I was rather late getting back into the swing of modelling this year. The trouble was indecision over how to proceed, which brought everything to a grinding halt early on. While I was happy with the track design and operation of the layout, the overall appearance was a disappointment. The minimal scenery idea with which I was trying to speed up construction, by ignoring anything outside the boundary fence, hadn't really come up to expectations. I still liked the idea in principle, but I don't think it worked too well with the arrangement I had here. However the main gripe was the straggling nature of the beast. I guess I'm a small-layout man at heart, and I found these long sprawling scenes just didn't sit comfortably with me.
So what to do? Carry on as normal and hope for the best, or think up some other way of continuing? By May I was getting frustrated at the impasse and lack of modelling. Finally I threw up my hands and decided to just leave this area of the layout to stew in its own juices for now. Instead I moved downdale to the Castleport end of the system, starting afresh on a couple of new modules, and back into my comfort zone by building them in a more conventional fish tank style. I started with a couple of box frames, constructed using the method described in an earlier post. They each measure 23x10x10 inches.
The end of June saw them in the state shown below, with lighting and sky backgrounds added.
The left hand scene represents an industrial branch serving the coal wharf and dockland. The track at the rear will be hidden behind buildings, just leaving the track along the waterfront visible. The odd looking structure seen at the left is the start of a concrete bunker for the coal wharf. The right hand scene is the Castleport station and town area, with part of a waterside mill in place.
During July and August work concentrated on the Castleport scene, which is now almost finished and shown in the images below. Some buildings were re-used from the old Castleport, but there was not enough space here to fit in all the original town buildings.
The station is quite an elaborate affair for Tweedale. The original inspiration was St Aubyn on the Jersey Railway, but then a local chap came along offering a cheap rate on some fancy 'art doily' fretwork for the train shed and I couldn't resist. I think his enthusiasm waned somewhat when he realised how quickly he was getting through jig saw blades, but like the fellow on the telly, he felt that having started he was obliged to finish. In the end you get what you pay for, and the general feeling among the Tweedalers is that at least this monument to bad taste is unlikely to withstand the onslaught of smoke, steam and salt-laden river damps for long.
The mill at the other end of the scene was cobbled together from bits of the original. I'm not entirely happy with the part at the back, which will probably get reconfigured later. Road access is through the ancient town wall, what's left of it. The local authorities have insisted on crossing gates being installed here after a councillor got a horrible fright when he came dashing through the arch on his bicycle and found the morning goods bearing down on him. The railway company are still dragging their feet on the issue while they try to work out how to squeeze the gates into the restricted space.
On the whole I'm pleased with the way the scene has come together. I'll finish the adjoining module next, then assess whether to continue the rest of the layout in this style. The supporting substructure on the main section of the layout would need extending before I could connect this pair of modules to the rest. Until then they will probably sit on a shelf as static dioramas for storing spare stock, but at least they served their purpose of freeing up the modelling deadlock.