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Meeting 7th June 2017

Posted 11/6/2017

Railways and Durham City - “a journey to a model" Gordon Woods

    Gordon grew up as a child living next to the ECML  to the south of Durham station, and he spoke first of the prototype railways in the Durham City area, and then his ideas for modelling part of the scene.

    Durham was only a small city and became surrounded by industrial activities based on coal. Many of the railways ran in a west to east direction taking coal to the coast for export. North south lines came later, with the Leamside line lying to the east of the ECML and Durham City. The early stations serving Durham were some way from the town, Shincliffe being the first and furthest, then Gilesgate and Elvet. The present station opened in 1856 on the line from Sunderland to Bishops Auckland, passenger use at the other stations ceasing. Thus to the north Durham had route to Newcastle and Sunderland and to the south the ECML and Bishops Auckland route.

    Just to the south of where Gordon lived is a 4 arch bridge (called the Stone Bridge), each arch carrying a separate group of lines on different levels. The most westerly line was that heading south from Consett, and this split into two, a westerly arm (going through arch 1) and joining the Durham to Bishops Auckland line which ran through arch 2. The easterly arm from Consett dived under the Durham to Bishops Auckland line through Arch 3, whilst he ECML ran through arch 4. Gordon discussed the traffic he saw on the line in the late 60's and the rationalisation that had since taken place at the Stone Bridge and its subsequent demolition.

    It was this complex of lines running south of the Stone Bridge that Gordon planned to model and this formed the basis of the second part of his presentation. A new railway room is under construction and the Stone Bridge will form a scenic break for one end of the layout. A model of the Stone Bridge has been constructed, Wills kits providing a good basis to kit bash the actual structure. There was a branch leaving the Bishop Auckland line just south of the bridge and his gave access to Broom Park colliery. With a bit of selective compression this can be incorporated on the track plan, and history rewritten to keep the colliery open until the 1960-64 era in which the layout is based.

    The decision was made to build the track to OO Finescale standards. This has a track gauge of 16.2mm and a flangeway of 1mm allowing all current OO models to run on it successfully. To achieve a realistic looking track and flowing pointwork for the junctions it will be necessary for Gordon to build his own trackwork. The idiosyncrasies of Templot were mastered and a track plan produced. Attendance at a Missenden Railway weekend with Norman Solomon taught the basis of do-it-yourself track building. Much pleasure has been gained from research into  train formations and producing stock for trains such as the Tyne-Tees Pullman.

    It was a most entertaining evening and we await the further development of the layout with interest.

Stephen Duffell.