RITES OF PASSAGE FOR A MODEL RAILWAY - 21: Here's One I Made Earlier

Ideal for an ongoing gift: A model railway can be added to, updated, or left alone. Kirk Rigg was built as a Christmas prezzie for my son twenty years ago

Much of this layout is scratch-built or kit-built, in particular the scratch-built station house and station building based on many in the North East taken over by British Railways in 1948
Much of this layout is scratch-built or kit-built, in particular the scratch-built station house and station building based on many in the North East taken over by British Railways in 1948 | Source
Seen straight on from the deck of the coal depot, the station frontage showing the porch modified from a Wills Greenhouse kit (behind which is the ticket office, ladies' room and general waiting room)
Seen straight on from the deck of the coal depot, the station frontage showing the porch modified from a Wills Greenhouse kit (behind which is the ticket office, ladies' room and general waiting room) | Source
Looking back from the loop line - this is the view the fireman on a North Eastern built loco would have on an engine running round its train - goods or passenger
Looking back from the loop line - this is the view the fireman on a North Eastern built loco would have on an engine running round its train - goods or passenger | Source

Try this for yourself

Think of a location for your layout. Look at local place names, the geography, the settlements in the area. Are they large, sprawling urban areas that might have grown with the Industrial Revolution? Or are they suburban, lightly industrialised, rural? Some names came with new towns where new industry sprang up in the 20th Century. Newtown, Newport, Grangetown, Peterlee are names from my area around North Yorkshire and County Durham. Modern towns interspersed with settlements that date back to Domesday and beyond, villages like Leeds and Darlington that grew with trade and industry. Other villages and hamlets such as Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Doncaster, Birmingham grew with the spread of shipbuilding, the discovery of minerals or the proximity of strong running water supplies for milling, the building of canals or railways, and became industrial centres by the mid-19th Century.

What's behind the name?

I suppose in a way this was a test piece, a guinea pig to work out scenery, lay track, construct buildings and invent a 'history'. The name of a station gives atmosphere, tells you something about a place, its regional character. Places with the name beginning with 'kirk' and ending 'rigg' define the region.

A kirk is a church, similar to Scotland (Northumbrian influence from way back), a 'rigg' is a ridge or high point between two dales or valleys. The full name of the station, KIRKRIGG & HOWE SYKE WOOD tells you its location is in an upland area, maybe near a moor. A 'howe' is a pagan burial mound, and a 'syke' is a cleft or depression in a hillside or moor.

In other words this is where a church was on a pagan burial site on the side of a wooded hill (or moor). It would be by a cleft wooded hillside where a gill or stream tumbles from the moortop, past the old church and nearby burial mound (early Christians built their places of worship near those of the pagans to show their god was as powerful if not more than those of their predecessors).

History lesson over. Now the model-making stage takes over.

One of those really useful books you'd like one of your family to put in your Christmas stocking. Go on, don't wait that long, buy it for yourself and immerse yourself in the photographs before stepping up to the creative challenge! Lots of practical hints and pointers to tools needed - you'd be surprised at what experienced modellers use to create effects! There's a variety of paints you can use, as well as reproductions of posters, poster boards, timetable boards, types of trees, walling, brick and stonework and so on that can be applied. I use the 4D shop in Leman Street, London E1 to buy scale model trees, scenic materials, paint and tools etc.[see below for link].

Aspects of Modelling - Scenery by J Hobden

Coal depot - station masters could make a good living from supplying coal to farmers, factories or domestic users

The small coal depot opposite the station platform, long enough to take three hopper wagons. The wagon in the picture is a BR-built hopper. Kit is Parkside PC77 with Modelmaster transfers and Smiths 3-link couplings and weathering for effect
The small coal depot opposite the station platform, long enough to take three hopper wagons. The wagon in the picture is a BR-built hopper. Kit is Parkside PC77 with Modelmaster transfers and Smiths 3-link couplings and weathering for effect | Source
The old coal office with the steps up to the rail deck, a short flatbed lorry such as the one left would be used as a coal delivery vehicle (white metal kit with clear plastic 'glazing', built by supplier)
The old coal office with the steps up to the rail deck, a short flatbed lorry such as the one left would be used as a coal delivery vehicle (white metal kit with clear plastic 'glazing', built by supplier) | Source

Kirkrigg is a farming community...

There's a cattle dock - out of use due to farmers using road transport for transit to market. There is the coal depot run by the stationmaster, worked by porters and a porter signalman for a share of the profits. Coal depots augmented their low railway wages. A stationmaster's income could be tripled by the sale of coal and coke.

A goods warehouse receives inward raw materials for light industry, livestock feed as well as household wares for a local shopkeeper/postmaster. Outward would be finished manufactured products, locally crafted items, butchered livestock meat or dairy products.

By the level crossing gatepost - replacement unnecessary where passenger services no longer stop here - there's a mail collection box on a post, typical of rural areas in the second half of the 20th Century where previously the nearest posting/collection box would have been at the post office in the village. The livestock dock is now used for goods too big for the warehouse. This station is on its beam ends, subject to eventual closure.

Interestingly other rail-borne traffic is still extant, the manual goods crane still in use (12/13 tons capacity). Coal and coke still comes in - albeit in limited quantities - in 16 ton or 21 ton steel wagons (Shildon Works produced high quality wagon stock) and there's a local parcels/small goods delivery service, witness the vans and Scammell 'mechanical horse' for restricted access in narrow streets or tightly ranged farmyards.

Yard crane and goods facilities... "To be collected/called for".

A Wills kit, easy to assemble - and it's a working model (after a fashion)! The goods shed can be seen in the background
A Wills kit, easy to assemble - and it's a working model (after a fashion)! The goods shed can be seen in the background | Source
Overlooking the platform signal cabin to the goods shed with a British Railways built fish van in the doorway (Parkside kit  PC52 with Fox transfers lettering and numbering) 2
Overlooking the platform signal cabin to the goods shed with a British Railways built fish van in the doorway (Parkside kit PC52 with Fox transfers lettering and numbering) 2 | Source
A snazzy looking sports car stands beside the livestock dock. View looking over the smithy roof
A snazzy looking sports car stands beside the livestock dock. View looking over the smithy roof | Source
Looking over the goods warehouse roof at the loop and coal depot - Thoraldby's stock shelves in the background
Looking over the goods warehouse roof at the loop and coal depot - Thoraldby's stock shelves in the background | Source

You can see a grain wagon poking out of the back end of the goods warehouse...

At the left, beside the manual yard crane is a flatbed lorry waiting for its driver to sign the goods out in the stationmaster's office. There's not much sign of life. Maybe it's 'bait time' (in this part of the North food is 'bait', elsewhere it's maybe 'meyt', it's all snacks. Doubtless someone will come along with more input).

You can see a grain wagon poking out of the back end of the goods warehouse. There's no silo for loading, it's been left here with a 'hot box' (axle box empty of grease) after discovery by the pick-up goods train guard.

The models:

Largely scratchbuilt buildings, Slaters plain plastic card with stone embossed overlay and detail from Peco (bell and phone box on office wall), Ratio livestock dock fencing and detail, Wills windows, Peco doors in station house and platform building, Wills greenhouse kit-bashed as station porch, Wills cold frames in garden, Wills water tower. Scale Link louvred factory/warehouse windows in goods shed, Wills door and window in goods office, Wills Smithy (locked up since the advent of motorised delivery vehicles), pigsty, 'grotty huts and privy' at the back of the yard opposite the livestock dock, Ratio lineside hut and unidentifiable card shed with plastic roof (added by me).

The gates (when I originally installed them) were Ratio. Only the posts are left (don't know what happened to the gates themselves) and the mail collection box on the post is a white metal casting from Langley Miniature Models and the ground-based water crane is a North Eastern prototype from Mike's Models.

Signalling's pretty primitive, but for an eight-year old a token gesture to technology. A Hornby tubular metal signal post with single starter arm and cast ladder. Simplicity, always best..

A handy source of inspiration for the flat dwellers or renters with limited space. Some would even fit in the back seat of your car. Try one - I've had a copy of this for a while, useful for tips even on larger layouts. See if you can create a layout that will fit onto a coffee table - now there's a challenge! Or how about a working box-file layout?

Platform extent and around the goods warehouse

I utilised both plastic and metal elements on the goods shed. Etched brass louvred warehouse windows, moulded plastic walls and roof, plastic double doors with brass wire 'hinges' both ends, printed card 'enamel signs'.
I utilised both plastic and metal elements on the goods shed. Etched brass louvred warehouse windows, moulded plastic walls and roof, plastic double doors with brass wire 'hinges' both ends, printed card 'enamel signs'. | Source
An older railway-owned 'mechanical horse' has released its flatbed trailer in the doorway of the goods warehouse - a fish van stands outside awaiting unloading by local fish merchant or collection by next pick-up goods train
An older railway-owned 'mechanical horse' has released its flatbed trailer in the doorway of the goods warehouse - a fish van stands outside awaiting unloading by local fish merchant or collection by next pick-up goods train | Source
One of the light goods/parcels delivery vans stands in front of the concrete lineside hut (Ratio) with the brick stores shed (card kit, embossed plastic apex roof). A local farmer chats to the station master on his way home from ploughing
One of the light goods/parcels delivery vans stands in front of the concrete lineside hut (Ratio) with the brick stores shed (card kit, embossed plastic apex roof). A local farmer chats to the station master on his way home from ploughing | Source

Railway author Bob Essery's contribution to the world of railway modelling, 'Passenger Train Operation For The Modeller'. Lots of illustrations, diagrams, close-ups, models... A new addition to the library. I've had a copy of his 'Railway Operation For The Modeller' for some years now, useful! Handy to understand signalling, train assembly, locomotive allocation and so on - see it's on your bookshelf!

Bob Essery, Passenger Train Operation for the Modeller

All the trackwork at 'Kirkrigg' is Peco

All the trackwork is Peco 'Streamline' code 100. A fairly simple layout with a loop, goods depot siding, short siding (where the crane is located) and coal depot siding. Through the enclosed tunnel portal is a single track to assemble trains and three unconnected 3 foot lengths of track.for stock - one being originally for a single brake second coach ('autocoach' or 'push-pull') and loco passenger service.

The trackbed was thinly ballasted, double-sided tape. Firstly the track was set down and the ballasted sprinkled over it, surplus blown away.

Construction of the units (2 X 4' X 16" X 5" deep) was from a framework of 2" X 1", boxed on the sides and outer ends. Connection between the two units was by coach bolts on the lower ends, the track fishplates supplying the power link between the two units (very rudimentary but easily dismantled and re-assembled). At the front the 3-plywood was cut away for the ramp down to the coal depot base. At the other end cutaways were made front and back for a beck, bridged by ply and overlaid with Peco girder bridge sides, suitably ballasted of course, and the whole was painted fairly realistically (I have to say). At the station end the ply was cut to , resemble a wall built across the trackbed, clad with embossed card and topped with (scale) twisted barbed wire and lichen undergrowth.

Wills building kits including Platform signal cabin, 'Kirkrigg'

The signal cabin, door ajar, ready for the porter signalman to attend to the point-settings for when the branch pick-up goods comes, shunts and leaves again the way it came
The signal cabin, door ajar, ready for the porter signalman to attend to the point-settings for when the branch pick-up goods comes, shunts and leaves again the way it came | Source
From left to right, privy, store shed pigsty, smithy - the farmer chatting to the stationmaster (left) and someone's Land Rover (Oxford Diecast) parked blocking the warehouse entrance
From left to right, privy, store shed pigsty, smithy - the farmer chatting to the stationmaster (left) and someone's Land Rover (Oxford Diecast) parked blocking the warehouse entrance | Source

Train services...

As indicated, passenger services were one engine - a (Hornby) D49 4-4-0 in early British Railways livery - and a (Hornby) Gresley side corridor Brake composite coach, sometimes augmented by a goods van or two to be detached and shunted to the goods depot, empty vans attached again and away.

An alternative would be a Class G5 0-4-4 tank loco with Gresley or earlier David Bain NER-vintage suburban brake-3rd as a 'push-pull' service (no need for the loco to run round on the loop).

An ample supply of Hornby, Lima, Mainline and other vans and wagons, kit-built Slaters and modified ready-built Dapol hoppers for the coal depot supplied the station, brought in by the branch locomotive on a pick-up goods service along with the odd general goods or cattle feed van. .

Now I use the empty stock storage rals for standing my spare stock for the Thoraldby layout whilst son Robert decides what he wants to do with it..

Station environs, end-to-end

Looking down at the heavy lorry with pipe load (EFE Models' AEC Mammoth, Evergreen plastic tube ) by the crane by modified Parkside BR 13 ton open wagon (PC01A with unfitted wagon brakes replacing clasp brake sprue supplied) corrugated plastic 'load'
Looking down at the heavy lorry with pipe load (EFE Models' AEC Mammoth, Evergreen plastic tube ) by the crane by modified Parkside BR 13 ton open wagon (PC01A with unfitted wagon brakes replacing clasp brake sprue supplied) corrugated plastic 'load' | Source
Royal Mail collection made from the station box - at one time the driver would have collected from the parcels office at the goods warehouse (see above, the van is from the Classix  range, driver is painted white metal)
Royal Mail collection made from the station box - at one time the driver would have collected from the parcels office at the goods warehouse (see above, the van is from the Classix range, driver is painted white metal) | Source
The (Mike's Models) North Eastern water crane is sited between the loop and platform road to allow a passenger or adjacent goods loco crew to replenish water tanks
The (Mike's Models) North Eastern water crane is sited between the loop and platform road to allow a passenger or adjacent goods loco crew to replenish water tanks | Source
Undergrowth between the rear of the two huts and a farmer's wall (could be him with the Clydesdale talking to the stationmaster) - spot the barbed wire fence at bottom of picture?
Undergrowth between the rear of the two huts and a farmer's wall (could be him with the Clydesdale talking to the stationmaster) - spot the barbed wire fence at bottom of picture? | Source
Looking down from the pigsty shed roof at the stationmaster and farmer (the blacksmith employed by the railway to shoe their delivery horses had a nice sideline!)
Looking down from the pigsty shed roof at the stationmaster and farmer (the blacksmith employed by the railway to shoe their delivery horses had a nice sideline!) | Source
The Hornby starter signal at 'on' means a train could be due or the line is occupied - the tunnel entrance is boxed in to darken it, make it a touch more realistic
The Hornby starter signal at 'on' means a train could be due or the line is occupied - the tunnel entrance is boxed in to darken it, make it a touch more realistic | Source
From the back of the layout, looking over the sheep grazing to the access bridge with its plate girder sides
From the back of the layout, looking over the sheep grazing to the access bridge with its plate girder sides | Source
The view down onto the bridge, showing the top of the abutments and a leaf-bare tree trunk (twig taken from the edge of Wanstead Flats recreation area)
The view down onto the bridge, showing the top of the abutments and a leaf-bare tree trunk (twig taken from the edge of Wanstead Flats recreation area) | Source
From the front, livestock underpass or 'cattle creep'behind that tree, the girder sidewall and abutments on the station side
From the front, livestock underpass or 'cattle creep'behind that tree, the girder sidewall and abutments on the station side | Source
Looking up from the bed of the beck to the abutments and boundary fence
Looking up from the bed of the beck to the abutments and boundary fence | Source

The 'fiddle-yard'

Finally, a view over the fiddle-yard from the control module end. There are three storage tracks at three foot each, enough to store locomotives and both passenger and goods rolling stock. Trains are made up here and 'driven' through the short tunnel, over the bridge and across the station throat either into the passenger platform, the goods or coal depot. The power supply is simply fed through a clip to the through track. As there are no reverse points there is no need for an additional power feed on the layout.

Fiddle-yards are useful for storage - locomotives, passenger, goods and mineral stock - to regulate traffic. On large oval layouts a fiddle-yard might take up one side out of sight if the layout is to go on the exhibition circuit. If you have an out-and-return layout like this one the fiddle-yard fulfils the function of keeping stock out of view until it appears through the tunnel. In other words there's the 'theatrical' role and the fiddle-yard is 'backstage'.



The view from the control module (right, out of image) end showing the variety of wagons and vans stored
The view from the control module (right, out of image) end showing the variety of wagons and vans stored | Source

More by this Author


10 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

Alan, if I were to have a hobby, it would be model trains. I've always wanted a layout such as the one in your pictures....I'm running out of years and I think I need to get with it, don't you?

Nice lesson here my friend. You are such a good writer.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

'Ello, 'ello, it's Bill! What're you doing in this neck of the woods, come to see the lads at play? There's more pictures to look through, feel free. There's a link to the Double O Gauge Association (DOGA). I've been a member for over half a decade, done some writing in the DOGA Journal as well as on here and RMWeb.


TonyPayne profile image

TonyPayne 24 months ago from Southampton, UK

Very cool Alan. I always wanted to have my own railway layout, but never did have the space. The closest I got was 30 years ago when I built a lot of buildings out of card for my son, who was 3 at the time. Unfortunately laying out track on the living room floor is a very poor substitute to making a realistic layout.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 23 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Hello Tony, Greetings for the Festive Season first and foremost.

Glad you liked this. It's only 8' long, being two units of 4' each by about 1' deep. There's a book you can get, Nigel Adams' LAYOUTS FOR LIMITED SPACES from the Silver Link Library of Railway Modelling. I'll add it to this page as a link to Amazon (meant to anyway).

Of course it depends on what scale you want to work in. This is 4mm scale/OO gauge, (there've been competitions for 'box-file' layouts), although you can get a workable layout in 5' or 6' X 10", a 'shunting layout'. In the same space you can get twice as much with N-Gauge (2mm scale).

The only limitation is your imagination.

Best, ARL


MarieLB profile image

MarieLB 18 months ago from Yamba

I am not a model train enthusiast, and yet, I enjoyed reading this to a point where I was completely immersed in it. I have learnt not only what to aim for but the how to and what materials to use. . . .

IF I had a grandson who desperately wanted a model train, I'd know where to start, and if I got stuck. . . .I bet that if I asked nicely, Alan would help me out!!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 18 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Hello Mariel, nice of you to drop by. The materials and techniques used here can be applied to dioramas as well, for planning scenes in films or TV sets, or even for aerial shots in films. A lot of the atmosphere is in the painting, weathering and other effects - such as oil drips between the rails where engines or diesel units would have been checked at a signal or stopped at a station. You get these ideas from visiting model railway exhibitions. The realism these days is a stark contrast to the post-war'minimalist' approach.


MarieLB profile image

MarieLB 18 months ago from Yamba

You do give much attention to detail Alan, and that is a great step towards success in any project, including your writings.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 18 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Got to give the writings some depth, Mariel, otherwise they read a bit 'hollow'. Usually I add a bit more after I've written them (like Amazon links and comments on the books - most of which I've got already - or extra images).


MarieLB profile image

MarieLB 18 months ago from Yamba

That is why you have such an extensive readership. There is much to learn from your hubs and it is not only the subject matter. It is great to have such great writers as you here.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 18 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

What can I say?

I've got a few more pages to add, but not in this series. Eleven away from the 300 mark - got some writing to do on the book front, ta-ta.

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