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Katharine St. - A BR(s) suburban terminus in fiNescale


Lacathedrale
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Central Croydon was a hopeless station. It opened to little fanfare, and was closed three years later with few passengers and fewer to mourn its passing. Forlorn and unused, the trackbed littered with detritus and the windows dirty, the canopy sagged and iron railings rusted for fifteen years. By happenstance, a brief spark cast forth:  brown and cream trains pulled by blackberry locomotives of the North Western, and prussian blue Great Eastern promised the capital - but that ember died quickly, and the station returned to its quiet, dark, and untroubled repose before fading from memory entirely.  Nowadays, the only thing left of this sad story is a small plaque and a retaining wall along Katharine Street, an epitaph to the abject failure of a station that nobody used.

 

What

I am building exactly what I am interested in - passenger and NPCS operations, signalling and interlocking: a (sub)urban terminus.

 

Where

South London is the only choice and as per the intro blurb - if not the exact setting for Central Croydon, then one representative and emblematic thereof - Addiscombe, Bromley North, Greenwich Park all tell similar stories to a greater or lesser extent.

 

When

For now I can I only say with absolute authority that I want to model a post-steam, pre-privatisation era and within that I am currently looking at 1985 +/- a few years, which will allow me to run a wide variety of stock and services. Setting the layout much earlier i.e. the 1960's would give greater scope for head and tail traffic, as well as bolstering/splitting coach rakes for loco hauled stock. I'm undecided on this point.

 

How

Having dabbled in 2mmFS, N, TT, 00, EM, S, 0, S7, G1 and G3 - I feel qualified enough to say that I want my track to look good enough, I want my locomotives to move without undue prodding, and I want to be able to fit it into my house/garage/workshop without having to knock through a wall.  I have some stock and a future joint project in 2mmFS, and that is where my effort for excruciating accuracy and detail will go - the aim of this layout is to get something moving, soon. Happily, setting this layout in the diesel-era - with huge bogies, dangling valve gear and side frames to mask the over-scale wheel width - is a perfect justification to go with finescale N and the FiNetrax shake-the-box N gauge turnouts.

 

Trackplan of the (notional) station and throat:

image.png.5c01475de83b72ef59ffcb570cbbf43b.png

 

The platform lengths are sized for an 8-car EMU - though the likelihood of that being used on the layout is almost nil. It would be possible to crop the station length down by 1/3rd and still be able to host four carriage EMUs and four Mk1's on a loco hauled train, but I feel that the extra length will make the station feel much more natural. The whole scenic section then breaks neatly into a 4' + 3' module pair.

 

Notional trackplan of Central Croydon platform roads:

image.png.5a338a8532a078f3bcea905c1d82197d.png

 

One of the characteristic features of Central Croydon is that the terminus had two outside platforms with sawtooth canopies, and two central roads used for runarounds and/or carriage stock. Although it could be easily implemented on this plan, I don't think I'll model this - without crossovers it looks quite bare and with them it would negate the already limited use of a captive station pilot for loco hauled workings, and  it would also cut the number of platforms in half.  Any thoughts?

 

Trackplan of the throat close-up:

image.png.25e9c7d7b12c3654da2d45179fb47330.png

 

This section is non-negotiable - I have already bought the track kits for it!

 

Any thoughts or opinions gladly taken on any aspect of this!

 

 

Edited by Lacathedrale
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Central Croydon did have release crossovers.

 

Anyway, this promises to be very interesting, so I shall watch closely (with a large magnifying glass, given that it’s 2mm/ft).

 

Are you aware of the post office bay on the down side at East Croydon? Operation of that was very entertaining, and one can imagine the post office being at Crntral, rather than East Croydon. http://extra.southernelectric.org.uk/features/infrastructure/east-croydon/index.html

Edited by Nearholmer
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Great idea always liked the thought of a Central Croydon layout. Maybe you could still have inter regional services using Bachmann 319. What we do need is more Southern emus maybe a 4SUB/EPB Bulleid version. At the end of the day what you will have is another minors variation and cjf always designed that for suburban/EMUs. I will follow with interest.

 

Keith

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Good morning all!

 

Having slept on the design, I see a small area for improvement. One aspect of Central Croydon I'm keen to replicate is the continued operation of Fairfield Yard (accessed via a kickback headshunt from the station throat) as an engineer's siding and sand/gravel pit which it operated as in real life until the 1930's, taking direct inspiration from and effectively transposing the facility from Purley. This will give happy justification for any hodge-podge engineer's train, or short rake of MSO/MSV's/PGA's seen on stone traffic at Purley, and the Blue period will permit Class 37's on these workings.

 

All of this can operate in the layout as-wrote using reverse-running on the up line, with the facing junction assumed off-scene, but there is also space for a turnout to connect into the throat to allow the in-and-out workings to circulate rather than shuttle:

 

Trackplan v1.1 - yard junction added, pilot siding made parallel to platform roads

image.png.b6f8dcb734ffdba6cf22246e3c20e034.png

 

The area of the throat in which the new trailing point is added for the yard connection was previously just plain track, so it does not interfere with any other geometry - feels like a no-brainer?

 

I was aware of the post office bay @Nearholmer at the south end of the station, but had not considered the elevator and overhead conveyor! In either the Green or the Blue period I can still have newspaper trains, and I wanted parcel trains too so that's a great shout. I'm aware of an ancient Southern CCT languishing at the back of Norwood Junction yard, and now we know why! :)

 

@KeithHC I have Worsley etches for a "Sheba" all-steel 4SUB as a starter for ten, and five Tomix TM-17 motorised chassis to go under MLVs and EMUs. It's not a perfect solution, but we'll see. I do not think I can stomach the cost of a new 319!  @JohnR Glad to have you aboard.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Lacathedrale
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I realise that there's no major need for a curved approach track to if the yard headshunt is in the foreground, so I have straightened them. Plopping a signal box between the running lines like Crystal Palace would be nice, but I'm also satisfied to have it in the foreground as an additional view break past the throat. I have also rotated the layout slightly, and accounted for an additional 6" to the length of the scenic board to allow the rear platform sawtooth canopy, retaining wall and station building to be modelled in full. Lastly, the implementation of a crossover on P3/4:

 

Trackplan v2.0 - Crossover, lengthened and straightened approach

image.png.716df10b97ef6ecf76c51f420008bb13.png

 

The crossover would allow SOME trains to runaround. On one hand, this reduces the immediate operational complexity because the pilot isn't required for some moves, but would add some variety to the movements - Multiple units and trailer car sets can arrive and reverse out, loco hauled stock and freight can either leverage the pilot or use the runaround if that platform is available. I think visually it balances the layout a little better, too.

 

I have also determined a canon justification for the altered track plan - the original track layout consisted of two outside brick platforms with two inner runaround loops. With the introduction of push-pull services and (relatively) higher frequencies in addition to cross-regional loco-hauled stock with longer dwell times in the post-1890 period, there was a need for more platform faces. To achieve this, P4 (front) was demolished, the space providing room for P3 to be shifted south and a new runaround loop laid on the site of the old platform. In the new gap provided, a narrow timber island platform was provided.

 

In time Platforms 1-2 were electrified with third rail and the runaround removed, and the island platform now fully dilapidated was replaced with a standard SR concrete design.

 

This amendment opens up the front of the layout visually, and allows both ancient LBSCR and merely 'very old' SR infrastructure to cohabit. A truncated part of the original P4 at the front of the layout can remain as a loading dock of some sort to hint at this change.

Edited by Lacathedrale
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Love it - so many boxes ticked with this plan! 

 

The four roads with two platforms, but no loco releases seemed a bit odd in terms of 80s era - sounds like you've come up with a good alternative and justification though. The mixed era structures, and engineers yard access really add interest :) Presumably the yard is off scene, and trains accessing it just run in and run around to access it - that's it?

 

I would have thought some significant Royal Mail infrastructure would also add a lot of interest - but probably either/or with the engineers yard - otherwise in danger of becoming "too much"?

 

J

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Thanks @njee20 - I've a large stock of Easitrac plastic bases and rail sitting in my cupboard and was most definitely planning to use it here.

 

@justin1985 - There's an interesting bell-curve of acceptability of runaround-less platforms - acceptable in the early period, not very from about 1900-1980 - and then perfectly acceptable again with widespread EMU usage and the cessation of all remaining freight services. Happily, I feel that the use of loco-hauled cross-regional trains, the engineer's siding/gravel pit and/or Royal Mail parcels facility justifies the runaround well enough. I do also agree that a station pilot managing four platforms without runarounds for loco-hauled stock in the 80s would be a little ridicolous.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Lacathedrale
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I like the emerging back-story, which should add depth. 
 

The Royal Mail platform at EC was parallel to the most eastern passenger platform (1? 6?). It was accessed from the passenger road (which was reversible) by a crossover about half way along its length, which made some shunts a bit odd, but I guess was good from a trapping viewpoint. It had a yellow/black shunt disc for moves from it to the passenger line, permitting longitudinal shunts when in the ‘on’ position. 
 

My memory is that the trains serving it were mostly headed by MLVs, but I did see an ED there on odd occasions.

Edited by Nearholmer
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Thank you @Nearholmer - I am trying to keep things as realistic as is feasible. Reducing Central Croydon down to three platforms to increase capacity wouldn't have been the first time particularly in the face of electrification (Holborn Viaduct). I imagine in reality a 50% increase in capacity for such a minor station wouldn't justify the cost, but don't tell the Southern that!

 

One of the most interesting things about Central Croydon, as alluded to in the intro blurb, is the bizarre service patterns that it had. During its second period of operation it could boast GER services from Liverpool Street and LNWR services from Willesden LL and Kensington as well as shuttle services by the LBSCR to New/East Croydon.

 

While it may be a stretch to justify an ongoing connection at Liverpool St. with the East London Railway for the modern equivalent of the GER services, very much less justification is required to reinstate ex-LNWR services to Kensington - after all, the Kensington service originated at Central Croydon and continued in some form as a loco-hauled Kenny Belle until the late 80's as is well known.

 

It appears East Croydon was host to lots of 47-hauled services bound for the WCML so a gentle massaging of history to have these run on into Katharine St. does not feel forced. Peak services for East grinstead and Uckfield were laid on with Class 33's in the 1980's, so I find it hard to believe that these too wouldn't have been seen in Central Croydon.  For inspiration on some of the locos and trains I'm referring to, see this thread:

Given the intensity of services on the Brighton Mainline and congestion at Windmill Junction just to the north, offloading loco-hauled services to a vestigial sub-station like Katharine St. doesn't seem unreasonable.

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8 minutes ago, Lacathedrale said:

Peak services for East grinstead and Uckfield were laid on with Class 33's in the 1980's,


These peak services were loco hauled right from when the DEMUs were introduced; they weren’t a 1980s innovation by any means. I travelled on them sporadically from about 1972, and almost every week day 1976-82.

 

Personally, I think that 47-hauled passenger trains would be stretching things a bit, but loco-hauled or DEMU to/from Kensington seems very plausible.

 

Do remember the brief lives of the 2-PAN units. Barely anyone else does!

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25 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:


These peak services were loco hauled right from when the DEMUs were introduced; they weren’t a 1980s innovation by any means. I travelled on them sporadically from about 1972, and almost every week day 1976-82.

 

Personally, I think that 47-hauled passenger trains would be stretching things a bit, but loco-hauled or DEMU to/from Kensington seems very plausible.

 

And Worsley Works does N etches for all of the DEMU Thumper types! Happy to help with 3D printed roofs, underframe equipment etc ... Presumably the wheelbase etc would still work with the Tomix chassis?

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You may be right @Nearholmer - but thankfully I need to justify nothing with this layout plan for it to work in vanilla mode with 3rd rail EMUs and 33's and 73's. I can on a whim decide that the ELR connection is still in place because I want to run a 31, maybe tomorrow a 2PAN (can't wait to research that one).

 

@justin1985 you are a hero as always. I have 5 tomix underframes compatible with BR Mk.1-sized chassis, only one of which is earmarked for a 4Sub. I am happy to use a Farish unrefurbished 4-CEP to fill out the roster easily, which  leaves four motor units and lots of prototype options to choose from. I am happy to squash and stretch a few mm here and there to fit the commercial chassis.

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I did a 1/5 mockup of the layout boards below as shown below:

 

1:760 Mockup of Katharine St.

image.png.4ac87f20edd6d261167f13e477be9964.png

 

image.png.cc268b3ffc40bb31acd1470dcfaa29a3.png

 

The station building, stationmaster's house, pub and hotel (the two buildings at the back) and the row of buildings are all as per the 1890 OS grid map. The forecourt of the station slopes down to tree filled garden, and Park Lane bridges over the station throat. I do however, have mixed feelings of a large and substantial embankment and short tunnel capping the platform from the throat. Any thoughts on that would be gladly.

 

Obviously, the line past Park Lane has no scenic treatment defined yet - in reality this was the gravel pit or engineer's sidings, but in my plan the throat is much longer so there is empty space to fill.

 

When one researches this station and the surrounds, one thinks of a scene like this showing Park Lane under which the railway throat plunges:https://www.francisfrith.com/croydon/croydon-park-lane-1936_c201312 however, by 1965 it looked like this: https://www.francisfrith.com/croydon/croydon-the-underpass-c1965_c201168 . Indeed, a backdrop of Katharine Street from the era would look something like this (the station would be in a cutting to the left of the shot):

 

image.png.4d1e58162624d135554666b9e0983acc.png

 

Another shot shows a rather incongruous arts-and-crafts style red and white glazed building nestled between the South East Gas Board offices and the new offices built on the site of the old Kings Arm Hotel and Pub.

 

image.png.1a70fed58e70b9fd2bdc5a7d04259fde.png

 

 

Edited by Lacathedrale
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The reason I am considering the background at this early stage is to try to visually balance the layout and determining what impact if any that will have on the track plan. While I have mapped out the original station, studied OS maps, etc. - I think some artistic license is going to be required. If you are at all interested in hearing all that do let me know, but for the sake of brevity I am going to omit it for now.

 

Here's a rough render of my first pass at sketching in the environs in the Blue period:

 

image.png.a06922b7524bc4ba047a971ab5c0e992.png

 

The purple and cream buildings are the long office block and the SEGAS buildings as pictured in the previous post. The large ochre building between them is the post office from East Croydon transposed to this location, all are dimensionally accurate. On the right hand board there are no equivalent structures - so rather than an expanse of nothingness I am leaning towards emphasising this by tapering the board in width.

 

In the Green period, this parade of looks quite different. While the SEGAS building is brand new, the arts and crafts building is adjacent, there's a munipal office then fourteen buildings - I assume these are town houses or shops, before the Kings Arms hotel and the pub on the corner:

 

image.png.b67e92c5cd6f3a258649ce716d9aa68a.png

 

In this era the GPO platform would have to exist either hard up against the retaining wall (no conveyors here!) or in the foreground of the runaround track.

 

For both eras, as the railway passes under Park Lane it enters a cutting in Fair field before the ground slopes away to allow a level, sweeping curve to the main line. Fair field was slowly excavated, initially as a gravel pit and then as an engineer's yard. In the Blue era the gravel pit workings behind the running lines are abandoned and returned to nature and the engineer's depot has been closed but I will absolutely be modelling an isolated section of track covered in buddleia and an abandoned wagon or two in the foreground. In the Green era, one might be able to get away with the depot track snaking off the foreground of the board.

 

The red rectangle is a footbridge - though unexpected there is solid justifcation for this: Fair field had a public footpath that bisected it which was removed when the land was purchased by the LBSCR at the same time they sold Central Croydon to the council. Since in my timeline Central Croydon is still extant this transaction obviously didn't happen, and so there is a need to maintain safe public access across the Fair field. The squat building could be the Croydon Rifle club, who had a premises and range in the field (albeit on the near rather than far side) until it was taken over for the development of Fairfield halls. It is also something of a frustration that 'carpark in the foreground' is well worn because Fair field was used as a car park too! Maybe the spectre of the Nestle building in the backscene?

 

@justin1985 has as usual made a sage point with regard to "industries" - having too many will spoilt the plausibility of the layout. Frankly, it's something of a shame that 'industry on a kickback of a Minories' is such a well trodden trope, because in this case there really would have some!  So, while I dearly do love the Class 37 and want to have a rake of gravel carrying PGA's and MSO's - they may well be incongruous visitors rather than part of a typical operating pattern. There are rich veins to investigate by doubling down on the postal services and all the tasty NPCS action that I could desire - so I will not be short of visual or operational interest in that regard.

Edited by Lacathedrale
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I'm afraid not @TJ52 - you are due to be erased as part of a transition to Timeline #641.

 

I must admit I'm not 100% on era yet. It's quite bizarre to think that for this layout precious little would have changed from about ~1965 until the end of all loco hauled passenger services and the cessation of the parcels and newspaper services in ~1986. I think the best solution for this is not to think about it too much at this early stage - everything remains the same except the loco liveries and the buildings on the backscene.

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Wayne of Finetrax refunded my order when I wanted to amend it to add some consumables, so I have the opportunity to make a final assessment of my track plan. For the sake of completeness, I was able to trace the 1868 track plan accurately using 1:8 turnouts in Templot. The whole thing including throat fits into 6' in N gauge and does look very attractive:

 

image.png.3ddbb1e24bd18c99e3b9a4557520aff5.png

Katharine Street Station circa 1868

 

There is something innately appealing to me about modelling something real but I see the plan has one clear limitation - since the facing crossover for the throat is well beyond the borders of the layout, trains will appear to run the 'wrong way' into P1, since it will be percieved as the up line rather than part of the throat. I faced this issue on a previous layout and tried to hand-wave it away, but it didn't work very well. I could elect to bring this crossover onto the visual space of the layout in Fair field, or do more (signals?) to emphasise that we're looking at a truncated view of the throat, rather than in entireity.

 

One other sympathetic amendment is to consider inserting an East Croydon/Redhill-style GPO platform at the rear of the station (see here: https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/68112-redhill/&do=findComment&comment=1720326) aligned with the kink in the street and retaining wall.
 

image.png.02f862d7b65fcb25c37c5f5d3c470b8d.png

Katharine Street Station circa 1986 with GPO platform and facing crossover moved to throat

 

It seems that starting from the 1868 plan and modifying it forward to my fictional plan has produced a workable hybrid. On one hand it has scope for interesting operations, and on the other the layout is more closely aligned with the real Central Croydon, enhanced sympathetically with a prototypical GPO siding.

 

Wayne at Finetrax is OOO for a few days, so I don't need to rush. I can see very strong justifications for all three plans! Any last minute thoughts?

 

Edited by Lacathedrale
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Are you now definitely going for the above, i.e. much closer to the original?

 

If so, please imagine a polite round of applause, as when someone gets a four at a county cricket match.

 

I’d been itching to suggest exactly what you’ve arrived at, but thought doing so might be too overbearing. It’s much more characterful/distinctive than yet another layout clearly derived from Minories, not that they are a bad thing, but there is a bag of character waiting to be used at Central Croydon.

 

I’m imagining the northern platform, as well as the dock, being used for mail, perhaps being occupied for quite long periods when Up or Down trains of that type call, and having a clutter of mail trolleys and loafing posties (too far for them to walk to their ‘mess room’, aka The Porter and Sorter), all over the place all the time. The two middle roads are really useful for parking the pilot loco and some vans.

 

As regards normal passenger services, My feeling is ‘don’t make it too frenetic’, maybe a normal service of at most one an hour to Willesden Junction (terminating at Olympia other than during exhibitions wouldn’t have generated any traffic at your dates, it was a dead area), and one an hour in the path of of the Coulsdon North trains popping in and out (IIRC they had been cut back to terminate at EC off-peak).

 

Immediately pre--covid, trains in S & W London (and N & E London come to that) were very busy, all day, but in the 1970s things were very different. Off-peak, and against the flow on-peak, you would have half a carriage to yourself on suburban trains; there was periodic talk of line closures, Addiscombe and Coulsdon North were ghost stations. I think that Off-peak St K would be used by a few shoppers making for the market and (still shining new) Whitgift Centre, and not much more. In short, you only need one platform for passenger trains, and the release crossover is a must in case the Kensington/Willesden service has to be worked by an ED or a 33/0, which I predict it will sometimes.

 

This non-railway picture says a lot about Croydon 40 years ago 

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/514742

 

 

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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