Basking in the warm glow of satisfaction having completed the railmotor I thought I'd share some thoughts on prototype GWR stations that might be worth modelling. As anyone who has read my first entry on Blagdon will know, I like to model a prototype station. The research is often as interesting as the modelling and there's always a thrill when you find some obscure photograph that sheds light on a particular aspect of the station that had eluded you. It is also interesting to be able to operate the actual timetable which often throws up problems that the staff at the prototype must have faced.
Blagdon is still in operation, indeed I want to rewire the underside of the baseboard and by-pass the built in switches on my old H. and M point motors which seem to be gradually giving up the ghost. I am interested though in looking at other prototype stations with a view to future modelling and I hope perhaps persuade others to consider actual locations as a basis of a model.
As readers may know, the second part of R J Smith's record of Great Western Railway Stations was recently published and I obtained my copy a couple of weeks ago. I already have part one so the two together now give me the track plan and in most cases at least one photograph of every station on the GWR extant in 1947. Part two includes South Wales and it is this that has been something of an eye opener. It is often said that South Wales is a neglected area but I never realised just how many single track branches there were in the area. Further, whilst I'm not sure that the scale in the book is constant, many of the terminals seem quite compact as land was probably more expensive than in the country. Let me give a few examples of GWR branch terminii in South Wales that might be worth modelling:
To this you could add Brynamman which seemed to have an end on connection with the LMS. How many modellers have wanted a location where they could run trains of different companies but have had to make do with a fictitious location? I've only focussed on the terminals as they are more interesting to operate but each branch has often several through stations. The other point is that the track plans show that the layout of these stations was often very different from the norm whilst the presence of industry, often "offstage," gives the excuse for running more goods trains. The notion that somehow these lines were in an industrial wasteland is completely wrong. Although it has no terminals, the Neath and Brecon is probably one of the most spectacular lines on the GWR.
Whilst not necessarily in South Wales, I'm certainly leaning towards some sort of semi-industrial location for my next model, something that those who have seen my attempt at grass will understand! One station that does appeal is Rosebush on the North Pembroke and Fishguard Railway. This had a siding leading to slate quarries well offstage and although these had closed at an early date, modeller's licence could still allow traffic from the quarry. A rather more industrial environment is Porthywaen quarry near Oswestry which would allow the use of superannuated Cambrian locomotives. In the same area, Dinas Mawwdwy is a terminal that I think would make an attractive model. This had slate traffic and has the advantage that the station is still extant; I've been there although sadly the old loco shed burned down some years ago but after my first visit.
I've put forward a few thoughts and would welcome your views. I know that when I go to a model railway exhibition the layouts that really catch my eye are those that are different. I particularly remember one featuring the Cromford and High Peak with working rope incline which attracted a lot of attention. A twee GWR terminus has become something of a cliche and no matter how well modelled it is just another twee GWR terminus. There are, or have been, prototype stations that will make an interesting layout, it's just a question of finding one that fits the bill.