River Yeo Quays in 4mm/1ft Scale
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 whole area.

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 roads.
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 turn.

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.

Bob Barnard




      bring 'Lyn' back to life