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Hello All,


There may well be some of you out there who aren't regular "Railway Modeller" readers - so here are some pictures of Ken Gillen's superb "Cookstown Junction" which featured in RM a few years back, in July 2009


The layout shows the place as it would have been before it was "rationalized" - in fact it is probably more accurate for NCC days, rather than the period of the UTA. The station building was burnt in a fire in the 1940s, in fact, but who wants to model a burnt out shell anyway? This station was the junction for a branch to Cookstown, some thirty miles away via the line known as the Derry Central. Nothing remains at this location today except for the crossing which is now a single line.


The layout is approximately 19' x 10' and was constructed to be very much a "scenic" line; it is DCC operated and eventually Ken hopes to get the signals operational, they are all built with this in mind but another project (of which more anon) has rather taken up more of his time recently.


I’ve used mostly wide views and included some of construction over the years; there are more close ups in the RM of buildings and stock – it may still be available as a back number or on eBay.




The view northwards (towards Ballymena)




..and south to Antrim




another view north






The station platforms viewed from the south, the engine shed area, and the platform view north









Mostly wide angle pictures





There's a small farm at the south end of the layout.



A view not normally seen, over the engine shed and water pump - an Ho model from the US I gather.






I took this one after seeing a photo in a book of the real thing from this angle - i will add it if I can find it again!.







And here are some newer shots of the “other side†of the railway – a freelance quarry, station and mill, still under construction.




And finally for now, a shot of the turntable in the late evening maybe?




more will follow, I hope



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Brilliant photos from a superb looking layout.I remember it from Railway Modeller,it really captures the feel of the flowing Northern Ireland countryside.


Look forward to seeing and reading more about this great looking layout.



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  • 9 months later...

Some more pictures of the "other side" of Cookstown Junction. Services were temporarily suspended durng the construction of Bleach Green.....a large mill or factory (which produces a currently undefined product) has made its appearance. It is served by a siding, and a small halt has been established on a loop off the main line for the workers.






On the other side of the line is a quarry: it has a narrow gauge line but this is non operational.




And finally, a workman's train arrives at the Junction. This is an effort to produce the NCC "Donkey" a small 0-4-0 saddle tank which actually never left the Belfast Docks area and was scrapped in 1951.  Mine is a chopped up Hornby Caledonian "pug"; it's really too big - more like the RPSI's  "Guinness" I think, but anyway it kept me out of mischief over Christmas.




Rumours abound of the line's closure but no notices have gone up yet.



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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been having a little fiddle with photoshop and tidying round the edges of a couple of "rail level"  shots,of Cookstown Junction and  thought some of you may enjoy them.



This was the view in a book which Ken saw and which had an infuence in his decison to build the layout - to re-create the scene as a U2 class 4-4-0 heads down the Derry Central line to Randalstown and beyond...




And this one- looking almost from where the engine is in the previous one, showing the "north end" of the station, with the double track main line to Ballymena on the right. The way things are going with such an increase in passneger numbers on the NCC main line sections, maybe it will be double again some day.







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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

I started this thread on Ken Gillen's superb layout shortly after the group started and posted some pictures taken in 2006 during the construction phase. Ken has now decided to dismantle it..




Layouts have a finite lifespan, some home ones last for many years (I had one for nearly 20 years), others, especially ones built for exhibitions, can have a very short life. This one has been some 8-9 years from the start of work to the dismantling now going on.




The lifting train has reached the Junction Station, the signals are gone and the siding has been lifted already; oddly, there appear to be some people who have not realized what is going on and wait on the platform, perhaps hoping for a trip in the lifting train's old carriage - or maybe they are railway enthusiasts paying a last visit to take some pictures of operations.




Beyond the shed the water pump has been removed, possibly to Portstewart, and the debris shows that work is going on all round the station site; the turntable has been removed also.

I wonder has anyone realized yet, that there is an old  BCDR engine inside the shed....(as I believe happened when the real thing's track was lifted.)




The area around is returning to Nature as the bulldozers move in, so these will  be the final pictures of the "Saffordstown & Drumsough Junction Railway" as it has been officially known.


Planning is now underway for a new layout; as yet no definite plan has been finalized, but it will be 16.5mm, and set in Northern Ireland in the same era as Cookstown Junction, and will have an "ex NCC" flavour.


When work gets underway i will post news of progress.



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  • 1 year later...

Hi, I came across this site in a google search.  Funnily enough, my son and husband are model railroaders.
The reason I'm here is my granny's family lived in Cookstown Junction and my father stayed there during the war with the Belfast Blitz.  My family were McCormick, Magee and McNally.  Colm had so much information on Cookstown Junction and I wondered where he got it from.  I know the Magee boys were all employees either as laborers or railway porters.  I had been told once that one of the women in the family was employed as the postmistress at the railway.....is there any way to get a copy of the information?  I'm coming to Ireland in October and fully plan on making my way up there.....thanks....

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've not seen any information on the individuals who may have worked at the station, and obviously this wasn't relevant to building a 1:76 model!  ken, who built the layout,  now lives in Glengormley near Belfast but I will ask him if he came across any info of that sort in his research. I suspect not, though. You might do better with parish records if they exist or some of the irish family name websites


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  • 2 years later...

Hi!  My dad's relatives lived out at Cookstown Junction during the war.  I'm trying to get a bit of the history of the station.  His relatives were Magees.  A few of them were railway porters and I believe someone might have been working as the postmistress there.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  By the way, it must be in the blood because my son is a rabid railroad fan.  He does authentic paint schemes and fashions his own models at time.  He's quite a railroad videographer with a nice Youtube channel.  Thanks for any help!

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