The Wednesleigh** layout is the first to be built by G0GG with a different emphasis to our previous efforts in that it attempts to represent a ‘living’ model railway. We want to imbue both character and atmosphere by paying special attention to the scenic aspects and realistic prototypical operating - as described recently by Gordon Gravett in relation to his phenomenally exquisite layout, Arun Quay.
The basic physical dimensions of the 0 Gauge 7mm Finescale Exhibition layout are:
Total erected length is 27’ 5” (8.324 metres) comprised of 7 baseboards, each 3’ 11” (1.189 mm) long; 2’ 4” (708 mm) deep (front to back) with the rail surface 3’ 6.3” (1070 mm) above floor level.
Two of the baseboards at one end contain the Fiddle Yard (cassettes) with the scenic area of the layout on the remaining five boards. It is planned to construct a ‘soft’ (lightweight posts and rope) barrier that will run approx. 18” in front of the layout when in operation at exhibitions.
The layout has been designed to represent a short length of a fictitious 9 mile long single line branch to Biddington (Glos.), originally built by the Midland Railway and opened in 1868 to convey livestock, agricultural produce, passengers, fruit and the products of the numerous limestone quarries in the area that stretched beyond the south-western outskirts of Birmingham and to the south east of Worcester across the Vale of Evesham.
The branch left the Birmingham to Gloucester main line at Amplewell (Worcs.) which is just south of the link to the Oxford-Evesham-Worcester line (OWW) and crossed the Vale of Evesham and the River Avon in a south easterly direction to Prentletham (3 miles) and Wednesleigh (6.1 miles). The separate GWR standard gauge single line branch that left the OWW line at Bourstone (Worcs.), west of Evesham was extended in 1885 beyond Mistleton (2.3 miles) to join the original Midland branch 2 miles on the Worcester side of the limestone ridge that formed the north-western edge of the Cotswolds and through which the branch had been tunnelled to arrive at the west end of Wednesleigh station. Thus was formed what in 1948 became a busy British Railways joint London Midland Region and Western Region branch line. The signalling on both the branches was upgraded in 1949 to enable the passenger services to be enhanced to cater for the rapidly increasing post-war population at Wednesleigh** (1951 census pop. 7,436) and other towns on the branches.
The part of the joint line that has been modelled portrays ‘a slice of life’ as it would have been running in the 1950s, some 20+ years after the branch had been truncated and the original wayside Wednesleigh station with a passing loop and a level crossing had been reconfigured into a terminus with a modest Goods Yard and a busy gated complex of Private Industrial sidings. The latter area was owned jointly by the Wednesleigh Mills Co. (mainly woollen products) and the Wednesleigh Creamery Co-operative (both of which had been built on a redundant part of the Wednesleigh Quarry Co. site – still open in the 1950s but much reduced in size and output). In the 1950s tanked Milk and associated products left the Creamery by rail, daily, destined for both Birmingham and Oxford.
For operation in view of the public the Wednesleigh layout requires three operators – a Signaller and two Drivers - working through an Operating Sequence which has been created as a list of basic movements derived from a facsimile Working Timetable (WTT). It is expected that alternative WTTs will be created subsequently so that a variety of public displays can be operated. All the trains – the locomotives and rolling stock running on the layout belong to individual G0GG members.
We are currently at the stage of completed trackwork; electrics almost complete but not fully tested; most of the scenic buildings constructed (some painted) and a start made on the contoured scenery and backscenes.