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Brookhall Mill - A GNR(I) Micro Layout

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Patrick Davey
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Hi everyone

Lockdown has generally been hateful but one small positive for me was that it has given me time to get started on a long-planned OO gauge 'micro' layout, with a GNR(I) theme.  The term 'micro layout' has been defined with various dimensions, but according to the popular Facebook group 'Micro Layouts' it is defined as one with a scenic section no bigger than 4ft x 2ft in OO Gauge - mine is 4ft x 18in.  I did a bit of planning and came up with the following requirements for the layout:

* The layout would be portable - I love the buzz of exhibitions!

* It would have a GNR(I) theme (my home railway, despite being a BCDR enthusiast!)

* It would have good operating potential and allow the appearance of stock from various eras and companies

* It would be a fiddle yard to terminus

* There would be multiple levels, for added interest - as well as the main rail facility, there would be a brick-lined culvert as well as a road overbridge

Unlike my most recent projects, it would probably need to be a fictional location, so I came up with the idea of a linen mill near Ballinderry on the GN's Antrim branch, which was owned by the GN and produced the finest linen in Ireland - so much so that it was visited by trains from numerous other Irish railway companies.  It would feature a passenger shuttle for mill staff as well as various goods movements throughout a typical working day, and it would would cram as much GNR(I) architecture as possible into the small space - am a big fan of the GN's 'corporate image'!  So there would be a typical GNR(I) signal box, platform shelter and stationmaster's house, and the mill buildings would be built to mimic those of the GNR(I) works at Dundalk.  I wrote an insane back story to justify all this, totally improbable but certainly entertaining to anyone who has read it :)  Part of the story involves the GN providing dedicated linen vans for the Brookhall Mill traffic so I took three of Leslie McAllister's GN vans and applied a fictional cream livery and had decals made by Endon Valley Custom Decals (highly recommended!)  The layout was given the name 'Brookhall Mill' because close to the fictional location of the mill is the popular 'Brookhall Historical Farm'.  

Attached are some photos of progress to date - and we're off!!

 

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Great stuff, Patrick, the vans look super in the fictional livery.

BUT, the real treats are the buildings - I'm very envious of your stationmaster's house - just terrific. Richhill needs one for Mr McDonald and his family. The very clever gent who built my goods shed, cabin and station building was supposed to do the house as well - then he got caught up in modelling modern wagons 'n things ...........

Looking forward to seeing it progress.

Leslie

Edited by leslie10646
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38 minutes ago, Galteemore said:

Lovely Patrick ! What’s the T2 source - it looks very good?! 

Thanks - it’s an old SSM brass kit which a friend (RIP) made for me but then it sat and did nothing until I asked Colm Flanagan to restore it and paint for me. It’s not a great runner but sure looks the part!

16 minutes ago, leslie10646 said:

Great stuff, Patrick, the vans look super in the fictional livery.

BUT, the real treats are the buildings - I'm very envious of your stationmaster's house - just terrific. Richhill needs one for Mr McDonald and his family. The very clever gent who built my goods shed, cabin and station building was supposed to do the house as well - then he got caught up in modelling modern wagons 'n things ...........

Looking forward to seeing it progress.

Leslie

Thanks Leslie - the stationmaster’s house was built about 25 years ago 🤣 but the Wills sheets have stood the test of time! I would like to see shots of your Richill buildings? 

Edited by Patrick Davey
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That's terrific, Patrick. Love the Signal Box and Station Master's House. Very atmospheric! I see you have a GNR(I) Home Signal and point rodding. Very interested to see someone else attempt point rodding (I am working on it with Larne Harbour at the moment). Looking forward to seeing your progress with Brookhall Mill.

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  • 3 months later...

Hi everyone, here's an update on my GNR(I) micro layout 'Brookhall Mill' - plenty of developments on the scenic side of things and I have built an office building in the polychromatic brick style of WH Mills, the GNR's charismatic Chief Engineer, see Workbench post for more photos of the build.  Hope you are all keeping safe and well and thanks for all the amazing updates in this and other groups, which are helping to keep me sane!

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  • 1 month later...
51 minutes ago, LARNE CABIN said:

Looks wonderful Patrick. Ouses GNRI atmosphere! Love the AEC set and the GNRI Home Signal, but what are those two ,121's doing at Brookhall Mill? How did they get there?

Well.....the back story is that the mill produced such quality linen that it survived right into the 1970s.......

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Staggeringly beautiful. Photo realistic. Looking at those photo I can hear birds and the sound of bees pollination the vegetation of a summers morning. Drenched in atmosphere. Pure class and an inspiration.

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11 hours ago, Galteemore said:

Some lovely GN atmosphere there Patrick 

Cheers GM!

10 hours ago, popeye said:

Lovely pictures and great scenery.

And a nice collection of loco's.

Thanks Popeye :)

6 hours ago, Noel said:

Staggeringly beautiful. Photo realistic. Looking at those photo I can hear birds and the sound of bees pollination the vegetation of a summers morning. Drenched in atmosphere. Pure class and an inspiration.

Very kind Noel - thank you!

1 hour ago, David Holman said:

Only goes to show how much fun and satisfaction can be had from small projects like this. An example, indeed inspiration, to us all.

Very much so - thanks David.

59 minutes ago, Georgeconna said:

Maybe with the lockdown people have realised they need to take a bit more time on themselves if they can for peace of mind.

Its  a Very nice set up. Will you be exhibiting it at some stage?

Thanks George - yes most definitely, the plan is to exhibit when possible, lighting has been acquired for a overhead rig.

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9 hours ago, Patrick Davey said:

Well.....the back story is that the mill produced such quality linen that it survived right into the 1970s.......

So I take it that the 121's are there to haul some of those GN Linen Vans down south, via Lisburn! Got it now.

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It almost looks like the RPSI managed to save a short GN branch line and some suitable stock during the early 60s possibly with the help of the mill owners deep pockets and valuable linen traffic.

Some of the U Class 4-4-0s survived possibly in blue until the Belfast Central line was severed in the mid 1960s, the U and UG classes were used for working excursions from the GN system to Bangor. 

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Even closer to reality.

In the early 1970s, there were still QUITE a few linen mills going - Barbours in Lisburn, one of the biggest, went in into the 1980s at least. 
 

And - the RPSI DID make a serious attempt to resurrect the GNR Banbridge - Scarva branch line. They were eventually put off by the cost, estimated to be £250,000..........

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3 hours ago, LARNE CABIN said:

So I take it that the 121's are there to haul some of those GN Linen Vans down south, via Lisburn! Got it now.

Once I get suitable stock, the idea is that CIE freight traffic would include a van for the mill, so once the train arrived at Lisburn the loco would take the van and the brake van up to the mill! :)

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2 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

Even closer to reality.

In the early 1970s, there were still QUITE a few linen mills going - Barbours in Lisburn, one of the biggest, went in into the 1980s at least. 
 

And - the RPSI DID make a serious attempt to resurrect the GNR Banbridge - Scarva branch line. They were eventually put off by the cost, estimated to be £250,000..........

JB you might be giving me an excuse to get a tippex-liveried A class now........

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Several possibilities, all right.

To me, a micro-layout (while it can be successfully operated with one engine and four trucks) is at its best with a modest array of stock to give variations in operations.

In GN times, one of the 00 Works GN locos bumbles in and out; it's the Antrim branch engine, and it does a local trip working to the mill, let's say it's about three miles from the station. 

A railcar can do a run in there in the morning with mill workers; and goes back to collect them later; once a week due to diesel maintanance a steam loco with one brake third does this.

In UTA days the same sort of thing. By NIR days, it's a "Jeep", or maybe an NIR "1" class diesel shunter which lifts a wagon off the CIE goods and shoves it in and out - or - the CIE loco does. he leaves the main goods train in Lisburn and shuffles a wagon (container on a "Lancashire Flat"?) or a couple of CIE "H" vans in....

You could even have the MPD car which started the re-opened Antrim branch service in 1976 appearing with an NCC "Brown Van" or a CIE van dropped off the Derry goods...........

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I was discussing recently with a friend the possibilities with "micro-layouts" and Fintona cropped up. It would be perfect. A bit of goods shunting - one loco all that's needed. 

Obviously the horse tram bit is an issue, but had the place survived, it would have gone goods-only pretty quickly, giving something very like Brookhall Mill indeed - or possibly a single car railcar (like an MPD or BUT car) would do a "passenger shuttle", probably to Omagh.

Brookhall Mill is a great inspiration - I have suggested to my friend that he log on here...........

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4 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

I was discussing recently with a friend the possibilities with "micro-layouts" and Fintona cropped up. It would be perfect. A bit of goods shunting - one loco all that's needed. 

Obviously the horse tram bit is an issue, but had the place survived, it would have gone goods-only pretty quickly, giving something very like Brookhall Mill indeed - or possibly a single car railcar (like an MPD or BUT car) would do a "passenger shuttle", probably to Omagh.

Brookhall Mill is a great inspiration - I have suggested to my friend that he log on here...........

Very kind JB!  Thank you :)  I wonder if a motorised OO scale 'Dick' features in IRMs future plans.......

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In terms of a prototype for everything, this side of the water, Wantage Town must be one of the smallest footprints of any branch terminus. In 4mm scale, it works out at 1.2m, or four feet in old money. Given this included a covered platform, two loco sheds(!), a loading dock and a kick back siding to the gas works, it was pretty remarkable.

 Of course, it only ever host four wheel locos, but like anything else could certainly be adapted. My own Fintonagh layout, while 7mm narrow gauge, is only two metres long and the track plan could easily work in 4mm scale.

 One of the cleverest designs I've seen is by Iain Rice. In 4mm scale, he suggests multiple layout units around 1.2m long and 20-30cm deep. These are arranged on wall brackets, one above the other, fed by a single, cassette type fiddle yard. A train shunts the top layout, exits on to the cassette and is moved down to shunt the next and so on.

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15 hours ago, jhb171achill said:

I was discussing recently with a friend the possibilities with "micro-layouts" and Fintona cropped up. It would be perfect. A bit of goods shunting - one loco all that's needed. 

Obviously the horse tram bit is an issue, but had the place survived, it would have gone goods-only pretty quickly, giving something very like Brookhall Mill indeed - or possibly a single car railcar (like an MPD or BUT car) would do a "passenger shuttle", probably to Omagh.

Brookhall Mill is a great inspiration - I have suggested to my friend that he log on here...........

GNR Railcar A would have been perfect for this duty

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5 hours ago, airfixfan said:

GNR Railcar A would have been perfect for this duty

Absolutely - the best and most realistic option, and perhaps easier to scratchbuilt than most alternatives. Another possibility, though not so easy to scratchbuild, would be if the UTA, rather than CIE, had ended up with the Sligo Leitrim railcar...

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Here are the two plans I mentioned. The one for Wantage is actually a bit more than 4', but the track plan certainly fits in that foot print. Comes from Rice's book on Light Railways. The second is from his book on Urban Layouts. Like all of Rice's stuff, both are full of inspirational ideas.

 

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