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Belfast Central Junction

Lambeg Man

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Welcome to this new thread which continues the saga of the "Lisburn North" thread. For reasons stated in the original thread, "Lisburn North" was abandoned and dismantled a few weeks back.


Baseboards were rebuilt and secured properly to the garage walls, giving much greater rigidity.





Baseboards in place


A lifting section has been incorporated at the front of the layout. It was constructed to be angular. This allows it to slide back to a "wedge point" where it can not move once locked.





The lift out section being dragged backwards into position


There are no wires involved and no current continuity fittings. Once in place, rail joiners are slid into place to provide current and ensure correct track/rail alignment.



Rail joiners pulled back to allow the lifting section to be slid out



View of the lifting section in place


Most of the track has been laid except for the left hand end of the hidden sidings. Only one short radius point has been used, all others being medium radius and large radius curved points. The rebuild has allowed better use of the baseboard areas to extend the hidden sidings from how they were for "Lisburn North". Each road can hold approximately 12 to 14 carriages.



View of the hidden sidings. The two roads (11 & 10) on the left are for the Third Road oval, the next three (9, 8 &7) are accessible only from the 'down' main oval**, the next three (6, 5 & 4) are reversing sidings accessible from the 'Up' and 'down main ovals, while the three (3, 2 & 1) on the right are accessible only from the 'Up' main oval.


The front section of the layout is intended to represent the section of former GNR(I) main line between Belfast Central Junction and the Tates Avenue road bridge. The "Third Road" allows the provision of an additional oval, the two inner ovals representing the 'Up' and 'Down' main lines in and out of Great Victoria Street (GVS) station for passenger trains and Grosvenor Road (GR) depot for goods trains.



Pointwork just south of the Donegall Road bridge.


The only viewed 'operational' points are three crossovers, one between the 'down' main and the 'Third Road', another trailing between the 'Down' and 'Up' main lines and the third a facing 'Down' to 'Up main. The general plan is that trains will run on one of the three oval circuits. The only movement over the crossovers will be goods trains exiting Grosvenor Road or a post 1965 CIE goods heading for Grosvenor Road. One other exercise that could be run over the facing crossover is a Bangor bound excursion (steam or Railcars) coming from the Lisburn direction. Period covered will be 1962 - 1970.


To facilitate a goods coming out of Belfast on the 'Up' main (which all appear to have done from the 1950's on) there is a 'ladder' of facing crossovers at the right hand side of the hidden sidings to allow a goods train to regain Road 10 in the hidden sidings. ** This ladder also allows 'Up' trains to access Roads 7 to 9 in the hidden sidings from the right hand side only.



Site for the Tates Avenue scenic break bridge



Pointwork at the right hand side of the hidden sidings.


The four kick back sidings in the corner off the Third Road oval are intended as standing space for Light Engines waiting to travel down the Third Road to GVS or GR.



Edited by Lambeg Man
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Kieran / 'Pat 141' - Thank you for your kind comments.


Yes, a lot of thought went into this one before I tore up "Lisburn North". One of the advantages of "Lisburn North" was that the pointwork and signals north of Lisburn did not change in the period of 1960 to 1970, thus allowing a decent range of models, none of which would look out of place time wise. One reason I baulked at doing the Donegall Road bridge to the Tates Avenue bridge section was that the pointwork and signals changed TWICE between 1960 and 1970. So if I choose to model that entire period, then some form of compromise would be required with regard to the track layout south of the Donegall Road bridge.


I thought you may be interested in some of the labours of my research. The original drawing of the Belfast Central Junction layout was copied from Ian McLaren's UTA book. However I have made some corrections based on photographs and a trawl through the Laird videos.


When looking at the pointwork south of the Donegall Road bridge at various times, it is relevant what was happening immediately north of the bridge.



Prior to 1962 the only pointwork south of the Donegall Road bridge was a trailing crossover between the Down and Up main lines. Further south there were crossovers at the north end of the Adelaide yard giving access to both the Down and Up main lines. In fact the Up main line between here at GVS was signalled for bi-directional running. North of the bridge the 'X' marks a crossing that may have been a diamond, but I can not be sure as no photo's have yet come to light. The Belfast Central line was a double junction as can be seen in the above plan.



Then in 1962 the Belfast Central line was singled. In conjunction with this the UTA installed two new crossovers south of the bridge as I have drawn on the above plan. The crossovers at Adelaide were removed as was the crossing marked 'X' in the previous plan. New semaphore signals were installed.



Finally by 1966 (as seen above) the Central line has gone and the Third Road is out of use. South of the bridge are now two crossovers (controlled from a ground frame hut) to allow access to and exit from Grosvenor Road depot for CIE goods trains. A 'Junction' colour light signal was provided.


Each of these three junction layouts would be 'Time Sensitive' in respect of what trains were passing, especially goods trains. Until 1965 all goods trains would have been UTA steam worked and most used the Third Road to reach Grosvenor Road. Post 1965 the goods trains are all CIE diesel hauled fitted goods and the Third Road is out of use.


This layout is essentially a "Watch the Trains Go By" concept as was "Lisburn North", but to provide some limited "operational" activity as opposed to purely watching three trains at a time trundling around the three ovals on my layout, I have opted to include two crossovers as per the post 1965 layout. However as in my world the Belfast Central line never closed (even Benson recommended its retention) but remained open for excursion traffic, I have included one facing crossover to allow a passenger special to access the Belfast Central line from the Down main.


More pictures tomorrow.

Edited by Lambeg Man
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Sorry, no pictures yesterday or today as I still need to finish track laying. The local model shop is clean out of Peco track underlay, with no prospect of re-stocking. Using Gaugemaster underlay made no sense given the price. So, three of the hidden sidings were lifted to replace the Peco underlay with strips of cork sheet. The underlay is required to finish of the points and track to the left of the hidden sidings. Hope to finish track laying today, then it is the electrics which will be a lot simpler than those for "Lisburn North"..... Might have something running tomorrow.... (famous last words!)

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Thank you for that Patrick.


A very productive day. ALL track laid and pinned. Some adjustments to track previously photographed.



Left hand side of the hidden sidings laid. Seeing there was space when I finished connecting the ends of the hidden sidings, I decided to include three more 'kick back' sidings in this corner.



Aside from storing light engines, it occurred to me that both sets of 'kick back' sidings could be used to drop wagons from the goods trains formations, providing a bit of variety during running.



Hidden sidings completed.



The approach to the Donegall Road bridge scenic break has been slightly altered so the 'bridge' will be a few inches further back.


Halfway through using a track rubber to clean all the rails before firing up the electrics tomorrow....... Arms sore tonight! Off for a small medicine.  

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Just had a conversation with a local enthusiast who had read the above and asked "Where is it?" and "What sort of trains ran on it?"


He was under the impression this project was all historical. However for him and anyone else unfamiliar with the location being modelled, the following may be of some assistance.


The section is on the Belfast-Dublin main line and is still operating today.



Sketch map of the area around the section being modelled.


In the period I am trying to recreate, 1960 to 1970, the railways of Northern Ireland were operated by the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) until 1967 when a reorganization saw the creation of Northern Ireland Railways (NIR). Prior to 1958, this line and the Belfast Central Railway (BCR) section was in the ownership of the Great Northern Railway (GNR).


The layout at the section being modelled owes much to major infrastructure projects carried out by the GNR in the years 1910-12. A new locomotive depot was built out at Adelaide to replace the one at Great Victoria Street (GVS) station and a large freight marshalling yard was built at the same location. Down on the BCR section a new livestock handling depot was built at Maysfields. So began the practice of 'tripping' freight wagons between Grosvenor Road, Maysfields and the Docks area to and from the new Adelaide yard. As a result of this traffic and the movement of light engines between Adelaide and the city terminals, a 'Third Road' (an additional running line) was built alongside the existing double track main line.


The title "Belfast Central Junction" comes from the name given to the actual junction of the BCR section with the GNR main lines. Originally built in 1876 by an independent company, the BCR failed to provide the initial aim of the promotors which was to build a central station for Belfast serving all three of the main line companies running in and out of the city. Ironically in 1976 the new Belfast Central station was opened on the site of the Maysfields depot. The junction was initially titled "Ulster Junction" and the BCR had a station built immediately south of the Donegall Road bridge.  Here its trains reversed to gain access to GVS. The company went bust and was taken over by the GNR in 1886. They immediately closed the passenger service, but the line went on to be a very useful appendage as it allowed GNR excursion trains to run to the seaside town of Bangor and allowed the exchange of wagons with the two other main line companies. The site of the "Ulster Junction" station remained unused until the end of the period modelled. Tates Avenue by the way crossed the railway on the level until the bridge was built in 1927. 


The run down of railway operations in this area began as early as 1933 when the 'tripping' all goods wagons to and from Adelaide ceased. In 1962 the UTA singled the former double track sections of the BCR section and in 1963 the rail connection to the Belfast Docks was severed. By 1965 the UTA had abandoned all internal (to Northern Ireland) general freight movement and henceforth the only goods traffic on this section, between Donegall Road and the Tates Avenue bridges, were diesel hauled goods trains operated by Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), the national transport company of Éire, in and out of the Grosvenor Road depot. Also in 1965 the entire BCR section was closed (though never officially) when a bridge on the section was removed to facilitate a road improvement scheme. In November 1966 Adelaide locomotive shed was closed and regular steam operations withdrawn from this area. Consequently the 'Third Road' went out of use and only the two main running lines were left. Trains by the way ran 'UP'  to Dublin and 'DOWN' to Belfast.


As to services operating in the chosen period, the most prestigious passenger trains were the Belfast-Dublin non-stop "Enterprise" services, one service operated by the UTA using former GNR built Railcars (Diesel Multiple Units in Britain). The CIÉ set was in 1960 also a former GNR built Railcar set, but by 1962 they were using a diesel locomotive hauled set. Other semi-fast Belfast--Dublin services were worked by a UTA and a CIÉ set of carriages both hauled in the north by a UTA steam engine as locomotives were exchanged at Dundalk until 1965. UTA steam also hauled many excursions and specials for Dublin. Up until closure of the Portadown-Derry section in 1965, Derry trains from Belfast by this route were mainly worked by Railcar sets, with steam substitution at peak periods. Inner (Lisburn) and outer (Portadown) suburban services were worked in similar fashion. In summer frequent weekend steam hauled excursions worked to Bangor over the BCR until that closed.


All goods trains were steam worked until the traffic was abandoned. Post 1966 the main traffic on this section was:


1. Belfast-Dublin 'Enterprise' services (the title now being generic for what through services were left) operated by the same former GNR built Railcars which were now in NIR livery and a diesel hauled CIÉ set. The GNR Railcars were replaced by a set of UTA built DEMU Railcars in 1969.


2. Inner and outer suburban services all worked by Railcars


3. CIÉ freights from Dundalk


4. Various specials (including the steam enthusiast type).


So for a layout which is based on the concept of "watching the trains go by", a good variety of types and liveries will be running.  


Edited by Lambeg Man
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First trial train running. Unfortunately the moving footage from my camera will not upload to this site, but believe me, it is running...








The Wrenn 2-6-4T masquerading as a 'high bunk' Jeep has recently been through to shops with Scalespeed and runs like a dream considering it is over 40 years old. Scalespeed's (he advertises in the Railway Modeller) service is highly recommended for anyone with a 'tired' locomotive. 




Edited by Lambeg Man
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Well done, it's good that you were able to create new from old so speedily. A bit of operating interest is I feel important for a satisfying  home layout. "Trains passing" is great for an exhibition vide Bleach Green but I wouldn't want it at home unless I had another 15 feet to build a station! Look forward to seeing it as it develops. Your attention to accuracy is much higher than mine! Colm

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Thanks for that Colm.


Now the track is all down and cleaned, paused from installing the electrics to unpack some rolling stock.



In the kick back sidings a 60 year old Triang 3F that has just returned from overhaul at Scalespeed. Wheels re-profiled and motor serviced. Nice quiet runner that may yet become a GNR 'UG'. Two mint Hornby Fowler 2-6-4T's awaiting a 'Flanagan' conversion to Jeeps. Then the Bachman CIE 'Woolwich' which you may surprised to know was the first engine preserved by the RPSI (which was actually founded in 1961!). I have acquired a proper smokebox wheel for it. Lastly, in the back corner a Hornby 'Schools' which will be converted to a GNR 'VS'.



In the other corner three LMS '2 P's. All good runners. Apart from one becoming an NCC 'U 2', no definite plan for the other two. Another 'S' and a 'Q' perhaps. At the back are two 'Jinties', one bought for the engine lamps it has fitted. The chassis will be used for a GNR 0-6-0.



Rhapsody in blue! The OO works GNR 'U' and and Slieve Gullion. This model was built from a Triang 'L 1' back in the day by Ivor Hughes.



 Three goods trains in the hidden sidings



View from the other end



Closer view. The 'Brown Vans' are hacked Triang/Hornby Horseboxes.



My attempt at a CIE corrugated open wagon.



UTA vans with patches of dull yellow to represent the cuprinol patching they got in real life.


I have CIE transfers to go on many of the vans and wagons, but like everything else, I will get around to it someday......





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I missed your recent post and was surprised at the speed of progress, if you keep going at this rate a scheduled service will be introduced shortly.

Great to see all that stock seeing daylight after those years of storage.  Lots to look forward to, well done.

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Thanks for that Kirley. 

On 05/08/2020 at 12:04, kirley said:

Great to see all that stock seeing daylight after those years of storage


Yes, several "oh, I forgot I even had that" items surfaced.


Took a break from electrics and scenery to get some rolling stock ready pending the arrival of the MM '121' baby GM. I want five carriages for it to haul as an early 1960's CIE 'Enterprise'. They will of course be in the CIE light green livery.



First up a CIE composite hacked from an Airfix LMS 60' compo.



A CIE 2nd class carriage. Another is due from the Works tomorrow. Not sure if these had a side corridor or an open seating layout. Hacked from two Airfix LMS 60' compo's.



An ex-GNR All First. This will be in B&T livery as the first class accommodation in the post 1965 'Craven' set for 'Enterprise' duty. Hacked from two Airfix LMS 60' compo's. Another is due from the Works which be in UTA green.


My two remaining Airfix 60' carriages are earmarked for conversion to the ex-GNR 'B 10' Buffet Car (for the CIE 'Craven' set) and the ex-GNR 'B 4' Restaurant Car for the '70 class' NIR 'Enterprise' set. Both the real things, built in 1950 were 60' as opposed to the former GNR 'Standard' of 58'. I find these carriages easy to hack because the roofs are separate.


Waiting for a smokebox wheel is this fellow. Yes, I know it is a BR standard '4MT' with a tapered boiler, but the sides and cab arrangement are very 'Jeep' looking. Fitting a top feed and glazing the cab I think has helped the ruse. Having bought it back in 1979, me and it have been through some funny times.




One other project under way is the 'Schools' to 'VS' conversion. The cab roof and firebox came from an old LMS engine body bought for 50p. 




This Hornby 'Schools' is the tender drive version and there have been several problems using this model and following Colm's instructions in New Irish Lines. He used the 'Railroader' version where the motor was in the loco. I could not do a straight swap with a Hornby LMS tender body as the motor in the tender extends quite a bit at the back. So I had to use the original tender coal base and remove the sides 




More to follow later.





Edited by Lambeg Man
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W O W !!  This is amazing progress.


Like others here, I am astonished at the speed with which you have accomplished so much.


The CIE "Enterprise" at the time you have picked will have a mixture of new-ish CIE laminates in, as you say, the lighter green livery. Some will have a flying snail, but by that stage many did not either - probably a 50 / 50 mix; then there will also be, possibly, an occasional Bredin in the same livery.


Again, you will have coaches of GNR origin, as part of the stock of same inherited by CIE. With most of CIE's share of the GNR stock spending most of their time on DSER suburban and ex-GNR lines, these will feature a lot on the "Enterprise". Let's take 1965; the odd one may still be in GNR brown or navy & cream livery (with "CIE" stencilled on the ends!) but most ex-GNR stock, including some wooden-sided coaches, will now be in CIE green.


Cravens don't seem to have appeared on this service for several years after introduction and the very last CIE coach still in GNR brown was only repainted black'n'tan in 1967, having skipped the green era entirely!


CIE's "tin vans" will have taken up the rear - I recall seeing three on the back of a train about 1968, I would think. In 1965, most of these are green, but a very occasional filthy greyish-silver one still exists, and they are beginning to be repainted black'n'tan in earnest. While I never saw it myself, I guess that the last of the wooden-bodied GNR vans (which were certainly still to be seen on the "newspaper train") might have featured tagged on the back too. While several of these got UTA green, as far as I recall from notes I have somewhere, only one was ever painted into CIE green.


VERY much an interesting time to model anything on the GNR main line - a very often greatly underestimated route, given the much greater variety than almost anywhere else; even in today's bland diet of overgrown security fences, graffiti, bland ICRs and bland CAFs, and barely a goods train on this island, Dublin to Belfast still produces the closest we have to variety now! But I digress.............time for me to go and have my medication for the night in the Home for the Bewildered.................

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  • 2 weeks later...

Fast progress indeed Steve, the layout has taken shape nicely and always good to get a background of detail on the area being modelled. Certainly a lot of operating potential. 
Great work with the coaches also, they will certainly add to the stock already on display 

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  • 4 months later...

Another one bites the dust!


This project has been abandoned due to a house move. We were to move the 2nd week in December. However on the eve of exchanging contracts it was discovered that the guy selling his house to us does not actually own it as he put the property "into trust" many years back. So here we sit on packed cases waiting for the solicitors to sort things out. Layout dismantled, but the hidden sidings section has been saved and the front baseboards rebuilt. They are wider and a foot longer (17' 5" in total length) as this is the width of the new garage.


I am considering a fictitious junction layout in the Moria area, which is where the Dublin and Antrim Railway was originally intended to leave the GNR main line, until the GNR got involved and the junction was made at Knockmore, facing Belfast instead of Dublin.


Will keep you posted. In the mean time may I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a much more happy New Year than the one we've had!   

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Thank you Hunslet 102. I have in mind two options. The first would be to do a 'mirror' of Scarva, with the branch going off to the left rather than the right as it was with the prototype. But that would entail having several FACING crossovers on the main line and the GNR civil engineer hated facing points. The other would be something like Dromin Junction, but  with a goods yard (and perhaps a small engine shed - derelict by the 1960's of course!) trailing back from the branch platform. Decisions, decisions......


As before, the period modeled would 1960's and if the Antrim branch had been built from Moria and with the junction layout facing Portadown instead of how it was built, post 1965 the CIE Dundalk-Derry fitted freights have had a clear run to Antrim without having to reverse at Lisburn. This raises a question. Where would the motive power for these trains have been exchanged? At this junction, Portadown or Antrim?


I have conducted trials and my Hornby DMU power bogie will pull about 25 goods wagons no problem, so I would like to watch my MPD set hauling a freight up the branch.

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On 24/12/2020 at 20:29, Lambeg Man said:

......This raises a question. Where would the motive power for these trains have been exchanged? At this junction, Portadown or Antrim?


Just before jhb171Senior left the UTA, there was some talk about making a triangular junction at Knockmore.


This was on account of the re-routing of the Derry Goods due to the forthcoming closure of the Derry Road.


Obviously, it came to naught; the very idea of spending one red cent on rail freight had the stormont government running for their smelling salts. It may therefore be assumed that HAD they built that junction, its highly unlikely they'd have built a loco shed at it. Thus, the immediately obvious choice is to swop the CIE loco at Portadown.


However, they were in the process of closing Portadown as a shed!


To balance that, of course, railcar haulage was to be the way forward, and there we already crew rosters based in Portadown. Therefore, it may be taken as reasonable to assume Portadown as a changing point. I'm not sure about Antrim, as while it would fit operationally, I don't think there were crews based there by the time this would have been put into effect.


Another matter is whether any PASSENGER services would ever have operated over this line, e.g. Dublin - Derry? An interesting idea for a 70-class set! 


So from Amiens St,, we might have had a 70 on the "Enterprise" to Belfast, and sitting beside it, the "Tyrconnell" to Derry!


Overall, of course, with your layout, Rule No. 1 applies. 


"Rule 1


It's YOUR layout...."

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13 hours ago, jhb171achil said:

noticed a while back that one section is 11 tracks wide. What width is the board there?


They were the Hidden Sidings section on 2' wide boards. The 'front' section boards were 16" wide (a throw back to the "Lisburn North" project), but have now been widened to 20".


Thank you Jon for all your above input.


13 hours ago, jhb171achil said:

Just before jhb171Senior left the UTA, there was some talk about making a triangular junction at Knockmore.


Yes, that rumour was doing the rounds up until about 1970.


Of course one must also consider if such a version of the Antrim branch, running from a junction at Moria that faced south, would have survived until 1965. Surely the necessity for a passenger from Glenavy or Crumlin wishing to travel to Belfast and needing to travel first to either Antrim or Moria for a connecting service would have pushed the GNR(I) into providing a link line from Knockmore to Ballinderry at some point. Had this happened, then a line from Ballinderry to Moria would have been very vulnerable in the 1930's.


I am going with the story line that the original branch was built in 1871 from Moria to Antrim. In 1891 the GNR(I) built a link line from Knockmore to meet the existing branch at Ballinderry. This resulted in the main traffic flow heading more to Lisburn and Belfast. The Ballinderry-Moria section lost it's passenger service in 1933, but freight traffic continued. All sections were busy during WWII, but by 1960 the branch section between Ballinderry and Moria was down to a single daily Portadown-Antrim goods and the occasional Portadown-Portrush excursion. Passenger traffic had now finished on the whole branch. The Moria-Ballinderry section became something akin to the NCC "Back Line", out of use, overgrown but not lifted. Points at Ballinderry were disconnected. Then in 1965 the Dunalk-Derry freights arrived. MPD haulage would have been from Portadown. For this traffic the Moria-Ballinderry section was cleared and relaid with second hand rails.


Stormont was appeased by being told that CIE were footing the bill for the reopening!!!


To avoid the need for points and a signal cabin at Ballinderry, the Knockmore-Ballinderry section was closed completely. All traffic between the GN and NC sections now used the Moria-Antrim route. Now, need to work how a junction layout at Moria would have looked......


14 hours ago, jhb171achil said:

Another matter is whether any PASSENGER services would ever have operated over this line, e.g. Dublin - Derry?


A direct Dublin-Derry service was tried in the summer of 1956, but it does not appear to have been a success. As patched up for the goods trains and slow speed excursions, I would nor have envisaged such a service operating over the Antrim branch in the mid-1960's.






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