Above: Advertising hoarding for Bile Beans on the end of a terrace. © information. May not be reproduced without permission.

2012 (1 of 11)

Horsley Bank

Presented by Steve Howe

"I started Horsley Bank nearly 14 years ago. Progress has continued in fits and starts, but scenically has only developed in the last two years. The original plan was to be able to set the model up on the kitchen table to play with, but as it has developed it has expanded into a self-contained diorama.

Operationally, the track layout allows for complex shuffling of wagons, and there is further scope to develop a logical sequence of moves which would maximise the space. Three short sidings serve a textile mill; an engineering works and a longer siding which is modelled to suggest a truncated route going off-stage. The access to the loop is via a sector plate, which also connects to a 'kick-back' line which runs along the street (from Huddersfield) at the rear to a concealed cassette. The length of the loop and sidings was carefully thought out; the sector plate holds an 0-4-0 and three wagons, the loop and upper siding in the mill yard can hold a loco and four wagons. The lower headshunt can only hold a loco and two wagons. Thus to shunt the long front siding means wagons have to be moved singly or in pairs, because the 'slip' is only one sided, wagons destined for the Leethams engineering factory siding have to be taken into the headshunt, then drawn into the long siding and propelled back. In short, it’s a shunting puzzle, and as such can absorb many hours of totally mindless playing trains or some very complicated shunting moves, depending on your point of view!

Track construction is ply sleepers and rivets, steel rail and cosmetic chairs from C + L, laid on cork supported by a 12mm MDF track base. Point operation, uses 3v motors with an integral 1:200 gearbox. Point power is entirely separate from the main control using heavy duty batteries. Buildings are mainly embossed styrene, heavily weathered, with windows made from finely cut self-adhesive address labels. The many examples of signwriting, typical of pre-War industrial areas, were mainly done on the PC mostly in ordinary Word packages, or Photoshop. In some cases they were printed on to waterslide decal paper.

Control is via an electronic feedback controller, and a hand-held controller would make operation more versatile. Couplings are 3-link, but I intend to persevere with Alex Jackson couplings. I am continuing to experiment and develop new ideas: the arrangement of buildings and structures is conceived as a ‘stage set’ which is why the viewing angles are deliberately restricted."