Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Best Laid Plans
There are certain articles I always go back - Chris Pendlenton's North Shields in MRJ No 58 is a prime example of this, so much so I'm on my third copy of it now! Another on is one article in Iain Rice's sadly missed RailModel Digest Issue No. 2 (along with an excellent article on Southwell) on Iain Rice's specialist subject, layout design.
He is, of course, very well known for his books and articles on this subject, both in the UK and in the USA. The two approaches from 'typical modellers' on the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean are quite different. UK modellers often seem to think about exhibition layouts with the emphasis being on appearance and American modellers seem, if their magazines are to be believed, to focus on operation. In Issue 2 Iain Rice proposes a plan which combines a UK prototype with an emphasis on operation.
Go back fifty or sixty years and many UK layouts were set up for operation - layouts like The Sherwood Section, for example, were very much focused on operation. Layouts like these seem to have mostly died out as many people lack the time, money and space for such 'empires'. The plan here addresses these rather nicely. It's inspired by the Burry Port and Gwendraeth Vally Railway in Wales, which was known for class 03 and 08 diesel shunters which had been reduced in height to clear structures along the line.
The plan would give a real sense of running trains from one place to another - something which has a huge appeal for me. The space required is quite reasonable too, at less than 10' x 8' - a room like this most people would try and squeeze in some kind of country branch station which could, if one wasn't careful, end up appearing cramped and rather unnatural yet the industrial subject here is quite at home in compact area and tight curves wouldn't look out of place.
I love how it combines various locations which would generate traffic and how they feed the exchange sidings where the branch meets the mainline. It's very much an opportunity to model a 'railway' rather than just part of it and in a space which many people could find and justify.
Looking at plans like this encourages you to think a bit out of the box in the approach to layout design yet it could easily have each scene modelled in the same way UK modellers tend approach small layouts with an emphasis on detail. Maybe this would be the best of both worlds? Plus having two or three friends round for operating sessions would help to bring the layout to life and would be a great way to spend an evening!