Model Railway Forum banner

Inspirational Stations

26509 Views 120 Replies 30 Participants Last post by  Norman Byrne
There are many stations that inspire modellers. I suspect that we each have a favourite location that we would like to model. How often do we dream of what we would create if only we had the time/money/understanding spouse/someone made a suitable kit .......... yes there are many reasons why these railway layouts never get built but the dream remains in a corner of your mind. At odd idle moments you search out that dream, run your mind over the perfectly executed track diagram, imagine yourself holding an exquisite model of the station building which you have just built with your newly found scratch building skills. Then the car driver behind you runs out of patience and honks as the lights return to red.

But why not share that dream. If you are unable to build it ...........

I will start the ball rolling with Döbeln Hauptbanhof (Main Station) which is situated on the Dresden to Leipzig (via the Muldentalbahn) route where it crosses the Chemnitz to Berlin line.

Looking East 120 278 runs through the station with a freight off the Dresden line. 21/09/90

The interesting layout is shown to advantage in the first photo.

A simplified plan view.

132 039 leaves with a service to Chemnitz 21/09/90

118 747 arriving from the West, again on 21/09/90

All the previous photographs were taken before the East German DR was merged with the West German DB. This was the scene just a year after the wall came down. Not much changed on the railways.

Now electrified, we see 143 087 pushes a short rake of double decker coaches.

Here another modern view shows some more station details.

I travelled through this station a few times but never had the time to alight and take some photographs. I find the station layout to be very interesting and hope to incorporate something of the essence of this place in a future layout.

I found the wonderful photographs on Flickr, specifically here: Werner & Hansjörg Brutzer Flickr collection. I wrote to Werner asking for permission to use their photos on MRF and he has graciously given permission. I urge all to visit their fabulous Flickr collection, you will not be disappointed.

Anyone else like to share their dream?

Best regards .............. Greyvoices (alias John)

Nearly forgot the roundhouse. 201 050 on shed with a pair of shunting locomotives in 1992.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
81 - 100 of 121 Posts
A thoughtful post Kristopher.

When I started this thread I chose to name it "Inspirational Stations" which in my mind meant that the locations gave you some level of inspiration, not necessarily the urge to replicate the entire place in miniature. Birmingham New Street is just such a station and in it's pre 60's layout would make a fantastic subject to model for those who are blessed with a lot of space; to do it justice you would need at least 40', ideally more. However, if you chose to model either of the station throat areas using the road overbridges as scenic breaks you could replicate the intensity and variety of traffic without needing to model the station. You would need to sustain the illusion that the platforms started just the other side of the bridge with skillful use of backdrops and by running trains in a prototypical fashion, either approaching or departing the station.

The illusion could be enhanced by modelling the end of a station roof, set back slightly from the overbridge to gain some depth, for major stations such as Birmingham New Street.

The introduction of the Great Central island platform buildings including the steps down from the overbridge offers another way of modelling just part of the station.

Best regards ................. Greyvoices (alias John)
See less See more
I am still finding more obscure terminal stations such as Liverpool Riverside, some bigger ones such as Liverpool Exchange and some interesting ones such as Plymouth Friary, there are some rather specialist ones such as New Holland Pier which has an animal feed terminal stuck on the end and there are rural terminii such as Cardigan. Some well abandoned stations survive in part such as Gosport they just keep coming. I will build my version of an old terminus at Towcaster as Adolphus Road but I am looking for ideas and inspirations.

I will use the Faller 120199 as the train shed, a Metcalfe station as the end building and have it to have four platform faces internally, one to one side and a twin through track to the other - if it fits. The worry is getting a twin track bridge over 500mm long but in the event it looks like it will have to be 2 Faller 120482 bow frame bridges, getting these to land right at both ends will be a bit of a tease however if it works it will be good!

Watch Towcaster in about 2 weeks!!
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
There are quite a few bridges to choose from here Kristopher:

Hack metal bridges

These are very sturdy as they are made of metal. The larger ones seem a bit pricey but can work out quite reasonable if taking the place of multiple plastic kits.

Best regards ................. Greyvoices (alias John)
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Hey John - nice one - never heard of these before but I am a convert !
For those with less space and/or ambition I have two candidates to offer.

First is Cranleigh, Surrey, although a victim of Beeching it has the merit of being a single track branch line in a village and in the 1950s it had a gasworks just to the West of it. Scope then for some interesting scenery.

My second candidate is Leigh-on-sea, Essex. Back in the 1950's it had some sidings, a goods depot, a coal merchant's storage and a signal box. An attraction from the modeller's point of view is that the station is at the bottom of a grassy hill studded with trees thus providing a convenient back-scene. It is also hard by Leigh creek with its nearby cockle sheds and cockle boats, boatyard and maratime activity.

Both are surely a suitable challenge for anyone with a taste for atmosphere and detail!
I posted previously about Liverpool Street being inspirational when I was a kid, and the topic for me is less about the modelling aspect, but more about stations which inspire interest in railways as a start point for becoming interested in our hobby. Liverpool Street and London Bridge were 'no-brainers' because both had model shops in close proximity - remember the one at London Bridge? full of Rokal, Maerklin, Trix etc.

So I'm going to throw a couple of curves in here, you can go and 'google' them to see what I mean, but hey, Gare de l'Est in Paris is really special, lovely atmosphere, had cause to visit/pass through several times in the 80's ad 90's, wonderful architecture, elegant, ambient feel, gorgeous.

Even today, Frankfurt (Main) Hbf is an inspiration, probably one of the biggest commuter stations in Europe, lots of engine and coaching stock movements, thousands of people scurrying around like ants. Really, really busy.

Bringing it back to potential modelling size inspiration....

Wolnzach Stadt


Dillingen (Donau)


See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
6991 ......... This topic is what those who post care to make it. I just try to keep the whole shebang going vaguely in some sort of direction.

Best regards ............. Greyvoices (alias John)
  • Like
Reactions: 1
I've always thought Bury Bolton Street had a lot of promise fora small portable layout with the bridge and tunnel at either end providing the often used scenic break to fiddle yards. The only problem modelling it for real would of course be the 504 units!
With the construction of my downgraded terminal station (Adolphus Road) I needed a track layout, the one I came up with was Cheltenham St james which seemed very logical to me, arrivals to the left, departures to the right, a central pilot engine road, double slips to transfer stock across the station and a release road only needed therefore on the arrivals side, so I now have a plan of how to make Adolphus Road work. Although closed about 1890 and thereafter used as a goods depot except for troop specials in the 1914-8 war Adolphus Road continues to serve as a parcels and freight depot.
Posts in two very different MRF topics have recently inspired me to research a couple of station locations. I will be adding those places to this thread in the next few days but I could not resist sharing with you a video link that I chanced upon as I was searching for suitable illustrations.

Deltic cab ride - Kings Cross to Doncaster video link

What atmosphere. What an inspiration.

Best regards ................... Greyvoices (alias John)
Thanks, John, that was fascinating!
How I did enjoy the video of the Kings Cross to Doncaster Deltic cab ride. Thank you.

As a Peterborough resident for about 27 years, the view of Crescent bridge as you enter the tight curves into the platforms bought back a lot of memories. Also the people walking on the platforms.

I remember postal bags had to be transferred across both the up and down lines by hand.

However, back to the topic, my inspirational station is a choice of two.

Both are associated with each other as to get to one you had to visit the other.

Hunstanton was the end of the line when we went on holiday. We would stay in a small green caravan adjacent to the gas works. A walk home from the beach would see us spend several minutes watching, through the ground level barred but glassless windows, the men stoking the fires.

To get to Hunstanton it was necessary for the train to pull into and reverse out of Kings Lynn. This entailed a change of locomotive and the inevitable impatience of some children waiting to get to the sea-side.

Oh to have those days back again!

Sarah Winfield
See less See more
Norm has once again ascended to his loft and has once again become active on MRF. He posted direct to me with a couple of questions and took the opportunity to remind me of this thread, Inspirational Stations. It's been over 7 years since this was active and, reading through the posts we did range over a lot of stations.
One that stands out is Ambergate in Derbyshire and I really enjoyed revisiting that place ............ well I would because I live just a couple of miles south of it. Go back to post 16 to find the map, photos and two videos of a truly wonderful model layout of Ambergate Station. It was whilst I was looking at the videos on youtube that I spotted another video that was new to me: Forward to First Principles 1966
which looks at the history of freight railways and includes some filmed sequences at Ambergate and on the Cromford & High Peak Railway. A wonderful half an hour on a Sunday afternoon.

Best regards ........................ Greyvoices (alias John)
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Hi John,
Thank you for reserecting this Old very interesting thread, as you originally created all those years ago. It generated not only a lot of interest at that time, but also some really interesting information and input; together equally importantly in my own view, some really heart felt great memories and stories, from numerous then members of the Forum. Which as mentioned previously provided a very pleasant re - read too.
It was also fascinating to see the stations and back up information / story’s selected and provided by other Forum members at that time - which included some real gems, as you have already noted.
My own selected Insperational Station on the original run of the thread was Lewes, which back then had sprung from travelling through there for a number of years, when work at Glyndebourne, back in the 1990’s. This interest initially being based on the stations actual platform / trackwork configuration on the triangular junction of diverging main lines. This then being further increased following some research on the stations history - all as detailed back towards the start of this thread. And Lewes still remains my choice / selection.
However, on the basis of being allowed a further choice in support of this second circulation of this thread, and to hopefully get the ball rolling again - would like to choose St.Pancras, the reason for which having been involved with its redevelopment to St. Pancras International to form the new London terminus for CTRL - initial links to which are attached, to hopefully give a taster;

As part of the involvement on the scheme, which covered the overall stations new build development, through to and together with the final fit out of the Eurostar facilities, included a detailed background of the overall stations history and development, as a key part to the integration of the new build development, and critical interfaces with the existing Barlow Shed and Hotel -

1862 Map -

Map Ecoregion Infrastructure Urban design Land lot

2003 Barlow Shed New Platforms / Roof Extension (Works in Progress) -

Building Sky Urban design Landscape City

........ more to follow.... Cheers for now Norm
(John - hope this fits within the thread criteria)
See less See more
Further to the above, missed this link of overall completed images; (* please not link apart some images are copyright / licence for further use).

Enjoy, Cheers Norm
Thank you Norm. I really enjoyed the St. Pancras timeline which made me remember my own association with the station.
In the early sixties I used to have a shed bashing run around London. I may have only been 11 in 1961 but I accompanied some older boys who showed me the ropes. There was at the time a through service to London Liverpool Street from Bury St. Edmunds but we would change at Cambridge for the fast Buffet Express service to Kings Cross. From there a short stroll to St. Pancras; a few numbers jotted down at the buffer stops and then a stopper to Cricklewood and those marvellous sheds. I remember my gall when my camera packed up as I gazed at 10000 and 10001, side by side in the West shed. I still have my notebook and must dig it out. I made that trip a couple of times a year up until I started to notice that there was some appeal in the opposite sex and so I did witness the end of steam on the GE, GN, MR, LNW, GW and various points of the compass south of the Thames though I missed the final years of Nine Elms.
My next memory of St. Pancras was in 1964 and going to Leicester to watch Manchester United and a memorable Dennis Law goal scored with his knee. Travelled from Bury St. Edmunds to Peterborough, then to Market Harborough to change onto the Midland Main Line for Leicester. Both trains from Peterborough Peak hauled. The journey home was via St. Pancras, reached with another Peak hauled train. Quick dash to King's Cross and a Brush type 2 "sprint" to Cambridge and the last Cravens unit a to Bury St. Edmunds. I did that trip again later in the year (the next football season) but this time changed at Bedford on the way home as the Cambridge < > Oxford route was still open.
Then there was a long break until 1993 when my BR career took me to the Railway Technical Centre in Derby. My job entailed many meetings in London so I started to use St. Pancras quite frequently. I preferred to catch the 17:36 back to Derby as this was a Class 45 hauled MkII set complete with a buffet car. I sometimes arrived at St. Pancras in time for an earlier train but as by then Midland Intercity services were operated by cascaded East Coast HST's I would wile away an hour in The Shires which is now known as The Betjeman Bar. This happy time was curtailed by privatisation which had me transferred to Manchester Piccadilly. I had been employed in Derby to manage Civil Link and also the RTC test fleet but both those responsibilities went to what became EWS and the parcels division operating out of Crewe - (sorry forgotten what it was called).
My world changed once again in the early 2000's as I started to work as a railway consultant. I worked predominantly in Europe and by 2010 I was hired by a subsidiary of SNCB and was based in Antwerp. This meant a commute on the Eurostar, late train on Sunday evening to Brussels and a return on Friday evening ................... so i passed through St. Pancras twice a week. This was a totally different experience from anything that had gone before. Now it was customs and passports, scanned luggage and Stella Artois. Still there was that wonderful arch of the main station roof and a chance to see the underpinning of the vaults at ground level. The relaxed feel of catching the Friday late train to Derby was still there although a cramped Meridian unit was a backward step from the HST which itself was a step back from Peak haulage.
Thinking back to the early sixties with the mix of Black Fives, Jubilees, Peaks and at least two forms of Type 2's, the comparison with modern St. Pancras and Meridians, Javelins and Eurostars .............. oh and now the Corby service EMU's whatever they are, comes in as a pale shadow of what once was. We nearly had the planned cascade of Class 91's and MKIV's but as the electrification was postponed in 2014 we lost that opportunity. Was there ever a more stupid decision than stopping electrification of the Midland Main Line.
I also regret the use of six platforms for the Eurostar trains which average 2 departures and 2 arrivals per hour. Before Covid counted 27 Eurostar services per day whilst the East Midlands Trains with a service pattern of 4 Intercity arrivals and 4 departures plus a couple of local services per hour were cramped into 4 platforms, often with trains double stacked and a long walk to the country end to get your train. I look back on the last minute dash from The Shires bar and compare it with the Olympic event that constitutes the walk from the Betjeman bar to the extremes of the EMR platform 4. My remedy would be that one of those long Eurostar platforms be handed over for domestic traffic with platform 5 for Sheffield and 6 for Nottingham. All those empty seats in the cocktail bar could remain untroubled and unoccupied.
Oh I nearly forgot. I've used the Javelin service a couple of times, both from Ashford. One time a trip from Rye (depart 11:48 with an arrival in Derby at 15:08 - fantastic) and another time, again via Ashford when the Brighton <> St. Pancras Thameslink service was stopped due to line being blocked south of Croydon and I chose to go from Brighton to Ashford as the only viable alternative route. The Thameslink and Javelin services have been transformative.

Yes St. Pancras is an impressive station Norm but I do feel that it's time for a bit of a rethink.

Best regards .................. Greyvoices (alias John)
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Hello John,
Well that certainly made a very interesting read, with both lots of really lovely memories along with provoking some evocative mental images; something this thread has seemed to have been able to do from its start.
St.Pancras certainly seems to have been one of those stations you have used in one way or another throught your life, in so many guises too.
Glad it’s addition to the current latest list of Inspirational Stations has ticked a box with you as well as myself.
It’s also a station which have used fairly regularly, really from the early 80’s when travelling to college at Nottingham, when normally travelling back late afternoon / early evening on a Sunday, having been on the occasional home trip, to be fed, watered and of course washing done 🤣 - would on arrival at St.Pancras laiden down with all the normal student baggage, and hockey sticks too boot; would be eager to see what the likely time and route was back to Nottingham, depending how the normal weekend engineering works had faired at that time - certainly over the years of travelling went through a vast variety of different routes, often both there and back - but all good fun.
Anyway, going back to the station itself, can understand your frustration on the allocation of platforms between Eurostar and the rest totally. The situation was obviously even worse when the new station construction works were taking place. As you are no doubt aware the station itself had to be kept operational in one form or another, throughout all stages of the build works, that being quite a challenge in itself. There are some very good detailed accounts of this on the internet already, but this included the construction and operation of a “temporary” station on the East / York Road side, as one of the first key requirements, including re-jigging taxi ranks, ticketing, customer facilities, etc - this also as you have mentioned Long walks to get to double banked trains on the platforms today, introduced a long walk for passengers from Euston road in both directions for quite some time ! Following the opening of the temporary station, the existing main station and Barlow Shed were then released for construction works to begin, from undercroft (barrel run level) to existing arched glass roof level, with the required blockades being put in place - at which point the clock really did start ticking; with some works running on 24 hour shifts, to have any chance of meeting the programme - No Pressure !
Part of the scheme also included the construction of a new underground Thameslink Box station, this being a key future interchange for Eurostar. This was also subject to a further blockade; and had to be constructed through what’s known as “cut and cover” technique, whereby 2000 large diameter piles were sunk along each side of the existing underground lines, three floors below ground, which were then capped off with a RC concrete roof slab, cast onto the existing ground at road level, underneath which the new tracks / station void was then constructed “top down”; partly due to the need to maintain roads / buildings and structures that existed at street level.
As can be seen this was quite a complex puzzle, added to which were also the volumes of requirements and constraints working near / adjacent / on and in a railway environment - that’s without other challenges such as graveyards, a maze of existing statutory services, inc gas, elec, water and sewerage; large sections of all of which had to be diverted to free up the new 300m Long platform extension footprints.
Oh yes and there was also a key date with a tunnel boring machine heading our way from Stratford, let alone trying to agree a platforms / superstructure (* as at 1st floor level to allow for potential shock loads of 3No Eurostar’s crashing simultaneously) and roof design .... more to follow ..... then what would you do for the Model Railway version too ...
Cheers for now, Norm
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Hi again John / All,
Below is a further link to an interesting article on how St.Pancras and “beer” were so closely linked, with some great images, including the giant beer barrel elevator located beside the signal box, to access the Vaults.

The floor of the Vaults was built on a fall back towards the front of the station undercroft on Euston Road, so once the barrels were lowered into the Vaults, they would use gravity to run them the length of the station to Euston Road - hope they had good buffers / breaks at that end; or could picture giant barrels of beer, crashing out under the hotel / concourse 1st floor frontage onto Euston Road 🙈🙈 !
Enjoy, Cheers Norm
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Hi again John / All,
Taking a step back in time on this thread to specifically posts #5 and #9, and the selection of Lewes Station, the below history information never actually got posted, so better late than never;

World Map Font Parallel Paper

Font Parallel Engineering Paper Pattern

Map Font Parallel Slope Paper

Font Map Parallel Art Twig

An interesting final image 🧐
Sorry about the quality as had to use photos in the end, as did not like word or pdf formats - technology eh !
Cheers Norm
See less See more
I really enjoyed Norm's engineering appraisal of St.Pancras and it did make me think about the fundamental problem with termini. The biggest success of St. Pancras is the Thameslink box that allows through working , linking towns north of the Thames with to the south. The 26 trains per hour in each direction demonstrating the constraints of buffer stops in the station above. This was an opportunity that arose from the re-establishment of Snow Hill tunnel (Wikipedia article about Snow Hill tunnel ) which re-opened for passenger traffic in 1990; the Thameslink services gradually expanding in the next 30 years to become:

Slope Font Line Parallel Rectangle

This network was a pre-privatisation plan and lessons were certainly learned when it came to planning Crossrail which emerged as the Elizabeth line. Unfortunately the benefits of through trains was forgotten when the HS2 was proposed. The opportunity of linking routes into Euston and Paddington with Clapham Junction and beyond was passed up in favour of a grand gateway concept of an upgraded Euston terminus. The benefits of through working are a better experience for the passenger, a smaller fleet size that as trains waste so much time reversing in dead end platforms, greatly reduced costs associated with increased traincrew productivity and reduced infrastructure. Removing the bottlenecks of termini increases the capacity of the linked routes ............ as is demonstrated by Thameslink. I think that you get my point ... I will not labour it.

That Wikipedia link includes this wonderful map of the Snow Hill Tunnel area in 1914.

Plant Tree Terrestrial plant Map Slope

Best regards ................. Greyvoices (alias John)
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
81 - 100 of 121 Posts