In the mid-sixties, I was in need of the larger back bedroom in our 1930’s 3-bedroom semi, so my father invested in a SHED. This 9′ x 8′ empire was carefully built by my father, saturated with wood preservative, insulated and lined. The roofing felt had an added corrugated plastic layer. This careful construction meant that the shed was still in good condition when my parents moved house over 15 years later. Power was strung from the kitchen and garage, so one could flick a switch and pre-warm the shed with an electric convector.
Three generations of layout lived in the shed. The first was another continuous layout, really just another ‘big station opposite small station’ design, much as we had indoors. The next introduced a junction and a terminus in front of storage loops. The third was the most satisfying and had most progress. The continuous run was abandoned in favour of a simple U-shaped terminus to fiddle yard layout. The terminus was modelled after a number of smallish Southern Railway stations. Most track was hand-built, with some PCB sleepered Marcway points. Ballast was in place and some basic scenery as well. It was never finished, but it was the first ‘real’ railway I had helped build.
Through my teens and university years, my father and I were members of the Beckenham and West Wickham club. In fact my father remained a member well into his retirement and contributed a number of models to their fine-scale ‘O’ gauge layout at that time. I’ve posted the picture below before, but it is well worth posting again. A typical early 70’s exhibition, with the club’s semi-coarse standard ‘O’ gauge line on display. My father is in the middle back, and my signal box, hiding the working lever frame is middle front. Lots of lovely Southern ‘O’ gauge (plus a couple of re-motored ‘Big-Big Train’ Hymeks). A model railway show, so ties had to be worn (except my dad) and smoking was allowed not only in the hall, but also during operations!
The BWWMRC gave me my first introduction to 2mm modelling. In a room next to the large club library lurked what my father called, ‘The Mechanical Mice’. 2mm fine-scale modelling progressed at a slow pace. If my memory is correct, we either had a piece of the famed Inversnecky and Drambuie Railway, or a close copy of it. I recall the station terminus that fitted in a violin case, and the lighthouse scene next to it. Most of this pioneering model railway can now be seen in York Railway Museum.
For those familiar with the names Willis and Cox in the context of the 2mm Association, I remember these worthy gentlemen working on the layout, together with a small American gentleman, probably called Len Fidkin, who built amazing trestles and buildings.
Then in 1973, it was off to university, and a whole set of new ideas (to say nothing of beer) opened up. That will be for next time!