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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have just briefly scanned MRJ #179.....picking up on one article in particular.

This concerns a layout by Don Rowland, namely ''Alpraham Sidings''....and the article is part 4 of a dispersed series I haven't caught up with yet.

Alpraham Sidings is a P4 layout..[which in itself is no problem], a 'fictional' site, with a huge angle on prototype operation.

This means,things are done exactly as they used to be in the age of steam, not as many modellers fondly think they were done.

But...what an interesting and refreshing layout.....which for any modeller, might provide an example to follow?

If only because, the theme is so open to expansion, into so many other prototype areas...yet, simply as the modeller feels or wishes progress to be made.

In other words, the concept is ''complete'' as it is......but can be easily and simply ''expanded'' with out the feeling of incompleteness that a 'whole' layout can acquire as time passes.

If you see what I mean?

No, I don't think it's a modular concept, althogh there is no reason why the 'idea' cannot be so.

The layout is actually a 'marshalling' yard.

Not one of those containing massive fans of samey sidings......but a 'flat' yard, containing exactly everything it needs to function in reality...with no artistic, or modeller's licence to fudge things up.

[yep, I have been ploughing through Bob Essery's tomes on operation and modellers]

The idea is area of this country seems to have been chosen, geographically, and in railway terms. [in this case, somewhere 'tween Crewe and Warrington].......on a main line.

The general, main areas that line connects to, are noted....[boxing thecompass]........and very general freight flows investigated, and create 'imaginary' traffic flows past the yard.

These 'flows' can be easily matched to prototype companies..or the later 'regions' or 'areas'...thus providing the excuse for more than just one company's loco's, brakes and stock.

In this case, the links are to the Liverpool area, Birkenhead, Warrington & Manchester, the North, Central and North Wales, Salop, and the Midlands, including North Staffs.

none of which are modelled, of course.

The yard is one sided, ie deals with both 'up' and 'down' traffic flows...unlike some 'split' yards.

There is a double track main line going past...which actually splits into a goods up and down line at this point as well.

[as far as I can tell, this 'main line' serves no other purpose than to have trains actually arrive and depart.....or whizz past.....and can be simply linked to whatever storage devices takes one's fancy.........or even be part of a huge oval??]

By splitting the main into a goods main at this point, also not only provides appropriate arrival trackage, but doubles up the options for departures too.

All the freight and passenger is 'timetabled'....the passenger stuff, if wanted, simply goes stright past on the main do non-stopping freights.....but an arriving freight, from whichever direction [and whichever ORIGINATING area] simply stops, the engine is uncoupled, to go to a ['prototype, ie real?] engine shed, for servicing/crew changes,, as it were......light engine.
The yard shunter [ a LMS 3F tank....Jinty?] then hoiks the train into the lead, disposes of the brake as per prototype, and marshall the train according to each wagons area of destination....[there are 6 possible areas of destination, so 6 primary sidings]

Once each areas appropriate train has been made up, then the appropriate loco arrives from the shed, the train led out, with brakevan attached, and cheerio....just like the prototype.

As observed in the article by the author..the beauty of this type of 'layout' and prototype, was the intensity of constant, 24 hour, out or shuffling about.

yet, not a vast array of trackwork?

6 primary sidings, from which trains in one direction can depart directly......a facet that allows a particular prototype working regarding brake van placement....a small loco servicing siding, to keep the Jinty topped up...then a siding for brake vans, and a couple of secondary sidings...for such as, wagons needing ongoing they arrived 'broken', so need repair before continuing......or...part-loaded wagons that can have their loads transfered to another to make up a full load.

For trackwork freaks, there are single and double slips, some tandam or 3 way points, etc.

a double to quadruple main line...even if a bit short of length...[could even be an exposed hidden siding??]

to expand.....what about that engine shed?

Or extend the main lines?

notice.....NO STATIONS!!!

scenery is open-field very simple...a few small huts, etc.

yet not unrealistic.

Plenty of opportunity for stage management of all those prize locos one has...which would look silly on a single track branchline.....??
they enter..they pass, they leave..???

For me, the 'key' phrase I noted was Don Rowlands observation...which for me started the ball rolling...and that was the note that, the 1962 Transport Act, which relieved British Railways of its Common Carrier obligations.

Prior to this, the Railways were required to convey, at their published rates, any consignment offered, to anywhere within the Brisitsh Isles........regardless of whether it was profitable, or not.

After the above date...BR effectively dumped freight operations, focussing on the profitable bulk and MGR stuff...leaving what they considered the dross, to road haulage.

This spelt the death knell for the goods shed , or station, the cattle docks, the small station goods yards.....and the multitude of marshalling yards.....all features we love to model.
It also ended the lives of the small goods they had no real use in the modern world of freight carriage.

I love this concept of a layout.

It gives real purpose to the running of trains.

Without the need to invent, or dream up suitable end users for our industries, stations, goods yards, etc.

trains arrive, get sub-divided correctly, re-made, and depart.

The possibilities for each wagon having it's own 'card', with type, number, originator, destination, etc..for the yard foreman [you?] to ensure which primary siding it gets shunted to....and what to do with the brake van, wild cards for problem wagons.....??

maybe some whizz out there could get it all done by computer....generating real traffic flows.

what I like about the marshalling yard is, the 'stock' need not stay static in one place for long...seeing as they are not being unloaded or whatever.

wire it all so the signals control everything?

plus the whole shebang doesnt need to take up much room...since buildings and scenery are minimal....and even the 'main line' could be vestigial?

lots of 'hats' for the operator to wear?


absolutely ideal for the main line freight engines???


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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
an observation from RJ Essery's evidence shows, private owner mineral wagons [especially] tended to operate in groups from the same owner, rather than as pretty individuals.
Hence....buying a mixed bag may look good, but is lacking somewhat in buy 3 or 4 of the same owner, and mess a bit with the wagon numbers..and run them together.

also, another interesting snippet from my viewpoint....often collieries ran out of storage space for loaded wagons whose coal had yet to be 'sold'.

so railway companies would often 'store' these loaded wagons in handy sidings, whilst they awaited a buyer, hence destination?

so a long line of dirty coal trucks, stuck in a siding,with no visible end-user coal yard or industry, can still be prototypical.

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2,202 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi y'all..I'd forgotten how verbose I'd become over Don Rowland's models....I suppose what struck a chord with me was, this is the sort of 'operation' on the railways, I recall from my mis-spent youth.
I didn't really pay much attention to the odd coal wagon...or the goings on at local goods sheds...

But railways to me were dirty, smelly, noisy yards of indistinct wagons with men in 'cloth' caps and donkey coats ambling around, grizzled and dirty.

Maybe it was the over-riding smell I recalled..that smell of coal dust and smoke, the proved so evocative, and which Don Rowland's model brought back memories of?

I cannot provide photos without recourse to requests for permission, copywrites etc....

However, back issues of RMJ are available...from Wild swan, etc....

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678 Posts
And for anyone interested in the designing and operating of a railway model then the series of articles by Frank Dyer of 'Borchester' fame would also be well worth seeking out.
They ran in MRJ's 30 through to 36, being sparked off by an article on operating Borchester in 27, and with a follow-up article in 42.
A railway man through and through, and thoroughly enjoyable reading

Regards, Gerry.
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