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Eatonswell

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Those of you who have been following the development of Arigna Town may be interested in my other exhibition layout, Eatonswell. This is also 7mm scale, but this time British standard gauge and depicts an East Anglian secondary line in the late 1950s.

The layout has had a convoluted history and is currently in its second incarnation. It started life in 2005, as a very ambitious solo project, to build an 0 gauge continuous run. To achieve this, and be able to store it all at home, the end curves of the oval were just wide enough for two tracks. They were also split into two different radii, so that they ‘nested’ with each other for transport and in fact the curved sections fitted on the 4 storage siding boards in an overall space of 4’ x 2’ x 2’.

The scenic section was 16’ long and always planned to be gradually expanded, though to begin with a 16 x 2 scenic section out of a 30 x 14 oval didn’t exactly sell itself to exhibition organisers. It was however slightly different in depicting a double track, secondary line, with a low level goods yard in front. The latter was completely unconnected to the main oval and relied on cassettes to store trains off-scene. It made its exhibition debut at the Chatham Show in 2008 appearing in Railway Modeller the same year] and though things generally went well, I soon realised that I had created something of a white elephant, for while there was room to store it all at home, it needed a large van to transport it, plus at least 4 operators. All a bit much for a solo project…

So, a re-think was called for and I changed the format to ‘end to end’, with cassettes for fiddle yards. Somehow, I managed to get it all in the back of my car [a Honda Civic at the time]. However, it was still very operator intensive & I just wasn’t enjoying the experience. Two more shows and I decided enough was enough. Buildings were carefully removed and the baseboards scrapped. These were 48” x 30” and far too big anyway. Instead, a terminus fiddle yard layout was built, using all the original buildings, plus one or two new ones and Eatonswell mark two emerged in 2011, doing a couple of shows a year since then. It is next appearing at the Croydon Show at the first weekend in October.

The layout is built on four 3 x 2 scenic boards, with two additional sub-boards at each end for the station building and modern granary. There is an island platform, a double faced loading dock, goods siding and a further siding serving a low-relief maltings. Other sidings are assumed to be ‘off-scene’, reached by a head shunt alongside the main line. The location is Sudbury, Suffolk – which was called Eatanswill by Dickens in Pickwick Papers. Sudbury was originally a terminus & I have retained that concept, adding another branch trailing in from Hadleigh – again assumed to be off-scene. The result is a busy station, with plenty to keep two operators on their toes.

Operation is DCC using a Gaugemaster Prodigy system, which works really well, while points are powered by Tortoise motors. Dingham auto-couplings allow generally hands free operation, while the fiddle yard uses cassettes. I’ve posted a few pictures to give you a general idea of the layout.

Over the years, I’ve built up quite a large collection of locomotives and rolling stock, so as part of this thread, I’ll add some more pictures and tell you a bit more about the trains and how/why things were built.

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