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'De'Ath Viaduct' 'OO' Gauge Diorama

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De'Ath Viaduct - 'OO' gauge Diorama



Rationale for 'De'Ath Viaduct:- De'Ath Viaduct a ficticious location at the close of the 19th Century.


By the end of the 19th Century, railways were forging their way across the Country, cutting a swathe through the urban metropolis. This cleevage of the city coincided with the rich fortunes of the funeral industry. Starved of burial plots in the over-crowded city cemetries, rural necropoli were seen as the answer to ever growing lack of burial plots for the rich and poor alike.


By chance, the route of the new railway ran adjacent to the existing premises of Mr. Josiah De'Ath, Funeral Director. With great forsight, Josiah convinced the railway company to install a dedicated private station on a passing loop, with a small storage siding ( off scene) to service his growing business. At its height, De'Ath Viaduct despatched 6 trains a day to the Necropolis - generally comprising a composite coach for moarners, and a brake coach for moarners & the carriage of the coffin. ( the first train of the day also included a flatbed wagon carrying a horse drawn hearse, and a horse box wagon for the four horses and the pallbearers - these would be stabled at the Necropolis during the day and would return to the Viaduct on the last train of the day with the moarners from the last interment). De'Ath owned a fleet of railway rolling stock, including three sets of horse box and flatbed combinations, and two composite and brake coach combinations bought second hand from a mainline railway company, three insulated box vans and four open plank wagons.


Rail traffic was high at its peak, in addition to the despatched passenger traffic, waste from the stables and the carpenters workshop were also sent by rail. The waste from the stonemasons being generally sold to the Municiple Corporation for repair of the city's streets. Goods traffic in, was varied:- ice was a regular delivery, along with bedding and feed for the horses, flowers for the floral tributes, timber for coffin making and stone, sourced internationally for the stonemasons to carve for the headstones. Access to and from the raised platform was a problem however from the start, but this was remedied by the use of a winch crane situated at the end of the platform - a sliding wooden fence on glide tracks protecting the apeture in the viaduct wall when loading was not in progress.


For over 60 years, the business thrived under horse power for the fleet of hearses, and steam power for the long distance jobs. However, by the early 1960s, whilst the funeral business was still booming, the railways were in a decline. Horse power gave way to the internal combustion engine, and a fleet of Daimlar DS 420 limousines and hearses were installed into the now vacated stonemasons and carpenters shops which had once been housed in the viaduct arches of the undertakers yard.



Construction - The launch of the 2011 Challenge coincided with 'garage tidying up exercise'. It was only the fortuitous find of some external grade chipboard & some 2"x 1" battening that prompted me to join the challenge. A basic 3-sided box was constructed fairly quickly, & then progress stalled! I hadn't got a clue what to put on it; so it just got put to one side & labelled in my mind as a 'non-starter'. I went to a local model railway show towards the end of the summer & can across some cheap 'Oxford' models of the DS420 limousine - this set me thinking. I had visions of the old TV program 'In Loving Memory' staring Thora Hurd. A stall further along was selling 'metcalf' cut building kits.... I walked past them .... dithered ...... & went back & bought a corner shop kit & the Manor Farm Barn kit. I'd taken the plunge! On the way home I'd planned in my minds eye the corner shop as an undertakers, a road infront of that with a tram track infront, a station running along the back and a wide High Street on the far left side of the layout and a grand half relief maternity hospital marking the edge of the board. I wasn't really able to envisage how much space I had, so I decided to build the corner shop, as I was definately going to have the shop, it was crucial to the whole project. I then build the main barn building, & the accompanying tractor shed. Sitting infront of my 20" x 11" board it was depressingly evident that my idea just would not fit. OK, scrub the road in front. Scrub the tractor shed. With a station running right across the back wall, it didn't look as though there would be much room for the undertakers yard at all. I need to buy a station. ( I'd already passed up the opportunity of a secondhand 'Metcalf' island building and canopy for £1.50 at the rail show, but it was horribly tatty. I ended up buying a Metcalf 'Parcels Office & Waiting Room' kit..... my station wasn't going to work, there wasn't enough room..... unless you mirrors! .... an instant double track station, and I only needed to electrify one track! The yard was still very narrow, a car of horsedrawn wagon wouldn't be able to turn in it ...... unless the station was on a viaduct, with the undertakers workshops under the viaduct arches. I bought a Metcalf single track viaduct, & began building it. It was during this build that I decided to scub the half releif buildings planned for the far left side of the diorama & replace it by the full height viaduct kit which was a near perfect fit. If I placed a mirror behind that as well then I'd have a double track road viaduct. I trawled the local charity shops for cheap mirrors of the right size, eventually I got one for £2 that was a little too big, & proptly broke it trying to cut it in half. In the end I went to a glazier & bought 'cut to size' mirrors. Only a little more expensive than the charity shop one, so worth the effort. I then had to scratch build a replacement viaduct to place the station on.


This caused a seemingly insurpassable problem of how to get passengers and freight from the road level to platform level, plus a remaining problem with the width of the station buildings and platform. One half of the parcels office was built, slightly modifying the width of it so that it would fit directly behind the shop building. Conveniently, the shop has an alley running down the backside of it, this would allow street level across for pedestrians from the road to the base of the station building. I built the modified station, with the rear wall 'floating' unrealistically in mid-air, & left it like that while I thought about the problem. Eventually, I realised that iron girders would have been the prototypical solution to such an architectural problem, & these were promptly constructed & fitted, using an old Hornby platform step cut in half & mounted on top of itself to gain the height needed to gain access to the station building via an internal stairway. Trial & error led to the positioning of the barn to the front of the diorama, necessitatiing an access hole to be cut in its back wall, so that it could act as an entrance gate-house tothe yard area. Although not ideal, the solution to the freight / platform conundrum has been solved using a Ratio goods yard crane from my 'scraps box', a ramp of some sort would have been preferrable, but 'space dictates'. A therapeutic afternoon making head stones and coffins followed, and another rummage through the odds & ends box produced a number of 'Days Gone' horse drawn vehicles. With a relatively timeless scenic area, the diorama is suitable for display from the late 19th Century, through to the 21st Century by a simple process of exchanging the horse drawn vehicles for the Daimler DS420 fleet.


The name of the diorama was decided upon fairly early on in the build, having decided on an undertakers theme, I build the shop with black curtains and wanted to depict the shop interior in some detail. After a few rejected suggestions, I finally decided on 'De'Ath Viaduct, Being descriptive of the local area in which the station is set and its conceptual purpose, the name seemed appropriate.


In time, I would like toinstall lighting in the buildings, and to extend the diorama further to the right by the insertion of a further one or even two 20" x 11" boards. It was designed as a portable layout, with an identical mirror image 3-sided casing sitting upside down over the top to create a box. I haven't tried this on since installing the buildings & suspect that it will no longer fit, so I will have to review this. However, with the overly heavy chipboard base & walls, and 4mm mirror glass, I'm glad that the 2011 Challenge didn't have a weight restriction!


I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I did building this diorama.
































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Horse$hit :jester:



(seriously, great and wild concept, love the backstory, but what's that black road tanker carrying - it freaks me out it's so sinister!)

Edited by 'CHARD

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Horse$hit :jester:



(seriously, great and wild concept, love the backstory, but what's that black road tanker carrying - it freaks me out it's so sinister!)


Horse$hit :jester:



(seriously, great and wild concept, love the backstory, but what's that black road tanker carrying - it freaks me out it's so sinister!)



Hi Chard,


Contents of the road tanker ....... I'll leave it to your imagine!


In fact, I was just looking for an excuse to include the limo's & hearse' in the photo's which is why I included the modern images although it does support the narrative. In doing this, the road bridge was looking very bare, & literally the only other modern vehicle I had at hand at the time was the black tanker ( which, I confess, is actually an HO gauge vehicle ) hence it's inclusion.


Thanks for the comments and input

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(seriously, great and wild concept, love the backstory, but what's that black road tanker carrying - it freaks me out it's so sinister!)


Soylent Green?

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