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rowanj

Trainspotting at Little Benton Sidings, Newcastle.

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This will be my 3rd and probably final layout, based on Little Benton Sidings, located on the ECML about 5 miles north of Newcastle. timescale is from mid-50's to c1964, to accomodate my stock and cover my trainspotting years from '60 to '64.

 

The site is ideal for modelling, between 2 bridges carrying farm tracks, in a cutting with a signal box at each end, with 5 sidings sitting alongside the main line. These were added during WW2 in case of bomb damage at nearby Heaton. the location at the time was rural, so no need for a lot of building, Signalling was reasonably simple (I'll be installing semaphores). Finally the main line has 3rd rail as it formed a link between the North Tyneside suburban loop and Heaton to the south.

 

Just off scene, and to the north, Quarry junction saw a 3 way split, with extensive freight traffic to the Blyth and Tyne line and the occasional local passenger service, as well as all the normal ECML traffic.

 

This was a favourite spotting location over the years for us local oiks, and was variously named Redhill and The Powder Monkey. However, all we were interested in were loco numbers ,and only "cops" at that so the details of the infrastructure were ignored. So I have only a vague recollection of the signal boxes, and no idea if the signal posts were lattice, round, or square, or a combination. I have tracked down a few photos but need more, Though the bridges still exist, a recent visit found the now-common lineside and made it almost impossible to get decent photos, so if anyone can help.....

 

This layout was planned as an out and back with a central scenic section. It may well finish that way, but I have a 10 coach rake for the Elizabethan made largely from Bachmann Thompsons and SEF overlays. I'd like to run it but the fiddle yard sidings are too short. It's a loft layout, so in theory I can run it as an oval, and Install a "normal" fiddle yard to supplement the end to end. However the intention was to keep this layout simple, as I'm a one man band, and mainly interested these days in kit building. We shall see.

 

Anyone who can supply info, please let me know. I do have the Tickets Not Transferable book which is really useful. I'll attach a couple of photos to show how the site has changed/deteriorated. over the last 50 years. The B/W one shows the box at Little Benton North, and appears to be of WW2 vintage, installed with the sidings?

 

John

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Edited by rowanj
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Chris

 

Thanks - those pictures ar incredibly helpful. The picture of Little Benton North seems to have been taken after the signals were replaced with colour lights. I don't remember them at all. I also wonder the reason for the distant on the junction signal (is it fixed?) on the photo on my post. How I wish I had asked these questions 55 years ago.

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 I posted this query on the Signalling thread, but repeat it here for completeness, 

 

Perhaps someone can advise on the signal in the attached photo. It's at Liitle Benton North on the ECML and protects a 3-way junction where the ECML heads straight across, with a RH and LH curve to join the Blyth and Tyne.

 

The home and distant are straightforward, but that is a distant on the gantry, with no home that I can see, So would the distant be fixed, and where if the home for the junction? On the RH side of the gantry, is that a small home for the RH curve or another distant? It's a bit obscured by the loco smoke. 

 

if anyone has a clearer photo of the junction signal at this location, that too would be wonderful.

 

John

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The two distant signals that can be seen are for Benton Quarry Junction. As shown, the line is clear through Benton Quarry for the ECML. I'm fairly certain the LH distant will be worked as it would not need to be provided if fixed (unless someone knowledgeable in NE signalling knows better) and will be to indicate that the signals at Benton Quarry are cleared round to Benton Station. I would expect the RH signal to be a distant too and it looks like it is: that will indicate signals off round towards Backworth.

Paul.

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The two distant signals that can be seen are for Benton Quarry Junction. As shown, the line is clear through Benton Quarry for the ECML. I'm fairly certain the LH distant will be worked as it would not need to be provided if fixed (unless someone knowledgeable in NE signalling knows better) and will be to indicate that the signals at Benton Quarry are cleared round to Benton Station. I would expect the RH signal to be a distant too and it looks like it is: that will indicate signals off round towards Backworth.

Paul.

 

That confirms what has been posted in the Signalling thread .I must have visited that sit over 200 times - maybe more- and never realised there was a bracket signal there !

 

I also cannot remember ever seeing a Tyneside electric using that line, and although there were always wagons in the sidings, I only once ever saw a train actually enter them, Amazingly, it was in 1962 and the loco was 60001 on a rake of wagons. I can still recall being astonished to see a streak coming south and turning into the loop and running slowly towards us.

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Track has now been laid from the "south" and a representation of the bridge built. I've also constructed a Ratio home and distant to represent that which was situated just south of the bridge on the Down line. This was important to us spotters as it announced the arrival of a train. Normally, only the Home was pulled off, and a J27 would trundle through, to our disgust. Home and Distant usually meant an express. What would I give to see them now..??
The B1 at Little Benton North is interesting, as the splitting distant has disappeared and the Stop guarding the sidings has lost its arm though the sidings still seem to be occupied. It also looks as though the signal box is out of use. Is there a date for this, please?
I'm also fitting Peco 3rd rail. This might be the most faddy task I've ever done in 50 years of modelling, but it is necessary for the timescale.
Photos to follow. And any more pics of the scene greatly appreciated.
John

 

Edit - after another frustrating couple of hours with Peco conductor chairs flying all over the place, I've given them up and will try Plan B. I'll solder pins to the track and use these to represent the chairs. That's nor as daft as it sounds, as the chairs on the Tyneside lines were much less "obtrusive" than the Peco/SR ones, with most all below the rail. Book Law Vol 75 - Tyneside Electrics 1 is the source.

Edited by rowanj
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Here are a couple of photos of the first corner of the layout to get some scenery. The bridge is based on a Scalescenes download,- we called it Scootie Bridge, but I dont know if that was its' real name.

 

The Q7 is a Dave Alexander kit, and the B16/3 is PDK. Although both are NE classes, I dont remember actually seeing the classes at Little Benton. The Tyne was obviously some kind of aquatic Berlin Wall. So the spotters got a treat today.

 

Not in the photo - though I'll take another later - is a tall Home& Distant signal. It was located just south of the bridge, but was tall enough not to be obscured by the bridge brickwork. As a result, we could see it when pulled off to herald the arrival of the next train. I had to have it.

 

Little Benton South will be based on the Smart Models free download, and Little Benton North, a wartime austerity build, will be an adapted Smart Models download based on a flat roof box at Northallerton.

 

The grass is hanging basket liner, which will be sprayed and dusted with scenic scatter to give some variety of colour.

 

John

 

 

 

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Just to test the running, the A2 returns to Edinburgh on a Saturday extra. The local spotters will have been excited to see the home and Distant go up, and , for many, though not unknown on Tyneside, Trimbush will be a cop. A visit to the paintshop to replace the curve on the bottom LH tender will be required.

 

On a more serious note, even with a loft to play in, I knew I wouldn't get away with the prototype's 5 sidings, but hoped for 3. However, even with omitting the headshunt at Little Benton North, the 3rd siding was hopelessly short, so it will have to be only 2, unless I make the outside one(s) a dead end.

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Here is another test using a GBL loco. 60011 is ex-Mallard, running on a Hornby chassis. I bought the latter ages ago when you could pick them up for £30, so this loco cost about £35, as I already had the tender wheels. I think the nameplates and transfers cost more than the loco and tender body.


 


The test was of my Elizabethan rake running through the pointwork. At 10 coaches, it's my longest train, and is made up largely of Bachmann donors with Southern Pride overlays. The rake is heading south, so the leading pair are the Aberdeen MK1's.


 


The "fluff" at the front is the hanging basket liner I'm using to grass the embankments. I must get round to tidying up those fences if I'm going to keep taking photographs at that point. There is a footpath which wends away from the railway at about mid-point of the scenic layout, but the fencing continues up to the northern scenic break.


 


John


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The western embankment continues to creep north, Fiddle yards at either end are laid, and testing of running is taking place.

 

The original plan was a simple end-to-end affair, but I decided I wanted to run my 10 car Elizabethan and 8-9 car expresses, and the fiddle yards didn't give enough room. So the new plan will have an oval built in which will accommodate 6 rakes of 10 -coach lengths, and give me the chance to watch some trains go by.

 

One of the tests involved the W1, which is a good trial of pointwork, and the kit-built carriages on the Anglo-Scottish Car Carrier - at present short of a couple of the SEF Newton-Chambers cars.. It certainly ran through Little Benton, though never, unfortunately, W1 hauled. The loco was scrapped just as I was old enough to go spotting, and I never saw it. I don't even know if it got to Newcastle in its rebuilt form.

 

The tank loco is an ArthurK J77, which probably did pass the site from time to time.

 

John

 

 

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It very probably did pass Little Benton in its rebuilt form as LNER 10000.  It operated from Haymarket covering P2 diagrams in 1943 in trials which supposedly "proved" that a six coupled locomotive could work the heaviest loads between Edinburgh and Aberdeen and keep time.  Alas, the trials were held in summer and the absence of rain ensured that 10000 experienced little or no wheelslip during its visit, thereby bringing about the demise of the P2s.  As everyone knows, the resulting rebuilds were incapable of matching the pre-war timings or handling the pre-war loads.  Ultimately they were transferred away and the Aberdeen road would have to wait until dieselisation in 1960 before a 3 hour timing cold be restored between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

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Amongst other things, building the layout in a particular location has made me look at my loco stock. I had a couple of Bachmann A1's based on Copley Hill locos which were rare enough at Newcastle Central, let alone north of the city. S I'm renumbering Kestrel and Kings Courier into Tyneside-based locos, and taking the opportunity to fit real coal and some pipework on the smokebox, which always looks bare on the original model. The pipework is just a rough representation, but I think it does enhance the look of the loco. 

 

Here is Sir Walter Scott. It was a common sight amongst we spotters, provoking groans when it appeared,. what would give to see it now?

 

John

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Trainspotting at Little Benton , or The Powder Monkey, as we called it. The two renamed/numbered A1's meet , which would have been nirvana if they were the original Bachmann Kestrel and Kings Courier. Now transformed into Saint Mungo and Sir Walter Scott, they are more likely to have been met with groans. 

 

Little more scenic work has been done while I struggle with a kit to build a London road Models J25. However, there is now light at the end of that particular tunnel, and so, although kits for a J77 and B16/2 await, I'm determined to get more track finished and scenery in place.

 

My main dilemma is to do with the sidings. I always knew I'd never have room for the prototypical five, but expected three. In the event, there is really only room for two of any length, and even those are severely compressed. So I'm contemplating fitting a couple of dead end sidings at Benton North, which isn't what was there in real life but would make the overall  look of the layout more realistic and give me some much needed storage roads..

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The western embankment has continued to creep towards LB North. The spotters won't be thrilled to see the 101 on a Morpeth service, but Mallard. on the Up Elizabethan will be a "cop" for some. 34A locos were rarely seen north of Newcastle other than on the "non-stop"

 

The buffer-stop is 1942's austerity, just a concrete block with pieces of wood fixed to it. The spotters will have taken no notice of it whatsoever ..

 

 

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Progress on the layout has been slow but steady. The mainlines are now laid, with about 25% of the 3rd rail fitted. I've also part-built Little Benton South box and the hut which sat alongside it. However, despite having a loft to play with, there just isn't room to replicate the stretch to Little Benton North without a ridiculous amount of compression.

 

I have decided to make a reasonable facsimile of LB South and severely compromise LB North. I'll keep the splitting distant, as I already built it, and will construct the box, having already downloaded a Smart Models kit of Low Gates, which I'll severely adapt. However there will only be 4 sidings of which 3 will be "dead-end" - they should really join the mainline but there just isn't enough room.

 

The original plan was for an end-to-end, but I just have too much stock accumulated over the years. I particularly wanted to keep my 10-coach Elizabethan. The Down train must have passed LB at c.6.00pm, as I used to see it after school. I remember on 1 week being disgusted that it was always the same loco - 60011, I think,-.Little did we recognise how much this reflected the excellence of the loco. We just wanted cops !. Anyway, I have 7 sidings at each end, and an outer loop which passes to a fiddle yard opposite the scenic section.This will have 4 through roads and a further 4 dead-end sidings, capable of holding an 8-coach rake. So I can watch a train go round if necessary.

 

It's been too cold for a lot of work in the loft, so time has been spent building new ex-NER kits and rebuilding some of my earlier efforts. Some of these are posed in the photos. They include a PDK B16/1, Dave Alexander J21 and J27, London Road J25, and Arthurk North Eastern Kits Worsdell Cab J77. A Dave Alexander Q7 is in the sidings, his Fletcher Cab J77 is in the paint shop and a PDK B16/3 is in the works trying to find out why the bogie is derailing. I also have a veteran Nu-cast G5 which needs constant adjustment of the trailing bogie to keep it balanced.  A Hornby Q6 and Bachmann J72 complete my ex-NER stud, with a B16/2, N8 and N10 "to do". A D20 is also needed, and an A8 and J71 would also be nice.

 

I can legitimately run all the A-class express locos, as well as B1's, V2's,V1/3's,D49,K1 and K3 locos. K2's were not infrequent visitors in the mid-50's as were the Clans which spent some time at Haymarket. WD and 9F's could be seen, though were more common south of the Tyne. Tyne Dock had some O1's . Ivatt 43000's were also seen, as were the smaller 46000's so I have a good excuse to run much of my stock. Then there are the Type 2,3 ,4 and 5 diesels, and the visitors on excursions - I have photographic evidence of Jubilees. Scots and Patriots on holiday specials.        Those I cant run legitimately, I'll run when I want, as its my railway! But I may have GN,  GC or GE sessions, so I can run the D11, B17,O2 or O4 etc        

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It's been far too cold in the loft to do any work, so I dug out a batch of Dapol Esso wagon kits. and a Brake van. The van has been converted to the LNER Toad, but the wagons have no changes other than fitting pin-point axle bearings and Romford wheels. ArthurK's J77 has a break from it's usual duties to take them from the Esso Terminal at North Shields to Heaton. Rather than joining the  N.Tyneside loop at Percy Main, it took the Blyth and Tyne and rejoined the ECML at Benton Curve.

 

I'm not actually sure how it did that. The route from North Shields would have gone through Blue Bell and I suspect reversal would have been needed to get onto the suburban line via Backworth Curve, But I was only testing the running of the wagons anyway!

 

Though not obvious in this photo, the 3rd rail is virtually completed, there is a 7 -road fiddle yard at each end of the scenic section, and I'm going to install a 3 road through yard to allow a bit of continuous running, and a further 4 roads alongside to accommodate 8-coach rakes. 

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Does anyone remember when we used to model like this? This V2 is a Triang A3 boiler with a cab taken from a tender-drive Hornby A4 on a Bachmann V2 footplate, on an original Bachmann V2 chassis. Sorry, Tony, not a drop of solder in sight. It is wheeling along a parcels through my "in-progress " Little Benton sidings layout. It will be renumbered to represent one of York's non-Kylchap double chimneyed V2's in due course (when I'll try to get the numbers straighter).


 


 


John


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Still at the testing stage, I continue to have a problem with the leading bogie of the B16/3, which has been entrusted to a short cattle train destined for Darlington and the Teesdale marts.The ancient Nu-Cast K2 runs well, but will enter the Works at some point to have the paintwork weathered and brakes fitted, It has been borrowed by Heaton for a stopper to Berwick, a common enough occurrence in the 50's. However, by the time I started spotting at Little Benton -1959/60, K2's were a very rare bird indeed.

 

 

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Building a layout "solo" is a slow task, but things are progressing. My main pleasure these days is loco building, trying to get a representative of the NER/LNER/BR types which would have been seen by spotters at Little Benton Sidings in a 10 year period from 1955-65.

 

Space, despite having a loft to play with, has stymied my original plan to show the full extent between Little Benton North and South, even by compressing the length. The sidings were just too short to be built as a through tracks, as on the prototype, so I have compromised at the North end . The innermost siding is a through track, but 3 more are "dead end". Strictly speaking, there should be 5 in total, with a headshunt at each end.

 

I will build Little Benton North Box, but the bridge will be adapted to cross all the tracks, rather than just the main lines as on the prototype. I will build the bridge structure in the style of the prototype, but it will be a major compromise. I have too much stock, and need a decent amount of storage sidings as well as those in the fiddle yards.

 

The 3 photos show locos which could be seen in the location but are not available as RTR. The J26 is an LRM etched kit, the J27 an original J27 Dave Alexander kit (which he has now updated) and the J77 is his "Fletcher Cab" versio. The current "to do" pile has a PDK B16/2. a DJH D20 and A8, an ArthurK N10, and an LRM N8/9. When I get an ArthurK J71 and J73, my loco stock will be complete.

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As today has left the loft less than a sauna, I managed to steal an hour to see what 4 unattended months had done to the layout. I did a it more work on the West embankment and tidied up here and there. 

 

I also took the oppertunity to road-test an old Wills A3 which I started before our annual Brexit, expecting it to be a 5-minute job. No such luck, but it has turned out OK, and today had its; maiden run on an Edinburgh-Newcastle stopper. ^0060 was a common sight in my spotting days, and theidea is that it loks work-stained, rather than in unremitting Gateshead grime. Perhaps it was on one of its' frequent spells at Heaton..

 

I also tested my ancient NuCast G5. I did do some detailing to the original kit - brakes, sandpipes,- but it still looks bare and I'm looking forward the the RTR version

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The foliage continues to creep north, and I'm just about ready to begin the constuction of Little Benton North signal cabin. This will be an adaapted Smart Models download kit of Low Gates. It will need some major alterations, but will give me a sufficient general outline for the mods needed. 

 

The north of the scenic section is a major compromise - even in the loft, there just isn't the space. So only 1 of the prototypical 5 storage sidings is a loop, with a further 3 dead ends. these will pass through and beyond the scenic break, but will allow me to store reasonably long trains - 7 or 8 carriage lengths, and will look reasonably authentic looking west across the layout from the operating position.

 

In the meantime, building appropriate locos - my main interest- continues and the latest is a DJH D20 which ended its' and the class''s life in 1957 on Alnwick- Newcastle stoppers. Bringing the kit up to date for BR days was a major, but ultimately enjoyable, challenge. How I did it is on the link below.

 

John

 

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Progress to date has largely consisted of installing storage roads - not very interesting or photogenic, but I'm about to start to build a representation of Little Benton North box, using the Smart Models flat-roof downloadable kit as a base. The kit is of a large box at Northallerton, and will need downsizing as well as other mods, but will look something like the "austerity" box installed at LB North when the storage roads went in during WW2.

 

The north end of the layout is a real compromise- the scenic break will extend to cover  sidings which in reality ended before by the box, but I just hadn't got the space. However I will be able to look across 4 sidings (rather than the prototypical 5) and the main lines from a viewpoint very like that of my spotting days in the late 50's/early 60's and watch trains go by much as I remember them.

 

On that basis, I am planning to mainly run locos which stood a chance of actually passing the scene. I'm not going to be totally authentic, as the Tyne seems to have been a sort of aquatic "Berlin Wall", with locos from the south not venturing North. Conversely, I can run Haymarket and St Margaret's locos with some impunity. A5's and A8's, for example, got to Newcastle but hardly ever past it to my location. WD's were common south of the Tyne, but rarely north. But there has to be a world where I can run SOME of my ex-NER based loco classes which I never saw at Little Benton, hasn't there? After all, we went train-spotting to get cops....

 

John.

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Just to please the "spotters", a CL20 runs north on a short cement train heading for the Ponteland Branch. All the wagons, including the brake, are Dapol;/Airfix kits. The Bachmann loco is unmodified, and I was testing it prior to placing on EBay. Though the class turned up later, they were never really seen in BR Green days, and I'm gradually discarding inappropriare RTR stock, of which I have far too much...

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Not sure if the link will work properly but it shows an Eastfield Class 20 working a summer Saturday extra from Tyneside to Glasgow in July of 1962.  I'm fairly certain the loco worked right through from Tyneside.  Unfortunately, Eastfield's Class 20s tended to have larger side windows and tablet catcher recess than your Class 20.  Hope this is of some use!

 

https://topticl.zenfolio.com/p292172622/ha22044f1

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