Sunday, May 25, 2008

A tour of the hypothetical line

It is assumed that the main terminus of the line would be situated alongside the original mainline goods yard for Beeston Station on the Chester to Crewe Railway. The goods yard has long since disappeared and is now used for storage by a reclamation company. In addition to a small passenger station, there would be interchange goods sidings and a siding for transferring the ore from the tipper wagons to mainline trucks.

The site of Beeston Market Station (the former goods yard for the mainline station)
Note Beeston Castle and deer in background

The line then runs parallel to the mainline for a short distance before swinging away to the northwest under the shadow of Beeston Castle.

A view of the line from Beeston Castle (the crag)

 An aerial view showing the route of the railway through the village of Beeston

After about a mile comes Beeston Castle station, a short walk from the entrance to the castle.

The site of Beeston Castle Station viewed from the road leading to the castle

Crossing the road in the village the line runs parallel to the road from Beeston to Peckforton at the base of the Peckforton Hills.

A view of the line between Beeston Castle and Peckforton from Beeston Castle

Just outside Beeston by Willis's Wood

About half-way between Beeston and Peckforton (Peckforton Castle Gatehouse in the middle distance)

Shortly before entering Peckforton. The River Gowy running parallel to the railway

Peckforton Halt. The River Gowy runs at the foot of the 'valley'

Peckforton village is picture postcard fodder and would only warrant a halt.

The centre of Peckforton village

The Old Smithy
Peckforton cottage

The Mighty River Gowy!

The line then passes through pasture land (noted in the past for its production of high quality Cheshire cheese) before arriving at Bulkeley (pronounced locally as Bewklee).
Bulkeley station location

The station is situated near to Bulkeley Mill, which, according the the hypothetical history of the area, was converted to a steam-powered timber mill to process the timber grown on the Peckforton estate.
The line passing through the village of Bulkeley

Cutting through the village, the line crosses the A554 and passes behind the Red Lion (now renamed the Bickerton Poacher). The line originally terminated at the copper mines but local pressure succeeded in an extension being laid through to Bickerton village. Between Bulkeley and Bickerton the line divides, with a branch to the copper mines.

The line between Bulkeley and Bickerton, with the branch to the copper mine

Rising up to Gallantry Bank with another view of the copper mine branch
(the remains of the chimney for the pumping engine can be seen in the distance)

The line to Bickerton climbs up over Gallantry Bank (formerly known as Gallows Tree Bank) before descending into Bickerton station, the terminus for the line.

View of the line from the Sandstone Trail

The site of Bickerton station

Saturday, May 24, 2008

How will the garden line be developed?

Having decided on the prototype, the next stage was to work out how the existing garden railway could be adapted to represent it. The model, in its present form, is a circuit with a through station and a spur to a terminus station (and storage sidings). The hypothetical prototype would, of course, be end-to-end with two termini (Beeston Market and Bickerton) and three intermediate stations (Beeston Castle, Peckforton and Bulkeley). So, back to the drawing board to see how much of the line could be represented, and how.

The last thing I wanted to do was drastically remodel the garden so my only option was to see if the existing layout could be adapted. It had always been my intention to run an extension down the left boundary, so this would provide an opportunity to add another terminus. As can be seen from the plan, by using the reverse loop link it is possible to run from one terminus to the other. The next decision was which terminus would be which.

I figured that by making the new terminus Beeston Market, I could create a new intermediate station to represent Beeston Castle (with space behind for a model of the castle) and a small halt for Peckforton. It would have been possible to add a short siding after Bulkeley station to link to the copper mine but I decided that by positioning the mine sidings near to Beeston Market station I could run loaded ore wagons in one direction and empties in the opposite direction.

So, following the track plan, a train would leave Beeston Market station and would pass by the copper mine as if it does not exist. It would then progress to Beeston Castle station and thence to Peckforton. Running beside nascent River Gowy (in reality little more than a brook), it ignores the spur to Bickerton before taking the reverse loop link. Just before entering Bulkeley station the line back towards Beeston Market could be taken to access the copper mine. From Bulkeley, normal passenger and goods trains would progress on to the terminus at Bickerton.

Copper ore trains would start from the mine and traverse the line. taking the loop link to return via Peckforton and Beeston Castle to Beeston Market. Where they would reverse on to the siding supposedly to offload to standard gauge wagons. In actuality, the wagons would be shunted back to the mine and exchanged for empties, thus leaving the loaded wagons for collection by the next mine train.
I've accumulated quite a few LGB tipplers to represent the two trains - one full, one empty. cosmetically, they will have to look identical apart from one being full and the other empty - and also be symmetrical as they will keep having to be reversed. I did investigate Bachmann "V" tipplers but have decided I prefer the "L" tipplers as these seem more in keeping with the rustic nature of the line. At present I have sufficient wagons for one (empty) train, just now need to match these for the other (loaded) train.