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The best housekeeping format feels like fewer but often-edited posts. Expect changes :) This one is just a general introduction to a burgeoning Western empire...


Don't panic! I'm not going to build it! :)


Time: 1905-1915

Place: North Somerset/West Wiltshire; South Devon

Lines: GWR London - Bristol; Bathampton branch; Reading - Taunton; Exeter - Plymouth; Kingswear branch; SDJR Bath - Templecombe (Bournemouth)

Reason: Fun, and provide a bit of a distraction from the real world :)The playing with my jigsaw of bits of geography (all taken from period 1:2,500 OS maps, courtesy of old-maps.co.uk) has been, and still is, and gently enjoyable process. However, I should stop at some point and feel I'm probably about there: it's pretty coherent, covers just about everything I could ask of it...and I've run out of junctions! This means it's time to move on, for which I would benefit from a place to collate information.


As a layout, I can't imagine it ever being built whole (at least in the physical world; digital perhaps) but would like to keep the idea of the whole system alive so that as and when life provides an opportunity to get back into modelling in a meaningful way I'll have plenty of the legwork done, can pick a section that suits current constraints and get cracking! That won't be for some little while though, so plenty of time for meandering digressions :)


My work keeps me on the move a lot, so I'm over-reliant on the internet both for gathering and keeping track of learnings. I'm reaching the point where I look up the same thing repeatedly because I've forgotten details and haven't put it somewhere safe, so I'm hoping to use this thread as a place to draw together and hold useful titbits, photos, links to external websites etc...and perhaps benefit from having it reviewed by those more experienced and knowledgeable than myself (anyone at RMWeb!). I'm hoping to upload a fair few pics, none of which (at least initially) will be mine - I will credit as best I can where they're not watermarked, but will happily take advice if there are norms I unwittingly breach.




S'pose I better start with a quick bit about the plan above, and the ideas behind the layout in general:


In the plan, everything stolen off a map is meant to be scenic, and to some degree (as yet undecided really) representative of the actual place. Everything that's a light grey line is out of sight, the wings and flies of this Western theatre, to allow the rest of the network/country to be faked as required. The whole lot is representative only, and thought has so far really only gone in to the arrangement of the pieces of the puzzle, not trackwork etc An awful lot left to work out, but I feel the bones are now in place.


EDIT: With the belated realisation that off-stage could be below-stairs, as it were, all the non-scenic layout should be viewed as a very movable feast!


As for the idea behind the whole thing...ummmm...well...

...I thought it might be fun to focus my daydreams of returning to railway modelling one day on a particular project. I settled on Avoncliff at a time when the stone yard was still busy and the canal in at least functional repair, for reasons that I'm sure will become relevant at some point, but I'll gloss over for now.

...then I thought that as Bradford on Avon is not far away, nor a large station, it could lend both charm and operational interest to a (already large, at about 12-15' a side in my head) L or U shaped layout...

...but if I went for a U, then three sides surely equals three areas that could be modelled...so perhaps Bathampton junction could be referenced...

...but although Bathampton is aesthetically pleasing, as a station/yard it doesn't add a lot not already covered by B-O-A, so perhaps I keep the junction but actually model Bath...

...and Bath goods yard...

...and Westmoreland stone yard, to provide the Ying to Avoncliff's Yang...


...and I just sort of forgot to stop... :)


The locations chosen all fill nebulous criteria to varying degrees:

personal resonance

 geographical relevance

 operational independence and inter-dependence

 smaller prototypes (with a hope of being able to keep more closely to them; and if Trowbridge has a shed, turntable, storage roads, coal and water, then what would one gain from Laira?...and I just prefer them 

 what I think of as 'fudge factor' - of being able to represent other places (hello Frome)

ideally had a suitable station close to a point of scenic or operational interest (B-o-A has Avoncliff; Kingswear has Noss etc) so that it

provided options (for scenic breaks; operational variety, functionality and narrative integrity; splitting the uber-layout into smaller chunks, to have viable layouts as small as 5 feet; places for trains to run past or to, depending. There might've been a couple more things I thought this 'primary and secondary location' thing helped, but if I've stopped caring what they were I don't see why you should have to start!

have useful curves nearby I could nick to join the whole lot up whilst keeping the spirit of each area...and kept a reference for landscape/back scene handy!

...also, some of them just appealed and later turned out to have other benefits (looking at you Midford section of the SDJR, with your pleasing contrasts to the Bathampton branch)  

It is entirely possible that, were this layout ever to be built as shown, I would aim for faithful replicas of the real world...but equally likely that they could provide [nothing more than] inspiration to fill the requirements of the area - 'port', 'small industrial siding', 'engine shed' and so forth. The latter approach lends itself to a 'proper little empire', which would be a more achievable aim in a smaller space, I think.


I see myriad benefits to choosing the early 1900s, which again I'm sure will become apparent as we go on.


I have a bit of a thing about both maritime history and, for want of the a better phrase, 'industrious countryside' - the surprising productivity of places that now seem timeless rural idylls, supported by the most amazingly intricate logistics and support networks.


Mix that lot together, and here we are!


What a load of guff...





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Too kind Titanius, I hope it proves diverting :) ...mind you, I seem to have missed the mark on one vital aspect of the "little empire" premise... ;) 




Post cleared to make room for one with useful information in it :) Text moved into post above...




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So, to start the real business of the thread where the whole project began:






A small hamlet in West Wiltshire, now the idyllic home of a single-carriage halt station lying in a narrow wooded valley alongside the Bristol Avon with an aqueduct carrying the Kennet and Avon Canal over the top of both. Formally, however, it was a busy strecth of river, then canal, then railway. The halt was built in 1906 (hence not shown above, it was East of the aqueduct, roughly where the embankment is above the 419. Please see pics below for clarification) perhaps to cater to the 60 souls working at the stone yard.



While today the focus is on leisure, Avoncliff's histoy is all work. The Doomsday book mentions a mill here, and by the mid-1200s annual rent of 18 shillings and 7 sticks of eels was paid direct to Winchester Cathedral (in whose estate the area lay) by Reynold of Cliff and Henry of Cliff. For a long while the only structures were the weir flanked by mills and the inn to cater for those fording the Avon below the weir. The mills supported the building of cottages nearby, but the first major developement was the arrival of the canal around 1795. Construction of the aqueduct took place 1797-1801 under the direction of John Rennie and John Thomas, with the canal opening in 1810. The railway was authorised in 1845, completed in 1857, and first station opened on the 9th of July,1906.




Anyway, to business!



'Station' History: Quoted from Trevor Turpin's article at https://www.avoncliff.co.uk/

"As readers will know, the single track line through the valley was opened on 2nd February 1857. In June 1872 it was converted to standard gauge, 4’81/2”, and finally to the present double track on 17th May 1885. However, the station itself wasn’t built until 9th July 1906. What prompted its construction? Rumour has it that the GWR Chairman was staying at the Hotel and demanded a station be built, but the hotel (The Old Court) didn’t arrive for another 20 years. Was it perhaps that the stone yards serving Westwood Mine on the other side of the aqueduct may have contributed to its origins?

Whatever the reason – anyone got further thoughts? – it was originally built as low wooden platforms to be used by autocoach or railmotor operated trains. An occupation crossing was provided for farmers (still used in the 21stcentury even though the crossing has long gone!), but passengers were expected to cross the line by the aqueduct.

Following  a request from GWR to the Board of Trade in June 1906, the station was inspected by Colonel Yorke on their behalf who reported “I have inspected the new Halte at Avoncliff on the Bradford Branch of the GWR…two platforms…14” above rail level, no shelters but the platforms are provided with lamps and name boards. The Halte is suitable only for, and should be used only by special rail-motor cars fitted with folding steps”. The platforms were subsequently raised to standard height and shelters were provided."


I haven't found a definitive date yet for the platform re-build, but the 1911 WTT only has railmotors calling at Avoncliff if memory serves so it would be depicted as described above. 


These are the only period images I've yet found, held (and hosted) by the wonderful Frith Collection. The first one is particularly fine :) Note not just the dapper young gent, but the signal cabin, shed, cranes, tramway  gradient and of course the stacked stone:



There's precious little information on the yard, so these photos are a great source. (More on the history of the pub, including how and when it got named The Cross Guns, can be found here.) Representative phtos from Corsham, which, though of much larger scope, contains useful details:



The yard was fed by a steep tramway coming down from Westwood Quarry, as below:


after the bottom corner was a - passing? - loop; trailing canal wharf siding; then across the aqueduct to the stone yard.


The aqueduct

Designed by John Rennie, chief engineer John Thomas ('The Double Ent-John-dres') and built 1797-1801. It consists of three arches and is 110 yards long with a central elliptical arch of 60ft span with two side arches each semicircular and 34ft across, all with V-jointed arch stones. The spandrel and wing walls are built in alternate courses of ashlar masonry, and rock-faced blocks.




Ancliff Square, the large building in the photos at the end of the post, started out life as, probably, a farm house. These was extended with East and West wings and in the 1801 census housed 17 families of weavers; Bradford Union Workhouse in 1836; a convalescent hospital in 1917 and a hotel in 1924 before being converted to private appartments in 1951. I'm not entirely sure how it could be modelled as a workhouse yet, but 


might give it away as a hospital! As would the inclusion of Bittern, the barge used to transport at least the first intake of invalids from Bath to Avonciff and also for excursions to Bradford on Avon and beyond:


There's more than one story* I've come across of soldiers being aided in their recovery by local publicans to such an extent that even the barge proved too difficult a mode of transport, and they ended up being stretchered back to Ancliff Square along the towpath! Although out of my stated date range, I'm not ruling out at least the option of stretching it out a little to allow some reference to the First War for variety's sake :) 

*although very possibly the same story twice...



GWR-owned but still, as far as I can tell so far, in functional repair and operational. A point of interest to me is the distinctive character of Bittern and the other Kennet and Avon barges in trade I've found period photos of (the ones from Bradford are a little dull, so here's one from Hungerford :) ) - obviously distinct from the more modern, uniform (and therefore boring) Midlands-influenced narrow-boat designed with which I am more familar.




https://www.avoncliff.co.uk/archives/2614 - useful future reading

https://www.westwoodclub.org.uk/history - likewise

http://www.monkton-farleigh.co.uk/ac_home.html - the book that started this trouble in the first place :)


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I don't know :) What are your thoughts?


EDIT: I wonder if a 009 motor bogie  would fit inside a stone block on a quarry trolley...or even a horsebox, as below, to allow empty trolleys to be worked with visual coherence...and I wonder if the harness traces could be made strong and rigid enough to hold the team of three horses just above the level of the track... Or perhaps use a coffee pot (see below) and rope-shunt the incline down to the Avoncliff stoneyard? Or all the above in combination... A problem for when I can have a physical play with the bits involved I feel, but very open to suggestions.




Cheating is top of my list at the moment. There's only one 'proper' wharf on the layout, that at Box:



...which would make a cool little (!) layout all by itself. It isn't intended to serve an operational purpose*, so could be one large static diorama, as accurate as possible, including horses! This would then free Avoncliff up to be the 'fun' operational stone yard (smaller, simpler, easier, but functionally identical), with trains going there to pick up the stone that goes out to the system (Westmoreland, primarily). 


*Box tunnel seemed a given (how else would one lose the main line to London?!), and the Wharf was right there so it felt churlish to leave it out. However, access there will be minimal, it would only be scenic, and really the line should disappear into Box Middle tunnel, so it will probably be cut...


Useful links: 

Choghole.co.uk, where I found many of these images and where many more reside. It's a fascinating site well worth a look even if, like me, your interest in quarrying is only passing.


Scanman's inspirational stone yard



Finally found some really good collated information here. If you have a spare 5 mins, well worth a quick read :)


It seems like the loco pictured below, at Ely, Glamorgan, in 1905, might well be The Box Loco, "...about the ugliest piece of machinery it is possible to conceive of."


Built, probably to a Chaplin design if not by by them, before 1870 (when it is first mentioned, in the wonderful notice for a chapel fundraiser and reporting thereof in the Bath press, as in the link above) but probably after 1863 (when its only known driver, a George Mould, was still noted as working as a carter). The tramway on which it worked was laid in 1866, entering Pictor and Son's quarries through a relatively new (dug by 1859) entrance at Clift, so that all ties together quite neatly. The loco was only used underground, as the angle of the beds sloped down away from the entrance, meaning the load was against the gradient, and there were some steep gradients over a fault in the bed. From the surface to the wharf, gravity and horses. A normal max weight of a block from these quarries was 6 ton, not including the ton or so of trolley - this seems to be about what a team of 3 horses could manage. However 10 ton blocks were available by special order - strongly indicative that the loco worked the trolleys from bed to surface.


"Clearances in the Clift roadway are tight in places, it is likely that the locomotive’s basic parameters were similar to those of a standard quarry trolley, ie 8 foot 6 inches long, 4ft wide, a wheelbase of 4ft 3in and wheel diameter of 1ft 8in, the height to the crown of the entrance arch is 7ft 5in. The tramway gauge was 2ft 5½in, the proximity of some pillars on some bends left little room for outside frames and cranks, a belief supported by two quarrymen’s graffitos depicting the locomotive. Both show wheels outside the frames, one, incredibly, shows a longitudinally-mounted 3-cylinder engine complete with pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft and valve rods, looking remarkably like a launch engine. Other features shown include the regulator, safety valve, hand brake, brake shoe and headlamp. The other graffito depicts a locomotive with a traction engine type footplate and bunker. Reduction gearing between the crank shaft and driving axle seems probable." - same source.


Can anyone make out the last word of the inscription? "George Moulds With His Bloody Old Sh...?"


The loco worked underground at Box for 27 years before being sold on for £40 - apparently rather more than its scrap value, suggesting further work and, long story short, lends credence to the idea of the Ely loco and the Box loco being one and the same.


...so...having found all that out it seems totally unrealistic to even try to depict it...but...it seems a crying shame not to have traffic moving on the tramway across the aqueduct. I'd just need an excuse for Clift Quarry's shunter to have ended up at Westwood Quarry... Given what's happened to the geography around here it's not impossible the two have linked up underground...! It's not right, and there's a small pang of guilt at that, but I think it would be 'better' to have an operational tramway down to an operational siding. Very very open to suggestions :)But it would be fun...and until I think of a way to represent convincing horses to work Avoncliff, I was toying with the idea of asking very nicely for a 009 version of Newman Minatures' Head Wrightson shunter, or perhaps this little beauty might do the trick (courtesy of RT Models):




Rolling stock:

Wooden trollies, dimensions c.8 foot 6 inches long, 4ft wide, a wheelbase of 4ft 3in and wheel diameter of 1ft 8in as above:






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Bradford on Avon:



A small but affluent wool town for over a millenium, Bradford provides the focal point on the layout between Bath and Frome. By the chosen period, the wool mills had all closed down, with some being repurposed (Kingston Mill* became Stephen Moulton's rubber factory in 1848 which went on to supply rubber for buffers, springs and hoses to the GWR) but many becoming abandoned. The railway arrived slowly, with earth- and engineering-works, station and goods buildings being completed by the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth Railway in 1848 but the line was only opening in 1857, after the GWR's official take-over of the WSWR in 1850. Hence the following view of the railway buildings senza railway, captured by a Mrs E. Tackle in 1850, and George Ashmead's map of 1837, adapted c.1850 to show the then-current state of play:



*Kingston Mill, c. 1500 feet ENE of the existing station, also being the site of the 1834-proposed GWR BLT at Bradford; from Thingley Farm outside Chippenham to a "field near the Gas Works in the part of the parish of Trowbridge called Islington, with another branch thereout from the south- western extremity of Kingston Farm adjoining the town of Bradford":

web126.jpg 1834_map_bradfordm.jpg



....anyway, by 1852 the line had come so far...


...but no further, until legal action in that year (largely won by the GWR, the Bradford-Bathampton branch excepted, despite an appeal in '53) compelled the GWR to finish the work they'd started. 


By 1857 this was done - double track (broad gauge Brunel's Standard Gauge, of course) on baulks and transoms to Bradford, single track on sleepers every 3' onward to Bathampton (despite the line being designed and built for double). Colonel Yolland inspected it on the 16th Jan and found it wanting, but a fortnight later he returned and deemed it fit for passenger traffic. This first service, almost certainly headed by a Firefly, ran on Monday 2nd of February and was reported by The Wiltsire Times of the 7th thus:


"On Monday last the line between Trowbridge and Bath via Bradford was opened for traffic The first train arrived here soon after 7.00 am and 10 trains are registered to run, viz 5 up and 5 down. Considerable excitement prevailed throughout the day, on the arrival of each train the railway station was besieged by hundreds of eager spectators. The celebrated Bradford brass band played lively airs at intervals during the day, and as often as might be heard the sound of the merry church bells. A good dinner was provided in the evening by Mr J,C. Neale of the Swan Hotel. We learn that the inhabitants of the town are not contented with the list of fares laid down by railway company; for a return ticket from Bradford to Bath a distance of 9 miles, a fare of 3/3d is demanded, whereas from Trowbridge to Frome, a similar distance, the price is only 1/6d. The line curves away from the main about one mile from Trowbridge station through Bradford, Avoncliff, Freshford, Limpley Stoke to the junction at Bathampton where it joins the GWR to Bath etc., passing 3 times under the Kennet and Avon Canal and 6 bridges by extensive viaducts over the river Avon."  It is reassuring that bizarre and extortionate rail fares are as old as the railway :)


Lovely snippets from the same year, June 27th and July 25th respectively:

"On Monday 22nd this unusually quiet town was greatly enlivened by an excursion train which stopped at the Bradford station on its way to Weymouth. Here it was joined by the brass band belonging to the town, to whom great credit is due to for the very praiseworthy way in which they enlivened the pleasure of the day. The weather was remarkably favourable but a goodly number of passengers (150-200) found difficulty in obtaining seats and it would have been easier if rail carriages had been awaiting the train, and it would have been given greater satisfaction."


"Yesterday morning a monster train from Bristol, Bath and Bradford passed our station on its way to Salisbury. It consisted of about 30 carriages, propelled with two powerful engines. The train was a very heavy one and must have conveyed about 2,000 persons. Our neighbours at Bradford a short time ago expressed themselves to be annoyed with the accommodation they received on an excursion to Weymouth, on this occasion they have been preferred. However, many persons from Trowbridge we believe availed them selves of the privilege by obtaining tickets at Bradford."




1874 brought about the change to Standard Gauge, the work being completed over 18-hour days between 18th-22nd June by 1,800 men working in gangs of twenty or so, each covering a mile to a mile and a half of track. The work was staggered, to enable (reduced) services to run on the remaining broad guage line, as in the photo of Trowbridge station, above. 1877 brought a new 30-lever signal box...


....and 1878 saw the replacement of the timber-framed original bridge over the Avon to the West of the station in iron: lovely period Frith Collection photo





In 1885 the line was finally doubled to Bathampton, in anticipation of increased goods traffic through the Severn Tunnel which opened the following year.


1895 a West Curve was laid at Bradford Junction to enable Bristol Expresses to avoid Box Tunnel when covered in thick frost and still run without reversal, Swindon - Chippenham - Bath.
Following a push by Canon William Jones, the town name changed to 'Bradford on Avon', hyphenated by the railway alone.


And thus is the condition of Bradford about 1910, the intended period of the model.


Station buildings:


Ideal Metcalfe kits (many thanks Dana!)


Follow the design of Twyford, but built entirely in Bath stone:



Goods Shed and Yard:


With Abbey Mill in use (tall smoking chimbley, centre), pre-1902


Relevant discussion here, from which:

  • Other two-road GWR sheds to investigate: Challow, Chippenham, Newbury, Par (although this sounds like it might be for other reasons), Ross-on-Wye, Tiverton, Yeovil
  • Mike-the-Stationmaster on likely traffic paterns "...True an Up train could possibly be run round using the two crossovers but the distance between them was not very great so it would only be possible with a. short train unless train was split.   I would think that at one time Up trains might possibly have called to pick up urgent traffic, and maybe even to set down shed traffic, but the easiest way to shunt the yard was by using a Down train hence Westbury being the serving yard. I have just checked the 1891 STT (Service Timetable)    and a number of Up Goods and coal trains were booked to stop at Bradford but in every case except one ( a 10 minute stop) it was only for 5 minutes.  However in the Down direction three Goods trains called and the shortest time there was 15 with a morning train (from Westbury) being booked 20 minutes.  It was later than the early morning Up trains and would obviously have been able to properly shunt any traffic they dropped as a simple detachment."



The entire station staff, photographed inside the goods shed, c.1910


Three 1930's-but-useful (and interesting anyway) photos from Britain From Above here (really good one, can identify PO wagons and lots of activity), here and here


The following photos, HC Casserly, 1926, are broadly representative but provide useful yard and shed details:











Quarrying, woolen cloth, rubber production, brewing, ironfounders and engineers, leather, sawmills. 


Useful links:

BoA Museum

The wonderful Freshford.com

Frith collection - an amazing collection, well worth a visit

Kelly's Directory, 1911 - 1903, '07 and '15 also available. 1907 extract, '15 available and misc info here. STOP PRESS: In the '11 Directory (I have yet to check the others) Midland Railway Company is listed as a carrier. Does this mean that MR provided a service (an open wagon? A van? A road service? A choice?!) to carry parcels up to Bath, to be loaded on to a train at Queen Square?

Wool and Coal - why BoA, Trowbridge and Frome lasted so long in the textile industry?

Up on the fast archive - potential gold mine to be explored when poss...





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So, about this photo:



The shed itself - why two road? Initially I had assumed that in being a broad-guage shed, there was simply room for two roads when converted to standard guage...but here it is. I thought a goods shed was a covered space in which certain loads could be transferred from road to rail under cover via a platform - how does a road with no platform access fit in to this?


Then the frame outside the shed...a loading gantry? What for? What's the lifting screw (?) on the RH of it all about?! Are those two pulley sheaves in the centre of the upper beam?


The crane...a recognisable design to anyone? I think it had changed by c.1910 to the box-girder design seen in many of the photos up above, but I'd love to know more about it :)


No sign of any sleepers - fully ash ballasted? Looks very light-coloured...?


Note to self: look up the Bradford quarries to see when production ceased. I 'd not planned a stone yard at BoA as I was under the impression it had gone by my period, but I should check. Note also the vertical timbers on the shed, against the horizontal ones shown in later pics. Find out when and why the change.



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3 hours ago, Schooner said:

So, about this photo:



The shed itself - why two road? Initially I had assumed that in being a broad-guage shed, there was simply room for two roads when converted to standard guage...but here it is. I thought a goods shed was a covered space in which certain loads could be transferred from road to rail under cover via a platform - how does a road with no platform access fit in to this?


Then the frame outside the shed...a loading gantry? What for? What's the lifting screw (?) on the RH of it all about?! Are those two pulley sheaves in the centre of the upper beam?


The crane...a recognisable design to anyone? I think it had changed by c.1910 to the box-girder design seen in many of the photos up above, but I'd love to know more about it :)


No sign of any sleepers - fully ash ballasted? Looks very light-coloured...?


Note to self: look up the Bradford quarries to see when production ceased. I 'd not planned a stone yard at BoA as I was under the impression it had gone by my period, but I should check. Note also the vertical timbers on the shed, against the horizontal ones shown in later pics. Find out when and why the change.




Quite a few (most) of the larger GWR goods sheds had two through roads like the one at Bradford. I'm not entirely sure why either but it's not unique to this location. The gantry is for loading the stone blocks stacked beside the track; most sites later just used cranes as in the photo of Limpley Stoke. The 'lifting screw' is a ladder.


Your photo appears to have been taken in broad gauge days so before 1874 – and quite a find! The stone ballast filled up to the top of the baulks and transoms – and probably compacted – would be for the sake of the shunting horses, I'd guess.


As to when they stopped loading stone at Bradford...

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On 28/07/2019 at 18:21, wagonman said:

...The 'lifting screw' is a ladder...


Gah! But of course it is, thank you! 


I'd simply failed to spot the stone ready under the gantry...or the lifting shears hanging from the gantry truck, etc. This is part of the issue with searching galleries online - the urge is to hoard as much information as possible in one hit (partly because I'm not always certain how I arrive at the various corners of the internet I find myself in!). This is the point in creating a repository here, but it goes to show how much can be missed at first glance.


On 03/08/2019 at 15:26, Dana Ashdown said:

Metcalfe's Wayside Station is...

...is perfect! Many thanks, I've added a link to them in the station bit of the BoA post :) There's even a Youtube review/tutorial for the kit!


Just a quick message today to apologise for not editing and captioning the AVF and BoA posts, which I had hoped to be done over the weekend. I'm going to blame Old Maps and Britain From Above for being as distracting as they are a powerful combination. So much to be learned...at least some of which is what I aimed to find out... :)


Cheers all,



Edited by Schooner
Turns out those hooks are called 'lifting shears'
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A post for WTT thoughts it will, as all others, be edited and altered over time to reflect changing state of information, progress etc.


These are new to me so please forgive silly questions, I got a little tingle of excitement reading through this last night (...and well into this morning...) but I'll doubtless make mistakes, misunderstand information I read correctly, and misread plenty more. Any corrections will be taken gratefully :)


1911 WTT couresty of http://www.michaelclemensrailways.co.uk/ These seem a great find, almost spot on for the period I was hoping to represent, immensely powerful documents and not as impenetrable as feared. Is there anything I need to be wary of? 


For a trial run I looked last night at the workings of the Bathampton branch (roughly), which brought a few pleasant surprises and re-opened an old conundrum - what to do with Frome.


Any easy example is the 09.35 Bath - Frome railmotor service:


...which can, on the 'inside' layout, be seen doing a reasonable facsimile: Bath bay - (Hampton Row) - Bathampton - Avoncliff - Bradford on Avon (so far so good) - Bradford West/South Jnc towards Trowbridge...At this point I'm hoping that Frome, being a station in the right sort of place, not particularly visible to the Bradford operator, and operated independently (as as part of the 'outside' layout), can stand in as Trowbridge, the time being 10.10. For the Frome operator, they will view the same as the 10.44 arrival and manage it as such. I think this is workable, and shows off the uber-plan to advantage.


One of these, however images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTiObLzYrWtjDLhurxNo4A would be liable to cause problems.


Would it start in Frome-as-Trowbridge? Would it start from the LH fiddleyard and pass through Frome without stopping? Frome is already a bit of a fudge, obviously, but I'd under-appreciated how busy it was and the role it played in the network. The issue I'm immediately seeing is what do with services that call at Bradford or Frome which originate or terminate at Trowbridge or Westbury. It turns out that Frome was plenty busy enough without having to stand in for two other stations and another mainline junction, My planned thinning of the timetable may not be enought to cut it. There's no particular reason why Frome services for Westbury etc couldn't go off-scene via Bradford North, and Frome-fiddleyard is absolutely workable for South-bound traffic; or something ...but it's the volume of it that I see causing issue. It doesn't take much movement on the Bathampton Branch and Reading-Taunton line section (which connects at Bradford Junction with my dubious cartography :) ) - even with real timetabling - for things to get hectic for the Frome operator.


Then once all that's settled the SDJR needs thrown into the fray; and coal traffic worked out...it should come in to the sidings via Frome West and the Radstock Branch...but should go out along the SDJR towards Bath.


This all seems dangerously complicated at the moment and although I'm sure a resolution exists, I'd appreciate any thoughts on how to manage this messiest corner of the layout! I'm very happy to alter the layout plan etc, any ideas most welcome!


Looking forward to it :)




PS: Until I have somewhere else to put it: The Historical Model Railway Society gallery

PPS: The not directly relevant, but absolutely brilliant and hopefully useful Warwickshire Railways website

PPS: Headcode info, copied from here.

"Relevant extracts from Great Western Railway’s Rules and Regulations

(1st January 1905 and 1st January 1923):

Rule 125. For the information of Station-masters, Signalmen, and others each engine must carry the prescribed Head Lamps or Discs, and Destination Boards where provided.

Rule 126. Every train travelling on the Line must have a Tail Lamp, properly cleaned and trimmed, attached to the last vehicle, by day as well as by night. The Lamp need not be lighted in the daytime, except in foggy weather or during falling snow, or where otherwise provided, but its presence in the rear of each passing train will furnish evidence to the Signalmen that no portion of the train has become detached.

Rule 127. After sunset, and in foggy weather or during falling snow, every engine must carry the necessary Head Lights, and, when running alone, a Red Tail Light also; and except as shown in the following paragraph, or where instructions are issued to the contrary, every train while on any Running Line must carry a Red Tail Light on the last vehicle and two Red Side Lights.

Where trains are run in the same direction on Parallel Lines, special Regulations for Head, Side, and Tail Lamps will be made, when necessary, to meet the circumstances of each case.
Note. – For details of the practice to be observed, see General Appendix to the Rule Book

The Guard, if there be only one, or the rear Guard, if there be more than one, must see that the Tail and Side Lamps are kept properly burning when necessary.

Rule 128. Engines when on any Running Line without a train must carry a Tail Lamp in the rear both by day and by night.

Engines assisting trains in the rear must carry a Tail Lamp.

Engines drawing trains must not carry any Tail Lamp.

In the case of two or more engines running coupled together without a train, the last engine only must carry a Tail Lamp.

Rule 129. Shunting engines employed exclusively in Station Yards and Sidings must, after sunset or in foggy weather or during falling snow, carry both Head and Tail Lamps showing a Red Light or such other Light as may be prescribed.

Lamp Headcodes

Lamp Headcodes allowed the type of the approaching train to be identified from a distance. The system had been introduced in the 1850’s to inform Signalmen of the expected speed of a train through their section. This was particularly useful when operating a Time Interval signalling system, but even after this system was superseded by Block Section signalling Lamp Headcodes were retained.

The Headcodes were indicated on the front of locomotives using oil lamps (which were lighted at night) mounted as appropriate on three permanent brackets (lamp irons) fitted to the buffer beam and a fourth in front of the chimney (later this upper bracket was moved to the top of the smoke box door). On the Great Western Railway these oil lamps were initially painted red, but the colour was changed to white after December 1936 (CME Circular 5746), although the process was gradual and took several years to complete, during which time trains with either red or white painted lamps and sometimes both could be seen.

To complicate matters some Lamp Headcodes had different meanings in different companies and at different time periods, with some companies also using additional positions and coloured discs instead of lamps. This is despite the Railway Clearing House (RCH) issuing a number of standard Lamp Headcode arrangements. Even within the same company the lamp positions and their meanings were occasionally changed. On the Great Western Railway there were several versions, two of which plus the British Railways version are described below on pages from official Service Time Tables. These also indicate the corresponding bell code used by the Signalman to describe the train type, when informing the neighbouring Signal Box of the train entering their section."

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Another day, another piece of info stumbled across I'd like to put somewhere safe...
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Interested to see so much about the stone wharf at Avoncliffe. I walk around that area quite often and what appears to be the front wall of the wharf dock for the former siding still exists, and re-appears from time to time whenever BR clear the undergrowth! It's sad that there is really nothing there by way of information boards for the public, given the sheer amount of footfall by tourists and walkers.

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I wish there was more! It came as a total surprise to me browsing a set of old OS maps. Armed with the knowledge of where to look, I'm hoping to get down there again before too long (perhaps in the winter, without so much foliage in the way) and have a scuffle about to see what I can find ("research", shurely), but the edge of the stone yard is definitely pretty obvious when cleared.


I absolutely agree that it's a shame information is not more readily available to those passing by. The stone yard in particular seems unknown - the history of the workhouse, mills, quarries, cottages and pub is fairly well covered by what I've found in the charming Avoncliff: The Secret History of an Industrial Hamlet in War and Peace or various freely available online sources* and I think (?) there's an educational board or two about the aqueduct...but very very little on the yard. Barely a sentence, and the tiny bits in the two Frith Collection photos - not very much to go on. I might have to get off my seat and do some actual research for this bit!


On a largely unrelated note - I've had a WTT-inspired clustercuss about Frome, detailed in the edited post above. Any help much appreciated :)






*Which never cease to amaze. This morning I'd never heard of Kelly's Directories. This afternoon I've used them to find out that in 1911, the year for which I also have time-tabling information, the stationmaster at Bradford on Avon was Mr V.O.J. Fenner. I wish I could order all the books that doubtless hold answers to my many questions, but it is still staggering what one is able to find out with really very little effort :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

A brief start to an SDJR post


The run:

The representation of the S&D will start as it crosses the GWR mainline at Twerton, including "May's Siding", servicing Victoria Brick and Tile Works. Twerton Co-op Siding, which handled the co-op's bakery and coal depot traffic, will also be included. Date-wise this means the GWR Camerton Branch should also be modelled, running along Midford valley under the SDJR viaduct, and given the scope of everything else it seems churlish to rule it out already!  I'm gonna be needing a few of these :)


With a little tactical compression, the line will then disappear into Devonshire Tunnel...and just over a maxium-intented-SDJR-coal-train-length later it will then emerge from Coombe Down Tunnel. This will also act as the scene change from 'near Bath' to 'near Midford'. The scenic run, and the proper bit of S&D will be from Tuckingmill to a little was South of Midford Viaduct. All in all, the S&D should have a good bit of small scale shunting at May's and Twerton Co-Op (see below for some useful bits), Midford goods yard, and the small siding on the Up side South of the viaduct; scope to show off long coal trains, banked trains, and a decent mix of passenger services. That said, I've yet to get my sticky mitts on a WTT for the period...


Great info from http://www.trainweb.org/railwest/:



"On the SDJR line about ½-mile south of Bath Junction a set of points facing to Down trains gave access to a siding on the Up side of the line, which served a brickworks. The brickworks were opened in 1887 by Thomas May and the siding is believed to have been opened on 8-April-1890. May sold the works in 1890 to the Victoria Brick & Tile Company, after which the siding was renamed accordingly, but the original name 'May's Siding' continued to be used in some railway records. Access to the siding was controlled by a covered 2-lever ground-frame (GF), located on the Up side of the line adjacent to the siding point. This GF controlled the siding point and its Facing Point Lock, the trap-point at the siding exit and a bolt on the boundary gate across the siding. As at Twerton Siding, unusually the GF was unlocked by the bank engine staff rather than the single-line tablet"


"In 1911 a siding was opened to serve the the bakery and coal depot of the Twerton Co-operative Society (later the Bath & Twerton Co-operative Society) and this installation was inspected for the BoT by Major Pringle in November that year (National Archives file MT6/2206/10). This siding was on the Down side of the S&DJR single-line, just over ¾-mile from Bath Junction, almost directly opposite the site of the original Bath Ticket Platform. The siding points were facing to Down trains and controlled by an adjacent covered 2-lever GF located on the Up side of the line. This GF controlled the siding point and its Facing Point Lock, the trap-point at the siding exit and a bolt on the boundary gate across the siding. As at May's Siding, the GF was unlocked by the bank engine staff rather than the single-line tablet. The siding was known variously as 'Twerton Co-operative Society Siding' or just 'Twerton Siding' in railway records, but in later BR days it became the 'Bath Cooperative Society Siding'. The siding survived in use even after the closure of most of the S&DJR on 6-March-1966 and it was not closed until 30-November-1967."


Midford goods yard crane




Cheers and gone!




Links to check out:




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On 25/08/2019 at 18:04, RailWest said:

An excellent choice of reading ! :-):-)

Ah-ha! Thank you for a most excellent resource :) Lots of great stuff in your/the Rail West site, I've only just scratched the surface but already found some really useful info. I hope you'll forgive the wholesale lifting of text!


Are you also the power behind Signal Box? It's another site I've found ideal for getting my (novice) brain around some of the concepts and accronyms bandied about this parish!


If one was after information on how Midford Goods sidings and the siding S of Midford Viaduct were shunted, could answers be found in the appropriate WTT? Today, somewhere, I read that gravity played a role but can't recall a source. Is it possibly covered by Instrucrions like for May's and Twerton sidings? The SDRT has relevant-period timetables for sale, though sadly not digital copies, which might be just the thing...


Thanks again for sharing your knowledge so generously :)





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9 hours ago, Schooner said:


If one was after information on how Midford Goods sidings and the siding S of Midford Viaduct were shunted, could answers be found in the appropriate WTT? Today, somewhere, I read that gravity played a role but can't recall a source. Is it possibly covered by Instrucrions like for May's and Twerton sidings? The SDRT has relevant-period timetables for sale, though sadly not digital copies, which might be just the thing...


Thanks again for sharing your knowledge so generously :)





>>>Are you also the power behind Signal Box?...


No, that site is the splendid work of John Hinson, who is basically LMS background himself but does an excellent job in covering the whole of UK railways. I find it hard enough just to cover 4-and-a-bit counties!


>>>If one was after information on how Midford Goods sidings and the siding S of Midford Viaduct were shunted, could answers be found in the appropriate WTT? Today, somewhere, I read that gravity played a role but can't recall a source. Is it possibly covered by Instrucrions like for May's and Twerton sidings? 


There is nothing specific about the sidings in Midford that I have found in any surviving S&DJR WTT Appendices other than about the use of tail-lamps, certainly not the practicalities of how the actual shunting was (not) to be done. If you want to know "all about Midford", then you can do no better than to read the books by Mike Arlett.

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Bath, and associated goods facilities to the West, will be the main hub of the 'inner' layout, responsible for a lot of the traffic on the system. One of the main draws, you may have noticed this theme, is that it is a smaller prototype for what it offers. This suits me fine - I've already decided to take up a vast amount of space without needing to find another 20' for a terminus :) The footprint is small and cramped, but the options it gives are varied. I appreciate the proposed empire is vast, but I'm wary of trying to model any large station area (Frome being about the edge of my comfort zone, Trowbridge a step too far) so that Bath is a mainline station serving a city in the right bit of the country yet only has 4 concurrent tracks makes it ideal.




For a little background, Bath station (as it was called till confusion with Bath Green Park - which itself had officially been 'Bath Queen Square', called 'the Midland station', and also labelled 'Bath' anyway - brought about the name-change to 'Bath Spa' in 1949) was built in 1840, a broadguage station in very narrow environs. Freight was originally handled by a shed at the East of the site. These were moved to a new dedicated goods site at Westmoreland Road to the West in 1877. The single-engine shed moved to Westmoreland on the Up side in 1880. In 1897 the over-roof was removed and replaced with those seen above, the signal boxes at either end were removed and replaced with a single box in the middle of the down platform, and the platforms lengthened. This is how it remained c.1910 and is how I would wish to portray it :)




Pretty much everything I'd like Bath to get across can be gleaned from this wonderful (like, really really wonderful) photostream - which I see Mikkel has found, but hopefully will be new to some. I came across it whilst looking for descriptions of the 1905 station pilot, the first GWR pannier tank, 4-4-0 1490. Lo and behold, there's a bloody brilliant photo of her at Bath on Flickr

avon - gwr 4-4-0t 1490 bath


I may or may not have laughed out loud for joy at the photo of 175...

avon - gwr 4-6-0 no 175 bath spa


Example trains from/through Bath:

Express (here the Limited, which would run through Frome rather than Bath but anyway... :) )


https://www.cplproducts.net/ for Clerestory, Dreadnought, Concertina and Toplight etches, http://www.marcmodels.co.uk/GWR Concertina Family.html for kits and RTR.





Mail train: https://www.francisfrith.com/corsham/corsham-the-mail-train-1906_54342








A halt previously unknown to me, Hampton Row:



Will require further investigation, but that area is included in my original plan so it'd be good to include the halt. Found via Exeter Staff Past and Present's Facebook page, which includes heaps of fantastic material. Well worth a look if you've not come across it before and have an interest in the railways of the South West.


Thanks for stopping by :)




PS: The recent slew of useful links

http://www.barrowmoremrg.co.uk/Prototype.html - BR, but relevant, freight working practices

http://www.penrhos.me.uk/ - all things GWR coach, and many other useful bits and pieces

https://www.wizardmodels.ltd/ - a kit catalogue worth investigation

http://www.greatwestern.org.uk/ - prototype

http://www.gwr.org.uk/ - model

https://www.rcts.org.uk/ - photo libraries



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  • 2 months later...

...apologies also for the long silence, especially on the back of the rap across the knuckles received above.


Sadly it coincided with things at work picking up and I've been low on time (and inclination) to go back through the thread to update the posts with links for images etc. I will get around to it as things ease off again towards Christmas, but so far only Avoncliff is up to standard, and even that is missing more recent findings.


However, the daydreams haven't stopped and I've still be messing about with the Grand Plan (which isn't interesting enough to share), and starting to work out each section as I learn SCARM (which might be to some, post here, in Layout Design). Not exactly progress, but something. 


Anyway, thanks for the continued enjoyment and inspiration on this wonderful sub-forum, all the best,




Edit: I may or may not find these of relevance before too long... 



steer-point-station-c1898-8690221.jpg.we RB112.jpg



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  • 3 months later...

Well, the new year didn't bring the hoped for respite from work and increased time for scuffling about the internet in search of truffles of information. This should've meant that this thread really started to earn its keep, with the finds of a half-hour here and there safely stashed here for future reference...in reality, it felt like too much hassle to make a new post and so all that good stuff will need found again. Idiot...


However, I'm realising the error of my ways and although I will endeavour to keep updates as edits rather than new posts to limit the impact to forum life, I was in the bus yesterday (an alternative to the previous evening's 125 mile detour over GWR and LSWR metals, neither trip a patch on the desired direct route) looking up steam colliers, as you do when planning a model railway*, and decided to make a change. So, without further ado, couresty of https://artuk.org/ :


Single hatch:



Screw schooners: ...a dubious name, but if it works for Lloyd's...



...oh, go on then:






I think I might need a collier or two, and models in 1:76 seem not to be a thing so scratch building it will be. I'm pretty confident to knock up a typical West Country Trading Ketch (and there's the lovely Irenein need of immediate care and attention Garlandstone, and delightful Bessie Ellen to draw inspiration from), likewise a Tamar barge based on Lynher...steamships not so much, so I'm getting together some bits and bobs on appropriate vessels, and the paintings are great for a period view of the details left out of lines drawings. Kingswear will, I think, have a screw schooner possibly a single-hatcher, but three-island ships wouldn't be out of place either...


*If that railway includes more than a passing nod to Kingswear at the time when it was still an important coaling station (if I understand correctly colliers brought  in high-quality Welsh coal, which was stockpiled in lighters to be shovelled into steam ships taking bunkers or taken directly by rail to Paignton gasworks) as below:



Apologies for the rough and ready detailing. Having already come a long way from Plan A, things are still moving on from this version (with an aim to re-unite Topsham and slightly develop the facilities to indicate a large town at the main junction), so just smashed some bits and bobs in now to hopefully make it more legible than a bare track plan. However, all opinions, questions etc most welcome but I won't talk about the plan unless promted - it's all a long slow learning curve for me and although I (and the trackplan) would benefit from the expertise here, I don't want to take up anyone's time with something that is unlikely - in this exact form - to be built.


Happy Sunday, finally some sunshine here, hope the rest of you are hanging on in there.




EDIT: Everything relating to a London Docks layout has moved to a dedicated thread, here.


South Dock.jpg

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