Digital Model Railways

I like railways. I always have. When I was a kid I used to hang out with my trainspotting books at Hamworthy Junction Station near Poole, Dorset. At the time it was an important working junction between the main London-Weymouth line and the branch line north to Broadstone and beyond, and a secondary goods line to the docks at Hamworthy.

I had a model railway layout in my youth, but only the lines fixed to a hardboard base. It never came to anything. When I retired I used to occasionally buy “Railway Modeller” magazine, partly for the tips on creating scenery that crossed over to my wargaming hobby, but also for general interest. In one issue I found a near-perfect 1/72 scale model of Hamworthy Junction, just as I remembered it – down to the correct blazers and caps of the schoolchildren waiting for a train.

Some time before that I discovered a CD of a program “Create Your Own Model Railway”. This led me to the full program “Rule the Rail” by a company called Brainbombers. The developers are, I believe, based in Hungary, so the whole thing had a very European style. However, through a (sadly defunct) user forum I was able to download additions of a more British style.

With replacement PCs and so-called “improvements” to Windows over the years meant that the program, no longer supported, failed to work without intensive tweaking and searching for missing driver files. I lost much of the British infrastructure, like old fashioned crossing gates, but recently found an old memory stick with much of what I had lost. Sadly I cannot make the “Wild West” version Iron Horses work any more.

Fast forward to last year when I discovered at the local recycling centre a box of model railway magazines dating from the 1950s and 1960s. I snapped them up for five pounds and am working my way through them. I have reached the point where Airfix kits increased from 1s3d to 1s6d (about 6p to 8p) for a model house or station, etc.

In “Model Railway News” from April 1956 I found a plan and photograph of Moretonhampstead station in Devon. My brother’s Grandfather, Aunt, Uncle and Cousin lived in the town, so we used to visit the place in my young days.

One day I aim to make this model in 1/220 scale (the rolling stock will of necessity be Germanic), but for the time being here are some shots of my digital version, very much a work in progress. I am limited by the digital structures available to me. Starting with the photograph above:

Alas, no old bus is available.

Next is a view from the approach to the station from the tunnel, with the engine shed on the left and an engine taking on water. The signal box is a n addition not shown on the plan. The semaphore signals are of a continental style and on the wrong side of the tracks.

Finally for now, on the plan are marked “Oil Storage Tanks”. I have taken the liberty of making this a small commercial yard, owned by DF Lubricants – one of the signboards and waggon types available.

The layout is devoid of vegetation, people and other scenic extras at present, but will develop. It is fully functional, with trains entering the tunnel being automatically switched and a new goods or passenger train appearing. Shunting operations at the station are manually controlled and prompted by a card system, for example: “All box cars made up and despatched.”, or “Passenger Train depart from Platform 2.”

It passes the time, keeps my mind active and gives me some pleasure without the financial outlay of a full model railway.

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General Whiskers

Wargaming butterfly (mainly solo), unpainted model figure amasser, and Historical Re-enactor of the black powder era.

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