Lydgate is a fictitious rural village set not in Yorkshire, but on the edge of Gloucestershire on a single line. Originally built by the Great Western Railway the station has now passed into the ownership of British Railways. Consequently engines of the GWR, LMS even the occasional interloper from the Southern and latterly BR can all be seen at Lydgate.
Lydgate is served by a stopping passenger service on the “Main Line” and a terminating service into the bay platform. The small yard has seen some decline in usage but still attracts goods trains carrying coal, livestock and other loads.
The period of operation is generally the 1950s and 1960s but, having survived Dr Beeching’s axe, the layout also sees occasional running into the BR blue period of the mid 1970s.
The baseboards are conventional plywood frames measuring 24” x 72” with an extended angle on the last piece making the final width of the station yard board 36 inches. There are two boards either end which house the turntables. There is a special deep scenic board to house the viaduct which carries a single line over the valley. This carries the active canal and what used to be a river bed, but is now marshland. Club member Anton Clarke was the creator of the viaduct, arguably the scenic highlight of Lydgate, as well as being the builder of the original boards. The bases are covered with hardboard over the frames and latterly are connected by steel pegs into steel receptacles to add precision and strength for easier dismantling and re-assembly by means of custom built aluminium finger wheel nuts and bolts. There are pairs of fold down adjustable legs on each board with the station board having four legs for initial re-build. All legs have a strengthening strut to the side of their respective board once levelling is complete.
The original turntables were cut from MDF and tested Phil Spencer’s and my skills with string, pencil and jig-saw. The results and the performance of the brass stud contacts in the rotating part were hit and miss to say the least. Starting with a circular circle would have been easier, but for a while we persevered! It was hopeless really, and once the MDF started changing shape we gave in. Enter Mick Durkin. Mick is a real engineer and took control of the turntables to engineer perfect circles in perfect pits in high quality 18mm deep plywood pivoting on ball-bearings and rolling on some infinitely adjustable rollers. The live contacts were spring loaded plungers in the outside walls of the pit with terminals sunk around the turntable perimeter to transmit power to all five roads on the table in rotation. Not only that but he designed and built the ‘other end’ too. There are soft foam rubber buffer restraints attached across the tracks at each end which are lowered when either end is at the outside edge of the layout to prevent any disasters on over-run. Rotation is by hand but generally light work, even with all five roads full.
Track Electrics and Control
The layout is controlled from a stand-mounted control box, which has a track mimic on the lid. The majority of the running controls and indicators are placed on the mimic at the position of their associated line-side equipment.
The track is conventionally sectioned by means of 2-way toggle switches, one per section, which have a centre-off position for isolation. The two active ways route the corresponding section of track to one of the two hand controller sockets on the control box.
The points are all operated by Cobalt point motors driven by Rob Paisley 556 Timer Stall-Motor Switch Machine Drivers. The drivers are triggered by momentary action push switches located on the track mimic adjacent to their associated junction. The point motors also operate LED position indicators on the mimic diagram and direct track power to the correct running road by means of their auxiliary contacts. The level crossing motor, signal lighting and building lighting switches are also located on the control box lid.
A late addition was a rotary switch which intercepts the wiring from the hand controller sockets, diverting and commoning the wiring to a separate socket where a DCC controller can be connected. This allows the layout to host both conventional and DCC locomotives, though not simultaneously.
The wiring inside the control box is implemented with industrial numbered-core cabling, cross connected through barrier strips. Several 32-core cables exit the bottom of the box and route on to the individual base boards and to the power supply. These cables can be disconnected adjacent to the control box as they pass through industrial multi-pole connectors.
The power supply occupies a robust and substantial aluminium box, providing 2 x 12V DC at 2 Amps, 1 x 5V DC at 2 Amps, 2 x 16V AC at 2 Amps and 1 x 3V DC at 1 Amp.
Photos on this side of the page by Derek Shore of Railway Modeller Magazine. Others by Graham Backwith.
Scenery and Buildings
The country end of the layout is given over to pasture for the local farms and is formed over a plaster and paper base to give some contour to the land and topped with appropriate grassy scatter materials and varying areas of static grass which varies in length. The area was subjected to flooding when the rain drains from the roof of the mill the club have as a base, became blocked and flooded the second floor above us. What seemed like a total disaster before the ensuing mess had dried actually gave the fields a unique texture. Despair to delight in one easy flooding. Anyway, the cows seem to like it. We had a group show-and-tell to make trees for the layout which are an armature of stranded copper wire from multi cable. Soldered at crucial points to give strength and then textured with ‘Artex’ before painting, (mainly greys and greens), then applying commercially available foliage sparingly to get the right effect.
The station yard was textured with scatter materials to represent well-worn cinders and asphalt in varying quantities. The main station building, signal box and goods warehouse are all card kits with interior lighting. The cattle dock and footbridge are both scratch-built items, as is the four-arch viaduct and canal barge passing beneath. The canal is a wooden construction suitably clothed in plastic embossed stone on the banks. The water is many layers of clear gloss varnish over a dark and murky painted bed. The remains of the small river that created the valley originally have resulted in a small marshy area adjacent to the canal, much favoured by the incumbent six and one half ducks. The road and farm track accommodation bridges that hide the turntables at each end are again plywood and hardboard designs covered in embossed stone. One suspects the sharp bends encountered once over the bridges accounts for the lack of motor vehicles and that the road crossing the rails via the scratch-built, fully-animated level crossing is by far the safer option. The level crossing was built by the late James Noble who was indeed the group’s ‘go to’ for all matters relating to running or building a layout. The platforms are hardboard structures paved with mounting card flags and emery paper to represent the cheaper option of asphalt.
The population are a mix of Omen, S&D and Aiden Campbell figures as indeed are the animals though the sheep and some cows are courtesy of Border Miniatures. The back boards are a representation of the Gloucestershire countryside in summer, painted in acrylics. Some viewers spot the high flying prototype Avro Vulcan leaving a thin vapour trail high above the hills. In general the painted scenery serves to provide a comforting feel that the layout is not on a flat earth, and even without noting detail, provides the eye with enough clues to satisfy the idea that there is some part of England beyond the layout edges.
Locos and Rolling Stock
Post grouping GWR engines are regular performers in the shape of Prairie Tanks and Saddle Tanks, as well as the occasional Bulldog and very rarely a Hall. Often we have a 58XX 0-4-2T running the auto car in and out of the bay platform. The LMS are well represented by a Patriot, Black Five, Fowler 4MT, Fowler 4F and a couple of Jinties. The Southern with an 0-6-0 G6 tank on suburban work. BR also feature with the occasional 9f! We have been known to run diesel traction too including a class 50, class 31, class 37 and even 08s all in BR blue. Ian and Dave of Norton Bridge have also run DCC 55s, 47s and multiple units. Favourite though has to be a little 0-4-0 tank loco, ‘Sophie’, built by a member’s daughter of the same name as a first attempt, often coupled to a huge ex-LMS 12 wheeled 72’ sleeper coach, just for the smile value.
Rolling stock, mostly kit built, sees plenty of GWR vintage bogie vehicles, ancient cattle wagons, box vans and long rakes of BR mineral wagons. The passengers are catered for in a mix of coaches ranging from early LNWR non-corridor push pull, to the BR maroon Mk 1s that form the majority of coaching stock.
The layout is operated by just two people, one on each end. The passing of trains in the station loop ensures that neither five-road turntable is ever full. Once five trains are collected at the end, the barriers go down and the table is revolved through 180 degrees to make the return journey loco first. It must be assumed that wherever the destination of trains may be, it is the responsibility of staff at that end to turn locos. The level crossing and points are controlled from the main panel at the station there being only a hand controller at the country end.
Lydgate is designed with exhibitions in mind, and is relatively easily transported as bolted carrying units. It can always be seen at the trav HRM show in October at Holmfirth, as well as other selected venues.