In my earlier ramblings about continuous layouts, I missed out one excellent example, and a concept for such designs. Chris Morris’ Little Aller is based on Aller Junction in Devon in the early sixties. The area of the layout is 84″ by 40″. (Photos from N Gauge Forum.)
The interesting feature of this lovely layout is that there are no stations, yards, engine sheds or other complexity modelled. Just a fairly complex junction and signal box, and its surrounding scenery. Ideal for just watching the trains go by.
I realise that I really do just like watching trains, and wondered whether a similar idea could capture my own interests.
Looking again at the Isle of Wight, how about Smallbrook Junction in Southern Railway/British Railway Days?
The double track on the left comes from Ryde, and the line divides for Newport and Cowes and the west, and Ventnor and the south. Originally, there were two single track parallel lines, but the Southern Railway added the scissors crossover, to make operation more flexible. In the winter, they reverted to two single tracks, and removed some signal arms.
The photos below show the simplicity, yet interest of the prototype. There is one complex bit of pointwork, that would need building, or a simplified track layout. The signal cabin, a hut or two, and the road bridge to the north are the only structures, plus a few Southern rail built signals. The plan scales at 8′ long, but it could be compressed down to 5′ without losing its character. The lines would loop round to a fiddle yard behind in the time-honoured manner.
Of course, the trouble with an ‘N’ gauge IOW layout is the lack of locos. Dapol made an island Terrier, but the O2 0-4-4T, mainstay of SR and BR services, is wishful thinking. However, the strength of a layout such as Smallbrook is that it could be (almost) anywhere. It would be quite convincing to run Southern Region stock from the mainland, transposing the layout somewhere out west. And if you turned a blind eye to the Southern signals and box, really any train would look OK.
Though perhaps Lehigh Valley would stretch things a bit…..