So Far, a Continuing Saga of Changed Plans - 2011
After almost three and a half years, my builder has finally been engaged to floor out the loft, insulate it in the roof and line it all out in plywood. It has lights, power and ventilation. All the remains for me to do is to paint it and get it carpeted and a space some 29 feet by a tad over 11 is available.
After decades of modelling of one sort or another, I may actually succeed over the course of the next couple of years in building myself an operating, useable, railway.
Over the years there have been numerous plans for all kinds of layouts, none of which ever got anywhere near being built. Largely, I suspect, because they were far too ambitious, but there never was the space, the time or the money anyway. (It's called armchair modelling.)
I retired in September 2010 and so have begun to make concrete plans and cost, while not immaterial, is less of a problem that it was some years ago.
I suppose, like many others in the past I had visions of an intensive passenger railway with long trains and lots of tail traffic. I would really love to see trains of diverse carriages being hauled by immaculate express engines.
The reality is that I would need a huge space to do it justice. Even the loft here with 29x11 feet useable space would be hard pressed to produce a realistic railway based on such a premise, assuming I could afford to convert it (which it transpired I could).
However, over the years I have found more and more enjoyment in building goods stock. The carriage of goods was the life blood of the railways and, in the era I propose to model (circa 1900), the carriage of goods provided by far the bulk of the Great Western's revenue, about 60%.
Having worked many times on Horton Regis (The Epsom club's layout) I found I got a greater kick out of shunting the yard than running passenger trains. So this railway will be almost entirely goods. The one drawback of that though is that wagons arrive either empty or full and should then leave full or empty.
Since we do not have 7mm robot people to load and unload them we need to find a way to provide for loading and unloading. My intention is to build twice as many open wagons as I need to operate the railway, half of them loaded and an identical set empty.
Wagons will disappear into factories with a load and emerge later without, or vice versa. There are plenty of examples of this in real life. Indeed, it used to happen at Curzon Street Goods Depot, where I began my short career on the railways.
Vans on the other hand do not need this strategy and so can be parked in roofed over sidings or against a dock where they can be unloaded or loaded in the imagination. I have yet to think of a way of making the doors operational!
To make matters even more 'interesting', I intend using a wagon turntable too. I know this can be done because Ian Hopkins achieved it on his 'railway in a clock' St Georges Hill and they were a feature of Curzon Street too.
However, I was also inspired by the Slough railway system where the GWR provided direct rail access to many factories and ran regular trips to each as required. I am placing my railway to the North of Snow Hill but have yet to decide which part of North Birmingham will be demolished to make way for this factory complex with its tight clearances and cramped yard.
By the way, it will be 31.5mm track gauge. Now being subjected to more revision because I could build a 'roundy-roundy' or an end-to-end some 29 feet long. So who knows what will finally see the light of day? Temploting for it will be a nice diversion when a break is needed from completing the remaining commissions.