when fishes flew and forests walked

This website is dedicated to the late P.D.Hancock who inspired us all

My father spent huge sums of money on vast model railways that I was not allowed to touch and it was only after being introduced to narrow gauge railways that I began to develop an interest. As a small boy, the diminutive trains of the Talyllyn were something that appealed.

My first attempt at modelling such things used match boxes and needless to say were a tad less than satisfactory. When the sleeping Festiniog Railway was finally awakened, a small range of bits and kits were produced by Gem and these were avidly bought at their Harbour Station shop. The wagons and four wheel coaches were as heavy as a depleted uranium shell but it was a start. Finally, by the late 1950s, I was making models by soldering flattened tins and I began to learn how to make things properly.

Lone star brought out 000 working trains in the late 50s and finally it began to be possible to get things to work.

I have built a number of 009 railways in a number of different countries but then took a long break until retiring from piloting aircraft. It was then that County Gate was born.

After some consideration I decided to model a freelance section of the L & B as this offers a greater degree of creative opportunity. There was a scheme to extend the line onwards to Minehead. Indeed, the route was actually surveyed. I built the intermediate station of County Gate on this projected extension, where the branch from the harbour meets the main line. The fictitious history of the railway is partially true. There really was a Glenthorne Estate near County Gate built by Halliday and coal was actually offloaded onto a beach from ships close by. I apologise for any offence the distorted history may give; it is unintended.

I would like to thank:

Malcolm Alberry for the design of the Loconet installation and automation
DCC supplies
CML Electronics Limited
Hereford Model Shop
Backwoods Miniatures
Peco and its offshoots for so many excellent products

and the Desperados, the team who selflessly give their time to help run CG and Cliffhanger at exhibitions.

those that inspired

The late P.D.Hancock for his inspirational articles on his Craig and Mertonford Railway back in the 1950s. We later learned that the C&M did not run as well as it might!

P D Hancock's 'Alastair' based on a Lynton and Barnstaple Manning Wardle. It is a bit oversize in order to accommodate the motors available at that time.

J Ahern (Madder Valley Railway) who wrote the series of books on how to model railways properly when 3 rail Hornby Dublo and Lionel was more the norm.

Madder Valley Railway (Now at Pendon Museum)

Jack Nelson who taught us about perspectives

Part of a Jack Nelson diorama at Betws-y-Coed Railway Museum
photo by Chris Brooker

 and  finally, Doris and Iliffe Stokes who were the very first, in my opinion, to make model railways 'atmospheric'.

The County Gate model railway is represented on Friday, June, 7th 1935.

June 7th 1935 edition of Autocar

in 1935.....

  • The League of Nations passed a resolution expressing strong disapproval of Germany's aggressive behaviour. In particular, the League objected to Germany's growing armed forces. Military expansion under the Nazi regime, including the introduction of conscription, was in direct violation of the 1919 Versailles Treaty.

  • George V and Queen Mary celebrated their Silver Jubilee (25 years) in May. Huge crowds gathered in London to see the Royal couple and celebrations were held across the country.

  • In June, Conservative politician Stanley Baldwin again became Prime Minister following the resignation of Ramsay Macdonald. The National Government formed from all parties in 1931 continued to operate.

Stanley Baldwin

  • June 7th - Anthony Eden was appointed Minister without Portfolio for the League of Nations.

Anthony Eden

  • 94% of agricultural land in the Soviet Union has been collectivized while famine is killing millions.

  • The Soviet Union declares that the fascist states of Germany and Japan are the enemies.

  • USA. Alcoholics Anonymous founded