Blog post writing is a funny thing. Sometimes a post can take days or weeks to evolve into something worth publishing, or sometimes it can end up being deleted, whilst others are spontaneous and are written and published without hesitation. A short while ago I had an idea to publish blog posts, each with an idea for a new model railway (click here for more). It seemed such a sound an approach and I was confident that a plethora of blog posts would follow. However, instead I have decided upon a different approach that starts from looking for inspiration and gathering thoughts and consideration, simply because coming up with a specific idea is proving a little difficult for me.
I have had many excellent suggestions from readers for the new layout and yes I will be entering it starting an odd forum discussion to get more! However for now, my thoughts and considerations are as follows.
The world is your oyster when it comes to modelling. There are a multitude of options and its very difficult to settle on one place and time. My interests will require (albeit not necessarily exclusively) steam operation. My knowledge is mainly gleaned from Southern England, but my interests range across all regions and indeed nations. Indeed the thought of having a “locoyard International” layout has crossed my mind!
I’ve taken a look at my model stock and am beginning to appreciate how it does not link to any one area or region. Much of it is southern in origin, although the consistency of any particular time or era is somewhat lacking. Today I’m going to think about a Southern scene, especially as it’s at the front of my thoughts at present.
Although the former southern railway or BR southern region covered a relatively small area, there was much variation within it. The Southern Railway was formed in the grouping of 1923. 3 major companies were merged to create Southern – the London and South Western Railway (LSWR), London Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR) and South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR). Each could make for a fascinating model layout. The locomotives were full of character and colour. Although the idea of a model railway representing this early era appeals greatly, the lack of ready to run support will make it tricky. The grouping period post 1923 is a different matter.
One important change of thinking about the Southern Railway that I have been through is the assumption that once the companies were amalgamated into one, that there would be harmony and cohesion across the region. It turns out that I was wrong! Such was the fierce rivalry between the pre-grouping firms that staff in some cases refused to operate their formal competitors machinery. Mixing stock would also result in crews requiring retraining, so regional variation in stock was much less varied than you might assume. From a southern modellers point of view, this means that you have to consider the origins of a line and work from there. So for instance, there’s little point having a fleet of olive green LSWR T9’s and M7’s if you intend to model a southern scene in Kent. Equally, if you wish to model the LSWR’s withered arm into Cornwall, an ex-SECR C class would be out of place.The other thing that has been on my mind in regards to this region is electricity. Southern Railway followed in the footsteps of the LSWR in introducing 3rd rail Electrical Multiple Units (EMU’s). Modelling scenes without EMU’s or a third rail could reduce the potential options of location. The later you look at Southern Railway, the more prevalent is the EMU.
Southern Railway changed much during its life from 1923 to 1948. It had 2 Chief Mechanical Engineers who produced differing locomotives and stock. Maunsell is best known for his moguls whilst Bulleid for his unorthodox style. Liveries changed too, from olive to malachite green, with black wartime colours during the Second World War. So when modelling Southern Railway it is vital to give a date.
Nationalisation in 1948 brought about many changes to the southern region. New locomotive designs were used to replace the very elderly locomotives. At first some of these were from other regions – the Ivatt 2MT tank and Fairburn 4MT being two notable types. Riddles standard classes soon followed. You have to be careful of which period of BR steam you model. The Fairburn 4MT tank was replaced by the standard 4MT tank for instance. N15 King Arthur class were expiring early and replaced by Standard 5MT’s. Layer I’m the steam era, diesel electric loco’s were introduced. Rolling stock changed liveries too. So there’s lots to think about!
Of course another option to consider is modelling the present day. This gives flexibility of engine types and rolling stock if a preserved line is represented. Matt Wickham’s Bluebell Model Railway (click here for more) is an excellent example of this being executed exceptionally well.
Specifically a few places look to me as interesting modelling subjects in the Southern region. The first are light railway junction’s with mainlines. There are quite a few to choose from including those on the Kent and East Sussex and Hayling Island branches. Another idea for a subject comes both from a suggestion from Simon and studying a regional map – Guildford. Although of LSWR origin, the station was a junction of the LSWR, LBSCR and SECR, allowing for an interesting mix of passing services (click here to see a 00 scale Guildford layout.) With 3 southern livery M7 tanks in the collection, I already have a good basis for a home fleet! Nine Elms had an impressive locoyard, as did Eastleigh, both of which are also sources of inspiration.
Another source of inspiration is the LSWR’s Devon/Cornwall link. This allows the possibility of a narrow gauge connection, which could be very interesting, particularly with Heljan, Peco and Bachmann all producing products now or in the future. It would allow for a mix of ex-LSWR types and even the odd WR interloper.
So lots of food for thought! My current feeling is that a mid 1930’s Southern Railway scene could be the ideal, particularly inspired by Guildford. However, I’ve still got a long way to go until I make my mind up for sure!
For a little more Southern inspiration click here. I’ll turn my attention to the west for inspiration soon… Watch this space!