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Greetings to everyone; if you want to know where "Fenaghy Junction" is/ was, then read on. 

 

It's name of the station based 00 gauge Northern Irish layout which Ken Gillen and I are currently working on - separately of course due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

And as most of you who read my topics will already know, I enjoy a bit of a history lesson to kick things off..well, here it is:

 

 

                The Ballymena &  Portglenone Railway; A brief history

 

Portglenone is a small settlement on the banks of the River Bann, about 5 miles west of Ballymena, the nearest large town in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland. Attempts to link it by rail to the latter town had been made by the narrow gauge Ballymena and Larne Railway. In 1879, eyes were cast at the possibility for reaching the city of Londonderry from Larne by means of a bridge at Portglenone, but the mountainous terrain of the western side proved to be an insurmountable obstacle, far beyond any steam railway's capabilities, except one employing a rack system! And furthermore, there were no settlements of any size on the route to justify the costs on route of nearly fifty miles. Perhaps unsurprisingly to us today, this project did not get through Parliament.

But not everyone had given up hope and some years later a new company appeared, backed by a number of well off mill owners and other business owners in the Maine Valley, as well as merchants from Ballymena who thought there might be a useful river based link for their products through Portglenone to the north, and hence to Scotland. A rail link would greatly facilitate this.

The proposed line would use the Irish standard gauge, and as surveyed, would diverge from the main line just 2 miles to the north west of Ballymena. The railway would then turn south for two reasons. First, if the line headed straight for Portglenone, there was a high saddle of hills immediately to the west and gradients would have to be steep as a result. Secondly, the villages of Ahoghill and Gracehill could be served by this deviation and would, it was hoped, generate some extra traffic, as well as allowing much easier gradients, at most 1 in 50. Less major earthworks would be required so this was literally the way to go. As always in Ireland, capital was slow coming in and the directors approached the BNCR to run their line; this was agreed and work began.

                                                                             

                                                                                   THE BALLYMENA AND PORTGLENONE RAILWAY COMPANY   MAP

 

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The railway opened in 1885.  Portglenone station had a single passenger platform, with the usual goods facilities, and a siding to the river’s edge for a transhipment facility.  The only passing station, Ahoghill, also had a single platform though there was a loop which allowed goods trains to pass; here a simple loading dock sufficed for freight. Space was left for the construction of a second platform if needed.  The junction station was named “Fenaghy Junction” after a big house nearby, and the occupant was a major supporter and financier of the railway. Part of the arrangement was that all local trains would stop there for his and his family’s convenience; there was just a scattering of cottages in the area, and a public house, but the company went to some expense on the station infrastructure. An engine shed was provided for the branch train, as well as a platform face on the main line, at which some trains stopped, though the major BNCR expresses did not.  A long siding curved away to the south east, where, it was believed, several industries were hoping to begin operations. Among them was Gallagher’s cigarette and tobacco factory. Fenaghy Junction also had a goods shed.

The pattern of services on the branch was six passenger trains a day, an ambitious timetable for such a small railway; two of these were “through” trains to and from Ballymena. There were two regular goods workings which shunted at the junction and Ahoghill, with occasional specials.  

Motive power was largely in the hands of BNCR 2-4-0 AND  4-4-0 engines and some of the company’s other smaller engines, and in due course NCC diesel railcars made their appearance.. On one occasion the Belfast docks pilot engine, No 16, had a spell on the branch working to and from Fenaghy Junction only, as it’s very limited top speed would be inadequate on the section to Ballymena.

When the UTA took over the running of the network in 1949 they immediately announced the closure of the branch. However, a legal loophole meant that services had to be maintained and this was cheaper than a long drawn out legal battle; the details are unclear as why this line should have been spared in this way. However, time and social change brought about the inevitable closure of the whole system in 1962. By this time Fenaghy Junction was served by only one train each way per day, with a single railcar connecting trip to Portglenone and back. It is doubtful if many people missed the train.

So much for the supposed historical background of our new exhibition layout. “Fenaghy Junction”.

 

I will post some "work in progress" pictures soon. The layout is being built in a shed in Ken's garden.

 

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Colm,

I sent this to a friend who lived in the area in the 1980s and lived close to the route you have marked out ! Enjoyed the story line and promised to dig out some phots . 

I guess MPD single railcars would have made suitable traction, but like the Antrim route could have had  a come back so 80 class on the main line and on sports/ other outings could have made a bit of noise! - I wonder what a single car 80  (81) class would have looked like - you know you want to ! 

Robert  

 

 

 

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some photos of the layout; beginning at the front

 

194911814_GVfromwest.jpeg.3323f607b8b5ff8f29bc5e82ece91376.jpeg

 

The station would have been on a section of the  line going north and west from Ballymena, with the branch diverging at the Cullybackey end, (left in photo) where the station buildings will be.  We are using code 75 on the front boards, code 100 on the sidings.  Unlike "Bleach green" this layout is designed to be easily transportable in our two cars. Ken used birch ply for the tops, which is very strong but also much lighter than regular ply. The legs fold up underneath the boards for storage and travel.  the layout is 10'6" across and for the first time we can set a layout up where we are building it, which means testing can be done BEFORE we arrive at the exhibition venue.

 

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A closer look at the eastern end, the branch line engine shed is here and also a small /distillerymill/works on the long industrial siding 

 

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And looking from the eastern end towards the west; the "water" and quayside are pure fiction even by our standards as Fenaghy Junction would actually have been about a mile from the River Maine. however we think this looks well at the front of the layout, and we both like inlaid track, so it stays!

 

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General view of the sidings and loops behind the backscene; we have made them as long and as flexible as possible. Passenger trains usually a maximum of maybe 3-4 depending on loco type.

 

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back at the western end, the two tracks (branch on right, main line on left)  curve under the backscene on set track 4th radius (roughly 22"). Some of my stock was designed for a minimum of 24 but hopefully it can navigate this; otherwise we'll have to restrict the stock used. There are actually two complete circuits available ont his layout; the inner one the main line  which goes through four loops, the outer one comprised of (a) the Portglenone branch and (b) the "long siding" at the other end of the station. Trains on the outer circuit cannot access the platform, but the arrangement does allow us more operating scope.  The crossovers at either end allow longer trains to be stabled on a  loop.

 

765178815_aerialviewsidings.jpeg.570392f8d1957895ce71c26b4b0c2817.jpeg

 

This view shows the loops; as you can see the outer loops are much longer than the inner, and can hold our 5 carriage  "North Atlantic Express" or "Royal Train"!  Also on the outer loop on the left there are two kickback sidings for use by "branch" railcars or short goods trains.  

 

More to follow as we progress.

 

 

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Hi Colm,

 

I love the "backstory" for this latest layout.  Despite your mention of gradients it all looks pretty level so far...  That's a wee surprise with all the "experience" the Northern Counties Group gained with Bleach Green. :rolleyes:

 

I spoke to Ken recently and he told me of the progress being made..  Certainly looks good so far.  Can't wait to hear and see (!!!) more in the coming days.  :clapping:

 

I'm glad to hear you are staying safe...

 

Cheers for now,

 

Tom

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Hi Colm.

     Others have said it but I also like the back story it gives the line so much more reason to be there.

  I am also looking forward to more on the build and it heartn's me when I see and read that I used the same baseboard construction as you.

    Be safe distancing works, be happy.

            Regards Mick

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Wow! Colm, that is amazing. I have always had a story for anything of mine like that - yours is pure NCC heaven!

 

Looking forward to this.

 

The NCC railcar 1 at Whitehead would make a very appropriate model for this, with a couple of "brown vans" behind it!

 

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I certainy hope my model of No1 will feature from time to time, as it did on previous layouts, as long as she doesn't baulk at the tight curves.  I make my railcars with a coupling at one end to allow them to pull a van or a small carriage - occasionally an old composite was attached to provide extra 1st class accomodation, as in the picture. There were only 6 1st class seats on board  and they were "tram style" down the length of the vehicle, opposite the driver's position. It seemed to be a very cramped area,which I wouldn't have thought would be all that comfortable, though one passenger at the window  would have had a good view!! There were six second class seats (in the same space!) at the other end. 

 

colm

 

25361217_No1atColeraine2.JPG.0657af0800d96e9781dc121510fc7f45.JPG

 

 

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Hi Colm,

 

Like others loved the back story, well researched. I always cast an envious eye on Ken's carpentry skills as mine are non-existent. Looking forward to following your progress. 

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Ken is keeping busy...

 

1739782919_Fenjctnes1.JPG.660339325c32ccf52a8fdb508c0f610f.JPG

 

1593244381_fenjctnes2.JPG.0b2695993a2241da896ede31b8a418ed.JPG

 

The engine shed is a ratio one, it's not unlike the shed at the long closed Draperstown.  The loco is a contractor's one leased from the SDJR (Strangford & Downpatrick Junction Railway); the river is culverted in under the line, and joins the river Maine further down.

 

 

 

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On 09/04/2020 at 11:02, colmflanagan said:

I certainy hope my model of No1 will feature from time to time, as it did on previous layouts, as long as she doesn't baulk at the tight curves.  I make my railcars with a coupling at one end to allow them to pull a van or a small carriage - occasionally an old composite was attached to provide extra 1st class accomodation, as in the picture. There were only 6 1st class seats on board  and they were "tram style" down the length of the vehicle, opposite the driver's position. It seemed to be a very cramped area,which I wouldn't have thought would be all that comfortable, though one passenger at the window  would have had a good view!! There were six second class seats (in the same space!) at the other end. 

 

colm

 

25361217_No1atColeraine2.JPG.0657af0800d96e9781dc121510fc7f45.JPG

 

 

I thought this was a picture of the real thing till I saw the track pin!

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I

50 minutes ago, philip-griffiths said:

Looking forward to seeing this when we can gather at shows again. Just glad that you managed to skirt my wife’s family farm and not plough through the middle of it. 

 

Gosh, think of the damages we'd have to pay!  I've been busy too, this is the control panel for the layout; simple DC cab control with lights to make it easy to figure which of the two controllers is on which track!

Cullybackey and Portglenone branch on left, Ballymena and long siding on right. Next up an NCC style  platform mounted signal cabin.

 

1169885685_FenaghyJctnCP.JPG.269ec9f4009a93edd2edf002a65d7708.JPG

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

A few more pictures; how much more ken is going to be able to do before we get to meet up to do the electrics, i don't know!   I MUST get started on the signalbox for this layout, but I got kinda sidetracked by my "other" layout (see Ballycrochan Line topic on this forum if you're interested.)

 

Work underway, Ken uses brown paper and cardboard  a lot!  

 

IMG_0786.JPG.abfb1ecbfbc77085f5fca3a64ef4b1e5.JPG

 

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A general view of the goods shed area

 

The siding boasts a store; this is, i think, a Wills provender store.

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1230441035_02store.JPG.c4119ad9ffd2c45d9deb3ffb08d55666.JPG

 

Some detailing at the engine shed and two locos (out of steam for now...)

 

540282401_UTANCConshed.JPG.91c9bd6f60ff3ef2033e9474ba6cbc1c.JPG

 

 

 

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On 14/04/2020 at 22:42, Irish Padre said:

I thought this was a picture of the real thing till I saw the track pin!

 

Too late to do anything about it now, the layout has morphed....  But I appreciate the compliment1

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Just to prove that Ken isn't doing ALL the work, the signal box has been started, and here are the bits & pieces for walls and windows.  

 

1204865714_signalboxbits.jpg.d39894f5a7b95a787c4dd72c0e48d017.jpg

 

 

 

I use the ratio MR windows but they do need quite a lot of delicate chopping to get closer to the BNCR/NCC look - chiefly that the Midland window comes as two panes across , whereas the BNCR/NCC has three. So some very delicate cutting is needed. There's also one more row of panes (the BNCR windows are deeper) - just to add to the fun. Don't try this if you are impatient or have very shaky hands!  And you need a nice sharp craft knife.   Anyway, they're done now, and further construction will happen soon. 

 

155639074_signalboxwindowpane.JPG.0baef42bb47b4ac25242ac476b477370.JPG

 

A wee bit of final trimming to do but you need to peer closely at them to spot the joins.  If you're really up for punishment you can try and cut out tiny triangular corner pieces. But remember,they're only about 20mm high!   And, along with typical NCC things like the roof overhanging eaves, the box should look the part when completed.

 

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Some progress on the signal box; it has windows all around to give as good an outlook as possible, with four diverging lines under it's control. I am painting it in UTA colours with red window frames (which have to be painted before glazing went on, obviously!), and dark green trim otherwise; Ballyclare Junction cabin was done in

this style, it wasn't that common.  

 

1293977253_FJsignalbox1.JPG.1f9e3ddebf5da076aea6fec829f3d09d.JPG

 

This is the only face with brick insert, for behind the stove/fireplace (haven;t decided which yet). The door is to the left.

 

I always feel it is a shame when you can't see the box interior (which i enjoy making)-  but given the overhand of the roof, lighting is needed. I used a  very small filament bulb recessed above the ceiling in a small cardboard "box" and it will probably run at about 9 volts. This arrangement means that light doesn't beam out like a lighthouse! Also, plasticard is not that dense and can sometimes "glow" in the dark, though few exhibitions are in darkness!

 

1143305109_lightingroofstart.JPG.1223dcdfd708cbf90b024a62494db66d.JPG

 

1802537996_lighting2.JPG.bc5fc0f6ceae60f32b68d756cae29c11.JPG

 

And finally, for now, the roof goes on., temporarily of course, I still have the interior to fit out, roof slates, steps up...etc

 

339763363_FJboxroofon.JPG.2e0d619380dd9c83126aac68d7c9c0d0.JPG

 

934225066_FJboxroofon2.JPG.93669b2ff278c8f4e4f1fba0db7fa77d.JPG

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A few more pics, it's now completed except for one or two  details, like downpipes and roof brackets (if I can work up the enthusiasm to make eight of them, (not all NCC boxes had them anyway). Painting still to be done; there'll not be name board on it as it will be sitting right next to a "Fenaghy Junction" station name board.

 

416672584_fenaghyjctsigboxnrcomplete.jpg.374bdd449d19a92e52ff09f4bd37a61e.jpg

 

 

 

The interior can be seen by anyone prepared to stoop and is roughly what I think the layout might have been;  made from bits & scraps!  There is a light inside too, it's in the ceiling as part of the roof structure and the wires go down the chimney! 

 

1117001417_interior1.JPG.876638cb0e11a28d17a372de055a8d58.JPG

 

Still worth doing as you can see something through the "glass".  I don't like seeing empty signal boxes at shows! And they are enjoyable things to make - even if they are also very time consuming and fiddly at times! A couple of firms i think do interior kits and they would certainly save a lot of time. The tablet machines are maybe a bit tall but it's all pretty small scale stuff and no-one is likely to get this close in real life as their head would be resting on the track!

 

 

1253857588_interior2.JPG.15206e4860b31b855a155dd933bbbc15.JPG

 

The roof closer up; I use Slaters Plasticard embossed slates but I don't overlap them as they intend; I used to, but over more recent years felt they looked too "thick": I am sure they used to be thinner! Anyway, I like the look -the offcut pieces do well for roof ridge tiles! 

 

1523768612_roofcomplete.JPG.b73fb810f99ed311f3f9bd48fd8384f9.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The signal Box completed; it will live here on  my home layout until it is possible to take it to be placed on Fenaghy Junction platform, whenever that may be! The colour scheme is based on that I saw in a photo of Ballyclare junction in 1963.

 

717442548_FenaghyJctnsignalbox1.jpg.cf6509c165db93dd9fb3b354ef39f55f.jpg

 

1216034095_Fenaghyjctnsingalbox2.JPG.af44227b2857d46e44c3ca52f50d917f.JPG

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The UTA had in their later days a quite attractive station paint scheme of red, green and a stony light grey, which is what I presume you mean. Strangely, it seemed to have been used on the Derry Road and the NCC, but not on the GN main line or the Warrenpoint branch.

 

There are pics showing it in Derek Young's very excellent book.

 

Love the NCC cabin roof.

 

In relation to your "side story" about the line's history, it may be a matter of pyre fantasy but I am always fascinated to hear of such stories behind fictitious layouts; I have a detailed one concocted for my own, attributing the survival of a remote small terminus like yours to sugar beet and a fortnightly delivery of fuel to an sdjacent bus depot, a la Westport Quay.

 

So may I add a detail to yours; when my father was on the NCC, he arranged a trial of a GNR 2.4.2T on the branch for a while in 1947; utter sacrilege to the NCC men, of course, but an excuse for a model!

 

Not so far-fetched; it was due to him that Bangor got some ex-GNR signal arms in the early 1960s!

 

(Oh, here's me bus, gotta go.............!) 

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, jhb171achil said:

but not on the GN main line or the Warrenpoint branch.

 

Hi JHB,

 

Warrenpoint cabin in 1964 -

 

image.png.a2b3eff025bb90b917f6db294732647b.png

 

Photo: R. Hendry

 

 

Edited by Lambeg Man
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That's a unusual one, with no green in it. Prototype for everything department again! I think the red window frame one may actually have used the very faint green/white as used on the buses for the paned ls under the windows but it looked white in some lights and may well have looked grey in others! Certainly there were ncc cabins such as Kells water which had an overall grey paint job. As I say there's no definitive right or wrong in this one! Colm

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