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Rhysb

Porthleven - Cornish Harbour & China Clay Circa 1990

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Well it’s time to explore the wonderful world of an exhibition layout! Hopefully some of you will know me from helping operate On Tidworth and Oak road which are two great layouts built by friends and also from my Wessex Junction (Avonbury) layout which unfortunately due to a separation and house move is currently being relocated to the new garage! 
 

Anyway after moving into a new house I have decided to switch focus to creating an exhibition layout! This will be my first effort but having spent a couple of years watching and learning and also having a good bunch of friends who I can ask silly questions too I thought I would give it a go!

 

One of the first layouts I ever saw on RMWEB was a great little China clay layout called Melangoose and alongside the great other Cornish layouts like Penhayle Bay and all of the great works of Treggyman I have decided to go with a cornish layout based on a harbour branch line and China clay dry/linhay. 
 

The layout is going to be an end to end layout measuring 20ft x 2ft. The layout will be in four 5’ sections to enable it to fit in a large estate car for easy transport. As you look at the layout the harbour will be to the left and the China clay to the right with a river scene leading to the harbour in the middle. The fiddle yard will be behind the China clay area. Track work is going to be all finescale bullhead track. DCC operation with the DR5000 from Digikeijs and also a little bit of block detection.
 

The layout will be based circa 1990 so the St Blazey 37’s will be on clay and freight duties with some first and second generation DMU’s working the branch alongside some loco hauled XC summer specials etc. CDA’s, silver bullets, polybulks etc within the China clay area.

 

So every layout needs a good backstory! On many visits to Cornwall and many times staying in the seaside harbour town of Porthleven I have always looked at the harbour and imaged a branch line coming into the harbour but in real life this has never existed so I decided to create one in 1:76! So although somewhat based on a real location the layout is very much fictional.

 

Firstly I am imagining that the Helston branch was firstly never closed and then there was also two termini on this line. One at Helston and one at Porthleven. In the photo below the black line shows the Helston branch as it roughly was and then the red line being my fictional branch to Porthleven:

79D7E219-1922-4C5C-8876-F55E51E9A335.jpeg.517234788afafc8f4fe052bb35b80ed1.jpeg

 

As stated the layout will be four x 5foot sections:

18CE6BE5-B43F-4C9C-9848-57DF9CF88EA2.jpeg.23bd664137163d77cb7f060da6a47ff3.jpeg


The station end on the right contains the harbour scene that will be loosely based on Porthleven with typical Cornish fishing boats and cottages etc:

659AC274-EC6F-4ABF-B306-850FF58FF5CA.jpeg.3e27aad61b850748ee87aad310c09d9c.jpeg

 

A closer view of the station:

CCFBAAAD-7966-4FF5-A7A2-EC16F2C4B483.jpeg.646bebd148979ee692e50a190beb6550.jpeg


Leading into the harbour will be the river scene board that will hopefully give the illusion of the river flowing into the harbour at some point:

22CCE321-8E0C-4A6A-A8F0-9B6F0B4692E2.jpeg.b5af5aa6f599ecf06c012a6cfdbe2eb5.jpeg

 

The headshunt board for the China clay dry and the Linhay board:

079ED50F-E6AC-404E-A128-25D263DDCB1C.jpeg.967d3571f84f648066c5912ba22c2e37.jpeg


Now for the long road of building! Hoping to have it’s first exhibition in around a years time!

 

Thanks

 

Rhys

 

Edited by Rhysb
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So before Tidworths appearance at the Taunton show (which was a fantastic show) I asked the operating crew around the house for fish and chips and some layout planning!

 

A very crude way of planning is to mark out the layout boards on the floor with frog tape and pop some track down! 
 

This is the view from the China clay/fiddle yard end towards the harbour (note the harbour board is missing):

BACE78C0-4CCD-476B-BAC5-8AC9C23855DD.jpeg.1125d6d6bc7f32a2f225d21225777ee4.jpeg

 

And the view from the other end:

0CCF8356-7025-4AE3-8BE4-909876E0ADB2.jpeg.25cb80d95c2a1f789be413e341c7cfa9.jpeg


Im still unsure if I’m going to add a couple more sidings but I want the layout to be distinctly two halves one where you can watch shunting and trains and the other which is very much scenic detail!

 

Thanks

 

Rhys

 

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36 minutes ago, AdeMoore said:

Like a Cornish layout will be watching with interest.

 

Like wise. It looks very interesting.

 

Kind regards,

 

Nick.

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Can I ask why you've mixed a China Clay industry with a branch to the Lizard?

 

Broccoli,  Serpentine minerals,  even tin or copper would be more likely commodities to be transported.

 

It's absolutely your layout and you can create any back story you like, I'm just curious to the reasons.

 

Stu

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Looks like a good scheme, but I would consider making the headshunt into a loop with a set of points at the end of the platform. You would need to run round the trains and the platform line can act as the loco headshunt when the passenger trains are out of the station.

I agree the real Porthleven is outside the china clay area and unlikely to have a works there, but it's your railway! There were a couple of articles in Railway Modeller several years ago of a layout supposedly located in Helford (further down the Lizard) which also featured china clay traffic,  so you're not alone...

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1 hour ago, Stubby47 said:

Can I ask why you've mixed a China Clay industry with a branch to the Lizard?

 

Broccoli,  Serpentine minerals,  even tin or copper would be more likely commodities to be transported.

 

It's absolutely your layout and you can create any back story you like, I'm just curious to the reasons.

 

Stu


Stu,

 

Yes completely agree that it’s a little far west from core clay country but it’s not too much of a stretch with China clay now being found around the granite mines about 10-15 miles inland towards Falmouth. I’m just stretching my imagination to create the layout I wanted.

 

Main reasons being:

1. Having had a Wessex layout I have a lot of clay rolling stock so wanted to utilise this

2. Spending a lot of time in Porthleven it just looked to me like it would look good with a railway and I just wanted to re-create that feel of a Cornish seaside town

3. I wanted to model a big linhay

 

Its a bit of a far fetched back story but just one I thought kinda worked. It’s just a what-if at the end of the day to suit what I wanted in my layout.

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18 minutes ago, Ramblin Rich said:

Looks like a good scheme, but I would consider making the headshunt into a loop with a set of points at the end of the platform. You would need to run round the trains and the platform line can act as the loco headshunt when the passenger trains are out of the station.

I agree the real Porthleven is outside the china clay area and unlikely to have a works there, but it's your railway! There were a couple of articles in Railway Modeller several years ago of a layout supposedly located in Helford (further down the Lizard) which also featured china clay traffic,  so you're not alone...


Rich,

 

As stated above it’s a little out of clay country yes but just stretching reality a little bit!

 

We did consider the loop option and I may still think about it but wanted to have fun shunting too. The passenger line apart from the odd summer special loco hauled is all DMU’s so the loop will be modelled as long gone but the trackbed still seen in places. The shunter can release the loco from coaching stock for a bit of interest. 
 

For the China clay area the loco will reverse the stock into the linhay or sidings then the sentinel or 08 can then move stuff around while the loco shunts into the front sidings and then once the shunter has pushed the stock back out into the headshunt the loco can join on the other end to take it away.

 

Just trying to not make things too easy and add a bit of fun factor. :)

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This is not as far fetched as it may sound.

The first clay deposits that William Cookworthy found in Cornwall (you may have heard of him!) were at Tregonning Hill which is but a few miles away to the west of Helston. Some very small amounts of clay extracted from there were shipped out from Porthleven.

 

The Helston branch was intended to to be extended down to the Lizard; so I suppose it could have gone to Porthleven instead.

 

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There was also a little china clay in the hills around Lands End, which was shipped out via Penzance. I believe the dairy at St Erth was also the sight of a china clay works once. 
 

So perhaps in a parallel world the small harbour at Porthleven was expanded and used to ship out the clay found in the west of the Duchy??

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Personally, I think it’s a cracking idea Rhys - you get to create a great Semi - Fictional scenario in a Semi Fictional location based on Porthleven.

 

If you remove the ‘it would never happen in real life’ element, it makes for a brilliant exhibition layout that will showcase your modelling skills. 
 

.....not sure the carpet is a great material to build the baseboards out of though.....:lol:

Edited by scoobyra
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The joint-last coal fired clay kiln to operate, alongside the one at the end of the Carbis branch, was Lower Bostraze, which closed down in 1993. I'm sure if they'd had access to a railway they would've been using it. Likely would've been fairly low output though, maybe 3 or 4 hoods a day at most. In the last decade or so they'd drive a kubota mini-excavator onto one of the travelling bridges inside the dry, using the bucket to clear the clay off the hot pan, and the arm to slide the bridge along. Much better than shovelling it off by hand! Lower Bostraze was one of the few drys to have a pan level with the linhay, so when the excavator was done taking clay off the pan it was trundled into the linhay to load lorries. Not sure where the lorries went from there, but I'd imagine one of the local ports capable of hosting a small coaster.

If you can restrain the model building urges for long enough, I'm working on a short series of articles on layout-friendly clay works prototypes which will be posted on my Rosevear blog. There will likely be some information there that you could use as a basis.

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Rhys - what a gem to hsve stumbled across.

 

My garndparents retired to Porthleven in the 60s, and lived in the old Doctors house overlooking the breakwater.

So just beyond your station I guess.

 

Hence my layout based on Helston.

 

I've thought of the idea that the Helston branch could have continued to Porthleven, but have always felt the geography

would have pushed the line around the oyher side via looe bar. But you have chosen the obvious location within the town

for the station. I'd thought that would require a reversal at Helston, but your idea does now seem plausible.

 

I too was going to mention that I seem to recall references to clay pits West of Porthleven, just beyond Newlyn if my

fuzzy memory is correct.

 

All the best with thi, and I will be watching from now on.

 

TONY

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Hi Rhys

 

Just read through your thread ......

 

Looks like a great idea with plenty of operational interest as well as several varied scenic options to really test your skills on......

 

Ready in a year might be going some though but I'm really looking forward to following your progress....

 

My only thought is 5ft boards......

One they can be heavy/unwieldy to move...especially if one should be on ones own for any reason

Two assumes you'll always have a big enough estate car/van to move it.....

 

Looking forward to prigress

 

Cheers Bill

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10 hours ago, Mulgabill said:

Rhys - what a gem to hsve stumbled across.

 

My garndparents retired to Porthleven in the 60s, and lived in the old Doctors house overlooking the breakwater.

So just beyond your station I guess.

 

Hence my layout based on Helston.

 

I've thought of the idea that the Helston branch could have continued to Porthleven, but have always felt the geography

would have pushed the line around the oyher side via looe bar. But you have chosen the obvious location within the town

for the station. I'd thought that would require a reversal at Helston, but your idea does now seem plausible.

 

I too was going to mention that I seem to recall references to clay pits West of Porthleven, just beyond Newlyn if my

fuzzy memory is correct.

 

All the best with thi, and I will be watching from now on.

 

TONY


Tony,

 

yes I have always looked at Porthleven and thought it’s missing a station! The geography from Helston is indeed not suitable for a railway hence the thought of a spur off the Helston branch further up and into Porthleven along the valley where the little river is and past the football pitch.

 

The town layout will be based on Porthleven but won’t be a 100% copy!

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6 hours ago, treggyman said:

Hi Rhys

 

Just read through your thread ......

 

Looks like a great idea with plenty of operational interest as well as several varied scenic options to really test your skills on......

 

Ready in a year might be going some though but I'm really looking forward to following your progress....

 

My only thought is 5ft boards......

One they can be heavy/unwieldy to move...especially if one should be on ones own for any reason

Two assumes you'll always have a big enough estate car/van to move it.....

 

Looking forward to prigress

 

Cheers Bill


Bill,

 

Thanks for your comments. Yes a year might be pushing it but here goes!

 

Regards the 5ft boards I was originally planning 4ft boards and the carrying of the layout in an estate car was inspired by Tidworth by Temeraire. I went with 5ft after I realised I could easily get this in my car with plenty of space and the temptation of having a slightly longer layout was too much to pass up! plus the discovery of 18mm lightweight ply baseboards from James at DCC train automation which are pretty much liftable with one hand!

 

but yes indeed it does tie me into at least having one car big enough to carry the layout!

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Hi Rhys,

You certainly won't regret having the longer layout I'm sure....

 

18mm lightweight ply baseboards are I assume premade or kit as opposed to a single sheet material.....

Not come across them before.....

Will have a look although I normally make my own out of 6mm ply with 9mm bracing......

However as I get older I'm looking at all options as I tend to have to load/unload on my own & weight gets more of an issue....

 

Cheers Bill

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The advantage of a show layout is you can plan to have help loading  :) 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, PaulRhB said:

The advantage of a show layout is you can plan to have help loading  :) 

 

 

 

It also helps if those helpers arrive at your gaff to help load the vehicle before the show and again after the show to help unload... ;)

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16 minutes ago, PaulRhB said:

The advantage of a show layout is you can plan to have help loading  :) 

 

 

Hi

 

That is true but I am a lone modeller & although originally the plan was for my son to help me circumstances have changed & he now works Friday's,Saturdays & some Sundays.

I am not a member of a club & don't have any friends who would be interest in assisting....

 

So all my layouts are designed so I can do it all on my own....

If assistance is available that's a bonus.....

 

I understand though that Rhys is not in my position so the situation won't arise.....

 

Now back to progress on Porthleven......

 

Cheers Bill

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Fantastic ! Love the area and time. I assembled a load of stock for a China clay plank but never got round to using it, as I got distracted .

 

Its certainly close enough to clay country to be plausible ( and I don’t think there were many broccoli or tin trains in 1990 - rolls eyes ). 
 

You are close enough to culdrose - id Chuck some MOD stuff as well. Couple of years back some VGAs from ernesettle RNAD were tripped to SB.....maybe an Av fuel tank or two , dropped off by the Penzance tripper......

 

 

close enough, close enough...!

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If there was still a line to Helston in the 90s, then there could be tin as well :beee:

Edited by Stubby47
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