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New forum......new layout

great northern


Well, it seems appropriate in this nice shiny new place to talk about my new project to replace Peterborough, which some people will rememeber from the old forum. First though, a recap of the reasons why the old layout had to go, as quite a few people have expressed surprise at my decision to rip it up. So,these are the reasons for its demise.


Location. A very nice loft, but a loft all the same, so hot in summer, cold in winter.

Access- via ladder. Getting harder as I get older, and it won't get any easier.

Dust- there is lots of it, and I have a massive house dust allergy.

Operating frustrations caused by over complex track plan.

Crawling about in confined spaces to rectify derailments. This doesn't help my dodgy back.

A sense of unease. I called this layout Peterborough, but it isn't, if you see what I mean. I've invented an alternative universe to satisfy my rather stringent requirements of which more in a moment, and I have found it gets harder to live with as time goes by. Like a niggling toothache really.


I think that is plenty to be going on with. The result was I spent far too little time up there, given the effort and not inconsiderable expense involved in getting it nearly complete. And the solution.... Well, there was this dividing wall between two rooms, but now there isn't. Now there is a lovely light airy room, 25 ft by 10, easily accessed, centrally heated and with proper ventilation. I can sum it up by saying that you look at it and you want to be in there. Of course, it is not big enough ;) but I shall have to make do.


And what you may ask is going to be put in there? Well, it will be ECML again, because I like it, and I have built up so much stock over the years. It will also be 00 again, as I don't fancy converting all my stock to EM- ninety plus locos for a start. But, it will be finescale 00, and I have asked Norman Solomon to build the track, so the appearance will be light years ahead of the last effort. I have hopefully learned from my mistakes, so it will also be much simpler, just a station on one side of the room and fiddle yard on the other. No difficult to access track, no conflicting movements to snarl up operation, and something I can comfortably operate single handed.


And what will this new layout be? I need to explain my own particular requirements. I do not like fictional names for layouts- that is why I called it Peterborough, though it was nothing like the real thing. I also must have a coherent and prototypically correct set up for the location I am supposed to be portraying. But, I must also have several classes of locomotive which are particular favourites for a variety of reasons. They include B 17 Sandringhams and Footballers, C 12 Atlantic tanks and D 16 Claud Hamiltons. And the location must be East Coast main line. And it must be around 1958. Anyone who is well familiar with the ECML in late steam days will know that those requirements paint me into a pretty small corner. You might say, " Well, just run what you like, it's your train set". To which my reply is that yes it is my train set, but to satisfy me it must meet my personal criteria.


Now, unless someone knows different, there is only one place on the ECML where all of my "must have" locos could be seen side by side on a daily basis in the late '50's. There is a certain inevitability about all this folks, and you may have already seen where this is leading. I can now reveal that the new layout will be.........Peterborough North. Adventurous eh?


Logical though, and a very interesting place to model. For those who aren't familiar with the place as it was, it had dog's leg curves at each end which restricted through expresses to 20 mph, all down goods trains had to completely block the up main line to access the goods yards to the North, and up goods trains blocked the down main at one end and the up main at the other!Oh, and although there were six platforms, only one could be accessed by up trains. The reasons for all this are lost in the mists of time, but crazy though it was it took till 1970 to do something about it.


It was a big station. It cannot be faithfully modelled in 25 feet. Am I bothered? Well, not really. Almost any main line station is too big to be modelled to scale length. Tony Wright is modelling Little Bytham, which was a very small wayside station- six stopping trains each way in a day. His layout is 32 feet long, and he has still had to compromise a little. That is what he must have, absolute prototype fidelity, and it is his train set. I fear I would get bored stiff of operating it fairly quickly. I want some variety of operation, which Peterborough North will certainly give me. Actually, the station itself will not have to be too heavily compressed,and Crescent bridge which is still there, makes a lovely scenic break at the south end. At the North end the natural break is Spital bridge, and it is between the platform ends and that bridge that heavy compression will be necessary. I have laid out templates on the floor though, and I reckon it will still look pretty good.


Our own Gravy Train (Peter Leyland) will be making all the buildings for me. Unless I win the lottery big time this will be my last layout, so I want it to be the best it can possibly be. I have been working now for 46 years and counting, so I take the view that I have done plenty to earn what cash I now have, and so I shall spend it as I like!


Finally for now- timescale. Baseboards should be in place before Christmas hopefully, and track laying to start by next spring.I just can't wait to get it up and running. And that is quite enough for now.




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