The Cornish Riviera Area Group exists as an informal get-together arranged to offer S4 modellers living throughout Cornwall an opportunity to meet and have a natter. We extend a welcome to all finescale modellers who might be interested in coming along for what we hope will become regular sessions. The other objective of the Group is to rebuild and restore the P4 layout 'Watermouth Riverside' and its companion 'Watermouth Junction' which has been in storage by the Helston & Falmouth Model Railway Club for several years following the death of its owner Pat English.
Watermouth represents a medium sized terminus of an imaginary GWR branch running south from Chard to the coast near Charmouth. Just short of the terminus on the north bank of the estuary, the branch is joined at St David's Junction by a GWR/SR joint line running down from Axminster and Kilmington. The line crosses the tidal estuary by an iron viaduct and enters Watermouth Riverside which is also assumed to have a branch running on to Watermouth Docks. The station arrangement draws inspiration from Kingsbridge, Weymouth and Kingswear. Watermouth Docks are assumed to be an embarkation port for steamers to the Continent and the track plan is designed to accommodate busy summer passenger traffic, including a daily Sleeper to London and through trains from the Midlands, London and Taunton as well as local branchline services. In the Master Plan, this station lies on the bank of the estuary and a single line section on a long bridge over the river(based on the Taw bridge at Barnstaple) links it with St David's Junction. Because this bridge has a weight restriction, 'large' engines come off their trains at the Junction and go to a small MPD, whilst the train is taken on to the main terminus by a lighter locomotive. The corresponding empty stock and light engine workings should allow for a variety of interesting traffic movements.
The layout was begun over 35 years ago and represents a pioneering example of early P4 modelling. Pat English was a meticulous modeller and researcher and the layout was designed to strict prototype practice. Originally conceived as a 'U' shape with the stations on either side of the room, it was later rebuilt following a house move into a 'L' shape and the bridge over the estuary and the junction station were abandoned, (Watermouth Junction was given to another Club member who has also since passed away and in memory of him it was re-named 'St. David's Jct.) Although never developed to a fully scenic finish, enough has survived to make a full restoration feasible, particularly since 'St David's Junction' has also since come into Club custody.
The baseboards were originally constructed on half inch chipboard and 2"x1" timber as was the custom of the time; track is fully chaired 'Brook-Smith' pattern with correct 2 bolt chairs and captures beautifully the 'flow' of the prototype. All this has withstood the years remarkably well, but as the baseboards were altered and rebuilt at various times, the depth of the baseboard members varied from board to board making setting up and dismantling unnecessarily awkward (the layout was never intended for exhibition viewing) The main baseboard framing has been replaced with new timber of consistent depth, new alignment and fixing bolts installed and new supporting frames built. The baseboards representing the estuary and bridge connecting the two stations have been reconstructed and the entire layout measuring some 24' by 18' has been fully erected for the first time in many years. A suitable cassette and stock storage system will be created to replace the original and highly complex fiddle yard that Pat constructed.
As can be seen from the photos, the model, even in its present form, is impressive. We hope it will encourage other Cornish finescale modellers to join in the project. The layout has now been relocated to the Helston & Falmouth MRC's clubroom at Gunwalloe near Helston, where the detailed work of revising the outdated wiring and point control is now in hand. We intend to simplify the control systems and maximise its operational potential. For details of meetings and working sessions please see the contacts below.
We hope this will be the start of an exciting project.
Blue Sheet (PDF, members only)
More photographs of Watermouth from the Scalefour Forum