As a diversion from my layout design travails, I came across some historic model railway designs on RMWeb, that are worth reposting.
The Larpool and Easington (or was it Easington and Larpool) railway appears in the Railway Modeller sometime in the 1960’s. It was a TT gauge industrial light railway, built in two small boxes that could be clipped together for transport.
Quite a modern idea, for a portable line. Perhaps the interesting thing about this little line was the lack of fiddle yard. OK, the stock on the line was limited (and this could have been an advantage in a time and scale with limited stock available off the shelf), but you have both end of the line modelled, and can operate it as a real railway.
On a far grander scale, an RMWeb thread discussed an old layout presented in the late-lamented Model Railway Constructor. This dates from rather later, but still the same sort of era. The following text caught my eye:
‘Compared with the normal fiddle yard, a concealed return loop maintains more convincingly the illusion of ‘romantic places’ far afield – especially if it has more than one track, so that the last train down is never the first train back, and even more so if it works automatically. For then, when a train runs ‘off the map’ it is not only out of sight but also, out of mind: no one can recall what trains are hibernating in the tunnel, waiting to reappear at the scheduled time. And since what had been a down Tunbridge Wells was liable to emerge, considerably later, as an up East Grinstead, and since in the meantime the Croydon operator had to make other movements, the illusion that a train really had been where it was due to go was nearly complete.
By contrast, a fiddle yard – even if hidden from public view – can never deceive the owner or his fellow operators: it can be all right for exhibitions, but falls down badly as an attempt at private illusion’.
Apologies for the quality of the three diagrams below, that show the layout. I think they put the concept across.
Now all these stations are way smaller that the real thing – especially Clapham Junction – but the layout does allow you to run a train service over ‘miles’ of main line. It’s a completely different approach to our recent trend to small station to fiddle yard models. These, I suspect, have partly appeared due to flats and smaller houses and no spare railway room or room for a garden shed. And, of course, there is a move to more realism in all aspects of modelling. But this railway is fun, and I guess that’s really what our hobby is all about.
This sort of approach won’t appeal to everyone. But perhaps we need to broaden our design ideas a little. The writer of the thread on RMWeb was building something similar, extending his original ‘Victoria + fiddleyard’ layout. I suspect it’s going to give him a lot of pleasure…..