Sometimes you just know that you have to model something. You can’t quite identify why, you just know it needs to be done. That’s how Keith Jaggers felt when he stumbled on the rusting remains of Bala Junction in the mid-1960s. Who could resist this isolated North Wales junction, set in the beautiful Dee Valley, with the mountains of Snowdonia beyond? Keith certainly couldn’t. He knew that he had to model it. It was a long time before he was able to fulfil that dream, but he did it. Michael Holley was in a completely different position. He had the time and desire to model something - but not the location. His wife came to the rescue. She suggested that he focus on somewhere that meant the most to him. It was a simple piece of advice, but it was enough to break his ‘modeller’s block’. As you’ll read, Somerset’s Quantock Hills have always held a place in his heart, so that’s where his modelling journey started. It’s not a great leap to get from there to Stogumber on the West Somerset Railway. Some modellers will be like Keith, with a clear idea of what to model. Others will be more like Michael. The urge to model is there, but it’s the choice of subject that’s the stumbling block. What would you do if you were in that position? For those who are struggling, we decided to try to answer that question. Our methods weren’t scientific - we merely asked ourselves what we liked to model. There were three common denominators. Firstly, there’s the landscape. It’s a subject that has inspired poet, artist, author and musician for generations, so why not the railway modeller? Our advantage is that we’re not limited to portraying epic landscapes of mountains and lakes. We can find inspiration in simple landscapes or even urban settings, where stone and concrete replace trees and water. Trains, quite naturally, play another hugely important role when it comes to inspiring a layout. There’s either the desire to include our own particular favourites, or the intriguing prospect of modelling trains in roles and liveries that you wouldn’t normally expect. The final category is good old nostalgia. The future is naturally uncertain, so it’s fair to say that we all hark back to memories, of times that we perceive to be better. Some layouts allow us to try to turn these memories and feelings into something tangible, and they allow us to escape the pressures of the real world. Of course, what inspires us is quite personal. Hopefully, some of our thoughts and musings will strike a chord and get your creative juices flowing. And one day you might end up like Chris Nevard - as you’ll see, he’s nearly managed to tick off all the layout subjects on his wishlist!
Just the sort of scene to get the creative juices flowing! ‘Black Five’ No. 43305 steams through Liverpool’s docks with a railtour on April 6 1968. If you’re struggling for layout ideas, turn to Page 92.