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by Ian Manderson


I had built two baseboards which were to be a test-track for a forthcoming US HO layout based on RF&P practice. This intermediate facility was to test out DCC and various scenic ideas that would be later incorporated into the main layout. Also, if Iím honest, part of the reason for starting this test-track was so that I could run stock that would not be seen on the main layout. The test-track quickly acquired a life of its own and a suitable track plan was devised to serve a paper mill, thus allowing a wide-range of traffic flows.

Then I had one of those moments when I started asking myself why I was now planning to build two US layouts. I had very firm ideas what the main layout was going to be, so why did I also need a test track? As for the idea of using it to run stock that would be out of area on the main layout, what happened to modellersí license in the privacy of oneís own home?

This got me thinking. I have always had an interest in the railway lines in Northumberland having been born and brought up in the county. I suspect seeing Ian Futersí wonderful layouts in amongst the marble columns at York shows long-since passed also had something to do with that. Over the years, Iíve had ideas to build a layout based on one of the many stations that used to exist, ranging from Falstone on the Border Counties line, to most recently, Woodburn on the Wansbeck Valley. Could I not do something similar using the test-track boards? This would have the benefit of allowing me to play with a very simple track-plan to see if it would provide sufficient operator interest as a potential exhibition layout. A far cry from the urban decay of Easington Lane.

Hartburn is a small village in Northumberland. It was never served directly by rail but lay just north of the old Wansbeck Valley Railway from Morpeth to Redesmouth, with the nearest station being Angerton. However, the original plan put forward in 1855 to link Morpeth and Rothbury proposed a line running via Meldon, Hartburn and Longwitton. This proposition pre-dated the Wansbeck Valley. A survey and report was produced by John Willet but nothing came of the project and Rothbury was eventually linked to Morpeth by the Northumberland Central Railway (NCR) that joined the Wansbeck Valley at Scotís Gap.

I have therefore based the plan for the layout on the assumption that this original route was built. The track-plan is based upon an amalgamation of the 1862 and 1896 layouts for Angerton. The station buildings will be based on those at Brinkworth on the NCR.

The end loading dock as seen from the operators side of the layout. Built on a frame of 3mm card from a local art shop, it utilises embosed plastic sheet for the sides. The coping stones are scribed 40 thou plasticard. The corners are filled then filed to profile. The buffer stop is a piece of balsa strip, suitably distressed and painted with Precision 'weathered wood' with a bit of Humbrol 29 added. The surface is a combination of Busch grey quartz sand and some yard dirt from Bewdley on the Severn Valley Railway. In the jar this has a nice brownish grey appearance, but unfortunately a spray of matt varnish to seal it has darkened the colour. This will be addressed prior to it's appearance at Cheltenham.

Here are the supports for the cattle crossing bridge. Measurements were taken of a surviving example on the Border Counties line just north of Bellingham and this is being used as a basis for a similar bridge on Hartburn. The hut is by Wills, well actually two kits combined to produce a taller chimney. Microstrip has been added to the sides to match the standard pattern on the Borders lines.

The other loading dock on the layout. Construction follows the same pattern as for the end dock. The cattle wagon is a Bachmann example which still has to undergo the conversion to EM gauge. The bare board in the foreground is where the main platform will go.

The station building for Hartburn is nearing completion, and is being constructed by Pete Johnson - it makes a change to model something without wheels! In this view the second chimney is being prepared for fitting. The building is based on North British Railway stations from the borders region, in particular the structures that were at Brinkburn and Ewesley. These were built mainly of wood, with the vertical plank joints weatherproofed by external battens.

Another view at the same stage showing the slate roof, modelled using Slaters moulded plasticard, cut and assembled in strips. A few of the slates have been distressed slightly to give character to the building.

An internal view showing the basic arrangement of 60 thou plasticard used for the walls, with additional 80 thou pieces added as roof stiffeners. The battens were added using 10 x 20 microstrip, with 10 x 40 microstrip used for the window surrounds. Slaters brick plasticard overlays have been used for the foundations and chimneys.

A ground level view of the finished building prior to painting. One door has been modelled slightly open to bring life to the station. The window frames were adapted from a Walthers HO factory kit, and the chimney pots were turned from 3mm diameter sprue offcuts from the scrap box. After shaping to a taper, the top of the plastic rod was then pressed against a hot knife blade to create the lip at the top of the pot.

Another view of the completed building showing the narrow window, and chimney brickwork incorporated into the end wall. The lead flashing for the chimneys was cut from 5 thou plastic sheet, and the same material was used for the framing on the two doors.

This lever frame cabin for Hartburn is also being built by Peter Johnson, and is shown here nearing completion. These small square buildings with a pyramid-style slate roof were another characteristic feature of stations in Northumbria. This model is based on the one at Brinkburn, which featured timber construction on a brick plinth.

Another view of the frame cabin. The slate roof uses the same Slaters sheet as per the station, with 5 thou strip and 35 thou rod used for the lead flashing. The walls are 80 thou plastic, with vertical planking engraved into the surface. The window frames are again from the HO factory kit, but with the framing adjusted to match the pattern shown in photographs of Brinkburn and Angerton. At Brinkburn, by the 1960s, the view from both windows was completely blocked by adjacent buildings.

The goods shed for Hartburn is shown ready for painting. This model is again based on the one at Brinkburn, which had corrugated metal construction with wooden sliding doors. 80 thou sheet was used for the basic shape, before being covered with Slaters corrugated sheet. The door and gutter fittings were added using a variety of plastic sections and thicknesses.

These two views show the completed station building group before painting. The arrangement planned for Hartburn is similar to that at Brinkburn at the time the line was closed. All these buildings had been demolished by the early 1970s, although the nearby station-masters house still survives today.

Hartburn made its debut appearance at the Cheltenham exhibition in October 2010, and here are a few photographs of the completed station buildings by Pete Johnson.

A general view of the station building group with painting completed. This view can be compared with the unpainted condition shown on last monthís update.

The lever frame cabin is again based on Brinkburn, and looks to have had all-over brown paint, from the BR brown and cream finish of the 1950s. Matt white has been blended into the brown to reproduce the fading and neglect appropriate for the mid 1960s.

The finish on the small goods shed has been based on photographs of Brinkburn station soon after closure. Rust is beginning to get a hold on the roof, but the walls and door remain in better condition.

The station building for Hartburn is shown after painting. The layout models the final years before closure of a Northumbrian branch line, so a neglected appearance with faded paint has been created using matt enamels.