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‘Bleak’ layouts


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Back in the nineties I bought many railway magazines, and very often there was a layout based on some bleak northern line, some wind blown moor with sheep and stone walls. The engines would be bluish grey black and the carriages were always red. I never appreciated them at the time; I liked tiny shunting yards, not twenty feet of double track main line broken only by a catch point!

 

Does anyone have any photos or names of the layouts I recall? There were always dusty little six wheelers pulling endless coke trains, miles and miles of wire fencing and spratt & winkle couplings. I’d flick past them thinking ‘boooring’ but the images stick in my memory  and I wonder if anyone else has the same recollection?

 

Back then I was a philistine who never appreciated brass kit building, hand laid track or historical accuracy, I just wanted the latest plastic gadgets from Hornby. But looking back these were layouts full of skill, realism and dedication, and it must have sunk in somehow! :-)

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36 minutes ago, Thunderforge said:

Back in the nineties I bought many railway magazines, and very often there was a layout based on some bleak northern line, some wind blown moor with sheep and stone walls.

The Settle & Carlisle line?

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There was an N gauge layout at the Doncaster show a couple of years ago.

This featured a viaduct in grey with all the surrounding buildings also in various shades of grey. 

I feel sure it appeared in a magazine. 

 

Paul

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9 hours ago, The Johnster said:

Sounds like Heckmonwyke to me!  It's grim oop north...

Says the man modelling the valleys of South Wales. :P

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9 hours ago, Thunderforge said:

Back in the nineties I bought many railway magazines, and very often there was a layout based on some bleak northern line, some wind blown moor with sheep and stone walls. The engines would be bluish grey black and the carriages were always red. I never appreciated them at the time; I liked tiny shunting yards, not twenty feet of double track main line broken only by a catch point!

 

Does anyone have any photos or names of the layouts I recall? There were always dusty little six wheelers pulling endless coke trains, miles and miles of wire fencing and spratt & winkle couplings. I’d flick past them thinking ‘boooring’ but the images stick in my memory  and I wonder if anyone else has the same recollection?

 

Back then I was a philistine who never appreciated brass kit building, hand laid track or historical accuracy, I just wanted the latest plastic gadgets from Hornby. But looking back these were layouts full of skill, realism and dedication, and it must have sunk in somehow! :-)

With those anti-snowdrift walls??

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18 minutes ago, rka said:

Says the man modelling the valleys of South Wales. :P

Fair point!  It's pretty grim 'wp' there as well...

 

In 1966, I spent 2 weeks staying with my sister in Selby, and indulged myself in several spotting trips, including to Manchester.  In order to bunk Stockport Edgeley shed, I detrained from a Trans-Pennine at Stalybridge to connect the dmu to Stockport.  It was tipping it down with rain, and I was under a shelter on a platform backed by a dirty brick wall, the vista consisting of the TP receding into the murk, what looked like miles of empty sidings with a solitary 16ton mineral in the middle of them just for effect, against a grey and indistinct backdrop of mills and factories, not unlike the photo of Staly Vegas.  It was wonderfully atmospheric, and I enjoyed it immensely (I like this sort of thing, us Welsh like a bit of gloom and doom), and the thought occurred that 'it's grim oop north'!

 

Fast forward 3 years and I found myself on the platform at Cwmmer Afan in a thunderstorm, again thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere as the low cloud turned the scene into a big grey room, the mountainsides pressing in, water gurglesucking in gutters and drains, a few disconsolate sheep my only companions as the lads were sensibly in the 'Refresh', not sharing my sense of atmospheric delight, the lights on in the Refresh and the Signal Box making the gloom even gloomier, and a 37 sorting out some minerals at the tunnel end of the GW sidings, and the thought occurred that 'it's grim wp the Valleys, innit, boyo'!

 

This experience is one of the founding principles of Cwmdimbath, and I have layout lighting and leds in buildings to evoke the feeling of a dull and rainy day.  The mountainside rears up menacingly behind the station platform, the stream running between.  The layout is inspired by (rather than based on) Abergwynfi, less than a mile from Cwmmer Afan. 

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1 hour ago, The Johnster said:

Fair point!  It's pretty grim 'wp' there as well...

 

In 1966, I spent 2 weeks staying with my sister in Selby, and indulged myself in several spotting trips, including to Manchester.  In order to bunk Stockport Edgeley shed, I detrained from a Trans-Pennine at Stalybridge to connect the dmu to Stockport.  It was tipping it down with rain, and I was under a shelter on a platform backed by a dirty brick wall, the vista consisting of the TP receding into the murk, what looked like miles of empty sidings with a solitary 16ton mineral in the middle of them just for effect, against a grey and indistinct backdrop of mills and factories, not unlike the photo of Staly Vegas.  It was wonderfully atmospheric, and I enjoyed it immensely (I like this sort of thing, us Welsh like a bit of gloom and doom), and the thought occurred that 'it's grim oop north'!

 

Fast forward 3 years and I found myself on the platform at Cwmmer Afan in a thunderstorm, again thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere as the low cloud turned the scene into a big grey room, the mountainsides pressing in, water gurglesucking in gutters and drains, a few disconsolate sheep my only companions as the lads were sensibly in the 'Refresh', not sharing my sense of atmospheric delight, the lights on in the Refresh and the Signal Box making the gloom even gloomier, and a 37 sorting out some minerals at the tunnel end of the GW sidings, and the thought occurred that 'it's grim wp the Valleys, innit, boyo'!

 

This experience is one of the founding principles of Cwmdimbath, and I have layout lighting and leds in buildings to evoke the feeling of a dull and rainy day.  The mountainside rears up menacingly behind the station platform, the stream running between.  The layout is inspired by (rather than based on) Abergwynfi, less than a mile from Cwmmer Afan. 

I originally come from Huddersfield and am currently living in Swansea for the second time, and I can say when they're grim they're grim, but when it's nice both areas can be spectacular. 

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When I joined BAe Systems at Warton, I came back by train over the Pennines via Sheffield to Cambridge. The sun was shining, it was a lovely trip.

 

For Northern atmosphere, how about the late Dave Shakespeare's layouts.

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Hi all,

I seem to remember sometime in the late 80's or early 90's a huge model railway of the Peak District in Derbyshire. I think it was based around the Monsall Dale area. I think it was about 30ft long and the scenery was truly stunning. I saw it at the Manchester Model Railway exhibition. I just cannot remember the name of it or the date. It was truly stunning . It was not really bleak as it portrayed the Peak Districts beautiful sandstone formations very well.

Edited by cypherman
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14 hours ago, The Johnster said:

Sounds like Heckmonwyke to me!  It's grim oop north...

 

Many locos on Heckmondwike were red though.

 

It was also more 1970s than 1990s. I think it was being neglected at the NRM by the 1990s and later fell to pieces. Such a shame as it was one of the first "proper" scale models.

 

http://www.thenlg.org.uk/heckmondwike.html

 

 

 

Jason

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4 hours ago, rka said:

I originally come from Huddersfield and am currently living in Swansea for the second time, and I can say when they're grim they're grim, but when it's nice both areas can be spectacular. 

Agreed on that point, rka.  Back in the 50s, though, the Valleys were pretty bare and bleak even when the weather was good; a huge amount of forestry planting has taken place since then which has transformed the look of the place, along with the landscaping and greening of spoil tips and the absence of the buckets, little cable car things that transported the spoil from the screens up the mountain to the tip.  They made a constant clanking and squeaking noise which was so all pervasive that you tuned it out, and only noticed when it stopped.  The mountainsides were completely bare as all the trees had been felled for pit props long ago, and if the weather was good the grass dried out very quickly to a pale yellow hue.  There was a lot of coal dust about in general, especially in the more enclosed and narrow valleys where it had little room to disperse.  Rock outcrops are Pennant Sandstone, a dark and grim grey/brown colour, and most of the houses were made of it, so there was not much colour; all of which looked more at home when it was raining IMHO, but as I said I am wierd in that respect...

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11 minutes ago, The Johnster said:

... the absence of the buckets, little cable car things that transported the spoil from the screens up the mountain to the tip.  

Not to mention unfortunate gangsters. Or was that a purely north-eastern thing :jester:

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6 hours ago, cypherman said:

Hi all,

I seem to remember sometime in the late 80's or early 90's a huge model railway of the Peak District in Derbyshire. I think it was based around the Monsall Dale area. I think it was about 30ft long and the scenery was truly stunning. I saw it at the Manchester Model Railway exhibition. I just cannot remember the name of it or the date. It was truly stunning . It was not really bleak as it portrayed the Peak Districts beautiful sandstone formations very well.

 

Sounds like it might be 'Chee Tor', the N gauge layout?

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4 hours ago, The Johnster said:

Agreed on that point, rka.  Back in the 50s, though, the Valleys were pretty bare and bleak even when the weather was good; a huge amount of forestry planting has taken place since then which has transformed the look of the place, along with the landscaping and greening of spoil tips and the absence of the buckets, little cable car things that transported the spoil from the screens up the mountain to the tip.  They made a constant clanking and squeaking noise which was so all pervasive that you tuned it out, and only noticed when it stopped.  The mountainsides were completely bare as all the trees had been felled for pit props long ago, and if the weather was good the grass dried out very quickly to a pale yellow hue.  There was a lot of coal dust about in general, especially in the more enclosed and narrow valleys where it had little room to disperse.  Rock outcrops are Pennant Sandstone, a dark and grim grey/brown colour, and most of the houses were made of it, so there was not much colour; all of which looked more at home when it was raining IMHO, but as I said I am wierd in that respect...

When I look in books or online images of both areas, I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live in them, both had severe pollution yet beautiful surroundings if you travelled in the right direction. And some people think we should reopen the pits and other dirty industries again!! 

 

I like the look of the stone houses as they fit in with their surroundings, far better than the pebbledash which seems to be the standard choice of "damp proofing" these old house imo. 

Edited by rka
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On 22/06/2021 at 12:37, cypherman said:

Hi all,

I seem to remember sometime in the late 80's or early 90's a huge model railway of the Peak District in Derbyshire. I think it was based around the Monsall Dale area. I think it was about 30ft long and the scenery was truly stunning. I saw it at the Manchester Model Railway exhibition. I just cannot remember the name of it or the date. It was truly stunning . It was not really bleak as it portrayed the Peak Districts beautiful sandstone formations very well.

Chee Tor, 2mm Finescale, I believe the layout now resides in Canada.

 

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On 21/06/2021 at 23:42, Thunderforge said:

Back in the nineties I bought many railway magazines, and very often there was a layout based on some bleak northern line, some wind blown moor with sheep and stone walls. The engines would be bluish grey black and the carriages were always red. I never appreciated them at the time; I liked tiny shunting yards, not twenty feet of double track main line broken only by a catch point!

 

Does anyone have any photos or names of the layouts I recall? There were always dusty little six wheelers pulling endless coke trains, miles and miles of wire fencing and spratt & winkle couplings. I’d flick past them thinking ‘boooring’ but the images stick in my memory  and I wonder if anyone else has the same recollection?

 

Back then I was a philistine who never appreciated brass kit building, hand laid track or historical accuracy, I just wanted the latest plastic gadgets from Hornby. But looking back these were layouts full of skill, realism and dedication, and it must have sunk in somehow! :-)

A bit after the 90's but the Blea Moor layout that was on the show circuit for a while certainly ticks the 'bleak' scenery box, and interestingly, whilst different this layout has always stayed vividly in my memory too. 

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I remember seeing a layout set on the Woodhead Line at an exhibition when I was a youngster which gave off a bleak vibe. The layout was mostly a dark grimy cutting with Class 76s under the wires, I seem to remember some comedian had placed a vulture on the catenary for visitors to spot!

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On 22/06/2021 at 09:23, jollysmart said:

 

Called Staly Vegas, Industrial North BR steam, all a shade of grey. My photo at Doncaster

.

thumbnail.jpeg

Plausibly Stalybridge! The "Staly Vegas" thing came about at the turn of the Millenium, when it became the nightlife capital of Tameside:laugh_mini2:. The remark was from a local councillor

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On 28/06/2021 at 20:31, Binky said:

I remember seeing a layout set on the Woodhead Line at an exhibition when I was a youngster which gave off a bleak vibe. The layout was mostly a dark grimy cutting with Class 76s under the wires, I seem to remember some comedian had placed a vulture on the catenary for visitors to spot!

That was Deepcar, the Nottingham MRS layout. I’m glad we achieved the bleak look every time we did a site visit when we we planning and building it, it  was raining or misty, very atmospheric with the hum of the electric transmission lines.

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On 03/07/2021 at 15:35, w124bob said:

Chee Tor, sadly never replaced. 

 

Absolutly convincing in every respect; attention paid to the limestone topography, utterly plausible, working shunting signals (a thing I have not been able to achieve in 4mm), driving at sensible speeds, smooth starts and stops, the epitome of what a good exhibition layout should be.  Some of the village photos look very much like a real Peak District village on a sunny day, and little gives it away as a model at all.  I can almost hear the exhuast beats echoing off the mountainsides.

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