About the railway


This blog describes ongoing progress in the development of a G gauge Garden Railway from its inception to the present day (see Getting Started and Progress Reports in sequence for the most recent update). 
As it is a blog, you can track the development of the railway by viewing the posts, which are presented in reverse chronological order.

Alternatively, you can access specific information through the Home Page, on which is presented a Categorised Contents List.

Finally, you can search for even more specific information by using the search box at the top of each page, or you can click on an item in the Index which is presented on the right hand side of each page.

An overview of the railway, its rationale, its hypothetical location, its rolling stock and how it is operated is summarised below.

In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here are a few videos which give a feel for the railway and how I operate it:

The setting for the railway

 The hypothetical setting for the railway is beside the Peckforton Hills in Cheshire. Over the years, copper has been extracted from mines along these hills, though never in sufficient quantities to make it financially viable. In my imagined history of the area, a rich seam of copper was struck which spawned the need for a light railway. (see also Copper Mining at Bickerton and A brief history of the railway and its locality).
Tipper wagons being loaded from the minimum gauge railway at the copper mine

The route for the railway

 The railway supposedly runs from the (now closed) station at Beeston & Tarporley on the Chester to Crewe Railway, past Beeston Castle, through the villages of Beeston, Peckforton and Bulkeley to the village of Bickerton. A branch between Peckforton and Bickerton leads to the copper mines at the foot of the Peckforton Hills. (see The hypothetical line and A trip along the railway).
Aerial view of the supposed route of the railway as it runs below Beeston Castle

Traffic on the railway

The period in which the railway has been modelled is 1932 - a difficult time for minor railways in the UK. In my imagined history of the railway, it has continued to survive whilst others perished because there was a continuing need for its services. In addition to daily trains of copper ore and spoil, there was a demand for the transportation of agricultural commodities such as feed, machinery, and livestock to the thriving cattle market at Beeston.
0-6-2T Manning Wardle Loco No.4 Bulkeley departs Beeston market with the Down pick-up goods
 In addition there was the export of fruit, cheese and milk. There was also a need to transport domestic supplies such as coal, fuel oil, groceries and building materials. The local estate also had a thriving trade in the production of pit props for the mining industry and sand and high quality red sandstone from local quarries.
Loaded copper ore train about to depart the mine sidings
 Owing to its proximity to Liverpool, Manchester and Chester, the railway also benefited from tourist excursions to Beeston Castle and the Peckforton Hills where visitors could sample and bathe in the spa waters. And, of course, there was a very supportive local community whose affection for their railway provided a steady income during the winter months. See  A Typical Operating Session
Hunslet 0-4-0ST loco No. 3, Bickerton on the Down afternoon mixed leaving Peckforton station

Rolling stock

The rolling stock on the railway has a variety of origins. Much of the goods stock is freelance, though based loosely on prototypes from the Southwold Railway and the Welshpool and Llanfair Railways. It is assumed that as other railways closed or sold off surplus stock, this railway would have acquired additional stock at bargain prices. (See Railway Stock List)

The locomotives are originally freelance designs and built from kits. These were originally based loosely on various prototypes (ie Andrew Barclay, Hunslet, Peckett and Fowler), but more recently, I have been constructing my own semi-scratchbuilt models based on Southwold Railway originals - namely a 2-4-2T Sharp Stewart and an 0-6-2T Manning Wardle.
The expanding fleet of radio controlled battery powered locomotives
 I have also constructed a couple of battery powered freelance diesel outline locos from kits (see Building an IP Engineering Jessie and Building an IP Engineering Lollypop Railcar) and a semi-scratchbuilt railbus inspired by the Ford Railmotor.
The former Southwold Railway 2-4-2T emerging from the railway's paintshop.

In the past year or so I have migrated from DCC track power to radio controlled battery power (see Getting Started in battery power and an Evaluation of the Deltang Radio Control System)


Although there are times when will take a train out and simply run it around the main circuit just to see something running, I try to ensure that I run a full, timetabled operating session a few times during the running season (which is usually from late Spring to Early Autumn). (see A Typical Operating Session).
The railbus trundles past the River Gowy on the last Down passenger service of the day
 One of the things I really enjoy is simulating fairly realistic freight operations on the railway. As my model depicts a complete light railway system from terminus to terminus with intermediate stations, I have devised a computer program which generates freight movements for a day's operation (an Up and Down pick-up goods service plus a mixed train in the afternoon). (see Freight Operations on the Railway).
The Up pick-up goods arriving at Peckforton, crossing the Down afternoon passenger train
In addition loaded and empty copper ore trains run throughout the day between the timetabled passenger services. From time to time I also include special Market Day Specials and Bank Holiday Excursion Trains to transport excited tourists up the line to the various attractions. In this way, my train operations are kept realistic but with some variation to maintain interest.
0-4-0T Peckett locomotive No.1 Peckforton on a Market Day Sepcial
 Recently, the railway has had signalling installed to control basic train operations up and down the line. Whilst most Narrow Gauge Light Railways did not employ signalling, I felt that the density and complexity of traffic on my railway would require the installation of semaphore signals to help ensure passenger safety (see How I constructed a set of signals). At present these are manually operated but I am exploring how these might become remotely controlled.
2-4-0T Loco No 2 Beeston awaits the all clear on the approach to Bulkeley station
If you are thinking about building your own garden railway then why not join the 16mm Association or the G Scale Society - you'll get plenty more advice and opportunities to visit other peoples' garden railways. Alternatively, browse through the G Scale Central website - there's plenty more guidance here and an opportunity to sound out the views of others through the G Scale Central discussion forum.


Unknown said...

I would like to thank you for taking the time to document your railways construction and running.It has made for very interesting reading on my part.You should be very proud of your efforts it is a great looking railway .

regards stewie

GE Rik said...

Thanks Stewie

Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you are finding it interesting.

My aim in creating the blog was to provide people who are starting out in garden railway modelling with some ideas. I am not an expert in any particular area of modelling - so hopefully those starting out will work out that if I can do it, anyone can.


Phil said...

Hi Rik,

I have spent many hours watching clips of your railway and it is absolutely suberb. I was curious to what track you use. I am currently using LGB R2 curves and R3 points as it is all i could get my hands on second hand in South Africa. Do you use radius 1 points at all on your layout? Your layout has inspired me to completely scratch build my rolling stock. Thanks for sharing your amazing work!! Here is a link to some of my work...https://pin.it/xezwqwt3tkcexc

Regards philippe

Ukjim said...

So this evening on Channel 5 I watched a program with Julia Bradbury walking the Sandstone Trail, with views of Peckforton and Beeston Castles, and I thought to myself, hey that's the land of Rik's railway!

So I've had fun this evening googling B&W steam loco photos at Beeston Junction, Peckforton, Bickerton, etc and imagining/relating them all to your garden layout.

I was wondering whether its simply the locations you concentrated on for the PLR, or have you also actually studied the track layout at any of the main stations represented (from satellite or maps, or old photos) and tried to reproduce it to track, points and sidings level as well?

I know with G-scale its actually quite difficult to accurately do such a thing due to the amount of space required, but I was curious and interested to know if you had done this at all in a compressed way?

By the way, is that you in a microlight taking the aerial shots?

My partner Carole and I also wondered if you take visitors, if ever we were in the area? She remembers her mum taking her around Peckforton Castle as a little girl, and she loves the quaint character of your layout.


GE Rik said...

Thanks Jim
Glad you enjoyed mapping the layout on to the real locations. I did do some sortbof 'thumbnail' surveying and where possible walked the routebof the railway but the station layouts are only approximate representations.

Yes, for my 60th birthday, I flew over the route in a microlight. I must do it again and get some better photos and maybe even a video.

Always happy to have visitors. Contact me through the forum.


GE Rik said...

Hi Philippe
I've gotten rid of most of my R1 curves but still have some R1 points and a couple of curves in the copper mine yard. That's ok because only short wheelbase wagons and locos on that part of the line. I've used flexible track for the majority of the trackwork.


Anonymous said...

Your railway is very interesting and inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

GE Rik said...

Thanks Anonymous. Glad to hear you have found it interesting and useful.

Unknown said...

I find it nice that you've tried to be as historically accurate as possible and made it sound remarkable possible. Thank you so much for the videos and this website . Its nice to be able to read and get a greater understanding.

With thanks Thomas

GE Rik said...

Thanks Thomas
It's all part of the fun for me. Not only creating the railway but embedding it in a community of people and local industries.