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steve howe

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Lower Rose Goods



The idea for this layout was born out of the need to devise an ‘interactive’ exhibit for our Club show that gave visitors the opportunity to ‘play trains’. The result was a classic ‘Inglenook Sidings’ using some spare Peco track and a 4’ x 1’ offcut of ply lying about in the Clubroom. The layout went to the show as a bare baseboard but was designed totally ‘by the book’ with the classic 5 – 3 formation of wagons and a 0-6-0 tank locomotive to push them. A selection of suitably identifiable wagons was photographed to make a set of laminated cards and a carefully doctored controller made sure visitors only drove at a sedate pace. I have to confess to a certain scepticism about the ‘shunting puzzle with cards’ concept but on its first outing it proved very popular with the visitors – the biggest problem was keeping the Dads off it so that Junior could solve the puzzle alone! In a quiet moment I had a go myself and found it really quite absorbing, sometimes the puzzle could be solved in a few minutes, other times it could take up to half an hour to work out the moves.


It occurred to me that it would be fun if the idea were to be adapted into a P4 version with rather more realistic siding lengths, suitably detailed trackwork and surroundings displayed in a ‘fish tank’ cameo which could serve two purposes: one to provide a setting for my GWR rolling stock which had not seen the light of day for many a year, and two, to give me the opportunity to get to grips with the issue of DCC and Alex Jackson couplings which I have been skirting around for far too long.


To maximise the length available, and what I could fit into the car, I decided to make the layout on two 1.5m boards but to limit the width to 400mm with a view to displaying it at eye level on a set of bookshelves. I also deviated from the true Inglenook concept by making the headshunt  split into double track representing the end of a supposed run-round loop situated largely ‘off stage’ beyond an overbridge.  The roads of this loop run under a bridge to a pair of train cassettes which function either as storage roads or to facilitate running round. The track layout was largely inspired by the terminus of the Treamble Branch, an obscure goods-only line off the old Chacewater – Newquay branch in mid-Cornwall.  As is the fashion with such things, I suppose some kind of ‘prototype rationale’ is called for to explain the layout’s hypothetical location.


The Location

The model is intended to represent a rural goods depot during the inter-War years, since this is the period most of my rolling stock represents. The much loved and much missed Chacewater to Newquay line was the ‘poor relation’ of the two railways that went to Newquay. Many would argue that when Beeching swung his axe in 1962, he cut the wrong route and that in many ways the Chacewater line serving the popular resorts of St. Agnes, and Perranporth, and the various halts in between, which are now surrounded by numerous holiday campsites, would have been the more economically viable of the two branches against the steeply graded route from Par which now constitutes the modern line to Newquay. The point is rather academic now and sadly the passenger figures (taken from a survey conducted in February) gave a false impression of traffic compared to how heavily the branch was used during the summer season.


The line had its origins way back in 1849 when Joseph Treffry (1782-1850), a local land owner and entrepreneur, built a horse operated tramway to convey minerals from the important mines of East Wheal Rose near St. Newlyn East to the coast at Newquay, then little more than a huddle of cottages perched above the stormy North Cornish coast. 


The Treffry Tramways became a disjointed network of horse worked mineral tramways  which at their maximum extent, consisted of two separate main lines. One of these sometimes called the Par Tramway, linked Fowey and Par on the south coast with Bugle in the central Cornish china clay district. The other, known as the Newquay Railway, linked Newquay on the north coast with lead and copper mines near St. Newlyn East, and with St. Dennis in the china clay district. When these two routes were joined under the auspices of the Cornwall Minerals Railway, Treffry had effectively created the first ‘coast to coast’ route. The Cornwall Minerals Railway rebuilt the tramways to make them suitable for locomotive traction and an extension to Treamble and the iron mine at Gravel Hill was opened on 1 June 1874. The section from Treamble to Gravel Hill closed in 1888 when the mine had been exhausted. This area contained the largest commercial ironstone mines to be worked in Cornwall and latterly opencast workings in the vicinity sent ore to a loading point at Treamble to be conveyed away by rail.




The Treamble Branch closed in 1917 and the rails were lifted and sent to France to help with the War effort but due to an upturn in the mineral market, the line was reopened by the GWR in 1926. The ironstone deposit was never as productive as had originally been hoped, and in the early 20th century a Fullers Earth refinery and a gunpowder mill was established at Treamble to capitalise on the extensive reserves of iron oxide associated with the workings. The Treamble Branch was officially closed on 1 January 1952 although there had been no traffic over it since 8 August 1949. The track was not removed until 1956.


I have a certain interest in the Treamble Branch as the site of its terminus lies a mile or so down the valley from where I live and I have spent some time exploring its heavily overgrown remains. This valley, like others around the Perranporth area, has seen considerable mining activity over the years, some of which continued into the early 20th century.  About a mile and a half south of Treamble and higher up the valley, lie the remains of Wheal Hope, a speculative copper and lead mine begun before 1820 and worked intermittently during the first half of the 19th century. With no commercial success, operations ceased sometime in the 1870s.


Fictional Location

This is all documented fact. However in my scheme of things I imagined that Wheal Hope had lived up to its name and become a somewhat more prosperous concern than was actually the case. So much so that the Cornwall Minerals Railway extended its Treamble Branch up the valley to service the mine’s needs.


Curiously my fictional history turned out to be closer to fact than I had originally realised. Quite late on in the layout’s planning stage, I learned of ‘The Truro & Perran Mineral Railway’  a scheme proposed in 1872 to construct a railway from Treamble to Truro to convey iron ore directly to the Truro River at Newham. The line would have passed through the Treamble valley, crossing the Truro – Newquay road at Goonhavern, passing Zelah and heading south through Kenwyn parish to a junction with the Cornwall Railway at the east end of Carvedras viaduct. The Act empowered the Company to lay a third rail on the Cornwall Railway’s broad gauge to allow it to run through to a junction with the West Cornwall Railway at Penwithers (later Penwethers Junction) The T&PMR would have had running rights over the West Cornwall route down to the river at Truro (Newham) where it intended to construct blast furnaces on the banks of the Truro River and ship finished steel out by sea. The Cornwall Minerals Railway however had already staked its claim on the Treamble iron mines by opening its Treamble Branch (known as the Perran Extension) in 1874. Accordingly the T&PMR revised its scheme and proposed a deviation from near Zelah to a triangular junction with the CMR near Shepherds. This would have allowed trains to run direct from Treamble or Newquay to Truro.




Had these schemes come to fruition, the advantages of a direct route from Truro to Newquay are obvious and the railway map of mid-Cornwall would have looked very different to that which subsequently evolved when the GWR opened its connection to the mainline at Chacewater in 1905, with interim stations at St Agnes and Perranporth.


My rationale takes elements from the earlier scheme but assumes that the line was only extended as far as Wheal Hope in 1874 before it became clear that the fortunes of the mining industry in the area were in serious decline. The remote and rural area around Goonhavern and Rose, though not densely populated could have warranted a goods depot to service its domestic and agricultural needs.  Accordingly public loading facilities were constructed at Lower Rose where the line crossed a public road, and the branch continued a further quarter of a mile to Wheal Hope itself. The GWR took over the Treamble branch along with the rest of the Cornwall Minerals Railway in 1896 and the yard facilities at Lower Rose were upgraded along with improvements to the track. A weighbridge, identical to that built at Shepherds station at about the same time, a lock-up store and office, lightweight crane and loading gauge were provided and the points to the runround loop were connected to a small ground frame. As the branch was always operated ‘one engine in steam’ signals were not provided.




Part of the yard was quickly leased by the local haulage merchants – R. J. Trevail & Son of Rose, as a location for a coal depot and a yard office and various storage sheds built. The convenience of being able to supply the outlying district from a central railhead proved highly lucrative, to the extent that Trevails decided to expand their business into oil supplies. Much of the district at that time relied on candles or oil for lighting or cooking including a number of substantial hotels and boarding houses near the coast. Consequently in 1912 a 3000 gallon tank was erected in the coal yard with attendant pump house, stand pipe and can store. The oil was dispensed in 1 or 5 gallon cans or 50 gallon drums and was sold either from the yard or from the delivery lorry.  Trevails were also aggregate dealers and loads of crushed roadstone, bricks and cement were regularly delivered by rail.


This additional traffic may have prevented the Treamble Branch from closing in 1917, continuing as a freight-only line serving the remote rural area into the late 1920 – early 30s which is when our scene is set.

Those who know the area will by now be chortling into their beer at the sheer improbability of it all, but Cornish mining is a fickle thing, and there is no reason why Wheal Hope could not have been as prosperous as nearby East Wheal Rose, but for the vagaries of the local geology, and had this been the case, extending the Treamble Branch was indeed a distinct possibility. The remoteness of the valley and narrowness of the local lanes could also have justified the continuing need for delivery of goods by rail.








The railway from Chacewater to Newquay came late on the scene when the GWR’s route from Blackwater Junction via St. Agnes and Perranporth, linking up with the old Cornwall Mineral Railway’s route to Newquay at Shepherds opened in 1905. Modest goods facilities were provided at Perranporth and the existing small goods yard at Shepherds was upgraded by the GWR. Goonhavern, situated mid-way between the two, and even then a reasonably sized village, only ever had a simple halt. Presumably the GWR considered the goods facilities at the stations either side to be sufficient for the area’s needs. The Treamble Branch slumbered on quietly until after World War 2 when it fell into total disuse and was finally dismantled in 1956.


I don't propose to do a 'blow by blow' account of the layout's construction because, in reality, there is very little there that has not been well documented before elsewhere, but as it progresses I will bring a few issues and ideas forward for discussion. Currently we are just completing the track fettling stage and I hope to post a few images of progress so far in the next day or two now that I've found the secret formula (change theme to 2013 mode) which actually lets me post pictures!

Edited by steve howe
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Hi Steve,


Looks like a really interesting little project. I am not really familiar with your part of the world but it seems the prototype background and story has been fully though through. I am also toying with the idea of an extending inglenook (I've actually been messing around with paper templates and bits of rolling stock this after!) and will be interested to see your thoughts and how it is develops. My own idea is simply around two 3 feet by 18 inch baseboards which will hinge to enable easy storage, so quite a bit shorter than yours. I think your own idea will give a marvelous sense of space and a real railway feel to it. I love the inglenook concept and it is a great to lose an hour or so to the game but the very nature of the restricted length of the sidings does look a little contrived, so the extra length should allow the whole scene to breath.Of course you can always restrict the siding lengths during an operating session if you want to utilise it as an inglenook puzzle... so best of both world's really.



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Thanks for that David, you might like to have a look at my other Inglenook project which follows the 'classic' concept as closely as possible:




Siding lengths (or lack of) are disguised by bridges, with auto uncoupling and decent running locos it can be quite absorbing!



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Thanks for that David, you might like to have a look at my other Inglenook project which follows the 'classic' concept as closely as possible:




Siding lengths (or lack of) are disguised by bridges, with auto uncoupling and decent running locos it can be quite absorbing!




Thanks Steve, I will have a peruse of that link! 



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Thanks for that David, you might like to have a look at my other Inglenook project which follows the 'classic' concept as closely as possible:




Siding lengths (or lack of) are disguised by bridges, with auto uncoupling and decent running locos it can be quite absorbing!



Hi Steve,


Managed to get a chance to have a read through that link last night. Some great modelling, to an exceptional standard, which puts my own plans for using 00 (probably Peco) track to shame!! Wonderful stuff.


I love your simple but highly effective method of point control too, I think I might have to steal that! I have been wondering which method to.use on my proposed layout, I have dismissed motors as an unnecessary complication amd want toake it as 'hands on' as possible. You solution would seem to tick the boxes. Is it something you will use again this time?


Thanks again,


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cA little more on the early stages of the layout.

First, a slightly more considered trackplan:



There looks to be a disproportionate area of cassette deck to layout, but the intention is to run trains of up to eight wagons plus a Toad to give  reasonable scope for shunting, Also the cassettes are designed to have a short section on the ends to allow the loco to be removed and shunted onto the adjacent cassette, in this way the cassettes act as a sort of run-round.



I decided early on to stick to a totally traditional method of track making using the Brook-Smith techniques advocated for many years by the Scalefour and EM fraternity. This is the setup for one of the two yard points following in close formation. The sleeper timbers were stained beforehand using dilute black Indian ink, about a third ink to two thirds water seemed about right.



A little light reading provided the right level of pressure to keep everything flat during construction



The turnouts in place, I used cork as the underlay on this project and the track was fixed using Copydex applied sparingly to the sleepers before laying, I find this is preferable to the sometimes recommended practice of slathering the underlay in PVA and laying the track wet followed by a sprinkling of ballast - all seems too fraught to me -  the Copydex may contribute something to noise reduction but its a lot easier to remove if you need to make alterations to the track at a later date. Its only real drawback is its tendency to wind itself around drill bits when making holes for wiring.



The Masokits tiebars are a fiddle to make, although they get easier after the first two or three, the etch cleverly folds up around a strip of very thin double sided PCB and includes some useful tabs to solder the switch blades to and which also slide under the adjacent stockrails preventing the toe of the switch from rising. Although they appear frail during making, the solder up into quite robust units. The four little tabs on the top should have been filed off during the construction, but I didn't read all the instructions and then spent quite some time identifying the mysterious short..... :scratchhead:



I get precious little time for modelling and most of it gets done late in the evening hence the rather moody lighting. The trackwork in the yard is largely complete except for the addition of cosmetic chairs.



looking from the back of the layout towards the cassette deck, the crossover is in place and the lead-in sections to the cassettes are installed for testing. 



The crossover at the yard entrance representing the visible end of the run-round loop. Point rodding is being installed and the basic carcass for the landscape is taking shape.



I'm a great fan of carton board for landscape construction, its free, light, very strong, easy to cut and stick with the hot glue gun. This is the approach road down to the yard with a mock-up of the road bridge in the background. The crossover, short run-off siding and its relationship to the overbridge was inspired by the north end of St. Dennis Junction on the Par- Newquay branch. Now completely obliterated.


Cosmetic chairs have been added to the track. As this was a sort of 'heritage' project using traditional techniques I used up the last of my stock of MJT cast whitemetal chairs. These were 'state of the art' 30 odd years ago but having cut, separated, fettled and stuck them on individually I can truly say this will be the last layout I shall build using all soldered ply and rivet track; my other Inglenook project (link above) uses Exactoscale plastic chairs glued to ply sleepers with Butanone and I have to say, personally, I'm now convinced this is the way to go for hand built track as it saves so much time and effort and looks superb.



And this is what happens when you forget to wash the flux off your track gauges after a session! Some of these are truly antique dating back to Studiolith days!



Nearly up to date, with ballast and weeds appearing in the yard. The loading dock and over bridge will be next in a few days. 

Edited by steve howe
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A little more progress today. I decided I'd had enough of faffing around with fiddly little jobs like trying to stop things falling off the track, and needed to make some sort of a statement of intent suggesting I might be getting something done :no:


So the scenic groundwork went in. The basic landscape, such as it is, is created using profiled card formers to which a lattice of card strips will be attached. This will then be covered by a plaster/scrim shell and the earthworks made on that.



A nice shot of my new hot glue gun if nothing else! the card profile for the rear of the landscape is set about 25mm in from the backscene. This is for two reasons: firstly it allows a canvas backscene to be set in place after the layout is set up, thus avoiding joins in the sky, and second, the rear profile creates a sort of 'natural horizon' which allows the backscene itself to be just a neutral grey/blue which I think is more effective than painted scenery. The vertical profile in the front will support a rock face, that old 'get out of jail free' card for saving space. My excuse is that the original route of the proposed line hugged the valley contour on the steeply sloping south side, and as such would have required some blasting into the rock to make space for the goods yard... well rock cuttings are quite common in Cornwall....once the basic contours are in place, additional profiles are added about every 50mm to smooth out the landforms.



Profiles for the cutting leading to the roadbridge of which more anon. The ones nearest the bridge were miscalculated and will need replacing.



The cutting sides turned out to be too steep, so I added a low retaining wall.



Good job this card is free, you use a lot by this method, but it is very versatile.



By layering it, small variations in the ground forms can be built up, if its too thick - stamp on it!


Mod-Roc and muck to follow.



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Half term so there ought to be some progress, unfortunately the weather here is beautiful at the moment....so other things get in the way! :sungum:

Here's a brief update, but first to round off the background story to the project, here is an extract from the documents held at the Cornwall Records Office relating to the abortive scheme to link Treamble and Newquay with Truro and reproduced with their permission.



The Atlas is a magnificent A1 sized document of some twelve pages that shows the route of the entire proposed line including the lands to be acquired either side (part of which is now my garden!) and full gradient profiles including the approaches to overbridges.



The section at Lower Rose where the goods depot could have been sited. The document was clearly produced to a highly professional standard and the whole scheme was thoroughly thought through. Given the cost of undertaking such a detailed survey, it makes one wonder how much was at stake to be potentially made if the scheme went ahead, and, conversely, how much was lost by the promoters in commissioning the survey when it didn't?


On more mundane matters, the loading platform has gone in.



The usual carton card forms the foundations





My DAS moulded stonework as described in the link above in the process of painting



The platform surface is 2mm fine card with the coping stones made from a strip of 180gm water colour paper marked and scored at 12mm intervals with a hard pencil, the strip is then scored and folded to give a 4mm and 2mm face which is then glued to the edge of the card. The strip was burnished down hard to give a crisp edge. The whole sheet was then given 2 coats of shellac to seal and harden it, This substance was once commonly used in modelling before styrene sheet came along, it soaks into the card or paper and gives a tough waterproof sheet and because it is spirit based, it does not affect the structure of the card. Many of Peter Denny's wagons are built from this material. It can still be had from artist's suppliers or a very close substitute is knotting sold by decorator's stores. Methylated spirit is the solvent to clean the brush with!



The card sheet was liberally coated in PVA and sieved ash sprinkled on. 24 hours later the surplus was brushed off and the platform lightly rubbed down to remove any gritty lumps.



The platform in place, final colouring will be done after the adjacent rock faces have gone in.


The landscape has evolved in a flurry of activity when the rain arrived!





I know basket weaving has long been off the Occupational Therapy agenda, but there is something quite relaxing about fixing and threading the card strips to make the basic landforms. The card is from old cornflake cartons as it has just the right amount of spring to get nice flowing curves - its also free!





A couple of hours and we've gone from Basket Land to Winter Wonderland as the Modroc has been deployed. I find this material ideal for making the basic shell because its clean to use (no slopping about with bowls of wet plaster) and can be finished neatly at edges. It can be either applied dry and soaked in situ with a brush and clean water, or small pieces can be pre-soaked and applied, final smoothing done with the fingers or brush. It could get expensive though on large areas and I would consider using old cotton sheet soaked in PVA/water in this instance.


Must get on with the road bridge! :drag:

Edited by steve howe
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Really liking your work here, you are putting a lot of time and effort into 3 sidings :)


I really like the idea of the run round to the 2 cassettes.. Gives you so much more potential, but doesn't take up any space. If you built cassettes that had separate sections for the loco you could run the train in forwards and then really run round, even in the end was still in the first cassette. Make sense?

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The road overbridge is the only significant engineering structure on the layout and I wanted to base it on the surviving Cornwall Minerals Railway bridges on the Treamble Branch on the supposition that had the line been extended up the valley, the architectural styles would have continued. The best (and I think only) remaining road bridge on the old branch is situated near Rejarrah and is so well grown in that it is easy to drive over it without realising it even is a railway bridge.


My plan was to copy this bridge but enlarge it to a double width arch as it spans the end of the run-round loop at this point. As time was (is!) pressing to get at least something built before the Club show in April, I decided to use my moulded DAS sheets as described in the link a few posts earlier.....




.....rashly thinking the rough dressed stonework would be a good match for the hewn granite typical of Cornish railway structures. A site visit proved this assumption to be quite false as the bridge is built from beautifully cut, squared blocks with dressed granite copings.




Unfortunately lack of time prevented me from making a fully scribed version, particularly since the parts for the bridge had already been cut out!



The simple elegance belies the craftsmanship involved in cutting and setting these string courses



The single-track arch is made up of three rings of blue engineering brick which show the interesting saw-tooth effect of the arch being built slightly on the skew. That the bricks were left proud like this is probably down to economy given the fact that this was a lightly used freight line. On more significant structures the bricks would have been faced flush.



Closer examination revealed an interesting anomaly; The bridge would have been built originally by the Cornwall Minerals Railway in about 1873-4 but the brickwork, and particularly the concrete sills under the soffit look more recent and (I think) typical of the GWR. The question this raises is this: did the GWR rebuild the bridge when it took over the line and the rest of the CMR in 1896? it seems a rather drastic move given that traffic on the Treamble Branch by then was already sparse (the line closed in 1916) and curiously, the GWR re-laid and re-opened it again in 1926. Surely the bridge could not have been rebuilt then for traffic which was at  best, rather speculative. The lower stonework on the abutments and beneath the arch certainly looks slightly different to the parapets above suggesting older work. Another unusual feature is the use of buttresses rather than wing walls to support the facia, presumably the rocky clay through which the cutting is made at this point was judged to be stable enough not to need retaining.



The parts for the bridge cut from the moulded DAS sheet. Used like this in its dry state the material is quite structural although brittle.



Painting in progress, the colours are too rich for the final effect but subsequent weathering will blend all together.



The parts painted and ready for assembly.



The main parts assembled. The incorrect bonding really bugs me now! As the arch was to span two tracks I increased the brick rings from three to five. Setting the arch into the DAS sheet was tricky, in the end I marked out the arch on fine card and scribed the curved courses with a pair of blunt dividers, the vertical courses (known as 'perps' in the Trade I believe) were impressed with a sharpened jeweller's screwdiver every 1mm.......... :O The arch was then coloured initially with watercolour and soft pastel, and set into the cut-out space made for it in the DAS facia, packed up with thicker card behind and set in place with PVA. When dry, any gaps around the joint were filled with more DAS and the brickwork colouring completed. In fairness it was all a right old faff...and I should have scribed the whole thing properly in the first place which would probably have been quicker!



The soffit was reasonably straightforward using Slaters embossed stretcher bond styrene firmly glued with evo-stik. A couple of layers of Mod-Roc over the arch helped strengthen the plastic and hold its shape.



The bridge temporarily in place for clearance testing. It is regrettable that the ironmongery of the cassette system is so visible through the arch but it was unavoidable due to lack of room, the old trick of theatrical matt black might help but I'm not confident. Hopefully the addition of 'wings' to the side of the viewing slot will direct the eye away from looking under the bridge! ( :no: )


Rockwork to follow dreckly...

Edited by steve howe
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That bridge at Rejarrah is difficult to get to to photograph, I tried a couple of years ago and couldn't get past the piles of discarded white goods.


I've just seen the club's website exhibition page, you might need to have a word...







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