Barnstaple Town in 009
by Bob Barnard

click on image to enlarge


I have been building a re-creation in model form of the famous Lynton and Barnstaple 2ft gauge line in North Devon in my spare time for over 40 years, off and on. I therefore possess stations and rolling stock that have been operating for longer than the original line did in its first existence from 1898 to its closure in 1935!

Construction of my model of Barnstaple Town station took place in 2003/4. It forms part of a larger L&B layout installed in my loft. The station is a rather unusual and constricted shape in order to fit into the one remaining corner of the loft that was without model railway. It is also the most portable section of my layout, and therefore the easiest one to take to exhibitions.

When I began modelling in 009 scale (4mm/1ft scale, with 9mm gauge track – one of the most common standards for UK narrow gauge modellers), there were few items commercially available for this scale, although today there are many kits for L&B rolling stock. Track is proprietary 009, with pointwork hand made to suit each situation. Buildings and scenic items are built from scratch using some 00 scale components. The points at Barnstaple Town are operated by slow-acting mechanisms.

The locomotives are mainly scratchbuilt, with only wheels, gears and motors bought in, apart from “Yeo” which is built from an etched brass kit. Passenger coaches are mostly home built from plastic sheet, whilst freight stock is a mixture of scratchbuilt and kitbuilt items. The couplings are the correct “Jones-Calthrop” chopper type, as used on the original L&B.

The standard gauge SR N Class 2-6-0 and coaches that usually occupy the Ilfracombe platform were built by my late father.

The signalling is a particular feature of my models, with all the semaphore signals fully working. Some stations have lever frames with full mechanical locking between signals and points, but this is still a future project for Town station. Entry to the single line sections is controlled by a “Tokenless Block” system that I designed myself, based on the systems used on some secondary lines in Britain.

Operationally, Barnstaple Town is rather unusual. The line ran ”mixed” trains throughout its life, with goods vehicles added to many passenger trains, and shunting taking place at intermediate stations on the journey to Lynton. The main sidings and sheds for the L&B were located about ½ mile from Town station at Pilton Bridge. As a result, many of the trains were assembled there, and propelled through the town, over two busy level crossings, ready to meet passengers arriving from main line trains on the Southern Railway’s Ilfracombe line. It was also necessary to shunt wagons to the transhipment siding at Town, for example to load with coal and other bulky supplies for Lynton.

Research for my models is a fascinating aspect of the hobby, and in this I have been helped greatly by the fund of knowledge that exists within the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust, of which I have been a member for many years.

Barnstaple Town, along with other sections of my L&B model have been described in the L&B Magazine, and have been exhibited at a few Model Railway Exhibitions in the Lancashire and Cheshire, as part of the L&B North West Area Group display and sales stand, which promotes interest in the L&B in the region.




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