River Yeo Quays in
by Bob Barnard
Creating a convincing
model of an actual railway scene from the past requires some historical
research. In constructing a 4mm/1ft model of the “quay” section of the L&B
through Barnstaple, I first needed a vision of what I wanted to model.
I wanted my model to give a sense of the line squeezed in between the
varied pre-existing industrial buildings that surround a busy market town
and small port, at a time when bulky commodities were distributed by
coastal shipping. This section of the L&B contrasted dramatically with the
generally pastoral environment of the remainder of the line.
A painting of the quays before the L&B was built
The first step was to
produce a site plan, by scaling old maps and then reducing to fit the
available space. I planned this section and began construction around
1990, as a free-standing scenic “diorama” at a time when I had no
permanent L&B layout. The configuration of the corner section to link the
Braunton Road area to my Pilton Yard layout has evolved since that time,
and was rebuild during 2004, along with completion and detailing of the
The appearance of a model is dependent on the groupings of buildings, and
the overall sight-lines in the scene. In this respect, the quay model is
unusual - the trains are not really very visible, and the buildings look
rather higgledy-piggledy. But that was what I wanted for this scene - a
railway glimpsed between wharves, and suddenly appearing as it crossed the
Construction of buildings depends very much on having suitable photos
available. I took my own photos of surviving warehouses, and used local
history sources as well as railway sources to help me research the
structures that have since disappeared.
From a railway point of view, this section is simple, with plain track and
one siding. The most interesting railway feature is Braunton Road level
crossing. A mechanism was constructed for this to sequence the overlapped
gates, as though a crossing keeper was walking round opening each gate in
As early morning trains
were usually assembled at Pilton and propelled to Barnstaple Town to start
their journey to Lynton, empty wagons for the quay siding were sometimes
attached, and left in the siding for loading with coal or sand for Lynton
from a coastal vessel during the day. This makes for interesting
operation, and must have been popular with road traffic over Pilton Road
and Braunton Road crossings!
There are few photographs
of this section of the original L&B, so research for this model proved
interesting. It is now fascinating to try out, on the model, the photo
angles that were missed in the 1930s.
My L&B models have been
described in the L&B Magazine, and some have been exhibited at the
restored Woody Bay, and at Model Railway Exhibitions in the Lancashire and
Cheshire area, as part of the L&B North West Area Group display and sales
stand, which promotes interest in the L&B in the region.