Chelfham in 7mm/ft 16.5mm gauge by
the Shoreham-by-Sea MRC
written by Brian Taylor, photos by Tony Wright.
Article transcribed by J de F by kind permission of the 'British Railway
'Exe' and a two coach train runs onto the
viaduct which carried the railway some 70 feet above the Stoke Rivers
Valley. The building behind the viaduct was a watermill. It is now part of
a special school.
It is more than sixty years since the last
train on the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway sent steam drifting across the
North Devon Countryside. Yet interest continues to grow, with more books
written about it than any other comparable line. The L&B was of course
unusual in many ways. For example, it was possible to book a ticket on the
Southern Railway's crack train 'The Atlantic Coast Express' through to
Lynton. Passengers were very surprised when they had to change trains onto
the 'toy' railway at Barnstaple and they were even more surprised when the
journey of less than 20 miles took one hour and forty minutes! But
everyone enthused about the scenery seen from the line, especially travel
writers. The Warde Locke 'Red Guide' devoted two whole pages to a trip
along the railway. The passing of the L&B was even mourned in a short
valedictory piece published in the edition published shortly after the
Our model of Chelfham Station with its
associated viaduct began as a joint project between the Sussex group of
the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway Association and Shoreham Model Railway
Club. Although everyone who worked on it was a Shoreham Club member, we
were very much aided by Colin Pealling who lent us a good many photos from
his collection. This made it much easier for us to piece together
what the station looked like during its heyday.
The baseboards and track quickly appeared
mainly due to the efforts of Charles Benedetto, Keith Willis and the late
Tony Wright, for many years the secretary of the Shoreham-by-Sea MRC. The
main structure was built in MDF with 3" X 1" framing. PECO O-16.5mm
track was used. We had toyed with using the more correct 14mm gauge for
the layout (the L&B was built to 1ft 11 1/2" gauge) . We had however,
quite a bit of stock to 16.5mm gauge so adopting 14mm gauge would have
rather restricted what we could have run.
click on image to enlarge
For reasons of size, we had to reduce the
length of the viaduct which, although it meant losing two of the eight
arches didn't affect the impressive look of the structure too much. The
real structure was constructed of Marland bricks which were usually a
cream colour. However, in this case, the bricks are tinged with red. This
is probably because they were 'seconds', used to save money. Whatever the
reason, the combination of cream and red means that the structure appears
pink in some lights. We did experiment with giving the model a similar
colouring but the effect of six pink arches purposefully striding across
the landscape would have looked particularly silly in model form. Cream
was deemed to be more appropriate. It seems strange that such an
impressive structure was to be found on an otherwise unassuming little
railway. In fact the L&B had another viaduct called 'Lancey Brook', but
this seems from photos to have been rather a basic affair compared to the
slender elegance of Chelfham. However, it was only built because there was
a shortage of spoil to build an embankment.
After leaving the
viaduct, trains descended on a 1:50 gradient into the Yeo Valley which
they followed to Barnstaple.
Chelfham viaduct is curved at its Southern
end and is in fact wider in this section to accommodate the swing of the
rolling stock. Not realising initially that this was the case we made the
viaduct wider than it needed to be to allow for the overhang of the
rolling stock. This caused us to have to remove a chunk from the centre of
the model by sawing along its length! The model is made of softwood and
MDF, overlaid with card. Wills random stone sheeting was used to clad the
base of the viaduct.
the station building
Chelfham had a particularly attractive
'cottage style' building. Bratton Flemming also had a relatively small
building whereas those of Woody Bay and Lynton were built in 'chalet,
Nuremburg style'. Maggie Petlett built our model of the Chelfham building
from thick card clad with Milliput. Maggie also made the signal cabin and
a good deal of the scenery on the layout.
In spite of the last train having passed on
its way so many years ago, a surprising amount of the station has
survived. Apart from the station building, the tiny signal box remains
along with the men's' toilets. Even the cast station name supports are
still to be seen.
'Yeo' entering the station. The red line that can be seen on the inside of
the wagon indicated the height to which it could be filled with ballast
without overloading. All the bogie open wagons were treated this way.
Chelfham's small station building with waiting shelter added by the
Southern. The signal box is one of the distinctive Evans O'Donnell signals
supplied for the line's opening.
Chelfham's UP starter signal survived the
demise of the railway back in 1935. It found its way to Clannborough
Rectory together with the observation/saloon/brake coach which is now in
the National Railway Museum. We modelled this signal using butchered parts
from a Model Signal Engineering Midland Railway arm fret. Various
other parts were scratch built. This signal was one of the original L&B
type made by the firm of Evans O'Donnell. Quite a few of these were
replaced by the Southern Railway. At the very end of the line's existence,
there was a solitary upper arm quadrant signal at Woody Bay. We made the
Chelfham DOWN starter signal from Model Signal Engineering to represent a
Southern rail-built signal. However, it has since turned out that it
should have been a concrete post type. Both starters are propelled by H&M
point motors of ancient vintage. Recently we have installed point rodding
including facing point locks. Allen Etheridge did most of the work on this
and the provision of telephone poles plus a good deal of other work on the
layout. Allen is a junior member of the club, being born a mere 45 years
after the closure of the L&B!
It was felt that a backscene was needed to
complete the layout. I somehow ended up with the job and as you can
imagine had quite a few goes at getting it right. We had a couple of
photos supplied by Colin which showed the buildings next to the viaduct.
When blown up, these were rather hazy. We spent a bit of time trying to
figure out what was there in the 1930s but what I finally painted involved
a lot of guesswork. One of the buildings had a water wheel alongside but
this was not quite visible from our chosen viewpoint. Gouache paints were
used for the backscene.
'Yeo' runs into the down platform as 'Exe' prepares for the journey to
Barnstaple. The Evans O'Donnell starter signal can be seen and a standard
SR lamp hut is in the foreground.
The stock of L&B engines consists of 3 of the
5 that worked the line. Yeo and Exe are both models of the Manning Wardle
locomotives originally built for the railway although the locos are
modelled in their later form. Both are Alan Gibson kits. Yeo, I made
myself while Exe was bought ready made. Both kits are of the early Gibson
type. Many things about this kit are excellent but I must admit that I
struggled to make mine run. To give both engines greater freedom on
curves, I eventually rebuilt them with new front frames spaced more widely
apart to give more room for the pony wheels to swing. I also moved the
rear pony wheels forward, closer to the driving wheels. These
modifications made very little difference to the look of the locomotives
but gave them the ability to negotiate curves down to 19" radius. It is
actually surprising how little movement there was on the original
locomotives. There was 3 1/2" play each way. This scales down to 2.04mm
either side in 7mm scale.
Yeo is painted in what can be described as 'Southern intermediate livery
', green with white and black lining but without the familiar 'sunshine
yellow' 'Southern' lettering and large numerals. 'Exe' is painted in the
later livery used on the locos with 'Southern' and numerals applied.
The forth locomotive supplied to the railway
came from America, due to a strike which paralysed the British loco
building industry. This engine was 'Lyn' built by the Baldwin Locomotive
Works of Philadelphia. It is said that she caused more trouble than the
other locos put together, although this is strange because a number of
similar but larger locomotives supplied to Australia and used on Victoria
narrow gauge railways (including the now preserved 'Puffing Billy Line')
were very successful. Our model of Lyn actually belongs to Colin Pealling
and was probably built in the 1950s, although we don't know by whom. Colin
had stripped it down for painting many years ago but got sidetracked, as
it were, by various projects involving full size narrow gauge engines. I
put her back together and added some more detail, then painted her in
Southern livery as E762. The model is very well built and driven by a
seven pole motor and has ball race bearings in her axle boxes.
The coaches are made from Langley kits. The
artwork for these was prepared in 4mm scale so in 7mm scale, the fold
lines are too wide. To get over this problem, it is best to cut out all
the components individually and avoid folds altogether. The Langley kits
can be made up into rather nice models of L&B coaches but do require
rather a bit of work.
The most readily available kit for an L&B
goods vehicle in 7mm is the PECO van kit. We have one on the layout. The
van kit as it comes is very nearly correct but the ends aren't quite
right. However, a bit of work with Plasticard is all that is needed to put
things right. A couple of Langley goods vehicles can be seen on the
layout: bogie flat wagon no. 28314 was built and painted by Nick
Jackson. The bogie van was built by yours truly, with a certain amount of
detail added. Bogie wagon no 28302 was scratch built by Nick Jaskson,
mostly from card.
Another view of 'Yeo'. Behind can be seen one of the concrete nameboards
put in by the Southern. Two of the supports for the boards are still in
The occasional 'foreign' train can be seen
crossing the viaduct. Strangely, Glyn Valley Tramway and Tal-y-Llyn trains
do not seem too out of place although we couldn't begin to justify their
appearance on the layout. Undoubtedly we have had quite a lot of fun
building Chelfham. The Lynton and Barnstaple as a subject of modelling is
not without its problems, though. Perhaps the most tricky is keeping stock
on the track on curves that a rather tighter than they should be. It is
perhaps amusing to note that the L&B suffered such problems in real life.
For example, carriages had to have parts of their underframe paired down
in order to negotiate the curve into Barnstaple Town station. There is
indeed, a prototype for everything. Even the great pioneering modeller,
John Ahern, when he built his model of Manning Wardle 'Taw', cheated:
faced with the problem of his Manning Wardle negotiating the sharp curves
on the Madder Valley Railway, he used fixed pony wheels with no flanges!.
Yeo leaves for Barnstaple: note the third
class observation compartment in the first coach. The small building in
the foreground is the signal box. In the background, Chelfham's short
siding can be seen, which intersected the Down platform.