonable representation of the whole branch. ˜Hayfield' was broken up in the early eighties to make room for a new P4 layout which in fact never saw light of day! (Walk before you run Booth).


This picture shows Birch Vale in its every-day home setting. When exhibited the space between back-scene and proscenium arch is draped with a cloud effect material. The layout just in view below Birch Vale is another S4 creation but while BV is a true scale model of the real place, Bowton's Yard is a fictitious branch running from Guidebridge to John Summers and Sons steel works at Stalybridge. Note that only the branch is fictitious; but more about that story in future posts.


Most of what you see here was created over 40 years ago by Maurice. I've added a large tree to cover a joint in the back-scene; the three ladies chatting, and a couple of coalmen having a good old 'rabbit'.


Here the camera lens has been pushed through the hole in the back-scene that leads to the hidden sidings or
˜New Mills'. The shrubbery to the right hides this hole from the view of the public. The mess at centre top is the main electrical distribution box for the railway room-workshop-garage that is Honley Tank, and the end of the stock-box which represents the hidden sidings or
˜Hayfield'. Sorry, my Photo-shopping skills don't run to a clean up.


A K3 has just come through that hole from New Mills and is rolling onto the over-bridge which is at the end of the platform.


The buffer stop, 7-plank wagon and the two coalmen are my work but the road vehicle was built by Maurice. Pity about the loss of the top part of the weighing scales!


This loco has history too. The body is essentially a Rosebud plastic kit from the late 1950s. I built it on a OO chassis and it worked (badly!!!!) on ˜Hayfield'. Its S4 chassis is split axle and beam compensated with Portescap drive; a silky runner but noisy like most Portescap locos. It's a model of a genuine LNER J94 originally delivered to Gorton in army livery and with its M.O.S number. It was sheded at Gorton for most of its LNER/BR years.
It’s rush hour! The LNWR dray was built by Ross Pochin, as too was the one coming up the slope. That going down is by John Langan and the black taxi is by me. The bridge is showing its age.


One has to wonder if Birch Vale was ever so busy in real life! The length-man team are being instructed on their day’s duty by the gaffer in his bowler hat.


Another that should be Photo-shopped. Looking from Hayfield end towards New Mills. The dark hole to the left is the door into Honley Tank proper.


The layout has several little cameos and at exhibitions we feature a quiz to test the kiddies observation. Strangely it’s usually mum & dad who take up the challenge. Here the scouts are pushing their trek cart over the last yards to where they will camp. Obviously the patrol leader is a train spotter! The shepherd is seeing a dozen sheep down to the farm and is more than ready for his evening meal.


Yet another for Photoshopping. The J39 is a total scratch build, only the motor and the gear wheels where purchased. Of course it was shedded at Gorton!

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Very, very nice. Brings back a few memories does this, especially of getting on the train at Birch Vale and being amazed by the climb up into the Derby Lightweight DMU. The platforms were very low, even by the standards of low platforms.

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Hi, Dave. I'm finally getting to grips with RMWeb and eventually found these fascinating pictures of Birch Vale.


I've also tried out your simple wheel quartering system. Like the other man said, "Why did I not think of that?." It worked a treat and while it did not instantly make my two poor runners silky it did eliminate one of the many variables. Having sorted through the others (binding brakes, bent crankpin, wheels touching splashers, you name it... the two black sheep are now running beautifully. My main problem now is how to get enough ballast in the D49 to prevent those big wheels slipping when it's loaded with more than three corridors!


Best wishes,



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