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  1. 'The Reality' Christleton would have been a relatively inconspicuous village south east of Chester, had it not been for an anti-railway landowner on the outskirts of Chester in the late 1840’s. Lord George Scott unintentionally created a future mecca for train spotters in the North West. Following the completion of the Crewe to Chester Railway and the onward link to Holyhead, the Birkenhead, Lancashire and Cheshire Railway sought to decrease the Manchester to Chester journey time and cut out the need to travel via Crewe. The original intention was to run directly from Warrington to Chester, and many current maps incorrectly reflect that route. Lord Scott’s refusal to sell land, and his influence with the city council, led the BL&CR to build the route and join the Crewe lines just south of Chester. Despite numerous proposals, the connection could not be made to get a direct lead into Chester station and so they settled for a Warrington to Crewe connection, leading to the creation of a station at Christleton with reversal platforms to allow trains to run from Manchester to Holyhead. Of course in the early days of railways, a loco change half way between Manchester and Holyhead was positively welcomed and only in later days did it become something of a nuisance. In the Heyday of steam it became a must visit spot for school boys keen to see black 5s, patriots and jubilees coming and going, particularly on the summer holiday trains from Yorkshire and the North East. The South to North connection had another advantage; the Christleton loop became a diversionary route for the West Coast mainline and was often used to relieve pressure on the main line. Cross country services from the South coast to Scotland became regular callers at Christleton to allow better connections from Holyhead to the North. In the late 60’s the loop was included in the West Coast electrification programme, although the mooted wiring onward to Holyhead never happened, so the terminal platforms and yard were never electrified. In the summer of 1986, Christleton was still a favourite with enthusiasts keen to see the last days of the Peaks reversing on the trans-pennine services, watching the electric to diesel loco changes on the Euston – Holyheads, the varied traction heading for the North Wales coast and the plethora of trains diverted off the West Coast. Reduced to being a sub-shed of Crewe at this stage, the stabling points for both diesel and electric were nevertheless still firm favourites for loco fans, being just off the platform ends. The real surprise is that it hasn’t been modelled before… The Model The layout has been a long time coming and is the result of several years of being a background rmweb reader. Having renovated a Victorian house over the last 10 years, planning permission was received last year for a railway in the cellar, which put an end to 20 plus years of model railway wilderness. They say plagiarism is the highest form of complement, so there should be a number of flattered authors on rmweb. Essentially I’ve stolen all the bits I like about other people’s railways and combined them into my own plan. I want to model the transitional years from blue and grey to sectorisation, running the diesels and electrics I remember from my youth. An 85 on intercity and a 45 on trans-pennine wasn’t an easy combination to mix, but eventually the idea for Christleton Junction formed into a sort of believable concept. With the cellar renovated and the sub-boards built, I decided it was finally time to open the rmweb closet door and step into the light. Before I move on to the next stage, which I think is to start cutting wood for baseboards, I thought it would be useful to gather some views from the rmweb community and gain from the benefit of the combined experience of others. I have drafted the first track plan using Anyrail based on Peco pointwork, although it is my intention to use Marcway or handbuilt track for the scenic areas. I’m currently thinking templot may be required. The backstory has been developed to allow me to have a continuous run and a terminus in one. The station is entirely fictional although I have tried to design it in keeping with LNWR practice as subsequently modified by BR for electrification. I originally started with Huddersfield in mind, and some parts may well end up along those lines, although I’m not sure Yorkshire stone is right for Cheshire. I’ve designed the layout against the following operating possibilities, with a specific period of September 1986: Euston – Holyhead intercity services. Aircon mk 2s in blue grey and intercity, with traction changing from electric (85, 86, 87) to diesel (47) and vice versa. Some services may change traction at Crewe to allow testing of locos from Crewe works. Anglo – Scottish interregional services, mixed mk 2 con blue grey rakes, with the odd intercity coach, hauled by 85s and 86s. Transpennine services, reversing in the terminal platforms, hauled by 45s and 47s. Mk 2 non-air con, with the first of the trans pennine livery coaches appearing, plus the other random liveries that Heaton used to put out. And a first real modelling challenge to create some sealed beam class 45s! Cardiff / Crewe – Bangor / Holyhead services, mk 1s, class 33 and 47 hauled. Did these occasionally get 25 or 31 hauled? Manchester – Holyhead loco hauled relief services, mk 1s, 47 hauled. Reversing in the terminal platforms. Stoke – Llandudno loco hauled, mk 1s, 47s and maybe D200! Crewe – Warrington EMU local service, a chance to build some 305 / 310 kits. Parcels trains have various options and can be 25, 31 or 47 hauled. I’m not sure if Newspaper trains would be an option in 86? A couple of DMUs should also be able to potter around. On the freight side there are a number of through freights, including MGR, steel, tanks and freightliner with haulage by 20, 25, 31, 45, 47 plus some electrics. I’m not sure 37s or 56s would be appropriate? The layout allows for some speedlink and permanent way train shunting, so 25, 31 and 47 again, with the bonus of an ex 40 in the shape of a 97. As well as an 08 or two, I think the Chester area was one of the last to have 03s – it is certainly going to be! My draft layout plan is below, together with a few iphone shots of the room. The sub-boards go most of the way around, no additional legs should be needed. On the future station site, the first rolling stock and some Marcway templates are laid out to give me an impression of how it will look. I welcome your thoughts before I make any regrettable mistakes! Andy General view of the station area. The station, with a class 40 in the bay and the 37 on the down main. The station area again. The BG sits in what will be platform 5, with some speedlink wagons in the yard. An overview of the fiddle yard area, where the Warrington and Holyhead lines come in. The other end of the fiddle yard. The area where the through lines will be. I may need a couple of baseboard legs here.
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