Stan­dard and nar­row gauge to­gether

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

Nar­row gauge isn’t ev­ery­one’s cup of tea, but Paul A. Lunn demon­strates how it can co-ex­ist with stan­dard gauge.

Nar­row gauge isn’t ev­ery­one’s cup of tea, but Paul A. Lunn demon­strates how it can co-ex­ist with stan­dard gauge in four plau­si­ble sce­nar­ios.

This is­sue fea­tures a strong nar­row gauge theme, which may not ap­peal to all. So, not wish­ing to put the nar­row gauge doubters off com­pletely, here is a se­lec­tion of plans that marry the fa­mil­iar (stan­dard gauge) with the less fa­mil­iar (nar­row gauge). I find lo­ca­tions where nar­row gauge lines meet their larger coun­ter­parts hugely fas­ci­nat­ing, and not just be­cause they fall into one of my favourite de­sign con­cepts – adding a sec­ond in­ter­est for in­creased vis­ual and op­er­a­tional en­joy­ment. There seem to be few sub­stan­tial ‘dual gauge’ lay­outs out there, and most of the ones I’ve seen pri­ori­tise one of the two gauges, with a to­ken ges­ture for the other – de­pend­ing on the builders’ pref­er­ence. I could have cho­sen any num­ber of lo­ca­tions – Minf­fordd, Welsh­pool – even Nor­den on the Swan­age branch – but in the end I only had space here for four. They de­pict a vary­ing amount of em­pha­sis on the sec­ondary gauge. For those firmly footed in stan­dard gauge there’s Aberys­t­wyth, with its in­ten­sive junc­tion, while Dun­ston Mill is for those who pre­fer nar­row gauge. In be­tween we’ve got Barn­sta­ple Town and Ty­wyn, where each gauge is fairly equally balanced. Last of all there’s a re­duced sec­ond take on Barn­sta­ple, en­cour­ag­ing read­ers to think about com­pro­mise. Please note that for ease of mod­el­ling I have sug­gested ‘OO9’ track for all de­signs, re­gard­less of the fact that it’s a huge com­pro­mise for the ‘two foot’ of most nar­row gauge lines.


Can you have a nar­row gauge lay­out if you’re a fan of the Rail blue era? Of course you can! BR blue and ‘dou­ble ar­row’ lo­gos were ap­plied to the 1920s Swin­don-built 1ft 11½in gauge 2-6-2Ts that of­fered an al­most cross-plat­form con­nec­tion with Class 40s and 25s… Aberys­t­wyth was al­ready a busy rail­way junc­tion when the Vale of Rhei­dol Light Rail­way opened in 1902. The main sta­tion served the Cam­brian Railways main line to Machyn­l­leth and the GWR line to Carmarthen. The VOR, built to move lead ore and tim­ber in the Rhei­dol Val­ley, had its own smaller sta­tion a short dis­tance away. All lines be­came GWR prop­erty in 1923. Un­like other Welsh nar­row gauge lines, the 7½-mile line to Devil’s Bridge had be­come a tourist at­trac­tion. BR con­tin­ued to main­tain it as such and, though it was threat­ened with clo­sure in the 1960s, it sur­vived to be­come BR’S last steam-worked rail­way af­ter the ’15 Guinea Spe­cial’ ran on Au­gust 11 1968. The VOR moved into the main sta­tion and old GWR lo­co­mo­tive shed in the 1970s af­ter the Carmarthen line was de­mol­ished. This nar­row gauge odd­ity had the dubious hon­our of be­ing the first BR rail­way to be pri­va­tised – it was sold to the Bre­con Moun­tain Rail­way in 1987/88.


What more can be said about the Lyn­ton & Barn­sta­ple Rail­way? There are few – if any – peo­ple alive to­day who can re­mem­ber it, yet it’s still one of the most pop­u­lar nar­row gauge railways in the coun­try. This 1ft 11½in gauge rail­way was a true main line in minia­ture. It car­ried no par­tic­u­lar traf­fic other than pro­vid­ing a link for the peo­ple of Lyn­ton and Lyn­mouth with Barn­sta­ple, the cap­i­tal of North Devon, and of­fer­ing pas­sen­ger and goods ser­vices to the small set­tle­ments along its 19-mile length. Barn­sta­ple Town was the town’s new­est sta­tion and it pro­vided a cross-plat­form con­nec­tion be­tween the LSWR’S line to Il­fra­combe and the ‘toy rail­way’ to Lyn­ton when it opened in May 1898. Both railways would be­come South­ern Rail­way prop­erty in 1923, but road com­pe­ti­tion and a lack of pa­tron­age led to its clo­sure in Septem­ber 1935. Lo­co­mo­tive Lew be­came one of the fi­nal items trans­ferred be­tween the two railways at the trans­ship­ment sid­ing when it was despatched to Man­ning War­dle in 1936 so it could be shipped to Brazil. Barn­sta­ple Town, with a cu­ri­ous patch of waste­land, re­mained a way­side stop on the Il­fra­combe branch un­til that line closed in 1970. The sta­tion still sur­vives, but it is un­likely that trains will ever call there again.


Be­low: a view along to­day’s Aberys­t­wyth sta­tion, with new nar­row gauge plat­forms. The re­main­ing main line plat­form is on the far left. Be­yond is the old GWR lo­co­mo­tive shed and the rail­way’s new work­shop.


Pho­tographed from the load­ing dock at Ty­wyn Wharf, Stan­dard ‘4MT’ 4-6-0 No. 75002 shunts the daily Pwll­he­li­machyn­l­leth pickup goods in Au­gust 1966. The con­crete bi-block track is avail­able from Peco. The main sta­tion, still called Towyn at this time,...


Above: A fab­u­lous 1925 photograph of new Man­ning War­dle 2-6-2T No. 188 Lew and 1898-built Taw de­part­ing Barn­sta­ple Town with a typ­i­cal mixed train for Lyn­ton in the mid-1920s. Taw still car­ries L&BR liv­ery. Above: An LSWR Type 4 sig­nal box, with...

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