Bere Banks – a west country gem

April 30, 2016

Hot sunshine and deep blue skies greeted me at Bere Banks when I arrived to photograph a procession of trains typical of the west country in the 1970s. Bere Banks is the creation of Keith Sully and it made its exhibition debut at Model Rail Glasgow earlier this year – a very popular exhibit by all accounts and that comes as no surprise.


The layout has been photographed for Hornby Magazine. This quartet of images did not make the cut of those I submitted to the editor. They clearly show why Bere Banks is a most unusual OO gauge layout modelled to a very high standard. It will undoubtedly become a very popular layout on the Scottish circuit. It has a late summer feel to it with light warm colours and a dusty atmosphere as if there’s been little rain over a long and warm summer.

Image 32-berebanks-omwb

Although I am too young to have been line-siding the west country railways in the 1970s, the layout did bring back memories of doing the same in the 1980s – Class 31/4s, 45/1s 47/4s, 50s and the like – oh happy days. Pity, as a youngster, I could not afford film and camera to document what I saw at the time.


Exhibition managers can find more details about the layout here:
My thanks to Keith Sully for taking time out of his busy schedule to prepare the layout for photography and making me welcome. I have developed a liking for the 1970s BR blue era based in the west country after building my Wheal Annah layout and Bere Banks hits the spot, making a really delightful change from a diet of BR Scottish Region layouts.



Wheal Annah update – locos arrive…

August 27, 2014

Wheal Annah August 2014-22

The locos for Wheal Annah’s early 1970s period have finally arrived thanks to help from Andy Forty of Dapol in locating suitable examples. First up is a beast which is fairly alien to me – a ‘Western’ or Class 52, No. D1072 “Western Glory”. The headcode panels will have to be changed and in keeping with the later life of these locos, some weathering will be applied. Westerns did operate on china clay branches from time to time as well as being regulars on the Staffordshire ‘Clayliner’ service.

Wheal Annah August 2014-44

Class 22 No D6318 is the second Dapol loco to arrive for duty and is typical of china clay country. I have reviewed this model in the past and the example acquired for Wheal Annah is an excellent runner. Class 22s became horribly dirty in their later days of service, a feature which will be applied to No. D6318.

Wheal Annah August 2014

One of the objectives of building Wheal Annah is to use the layout as a performance test bed for modern standard N gauge locomotives and stock. Both a 6-axle and 4-axle loco from the Dapol range were required to work alongside an example of each from Bachmann Graham Farish models, hence the Class 52. It has turned out to be a smooth runner and it looks the part too. The 1970s era was determined by the needs of Hornby magazine where this layout is being featured as a short series. My personal preference would have been to model stock from the BR Sector period.

Wheal Annah August 2014-33

Initial testing of the layout has gone well using the equipment in standard condition without any changes to couplings or the stock itself. I will look at a variety of coupling types and will see how the lax N gauge tolerances will affect the ability to use automated uncoupling methods.

Wheal Annah August 2014-66

I was taken aback at how large china clay works buildings work out to be in model form. Even after careful measurement and extrapolation using good references of the full size buildings, they look pretty big. I found myself checking the size of rolling stock against buildings in reference photographs on numerous occasions to see if the scale was working out correctly and I was not making some fundamental error. Older china clay driers were often built into the side of hills to facilitate the drying and processing of clay, hence the apparent large size of the buildings. This small coal fired dries is only a part building and is missing about 2/3rds of its depth and length together with the hillside it would be built into.

With the locos in hand together with a Bachmann Graham Farish Class 37 (the new Class 25 is not due for a few months yet) a suitable comparison of similar loco types can be done. The layout has now been thoroughly tested and is ready for smaller detail structures – pipeline, industrial fittings and so on. Scenery is also in hand including the blending of the structures into the landscape (what there is of it) to remove the gap at the base of the works buildings. My thanks goes to Andy Forty of Dapol for his kind assistance with this project.


N Gauge Class 22.

May 18, 2013


Class 22 image 1Western Region modellers are going to love this one – a small loco in a small scale which will inspire a few layouts, I am sure. Despite the long held view that minority loco classes would not make it to main stream modelling, manufacturers have broken into this field and are now offering some very attractive models of unusual prototypes. For N gauge, the Class 22 breaks new ground and Dapol has done a pretty good job of it too.Class 22 image 2It is a small Bo-Bo type locomotive which will suit anything from large layout themes based on WR main line action to sleepy west country branch lines.Class 22 image 5Features include wire hand rails, etched grilles applied to the body sides and flush glazing.Class 22 image 4The  off-set roof radiator grille characteristic of the Class 22 is faithfully represented.Class 22 image 3The face of what turned out to be a smooth running and powerful little model.Class 22-image 6

Class 22 image 8Spoked wheels are fitted and the spokes are individually represented. remember when it was considered impossible to produce spoked loco wheels (steam and diesel) for N gauge which were see-through? All four axles are powered.Class 22 image 7The technical specifications are up to the usual Dapol N gauge standard. A five pole slow speed motor is fitted which drives both bogies though the now standard drive shafts. Brass flywheels ensure that the model has some momentum too. Electronics include running lights and a 6-pin DCC socket. The body simply pulls off (no connecting wires to the chassis) to reveal a die cast chassis which brings the model’s weight in at around 75g. Test running proved to be very satisfactory, with no light leakage into the cab and smooth controllable running. In all, a very smart model of an unusual prototype!