The idea of a new layout for the Club came with the introduction of DCC to the club and the realization that the exhibition layout, Rosedale, would require quite excessive refurbishment to enable any DCC operations. A Club meeting in early 2008 decided that an end to end layout, fully DCC wired, which would represent the late1930’s to early 1950’s era would allow for a greater scope of rolling stock and locomotives to be used. The layout also had to provide areas for shunting operations and have access to a main line. One of the reasons for a new layout was to encourage some newer members to develop their modeling skills on new construction.
After several proposals for the layout location it was decided that Frome, in the GWR, would be a possible site. This prompted a sizable amount of research for the track plan and associated buildings. It was noticed that several of the buildings in the acquired photographs and books had undergone substantial structural changes during the selected time period so it was agreed that an amalgamation of the different changes would be used. Others were to be under “modeler’s license” as no information was available.
The layout was to be of a modular construction and it was proposed by one member to have a solid rail support the full length of the layout supported by piers at certain intervals. We purchased some lightweight galvanized steel studs from the local DIY shop and riveted them together, the piers were manufactured from collapsible work bench trestles bought locally and a box assembly was fitted to provide rail support and stability. The 4 layout modules were made from Birch plywood, a more solid ply than normal plywood, each 4 feet 6 inches long and 2 feet 6 inches wide, side and end supports were added to the lower surface to match the rail width, all the modules were sealed with two coats of shellac to prevent humidity warpage (especially in Montreal during the summer and the top surface was overlaid with 1/8 th thick cork sheet.
The track plan was laid out and adjusted to match the modular boards so that there were minimum track joints across the board joints. During the actual track laying operation this had to be further adjusted to suit the placement of points and buildings. The track itself was C&L code 100 with a mixture of Tillig and hand made points, the points were originally going to be operated with SEEP switches but this was changed to Caboose Industries’ manual switches. Each module is attached to it’s neighbour with a flat bolted splice plate which was match drilled to each board to avoid misalignments. It was found to be premature as several of the manual switch wiring rods intruded into the splice plate areas. This has resulted in some weird shaped cutouts and contoured wiring paths.
Most of this was accomplished by the layout team spending a couple of hours during the week and usually three or more on Sundays (spouse’s permission was often needed). Work on Frome was also derailed for a few weeks by the Club’s decision to replace Rosedale ‘our exhibition layout’ in 2009 with a brand new layout which required all members to assist in the initial baseboard and support manufacturing process. Eventually the track was laid and ballasted, which was premature as we found out later, and various scenic elements were slowly added. Several points and sections of track needed additional work and relaying to ensure smooth running of the locomotives, which resulted in several weeks of rework. Most of the buildings have been scratch built which provided several lessons in the use of different materials and adhesives. No matter how many books or articles about model building construction are read there is always a better way to do it. Eventually most of the required structures have been completed and just need detailing prior to final placement.
Frome is a small town in the county of Somerset and serves as the local market town, the station building was overlooked by the Maltings, a large structure owned by E BAILEY |& Sons which provided hops etc for several local breweries. Enough trade was carried out that E BAILEY had their own private stock wagons. The Maltings no longer exists apart from some lower wall structures that serve as a support to some newer buildings at the same site. The station was designed by J.R Hannaford , one of Brunel’s assistants and originally built for the Wiltshire, Somerset and Weymouth railway which was eventually taken over by the GWR. The original roof spans both platforms at 48 feet in width with an overall length of 120 feet and still exists to this day although the interior has been modernized to a certain extent as the main line is now reduced to one track through the station and most of the nearby area. The station roof is made entirely of wood and is one of the two oldest through train stations still in operation in England today, the other being Newcastle. Both stations were opened in 1850.
Frome also possessed a wooden one road Engine shed which was designed by J.R Hannaford and was used to stable and service some of the Pannier tanks that were a mainstay of the local operations with the occasional visitor passing through. The Engine shed as depicted has fallen into a state of needed repair as shown on the layout. In addition, there was a fairly large Goods depot that had been expanded into a corrugated clad warehouse with 2 interior hand cranes to handle the amount of freight passing through. In addition there were the cattle and other animal pens at various areas in the yard along with a small weighbridge. Just behind and to one side of the Station forecourt there was a large Express Dairy depot that collected the milk and other produce from the local surrounding area and shipped it to the cities in six wheel tanks as well as road vehicles for the local shops.
Frome layout depicts one of those quite Southern market towns in the period just before or after the Second World War when every thing ran on time and usually worked in the expected fashion.