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Turbo_Tim

Exploring Layouts for the Elham Valley Line

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The Background

The Elham Valley Railway (EVR) was built by the South Eastern Railway as part of their war with the London, Chatham and Dover Railway in Kent. It ran from Canterbury to Folkestone through what is still one of the most beautiful bits of Kent, not far from where I grew up. The line was closed in 1947. Today it is typical of many of disused lines - a couple of the stations survive as private residences, whilst the at Lyminge the station building is a library. A museum exists at Peene, just a stones throw from the Channel Tunnel terminal near Folkestone. [http://www.elhamvalleylinetrust.org/].

This layout envisages that the line survived long enough to be one of the early preservation schemes. A line running from the Channel Ports to Canterbury (a major tourist destination) would probably be an extremely successful operation giving a line approximately 14 miles in length..

Whilst I would love to build a massive mainline layout with long trains and sweeping curves I’m not in a position to do that at the moment. A preserved railway scenario give a number of benefits; it allows larger locomotives to run realistically with shorter trains and allows me to run almost anything. That said I think attention to detail will be important to create a convincing layout.

  The Layout - "Etchinghill for Folkestone"

I’ve reached the point of frustration where I feel I need to start working towards building a layout. It’s probably a silly time to start in life (young kids, house move in prospect in the next couple of years), but I’m motivated at the moment so here we go.

There are three different options I’m looking at, partly dependant on when we move, space available when we move etc. This is probably the most space efficient option; an end-to-end based on a terminus at the southern end of the line near Folkestone (the trackbed at the very southern end of the line disappeared under the Channel Tunnel Terminal).

Maximum length for the scenic section will be 3.0m. Maximum normal train length is 5 coaches, plus locomotive. I want to maximise operational interest so there are 2 platforms with a central release road (incidentally a similar arrangement existed at Sandgate just a few miles away). A small engine shed allows for the service to be started from this end of the line with a turntable for turning railtour locomotives. A yard contains a carriage siding (5 carriage length) and a couple of shorter sidings for engineering trains or maybe a freight service (MOD?).

Signalling is likely to be colour light initially. I was wondering about catch points on the platform and release roads, but the gradient climbs up away from the station and I may not be able to fit them in (it really is that tight for space).

Any thoughts, comments or observations would be welcomed.

 

 

gallery_18952_3530_67641.jpg

 

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Rather than Etchinghill, why not base your terminus a little closer to Folkestone, perhaps at Newington/ Peene, where the railway museum is?

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I know the area and have enjoyed some fabulous walking around the Elham valley. The lasting impression of the area, that sticks with me, is the big hills (big for the South of England) and the feeling of being in a rural byway/backwater. Although I can see the track plan you've presented has operational interest, to me it doesn't capture the essence of the area. You may find modelling one of the smaller through smaller stations more rewarding as you can set it within Elham landscape.

 

For example, I spent well over an hour watching Fryupdale at the St. Albans show – it's a small layout but within that space it packs in a lot of both operational and visual interest, whilst giving a strong sense of the NE of England, even when there's no rolling stock present.

 

My view, for what it's worth (not a lot) is that given your current space restrictions would be to look at smaller locomotives and trains. In the space you have there is little room for a 4-6-0 and five coaches to move other than along a platform road. You could consider a stage-by-stage approach to creating your model. For now perhaps two or three coaches and a tank engine or 0-6-0 tender locomotive would be enough of a train until you move and have the larger space available. Even in creating a relatively small layout like Fryupdale there is a lot of work. My view is that with limited space you can afford the time to concentrate on the quality of what you produce.

 

I'd think about exactly what it is about the Elham Valley railway that really appeals over say an LBSC line and hone in on trying to capture that SECR atmosphere and essence. To me that means pre-group locomotives in perhaps the most wonderful of all liveries but of course to you it might mean something totally different.

 

On small layouts I think curves look better than straight track parallel to the edge of the base board. Introducing a curve adds interests and can make your space look larger.

Edited by Anglian
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Rather than Etchinghill, why not base your terminus a little closer to Folkestone, perhaps at Newington/ Peene, where the railway museum is?

That was my first thought, however the appeal with Etchinghill is the potential to add an extension with a section of cutting and ending at Etchinghill Tunnel. then again it could always move back towards Folestone...

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That was my first thought, however the appeal with Etchinghill is the potential to add an extension with a section of cutting and ending at Etchinghill Tunnel. then again it could always move back towards Folestone...

Given that you're already using modeller's licence, you could always move the Eurotunnel terminal to its original planned location (near Folkestone racecourse), and build your terminal on its site. There are some remnants extant on the Folkestone side of the terminal, by the way. Part of the cutting where the line left the SE main line is still visible, albeit heavily overgrown. At Folkestone West (formerly Shornecliffe), there is still some track, including buffer-stops, in the former Elham Valley bay, at the London end of the Down platform. I wonder when it last saw traffic?

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Anglian - on many counts I think you're spot on. I think part of the undeclared motivation is that I have a few big locos that I would like to run on more than just my rolling road. I'd love to build Paddock Wood, Shepherdswell or Kearsney in OO, but that's not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

 

The other options that I was planning to look at would be to model either Bishopsbourne or Elham, both of which would've closer to what you're describing (I did start a model of Bishopsbourne in my teenage years and have my plan somewhere). I think my main concern with both these options is space - having to provide somewhere for the trains to go at either end (either 2 fiddleyards/ traversers or a circular arrangement) might not fit in the available space. That said, if I'm lucky next time we move house...

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A few scans from the Southern Railway Magazine. Dave Hammersley of Roxey mouldings has an interest in this line so I took photos (but not all in focus) of these notes when I saw them - also a nice drawing of the planned concrete hut design of the future.

 

post-336-0-04618800-1421175544_thumb.jpg

 

post-336-0-88726100-1421175546_thumb.jpg

 

post-336-0-34474200-1421175548_thumb.jpg

 

post-336-0-93603000-1421175550_thumb.jpg

 

Jon

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I tend to throw together little layouts these days, but most are based around parts of a preserved Elham Valley Railway. In my world it was one of the first preserved railways; although closed in 1947, it passed into military control for another decade thanks to a 'significant railway depot' at Lyminge, developed during WW2. This extensive site attracted early locomotive preservationists, and when the military pulled out they made a bid for the whole line. Services ran initially between Lyminge and Elham, with a halt at Ottinge, and then were extended back towards Canterbury. Once this was achieved, it was on to the last big push. By now the site for the Channel Tunnel terminal had been decided, so the society lost the end of the Folkestone section. However, they did succeed in having a bridge included in the M20 works, so that the Postling branch could be reopened back to the main line at the town of Stanford-Westenhanger. The remnant of the Folkestone section was eventually reopened to a new terminus at Peene, with a halt in the cutting at Etchinghill, before Each End Hill Tunnel. Today the line is famous for its extensive collection of locomotives, including replicas built in the Lyminge workshops. And so, and so forth - if one can think of a project, there's a way of squeezing it into the Elham Valley! Then there's the sister project on the Hythe branch...

 

In reality my EVR would lose buckets of money, even with volunteer labour, but who cares? It's fun!

 

Turbo Tim, good luck with your layout. However, please do note what Fat Controller so rightly says. I live in Folkestone and know the Elham Valley well. Etchinghill is a non-starter, and could draw criticism, should that bother you. Much of the line there is down in a cutting, then there's the tunnel, and where it opens out beyond the village there's no easy road access (and parts are used for military training - the MoD probably wouldn't look well upon a preserved railway terminus there). Peene is the obvious terminus, or cut it back to Lyminge, assuming you don't wish to go for a total fantasy such as the 'Postling branch' (in which case you could reimagine the land and have your Etchinghill terminus). There never was a station at Peene, so any preserved terminus would be a greenfield development. No-one could tell you your layout isn't accurate. If the name Peene bothers you, go for Newington, the neighbouring village (within walking distance of the railway).

 

Is there still track in the bay at Folkestone West? I thought that was taken out some years ago.

 

For anyone who's interested, Google Bishopsbourne station to see what it looks like today. It's crying out for some track! Note, of course, that it's a private dwelling and not open to the public.

 

EDIT. Turbo Tim, not Anglian. It would help if I read the thread properly!

Edited by Nedrahn
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There was track when I looked last; I'll have a look next time I'm down there and it's light. There's quite a lot of track on the main line that hasn't been recovered from when they went back to just two roads instead of four ( though they've taken the juice rail out), so I can imagine recovering a few lengths from the end of the bay wouldn't be considered worth the bother.

We look upon the EVR now as a rustic by-way; however, during the 19th century, there was talk of developing coal and iron mines between Ottinge and Elham. Can you imagine what might have happened if these had gone ahead? As it is, only a brickworks was built, whose remains can be seen next to the route of the old line just on the Elham side of Ottinge. 

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Thanks jonhall for the magazine extract - that's gold dust. The photos are really interesting - look like they're taken from the footplate/brake van, which is something you don't see every day. The stations look like they were in quite good condition at the end - suppose they were probably given a lick of paint when the army handed them back?

 

Nedran I'm glad I'm not the only one (with and Elham Valley fixation). OK Newington for Folkstone it is then.

 

Modeller's Licence is a funny thing. There are definite limits to how far it can go. I definitely think that the Channel Tunnel works have to stay where they are. I guess the more places the scenario can attach to reality the more plausible it seems?

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As another Elham Vallwy modeller, did you consider that a preservation society might have developed on of the exiting stations as their terminus? In OO Lyminge fits nicely on an 8 x3 board & it would allow you to copy a recognisable station.

 

In the 30's the line was single tracked so the old down line could be carrige siding(s) The coal yard could be developed for an engine shed & the stock siding could have a short rake of Pullmans for a dining train.

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It's always a possibility. There would always be the option of using it as a terminus until I have room to make it into a full circle configuration. Follow the prototypical practice of real preserved lines.

 

For some reason I hadn't been considering Lyminge as one of my three options, so it would end up as number 4... And I haven't had a chance to start on the second of my original options (work and family distractions over the last 6 weeks).

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The Southern Railway Magazine extract posted by Jon Hall is intriguing. First of all, A.Earle Edwards was the Movements Officer for the Southern Railway, subsequently holding senior posts in its BR(S) successor before retiring in 1962, such that in the late '60s I worked with men who spoke of him in reverent tones. Then there is the correspondence page. H.E.Roberts is, I believe, the chap who was Divisional Movements Manager for Central Division when I joined in 1966.

 

In the late '60s, a chap called George Kemp was a guard who lodged just round the corner from my parents house in Dorking. He had worked on the Elham Valley line, had a great affinity for it.

 

If only we could summon these folk back to tell us more!

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Interesting background to the magazine article. It is definately one of those lines that closed sufficiently long ago to have drifted off into the mists of time. It'd probably be difficult enough to find people who have ridden the line, let alone worked on it now.

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As others have said, best option for long term development would be to model a small through station used as a temporary terminus. Plenty of examples around the preserved lines but Hampton Loade on the Severn Valley is an early example.

 

Such stations can even be completely new such as Harman's Cross on the Swanage branch.

 

I think the plan that you have seems altogether a bit too crowded on the board.

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Bishopsbourne

Many thanks for all the replies to date. I’ve had time over my long weekend (thank you to our youngest child who is now sleeping through the night again) to work on the next track plan. From now on I’ll be sticking to real locations.

The second plan I have chosen is Bishopsbourne - http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/b/bishopsbourne/. I have a history with Bishopsbourne in that I tried to build a layout of it in my teens, but unfortunately time and more importantly money didn’t allow me to complete it. Bishopsbourne was the second station south from Canterbury.

 

gallery_18952_3530_6358.gif

 

 

Thanks to the relatively compact nature of the original station there has been no real compression of the original layout, other than a simplification of the pointwork at the northern end (left hand side as view on the plan). The track layout is based on the original double track arrangement. Whilst this might be a luxury in a preserved railway scenario it would make it easier to sit and watch trains run by. Clearly this would require a continuous loop and is dependant on space being available after our planned house move.


On the original track plan there were trailing crossovers provided at both ends of the station. Inside of these crossovers, at the northern end of the station, a trailing connection was provided from the up line (towards Canterbury) crossover over the down line to the siding in the goods yard. I have simplified this arrangement at the northern end of the station by combining the siding access with the crossover, providing a single slip so that the access to the siding continues to be from the up line only. An additional siding has been provided in the goods yard to add operating potential.


Signalling would be semaphore as per original, with a starter signal for each platform and shunt discs for movements through the crossovers and out of the goods yard. Again this would be trying to follow the prototype ( http://www.s-r-s.org.uk/html/srb/R1582.htm ).

Once again any thoughts, comments or observations would be welcome.

 

[Edited to make trackplan bigger]

Edited by Turbo_Tim

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Bishopsbourne

Many thanks for all the replies to date. I’ve had time over my long weekend (thank you to our youngest child who is now sleeping through the night again) to work on the next track plan. From now on I’ll be sticking to real locations.

The second plan I have chosen is Bishopsbourne - http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/b/bishopsbourne/. I have a history with Bishopsbourne in that I tried to build a layout of it in my teens, but unfortunately time and more importantly money didn’t allow me to complete it. Bishopsbourne was the second station south from Canterbury.

 

gallery_18952_3530_6358.gif

 

 

Thanks to the relatively compact nature of the original station there has been no real compression of the original layout, other than a simplification of the pointwork at the northern end (left hand side as view on the plan). The track layout is based on the original double track arrangement. Whilst this might be a luxury in a preserved railway scenario it would make it easier to sit and watch trains run by. Clearly this would require a continuous loop and is dependant on space being available after our planned house move.

On the original track plan there were trailing crossovers provided at both ends of the station. Inside of these crossovers, at the northern end of the station, a trailing connection was provided from the up line (towards Canterbury) crossover over the down line to the siding in the goods yard. I have simplified this arrangement at the northern end of the station by combining the siding access with the crossover, providing a single slip so that the access to the siding continues to be from the up line only. An additional siding has been provided in the goods yard to add operating potential.

Signalling would be semaphore as per original, with a starter signal for each platform and shunt discs for movements through the crossovers and out of the goods yard. Again this would be trying to follow the prototype ( http://www.s-r-s.org.uk/html/srb/R1582.htm ).

Once again any thoughts, comments or observations would be welcome.

 

[Edited to make trackplan bigger]

 

I had a look at old OS maps after your original posting and thought that Bishopsbourne looked like the best option. Plan has come together really well. Which software is it drawn with?

 

Agreed that double track would be a luxury on a lesser preserved line. So fiddle yard should probably be to the rh end with the lower line being used as a carriage siding. To get that effect, you would need to move the crossover slightly to be under the roadbridge (or rather move the roadbridge to the right over the crossover).

Edited by Joseph_Pestell

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I had a look at old OS maps after your original posting and thought that Bishopsbourne looked like the best option. Plan has come together really well. Which software is it drawn with?

 

Agreed that double track would be a luxury on a lesser preserved line. So fiddle yard should probably be to the rh end with the lower line being used as a carriage siding. To get that effect, you would need to move the crossover slightly to be under the roadbridge (or rather move the roadbridge to the right over the crossover).

The plan was drawn with a proper CAD package (I had a background in civil engineering until 3 years ago).

 

I do like Bishopsbourne; I think the two main disadvantages are:

(1) that its in a cutting (not so good for viewing and photography, not quite so important for a home layout, but I do,like my photography).

(2) other locations have more potential for more operationally interesting features.

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I see you have already moved on to Bishopsbourne, but, in case you go back to a terminus, your original plan, for the station element without the yard, was very authentic. It almost exactly replicates the layout at the LCDR station at Sheerness-on-Sea (which I will be moving on to once I have finished building the Queenborough section, so in my world, about three years' time), although you would need a trap point for the centre road.

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I see you have already moved on to Bishopsbourne, but, in case you go back to a terminus, your original plan, for the station element without the yard, was very authentic. It almost exactly replicates the layout at the LCDR station at Sheerness-on-Sea (which I will be moving on to once I have finished building the Queenborough section, so in my world, about three years' time), although you would need a trap point for the centre road.

Yes and also at Sandgate on the Hythe/ Sandgate branch too.

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I have just removed the single slip I installed in Lyminge to avoid the separate crossover due to problems with stock derailing. A new crossover is now safely off stage in the fiddle yard - which is not very different from from the original

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Sorry about the late reply. I use Tillig track & points in the scenic areas of my layout as they look much more realistic than any of the other standard systems with flexing point blades and chemically darkened rails.

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Howard, on you Lyminge layout, does the 3' width allow for the long siding on the west side?

 

Jim F

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A new and very helpful purchase from ebay. Not sure that I need to do much more research as it all seems to be in this book; photos, site plans, signalling diagrams + locking tables, scale drawings of buildings and bridges...

 

EVR book

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