When 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