Roseladden Restored

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steve howe
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Roseladden Restored

Postby steve howe » Wed Oct 28, 2015 5:57 pm

Roseladden Restored

Someone, (it may have been Cyril Freezer) once wrote “There are few sadder sights than a neglected model railway”. I could think of plenty, but from the point of view of a follower of our oddball hobby, I can empathise. Hours of care, patience, enthusiasm, frustration and aspiration lost under a thick layer of dust and fluff; broken buildings and faded landscape; the boards like as not used as a convenient dumping ground for domestic detritus. Many ‘trainsets’ are consigned to the skip or bonfire and even those models recognised of some value, historic or otherwise, are not always safe; the late Jack Nelson returned home from work one day to find his wonderful LNWR dioramas dumped in his front garden when Liverpool City Museums decided they no longer had need of them.

Many years ago, in the days of the Wooden Money, when P4 was regarded with deep suspicion by elements of the mainstream railway modelling fraternity, and some of us were a good deal more idealistic (and energetic) than we are now; a rather eccentric P4 layout called Roseladden Wharf did the rounds at various exhibitions. This was my first essay into P4 when still in my late teens, and began as the classic ‘yard of track and a turnout’ test track which just kept on growing. The final incarnation was some 14’ of run-down wharves and sidings drawing its inspiration from various Cornish mineral railways and the numerous hidden quays on the secretive tidal estuaries of South Cornwall. During its early life between 1976 -82, the layout became part of a larger magnum opus devised by the Falmouth MRC where it formed the approach to a light railway terminus station allowing for a more varied programme of trains. Under this guise it appeared in a series of rather appallingly pretentious articles (by yours truly) in the now defunct ‘Your Model Railway’ magazine in 1982.

For those who may remember the layout from this time and for the benefit of those who have come along since, here are a few surviving pictures of it circa. 1982, taken by Brian Aston, Ian Cavill and Pat English. Apologies for the slightly poor technical quality as they were scanned from original prints - no digital in those days!

The cottages and inn that form the central focus of the layout



The twin warehouses based on the well-known but long demolished buildings on the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway


When the layout was connected to the Falmouth Club's section, Roseladden sported a passenger service. The auto coach was a scratchbuilt vehicle by the late Ken Budd, one of the early pioneers of the Pendon team.

The only surviving photo of the engine shed in situ. It was based on the well known example at Moorswater on the original Liskeard & Caradon Railway. I have no idea what the bogie iron Mink is doing in the shed road, nor why there is an ex-Highland Railway brake van in the foreground!

The slip and fishermen's cottages at Roseladden. The little Hudswell Clark was a K's kit and is still going strong although now on its second chassis and purring along thanks to a new High Level 108 : 1 gearbox!

Scratchbuilt boats (which miraculously have survived) under the bridge over the slip.





General views down the layout with the locomotive shed in the distance. The train is just entering the section I built with the Falmouth MRC and which no longer exists. The lime kiln was based on the remaining example behind the ‘Norway Inn’ at Perranarworthal. The roof was not correct as at the time I had not had the benefit of examining a typical kiln in detail. The replacement model at the end of Roseladden Wharf closely follows the same prototype but since being given permission to climb all over the real thing, the later model is more technically correct!

When I moved to Yorkshire to take up a college course a little later, Roseladden came with me and, with the benefit of more space in my student flat, I constructed a new board to conclude the original layout in place of the Club section which remained with them and sadly was ultimately destroyed when vandals broke into the clubroom. In this form, thanks to Steve Flint and the Hull MRS, Roseladden appeared at the Hull exhibition in 1983 and thereafter at a string of shows around Yorkshire and Lancashire. As a student, new to the area from deepest Cornwall, I was, and remain, touched by the warmth of welcome I received both as a member of Hull MRS and wherever the layout appeared at exhibitions around the North.

A permanent job with much travelling, and a tiny terraced cottage in York meant no time or space for the layout and after lengthy shenanigins with the Royal Institute of Cornwall, who asked to have it to display in their refitted museum foyer, and then let it languish in a damp basement for several years, the Falmouth MRC took it back under their wing and continued to exhibit it locally during the early 1990s. Problems with premises eventually led them to sell it (and tell me afterwards!) to a local non-P4 enthusiast and thereafter it disappeared for many years.

Sometime after my return to live in Cornwall in 2006 a colleague in the Falmouth club drew my attention to a piece in the model press advertising Roseladden for sale. From memory the seller was asking a lot of money for what was, by now, an old layout, and almost certainly in need of refurbishment. Again, it disappeared from the scene and I gave it no further thought. Until the Autumn of 2012, when a lady contacted the club with the offer of some model railway equipment belonging to her late husband. I volunteered to call round and was astonished when she opened her dining room door to reveal Roseladden Wharf, in pieces, laid out on the floor! It seems her husband had bought it a few years previously but had done nothing with it before he passed away.

It was a strange moment seeing it again after a gap of some 25 years but a brief check revealed that it was largely complete although in a terrible state. As the Club was already heavily committed to its existing projects there was no scope (and no will on my part) to let it go back to them, so it came home with me. Fortunately I had room to accommodate it and eventually it was re-erected in my new railway room.

Close inspection revealed the extent of the ravages of time. The layout had suffered considerably. All of the buildings were damaged to some degree, some beyond viable repair. Some of the buildings had unaccountably been removed but I found them in a cardboard box along with sundry other details. The scenery and foliage which had survived was faded and compacted and a thick layer of dust and sticky grey fluff covered everything. I heard later that one of its previous owners had kept it under his bed, which would probably account for the large amount of cat hairs among the fluff! But the baseboards and track appeared undamaged apart from a few loose rails at baseboard joins. During its tenure with Falmouth MRC it had been rewired by Pat English to accommodate Pentrollers and remarkably the control panel was still complete and undamaged. But overall it was, initially, a depressing experience.

A few days to reflect and gather inspiration along with a wet half-term week spurred me to start sorting out the technical gremlins which turned out to be surprisingly few, mainly loose wires in the control panel and sticky point motors. Roseladden was built in the early 1980s using techniques recognised as standard at the time; chipboard baseboards on 2”x1” timber, H&M point motors and heavy timber supports. I set to and built a new set of lightweight legs with integral levelling feet to replace the heavy timber frames which had been hinged to the baseboards. These new supports were designed to be erected independently so the boards (which are very heavy) can simply be lifted into place.

The rails seemed to have become coated with corrosion, a phenomenon I have never seen with nickel silver, and this took some removing. I resorted to a Peco track rubber despite my aversion to using abrasives on rails, followed by the polishing mop in my flexible drill. For the first time in many years the rails actually gleamed! A few more hours to re-fix loose rails, lubricate point motors and adjust tiebars and the moment of truth could not be put off any longer. My time-worn 57xx, a loco built originally to work Roseladden, was selected for the honours and to my amazement apart from a short dead spot caused by one faulty microswitch, the loco traversed the whole layout without falter. Much encouraged I set about replacing lost chairs, a whole section of continuous check rail that had been removed and re-set vulnerable rail ends with reinforced copper paxolin sleepers.

The Pentrollers were removed, I can’t get on with them, and their sale added to Club funds. The replacement Pictroller hand-held unit is fine for the slow action shunting moves we need.

2015 update
I’m embarrassed to note that this thread was originally started on RMWeb three years ago and to my chagrin the project has not progressed very far, due mainly to major house renovations, building a couple of ‘planks’, and trying to get the Watermouth P4 restoration underway in the Club ( I’m pleased to say most of these aforementioned hindrances are now resolved and Roseladden is once again set up ready for the next push this Winter. In this thread I hope to chronicle the on-going restoration and development of the layout. There will be changes: the whole layout is somewhat idiosyncratic, but some parts are more so than others! I hope, in the light of experience, to rationalise the scenic elements and bring the layout slightly closer to prototype fidelity without fundamentally altering the character of the scene and to even consider extending the depth of the model to represent more of the surrounding village.

Lets hope it won't take another 30 years! ;)

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Re: Roseladden Restored

Postby mickeym » Wed Oct 28, 2015 6:11 pm

I will most certainly be interested to see the new Roseladden arise - It is probably the main reason I'm still interested in, and sat reading about small trains 30 years after it was in YMR!

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Re: Roseladden Restored

Postby Re6/6 » Wed Oct 28, 2015 8:39 pm

Excellent Steve!

Good to see another 'old timer' from way back re-emerging.

We (DRAG) have the old Swaveney which was rescued a few years ago but is in an awful state pending restoration.


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Re: Roseladden Restored

Postby Hardwicke » Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:14 am

I remember it up for sale, but could not afford it at the time. I'm glad it's back "home".
Builder of Forge Mill Sidings, Kirkcliffe Coking Plant, Swanage and Heaby. Still trying to "Keep the Balance".

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steve howe
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Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:16 pm

Re: Roseladden Restored

Postby steve howe » Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:11 pm

Roseladden is still plodding on slowly, but other projects keep getting in the way, mainly making buildings for our Club 00 layout :( the trade off being that the 00 layout 'gaffer' is a wiring expert who is leading the re-wiring of our 'Watermouth' P4 layout so I have to keep him sweet! also building a bit of nonsense for the RMWeb Cameo Challenge....

Hopefully Roseladden will get going again later this year.


John B
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Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 4:41 pm

Re: Roseladden Restored

Postby John B » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:54 pm

It was seeing Roseladden during your sojourn in Yorkshire, at shows in Hull, Beverley and York, and your friendliness and encouragement that prompted late-teenaged me to bite the bullet and join the Scalefour Society.

I'll be really pleased to see this restored and back in action someday.

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Roseladden Restored

Postby Le Corbusier » Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:33 am

steve howe wrote:Roseladden is still plodding on slowly, but other projects keep getting in the way, mainly making buildings for our Club 00 layout :( the trade off being that the 00 layout 'gaffer' is a wiring expert who is leading the re-wiring of our 'Watermouth' P4 layout so I have to keep him sweet! also building a bit of nonsense for the RMWeb Cameo Challenge....

Hopefully Roseladden will get going again later this year.


Loving the surfboard :D
Tim Lee

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