Friday, May 03, 2019

Do it Yourself Railway (1966)

I was hoping to be able to post something about my model railway, as  it is a subject we haven't visited in a while.  Unfortunately, I've been too busy of late to really do anything which photographs well, (sorting out the isolating sections, wiring and working out where the signals should be aren't very visual activities), so here's a bit of film about someone else's model railway.  This snatch of British Pathe News footage from 1966 focuses on an O gauge garden railway. I say garden railway but, as you can see, the main operating area of station and yards is actually in a shed, with only the running lines venturing outside.  Unusually, those external lines are entirely enclosed so as to protect them from the elements.  While it isn't uncommon for operating areas on garden railway layouts to be in sheds (or even indoors in part of the house), the running lines are usually fully exposed, so as to allow the owner the pleasure of seeing their trains winding around their gardens on a far longer line than is usually possible indoors.

But this is one of those model railways designed to be operated like a real railway and run to a real timetable, which means keeping the trains running by avoiding track damage from the elements or wildlife is more important to the owner than the visual aspects of garden running.  I have great admiration for people who set up their railways in this way - the creation of the interlocking signals and points is no mean feat.  It isn't, however, my cup of tea.  I'm more of a 'playing trains' kind of guy: I just like putting together representations of actual trains and running them around my layout.  Which isn't to say that anything goes - my locomotives and rolling stock are pretty much specific to British Rail's Southern Region c1960-67 and the location is specifically somewhere on the main line between Waterloo and Southampton.  The trains which run are representative to that time and place.  While I don't aspire to run to a strict and realistic timetable, it is, theoretically, possible run t a timetable on the layout.  My layout is also specifically designed for one man operation - those big timetabled layouts usually need multiple operators.

The other interesting thing about the layout in the film clip is its gauge - O gauge is about twice the size of the 00 gauge I use and, by the mid-sixties was declining in popularity.  Pre-war, it had been the most popular gauge for UK model railways, but O gauge layouts needed a lot of space and post-war, as houses became smaller, it found itself displaced by the smaller gauges, 00, HO, TT3 and eventually N.  Its last bastion was the garden railway, where the smaller gauges were considered impractical and unreliable.  (In recent years, however, I've seem more and more OO and even N gauge garden layouts).  While the availability of ready to run O gauge rolling stock and locos is nowadays pretty poor, O has enjoyed something of a revibal in recent years, with a wide range of kits and components now available.  Due to its size, O gauge lends itself to kit and scratch building - it is far less fiddly than OO and the completed locos and stocj are satisfyingly chunky and substantive.  Pre-war and immediately post-war, there were plenty of ready to run stock and motive power available from the likes of Hornby and Basset-Lowke - much of which seems to be running on the railway in the clip.  Plenty of the wonderful tinplate rolling stock of the  era, with their beautifully printed sides, can be seen making up the trains.

Anyway, with the bank holiday weekend stretching ahead, there's a chance I might actually find time to get something done on my layout.  Certainly, I'm hopeful of getting a few stalled projects completed over the next few weeks.  So, you never know, the next time we talk of model trains, it could be with reference to my trains.



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