We wish to express our many thanks to the publishers of Railway Modeller, especially Tim Rayner, Assistant Editor Peco Publications & Publicity Ltd for granting us permission to share these articles complete and verbatim with TRLOTTTE visitors.

This particular article comes from the January, 1968 issue of Railway Modeller, which details the Rev. Awdry's plans to rebuild his Ffarquhar OO layout. Wilbert subsequently was only able to implement a selection of these revisions. Happy reading!

All text and images © Railway Modeller-Peco Publications Ltd.

Railway Modeller January 1968

Plan of the month


by the Rev. W. Awdry

Ffarquhar layout plans - click for larger version
click image to view larger version

THE Ffarquhar Branch is to be rebuilt. For one thing, my faithful "Bedford" which took it to many exhibitions has been sold, and for another, the 6ft. × 4ft. arrangement does not make the best use of the space available in the Railway Room of our new house.

This room, as the plan shows, is nominally 11ft. 3in. × 8ft. 2in.; but the doorway juts in awkwardly, and though I have rehung the door to open outwards, one side is reduced to 7ft. 4in. and one end to 7ft., as, being tall, I do not really like "duck-unders".

It is a year since we moved house, but reconstruction has not yet begun because (a) of the number of people who have wanted to come and see the Ffarquhar Branch in its original form; and (b) while I was determined that the branch should be preserved, as a "portable", and knoew how I wanted to rebuild it, I could not make up my mind about the permanent layout which should occupy the rest of the room. I have been "havering" between main line and narrow gauge, but though I very much wanted "big stuff" none of the main line plans I drew out gave a satisfactory run, so narrow gauge has it in the end. The prototype is the 2ft. 3in. Skarloey Railway.

First, Ffarquhar Rebuilt
I built the old Ffarquhar good and strong. It has survived the hazards of 12 years of transportation to and from exhibitions, and still works as reliably as ever on surprisingly little maintenance, but is too heavy for one person to move, and needs a van to carry it about.

Ffarquhar Mark II has to be manageable entirely by one person, and must fit in the back seat of a saloon car. In the diagram sections R, Q, P and O show the idea. Using "Denny" principles P and O are two sections each 3ft. X 1ft. 3in. hinged together, and when opened out they for the Ffarquhar station and yard. Q and R are each 2ft. 7in. X 1ft. 3in. these are separate, and while Q is treated scenically to correspond as far as posiible with the old arrangement round Hackenbeck, R is a traverser section disguised in the conventional way with hillside and tunnel mouth. For clarity in the drawing the hillside is omitted. The whole is designed to fit along the one unbroken wall I have in the room. there is one further essential. While for home use it is necessary to have controls (speed, switches, points, signals and traverse handle) at the front; for exhibition work these should be "pluggable in" at the back, so as to enable the customers to have an uninterrupted view. There is one other point. In the drawing the width of the portable baseboardsis shown as 1ft. 3in. I am inclined to think that 1ft. 6in. would be better for P and O, while Q could taper from 1ft. 6in. at the station end to 1ft. 3in. at the tunnel end. This would enable the approach road to the yard to be modelled better, and improve the general effect.

Most of the scenic features will transplant from the old to the new. The station platform comes over the joint so that will need to be remade, but the former buildings will fit together, even when the sections are folded, granted a little rearrangement. For the rest, you will still be able to get your pint at the "three Beetles" and play a game of bowls if you feel so inclined. Mr. Neatley will probably be still tinkering with his car, while Mrs. Sawyer at "Airfix Thatch" is still worried about her winter fuel. Amos Horker, too still keeps pigs and sheep at tTunnel Farm. There is only one concession to the Beeching era. Hackenbeck Halt is closed, for lack of space to fit it in. Well, that is for a start. The portable will be built first to get something running again, but there is nearly 7ft. of unused space along the end-wall by the door.

The drawing shows how I plan to use that to double the length of run. A permanent section will be built mating up with Q, and abandoning the traverser section R for exhibition work only. Discerning readers will recognize it as D. J. Ashcroft's Country Branch form the July 1965 RAILWAY MODELLER, redrawn mirror fashion, and then mucked up a bit.

The passing station, Elsbridge, and its yard are rather on the miniature side, but there are as large as the site allows. Trains 2 ft. 6 in. in lenght can cross here easily. Longer ones will need some juggling, but it can be done with the aid of the headshunt and the coal siding.

It is going to be fun working out convincing scenery along the low-level riverside section, and blending the front edge of the portable (high level) with the river scenery of the lower. Perhaps it would be as well to make the front edges of O, P and Q irregular from the start.

The ruling radius is 2ft., with 1ft. 3in. radius from Hackenbeck tunnel and the Elsebridge loop. These latter will have transitional "leads in".

Gradients: The Elsbridge loop, from the river bridge (near dairy) to the underpass, the riverside line descends at 1 in 84 to give 4in. clearance under the top baseboard. This may not be necessary if I find after experiments that X rather than Y is the most convenient place for the lower fiddle sidings.

Next the Skarloey Railway
My workbench goes in front of the window, and I am left with a space roughly 7ft. 4in. × 3ft. along the remaining wall which is just right for narrow gauge. Crovan's Gate, the junction with a standard gauge, is represented, out of sight, by a fiddle yard which will probably be—in the end—on the site shown on the drawing as Y, on the work table. The line itself comes into view at Cros-ny-Cuirn ("Little Crossing of the Mountain Ash"). There is a level crossing here, and, for a short distance, river, road and railway run side by side. This was where (the "Gallant Old Engine") "Sir Handel" had his race with the steam roller, "George". The road drops to cross the river (Hawin Dooley) by a hump-back bridge, but the railway climbing at 1 in 96 crosses at a higher level, and reaches the high ground on the other side of the valley. Thence, through a tunnel it reaches Glennock ("Blue Hill"). A passing loop is provided here, and a stiff climb begins at 1 in 35. Crossing the river once more the line penetrates a rocky outcrop, and swings round over a viaduct to Rheneas ("Divided Waterfall"). All trains stop here to take water, but the site is too narrow for a loop. On then to Skarloey Junction where the line levels out and swinging left and south brings us into Skarloey station ("Lake of the Woods"). There is here a passing loop from which a line goes into a slate quarry. Behind and below the station can be seen the village abd tree-girt lake. A road leads from the station through the village, past the lake and disappears among the trees. The main line continues on round and behind the lake and trees, joining up with itself again at Skarloey Junction. This lakeside loopline was opened by the Duke in 1965 as part of the railway's centenary celebrations ("Very Old Engines").

Scenery: It is going to be fun to work this out. I have tried to sketch in some ideas on the drawing but have only succeeded in making rather a mess. However, as I see it, the scenery should be mostly Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog in type.

Tunnels: Glennock—Entrances could be nased on Moelwyn (F.R.).
Rheneas—This could be based on Aberglaslyn (W.H.R.).

Stations: Cros-ny-Cuirn—Just a Halt. No loop. It can be as primitive as the Hendy or Fach Goch (T.R.)
Glennock is based on Brynglas (T.R.).
Rheneas is based on Dolgoch (TR)
Skarloey, however, needs different treatment, The platform and buildingds are behind the track, and though there is only one platform the curved location is suggestive of Tan-y-Bwlch. The scenic background is going to be tricky here. For one thing we must be able to lift some of it up so as to get at the tunnelled tracks. For another, we have only 2ft. in which to get a lake, a village and convey the impression of almost limitless distance. I am going to experiment with 4mm.-sclae buildings for the station, 3mm.-scale for the middle distance (lake and village) and 2mm.-scale for the road and woodlands beyond.

Quarry: For lack of space this cannot be more than a dummy from which prearranged loads can be picked up.

Roads: These are roughly sketched in. the road only goes to Glennock. Foothpaths thereafter to Rheneas and Skarloey. There is a road from Skarloey station to the village and lake. After that it disappears "over the hills and far away", presumably in the direction of Peel Godred.

Rivers: The lower course of the river (from Rheneas to Cros-ny-Cuirn) looks reasonably good, but i am not satisfied with the course from the lake to the viaduct.

There you are. It looks as if I have got plenty to keep me busy. So the sooner I get going the better.

Click the Railway Modeller covers below to read additional articles written by the Rev. Awdry
Railway Modeller December 1959 Railway Modeller July 1961

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