FLEXFORD (was WYEBRIDGE)
Purchased from its original creator, Julian Russell, in my spare time I've spent the last couple of years making considerable modifications to it as I wanted to portray a Western Region branchline in its last few days before closure and track lifting.
Built by Julian to Scaleseven standards, DCC and originally set in 1959, I'm trying to suggest how it might have appeared a few years later - steam's almost gone and breathing its last gasps before dieselisation briefly takes over just prior to its end. I decided to create this new page dealing with the alterations and development since acquisition.
Originally modelled by Julian as a branch terminus, I elected to make it a through station but with the track beyond my new road bridge by the station now abandoned and lifted. A clutter of sleepers sits across the rails by the bridge, marking the end of the line.
It's still a work in progress so for now I'm just adding a few photos here and there, but soon I'll start taking more detailed shots of it since it's likely to appear in the Model Railway Journal at some stage and a full description will be written for that article.
It will also make a suitable display piece for stock as I weather it and ring the changes from my little photo display diorama that I've used for so long.
I need to make more telegraph poles, field fencing, trees, hedges and lighter undergrowth, weeds, taller plants in and around the sidings, build a coach and a Class 122 railcar, more wagons - all of which should keep me occupied for a while longer.
I've made a couple of minor changes to the platform area so removed the earlier photos and added the latest one with a new tree and a rethink on the huts. Still further shrubbery to be added.
In the next shot I've started temporarily planting fence posts but having decided I can't ignore the absent wires, I'd have to make up a jig so I can attach the correctly spaced wires - eight strands at different heights with closer gaps at the bottom. About twelve feet of fencing, which isn't a problem if you really have nothing better to do with your time but of course I could always imagine the boundary fence being set further back from the edge and thus off scene behind the onlooker, which would save a lot of work. Now there's an idea . . .
The above views are now mostly history as I've changed things quite dramatically. I'd asked a good railway friend for his thoughts on the project because it's not always easy to step away from it all and see things as others do. Easy not to see the wood for the trees, so to speak.
He asked why a sleepy and very small ex-through branch station in the middle of nowhere would need a loco shed - wouldn't one more likely be at one or other end of the branch?
I didn't really have a good answer other than I fancied having one, which isn't the most convincing of reasons! Of course after that I couldn't stop hearing his comments in my head and after a while decided it really was an unlikely scenario so the loco shed's gone.
I've extended the platform a little as it was quite short - either that or change the station building to a smaller one to make the platform look less so and I am just finishing scratchbuilding a small timber and brick goods shed to replace the loco shed. Based a little on that which stood at Watlington, it will straddle the same track and have just a short section beyond that butts up to an end loading area, flush with the platform. Access to this shed now comes off the track passing under the rear bridge.
I'd also worried for some time about how I was going to couple/uncouple stock that was sitting on the rear tracks and much inward debate had ensued regarding auto couplers of some sort and whether I could face using them instead of the traditional links. Jury's still out on that one but at least I now don't have to worry about reaching across signals, telegraph poles or trees as the revamped trackwork will mostly be concentrated in the middle and towards the front of the layout. Some track's already been removed, including a couple of turnouts and new rationalised trackwork has been laid in a different configuration using the turnouts, all of which requires rewiring, painting, ballasting and weathering. That's as far as I've got and photos will be posted here once there's more to see.
In the meantime, because there is very little remaining of Julian's original layout other than some of the trackwork, signals and station building, I've decided to rename it FLEXFORD, this being a small hamlet of just a few houses situated in Hampshire between Chandlers Ford and Romsey. It doesn't have railway access, being located either side of a solitary road bridge that crosses over the existing line to Romsey, but I liked the name that I always intended using on an originally planned Southern region model that would have linked to HURSLEY - a much earlier production of mine. This never came to fruition, hence my choice for the renaming ceremony - and it's a name that as far as I can tell has never been genuinely attached to a railway station of any description so not likely to be confused with another one.