Scale Models of the Isle of Man Railway

G Scale for the garden model of Manx Northern Railway Dubs built 0-6-0T 'Caledonia'  - manufactured by Accucraft UK - image Accucraft/TrackShack
G Scale for the garden model of Manx Northern Railway Dubs built 0-6-0T 'Caledonia' - manufactured by Accucraft UK - image Accucraft/TrackShack

Birth and Modelling the Smaller Scales

Modelling the railways of the Isle of Man is not a new fad. People have been modelling the IoMR for over 50 years, if fact one of the most famous of Isle of Man Railway layouts dates from the early 1960s. Several members of the Manchester Model Railway Society constructed a huge pioneering IoMR layout in 4mm scale running on TT/ 12mm gauge track which became known as OOn3’ or OOn12.

Using TT gauge components and track as a base, the group produced a much compressed Isle of Man Railway system complete, with all four terminus stations: Douglas, Ramsey, Peel and Port Erin, the main junction station at St John’s, and both the Foxdale and Knockaloe branches too.

The six members lead by Jim Lawton formed the Isle of Man Model Railway Company and constructed the layout privately in six sections, one section in each of the members’ homes. The 32’ long modular layout was brought together for exhibitions. The whole project was pioneering stuff on a grand scale with the layout constructed in mere eight months, with no commercial support whatsoever $6. The engines were totally scratch built, while the carriages and wagons were constructed on standard TT chassis.

Both the numerous appearances on the UK exhibition circuit and in the UK model railway press of this layout marked the start of a period of modelling the Isle of Man Railway with several other Manx layouts appearing on the exhibition scene. It also prompted the first commercially available models of the IoMR locomotives and rolling stock, produced in the mid-1960s by George E. Mellor (GEM).

The range of GEM Manx kits proved to be very popular with modellers, mainly because the prototype Isle of Man Railway was often featured in the news, as it was facing the real danger of permanent closure in 1965-66. The models remained in production up to the early 1970s, when interest in TT gauge and its narrow gauge derivative OOn3’ began to flag with the arrival of ‘N’ Gauge and 009.

Modelling the Isle of Man and its railways had almost been forgotten along with OOn3’ for nearly 25 years, in the model railway fashion wilderness. That is until the early 1990s when once again interest on the prototype Isle of Man Railway came back into focus with the famous 1993 ‘Year of Railways’ celebrations and various large special events over the next several years right up to 2000.

This renewed interest opened the flood gates of a whole new reinsurance of modelling the IoMR, and produced a large amount of new locomotive and rolling stock kits from various manufactures in OOn3’ Leading this new wave was Branchlines and Roxey Mouldings producing various items of rolling stock kits including white metal bodied locomotive kits and etch brass carriages.

At about the same time, Peco introduced a range of 12mm gauge track and point work with scale sleepers aimed at the HO meter gauge market. Of course this track is also very suitable for Isle of Man and Irish OOn3' Modellers, who were either using course TT scale track or scratch building their own.

Although, one of the beauties of modelling the Isle of Man Railway is the prototype railway, up to a few years ago, 'ballasted' all its track work nearly up to rail height covering all the sleepers. When I say ballast , it was normally a combination of mud and mine waste from the Foxdale mines. The remaining lead deposits in the mine waste ensure that no vegetation grew on the track bed.

While OOn3’ is well covered by manufactures, other scales are not so fortunate. 7mm scale has trade support from Roxey Mouldings offering the Manx Northern Railway coaches as etched brass kits. If any modellers know of any other IoMR models available I would be very interest to hear about it.

One of the Isle of Man Railway's famous Beyer, Peacock 2-4-0T steam locomotives for G scale garden railways from manufactured by Accucraft UK - image Accucraft/TrackShack
One of the Isle of Man Railway's famous Beyer, Peacock 2-4-0T steam locomotives for G scale garden railways from manufactured by Accucraft UK - image Accucraft/TrackShack

Larger scales in the garden

While modelling the IoMR in the smaller scales is either strictly kit or scratched built, there are ready to run IoMR locomotives and rolling stock in the garden railway scale of 15mm to 1ft on 45mm gauge track.

However, it defiantly doesn’t come cheap, and can knock a real hole in any modellers wallet. Currently, Accucraft produce a model of the IoMR’s Beyer, Peacock 2-4-0T and the Manx Northern Railway’s Dub’s built 0-6-0T ‘Caledonia’ locomotives.

These are superbly detailed electric powered models, but cost about £700 each. ‘Caledonia’ in its ornate Manx Northern Railway Tuscan red livery is joy to behold. In addition to the locomotives, Accucraft produce IoMR original four-wheel carriages and IoMR bogie ‘Pair’s carriages, which consist of two four-wheel carriage bodies mounted on a bogie underframe.

Accucraft are to produce live steam versions of the IoMR’s Beyer, Peacock and the MNR ‘Caledonia’ in the near future, which is to be followed by both an electric and live steam version of the last and the largest of the IoMR steam locomotives No.16 ‘Mannin’ of 1926. In addition, further item of IoMR rolling stock are planned for release in 2011. While these 15mm scale models are expensive, they are impressive models and look good on display on a mantelpiece or display cabinet.


Popular Scale/Gauges Combinations for Modelling the Isle of Man Railway

Nn9 or Nn3 - 2mm scale on 6.5 mm gauge (Z Gauge) track - scratch building only but using the full range of from Z gauge.

TTn3 - 3mm scale on 9mm gauge track - scratch building only but using the full range of from N gauge and 2mm Association products.

OOn12 or OOn3 - 4mm scale on 12mm gauge track - comprehensive manufacturing support from the likes of Branchlines and Roxey Mouldings and scratch building potential using the TT Association products.

On16.5 or 5.5 - 5.5mm scale on 16.5mm track - lots of scratch building potential using the massive range of OO and HO products.

On21 - 7mm scale on scale 21mm gauge track - limited manufacturing support from Roxey Mouldings but lots of scratch building potential.

1n3 - 10mm scale on 30mm (or 32mm) gauge track- scratch building only but using the full range of from commercial O gauge and O Gauge Association products.

G45 - 15mm scale on 45mm gauge track - Garden Railway Scale - trade support from Accucraft but lots of scratch building potential too.

© David Lloyd-Jones 2010


Accucraft UK Isle of Man Railway 4-wheeled carriage for G scale garden railways -  image Accucraft/TrackShack
Accucraft UK Isle of Man Railway 4-wheeled carriage for G scale garden railways - image Accucraft/TrackShack

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Comments 7 comments

peanutroaster profile image

peanutroaster 5 years ago from New England

Beautiful locomotives!


Carole wade 4 years ago

Do you have information on where I can sell Hornby Oo gauge model railway on 8 x 4 board plus large amount of rolling stock


Midnight Oil profile image

Midnight Oil 4 years ago from Isle of Man UK Author

eBay or the specialist collectors on the internet...


Midnight Oil profile image

Midnight Oil 4 years ago from Isle of Man UK Author

Modelling the railways of the Isle of Man is not a new fad. People have been modelling the IoMR for over 50 years..


Simon 4 years ago

Just a note to say the GEM locos are still available and for TT scale railways it is "The 3mm Society" not TT Association. 15mm scale in the garden is the dream but I was rereading your BRM special on modelling the IOM railways and the van drawings in gauge 1 on 0 gauge track may be tempting for a detailed small indoor layout.


Essence 2 years ago

That's the thkniing of a creative mind


Eddi 2 years ago

That's way more clever than I was excegtinp. Thanks!

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