Mid­land mem­o­ries

Michael and Rob Doyle have rekin­dled their youth with this fic­ti­tious lay­out.

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents - Words: Chris Gadsby Photography: Chris Nevard Art­work: An­drew Mack­in­tosh

What do you do when your loft lay­out has so many on­line fans des­per­ate for you to take it to shows? You fol­low in Michael and Rob Doyle’s foot­steps and build some­thing you can ex­hibit! The broth­ers’ lay­out ‘Grimsby Town’ had gar­nered over 300 likes on Face­book but had been built into a loft and was un­able to at­tend ex­hi­bi­tions. The only op­tion to ap­pease their on­line fans was to build some­thing new. So ‘Carl­ton-le-wil­lows’ was born. This ‘OO’ gauge lay­out is fic­tional but was in­spired by their mem­o­ries of the Not­ting­hamshire re­gion. The name is a ref­er­ence to Carl­ton, once a sta­tion on the Gedling branch, part of the Great North­ern Rail­way’s Der­byshire ex­ten­sion. The line looped around Not­ting­ham, went through Derby and joined the North Stafford­shire Rail­way at Eg­ging­ton. Closed in 1960, you can still see the be­gin­nings of the branch to the left as you leave Nether­field sta­tion and head to­wards Gran­tham. “We went to school in Carl­ton so that area and era was nat­u­ral for us to model,” ex­plains Michael. “We de­cided that the

lay­out should be fic­ti­tious be­cause our mem­o­ries weren’t per­fect and the track plan cer­tainly isn’t ac­cu­rate to the pro­to­type.” The whole lay­out is 16ft by 10ft and scenic sec­tion base­boards are only 2ft 6in deep. 1970s Not­ting­ham is a world away from the vast open coun­try­side and rolling hills of 1930s Vale of White Horse but Pen­don Mu­seum’s ‘Vale Scene’ has in­spired the broth­ers’ use of some clever tricks to make the lay­out look much deeper than it is. “The main line is raised 2in above the base­board level and the re­lief lines are lower, so you get a small but sub­tle per­spec­tive. The backscene is from ID Backscenes, as rec­om­mended by our friend Neil Ma­son from the Lit­tle Loco Com­pany, and the rolling hills of the coun­try­side also help with that per­cep­tion of depth. Upon first glance the lay­out looks quite flat, like the na­ture of the land­scape, so we’ve placed the fo­cal point right in the cen­tre to give a sense of un­du­la­tion from the sides into the mid­dle of the lay­out.” The lack of build­ings ac­tu­ally height­ens the sense of space. There’s no sta­tion so it’s left to a sin­gle sig­nal box to act as the fo­cal point. “I built the sig­nal box from a Ra­tio kit,” ex­plains Rob, “and then we placed it right in the cen­tre of the lay­out to give it the max­i­mum im­pact pos­si­ble. We like to go into the finer de­tails with our mod­els so I added the Ra­tio plas­tic lever frame to the in­side and used the op­tion of leav­ing one of the win­dows open, as that is how we re­mem­ber it be­ing on hot sum­mer days. For the name­boards ‘Carl­ton-lewil­lows’ wasn’t an op­tion, of course, so we went to Scale Model Scenery and got them to make them.” Pen­don has also in­spired Michael and Rob to mod­ify pro­pri­etary items to their per­sonal spec­i­fi­ca­tions. “All the sig­nals have been heav­ily kit-bashed to the point that they are al­most scratch­built,” says Rob. “Us­ing Ra­tio’s kits as a start­ing point, I mod­i­fied them with any­thing I could find out of the scrap box – other Ra­tio parts, items from the Model Sig­nal

En­gi­neer­ing range and even bits from var­i­ous model en­gi­neer­ing projects. “The only sig­nal that hasn’t been scratch­built is the colour light sig­nal, which we bought from Train­tron­ics. That was around the time that our friend Tom Hunns came on board and did the wiring on the lay­out, as his elec­tron­ics skills are far greater than ours.” The bridges and tun­nel por­tals are Wills kits, apart from one tun­nel por­tal on the main line, which was scratch­built. It’s based on Man­ton tun­nel in Rut­land and Rob built it us­ing South East­ern Finecast and Slater’s Plastikard em­bossed sheets. The rail­ings were made from wire sol­dered to dress­maker’s pins. “We’ve also used trees to block the view and to cover the tran­si­tion be­tween backscene and scenic sec­tion. With model rail­ways be­ing such an ex­pen­sive hobby we’ve been do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to cut the costs. Rather than use static grass, which can get quite ex­pen­sive if you’re cov­er­ing a large area, we elected to use hang­ing bas­ket lin­ing at a frac­tion of the price. The trees are cop­per braid ar­ma­tures with sea foam de­pict­ing the leaves.” Michael and Rob have the ad­van­tage of not be­ing tied down to a par­tic­u­lar era, which al­lows them to run what­ever they like. As with many mod­ellers, they run what they re­mem­ber from their youth, pre­dom­i­nantly the BR blue era from the 1970s through to the 1980s. “We aren’t the sort of mod­ellers who in­sist on ev­ery­thing be­ing per­fect. If we see a lo­co­mo­tive that we like and we want to run it then we will run it. We don’t mind if it’s a few years out from what would be pro­to­typ­i­cal.”

Keep­ing the main lines pro­to­typ­i­cally close to­gether has caused a few is­sues when it comes to train set cor­ners. “The [end] curves were eas­ily the most dif­fi­cult part of the lay­out be­cause they had to be so close to­gether in or­der to make the 90º cor­ner,” says Michael. “The prob­lem we have now is that we can’t have two trains pass­ing each other on the curves be­cause the tracks aren’t far enough apart to avoid foul­ing. This has meant that we had to shorten the length of trains from what we would per­haps like. “Ev­ery­body in mod­el­ling has to make com­pro­mises be­cause it’s sim­ply not vi­able for

man­u­fac­tur­ers to pro­duce ev­ery sin­gle liv­ery vari­a­tion. Be­ing able to make the al­ter­ations to them means that we don’t have to miss out on a par­tic­u­lar model and it also al­lows us to per­son­alise them fur­ther.” It has taken three years for the trio to get ‘Carl­ton-le-wil­lows’ to the stan­dard that they wanted and their hard work has paid off. It’s clearly proven pop­u­lar with Michael and Rob’s fans, for it has al­ready gained al­most dou­ble the num­ber of Face­book fol­low­ers than ‘Grimsby Town’. And the beauty of ‘Carl­ton-le-wil­lows’ is that you can see it in ac­tion your­self!

Ready-to-run lo­co­mo­tives have been re­painted, weath­ered and de­tailed.


Class 47 47501 has been fin­ished in Gwr150-style green with Robert J. Edg­ing­ton name­plates. “It’s named after our late step­fa­ther, with­out whom we wouldn’t be in the po­si­tion we are now.ó

So many lay­outs con­sist of straight lines, but Michael and Rob have in­cluded some sweep­ing curves for greater re­al­ism.


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