The South Coast Railway is my first layout since coming back to railway modelling after years of neglect. My inspiration was going to a Canal Museum in Manchester and seeing a OO layout with a Southern Railway L1 on it. It was a bit out of place in a northern scene, but as I had one of these when I was younger I really wanted one again. And so the quest begins all over again, I think that railway modelling never leaves you. It may hide for a while but it is still there.
Location for a railway was not a issue, because there was only one place and that was the loft. It is quite a large area and mostly open. In 2005 I boarded the whole area and started building the trestles to hold the base boards. The boards are chip board and are four feet by two feet. This was the largest width that would fit through the loft hatch. All the timber bracing has been done in about one foot squares. It was all very strong when finished and held my weight as a test with very little flexing. The size is three metres by three metres with an extra metre down one side. The centre area is the control area, and the depth of the boards was determined on how far I could stretch across.
Next came the purchase of track. Most of the track is Hornby and Peco, though there are some other bits and pieces in there. The track plan sort of grew in my head. I would have liked the discipline of running an end to end layout, but knew that I would not keep this up, and when I am doing something to the layout, like to see trains running. So, loops it had to be. I wanted to have at least a good run of double track so that trains could run in opposite directions. A branch line on a different level was also planned. A fiddle yard I thought I could probably do without, because this is not a portable layout and not an exhibition layout, it’s there for me to play trains! The answer instead of a fiddle yard is lots of storage sidings that would also eventually be part of the whole scenic railway. The track was placed onto the boards and played with until I came to a layout that I found I enjoyed. The branch line was constructed with left over base board off cuts and raised to the correct height. The gradient was as shallow as I could make it within the size of area I had. All the track was laid on cork. Stations planned and hills decided upon . All the platforms except Green Bridge are Metcalfe, Green Bridge is Superquick. The hills are made out of up-ended toilet rolls covered in papier-mâché. This was in Railway modeller and is a very good cheap way of making hills, but friends and family got very bored keeping all the tubes for me.
Deciding on an era was not something I could do. I thought long and hard over this, and nearly went for a Pre-War Southern Layout. But I hit a problem, what about all the locos I like from around the other regions? What about diesels that I like? Tricky questions when you want to try and get it as right as you can. The only answer for me was to have a preserved line. Set in the Hants/Dorset area near to the sea. This lets me run what I like and enjoy them for what they are.
Most of the building are Metcalfe. I found these enjoyable to build and of good quality. Most are lit with Christmas tree lights, this too is a very cheep way of doing this, they were all bought just after Christmas in the sales and are all the 240volt versions. The scenery is ongoing and I doubt I will ever finish adding to it.
In 2008 I hope to build trestles in the other half of the loft and extend the railway, I have left an entry and exit point on the outer main line to allow this to run around the extension. On the extension I also want two maybe three extra loops and more sidings. This will then allowed the steam and diesel fleets to have their own areas. Also I want to put a miniature railway in, A sort of Romney Hythe and Dymchurch line. This I think will use modified N gauge locos and 009 coaches, but this is still all in my head and I have yet to clear the other half of the loft.