The Claptowte Railway - A Complete Rethink

David1226

David1226

Registered
24 Oct 2009
4,487
70
Abingdon, Oxfordshire
For many years now I have had a track plan for a G Scale ‘portable’ exhibition layout. The original plan was for an end to end, fiddle yard to rural terminus, layout. It was intended to build it to fine scale standards, something of a rarity in G Scale. It was designed to be a layout of two parts incorporating a station area with a run-around loop and associated sidings, which would be used to display a variety of passenger stock coming and going, together with a goods yard that was also a shunting puzzle. The idea was that there was always going to be some movement on the layout, something often missing on too many exhibition layouts, whatever the scale. The railway company that I created is called The Claptowte Railway, a very tongue in cheek name. I created a fictitious history for the railway in order to explain its various idiosyncrasies. The terminus station was to be called Gernise End, yes that is pronounced Journey’s End. My play on words is a fitting name for a terminus and also for what is intended to be the culmination of many years spent railway modelling. The shunting puzzle/goods yard was to be called Goudes Sidings, another use, or misuse, of the English language.

Over the years, I have been steadfastly collecting all the required items, track, rolling stock, locomotives, very much to a plan. Now at the age of seventy and no longer able to drive, reality has set in and there is a reluctant acceptance that it is never going to be built in the original form, being too large and complex.

The items of rolling stock that I have created over many years, all extensively modified to my own design and repainted in the corporate livery, are largely unique. It has given me many hours of enjoyment producing them. It has occurred to me that it is my stock collection that is the main interest and that any layout is only of secondary importance as a means of displaying it. I need to create a much simpler and less scenic layout as a means of displaying the Claptowte Railway stock.

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I have come up with a new simplified track plan that is now a continuous oval. The fiddle yard is now a series of run through sidings so that trains can be run in either direction. The station, Gernise End, is no longer the terminus but now an intermediate station with a passing loop and reduced and simplified goods facilities. Goudes Sidings is no longer a shunting puzzle but a simple pair of sidings, used as a stabling point and a means to display further stock.

In order to make the layout more compact, easier to store, move and transport, the boards will be flat with no backscene and no fixed buildings or scenery. All of the structures, trees, hedges, etc will be removable. The appearance, although not to fine scale standards as originally intended, will, I hope, be acceptable. As I said everything is secondary to the displaying of the stock. The history and description of the line has been re-written to reflect the new layout design.

The history and description of the line has been re-written to reflect the new layout design

The new design of track plan

Claptowte Railway - Basic Layout.jpg


David
 
David1226

David1226

Registered
24 Oct 2009
4,487
70
Abingdon, Oxfordshire
The Claptowte Railway – The History

The Claptowte Railway is a British narrow gauge line, set somewhere in the English - Welsh border country, sometime around the last half of the 20th century. The line meanders through the Vale of Claptowte from an exchange with a main line standard gauge railway, at Ellceware, up to the head of the valley and the rural terminus at Welwawn. The line is often incorrectly referred to as the Welwawn and Claptowte Railway, or, The Old W.C.

Gernise End is an intermediate station, with a run around loop that enables passenger and goods trains to pass each other, near to the head of the valley. It is a busy stopping off place for the grouse moors and long distance footpaths of the upper reaches of the vale. It has basic goods handling facilities comprising a loading dock, a cattle dock and a yard crane. There are also coal staithes operated by the local coal merchant, I.P.Black.

The Motive Power Depot, workshop facilities and carriage sidings are located along the line at Phidell Yard

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, a number of small independent engineering machine shops, dotted about the vale, have specialised in, and become renowned for, the manufacture of watnaims, in fact, Claptowte watnaims are known to Mechanical Engineers all over the world. There cannot be many engineering installations around the former British Empire not fitted with a Claptowte watnaim. Goudes Sidings, located just outside Gernise End, was once the bustling hub of this trade, handling incoming raw materials and the export of the finished products. With the introduction of modern technology, this local industry is now very much in decline, except of course for the demand for spare parts. Engineering students come from far and wide to study the few remaining machine shops that are now regarded as living museums.

The subsequent decline in production means that Goudes Sidings is now used only as a stabling point for the line’s Engineering Department and their travelling crane can usually be seen parked there.

In order to avoid the considerable Civil Engineering costs, and difficulties, that would have been required to push a standard gauge railway through the undulating and twisting topography of the vale, the founding fathers of the line elected to construct a narrow gauge railway that would follow the contours of the vale, rather than combat them. They sought out and engaged an acknowledged narrow gauge expert of the day, Ivor Biggedd, to be the company’s first Chief Mechanical Engineer.

Prior to taking up this appointment, Biggedd had undertaken an extensive tour of Europe in order to study Continental railway practices. He was deeply impressed by the ride quality and generous loading gauge of European metre gauge (3’ 3’’) railways when compared to the almost universal two foot gauge (60cm) and restricted clearances of most British narrow gauge lines. He attributed this to the fact that most British narrow gauge lines had evolved from industrial horse-drawn tramways. Given a blank piece of paper Biggedd proposed, from the outset, to construct a metre gauge railway. His many close links with various European railway companies and manufacturers meant that he was able to purchase continental locomotives and stock at very advantageous prices, a factor that greatly endeared him to the Board of Directors, under the Chairmanship of Sir Nial DeMencha.

The European links have been maintained with the more recent introductions of diesel power. Over the years, a succession of rebuilds and modifications, in the company’s own workshop, has greatly altered the appearance of much of the stock from its European origins. This, together with its metre gauge, has given the Claptowte Railway its unique character.

The first arrival of the day, at Gernise End, brings newspapers, parcels and mail up from Elceware. At Welwawn, a pair of milk vans are coupled to the train, for the return trip, as milk, in churns, is still collected from various stops along the line, for delivery to the dairy at Ellceware. Livestock, poultry, vegetables and other local produce are transported to and from the weekly market at Welwawn. Coal and coke are delivered to the fires and cooking ranges of Gernise End where the tentacles of the gas main have yet to reach. The few narrow, winding roads of the vale, hemmed in by high dry stone walls, or hedges, have kept motor transport to a minimum and the railway is still the prime mover of freight and passengers, in the area.

The principle shareholder of the line is also the largest landowner in the area, Lord Ellpasse. The Ellpasse Estates cover large swathes of the vale, including the extensive grouse moors above Gernies End. Lord Ellpasse welcomed the building of the railway as a means of conveniently and comfortably bringing paying guests to his shooting parties on the moors. Estate workers are sent, in the shooting brake, to meet and greet the guests at the station. They can frequently be heard roaming the platform calling out their employer’s name, Lord Ellpasse. These cries often bring the local vicar, Rev W.Awdry, who has himself more than a passing interest in railways, running to see what is amiss.

Unfortunately, these days, Lord Elpasse is more famous following the notorious scandal surrounding him and his Children’s Nanny, Honour Bakke. Among the passengers arriving at Gernise End there are a new breed of animal, the Investigative Journalist. These have been known to trawl the inns and hostelries of the Vale attempting to illicit any sordid details from the locals by plying them with drink. Given that Lord Ellpasse is the largest employer and landlord in the area, the locals are understandably tight lipped.

The end of post World War II austerity has seen a gradual return to the area of Homo Touristus. They are returning in ever increasing numbers, armed with a Thermos flask and an illustrated copy of A.Wainwright’sWalking the Claptowte Way’, to explore the beautiful countryside around the Vale. Another attraction, for many, is the locally brewed ale, which is savoured by many who end up spending time on The Old W.C.

The rapid demise of steam locomotion on national standard gauge services is leading to a growing interest, by enthusiasts, in preserving independent steam operated narrow gauge railways. All of the above factors means that passenger schedules are well patronised, whatever the time of year, and the line’s future seems assured.

And yes . . . if you have not already worked it out, Gernise End is pronounced Journey’s End. What better name for the culmination of a lifetime of modelling?



David Goldsworthy
Mechanical Engineer
The Claptowte Railway




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David
 
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Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
27,734
North West Norfolk
I think that's a good plan, David.

The most interesting thing about exhibitions is that it is the larger scales that almost always tend to have something moving all the time. In exhibition terms, end to end layouts are frequently boring due to:

  1. manual uncoupling
  2. loco/stock/track misbehaving
  3. operators nattering
  4. inexperienced operators not knowing what to do next

A continuous loop allows an operator to take stock before the next train movement while keeping something running. I know that people are disparaging about 'roundy-roundy', but trains were designed to run - they weren't designed just to crawl in and out of a station or goods yard :rolleyes::rolleyes:

Just my twopennyworth
 
AustrianNG

AustrianNG

Director of my railway
16 Sep 2015
1,016
Wirral
Interesting history David. I was kinda hoping that Colonel Meltchett and Captain Darling would feature somewhere.
 
Chris Vernell

Chris Vernell

Certified
24 Oct 2009
5,388
73
Nepean, ON
The principle shareholder of the line is also the largest landowner in the area, Lord Ellpasse.
Ditty remembered from the mists of time:

'mongst notable men in the Bible be three:
King Domcome, Lord Elpus and Baron Figtree

Nice story, David, and I hope your plan comes to fruition.
 
David1226

David1226

Registered
24 Oct 2009
4,487
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Abingdon, Oxfordshire
As a prequal to announcing the plans for the layout rethink, I posted a thread on the topic of trees for the layout. It was with the new plan in mind that I started to come up with an idea for trees that could be placed onto flat baseboards and held in place with a few small blobs of Bluetack. To that end I now have twenty trees of heights between 34 and 54 cms. You can click on the link to the topic on trees.

Claptowte Railway - Trees - G Scale Central

dig 200401002.JPG


At the same time I came up with an idea for lineside/roadside hedging, modified with suggestions from Forum members. I have purchased some 3mm plywood to be used as bases for the hedging so that it can be stuck down to a flat baseboard in the same way as the trees. I cannot make the up the hedges until the baseboards have been constructed as each section of hedge will have to be cut/shaped to fit a specific location. I have purchase additional cedar mats to cut up as per my topic on the subject. A link to the topic on hedging is below.

Claptowte Railway - Hedging - G Scale Central

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David
 
a98087

a98087

Registered
8 Nov 2009
1,634
33
Wiltshire
Looks like a good Concept to me, any g scale exhibition layout will be welcomed.

and if ive read the plan correctly having the entire layout sceniced gives far more viewing space,

And by having your modular approach you could rearrange and extend if you feel the need

Dan
 
idlemarvel

idlemarvel

Neither idle nor a marvel
13 Jul 2015
2,224
Ascot
Sounds like a good plan, ambitious but achievable. You might want to look at the 16mm society modular layout standards for the baseboards, manageable size, sturdy, easy to connect together with wing nuts. Although my indoor layout is not portable I have used these standard as guidelines and the work well. Nothing wrong with roundy-roundy!
 
P

Paul M

Registered
25 Oct 2016
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Royston
Good luck with you're endeavours! As Dave said, the 16mm Association Modular Layout is very successful. One word of warning, which is probably unnecessary, the boards won't be light!
 
idlemarvel

idlemarvel

Neither idle nor a marvel
13 Jul 2015
2,224
Ascot
Not so much the boards as the combination of board, track and scenery. For the non-scenic sections you could think about having the track removable. Would take more time to set up but no need to cut track or worries about track alignment / conductivity. I have never done an exhibition layout so this is just a thought not a recommendation based on experience.
 
L

lyctus

Registered
12 Dec 2019
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69
Duncraig, Western Australia
David, a marvellous history of the Claptowte Railway and I did chuckle at the perverse us of the English language, but I can not so far quite unravel Gourdes Sidings. I feel a little stupid, but perhaps you might give me a clue as to how to 'get the pun' .
I have always enjoyed the subtle punning with names on model railways...Lowe Quality Furniture , O.L. King Coal, Gorre and Dephetid Railway, Shakey Chair Co.
and your punning is up there with the best of them.
I really admire your rolling stock. Very nice.
 
ebay mike

ebay mike

Retired, but still hoarding. (GOF)
6 Dec 2011
3,180
Norfolk - edge of nowhere.
I did chuckle at the perverse us of the English language, but I can not so far quite unravel Gourdes Sidings. I feel a little stupid, but perhaps you might give me a clue as to how to 'get the pun' .
No Rs in Goudes (goods) sidings - bit if a bummer really!!!
 
P

playmofire

Registered
23 Oct 2010
7,003
North Yorks
In exhibition terms, end to end layouts are frequently boring due to:

  1. manual uncoupling
  2. loco/stock/track misbehaving
  3. operators nattering
  4. inexperienced operators not knowing what to do next



Just my twopennyworth
You can add to those:

5. Running to an actual railway timetable.
First train of the day 09:35
Exhibition opens 10:00
Operators go for lunch 13:00
Up daily goods 13:05
Down daily goods: 13:55
Operators return from lunch 14:00
16:30 Exhibition ends
16:55 Last train of the day

From my own experience, keeping 'em running is the answer and don't forget the "wriggle factor", i.e. bends and crossovers if you can fit them into the scheme of things.
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
26,184
Tamworth, Staffs.
5. Running to an actual railway timetable.
We were lucky...

There was an n-gauge layout of a Scottish valley, with the line running along a contour.. We just saw a train traverse this, very slowly..
I was admiring the scenery, when a gentleman with a camera asked the Operator: "Excuse me, when are you running the next train?"
It was explained the next rain would be in about 40 minutes.. And which service it would be.. :rolleyes:

Not at a railway show.. Please!
 
P

Paul M

Registered
25 Oct 2016
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Royston
It was explained the next rain would be in about 40 minutes.. And which service it would be.. :rolleyes:
Perhaps it was his lunch service
 
Northsider

Northsider

Registered
3 May 2012
786
We were lucky...

There was an n-gauge layout of a Scottish valley, with the line running along a contour.. We just saw a train traverse this, very slowly..
I was admiring the scenery, when a gentleman with a camera asked the Operator: "Excuse me, when are you running the next train?"
It was explained the next rain would be in about 40 minutes.. And which service it would be.. :rolleyes:

Not at a railway show.. Please!
And despite all that realism, the passengers stayed on the platform, the luggage didn't get put in the Guard's van and the cattle remained in their dock. No sense of realism, some people... :D
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
26,184
Tamworth, Staffs.
And despite all that realism, the passengers stayed on the platform, the luggage didn't get put in the Guard's van and the cattle remained in their dock. No sense of realism, some people... :D
No smelly cattle-dock, and no rain running down the back of my neck, either! :giggle::giggle:
 
Fezwig

Fezwig

Registered
5 Jul 2016
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56
Croft, Warrington
I do remember seeing a swiss layout many years ago, they had a swiss railway clock and ran to a timetable, but when there was a lull between trains, the clock would speed up until the next train and then go back to normal time for the movements.
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
17,541
72
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
If time must be a part of the schedule it is perhaps best to either use a PC Screen or Flip Over Cards to describe the Trains, then they can be run to a schedule but give Time information as well. On my 0 Gauge Exhibition Light Railway we used the flip over cards, in the back was the information for the Operator and the front gave the punters a descriotion of what was occurring. I never used times but could easily have done so on the Punters side. Another thing about exhibition layouts with a Single Line Terminus that bugs me immensely is Train leaving followed by one immediately arriving. What happened to the running time to the next passing loop? How things should be organized is to have a Train ready to leave which does so after one has arrived, this then is allowed to run round, shunt etc and be ready giving a decent interval for the next one to arrive where the process is replicated. This can sometimes be tricky, particularly at a Station where there is only 1 platform but can be done with goods and perhaps Parcels Trains alternating between the Passenger ones. Another trick is for the first Train of the day to be a Goods which then shunts some while The passenger one has departed, this goods then being the last train of the schedule after the goods from the next one has arrived. Setting up a schedule for continuous movement is a relatively easy task that can be done replicating real movements without compromises. Just takes a bit of thought and planning.
 
David1226

David1226

Registered
24 Oct 2009
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Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Lots of interesting thoughts on how to run a model railway at an exhibition but perhaps they should be in a thread of their own rather than thread drift here.

David