In the beginning!!!!!

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Peter Butler
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In the beginning!!!!!

Post by Peter Butler » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:25 pm

It has been suggested by markoteal and bazzer (so you can blame them!) that I show some pictures of the indoor part of my railway. I thought it might be an opportunity to explore the history of the layout as it is not entirely my own work.
The exhibition layout, formerly named 'Umbridge' started life in about 1984 and was the brainchild of Steve (Sam) Holland and Bill Breakwell. Along with them I was also a member of the Alumwell Model Railway Group, Walsall, where we had previously been involved in building, and exhibiting, narrow gauge layouts in 7mm scale.
The idea of building something so large with little manufacturing support at the time didn't put us off one bit! Ah, the innocence of youth.
Rail was purchased from Brandbright, manufactured by Tenmille using brass rail, plastic chairs and pre-drilled sleepers. Points were all handmade by Steve. My first job was to construct the baseboards, each 5ft. x 3ft. which eventually made up into a continuous circuit measuring 25ft. x 10ft. they were of plywood and had no flat surface on their tops allowing scenic work to be below track level.
It took at least two years for us to reach a point where we felt confident enough to display the layout and one of the first outings was at a local school....
BURPS 20004.jpg
More invitations followed and we also exhibited at Derby in that year.
During the busy years of building and showing the layout I compiled a list of some of the exhibitions we attended which included a 1990 invitation to
'sHertogenbosch in the esteemed company of Dave Rowe and Mike Sharman. This was no mean feat as we needed to hire a Luton Transit van which we almost filled with the layout, stock and personal effects. I recall the journey well which started in fine weather but soon became wet and we discovered on arrival that the front of the van roof leaked. Fortunately no serious damage occurred and we were able to dry out the scenery with no adverse effects.
The venue was vast, a covered livestock market with exhibitors from all over Europe. The German layouts seemed endless in length!
Hospitality was superb with a local family (not railway club members themselves) allowing us to stay with them in their home.
At local shows I was occasionaly accompanied by my elder son, James....
BURPS 1.jpg
He is now 36 so in this picture would be only 9. As you can see the layout was well established by this date when it was exhibited at Warley in 1990 where it won 'Best in show'
We continued exhibiting until at least 1993 when we decided to call it a day, having family and business commitments to occupy us.
More to follow.......
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bazzer42
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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by bazzer42 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:33 pm

Very interesting. Warley one of the top 5! Moved up 4 notches since then. Is your son still interested in trains?

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markoteal
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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by markoteal » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:13 pm

Peter - thank you - really looking forward to this - and I love the back story!
Where did I put that uncoupler?

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tom_tom_go
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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by tom_tom_go » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:28 pm

I thought this was going to start with in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...

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Peter Butler
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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by Peter Butler » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:34 pm

tom_tom_go wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:28 pm
I thought this was going to start with in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...
Now if Big Jim was writing this that might have a place in the story? As you can see I skipped the first several thousand years so I could live long enough to finish!
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Peter Butler
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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by Peter Butler » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:39 pm

bazzer42 wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:33 pm
Is your son still interested in trains?
Unfortunately not.... his interests now are RC cars and industrial equipment.
This is his 1/6th scale upgraded monster....
IMG_3223.JPG
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bazzer42
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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by bazzer42 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:02 pm

could be worse :D

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Peter Butler
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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by Peter Butler » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:53 pm

Before we disbanded there had been some additions in personnel, Nick Greenhough, a near neighbour, came to help out with some wonderful handmade items such as platform lighting, weather vanes, brackets etc. Being a self employed manufacturing jeweller he had the skills to produce items not then commercially available. He also had access to centrifugal whitemetal casting equipment.
Equally, another newcomer to our circle was Alan Kidner (of Kidner Kits) who travelled from Coventry each Tuesday evening using two trains and a bus each way to get there. He produced some good castings and kits in his own right and helped create many items on the layout. He also enjoyed operating, which most of us didn't!
Steve was in his element installing the wiring using electronic control systems which were his own design. Signals were interlocked with points ensuring no electrical continuity was possible against an incorrect signal. All well and good, except no-one else understood any of it making his presence essential at every exhibition attended..... just in case!
Bill Breakwell was creator of outstanding buildings for the layout....
BURPS 90002.jpg

These were made from plywood, covered in plaster of Paris, stone effect scribed when dry and individually painted. I usually completed these structures with fine detailing, roof slates, guttering and downpipes etc....
Other than the basic timber framework for baseboards and legs, protective boxes and other woodworking jobs, my other input was related to scenic work.
Locomotives and rolling stock were made by each member to suit their own interests, some prototypical, others pure freelance...... you can guess which were mine!
At the time we were aware of other 16mm 'layouts' which were not scenic railways at all, simply test tracks using meths fired locos whizzing round and stinking out all other exhibitors. It got to the stage that my bag always contained headache pills as I expected to succumb to the fumes each time. We refused to follow that trend preferring track powered locos which could be run under controlled conditions in a landscaped setting.
As previously mentioned, all good things must end and eventually the layout was stored awaiting its fate.
That chapter began after many years and a house move to West Wales....
That's for next time.
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Big Jim
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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by Big Jim » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:57 pm

Thanks for sharing this Peter
If at first you don't succeed, use a bigger hammer!

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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by LNR » Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:03 am

Interesting story, waiting for the next episode.
Grant.

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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by ge_rik » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:23 am

This is even more exciting than the Archers (and almost as long running).

Rik
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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by philipy » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:51 am

Looking forward to more, please Peter.

Those exhibition newspaper cuttings remind me so much of the similar ones I have tucked away from the same period!

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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by Peter Butler » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:41 am

philipy wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:51 am

Those exhibition newspaper cuttings remind me so much of the similar ones I have tucked away from the same period!
I'm sure there are many on the Forum who would like to see those too.
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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by philipy » Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:02 pm

Peter Butler wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:41 am
philipy wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:51 am

Those exhibition newspaper cuttings remind me so much of the similar ones I have tucked away from the same period!
I'm sure there are many on the Forum who would like to see those too.
I'd be happy to post if there is any interest, but back in those days I was into N Gauge and then 4mm, so hardly appropriate for this forum.

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tom_tom_go
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Re: In the beginning!!!!!

Post by tom_tom_go » Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:34 pm

philipy wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:51 am
I'd be happy to post if there is any interest, but back in those days I was into N Gauge and then 4mm, so hardly appropriate for this forum.
Any scale, any gauge :thumbup:

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