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Guilford Colliery - a Kent coalfield 'might-have-been'


TurboSnail
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This thread will hopefully chart the development of a layout based on an alternative history of the Kent Coalfield.

 

An index will appear here once there is enough content to be worth indexing!

 

The first few posts are transplanted over from my Workbench thread. Please feel free to contribute ideas and suggestions, I'm open to changing things, and my knowledge of prototype practice is not the greatest so I may need the occasional correction! Read on and (hopefully) enjoy!

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The Basic Premise:

 

About the turn of the 20th Century, following the successes at Shakespeare Colliery (in reality a failure, and another layout I intend to build at some point), the Kent Coalfield Corporation Ltd. started work in earnest at Waldershare, near Coldred, on the edge of land owned by the Earl of Guilford (emphatically not Guildford!). In reality, this was a failed enterprise, with difficulty raising enough coal and transporting it out. The East Kent Light Railway did have a branch to the site, but this was just a single siding. In this alternate history, the coal seams were just a little thicker, allowing a buildup of a more substantial site (although still small), justifying a slightly larger rail network and a local engine.

 

The colliery is operated by the Kent Coalfield Corporation Ltd., with their fleet of small industrial locos, usually bought on the cheap from contractors and other lines and painted in a dark blue livery, with reddish frames and polished brass fittings (the company directors thought they were running a more grand enterprise than they really were). 

 

(images from Subterrania Britannica, original article link here)

 

image.png.0fa4352df90fc9920507f1b36a209420.png

 

image.png.d6b708cf289dd06a59df974465a964fe.png

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The Layout Concept:

 

I am likely to be living in various places over the next few years, mostly sharing, so I need a minimum space layout that can be packed away easily and quickly. It should be able to withstand the rigours of moving about and having things stored on top of it, so some kind of robust storage is also necessary. 

 

I want it to be interesting to operate as well, so there will be an element of two shunting puzzles, mixed into one. The classic Inglenook will feature, as will elements of the Timesaver puzzle, where certain wagons will have to be shunted into certain areas during the puzzle.

 

Finally, it will also serve as a photo backdrop for the 3D printed models I design (and am hoping to sell in the future), so it needs a couple of areas where locos/wagons can be posed. 

 

Drawing all this together, initial ideas were floated around and I tested a few track plans on AnyRail. From my time in sound engineering and motorsport, there are companies out there who make custom flight cases, so the whole thing could potentially live inside one. This will probably be an expensive solution, but it saves making or buying a baseboard and a case separately. As such, the layout dimensions were fixed at 1200mm long by 300mm wide (or 4ft by 1ft in old money).

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This post is transplanted from my Workbench thread.

 

Original post:

 

I got thinking about what I need from a layout, and came up with the following:

  • Small. Portable, and easy to pack up quickly.
  • Photogenic. It's likely to become a photo location for all my 3D printed stuff, so needs to be scenically good (which also means small, so I don't lose motivation to finish it).
  • Interesting to operate. Preferably with different puzzles to solve.
  • Chameleon. It may have to impersonate any era from the late 1800s to the end of steam without too many changes, depending what stock I want to run.
  • Robust. It will have to live packed up in a case, probably with other stuff stored on top, and will likely go through a few house moves over the next few years.

I'm thinking something along the lines of a hybrid between the Inglenook and Timesaver shunting puzzles, that splits in half and clips together, maybe using flight case edges and clips to hold it all together. I've had a play around in AnyRail and come up with this (in 1200x300mm, which should packup into a box of about 700x300mm):

 

image.png.49b615f4af4c2188afbb7782155c9e72.png

 

The idea being that a train 'arrives' in the fiddle yard, then is redistributed by the shunter. The top two sidings can be the standard Inglenook puzzle, but a couple of special wagons (e.g. brake van, explosives van, coal wagon) have to be shunted into the bottom siding or the run-round section. The wagons can then be 'loaded', then the train reassembled with the brake van at the back to be sent back out to 'depart' into the fiddle yard. 

 

All this leaves me with a few thoughts to ponder (any input would be much appreciated here!).

  • What is the theme? My locos are supposedly for a colliery company, but are not actually named or branded as such in their livery
  • How to control it? My preference is DC, then I can mess about with wiring and possibly Arduinos. But tricky with all those opposing points. Not sure DCC chips will fit in many of my locos...
  • How to hide the Fiddle Yard/Assembly Area?
  • Are there any other operations I can do with it? Or with small changes to the trackplan, can more possibilities be opened up?

Let me know what you think! Am I just being overambitious as usual?

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This post is transplanted from my Workbench thread.

 

Original post:

 

More thoughts have gone into the layout planning, despite having many more pressing things to do...

 

I like the idea of a 'might-have-been' based on Guilford Colliery (not Guildford!) near Coldred, Kent. This was in reality a failed enterprise, but did get as far as having a connection to the EKLR. This does involve assuming the colliery grew bigger than it did in reality, to justify more than just a single track siding. I've crudely superimposed my track plan onto the map (pinched borrowed from SubBrit)  below. The layout would be the red-bordered area, probably moved a little further south to give it some distance from the road.

 

image.png.958bdfce7108729803faa7bc60c56181.png

 

Doing some more work on the trackplan results in this:

 

image.png.cb55585e362d9005753e4328c31c9484.png

 

We have an engine house, coal processing building and workshop providing the backscene, with the fiddle yard screened by moving the row of trees from the map slightly further south. The explosives hut is added for operational reasons - in each train will be an explosives wagon, which should always be shunted down to be unloaded at the hut. I thought it would be prudent to put the hut away from everything else... There may be some kind of loading mechanism implemented at the coal loading area, depending how creative I feel. Finally, the gravel road/track area at the front can be used to date the layout, with figures or road vehicles of choice.

 

There's probably more track than there should be, but I'd rather have the operational interest than absolute accuracy. So does this all seem plausible?

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Following some further feedback from friends over on my Workbench thread, I modified the design a bit more:

 

Original post:

 

I want to be able to get a loco plus a wagon into the headshunt at either end of the loop for operational purposes, which given the space I've got (1200mm) means the loop has to be essentially central. If I had more space, I'd take your good advice - but I don't want to extend the layout at all, even 1200mm may be too long. This is very much an exercise in being a little unrealistic for the sake of operational interest.

 

So I've taken some of Gibbo's suggestions (3-way points from the linked Wigan colliery - incidentally, the side-by-side map tool will be very useful for another couple of projects I have in mind) and Guy's suggestion (try and make the loop as long as possible) and come up with this. Each square on the grid is 100x100mm, so it will be tight fitting a loco plus wagon into each of the headshunts, and fitting a 5-wagon train in the fiddle yard, but most of the stock for it will be small industrial, so we may get away with it. I think the trackwork looks a lot 'cleaner' than the previous version.

 

image.png.432563a10c1d88754143479672c41ef6.png

 

Alternative version below with original pointwork at the top edge. Not sure which version I prefer!

 

image.png.c21381efe3daf6e378175795ce057153.png

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29 minutes ago, Gordon A said:

I would not of thought the engine house would be that big.

Think the size of an engine shed for one large tank engine plus a bit.

 

Gordon A

 

I should probably split it up into separate buildings then - I was thinking about it as a backscene, not as a real-life building!

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21 minutes ago, Edwardian said:

Rather like the version with the 3-way point

 

I assume you mean the version with two three-way points? I'm getting a little confused myself! It gives more space in the coal sidings so the curves don't have to be as harsh.

 

Never used one before, hopefully it's no worse than wiring up a conventional live-frog point. Shame there aren't opposite hand versions available in Code 75.

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1 minute ago, TurboSnail said:

 

I assume you mean the version with two three-way points? I'm getting a little confused myself! It gives more space in the coal sidings so the curves don't have to be as harsh.

 

Never used one before, hopefully it's no worse than wiring up a conventional live-frog point. Shame there aren't opposite hand versions available in Code 75.

 

Yep, top one. More space and flows better.

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56 minutes ago, Gordon A said:

Build your own point work?

 

Gordon A

 

Probably not, I think I'll have enough headaches from the size of it without adding my incompetence at an entirely new task to it!

 

26 minutes ago, nick_bastable said:

gosh that's a blast from the past  for info the original  winding engine house still stands ( now a rather expensive house )

 

DSC_1804.JPG

 

 

my 2mm version from several years ago

 

Nick

 

 

That looks great! Did you get dimensions for the buildings from somewhere? I was also wondering about the construction style, the photos obviously show brick construction, but I wasn't sure if it was red or brown.

Edited by TurboSnail
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most of Snowdown colliery still stands red brick built and easily view-able from the road which provided a lot of info , buildings where scaled up from OS maps and photos with some guess work indeed the winding house was reduced in size as it it massive   more info and several useful links here

 

http://itado.blogspot.com/2008/02/begining.html

 

Nick

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14 minutes ago, nick_bastable said:

most of Snowdown colliery still stands red brick built and easily view-able from the road which provided a lot of info , buildings where scaled up from OS maps and photos with some guess work indeed the winding house was reduced in size as it it massive   more info and several useful links here

 

http://itado.blogspot.com/2008/02/begining.html

 

Nick

 

Thanks, that's a useful set of info. I'll have to get out and do some research at some point.

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18 hours ago, TurboSnail said:

This post is transplanted from my Workbench thread.

 

Original post:

 

More thoughts have gone into the layout planning, despite having many more pressing things to do...

 

I like the idea of a 'might-have-been' based on Guilford Colliery (not Guildford!) near Coldred, Kent. This was in reality a failed enterprise, but did get as far as having a connection to the EKLR. This does involve assuming the colliery grew bigger than it did in reality, to justify more than just a single track siding. I've crudely superimposed my track plan onto the map (pinched borrowed from SubBrit)  below. The layout would be the red-bordered area, probably moved a little further south to give it some distance from the road.

 

image.png.958bdfce7108729803faa7bc60c56181.png

 

Doing some more work on the trackplan results in this:

 

image.png.cb55585e362d9005753e4328c31c9484.png

 

We have an engine house, coal processing building and workshop providing the backscene, with the fiddle yard screened by moving the row of trees from the map slightly further south. The explosives hut is added for operational reasons - in each train will be an explosives wagon, which should always be shunted down to be unloaded at the hut. I thought it would be prudent to put the hut away from everything else... There may be some kind of loading mechanism implemented at the coal loading area, depending how creative I feel. Finally, the gravel road/track area at the front can be used to date the layout, with figures or road vehicles of choice.

 

There's probably more track than there should be, but I'd rather have the operational interest than absolute accuracy. So does this all seem plausible?

"Magazines" as they were called round here, were usually located in the middle of a farmers field at least 400 metres from the colliery or anything else. Usually of heavy brick construction with a flat concrete roof.

If custom cases are too expensive, how about a layout that fits in a second hand keyboard case? Failing that, build your own box. I have seen several exhibition layouts where each board had its own lid made from thin ply or hardboard with a 38x18 soft wood exoskeleton. 

I might go for a single 1200mm box unless international travel places size restrictions.

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34 minutes ago, doilum said:

"Magazines" as they were called round here, were usually located in the middle of a farmers field at least 400 metres from the colliery or anything else. Usually of heavy brick construction with a flat concrete roof.

If custom cases are too expensive, how about a layout that fits in a second hand keyboard case? Failing that, build your own box. I have seen several exhibition layouts where each board had its own lid made from thin ply or hardboard with a 38x18 soft wood exoskeleton. 

I might go for a single 1200mm box unless international travel places size restrictions.

 

I want to keep the magazine on the layout so I can run wagons to it, so I think I'll build up the ground around it as an alternative, to make it look dug in. Thanks for the construction tip - I was originally planning to use a lightweight building on the basis that if there was an explosion, you'd get bits of wood flying around rather than bricks and concrete! Although, when would concrete have started being used as a building material? It might be a bit late for the early years I want to run the layout in.

 

I've had a look round at cases and have also come to the conclusion that a single long case would be best. An 88-key keyboard is about the right length, but doesn't give me much space for buildings or a backscene. And I could build my own box, I suppose - flight case hardware is readily available and I'd just need some plywood and aluminium angle to make it robust.

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7 minutes ago, TurboSnail said:

 

I want to keep the magazine on the layout so I can run wagons to it, so I think I'll build up the ground around it as an alternative, to make it look dug in. Thanks for the construction tip - I was originally planning to use a lightweight building on the basis that if there was an explosion, you'd get bits of wood flying around rather than bricks and concrete! Although, when would concrete have started being used as a building material? It might be a bit late for the early years I want to run the layout in.

 

I've had a look round at cases and have also come to the conclusion that a single long case would be best. An 88-key keyboard is about the right length, but doesn't give me much space for buildings or a backscene. And I could build my own box, I suppose - flight case hardware is readily available and I'd just need some plywood and aluminium angle to make it robust.

Not sure about the use of concrete before 1900 in the UK but the Romans used it much earlier. The main issue was one of security especially in times of social unrest. The doors and frame would be of iron construction. This also probably explains the use of iron for the gunpowder vans. In the event of an accident wooden shrapnel is probably equally lethal as metal or brick.

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28 minutes ago, doilum said:

Not sure about the use of concrete before 1900 in the UK but the Romans used it much earlier. The main issue was one of security especially in times of social unrest. The doors and frame would be of iron construction. This also probably explains the use of iron for the gunpowder vans. In the event of an accident wooden shrapnel is probably equally lethal as metal or brick.

Concrete was sufficiently established to have been used 'en vrac' for Glenfinnan viaduct, which was in use from October 1898, so it's quite possible to have had a concrete roof. I'm intrigued by the choice of name for the pit; I have a colleague from Dover of the same name.

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1 hour ago, Fat Controller said:

Concrete was sufficiently established to have been used 'en vrac' for Glenfinnan viaduct, which was in use from October 1898, so it's quite possible to have had a concrete roof. I'm intrigued by the choice of name for the pit; I have a colleague from Dover of the same name.

 

Thanks for the concrete tip, the colliery would have been constructed (in my alternate history) in about 1900 so concrete could certainly be used.

 

The name does come from a family name (sort of, more of a title really), from the Earl of Guilford. I'm assuming there is a place called Guilford somewhere, but the Earl's house is/was in Waldershare Park IIRC, and the colliery was in Coldred - presumably he contributed to the project in some way, or maybe he was the landowner. See earlier post here.

Edited by TurboSnail
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Taking on some feedback, I've reduced the size of the engine house a bit, although they were massive in real life too. This gives two clear ends to the layout, the built up area of the colliery and the sparser, wooded end which I'm hoping will give a greater sense of space. Not sure if I have too many trees now though.

 

I've also added some contours around the explosives storage to provide some protection in the event of a mishap, and tried to blend it in to the top and middle of the layout, which will hopefully make it seem a bit less flat and boring. No hills, just a bit of uneven ground.

 

image.png.ae19428c978b82db1bb3ae8af0ae96b5.png

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Hi Tom.

This looks promising. Have you thought about having a hidden rat run behind the backscene? If you had a two road sector plate each end then you could push the empties under the screens on to the sector plate then uncouple and move them back to the other sector plate via the rat run ready to go again and do the reverse with the full wagons. Just an idea but it would give you lots of operating potential. I've not done this myself but I have seen it done to great effect. As I said just an idea. 

Regards Lez.Z. 

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2 hours ago, lezz01 said:

Hi Tom.

This looks promising. Have you thought about having a hidden rat run behind the backscene? If you had a two road sector plate each end then you could push the empties under the screens on to the sector plate then uncouple and move them back to the other sector plate via the rat run ready to go again and do the reverse with the full wagons. Just an idea but it would give you lots of operating potential. I've not done this myself but I have seen it done to great effect. As I said just an idea. 

Regards Lez.Z. 

 

It's a nice idea, but I don't think I'll have space for sector plates. Refilling the wagons is a great idea though, I'll see if I can come up with some sort of alternative system to fill them while they're in the sidings - the emptying can be done 'off-stage'. This could then form part of the shunting puzzle game too.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm supposed to make the layout before I start building locos, right?

 

Anyway, I've finished the first loco built specifically for this layout, a Hunslet 22hp, the smallest standard gauge diesel shunter in the UK apparently. This will hopefully suit the later era I'm planning to run the layout in, around the end of the 1940s, and possibly later (built 1935).

 

Slow speed performance isn't perfect due to the low weight and no room for a big gearset, but it's not bad considering. I designed it on CAD and got it 3D printed, then added the motor and gears and a few details. It's now just awaiting builder's plates and weathering.

 

image.png.1e10d75c920addb1cebe1ad4987650dc.png

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