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Navigators Model Railway Group

Established 2013 with more than 150 years experience!

Netherton Road

Having been involved in a fine scale OO layout within the aforementioned club, I was inspired to attempt a privately owned exhibition layout with , arguably obsessive, attention to detail. As a 4 mm/ft modeller (eyesight too poor for 2 mm and not bad enough yet to require 7 mm) this inherently meant using one of the 18 mm gauges.  For me, whilst P4 at 18.83mm is the ultimate, I wanted something just a little less absolute and a little more tolerant of variation.  Thus I chose EM gauge at 18.2mm.  This represents 4’ 7” compared with the 4’1” of OO gauge.  The difference is dramatic.

Netherton Road is an archetypical might-have-been layout.  It is set in Netherton, near Dudley in the Black Country.  Netherton had a goods station as a branch off the Dudley-Old Hill ex GWR branch line.  It represents a simple single line passenger terminus, but with extensive goods facilities, designed to serve Dudley, where the station area was somewhat cramped, limiting the scale of facilities.  As the layout is set in the late 1960s, Green diesels predominate alongside DMUs but an elderly pannier tank can be seen shunting the yard or bringing in trip goods trains.  As Dudley was so cramped, Netherton road also provides a fuelling point for the wide range of main line locomotives that worked within in the Black Country including Lion’s work as the Lickey banker.

All track is hand-built using bullhead rail in 60’ panels. 3 bolt moulded chairs are used with stained wood sleepers except at the panel ends where 4 bolt chairs are used with crossing timbers.  All rail joins have 4 bolt fishplates.  Structures are kit-built/kit-bashed/scratch-built.  The front of the layout depicts a municipal park complete with an amateur football match and children’s playground.  Unsurprisingly, there are many figures scattered round this area.

The layout is 12’x2’ over 3 boards with a self-contained fiddle yard. DCC control is used for both locos and turnouts.  Many locomotives are sound fitted.  All stock will be fitted with D&G fully automatic, delayed action couplings allowing vehicles to be left anywhere on the layout without hands from the sky.

Much work still needs to be undertaken.  The latest work is in laying grass, bushes, trees etc.  The hazards of cleaning out the static grass applicator without remembering to switch off the power were quickly appreciated.  There are over 50 figures to be hand painted and much detailing work to be undertaken so the layout is unlikely to be ready for exhibiting before the beginning of 2015.  My fellow navigators will derive much pleasure from the interesting operating pattern of the layout whilst running at exhibitions (I hate operating!!)

A selection of images have been included with this article. To see even more images, please click here.

Paul Nacmanson

January 2014

Paul also spends some of his spare time volunteering as a signalman on the Mid-Hants Watercress Line

Update 20.03.2015

...And ALL three signals operate (after the air was well beyond blue and once I’ve attached the servos to the operating wires).  Operating the token apparatus (near the bridge) was, however, a step too far....

Next job is fixing the Station running in board and thereafter the back-scene. 

Amazingly, I have a WHOLE weekend at home.