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  1. The Sheffield & Midland Joint Railway Marple was a busy station on a line built by a joint committee formed by the Midland Railway and the Manchester Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway. The co-operation came about as a result of the Midland’s push to reach Manchester in the face of opposition by the London & North Western Railway, and the MS&LR’s design to extend south of Manchester, a move opposed by the Great Northern Railway. The route opened in 1867, and originally ran from Manchester via Ashburys, Guide Bridge and Hyde Junction. A more direct route was taken from 1875, via Reddish. All routes converged to the north of Romiley, and the section with which I am concerned – Romiley, Marple, Strines, New Mills – featured throughout. The line was the mainline for the Midland, so consequently very busy, but the Midland obtained powers for its own direct route from Chinley, via Disley tunnel, Hazel Grove, Heaton Mersey, Didsbury etc to Manchester in 1897. I believe that this route was not fully open until some point in 1902. The section concerned had notable scenic features, the line on a rock shelf surrounded by industry at New Mills, a country station at Strines, a tunnel, Marple in its cutting and canal wharf and tunnel and viaduct and aqueduct beyond. Marple itself, at the turn of the Century, as an operationally intense site within the physical constraints of a cutting, offers a great subject for a club exhibition layout (or someone with a large shed and lots of stock). Notes on Marple Station Marple was a key point on the Midland’s London to Manchester route at 1900, where down expresses were often split 3 ways (to Liverpool; Manchester Central and Manchester Victoria), and the same reassembled in the Up direction. This required some very smart working, with both the Up Loop and Down Bay being used extensively for re-marshalling purposes. The signal diagram below is taken from: http://forum.signalbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=6558&start=45 Workings at Marple around 1900, in a quote taken from a book entitled ‘Railways of Marple and District From 1794,’ by M T Burton: The busiest period was the 2 hours following 8.15 a.m., when no less than 23 trains were booked to call, terminate or start at Marple, in addition to those passing through without stopping. The first of the torrent was a Midland Up local from Stockport, which terminated at the Up platform, and quickly shunted into the Down bay. This was followed at 8.27 by a Down G.C. New Mills-London Road train, the morning business express; at the same moment an Up Midland local for Millers Dale was calling at the opposite platform. 7 minutes later the same Up platform received the 8.35 arrival from Manchester Victoria, which terminated and shunted into the Up loop, before the train with which it connected, the Midland West of England Express from Central, drew in at 8.48, and soon departed again for Bristol. Meanwhile at the other platform, a Down G.C. Hayfield-London Road local departed at 8.47, followed 3 minutes later from the Down bay by a local for Stockport and Altrincham, formed by the loco and coaches of the 8.15 arrival from Stockport. At 9.15 arrived another Up train, a Midland non-stop service from Victoria, to connect with the following St. Pancras express. The Victoria train had however to quickly shunt out of the way into the Up loop, as 4 minutes later at 9.19 an Up G.C. local for New Mills was due, while at the same time in the Down platform a Midland semi-fast from Rotherham and Sheffield halted for 3 minutes; it left for Manchester Central at 9.20, closely followed 3 minutes later by the return to Manchester Victoria of the train which had arrived at 8.35- this would leave from the Down bay, if there had been time to get the stock across between trains, or if not, from the Up loop. Traffic was now reaching a crescendo, and at 9.25 an express from Liverpool Central arrived, terminated in the Up platform, and was quickly propelled into the Up loop, and the engine turned on the turntable. Within a few minutes the Manchester-St. Pancras Dining Car express drew in at 9.31, with through coaches for Nottingham and Sheffield also attached: promptly the shunter detached the rear 3 or 4 coaches destined for Sheffield, and the main express departed at 9.36; the Sheffield coaches were quickly provided with an engine (probably off the 8.57 local arrival from Stockport) and left 4 minutes later. At the same moment as this caravan like train was being dealt with at the Up main platform, a Derby-Manchester express was being divided at the Down main platform. Arriving at 9.30, the rear 2 or 3 coaches were shed for Manchester Victoria, and left in the Down platform; once the main train had left for Central at 9.35, the loco and coaches which had been waiting in the Down bay since arrival from Victoria at 9.15, drew out, backed onto the Derby coaches and left for Victoria at 9.38. Hard on its heels, the connecting 9.44 for Liverpool left from the Up loop, with the train that had arrived at 9.25. It can thus be seen that at approximately 9.35, all four platforms were occupied with 7 trains or portions standing in them simultaneously destined for Liverpool, Manchester Victoria, Manchester Central, Sheffield, St. Pancras and Nottingham, and one from Stockport; two trains were dividing simultaneously, there were 4 departures within 5 minutes and three light engines shunting from line to line. Marple was by-passed for express services on the opening of the ‘Cut Off’ line between New Mills and Heaton Mersey in 1902, followed by Chinley becoming the new re-marshalling point for expresses after rebuilding in 1905. Signal boxes were reduced from three to one.
  2. I am trying to recreate the junction where my Grandad used to work back in the late 60's to early 70's. This will not be a functional layout as I have one already on the go but is still a way from scenic work. With this in mind I wanted to create something that I could put a lot of time into and hopefully get a great result. Main features of the Junction: Foxlow Junction Signalbox Semaphore signals bridge at one end What first: I am going to focus my attention to scratch-building the signal box as I feel this will influence the rest of the project and would be the best place to start. Thanks for reading, I'm sure there will be many more updates in the near future with plans and images of the actual prototype. Jack
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