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Platforms of the Steam Era


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All of the heritage railways I have visited to research my first layout since boyhood have an overhanging lip of varying widths projecting from the basic platform.. Was this a universal feature of platforms on all regions? A magazine article suggested for 00 gauge using 18 mm MDF as the basic platform but no mention of a lip. I am really very new to all this so help would be most appreciated.

 

Regards Ron

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Most platforms had coping stone tops or an overlapping brick edge forming a lip, and the platform face was recessed, usually with overlapping layers of brick. The number of these staggered layers varied.

 

On older platforms, a lip might not be present.

 

post-133-0-53722900-1516707646.png

 

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Bear in mind that the 3ft ARL platform height is a relatively recent (in terms of railway evolution) requirement. If you go to Cheddleton on the Churnet Valley Railway, that still has a low platform with steps available to help passengers get on or off the trains (so has Loughborough GC for that matter) with no overhang. The platforms at Wilnecote, just south of Tamworth, were only raised in the (IIRC) 1980s.

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I was politely reminded by the later Major Olver of the railway inspectorate many years ago that any new platform structure had to have the lip/overhang so that the supporting wall could be further back from the nearest running rail to provide somewhere (relatively) safe for a person to lie whilst a train was passing over them should they have the misfortune to fall off the platform and onto the track.

 

That said there are a (probably a decreasing) number of platforms where there hasn't ever been anything other than the supporting wall supporting the very rail-side edge of the platform.

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In 1885 the Board of Trade Requirements regarding platforms read:-

 

"It is considered desirable that the height of the platforms above the rails should not be less than 2 feet 6 inches." 

 

In the 1902 Amendment this was changed to:-

 

"The height of the platforms above rail level to be 3 feet, save under exceptional circumstances and in no case less than 2 feet 6 inches. The edges of the platforms to overhang not less than 12 inches"

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Here's an example of Grandfather rights at Ewell West station near Epsom on the South Western.

 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bridge,_Ewell_West_Station,_Surrey_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1778314.jpg

 

When the platforms were extended the road over bridge got in the way so they dip under the bridge to create headroom and are only about 5 ft wide! 

 

Trains that don't stop there go through the station at 70 mph......

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It was quite a few years ago that I was last there, but Newton St Cyres on the Exeter to Barnstaple line had it's platform only about 2ft 6 ins or 760mm in new money above rail head.

 

Probably so all the drunk students coming back from the Beer Engine could climb back onto the platform easily when they fell off onto the track! A common occurrence when I was there!

 

Mark Humphrys

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The reference to 18mm MDF is worrying as that would be 4' 6" or 3'6"  above track level if adjacent to code 100 track.  You will struggle to find prototypes for more than 3' high steam era UK platforms.  UK Buffers are around 3'3" minimum or 13mm in 00 above rail level so to look right platforms must be at least 3" or 1mm in 00 scale lower than the buffer centre line.  Now that varies among manufacturers so the platform height needs adjusting to suit.

Of course if you lay on cork that will raise the track, but the height is to the top surface so even if you use 2mm cork and Code 100 your 18mm will only just be low enough, and when you add the surface and coping stones it will be too high.

For Bachmann and code 100 in 00 gauge I would go for 2mm surface material overhanging a 14mm frame if Code 100 track and platform both sit on the baseboard.

Often the overhang is decorative with several rows of bricks each slightly further out than the lower one.  Most platforms were built before 1902 so plenty are still waiting to be updated. Neither prvatised, nationalised nor quasi privatised railways have gotten round to it but hey what is 110 years in health and safety.

 

Did I mention that the Platform should be at least 3 scale inches lower than the buffer centre line . 

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The reference to 18mm MDF is worrying as that would be 4' 6" or 3'6"  above track level if adjacent to code 100 track.  You will struggle to find prototypes for more than 3' high steam era UK platforms.  UK Buffers are around 3'3" minimum or 13mm in 00 above rail level so to look right platforms must be at least 3" or 1mm in 00 scale lower than the buffer centre line.  Now that varies among manufacturers so the platform height needs adjusting to suit.

Of course if you lay on cork that will raise the track, but the height is to the top surface so even if you use 2mm cork and Code 100 your 18mm will only just be low enough, and when you add the surface and coping stones it will be too high.

For Bachmann and code 100 in 00 gauge I would go for 2mm surface material overhanging a 14mm frame if Code 100 track and platform both sit on the baseboard.

Often the overhang is decorative with several rows of bricks each slightly further out than the lower one.  Most platforms were built before 1902 so plenty are still waiting to be updated. Neither prvatised, nationalised nor quasi privatised railways have gotten round to it but hey what is 110 years in health and safety.

 

Did I mention that the Platform should be at least 3 scale inches lower than the buffer centre line .

 

As far as I can see, the typical buffer centre height was 3' 5-6", so we've gained an extra mil! Having just measured a section of Code 100 track, this came out at 4.4mm, so with 2mm cork, 18mm MDF placed directly on the base would only be 2' 9" above rail level, so a 2mm topping on the platform, which seems quite thick, would come in at a reasonable 3' 3", fine for most purposes, if not Victorian stations.
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While there are plenty of low platforms, a platform higher than 3ft above top of rail was highly unlikely until the 1990s, as it would foul the gauge unless set so far back that the stepping distance was excessive.  While a millimetre or two of excess height might not be noticeable with no train present, it would be much more obvious when it reduced the much smaller gap between the platform surface and the stepboards of a standing train. 

 

A few modern platforms used only by specific train types have been raised to about 1.1m to give level boarding (for example Heathrow Express, East London Line, Crossrail central section). 

Edited by Edwin_m
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I think a lot of places, back in the day, had platforms well below the approved height, especially out in the sticks. It would be tedious to relate all the examples I remember, but Birch Vale (closed 1970) was so low that getting on a train was a bit of a scramble even for a moderately fit young lad like I was back then.

 

Portable steps were very much the thing, and something I don't think I have ever seen modelled. I suppose the subsequent de-staffing of almost all stations makes such provision unthinkable now, but back in the 60s no one thought anything of it. 

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I think a lot of places, back in the day, had platforms well below the approved height, especially out in the sticks. It would be tedious to relate all the examples I remember, but Birch Vale (closed 1970) was so low that getting on a train was a bit of a scramble even for a moderately fit young lad like I was back then.

 

Portable steps were very much the thing, and something I don't think I have ever seen modelled. I suppose the subsequent de-staffing of almost all stations makes such provision unthinkable now, but back in the 60s no one thought anything of it.

 

I’m currently modelling two Highland Railway stations with low platforms in 2mm scale and will be including platform footstools, which I have to scratchbuild. Footstools are still available on some platforms like Lairg. Lochgorm Kits have 4mm scale footstools in their catalogue http://www.lochgormkits.co.uk/assets/applets/Lochgormkits_text_catalogue_4mm_June_2017.pdf

 

Marlyn

Edited by Marly51
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As far as I can see, the typical buffer centre height was 3' 5-6", so we've gained an extra mil! Having just measured a section of Code 100 track, this came out at 4.4mm, so with 2mm cork, 18mm MDF placed directly on the base would only be 2' 9" above rail level, so a 2mm topping on the platform, which seems quite thick, would come in at a reasonable 3' 3", fine for most purposes, if not Victorian stations.

 

That height is for new, unladen stock. Wheel wear and loading could well reduce it by a few inches.

 

Of course, if you use older Hornby stock you have a couple of millimetres to play with....

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I think I am trying to say it doesn't matter how high the platforms are as long as they are at least 1mm in 00 scale below your buffer centre line.  The prototype buffer height varied but the lowest likely height is 3ft 3"  the GWR used 3ft 5" for tenders and 3ft 4 1/2" for locos as far as I can tell from the Russel books so with a max platform height of 3ft the platform should be at least 1.5 mm lower than the centre line which is pretty much level with the bottom of the buffers.  Burrer beams and footplates varied on locos

 

Platforms look very wrong if they are level with the centre line of the buffers or the bottom of the doors on Mk1 coaches. Some of my platforms are too high (see pics with 1960s Hornbty Dublo Castle and 2000s Hornby Grange and its on the to do list to lower them or raise the tracks. The widest bit of a GWR Hall etc cylinder is at 3ft above rail so the platform should be exactly level with it or below, at least  half the driving wheel should be above the platform.

It is a percentage thing, a small difference in height on an 00 scale model is a lot more noticeable than a small difference in length and rolling stock models have been getting lower since Triang days yet some of the off he shelf platforms seem  designed for Triang Super 4 track laid on underlay.  

post-21665-0-76245100-1517803643.jpg

post-21665-0-05152600-1517804238.jpg

Edited by DavidCBroad
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I'll throw in a few clips from my prototype shots over the years.

 

Thunderbird at Glossop with modern blockwork rebuild

post-9767-0-69925500-1517825653_thumb.jpg

 

Jinty at Rawtenstall, preservation rebuild

post-9767-0-77497300-1517825751.jpg

 

Two Kings and a Grange at Snow Hill - c1911 rebuild era platforms, photos from 1960s

post-9767-0-27386000-1517826089_thumb.jpg

 

post-9767-0-12632500-1517826090_thumb.jpg

 

post-9767-0-61546300-1517826088_thumb.jpg

 

A4 at Blackpool North Excursion Platforms, 1961. Looks like recent build or resurface.

post-9767-0-74391900-1517826257_thumb.jpg

 

Leamington Spa 1930s rebuild

post-9767-0-39441100-1517826668.jpg

 

A low one in preservation at Pickering

37624672481_66f0968a77_z.jpg

80136 and 76079 arrive at Pickering on 29th September 2017

 

And a nice oldie from Warwickshire railways showing an 1854 build at Birmingham New Street.

http://www.warwickshirerailways.com/lms/lnwrbns_pg446.htm

 

 

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