I thought I would introduce South Yard by concentrating on what it is for so here is a picture of South Yard set up in the holiday cottage that we rented last week for our half-term holiday on the North York Moors.
I don't claim any originality in any of South Yard's ideas (or the title of this posting) - the main inspiration came from David Mallott's 'Chapel Wharf', particularly his idea of having a layout that could easily be taken on holiday to provide entertainment in case of inclement weather. Fortunately we didn't have very much inclement weather, but the nights are drawing in so there was plenty of opportunity to run some freight traffic. There might have been passenger traffic too if I had remembered to take the bubble car.
South Yard was conceived a long time ago - probably about 2001 as a 'quick' ultra-portable micro layout. I'd partially built a bigger 2mm layout some time prior to this but a house move left it with no suitable place to live. If the 2012 RMWeb challenge is for the longest time to build the least amount of layout then I reckon I'll be in the running.
South Yard is set in the back streets of Plymouth. The fictional story is that the LSWR wanted to gain their own access to the Royal Naval Dockyard at Devonport and so built a line off their Stonehouse Pool branch to reach the southern portion of the dockyard (which really is called South Yard) and gain access to the yard's internal rail network via a gate in the yard wall near to the rope walk. A small station was also provided to cater for the yard workforce and local populace. This fiction probably has quite a few holes including some questionable gradients and the elimination of several streets near the yard, but is perhaps no less plausible than the real thing which involved the burrowing of a restricted height tunnel on the internal railway between the various parts of the dockyard.
The setting and built environment draws much from David Mallott's inspiration - the Turnchapel Branch, although I've lifted bits of Turnchapel station rather than the wharf and grafted them onto a track layout mostly inspired by John Spencer's Ruyton Road. The dockyard gate was originally inspired by the entrance to Coypool depot from the Marsh Mills branch, although you'd be hard pressed to spot any similarity now. The road bridge and scenic break is from further afield - Exeter Central, the story being that a road widening scheme required replacement of an older bridge. The provender store was recycled from my older layout and was based on the photos of Barnstaple cement depot in the first MRJ Compendium. Finally, the coal merchant's office is based on a photo of the back of a building at Welshpool and pure speculation regarding how the front might have looked.
My original definition of 'ultra portable' was that it should fit into a single compartment of a flight bag (not that I ever intended to take it on a flight). This dictated the 10 by 16 inch area available for the layout and also that it should pack down into something not more than a couple of inches in height. There is no fiddle yard, just an adapter that allows modules to be plugged in. The other ends of the modules are supported by a book of suitable thickness. Here's the layout just back from holiday and still without any of its removeable scenic bits.
South Yard has never actually travelled in the flight bag as originally intended because I was given a rectangular brief case for which I had no real use other than as South Yard's new carry case. This also allowed me to postpone the construction of the originally planned protective case for South Yard.
It would be nice to say that South Yard packs down into a nicely designed box complete with integral storage for stock and buildings. It would be nice but it wouldn't be true. The layout itself including buildings, scenery and fiddle yard modules all pack rather untidily into the brief case.
The briefcase then travels in company with a Morrison's shopping bag containing the somewhat bulky power supply (also recycled from my old layout), controller, locos and stock plus a small toolkit and a box with whatever projects I'm optimistically planning to work on while I'm away. Speaking of which, here are the products from three separate weeks' holidays during the summer and Autumn.
Happily, South Yard has completely fulfilled its original purpose and has been taken on holiday on several occasions as well as playing its regular role as the permanent test track in my study/workshop.
There is still plenty more to do - the bare bones of the scenery is done (which is a major achievement compared to my previous layouts) but there is plenty more work to do in terms of detailing the coal yard and adding more vegetation. The dockyard could use some actual gates plus an extra module adapter to allow trains to be shunted through them.