HAVING ALWAYS HAD a fascination with overhead electrified railway operation, James Makin jumped at the chance to enter a layout building competition with such a theme. Wells Green, an electric loco maintenance depot in the post-privatisation era, was the result and went on to win top prize. The project was featured in REM24.
Scratchbuilt from mounting card and styrene strip, it is a source of much interest at exhibitions. The brushes themselves are simply paintbrush heads, glued onto card, and trimmed into shape. Meanwhile the ‘flails’ are created from scrunched-up rolls of aluminium foil, painted an appropriate colour. Fine brass wire has been bent to shape to recreate all the associated pipework, whilst the structure has been graffitied by local yobs. The whole area has been whitened to represent the cumulative effect of water softening chemicals after many years use.
Fiddle yard operation
Once DEMU Showcase had passed and the rules of the competition no longer applied, a much larger 3ft by 2ft fiddle yard was constructed, featuring six roads, which has enhanced operation considerably. Each road can accommodate at least one locomotive, with two roads specially designed to hold longer items of stock, such as the Class 86/9 Loadbanks or a two-coach DMU if so desired. Power is fed directly from the main board, so the operator can simply select the required track and drive the locomotive out onto the scenic section.
All pointwork on the fiddle yard is manual, so there was no need for additional electrical work to be undertaken when extending the layout. However, plans are afoot for a new DC simplified control panel specifically for the entire layout’s pointwork, once DCC is installed. Onto the front of the fiddle yard a large display board has been mounted, which has the role of hiding the ‘backstage’ workings of the layout to the public, as well as providing useful information about the model.
Front scenic extension
Right from the start I had envisaged an extra scenic part of the layout being added on to help ‘set the scene’ and create an atmosphere. One of my firm beliefs is that model railways should reflect real life rather than be just be an exercise in shoe-horning tracks into the smallest space possible. Visit any depot today and it is almost guaranteed you will see many sprawling, weed-infested, redundant tracks and derelict buildings scattered across the yard, providing the grim reminder of how traffic levels have fallen in recent years.
It was with this inspiration in mind I set about adding the five-inch scenic section onto the front of the layout, seeking to replicate as many of the real life details into model form. The majority of the extension is occupied by two disused sidings, which have been had the rails fully ‘rusted’ over, providing an indication as to how long they have been out of use. It has been assumed that a new, much larger entrance has been opened up elsewhere on the site and the boarded-up old gatehouse and rusty padlocked-entrance gates have been allowed to fall into disrepair.
Much of the area next to the depot buildings is an uneven waste ground, once part of a far larger works building – long since demolished, with grass and weeds now growing over the rubble. Shopping trolleys, oil drums, damaged tail lamps and broken catenary insulators are just some of the artefacts liberally scattered over the area nestling amongst the undergrowth.
Further down the opposite end of Wells Green TMD, some of the former railway land has been sold off, resulting in the fence drawing in far closer to the track than in other places. Some of the old land is now being used as a footpath, albeit unkempt and rarely trodden by the public. Such a secluded place unfortunately has attracted the attention of unsavoury types of people, being the location where a body has been dumped, on the railway side of the fence, amongst the bushes out of sight. Cheshire Police is assumed to be investigating the incident, having had Network Rail’s permission to open the gates in the ubiquitous large railway palisade fences and venture onto railway property to conduct their business.
Further details about Wells Green TMD can be found on James’s website.
Photographs by Philip Sutton.