60 Build your own cas­tle

Haven’t got space for a me­dieval cas­tle? CHRIS LEIGH urges you to think again.

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

Haven’t got space for a me­dieval cas­tle? Chris Leigh urges you to think again with his recre­ation of a small Welsh keep.

From the out­set, I wanted my har­bour lay­out (MR216) to have a Tin­tagel-style cas­tle perched on the edge of the cliff. The only prob­lem was a lack of space. A fam­ily hol­i­day in North Wales pro­vided the an­swer. With a his­tory teacher, a Welsh medieval­ist, and chil­dren who love knights in ar­mour and princesses held cap­tive in stone tow­ers, it was small won­der that we vis­ited six cas­tles in six days!

Among the likes of the siz­able Har­lech and Conwy cas­tles was Dol­wyd­de­lan, lit­tle more than a square stone keep. This, I could fit - just - in one cor­ner of the lay­out.

Ev­ery cas­tle has a story and mine is no ex­cep­tion. It was built a thou­sand years ago by a Welsh war­lord who took refuge in Corn­wall. Des­per­ate to keep out ma­raud­ing pi­rates, he built a cas­tle with a tiny har­bour be­low it. Af­ter his death, the cas­tle fell into dis­re­pair and, due to coastal ero­sion, the outer wall fell into the sea, leav­ing just the square keep. This was re­stored in the Vic­to­rian era as a dwelling, but sub­se­quently aban­doned as the lady of the house de­cided that the At­lantic storms on one side and noisy trains on the other were too much to bear.

Now, the cas­tle’s Cor­nish cor­rup­tion of its orig­i­nal Welsh name has been adopted by the vil­lage and the har­bour - ‘Pol­wyd­de­lan’.


I was not con­cerned about di­men­sional ac­cu­racy as I had a fi­nite space on the lay­out. While I did re­duce the ‘foot­print’ com­pared to the size of the real thing, I wanted to keep the pro­por­tions look­ing right. I had space for a struc­ture 80mm square, and on that ba­sis it looked about right at 180mm high. At this size it would dom­i­nate the har­bour and also pro­vide a good scenic break where the rail­way passes into the fid­dle­yard.

I used the ex­panded poly­styrene pack­ag­ing from some Hornby Skaledale mod­els to pro­vide the flat ar­eas on which the build­ings would stand and I found a piece of pack­ag­ing just the right size for the cas­tle keep. This was then blended into the land­scape with a web of mask­ing tape, plas­ter ban­dage and Wood­land Scen­ics Shaper Sheet. I would have pre­ferred the cas­tle site to be fur­ther from the rail­way, but there sim­ply wasn’t the space, un­less I’d com­pro­mised the al­ready small har­bour.


Above: The cas­tle keep at Dol­wyd­de­lan, which was thein­spi­ra­tion for the model.Main: Dol­wyd­de­lan Cas­tle in Snow­do­nia Na­tional Park, NorthWales.

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