Autumn Lane

After breaking Parkside East and selling Broadgate another depot layout was needed for the  Exhibition circuit. The answer was to be Autumn Lane and this time there was some extra requirements,  I would theme the season and there would be provision for Electric Locomotives and overhead wires, I also managed a small station halt. The station would be on a through line and there would be a fiddle yard at either end. It was really hard to plan the fiddle yard and it ended up just holding two loco’s in each end. However, being a Depot Layout I felt that the Depot Yard was an ‘open viewable fiddle yard’ .

After 5 years on the circuit I sold Autumn Lane to a very nice chap called Noel Oakes in the North of England. After having the layout for at least 5 years Noel has sold the layout on. I have no idea where it is now!

Although I could run different era’s, I usually run the EWS era at Exhibitions as it was then current and that’s what the Exhibition Managers asked for.

All models on the below photographs are Lima and Hornby. Except the 08 is Bachmann.

Please Note:- The Plan of the layout  in MODEL RAIL has two sidings missing – another Plan with the sidings added is below.

In reflection I think I crammed to much track into a small space – but it was a Depot!!!!!

This Layout appeared in MODEL RAIL No.66 APRIL 2004

Autumn Lane








EWS locos

View general B

View general C

Parkside East

Parkside was my first ‘proper’ layout. It took me quite a while to make and it was always very much trial and error. I had been detailing and repainting diesel locomotives for some time, but it was not until we moved to a slightly larger home that work was started on the baseboards. I really struggled to get to grips with the electrics although the scenic and making buildings came very easily to me. At this time any thoughts of exhibiting were at least 10 years away.

We had Parkside East for 15 years but after this length of time it was showing its age and the decision was taken to scrap it and retrieve as much as possible for another layout.

This layout has appeared in RAILWAY MODELLER. (January 2000 I believe)


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Ayling Island

Ayling Island was one of my ‘now for something completely different’. I wanted to try out 3mm sprat and winkle couplings on a 4mm layout , I wanted a run round so the loco needed to have the hook at one end and the loop at the other. I tried to work out how I could do this with a diesel loco or shunter,  After a few trials and many errors, I decided that a small steam locomotive would possibly  do better. I purchased a Dapol Terrier and proceeded to cut away the back portion of the chassis at the coal bunker end. I made the paddle of the Spratt and Winkle smaller and added a tiny piece of lead to make a positive movement. It worked and a further two Terriers were purchased. The Terriers, 3 coaches and 15  wagons had the same treatment. Ayling Island was born and the year would 1959-61′ ish. Why Ayling and not Hayling – easy my wife has relations with that surname and, yes they live in Sussex!   Anyway the final track plan was nothing like Hayling.

This layout has had a remarkable life, we had it on the circuit for about four years and after it was sold it continued on the circuit and still is. After I sold it, it went through a transformation to more modern times and emerged as ‘Loch Ayling’ and is now a Scottish Layout!

This layout has appeared in MODEL RAIL No. 78 APRIL 2005  as BR(S) Ayling Island.

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Strachan was my first commission when I started my new business in 2000. I had known Les Williams for about three years at the time and we came to a deal that would see Strachan born. It was to be based in Scotland around the mid 1970’s. Les would give me a list of requirement and we set about getting all the parts we needed. Whilst Les was a good chap to work for, he knew what he wanted and we tried to fit everything in. Another long lived layout, Les still owns this layout and occasionally exhibits it.

This layout has appeared in both RAIL EXPRESS and RAILWAY MODELLER

I  can only find a few photographs in my collection – I will try and get more!

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Broadgate was the brainchild of my son John. After Dunston Green had been sold, without the stock, we had the need for a layout to run the stock. I don’t think we really  wanted to Exhibit it, it was just to play trains at home. After all, it was quite small and a  bit limited. In those days the micro layouts were few and far between, however we soon got invitations, mainly as a space filler, sometimes we took it to exhibitions as well as another layout, just for that reason.  Broadgate had a long run on the circuit and after 6 years we decided to sell it. It eventually went to Les Williams, who had become a collector of my work. I actually sold it to Les even though I had a higher offer as Les was the best home possible for it. Les purchased the layout only,  some of the stock was sold to another friend, Ian Taylor.

One thing I tried on Broadgate was to sculpt  the side scenes in the shape of trees and bushes, see photographs. I never did this again – say no more.

This is a smashing little layout for 10-12 loco’s and a fuel tank or two.

I based the layout on twilight as we had working yard lights. I do think that a bright blue sky background and working Yard/Station lights looks a bit odd. Overhead lighting is fine.

Les still owns the layout.











Melford was my first Exhibition Modern Image layout and I have fond memories of making it and  displaying it. After exhibiting this layout for over five years, it was eventually sold. I kept track of it for about two years longer, then it disappeared. I have no idea where it is now or even if it exists.

When I was designing the layout, try as I may I could not get the design to fit the proposed two even sized baseboards of 5′ 6″ X 2′. Whatever I did a point ended up on a join. I don’t know whether I made the right decision but – I made the base boards two different sizes, one was 5′ x 2′ and the other was 6′ x 2′. I never mentioned this is the MODEL RAIL article, mainly because I was a bit embarrassed. I really did not know whether you should do things like that!  Now, 15 years on, would I do it again – ‘yes’ if it still went in the car.

This layout has appeared in MODEL RAIL No.15  JANUARY 2000.



Melford 8




Dunston Green

Dunston Green was my first ever Exhibition Layout. It was made for my sons to play with. John was interested and maintains his interest in Railway Modelling to this day, Paul, my younger son was not really interested and was a reluctant Exhibition attendee. When built I had no intention of Exhibiting this or any other layout. I was a visitor only at all the local exhibitions. Around this time I met Keith Wright and his brother Paul at a local Model Shop. Keith saw the layout and an invitation to the Stowmarket Exhibition followed. The Exhibition came and I received  four more invites – it all started from there.

I have to say none of this would have happened without Keith. Sadly he died at the early age of 40 years,  5 years ago. Still missed very much – thanks for your help mate.

I sold the layout to a very good home and as far as I know it still exists in private hands.

This Layout has appeared in MODEL RAIL No 15  JANUARY 2000



Dunstan 3

Dunstan church

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Hobbs Lane

After Kenninghall was broken up, I decided that a small O gauge layout to put on the Exhibition circuit would be nice.

After a few ideas ‘bit the dust’, the preference for a small engine shed emerged. I had all the stock from Kenninghall so this was to be a relatively cheap layout.

I again fell back on the Heljan O gauge Engine Shed Kit. It was cut and hacked about until I had the back wall of a large shed and a small complete ‘tank’ shed attached. An ash pit was cut in the baseboard and a coaling stage built.

The ballasting was all done with sand to give a well trodden look. This was also my first attempt at making the entry to the fiddle yard less visible with a small bridge with a run of pipes from the main shed. I was to use this several more times on different layouts to avoid the hole in the sky entry to the fiddle yard.

After Kenninghall, this was a dream to transport and set up, I did about 20 Exhibitions all over East Anglia in about four years. During this time I had purchased some Tender Engine Kits and after building they looked a bit overwhelming on the layout. I decided to sell Hobbs Lane, and it moved to a pair of chaps I knew from The Cambridge MRC.  A change of name and a move to DCC saw the layout re-emerge as Hobbs Warren. It has since  appeared in the modelling press, but I can’t remember which!

The replacement baseboard for Hobbs was made, but I got it totally wrong and it’s to big to go in the estate car. It remains unfinished after 3 years – watch this space! stupid boy!



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